1:48 1:72 Airfix Editorial Comment Eduard Kits, Reviews 'n' Builds Monogram Models


Model kits are getting easier to build. But is there more to it than that - do the challenges lie elsewhere within our hobby..?

Cult-like, the modelling Flagellants will never be short of opinions on the subject, talking down those kits that are deemed too easy in the face of something more worthy, more challenging, more in keeping with the needs of the true believers to whom the paintbrush is sacrosanct, and the airbrush, sacrilegious

Often my thoughts on this hobby of ours are driven by snippets that I catch on forums, web posts, or the various social medial accounts that I spend far too much time navigating each day. This particular train of thought departed from Drewe Manton’s modelling station several days ago, and though I didn’t place too much attention on it at the time, a day or so of subconscious musings and an early rise this morning, have conspired to drive me to write this Friday morning update.

So, is the hobby of model-making becoming too easy..?

Monograms’s 1/48 F-106 is one of the most difficult aircraft kits I’ve ever put together, but the results were worth the effort!

Now, before I begin, I should perhaps set out my modelling stall so that you can see that I’m being evenhanded here before I depart on my rambling journey that’s likely to offer little in the way of sensible thought, and even fewer concrete conclusions. I build everything, no matter what age, what quality of kit and how easy or not that kit is. I’m as likely to work on a brand-new Tamiya kit, as I am a 50-year-old Monogram offering that pitches cutting edge technology against past glories. That, I guess, gives me something of a wider view of the hobby and the kits that we build, so I hope you will at least recognise that experience for what it’s worth and take this essay in all of its well-meaning, glory!

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There is no doubt that kits in the 21st Century are easier to put together…In the main. Most products that you buy from your local modelling emporium or online superstore are likely to be well-moulded, accurate, simply broken down, well-fitting and detailed to a level that will suit most needs. That’s not offered as an opinion, that’s simply a fact. Yes, there are kits that fall well below those standards (sometimes within ranges that offer well-established excellence – no names, no pack drill…) but they tend to be exceptions rather than rules. Modellers in 2023, even beginners, know that they can grab a kit, some glue and a small collection of paints and after a few hours of enjoyable time in the evenings, end up with something that is more than a passing facsimile of their chosen subject. 

The Airfix Chipmunk is very easy to build from the box, but what about adding detail and dealing with that complex colour scheme?

So yes, model-making, has in the main become easier. But that’s not the whole picture, is it?

Though I choose to build older kits and enjoy the challenge that they offer to me amongst the über kits of 2023, I understand fully why others don’t want to do that. Why spend time dealing with fit issues, when you can enjoy the pleasure of parts that ‘click’ into place? Why struggle with raised panel lines, when incised detail allows you weather a model with ease? Modelling is a hobby and hobbies really shouldn’t be a battle of wills that you endure rather than enjoy. But that’s not what we are discussing here. That’s not what is wanted from those that espouse difficulty over relaxing ease. Cult-like, the modelling Flagellants will never be short of opinions on the subject, talking down those kits that are deemed too easy in the face of something more worthy, more challenging, more in keeping with the needs of the true believers to whom the paintbrush is sacrosanct, and the airbrush, sacrilegious

But it’s not the whole picture, is it?

Of course it’s not. Let me lay out my feelings on this: building models in 2023 is easier than it was for instance in 1980; painting them though, that’s a whole different ball game. And that, in a nutshell is what makes modelling today every bit as challenging as it was in the past – we just now have different hurdles to overcome.

Along with the uptick in the quality of the world’s kits, we have had an exponential rise in the levels of detail seen in each one. Gone are the days when the most basic Spitfire kits contained little more interior detail than a peg and pilot to sit on it. Now, the best kits include microscopic details that all need to be carefully assembled and then painted, painting that requires high levels of skill and dexterity to match finished paintwork with underlying plastic detail.

Eduard’s Spitfire Mk.I cockpit reveals incredible level of detail that’s available from the box…

Surface detail too will need to be carefully drawn out and what about those decal sheets? Unit markings and national insignia are now dwarfed in number by the incredible collection of stencils that tire the eyes and drain the energy of even the most dedicated enthusiast. They’re not easier, are they? The kits might be effortless to build (in part) but they are often far from straightforward to paint. Model-making might be easier, model-painting most certainly is not…

A superficially simple colour scheme such as that applied to this Kinetic F-16A is made more involved thanks to the decals and weathering applied over the basic paintwork.

