Which are the best and worst plastic model kits?
So many qualify, but the criteria I might use are worth discussing, even if nobody ought to care what my personal picks are.
But since you’ve asked, I’m presently listing some nominees at both ends of the spectrum:
Best Kits: Minicraft 1/144 MD-80. Other than the main gear leg covers, which need a bit of thinking to position correctly, everything just fits together, restrained surface detailing is appropriate. No mass-market kit of this subject was available, though a very reasonable Welsh Model’s vacuum-formed fuselage with injected wings, horizontal stabilizers and engines had been out for years.
Tamiya 1/24 sports & sporty cars: The Ford Mustang GT is a curbside -no engine, hood doesn’t open, but everything else is so nice, it all fits, looks great. Their Porsche 959 supercar is another winner, and comes with engine and a lot of the 4 wheel drive bits that put the horsepower down. Like the Mustang, the interior is thoroughly detailed, tires and wheels look great, brake discs and calipers are supplied, plenty of surface detail to reward a curious eye, or some gentle drybrushing. Building the model, you get a sense of how the real thing goes together.
Worst kits: Fujimi’s Vought F-8 Crusader just doesn’t look like a Crusader. Never mind what you can see through the engine air intake, there’s nothing accurate about the shapes, the rivets, ick. As far as I got with the one I tried it glued together ok, but it has no legitimate purpose. Its just ugly. More recently, Trumpeter’s 1/144 “Spitfire Mk V” is a very poorly imagined copy of the not-that-great Crown kit. The parts don’t really fit, things Crown got right – main landing gear legs, doors, wheels, engine coolant radiator, cockpit canopy, are hilariously wrong in the Trumpeter copy. The part breakdown makes for nasty seams and glue joints. Even the wing shape, the most famous in the 1930-1950 interval, is messed-up. Its pointless and sad. The same effort could have created a reasonable kit
What IS a plastic model kit? A set of parts, injection molded, on runners or “trees”, vacuum formed on a sheet of plastic, cast in resin and attached to “pour blocks”, laid-up with resin and fiberglass cloth backing, perhaps including some cast metal, photo-etched sheet copper, brass or stainless steel, possibly vinyl or rubber, metal or plastic tubing, rod and sheet, lead or other soft metal foil, soft wire, music wire. Most kits contain waterslide decals, though dry transfers or preformed stencils are also seen.
A good kit can be assembled without having to be re-designed, re-engineered or re-built, by the builder.
So the shapes have to be correct, within the limits of the materials and techniques.
All the parts have to be supplied- what can be seen looking at the model from outside, but including what can be seen inside windows, doors, vents, hatches, etc.
The pieces supplied have to assemble correctly, without having to be modified or re-thought-out
It should suggest an accurate representation of a specific object- real, imaginary, even speculative, but always specific.
It should be consistant with itself- textures, features, thicknesses, transparent parts, blank holes or paint/decal for windows, etc., should all be similar across the whole of the model.
More as I get time to add it.