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

t_tail_boy

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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
 

urumomo

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Mar 18, 2013
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2,841
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 ?
 

Quaralane

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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
 

blakeh1

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Oct 26, 2011
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254
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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unttld

Mechanical
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Nov 8, 2012
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268
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

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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
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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).
 

JohnDoe

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Jan 20, 2020
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Hi,

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!
 

Richard Baker

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I have a very limited budget for my hobbies. I have to choose between one large kit I want or several smaller ones, between buying a kit or replace some of my aging collection of paints. I do have a fair amount of unbuilt kits in my closet of doom so it's hard to justify getting new ones, even some grails now released
 

unclepine

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May 3, 2013
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Heres the deal for me...you only go around once on this chunk o dirt, so why not enjoy yerself while yer here..?! I have over 500 kits in my stash and always ready to plunk down cash for a new kit that has BEAUTIFUL artwork on the box top...!!??? Ya, that's right, I'm a sucker for good lookin model art. Usually of late though, the contents are fantastic. Makers like Meng, Takom, Border, are putting out superbly designed and engineered kits that are a treat to build. Will I build them all...probably not. But who cares. With Covid wrecking things and not being able to get to my fave hobby shop, I have LOTS to choose from and build whatever I fancy. With a stash of only a dozen kits or so...limited choices on any given day. Ya, I've been called crazy, nutjob, waste of money, but hey...it's fun and it keeps me sane, and AWAY from Covid disbelievers...HAHAHAHA...ENJOY the hobby man, it's the greatest... :)

Unclepine from CANADA
 

Belugawrx

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Jul 22, 2013
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This hobby will only get as expensive as you make it for yourself.
I agree Baron, looking for the deals is one of the fun parts of the hobby, as well as finding materials that aren't put out by "scale hobby" supply companies,...Craft paints for $2.00 a 60ml (2oz.) bottle that can be shot thru an airbrush when thinned properly, scratchbuilding details to add to a model, instead of ordering them, home made decals, washes,....etc.
Yep ... the cost of a kit has gone up....relative to everything else, but the more you want custom stuff, the more expensive it can get.
Have fun at the bench
Cheers
 

the Baron

Ich bin ja, Herr, in Deiner Macht
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It can be expensive to buy into the current notion that every build needs a ton of aftermarket products, too. If you choose to add resin or PE detail, for example, you have to accept that you will increase the price for yourself.
Jumping from one product to the next will run up your costs, too. I see people posting online about buying the next new brand of paint that comes out, or glue, or tool. I stay away from that. I don't buy any AK or Mig products, for example. While I can appreciate how those brands can help new modelers by taking the guesswork out of things like weathering, by providing ready-made products that ensure a consistent result, I can make my own washes, or weathering powders, and at a lower price to myself than if I pay AK to make it.
But I grew up on Monogram kits, and I picked up basic tips from Shep Paine, so I usually think of a way to do what I want with what I have on hand, than to buy it from someone else.
 

SF_Ziggurat

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I agree with all of the above, but for me the sole reason for this hobby is to have fun. And that is totally a personal judgment. For some, buying expensive kits, adding tons of photo-etched and aftermarket junk, scratch-building or modifying anything that isn’t “accurate,” and spending countless hours on tedious finishing coats, is what makes the hobby rewarding for them. Me, I like to pull out one of my vintage kits, build it nice and pretty straight out of the box, and paint it as neatly as possible. Period. What I am trying to do is recreate my teenage model-building experience, while trying to improve my skills along the way. What has happened to model building in the last twenty years or so, with the super-fancy airbrush systems, and all that pricy and fussy aftermarket junk, and that tedious finishing stuff like panel line washes and metallics and other “show-off” garbage, leave me cold. And my budget for the hobby is pretty minimal, let me tell you. My results? Pathetic next to the pros, but who cares? I’m ecstatic with some of the projects I finish, and that’s the sole purpose for me. This is not a race, or a contest, or a competition, but a personal hobby. If it ain’t fun, why in the world are you doing it?
 

