Frequently Asked Questions & Modeling Glossary

       
 

Model Glossary:

#11
Common blade size used in hobby knives, also known as X-Acto knives.
AMT
Former model kit company, their models are now created and sold by Round 2. See round2models.com
Bburago
Diecast model manufacturer. The "double B" is a company trademark, and is not spelled "Burago" (Burago is a town in Italy). See bburago.com
BMF
Stands for "Bare Metal Foil," an adhesive backed metal foil used to simulate chrome trim. It can also be used as a fine masking material. Available at bare-metal.com
Box Stock
To build a kit without adding anything that wasn't included in the box, just modeling tools. Considered the most basic form of modeling.
Cyanoacrylate
Also referred to as "CA Adhesive," commonly referred to as "super glue." Any adhesive that contains cyanoacrlyate.
Danbury Mint
Collectible manufacturer, their lineup used to include diecast cars. See danburymint.com
Diecast
Refers to metal-bodied car models. Also spelled "die cast" and "die-cast."
Evergreen
Manufacturer of raw plastic materials including sheets, strips, tubes, rods, and textured sheets (like corrugated siding). See evergreenscalemodels.com
Fiber Optics
A means of lighting small details on a model. Light conducting fibers carry light from a source (such as a bulb in the middle of the model) to the outer shell of the model and through tiny holes drilled in the shell.
Franklin Mint
Collectible manufacturer, their lineup includes diecast cars. See franklinmint.com
Garage Kit
Generally refers to a low-production kit made by a private party (i.e., in someone's garage). Usually used in reference to figure & monster kits, but cars also apply.
Greenlight Collectibles
Diecast model manufacturer. See greenlighttoys.com
Jada Toys
Diecast model manufacturer. See jadaclub.com
Kitbash
Using parts from multiple sources to create one finished project. A '67 Nova with '83 Thunderbird seats would be a kitbash.
LED
Stands for "Light Emitting Diode," a source of light that glows when current is passed through it. LEDs have no filament, use less power, and are much cooler than traditional bulbs, so they are ideal in modeling applications.
Maisto
Diecast model manufacturer. See maisto.com
MPC
Former model kit company, their models are now created and sold by Round 2. See round2models.com
Plastruct
Manufacturer of raw plastic materials including sheets, strips, tubes, rods, and textured sheets (like corrugated siding). See plastruct.com
Polar Lights
Former model kit company, their models are now created and sold by Round 2. See polarlights.com
Repaint
To modify a model or figure making few or no physical changes.
Revell
Model kit manufacturer. See revell.com
Scale
The ratio of size between the original and the model: a 1/24 car is 1/24 the size of the original car.
Scratchbuild
To create a model (or part of a model) from raw materials: sheet stock, foam, clay, wood, etc. Considered the most advanced form of modeling.
Sprue
The plastic trees that hold the model parts in a kit. Also known as "runners."
Styrene
Short for "polystyrene," the plastic model kits and raw plastic materials are made from.
Tamiya
Model kit manufacturer. See tamiya.com
 
General Modeling FAQ · Questions About this Site

General Modeling FAQ

I'd like to get into model building - where do I start?
This site was designed to include information for all skill levels, so you can start right here. For parents who'd like to offer their kids a creative outlet but aren't sure where to start, check out the Parents' Guide for ways to introduce the hobby to your youngsters. If you're just beginning, or returning to the hobby after a long absence, you may want to check out the Tips for New Modelers page and Hobby Safety page. Also, be sure to look through the Tips & Techniques archive if you've got the basics down but are looking to add to your skill set. You may also want to check message boards and forums related to your subject of interest, and see if there are any model clubs in your area (check the HobbyTownUSA store finder to locate a nearby store and pay them a visit). A Google search will yield some good results, too.
I can't do this type of work.
It depends on what you mean by that. A common refrain I hear is "I can't do it because I am no good at (pick a topic: paint, detail work, body work, etc.)." This is often caused by frustration that your skill set does not yet match your ideal. It's a common problem, and one we all deal with when we see work done by a better modeler. The trick is to look at the ideal, and see what you can learn. Do you hate your paint jobs? Then search for people who do excellent paint work and ask them for help. Does using Bare Metal Foil seem like torture? Ask someone with experience how they do it. You can often see vast improvements in your work with nothing more than practice.

