Model Kits For The Super Serious
October 22, 2013

Model Kits For The Super Serious

Kids today likely don’t build model kits much, and truth be told I never really had the chance to build models. Back in the old days (as in the 1970’s and 1980’s) there were plenty of cool models around. I had plenty on my dresser that I could play with, model tanks, planes and ships. Oh yeah, lots and lots of ships.

But, as I mentioned, I never really built them. While these would show up under the Christmas tree and would be given to me throughout the year, my grandfather built most of them. Sadly, the years have gone by and I don’t have a single model that he built for me. I do have the memories.

I also am an adult who isn’t all that good at building models. Fortunately, today there are plenty of scale vehicles out there that I never have to build them. I can buy a fine looking scale tank, plane or ship. Not that I really buy a lot anyway. I have some, but my house is filled with old swords, maps and other “collectibles.”

Given the attention to detail in assembled scale vehicles, it had me thinking whether anyone actually builds models any longer. I’ve seen a lot of kits at estate sales and flea markets, but mostly those gather dust. Could it be that those who want to display a scale vehicle, even a high performance automobile, might just settle for the pre-built version?

Maybe, maybe not.

Visit a hobby store (those do still exist) and there are plenty of model kits that are still being made in Japan, China and even some American ones. Today’s kits are all the more realistic and available for a range of builders. But what really had me excited were the kits for the truly die hard collector.

Hachette Publications had run years ago a “Build the Bismarck” magazine. Basically, you subscribed to it and over the course of 140 weeks you’d receive parts for the magazine. There was talk about it being relaunched, and if you poke around eBay or online you might still be able to find the issues. The best part is that now you might find all 140 editions at once so no need to wait two and a half years to finish the kit. offered an excellent week-by-week take on the dedication that building a 1/200 scale replica, in wood no less, of the famous German battleship requires.

If that isn’t enough for you, go back in time and try your hand at building a 1:84 scale replica of Admiral Nelson’s Victory. At $1,200 for the complete set it is a serious investment, but one that is no ship in a bottle: unless you have a really big bottle.

This set is so detailed that it even comes with a briefcase of special tools, and this probably would have even been above the level of my grandfather.

Finally, if a kit isn’t a challenge enough for you, there is always the chance to build a scale model from nothing more than plans. My friend Tony Schnurr launched a project back in 2002 to build a scale model of the German warship S.M.S. Pommern. He documents the steps and missteps in his endeavor and I must say it is fascinating to see the amount of time he spent on the details.

While I’d love to have such a model grace my desk, I don’t have the patience. Instead, I’ll have to see what they might have for sale on Amazon.

Image Credit: Chepko Danil Vitalevich / Shutterstock

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer and has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and the fitness sports industry for more than 15 years. In that time his work has appeared in more than three dozen publications including Newsweek, PC Magazine and Wired. His work has also appeared on,,, and Peter is a regular writer for

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