The case for building 1/43 model cars from kits

Spark model cars are great. Building model cars is great for you.

The state of ready-built models from Spark, Truescale, Minichamps, Replicarz and others is simply amazing. Build-quality is reliably terrific. Price is pretty reasonable when you think about what inflation has done to your local currency. Each time a new model arrives, I cross off another model on my must-have list. That list is very, very long. But I still love building 1/43 model cars from kits all the same. I’m certainly no Barnett, Laugier or Bouissou, though I’m satisfied with my result, and that’s the important part.

crc & toyota mkII gtps building 1/43 model carsWhy? When the occasional problem solving while making a kit correctly is done, I feel satisfied in a way that opening a new ready-built cannot match. I’ve been building racing replicas for many years. Plastic, metal, resin, lexan. From very large to small and smaller. I love it all. It’s my art.

There’s a method to my madness though. I fill in the collection blanks that the mass manufacturers don’t cover or finally released years after I built the kit. Or it still doesn’t exist widely today. My first goal was to attain all of the 2 series Chaparral Can-Am cars. Starting with a Marsh metal kit of the Chaparral 2F (my very first kit ever built), I’ve managed to build a nice array from this particular niche. Marsh and Esdo provided every kit I needed in addition to a Formula kit of the 2K Indy car.

ford gtps building 1/43 model cars
Why 1/43?

It takes up less space. My model car collection is my racing car museum and a large collection in larger scales would take up my entire living space. There are many more street and racing replicas in 1/43 in ready-built and kit form than larger scales. This can satisfy even some fairly obscure subject desires.

lola & mclaren can-am building 1/43 model carsThat explains why I have concentrated on building a relatively few kits (40 or so, with more on deck), compared to the much larger amount of diecast and resincast ready-builts that I own. You still can’t get most of the IMSA GTPs that I have because I built the kits. I have several BMW Art Cars because I built the kits. That goes for a few Can-Am cars too.

YOU CAN DO IT!*

Yes, I’ve been building models for quite some time (I went to school with Abe Lincoln. He liked to build log cabins from kits). There are many kits that are easier than others to obtain a good result from. Marsh (McLaren on left, GTPs on right, below) is easily the best from this view; they also offer factory built versions of the kits. Therefore, the kits have to be easy to build. The simpler Tameo kits are superbly engineered to build correctly. The more detailed Tameo kits are fantastically engineered but not for the beginner. Many of the GTPs on this page were manufactured as kits by Starter and Provence Moulage. Sadly, they are both out of business as kit makers, but they can still be found on ebay.

marsh lola & bmw gtp building 1/43 model carsWith the acquisition of a few hobby tools and a place to build, you are on your way. I use rattle can paint, so don’t feel intimidated by painting (Tamiya; it’s very, very good). Building can be accomplished in an apartment too. Adhesives don’t smell much anymore. Paint outside (and quickly) when warm enough and when there is little to no wind. Bring your model inside to dry in a windless area. Kit prices are comparable to the Sparks of the world.

the world of 43rd building 1/43 model carsLatch onto a copy of The World of 43rd by John Simons (of Marsh Models) if you can. It’s the bible of how-to-do-it. There are also a few tutorials on the Tameo site.

In the end

You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that comes from actually creating something with your own hands. Along the way, you’ll solve minor problems (good for your brain). You’ll learn about the pleasures of a hobby (good for your soul). Don’t worry because your first results may or may not be fantastic. Stay with the simpler kits and your skill will improve. Pick a kit of something not yet available or long-since out of production. The built model will fit in with your collection just fine because it’s unique. That model will be your art.

One more thing to remember as you take some time for yourself and slow down everything while building 1/43 model cars.

It lowers your blood pressure (good for everything).

A great source for kits in any scale, supplies and advice is Grand Prix Models in jolly old England.

More great model car articles here.

*Extra points if you get the movie reference