A more literal interpretation is that you are physically unable to do this type of work. Arthritis, impaired vision, or other issues may prevent you from building traditional models. But that doesn't mean you should give up! First, see if there is an option within your preferred realm: if a fume sensitivity prevents you from being near paints or glues, see if you can switch to non-toxic materials or snap-together kits. Maybe a whole new genre would be a good idea. I have seen some outstanding models built using wood, paper, or LEGO bricks, all of which use far fewer chemicals than styrene models. You can also try working in a bigger scale: 1/12 scale parts are much easier to see and handle than the same parts in 1/24 scale. You can also try teaming up with someone else: maybe you can do overall assemblies, but wiring an engine is impossible. But find someone who can help out with that aspect, and your building won't miss a beat.

Lastly, if model building is completely impossible due to physical, environmental, or other reasons, you can "build" a collection instead. Diecast cars, statues, military replicas, toys, and other collectibles have a huge following, and there are enough alternatives that you're sure to find something you're interested in. My own collection is a combination of models, action figures, and diecast cars. Many "retired" modelers have found branching out like this to be a great way to continue their hobbies.
But aren't those just toys?
Surprisingly, this is still a mentality held by many model builders. They feel that diecast vehicles are ugly, crude things better suited for paperweights than model collections. Amusingly, several diecast collectors have the exact opposite view: they see plastic as "cheap," and vehicles that use plastic construction are flimsy toys compared to their most beloved pieces. Fortunately, there is a growing faction that recognizes that both can exist side-by-side. Each has certain strengths and weaknesses, but by reading reviews, weighing your options, and buying carefully, you can easily have a great looking collection that includes both metal and styrene models.
What about resin kits?
Resin kits are usually limited production items, and are also often referred to as "Garage Kits." They are made from a denser plastic than regular "injection molded" kits, made by mixing liquid components that form a solid via chemical reaction (injection molded kits are made by heating the material to its melting point and literally injecting the liquified plastic into molds). Because they are made by individuals instead of manufacturers, their quality can vary from nearly flawless to nearly worthless castings. They are also much more expensive than styrene kits, ranging from a few dollars for a single part to several hundred dollars for a complete kit (some large-scale kits can even go well into four figures). Their popularity comes from the fact that resin kit makers tackle subjects that are deemed not commercially viable enough to market by mainline manufacturers (this will often involve licensing or other legal issues).
It seems like everything I see uses a different scale! What do things like "1:48," "quarter inch," "O," and "40mm" mean?
For some reason, different terminology is used for different modeling genres (1/48, quarter inch, O, and 40mm are actually all the same size). A scale written as "1:48" or "1/48" is a simple ratio: one of our inches equals 48 of the model's inches.
 
"Quarter inch" and similar notations usually refer to architectural material: it's a shorthand way of saying "one-quarter inch on the model equals one foot on the finished product" (in this case, 1/4" = 1' is the same as 1/4" = 12" which is the same as 1" = 48" or 1/48).

"O" and other letters ("G" "HO" "N" and "Z" are also common) are Model Railroading scales. Each letter has a unique scale, i.e. "O" equals 1:48 and "HO" equals 1:87.

Finally, scales noted as "40mm" generally refer to figure modeling, where the number expressed represents the average figure's height in millimeters. A more detailed explanation of what all this means can be found here.