And then of course we have the aftermarket to look at, myriad products being offered to add incredible levels of additional detail to your ‘simple’ plastic model kit. That Airfix Meteor that you are struggling to engage with thanks to its simplicity? How about adding an etched cockpit, resin details and a new set of decals for a more complex colour scheme? What about a conversion? All of a sudden, that simple kit is not so simple any more, is it?

The Eduard Wildcat is a very easy kit to build but it can be made more challenging thanks to a replacement cockpit that needs to be carefully assembled and then painted.

As mentioned earlier, I have a foot in both camps, liking the new and old in equal measure (actually, that’s not entirely true, I like the older kits far more, but that’s down to emotional need rather than anything to do with pitching one against the other). Despite that, I cannot help but prickle when this type of conversation arises within the hobby. Much like the debate around handpainting and airbrushing, I always conclude that those on the belligerent side of the fence are simply grandstanding, announcing to an ever-dwindling audience that they are in some way a more competent modeller because they chose to take the difficult path to completion of their choice subject. It’s nonsense. And demeaning. And frankly annoying, that this still goes on after the ‘50s debate over plastic kits replacing hand-carved wooden models, was consigned to the bin of history.

Just because you decide that older, often more challenging kits are for you, doesn’t make your hobby any more impressive than that enjoyed by those that don’t. It really doesn’t, any more than only building complex kits released today, over simpler offerings aimed at the beginner, places you in a higher skills bracket that’s somehow worthy of highlight.  It should never be a battle over the soul of a pastime, where difficulty is somehow the arbiter of a success or enjoyment. Build what you want, when you want and the rest of it should be kept to oneself. 

See you next time. 


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I'm formerly the editor in charge of Military In Scale magazine and latterly, Model Airplane International. Editing duties to one side, I'm now a full-time modelmaker with Doolittle Media, working to supply modelling articles and material for a number of their group titles, including MAI and Tamiya Model Magazine International. I'm also an avid fan of Assassin's creed, Coventry City FC and when the mood takes me, a drummer of only passing skill. Here though, you'll find what I do best: build models and occassionally, write about them!


  1. Simon Connell

    Good balanced article. It’s horses for courses like you say. Most of the ‘younger’ (30-50) members in my club have limited hobby and personal time due to work and family. A crappy fitting or poor quality kit brings us no pleasure and will often up in the bin or palmed off to another club member. The exception is will be unique subjects we are passionate about where there aren’t many options.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Clyde Lourensz

    Might be easier for some……I still struggle:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mick Wilson

    Good article. For me, it isn’t “easier”. It’s just different. Tiny engineering tolerances, tons of detail to incorporate (depending on scale and kit etc.) and, as you mentioned, massive decal sheets with tiny stencils etc. all demand skills older, simpler kits do not. And there’s plenty “modern” kits that offer one the opportunity to use up tubes of filler and pieces of scrap styrene along the way…. 😏

    Liked by 1 person

  4. pauls48scale

    I like doing all types, regardless of difficulty. I’ve built many limited run kits that demand alot of surgery to make a kit come together. Having said that, it is nice to put a simple build together and concentrate on a tough paint job, which is my favourite part of the build. I just build the kit that I want to do, from whatever brand it is available. If there’s multiple brands, I’ll pick the easiest ones. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mark Winsor

    Well said Spencer. Like you I like to tackle both modern and vintage kits and can enjoy them equally as much. Often depends on my mood as to which path I decide to choose as next project. Both can be equally challenging in different ways. You should take enjoyment in building whatever path you choose and respect the choices of others without judgement!


  6. Mustafa Aziz

    Totally agree. The standard of the accuracy expected from a completed kit has changed so the skill set required to achieve that result has changed too.


  7. Paul Bennett

    As someone who chose to “improve” a Matchbox Spitfire IX, instead of reaching for the nearby Eduard equivalent, maybe I’m unwittingly declaring myself a candidate for “In the Psychiatrist’s Chair.”
    It was a lot of fun though, and very absorbing. And that’s nub of it, I think.

    I will make that Eduard Spitfire, but as a brush painter, I realise that I probably won’t do that surface detail justice. So I’ll look for a natural metal finish and reach for my Tamiya spray cans instead.

