Have you noticed that plastic scale models are a rather expensive hobby these days?


Oct 30, 2020
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As a baby boomer, I recall when the average scale-model kit was under $10. $6 for a measly 3 oz can of Testors spray paint? Come now! A big part of my expense is choosing to go with custom paint and custom decals. The paint and decals alone will add $65 to the materials cost of the plastic static non-flying model airplane.

How many scale models should one can of 3 oz spray paint cover anyway? As for the decals, I am going to draft the images for one 13" x 8" decal sheet and have not one but three models on that one sheet to spread the money across three different model projects.

I can order a 8"x13" decal sheet with all custom graphics for a custom 1/97 Boeing 727 jet, a 1/48 Bell 205 helicopter and a 1/25 Kenworth truck tractor with conventional sleeper. That would make the decals average out to about $15 per model. That puny can of paint cost me about $16. I'm wondering if I can spread that across all three models if I'm careful not to waste paint. I had to pay a high shipping cost on account of the paint being an exclusive color not available at my local Hobby Lobby.

I have cement, toothpicks, hobby clamps, Xacto knife, hobby sandpaper, hobby plastic putty, decal set and all that other hobby supply stuff from sevreal years back already so my costs are based upon what I'm having to buy now to complete a new project. Biggest costs by far are: model kits, paint, custom decals.

For the semi truck, only the tractor unit will get custom paint, not the trailer.

Here is my cost analysis of three future models I have on order so far:

1. Custom-Painted Boeing 727 Model Airplane, "American Original"

- 1:96 scale model kit, plastic, Boeing 727 Whisper Jet Plastic Model Kit 1/96 Scale Atlantis Models, eBay, http://www.ebay.com/usr/atlantistoyandhobby?_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2754, $31.60 total

-paint, spray: Testors TES28121Plum Crazy Met 3oz Spray, amainhobbies.com, $6.99 + $0.63 tax + $8.29 FedEx Ground shipping = $15.91 total

-paint, spray, Testors, 3 oz., Metallic Gloss Silver, Hobby Lobby, $6.31

-paint, bottle, Testors, 0.25 fl. oz., Rubber (vehicle tire color), Hobby Lobby, $2.17

-custom printed waterslide decal sheet: Thermal Resin ALPS, 8″ x 13″ or 200mm x 330mm full color, white, metallic silver, metallic gold with white backing, Bedlam Creations online, retail per sheet, $39.00 + $5.00 setup fee, running total = $44.00

Project Running Total: $100.00

2. Custom-Painted Kenworth Truck Tractor (Preston Trucking Co.) and Cattle Trailer Combination

AMT Kenworth W925 Conventional 1:25 Scale Model Kit, amazon.com, total $41.41

AMT 1 25 Wilson Livestock Van Trailer, amazon.com, total $41.41

Project Running Total: $82.82

3. Custom-Painted Model Bell 205 Helicopter, "American Original"

-AMT 1:48 Rescue 911 Helicopter Model Kit #6400 Made in USA 1993, eBay, total $32.95

Project Running Total: $32.95

Average Projected Materials Cost Per Model: $71.91


Well-Known Member
Mar 18, 2013
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Yep .
You also used to be able to buy a nice house on a half acre of land for 15 K :D

How much is that A-10 with those turbines and the radio controls running you ?


Well-Known Member
May 22, 2009
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I feel you here.
New 1/1000 Enterprise from Discovery---roughly $50 USD
Factory light kit for said--roughly $75 USD
Factory Aztec Decals for said-$25-$30 USD
Bridge Module from Paragrafix--$30 USD

And that isn't counting the costs of supplies

I miss the days of $15 and $20 kits, as well. But these are the times we live in


Active Member
Oct 26, 2011
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The main difference is modeling has moved from a nearly universal kids hobby into a hobby dominated by adult collectors.

