Scale Model Building: A Fun Hobby to Share With Your Kids

mclaren scale model car

Lockdowns and restrictions might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are better ways of drowning the doldrums than binge-watching every show on pay TV. Hobbies that involve the whole family, while also inspiring some imaginative thinking in children and parents alike, are always things to look forward to. Building scale models of cars, planes or ships is one way to get kids some hands-on knowledge of history and technology, while also spending quality time with mum and dad. Inquisitive kids will be the first to jump at the opportunity.
Building scale models

Building scale models is an activity best not rushed. It builds patience, discipline, and attention to detail. It also involves multiple tasks, like cutting, gluing, painting, sanding, sculpting and detailing that can also present themselves as challenges. And the reward is the achievement of a well-constructed vehicle, with semblance to the real thing. Children learn that hard work pays off, and are inspired for more.

Types of Scale Vehicles

There are heaps of life-like vehicles that can be rebuilt in scaled-down replicas. This includes most cars to roll off production lines, aircraft that have shaped battle outcomes, or ships in famous historic conquests. But also, individual parts like engines or transmissions, which teach us how things work. How fast do F1 cars go, when was the jet engine invented, how big is the largest ship, are just some of the questions that follow when we complete our first model.
types of scale models

Most of the scale models will be cars. And there’s a huge range. From American muscle cars, exotic Italian sports cars, or German and Japanese marvels of engineering. You’ll find an extensive list of scale model cars Australia in toy and hobby stores around the country.

What to Look for in Scale Model Cars:

Skill Levels Explained

When starting out in model building, a good idea would be to consider the different skill levels in assembling your car. Model cars come in 5 skill levels, based on how difficult the car is to complete. The first skill level requires the hobbyist to snap the separate parts together. A simple task for any adult, and not too demanding for primary school kids. Skill level 2 may need some gluing or painting, though there is still not a large number of pieces to be overwhelmed, so again, easy sailing. The next level involves more individual pieces, in smaller dimensions, and requires a little more time and patience. Skill level 4 includes model cars with over 100 pieces, that need detailed work to complete. And then there’s hardest skill level 5, reserved for the seasoned hobbyist, which has the most parts, some including engines and drivetrains, or complex details in the interior. This will take the most time and skill to assemble.

Skill levels will also include a number of different tools, with more complicated tools the higher up you go. Simple hobby knives and files are used to remove pieces from the frame and smoothed down, ready to be assembled. More complicated model kit cars in higher skill levels will need chisels, saws, tweezers, sandpaper, and even airbrushes for applying primers and paint. Paintwork in more advanced cars involves different layers and combinations, sometimes more complex than the real thing. To join parts together, various glues and adhesives are used. When the car has been assembled and painted, there’s work with polish and applying decals. The finished product should resemble the picture of the original, provided with the instructions. Skill and age levels are shown on the box.


Scale in model cars and vehicles means the assembled size of the model vehicle compared to the real-life original. This can be either in inches or centimetres. The most common scale model cars Australia is 1:24, meaning a scaled model of the 1970 Dodge Challenger, a car measuring 486 cm, comes in just over 20 cm. Other common scale sizes are 1:25 and 1:32 for smaller model kits, while the largest is 1:10, meaning our Challenger in this scale size will measure 48,6 cm. Model kits in larger scales are usually also more expensive and with components in higher detail.
Scale in model cars

Likeness to the Original

Hobby model cars, especially those trying to replicate real-life racing cars, need to be as detailed as possible. This includes things like modified bodywork, specific tyre profiles, racing colours and decals all resembling the original. Extensive research from the producers of model car kits to produce historically accurate vehicles is needed here. Cars in larger scales may also have moving parts, like steering wheels, or realistic depictions of intricate details like engine piping and wiring.
original scale model car

Buying Scale Cars

Model kit cars are sold in different skill levels and scale, something that is printed on the box. Beginner models in smaller scale are a good starting point for getting into building model scale cars. Kids will be able to do these on their own, while parents can help out with more complicated skill levels. Some kits may have all the necessary items, but higher skill levels require hobbyists to buy separate glues and paints, in addition to more specialised tools used in adding details, paint layers and the finishing touches.