I’ve been wanting to do a post on the best model kits for beginners for awhile. It’s fortunate that it should be the one to break the seal on the Fox Two Models blog. So first and foremost, thanks for being here!
One of the most common questions that gets posted in the Modelmakers group on Reddit and the Mediocre Model Group on Facebook is “what model should I buy?”. To answer that question we’re going to look at the inventory of two big box stores (in the U.S.) that are generally a beginners first introduction to Models. Whether roaming the isles with your spouse, parent, or boyfriend/girlfriend, the site of a kit, and it’s attractive box art, is a siren call telling yourself “I want to build that!”.
Yet, it can be a bit of a game of Russian Roulette as some kits are older than your parents and go together about as well as melted Legos. You can guess what happens next when the beginner modeller chooses one of these kits, begins to assemble it, is met with immediate disaster and then runs it over with the lawn mower in frustration. So while Hobby Lobby and Michaels might be the introduction to most modellers it might also be the demise! But there are a few kits that are a great entry for a beginner that won’t make you want to give up the hobby on your first build.
Each kit image below will be linked to it’s respective Scalemates page. Scalemates is the ultimate resource for scale modellers so it will be a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with it.
So let’s get to it, the top model kits for beginners that you should buy.
5. Revell F-22 Raptop (1/72) $24.99
The Revell F-22 is a solid entry to modern jets. It has a great balance of features and detail including open/closed gear bays, open/closed weapon bays, and a host of missiles. It’s also a fairly large kit as people don’t realize just how big the Raptor is. So you almost get 1/48 bang for 1/72 buck.
This is also a kit where the fuselage closes vertically making seam cleanup easier for beginners.
One of the main draw backs is a complex paint scheme, poor fit of the weapon bay doors, and intakes.
4. Revell F-15E Strike Eagle (1/48) $49.99
Not to be confused with the F-15C Oregon ANG that makes the rounds, this F-15E is a solid entry into the 1/48 scale range.
New(ish) tooled in 2000 this kit features a good deal of recessed detail, a host of weapons, and fits together fairly well. Most may have difficulty with the intakes (what is it with Revell and intakes?) but it still builds into a very nice aircraft.
Don’t let the price spook you. Michaels regularly has coupons or deals to get this Eagle well below retail price.
3. Airfix Curtiss Tomahawk Mk.IIB (1/72) $9.99
These new tooled Airfix kits are perfect for beginners. They’re simple, quick, and easy builds.
The Tomahawk is no exception. Is goes together very quickly, has well defined recessed detail, and doesn’t have any troublesome areas.
Detailed this kit is not. Expect out of scale panel lines, sparse cockpit, and simplified parts. Which makes it perfect for beginners.
2. Bandai Star Wars X-Wing (1/72) $29.99
For Star Wars kits it doesn’t get any better than Bandai. Full stop. Their kits essentially snap together, come pre painted (the sprues are colored), and include both decals and stickers. It’s the whole package for a modeller of any skill. The kits are also extremely detailed and include a display stand.
If you love or even hate Star Wars, you need to get at least one Bandai kit. You’ll instantly fall in love.
1. Airfix P-51K Mustang Mk.IV (1/48) $29.99
1/48 WWII kits are some of the best for beginners. Not a lot of fiddly parts, basic shapes and logical flow of assembly.
While probably not the most accurate kit, this Airfix P-51K is best kit you can buy from Hobby Lobby for beginners. You get fantastic (though probably out of scale) recessed detail, a very nice paint and decal scheme, a good assortment of weapons, and the engineering and fit is very good. Most should not struggle with this and it includes enough parts and sprues to keep you entertained.
With that we have the top model kits a beginner should buy from Hobby Lobby. Some things I’ve noticed is that inventory is constantly changing. For example, I once picked up the newer Academy Super Hornet and Phantom off the shelf but never saw them stocked again.
Things to Consider
With that we have the top model kits for beginners from big box stores Some things I’ve noticed is that inventory is constantly changing, especially at Hobby Lobby. For example, I once picked up the newer Academy Super Hornet and Phantom off the shelf but never saw them stocked again. However, you want to give Michaels a try they have had the same inventory for YEARS. Don’t expect any changes there.
Above all else, one thing to always consider is to stick to newer tooled models. There’s a lot of older kits that aren’t worth building. Some may even have their box refreshed to look newer, like Academy’s F-16A which I would not recommend. Remember, ScaleMates is your friend!