The simplest description of a kit is a set of parts
which need assembling. The majority of the kits which you will find at Grand
Prix Models are manufactured by small artisan makers using either white metal
(pewter) or resin (similar to car body filler or the plastic component in glass
reinforced plastic) for the major components and larger ancillaries. The
artisan nature of many of our traditional kit makers means that very low
volumes are possible (often fewer than 50 examples) so that we see a huge variety
Kits vary in complexity with the simplest kerbside
releases often being a body, chassis, wheels and windows with a few interior
parts and fine details. There are plenty of high detail projects for the more
adventurous and experienced modeller and in a handful of cases these even
extend to moving internal engine parts.
The kit parts are usually cast rather than injection
moulded and this means that you will typically have to do a little surface
preparation, this usually being restricted to removing excess 'flash' or feed
tags and then lightly rubbing down the surface for paint. For the smaller
detail parts we see ever more use of photo-etched stainless steel or brass,
which provide very precise and fine components. In most cases all of the components
must be painted* at some stage in the assembly process and the final
decoration, be it badges on a road car or sponsorship on a racer, is supplied
as water-slide decals.
*A few of our artisan ranges also provide painted
kits, which we list as a separate category. These normally still need the
smaller details painted but will have the main sprayed finish done for you.
This is particularly useful if you live in an area where spray painting isn’t
viable, be that because of local bylaws or because you’re in an apartment.
For a guide how to build a typical resin or white metal kits, please click here.
Also known as polystyrene kits, these are probably
the best known form of self-assembly model kit and the way that most of us
started modelling. The components are injection moulded and this usually means
a very precise fit with relative simplicity to build. However, many of these
kits still include a very high level of detail and for those who are feeling
more adventurous there are plenty of extra detailing parts available for most
new releases. We also see 'transkits' for many of these kits which allow either
accuracy issues to be corrected or alternative race versions to be built, the
transkit components usually being in resin or white metal.
For a long time dismissed by many (us included) as
toy cars, the quality of the mass produced die-cast models has come on
significantly in recent years. Usually made in the far east (China being the
most common source) and produced in high quantities, these models give
collectors the opportunity to build a collection at relatively low cost. The
arrival of Spark to the market place brought a new style of industrial
production using resin for the bodies instead of traditional die-casting.
Struggling to describe these initially we came up with the term resincast and
it’s stuck, not just with us but also in the industry! The advantage of resin
production is that the pattern making process allows for far smaller production
runs (often as low as 250 pieces ) compared with the thousands needed
previously. This means more choice, but also that you need to order more
swiftly and pre-orders are advised.
Also within the die-cast categories we see what we
call Premium Die-cast ranges, such as CMC and AutoArt. These high value pieces
are packed with detail and make fantastic collectables.
As the title suggests, artisan produced, fully
finished hand built models. Many of the manufacturers of resin & metal kits
also offer their models in fully finished forms, while other makers exclusively
create hand built models. 500 examples would be considered a large production
run by most hand built model makers and in many cases the models are produced
in editions of 50 examples or less.
Most hand builts are priced in the £100 - £200 range,
but prices for some series start quite a bit below this and for very rare
super-detailed made to order pieces such as those by LP Creation or Stephen
Barnett, are very much more.
This is where you'll find all those little bits and
pieces to add the finishing touches and extra details to your models. Driver
and pit crew figures, alternative wheels, additional lights, seat belts,
alternative livery decals, photo-etched upgrade parts for your plastic kits,
the list goes on and on.