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Tips

Tip: What's on the Box

Airfix kits are available in three types: Starter Sets, Gift Sets and Classic Kits.

Every box contains a wealth of information to help you choose the best kit for you and to help you achieve the best finish.

  • Starter Sets are ideal for beginners and include glue, paint and brushes with one decal option.

  • Gift Sets are for more advanced modellers and include glue, paint and brushes. In some cases they have multiple decal options.

  • Classic Kits are supplied without glue, paint and brushes. However, they are available in multiple decal options depending on the kit series.

Three Types Of Airfix Kits StarterThree Types Of Airfix Kits GiftThree Types Of Airfix Kits Classic

  Box Info

1 - Product Code

The product code is unique to each kit and helps you identify the kit of choice easily, assists you to navigate through the Airfix website accurately, determines the size of kit and usually the number of parts.

The Classic Kit product code also helps you to understand the size of the model via the series system. The kit series starts at 1 through to 25 (the higher the number the larger the kit). The first two digits after the letter 'A' determine the series of the kit. For example, code A05134 is a series five.

2 - Scale

The scale of the kit shows how large the model will be in relation to the original. Therefore, a 1:72 scale kit is 72x smaller than the original. Also, the smaller the scale number the larger the kit, for example, a 1:24 scale Spitfire will contain a larger model than a 1:48 scale Spitfire.

3 - Flying Hours

Become a member of the Airfix Club and you can collect Flying Hours to receive free model kits. The bigger the kit, the more Flying Hours it has to collect!

4 - Side Profiles

The side profiles on the front of the box show how many kit options are possible and what they will look like (also shown throughout the website as decal schemes where applicable).

5 - Paint List

The paint list shows and explains the recommended list of Humbrol paints needed for your kit. Please note that this section is only available on Classic Kits. The full list of paints required can also be found on the instructions included with your kit.

6 - Skill Level

The skill level, from 1 - 4, explains how difficult the model will be. A higher skill level often has more parts and is more challenging to build.

Tip: Knowing Your Kit

When beginning your model the first thing you will need is a place to work – preferably where you won’t be disturbed. Clear a table or work surface and cover it with paper (newspaper tends to be messy as after a while the print rubs off on your hands). Tape the paper onto the table so there is no chance of it lifting in a draught while you are working.

Before starting your model you should always read the instructions carefully. These will show you all the different stages of the model and you will be able to work out where and when you should paint details such as interiors and pilots.

The Humbrol glue should always be opened over your work surface and away from the model as there is invariably a small amount that will spill out. We recommend using Humbrol Precision Poly, as this has a needle making it easier to apply to a specific place and control the amount of glue. Also, always clean the needle before replacing the lid; this will make it easier at a later stage when using the glue.

Don’t cement the first piece until you have familiarised yourself with the content and only cut the pieces from the sprue as and when you need them. Prior to the application of glue always fit the pieces together in a ‘dry run’ (meaning put the pieces together before applying the glue).

Tip: Primer

We always recommend the use of Humbrol No.1 Primer before applying paint. This eliminates any grease and/or other elements from the surface of the plastic, which helps the paint adhere to the model.

Humbrol currently has three primers in the Acrylic Spray range:

Usage

A solvent-based, fast-drying paint developed for use on plastic model kits but which can also be used on other substrates. Matt, Satin, Gloss, Metallic and Clear finishes are available.

Substrate

A wide range of surfaces including most plastics, wood, glass, ceramics, metal, cardboard, sealed plaster and sealed hardboard. Also most applications in general DIY and automotive. Always try on a small test area to check suitability.

Coverage

Depends on application and thickness of coats.

Application

Aerosol spray. Spray at least 25cm from the substrate and spray with an even back and forth action.

Drying Time

15-30 minutes

How To Clean

Hold can upside down after use and depress nozzle for a few seconds to clean. Can be removed if not fully dry with Humbrol Enamel Thinners. Product is permanent once dry.

In this video we show you how and why you should primer your plastic kit before painting.

Humbrol products used in this video:

Tip: Painting

We recommend Humbrol paints for modelling. Humbrol paints have been used for generations in modelling and boast a wide range of Enamel and Acrylic colours.

Acrylic paint has a quicker drying time and is water based. Therefore, it is easier to clean, safer for younger modellers and is more suitable for airbrushing.

Enamel paint is hard-wearing and is solvent based. Enamel paint must be thinned and cleaned using Enamel Thinners.

When painting small fiddly items we recommend painting whilst still on the sprue. Always ensure the areas that need to be bonded are free, as much as possible, of paint as glue doesn’t work well on painted surfaces.

Use paints sparingly, this not only lowers the risk of the paint running, but also prevents it from obscuring important detail.

With experience you may find it easier to use Thinners. Always stir paint well before and during use. Also, when painting camouflage it is helpful to mark out areas to be painted beforehand with a soft pencil. Use the instructions and box lid as guidance.

Tip: Gluing

Gluing is probably the most important part of model making; even if your model is well painted it will be permanently marred by errors when gluing. For example, if you put too much glue on the pieces it can cause bubbles of cement to come out of the two pieces when pushed together. This is highly likely to affect the finish of the model.

Always keep your fingers clear from glue, this enables you to handle parts easier and avoid damaging the finish and details of the parts. Also, always keep the glue away from clothing and never anywhere near your face.