    I wish I had a few more arrows to my bow, but as long as I can finish a kit and say “That’s gone pretty well” that’s good enough for me.

    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Having thrown out a Kittyhawk 1/48 Jaguar recently, struggled with the fit of parts on the Airfix 1/48 Spitfire XIV, DHC Chipmunk and an Eduard Fw190D-9 I would say some modern kits are not that easier to build.
    I have to admit that due to the constant whining on modelling pages (it’s not my scale/it’s too expensive/why didn’t you make such and such as it would sell like hotcakes etc) I’ve pretty much given up on them nowadays so fortunately I miss the idiocy displayed by some of the modelling community.


  9. Andrew Redman

    I agree with your sentiments and I realise I am talking in an echo chamber but it can not be said enough – it is all about enjoyment. That is a hard emotion to pin down I love getting lost in a beautiful Wingnut kit and in a different way a series one Airfix kit. The construction, the dry fitting, the preparation for painting, choosing the scheme and adding the finishing touches. The end result may come from a long complicated journey or a blast along a trouble free road (ha!) but the trick is to enjoy the two and all the variations in between equally.
    In the end what people think about the state of kits now, past and present doesn’t matter especially when they say out loud
    (On and on like Charlie Browns teacher).
    We live in a wonderful new age of plastic kits and I am very pleased with all that are now available- kits, tools, paint, glue, aftermarket, decals etc etc.


  10. Paul Andrew Dunham

    As a guy who has been known to pull the wood blocks out of the “bin of history” and hand-carve them into airplanes, I find the debate a little amusing. I do like my 21st century Tamiya kits too. A kit or a block of wood is just a starting point. If something seems ‘too easy’ you can take it in a new direction.


  11. Richard Graham


    For me the biggest difference in the latest kits is possibly their accuracy. with the advent of CAD & LIDAR etc, and not forgetting great designers, its increasingly rare to see reviewers consult scale plans and tut-tut over a missing couple of mm or suspect wing shape etc. I personally prefer not to have to worry about such things and focus on embellishing details or finish. Essentially the “modelling” element has moved on a notch; with kits providing a great canvas. Its still modelling however – whether using plasticard or 3D decal cockpit panels.

    Old kits on the other hand are more like raw materials for creating the canvas in the first place. I’d certainly resent attacking the latest kit with my razor saw, but I do really enjoy seeing whats’s possible with an old Frog Javelin FAW.9 or maybe turning the old 1/72 Airfix Canberra B(I).6 into a PR.7… at least until Airfix releases its latest ninja versions! 🙂


  12. Blair Stewart

    I’ve been building plastic kits since 1953 (my first one was Revell’s USS Missouri, and my dad and I assembled it on my seventh birthday, on my mom’s kitchen countertop). Thus, I have experienced the gamut of the plastic kit world. Like Spencer, I believe the biggest change/challenge has come with the painting aspect of the build. In the early days, the only color on a kit besides the color of the plastic was from decals. I will never forget my first use of an airbrush in 1969 when I returned to the hobby (like many guys, I took a break when I discovered cars and girls).

    A thought about many of the older kits: while they may not fit as well as the newer kits, requiring filing and sanding, they can take less or the same time to assemble as many of the modern kits, simply due to parts count (e.g., Revell’s box scale B-36 had maybe 20 parts.; conversely, a modern kit can have up to 400-500 parts, many of which are becoming too small for this old geezer!).

    The bottom line: I enjoy assembling all types of kits (aircraft, armor, cars, etc.) from all eras and with a variety of skill/time required to finish the model. I am glad to see the re-release – such as Atlantis’- of many of the kits I built as a kid. At the same time, I am fascinated by the amount of detail and variety of subject matter that today’s kits provide.
    A final thought: the internet is invaluable for learning new techniques, and without it I would be lost to come up with many of the things that a number of hobbyists have discovered and mastered. I consider this to be one of the major differences between now and the “good old days” of modeling.


  13. I found the Airfix I built forty years ago not too complicated. Some kits are not very complicated but are challenging to built (old eastern-european stuff, short run).
    How easy or challenging is up to the modeller. (Think of the train-modellers)


  14. Christian Atkins

    Here, Here!!
    A nice, balanced piece of prose!



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