Best model airplane kits

Building Sets & Blocks

Opening your model airplane kit may be exciting, but take it slow and double check the instructions to see if you have everything you’ll need to complete it. No one wants to stop part way in because they don’t have the right tools.

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Which model airplane kit is best?

Model airplane kits come in a vast variety of styles and detailed constructions. They aren’t just a few wooden planks that click together and barely float anymore. They can be almost exact to scale replicas that can be radio-controlled. Model airplane kits are for all ages and can be a wonderful bonding experience when putting them together with family and friends.

The best model airplane kit is the Guillow P-51 Mustang, perfect for those seeking a touch of challenge and plenty of detail in their builds.

What to know before you buy a model airplane kit

Who it’s for

There are all sorts of different model airplane kits, some of which are better suited to certain intended uses.

If the model airplane is intended for a child, you’ll want to consider selecting a kit with fewer parts and more manageable sizes, so the end result is not only easier to reach but quicker to be reached as well.

If you’re purchasing a model airplane kit for yourself, you can open up your possibilities much wider. Before purchasing, try and consider what level of detail and realism you’re looking for. Will your model will be for display only or actively used? You may also want to consider the size of the fully built model for proper display or storage.

If you intend on actually flying this model plane one way or another, consider how it does so. Do you want to throw it by hand, sling it with rubber-band drives or actually pilot it by wire or even radio control? You can even find competitive events, like races, in your local area to test your model airplane against other enthusiast’s builds.

Model airplane kit types

There are four main types of model airplane kits: scale replicas, historical models, flyable planes and simple models. For more information visit the model airplane kit buying guide from BestReviews.

  • Scale replicas: Scale replica model airplanes typically come in 1:72, 1:48 or 1:32 sizes. They have hundreds of parts, though they do also have varying levels of complexity. Scale replicas and historical models are best for sealed displays of highly detailed model airplanes.
  • Historical: A popular model type for collectors and enthusiasts, historical models can replicate any kind of plane from any point in history. However, WWII planes of various countries are certainly one of the most popular types of model airplane kit.
  • Flyable: If you thought this would be the most complex model airplane type, you’d be wrong. Flyable airplane models are frequently constructed from extra-light balsa wood and plastics. This is a fantastic option for most any skill level or age.
  • Simple: This is the easiest, quickest and most basic kind of model airplane. This is the type of three-piece construction you may remember picking up at a museum gift shop and accidentally breaking after a few tosses.

What to look for in a quality model airplane kit

Size

Do not confuse size and scale. Scale refers to how small the model compares to the real thing. Size is the total size of the model itself. For example, two planes at 1:32 scale could be vastly different sizes if their real counterparts are different sizes as well.

Clubs

If you really enjoy model airplanes, you may want to see if there are any model airplane clubs in your area. Connecting with fellow enthusiasts is a great way to learn even more about model airplanes. There may also be races and other activities you and your model airplane can enter in your area.

How much you can expect to spend on a model airplane kit

Model airplane kits can be incredibly realistic or fairly simple recreations of their actual counterparts, and the cost can likewise be as great or small. Most mid-range model airplane kits are sold for around $20-$60, though you can find less expensive kits or spend upwards of several hundred dollars for something minutely detailed.

Model airplane kit FAQ

Are there any restrictions when it comes to flying radio-controlled model airplanes?

A. Yes there are. Radio-controlled model airplanes are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and are required to adhere to the rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. These regulations are subject to change, so visit the FAA website for the most recent laws before you fly your model airplane. 

Are the paints used in model airplane kits toxic?

A. It depends on the type, so the short answer is maybe. The long answer is water-based acrylics are typically non-toxic while cheaper oil-based enamels are likely to be toxic. Manufacturers will generally make it known if their paints are non-toxic, and if you can’t be sure, you may want to look for a different paint.

What’s the best model airplane kit to buy?

Top model airplane kit

Guillow P-51 Mustang

Guillow P-51 Mustang

What you need to know: A perfect model airplane kit for those who seek a little extra challenge.

What you’ll love: Each component is precision cut for the best possible fit.

What you should consider: Be extra careful with this model airplane as the plastic and balsa wood construction can easily break.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top model airplane kit for the money

Academy Models WWII US Navy F6F-3/5

Academy Models WWII US Navy F6F-3/5

What you need to know: This is a budget-buy model airplane kit that nonetheless looks authentic to its full-size inspiration.

What you’ll love: This easy to assemble and very durable model airplane comes with a detailed cockpit area.

What you should consider: The decal stickers frequently peel and fall from the model after application.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Tamiya Models Vought F4U-1D Corsair

Tamiya Models Vought F4U-1D Corsair

What you need to know: This is a highly realistic model for those searching for maximum authenticity in their model airplane kits. 

What you’ll love: This model airplane is larger than other airplane models with working flaps and wings to boot.

What you should consider: Depending on the color of your model, the detailing on certain areas can be hard to fully see and appreciate.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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