Parents weren't buying their kids upgrade sets and lighting modules nor did they care if the kit was a 5 part simplified rendering with little to no details

Much of this stuff is no longer as mass produced as it used to be. Runs are smaller, and as a result, costs are higher

Even more so with upgrade kits

Unfortunately there is also a cause and effect as prices rise, less people pick up the hobby which in turn drives prices up while offering less options

I really think the next wave of modelling is in 3D printing. Cost have come way down and you can find tons of subjects which you can print at any scale you want

Right now is kind of a free for all, but if model companies were smart, they would figure out a way to tap into that market.

You basically pick out your kit on demand from a list of licensed kits, choose what scale, possibly choose different levels of detail or add-ons,, they print and ship it to you

Imagine being able to pick any Star Wars subject and have it printed in any scale you want for example. No more hoping Bandai might get around to making one someday

I have printed out a 1/72 scale Razor Crest which I bought online for $34.99 and used 1 bottle of resin which cost $30

So for $65 I have a huge kit with amazing details that would have cost at least double or triple that if it was made as a traditional kit

I have been able to find free stl files people generously uploaded to make a rag tag fleet in scale with the Moebius Battlestar Galactica. Cost was probably less than $10 in resin to print a Rising Star, Gemini Freighter, Colonial Movers, and mining ship
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Nov 8, 2012
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I don't know. As an adult I've only ever bought resin garage kits. The nice thing with those is that the prices are incredibly high, and the edition sizes are incredibly low so I'm really only buying one kit a year. I don't have the infinitely endless stash that others have. It's nice being able to focus on one kit without feeling the dread of the shelf of kits that'll never be built. On the other hand knowing that that one kit is gonna be several hundred dollars means I've gotta save the hobby dollars in advance to be ready for a quick sell out. It also means I need to keep an eye on what kits are releasing so I can choose wisely.

Also, buying a $40 model kit every month doesn't sting as much as buying a single $500 kit. That high single cost vs. spreading out lower costs across a year makes you think twice before hitting "buy now".

Richard Baker

New to this Forum
Apr 19, 2016
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When I first started building I paid $2.50 for the AMT Enterprise kit (which included lighting). That seemed expensive in the early sixties but jeeze, what the newest edition of that kit costs now...

Model building is an expensive hobby, especially if you start adding aftermarket pieces into the mix. I try to create most enhancements myself but there are times where I just do not have the time to scratch up everything I want to add.

the Baron

Ich bin ja, Herr, in Deiner Macht
May 12, 2009
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It depends on what you want to build and choose to buy.
Yes, new kits are generally more expensive than new kits were when we were kids. Though I'd be curious to see how much kits cost in terms of how many hours you have to work to earn the money to buy them. I suspect that while prices are higher, the amount of you have to work to earn the money is less, and the price is less, as a percentage of your income.
I buy a lot of old kits, particularly for airplanes. My preferred scale for airplanes is 1/48, so my stash has a lot of Monogram kits from the 70s, with a mix of Revell, Aurora, Hawk/Testors, Fujimi, and some Tamiya and Hasegawa. I buy them when I can find them the cheapest, at shows or on eBay.
For new kits, I buy Wave's MaK kits as they come out. I do have new airplane kits, like Tamiya's P-38 and Dora Wings' P-43. Those were expensive, it's true. Still, I looked for bargains. I bought my Tamiya P-38 from HobbyLink Japan, because they offered a discount, and with combined shipping, it was less than if I bought it from a retailer here. I made a similar deal with the P-43. I got it from an eBay seller in they Ukraine, who offered free shipping. So I got it for about $45, cheaper than the retailers here have offered (so far).


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Jan 20, 2020
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I am 100% in agreement with you! It is outrageous what it costs now to buy either a kit or PE or XYZs these days. I am a rather older person and have a Large Collection of kits but I have seen the writing on the wall, so to speak. The Industry is making it difficult for parents who love this Hobby to get a new generation involved in this great hobby fur to this! Yes, things have gone UP in price but $20...$100 Plus a kit makes it improbable that this hobby will servive very much longer. Even SCALE CAR MODElLER Magazine which was one of the finest Mags out there succumb to the changes we all see and face today. I may not see the total demise of this wonderful hobby that is coming but it is not far off based on what is taking place today! Your GLASS may be HALF EMPTY or HALF FULL depending on your perspective but the end result it is it is still HALF of something!

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