 

Questions About this Site

So what's this site about?
Originally created as a place to share my own work, the site now serves to promote scale models and modeling in all incarnations. It still provides a place for people to comment on my work, both positive and negative, and I always enjoy hearing from others.
Why?
Because I enjoy the hobby. I've met a lot of great people through this and other modeling sites, and enjoy sharing ideas. By showing the models I've built, both good & bad, I've gotten a lot of great ideas and feedback on how to improve, or what I could consider for future projects. Part of the fun for me comes from the fact that some projects can require unique engineering solutions, design concepts, or construction techniques, while other models are simply refinements of existing replicas. I also tend to work along specific lines of interest - Transformers, Batmobiles, and other TV & Movie cars - and there's a certain sense of nostalgia with these.
If you build models of TV & movie cars, why don't you have a model of [famous vehicle] yet?
There are four possibilities:
  1. I have a finished replica of it (diecast, statue, etc.), so I don't need to build a model (check out the review section to see if it's there)
  2. The kit is in my "to build" stash, but I have not gotten to it yet
  3. I have plans for it, but do not yet have the kit because it is expensive, rare, or nonexistent
  4. I have not yet seen the movie/TV show, or have decided not to build a model representing it
If there's a 1/24 vehicle that I don't have on the site but you'd like to see, send me an e-mail with the details. I'll see what I can do to fix the situation.
Can you build a model for me?
Sorry, but I can't take on modeling projects for others at this point. However, there are a number of excellent modelers that can help you out - be sure to check the forums and boards at Scale Auto Magazine, Starship Modeler, or Model Cars Magazine.
Do you sell your models?
Unless an item is specifically listed as for sale (such as anything on the Sale pages or my Holiday Auction cars during their sale periods), none of the models are for sale.
What exactly is a Holiday Auction model?
Every year since 2000, I have built a model for the express purpose of selling via online auction. The auction usually runs sometime in late November or early December, with the goal being to have the model in the buyer's hands before Christmas. 100% of what was raised during the auction is then donated to charities in the Capital District region of New York State.
Can I buy an unbuilt model/unmodified diecast car from you?
Probably not. Several of my kits are now incomplete, having been opened and parts have been used in past projects. They're still good for my specific needs, but aren't really resellable. Also, quite a few of my kits and diecasts have long been out of production, and have taken years for me to track down. After that much time and effort, I likely won't be willing to part with them for a reasonable price. However, if you're looking for a specific discontinued kit, I'd recommend checking out Fred's Model World or an online auction site like eBay. For more recent Japanese kits, HobbyLink Japan is the best source available. If you don't know whether a kit exists or not, or if you know it does but don't have a hobby store near you, feel free to send me an e-mail and I'll be happy to help.
Can you send me more photos of a model?
In most cases, yes. As long as I still have a model, I can take pictures of anything specific you'd like to see. Just send me an e-mail with what you'd like to see, and I'll get some pictures as soon as I can.
I have this kit, but no instructions - can you send me a scan of the instructions?
If I have the kit, yes. Just send me an e-mail with the kit maker and kit number.
I have a web site, too. Can we exchange links?
Absolutely! But only if it is related to scale modeling, custom toys, action figures, or related material. Many people have heard that cross-linking promotes web sites. That's true, but only if you include the word "relevant." Ranking on sites with hundreds of unrelated links, or link farms, are generally penalized, not boosted.
But I really think visitors to your site would be interested in my [toys, car care products, everything else]! Can I advertise on the site?
Generally, yes: you can sponsor individual pages or a group of pages and have a text or banner ad placed on the page(s). Rates are negotiable, send me an e-mail and we can work out the details. Please note: no adult, gambling, or pharmaceutical websites.
You never responded to my e-mail! What gives?
If you've sent me an e-mail and it's been a few days without a response from me, odds are that I 1) Didn't get it (spam filters can block messages incorrectly sometimes), 2) Got it, responded, and my message never got to you due to a server error or spam filter, or 3) I've been looking for information to answer your question (I try to run through all of my resources before I simply say "I don't know"). If you're expecting a large file from me - a set of photos or an instruction scan - please make sure your e-mail can handle the incoming message. If I haven't gotten back to you after a few days, please send me another message: I promise to get back to you as soon as I can!