Modeling tips for newcomers


by Jeff Wallen


Hello Fellow Modelers,
Like most of you I have been modeling since I was very little. I did not model for many years and then rediscovered how much fun Modeling is. I am a big race fan and wanted a model of my favorite racecar driver. A visit to the local hobby shop changed my outlook on just what one could do with a plastic model. I wanted to learn how they made these awesome models I saw on display. The hobby shop had information about an IPMS club in town and well several years later I am still enjoying the hobby.

Not long ago I remodeled my living room where I had my display case with some of the kits I have built over the past several years. After all the painting was done I decided that along with everything else I did, now would be a great time to clean up and fix some of those models. I had a rear wing that came off a F-1 car and a windshield that was not in place on one of the NASCAR models. Not to mention it had been all of 3 years since I had dusted off and cleaned up the display case. It has glass doors but is not totally dust proof. You see I re-did everything else in the room why not clean up the display the display case too!


I learned so much just checking out all those models. What I learned is how much my modeling had improved from one project to another. It was like I was back in time remembering each project being built. An example was the first time I did engine detail complete with all the plug wires, blower straps, and fuel lines on a NHRA funny car. I can look at that model and remember it was the next step in putting all the steps to a great model together. But most of all my first engine detail job! Then I wanted to build a McLaren MP 4/7 that was driven by a great driver…you know who! So I first wanted to build another F-1 car to get into the subject and learn how to fully detail a F-1 kit as prep to building the MP 4/7. I really got into the F-1 car and by the time I did the McLaren I knew how to tackle the job. Needless to say the McLaren took 1st place everywhere I entered the car in a contest. Here is something that hit me cleaning up that model the white had yellowed from the type of clear I used. Looking at the notes I keep of the products and reference used during the building of the kit, I found what I had used. HHHAAAA I haven't used the stuff for years and you can bet I'll never use it again!
When I started back into the hobby I took steps to get a complete package to build a complete project. Remember the basics!
First thing was to clean each part of all seam lines ejection marks and spray paint all the parts I could. Next step was to work on the paint job. HHHAAAA still working on that…! Another step was to detail the engine. Then on to the photo etch detail. Then worked on shades of color to add depth and realism. Once I felt good about each step I was able to put together a nice model as a complete package. I try to do my best with each part and sub assembly, and treating it as a model in itself has helped me a great deal.

Here are some tips I would recommend to any builder at any level.

Remember the basics! Clean each part of anything left from the molding process.

Take your time! Enjoy the project at hand and don't get in a hurry or take short cuts.

Document everything you can from each project. What paints did you use? Where did you find the reference material? Where did you get the materials used and document the after market manufacturers web page and address. Keep a file with all those catalogs!

Paint as much of the model as you can with an air brush or spray paint. Before you paint apply a good primer to show what you missed on the prep work. This will also protect the plastic and give something for the paint to hold on to. If you use a spray can, warm up the can in hot water. Always use thin coats to cover. I test the paint before I apply to the good parts. Remember to strain the paint through a nylon. Again document the process you use that works for YOU.
Stick to that process and do NOT take shortcuts.

Build each sub assembly as though it was an entire model.
This helps you feel like you are getting something done on one of those big projects. But the most important thing is to look at each section as its own model and do the best you can with that section. Then when it is time to put it all together the entire package comes together and one great model.

Try to get involved with a model club. I am in a IPMS club where I have learned a great deal from armor and aircraft builders.
Go to some contests and have fun. Don't be a trophy hunter! Go to meet other modelers and learn new techniques. You know that once a modeler starts talking about their model, it is hard to stop.
The best award you can get at a model contest is knowledge!

Have fun and build what you like not what you think will take first place at a contest. Contribute to the hobby by sharing the knowledge you have gained. The more you put into it, the more you will get in return.


Cleaning up that model case helped me remember all the cool things I have done modeling. Checking out those models on the shelf can reveal how much your modeling has improved! Along with that you will remember what you did to get the effect you were looking for on those exhaust pipes. What paints you used that have stood the test of time!
The first time you tried something new and the results of that new product or tip your friends told you about.
AND what model got you that first, 1st place trophy! All the really cool people you met that are into the hobby.
Gosh all this started because I wanted a model of my favorite racecar driver, NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip. And now a very big fan of the McLaren F-1 team.

YEEEE HAAA I love to model!