Skill Level 1 kits require some minor assembly, but are so simple anyone can do it. Such kits seldom require cement or paint, but read any additional explanation provided to be sure. With the possible exception of a pair of plastic nippers, no special tools or supplies are needed to complete a kit like this.
Skill Level 2:
Easy to Complete
Skill Level 2 kits require basic plastic model assembly techniques, such as cutting parts from the runners, and cutting or sanding away the remains of the gates (the place where the part was connected to the runner). Some kits in this level also provide stickers for some markings. Most level 2 kits do not require cement or paint, but be sure to read any additional information provided to be sure. To nicely complete a level 2 kit, you will want to have a pair of plastic nippers for cutting parts from the runners, and a fine file, sandpaper or hobby knife for cleaning the gates. In some cases, a pair of tweezers makes applying stickers easier. Most adults with no prior modeling experience would have no trouble completing a kit of skill level 2. Parents would probably want to assist younger children with a kit of this level if they have never built one before.
Skill Level 3:
Basic Skills Required
Kits rated as skill level 3 are traditional model kits that require all basic modeling skills to complete. This includes cutting parts from runners and trimming or sanding them prior to use, assembling them with cement, and the use of paint to complete them.
To properly complete a level 3 kit, you should have at least a basic set of modeling supplies, including plastic nippers, a hobby knife, files and/or sandpaper, plastic cement, instant (cyanoacrylate) cement (for resin, soft-vinyl or metal parts), painting supplies including brushes, paint, thinner and masking tape, tweezers and possibly decal softener for applying decals to difficult areas.
Kits in this class are not suitable for small children unless there is complete parental supervision. Adults who have never before completed a plastic model kit may want to read one of the many excellent modeling guides available at most hobby shops before trying to build one of these kits.
Skill level 3 kits include a very large portion of our catalog. Most traditional plastic model kits fall into this category.
Skill Level 4:
Advanced Skills Required
Kits that we have rated as skill level 4 require all the same modeling techniques and tools as skill level 3. However, these kits tend to include more and smaller parts, the use of multiple materials (resin, white metal, photo-etched, etc.) to complete the kit, and the need to perform some modifications to the parts before they can be used, such as changing their size, opening holes, etc. To properly complete a level 4 kit, you will want to have all of the skill level 3 tools. In addition, a pin-vise (hand-powered drill) and plastic saw will assist in modification of parts when necessary.
Kits in this class are not suitable for small children at all. Children under 14, even if experienced, are likely to have difficulty with a kit like this if they attempt it alone. Adults who have never before completed a plastic model kit are advised to avoid kits of skill level 4 or 5 until they have gained modeling experience working with something less challenging. Examples of kits in skill level 4 would be injection-plastic kits of cars or aircraft that include resin or white metal modification parts, or kits that call for you to cut or otherwise modify existing parts in some way. Many resin figure kits with many parts would also fall into this class.
Skill Level 5:
Kits for Experts
Kits that we have rated as skill level 5 require all the same modeling techniques and tools as skill level 3 and skill level 4. In addition, skill level 5 kits are often composed entirely of materials other than injection plastic, can contain many very small parts, often require extensive modification of parts to complete, and in some cases do not come with English-language instructions (Japanese only). Kits of this latter type require a degree of engineering common sense on the part of the modeler, as well as extensive test-fitting, to properly assemble.
Tools and supplies required to complete kits of this class are unchanged from those of skill level 4. Kits in this class are not suitable for small children at all. Children under 14, even if experienced, are likely to have difficulty with a kit like this if they attempt it alone, and even this may not help. Adults who have never before completed a model kit are advised to avoid kits of skill level 4 or 5 until they have gained modeling experience working with something less challenging. Examples of kits in this class would include resin and metal kits of racing cars and ships, accessory parts for such kits, and advanced, posable resin kits of science-fiction items.
This item requries the use of cement (glue) to complete. For injection-plastic kits, use the weld-type clear cement specifically designed for use on styrene plastic. For some smaller parts, you may wish to use instant type (cyanoacrylate) glue. For resin, white metal, soft vinyl and photo-etched materials, the use of instant type cement is strongly recommended.
A SAFETY NOTE ABOUT INSTANT CEMENT
Parents and all modelers should note that instant cement (cyanoacrylate) bonds skin instantly. While this in itself is not harmful, forcibly attempting to pull the skin apart can tear the skin and cause injury. If you or your child happens to inadvertenly glue themselves with instant cement, don't pull, but use remover for instant cement, or nail polish remover to dissolve the bond instead.
No Cement Required
This item does not require the use of cement to complete. Some modelers prefer to use cement on snap-together kits in order to fix them into a particular pose, or make a joint more secure. However, this is not required to complete these kits.
This model kit or accessory must be painted in order to achieve a realistic appearance.
While there are slight differences depending on the country you live in, there are generally three types of paint available for modeling: Acrylic, Enamel and Lacquer. Their characteristics are described below.
No Painting Required
This item does not require painting.
Either the item is completely pre-painted, such as an action figure or other completed figure, or it is molded in the colors of the finished item so that it appears natural after you have assembled it. Note that kits which are molded in their final colors will always look better when painted, even if this is not required. At the very least, a light coat of flat clear spray will make a science-fiction kit look much less toy-like after assembly. The same goes for some action figures as well.