There are many different methods of holding components together whilst you are waiting for them to bond, such as masking tape and clothes pegs. The drying time for Humbrol Precision Poly is between 10 and 20 minutes, but this depends on the components being glued and temperature/humidity.

When gluing clear parts we recommend you use Humbrol Clearfix. Clearfix is a liquid adhesive that prevents clear plastic components (cockpit canopies) from frosting. To apply, just dip a cocktail stick into the solution and then run a thin line across the area that is to be glued.

Tip: Applying Decals/Transfers

Cut the decal out very carefully, keeping as near to the edge of the design as possible, and place in a saucer of warm water for 45 seconds. Slide the decal off its backing sheet and into position on the model. Using the tip of a paint brush to position the decal reduces the chance of damage. Once in position gently dab the decal with a piece of tissue paper to absorb any excess moisture.

When handling decals always take care as they are often small and delicate. To help soften decals and secure them in position you can use Humbrol Decalfix. Decalfix can be used by simply applying the solution with a brush or immersing the decals in the solution for 45 seconds and then sliding into the required position.

To stop your decals from cracking simply apply a coat of Humbrol Gloss Varnish to the area where the decals are to be placed. Once the varnish is dry you can then put the decals in the correct position. When the decals are in place and free from any moisture, coat in either gloss or matt varnish depending on the type of finish you require.

Tip: Airbrushing

Airbrushes vary in specification, so it's useful to do some test spraying on spare plastic or cardboard to get the right application before spraying your model.

Humbrol paint needs to be thinned for airbrushing: 1 - 2 parts paint to 1 part Enamel/Acrylic Thinners is usual. Remember, the thinner the paint the more coats you will have to apply.

Keep the paint in the pot uniform at all times when spraying by constantly stirring. This will ensure a consistent finish.

Always spray parallel to the surface being sprayed and don't spray too close as the paint will become heavy and start to run and sag.

Always clean your Airbrush immediately after use to prevent clogging with Humbrol Enamel Thinners, Humbrol Acrylic Thinners or water depending on whether you have used Enamel or Acrylics Paints.

Enamel Paint = Humbrol Enamel Thinners.
Acrylic Paint = Humbrol Acrylic Thinners or water.

Tip: Stands

Although we supply up to five arms with the stand, you only need to use one per model. You will need to drill two holes into the base of each plane for the mounting pins to go into. We recommend you position these so that the model is evenly balanced and is not trying to tip to one side or is nose/tail heavy.

Finally, when you are happy with the positioning of all your planes on the stand, you can if you wish, glue the ball and socket joint solid, although this will prevent you from re-positioning your planes at a later date.

Tip: Balancing

Some Airfix models require balancing, such as aircraft with tricycle undercarriages. If you have a model that needs balancing, you can simply add a small metal weight to the model during construction. The best place to buy these small metal weights are often fishing stores, however, be sure to use a weight that is not made out of lead.

The instructions should make it clear when a weight is needed, but be sure to leave that section open so the weight can be inserted. 

Tip: Connecting Tank Tracks

There are two different ways of joining tank tracks together. The first is to staple the tracks together. While this may sound a little low tech, it is quick and easy and the staple is nearly invisible when the model is finished. In fact, many professional modellers use this simple method.

The second is to 'heat weld' the tracks together. To do this, heat a flat headed screw driver with a match or lighter and then press it down against the joined track. This will melt or 'weld' the ends together (this method is only to be carried out by adults or under the supervision of an adult).

Tip: Connecting the Airfix Electric Motor (1:24 scale)

The Airfix Electric Motor 1:24 is used for powering a realistic spinning propeller on 1:24 scale model aircraft.

To fit the Airfix Electric Motor to your kit, you will need to cut the 'sleeve' to the required length by using the distance between the 'motor' and the aircraft 'prop'.

Allow a minimum of 3mm for the steel shaft and the motor shaft to penetrate the sleeve:

Electric Motor Connection

Tip: Model Detail: Drybrush Technique

Having painted your model you may decide to make it super-realistic by emphasising some of the detail. This can be done using the drybrushing technique.

Drybrush is a painting technique in which a paint brush that is relatively dry, but still holds paint, is used. Load is applied to a dry support such as paper or primed canvas. The resulting brush strokes have a characteristic scratchy look that lacks the smooth appearance that washes or blended paint commonly have.

For this to work you will need to find a colour a shade darker than that of your own model, and then thin with thinners to a watery consistency.  Take your finest brush and using this mixture, begin to outline the details very carefully.

When this has dried, mix up a shade lighter than that of the model to a fairly thick consistency. Using a bigger brush work off nearly all the colour onto a piece of scrap paper. Once there is almost no colour on the brush, gently brush over the detailed area. The finished result can be quite dramatic.

Tip: Model Detail: Texturing Technique - Rough Cast Armour

The Rough Cast-Armour Effect is suitable for military vehicles as it gives the effect of armoured steel.

The model or part of the model will need to be painted before the texturing process can be carried out. First, rub the area that you want to texture with a Scotchbrite pad. Then take an old brush, cut the bristles down to at least half the size, and load the brush with Humbrol Liquid Poly. Dab the area you wish to texture with the end of the brush.

Please note that this process softens the paint and can make it appear slightly lighter.

Also, make sure none of the bristles come out of the brush whilst doing this, if they do then remove them straight away or they will embed into the plastic. If the plastic starts to string then don't worry, just coat the area with a wash of liquid poly and this will remove the 'stringy' effect.

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