Steven

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I agree with all of the above, but for me the sole reason for this hobby is to have fun. And that is totally a personal judgment. For some, buying expensive kits, adding tons of photo-etched and aftermarket junk, scratch-building or modifying anything that isn’t “accurate,” and spending countless hours on tedious finishing coats, is what makes the hobby rewarding for them. Me, I like to pull out one of my vintage kits, build it nice and pretty straight out of the box, and paint it as neatly as possible. Period. What I am trying to do is recreate my teenage model-building experience, while trying to improve my skills along the way. What has happened to model building in the last twenty years or so, with the super-fancy airbrush systems, and all that pricy and fussy aftermarket junk, and that tedious finishing stuff like panel line washes and metallics and other “show-off” garbage, leave me cold. And my budget for the hobby is pretty minimal, let me tell you. My results? Pathetic next to the pros, but who cares? I’m ecstatic with some of the projects I finish, and that’s the sole purpose for me. This is not a race, or a contest, or a competition, but a personal hobby. If it ain’t fun, why in the world are you doing it?
Using wording like "aftermarket junk", "tedious finishing coats", "pricey and fussy aftermarket junk", "show-off garbage" and stating that a hobby shouldn't be competitive if one chooses to enter contests is a rather rough analysis of the other aspects of model building. I won't degrade these other endeavors out of respect for the hobby and it's participants. Why rain on others who choose different approaches with such derogatory 'judgements'? I call them choices rather than judgements. For the sake of the argument, my work sits here as far as views are concerned. That comes from the embracing of the hobby as a whole: https://www.rocketryforum.com/forums/mid-power-rocketry-mpr.8/?order=view_count&direction=desc
 

SF_Ziggurat

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Using wording like "aftermarket junk", "tedious finishing coats", "pricey and fussy aftermarket junk", "show-off garbage" and stating that a hobby shouldn't be competitive if one chooses to enter contests is a rather rough analysis of the other aspects of model building. I won't degrade these other endeavors out of respect for the hobby and it's participants. Why rain on others who choose different approaches with such derogatory 'judgements'? I call them choices rather than judgements. For the sake of the argument, my work sits here as far as views are concerned. That comes from the embracing of the hobby as a whole: https://www.rocketryforum.com/forums/mid-power-rocketry-mpr.8/?order=view_count&direction=desc
Yes, I guess words like “junk” and “tedious” could be considered derogatory. I retract those statements! My point being that the hobby means so many different things to different people, and there is a steep learning curve for some of us. I am definitely working at a more primitive level, like in my teenage years, and that’s my speed for better or worse. I think what frustrates me in some of these forums is that everybody seems to be on the same page, with aftermarket stuff, fancy paint jobs, and intricate weathering. And building truly amazing models. Making my level of build look like garbage. My question is, where are all the folks building kits stock out of the box, like in the old days? Or am I the only one? Or are all of us stock builders just too embarrassed to show our work?
 

the Baron

Ich bin ja, Herr, in Deiner Macht
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...My question is, where are all the folks building kits stock out of the box, like in the old days? Or am I the only one? Or are all of us stock builders just too embarrassed to show our work?
I build out of the box, pretty much. But it takes me so long to finish something that I don't post very often.

I also have a short attention span for modeling-I start a kit with a lot of excitement, hit a snag of some kind, lose interest, and open a new kit. And I'll get the bug to work on something, then move on to something else than modeling. So I've got over a dozen builds on my Shelf of Doom.

Speaking of adding extra details as opposed to building out-of-box, one of those SoD builds is the USS Pennsylvania in 1/700, a conversion of HobbyBoss' Arizona kit. Not only did I try my hand at scratchbuilding the details that separated the Pennsy from her sister, it's my first time using PE for railing and some details. And that got me stuck. Also, the more I worked with the kit, the less I liked it. It's a great-nephew of Revell's old kit, copied by the Chinese, and it has all of the faults of that old kit. So, I haven't touched it in nearly 10 years. I think I have a build thread for it here in the forum.

Right now, since it's Christmas, I'm painting more figures for my Christmas display of "the Kaiser's Army/Berlin 1910". That goes under the tree. If I follow my pattern from the past couple of years, I'll get the bug right after New Year's and do a slam build of a Maschinen Krieger subject. They can be built and finished quickly.
 

Steven

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Yes, I guess words like “junk” and “tedious” could be considered derogatory. I retract those statements! My point being that the hobby means so many different things to different people, and there is a steep learning curve for some of us. I am definitely working at a more primitive level, like in my teenage years, and that’s my speed for better or worse. I think what frustrates me in some of these forums is that everybody seems to be on the same page, with aftermarket stuff, fancy paint jobs, and intricate weathering. And building truly amazing models. Making my level of build look like garbage. My question is, where are all the folks building kits stock out of the box, like in the old days? Or am I the only one? Or are all of us stock builders just too embarrassed to show our work?
If you look at my Redstone build in the link I provided, you'll see where my changing primers and using aggressive tape to tape off the paint job got me into all kinds of trouble. The fact is we all make mistakes. It's the ones who learn from them who thrive. I hate repeating mistakes. So I had better learn from them. I've been building models for 50 years and still run into problems. BB King had stated something to the effect that a great guitarist knows how to cover up their mistakes. As far as your question is concerned, only you can answer that.
 
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