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The History of Plastic Scale Modeling

Posted July 22, 2020

Do you know the history of plastic scale modeling?
There is more history to one of the most popular hobbies in the world than you would ever know.

Where it All Began

Actually, scale modeling has existed for millennia. It was used to depict military installments, defense mechanisms, and even large machines before even constructing. Leonarda Da Vinci was probably the most famous artist to build scale models. He builds catapults, paddleboards, and even mechanized robots during his lifetime.

From Concept to Production

Moving into the 20th and 21st centuries, scale models went from representations of concepts to commercially available products. Many credits the scale model revolution to Lewis Glasser of Revell and Nicholas Kove of Airfix when they decided to use their injection-molding systems to produce toys that were then sold to a manufacturer in parts, where manufacturers would then assemble and paint the models.

Upon finding the success with these unconventional plastic toys, both companies started to product scale model kits of ships, aircraft, and cars. From today's perspective, these toys are very crude and inconsistent. And of course, they are not real representations of the original vehicles.

As you would know, the first model kits were very basic. The most known piece of this basic toys were flat wings for aircraft models. That being said, Revell did get some things accurate,  the rigged cords and chain pieces from Revell’s 1/90 scale ship sets are highly accurate.

Improving the Models

While original model manufacturers were largely driven by profits, new model manufacturers started to rose. They find new and modern ways to craft their kits, which met consistently on scale requirements and were based on a variety of new and different airplanes, tanks, cars, and ships.

These new models were also produced relatively cheap for today's standards. Meaning hobbyist could afford to build a variety of models and collect lots of model kits. With the increasing popularity, manufacturers began to find new methods to make their kits more real, so they started using camouflage patterns, decals, and paint combinations.

Modeling in the 21st Century

Today, thanks to modern manufacturing methods, our beloved models come with all forms. We can also find any model we are looking for, on the scale we want, and the materials we want.

No one can know what the future of scale modeling goes from here, but for now, it's in a good place.

When did you first start building scale models? Do you remember your first one?


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