Model Kit Terminology
Have you read something you don't understand?
Check the terms below and send us mail if you can't find what
you are looking for
Thanks to Dan Perez for expanding and adding many entries to this list.
- : )
- Modem symbol known as a "smiley" (if you look at it sideways, it looks
like a smiling face). Often posted at the end of humorous messages. There
are dozens of variations, such as ; ) for a winking smiley.
- Fast-drying, water-based model paints often used with vinyl and resin
kits. Acrylics are available both in jars (pre-thinned) and tube form
(thinning required). The recommended thinner for acrylic paints is a 50/50
mix of water and rubbing alcohol. Clean brushes with warm water and soap.
- A painting device that combines thin paint from a reservoir with a
stream of compressed air, creating a fine spray which allows for subtle
blending. Single action airbrushes allow you to control the air flow,
while double action airbrushes allow you to control both air flow and paint
flow (for more precision).
- Amazing Figure
- The internal support structure for a master sculpture for a model kit.
It can be as simple as a wire "skeleton" inside the clay, or it can
incorporate other materials such as aluminum foil and epoxy putty. The
armature supports the clay to prevent sagging and cracking.
- Base coat
- A coat of paint applied after priming, that usually incorporates the
overall color scheme of the model. For example, the base coat for a
werewolf might be brown, and the base coat for a sea monster might be
- Modem chat shorthand for "be right back."
- Lines that form where two halves of a mold meet and are not aligned
- Modem shorthand for "by the way."
- Slang for customizing a model by changing the pose, adding new details
and/or creating a detailed diorama-like base.
- A model kit part that was cast from a mold. In garage kits, molds are
usually made from RTV rubber and the castings are made in polyurethane
- Also known as paperclay, this is a cellulose-based sculpting material
often used for kit bases.
- A process of casting kit parts by combining resin and porcelain powder
(cold-cast porcelain) or bronze powder (cold-cast bronze) and pouring it
into a mold.
- Dremel tool
- A small drill-type tool that can be used for sanding, grinding, cutting
or drilling. It's shaped like a fat pencil, and thus can be used with more
skill (and thus more precision) than regular hand tools. Many modelers
prefer the variable-speed model, which offers even more control.
- A painting technique to produce highlights on textured areas. To dry
brush, a clean brush is dipped into the highlight color, then brushed on a
paper towel until the paint is barely coming off the bristles. Then the
brush is scrubbed lightly across the textured surface. The paint will come
off only on the raised areas of the texture, creating the highlights.
Drybrushing is often used in tandem with washes to create a more realistic
3-D effect in a paint job.
- A two-part bonding agent typically used for gluing resin parts.
- Epoxy putty
- A two-part putty which can be kneaded together and used in a variety of
ways, from sculpting fine detail to anchoring interior parts. Epoxy putty
hardens to a rock-hard state in several hours. Milliput is a brand name
many model shops carry, and can be thinned and smoothed with water.
- Paperlike residue which remains on a model after the casting process.
It's caused when molding material creeps into the space between the mold
halves, and must be removed when the model is being built.
- Garage kit
- Term loosely applied to amateur or semiprofessional model kits, usually
created in someone's spare time. Most garage kits are cast resin. Garage
kits can vary widely in quality, but many are superior works, equal in
quality, artistry and workmanship to those produced by professional kit
companies. Some garage kit sculptors are commissioned by pro kit companies
to create designs. Garage kits are frequently limited to a certain number
of copies, which adds to their appeal to collectors.
- Garage Kit That Ate My Wallet
- Illustrated books by Terry J. Webb that cover the garage kit industry,
including pro kit companies like Horizon, Kaiyodo, Dark Horse, etc. Each
book features dozens of illustrations of model kits, and are of great
interest to the kit hobbyist. Titles are THE GARAGE KIT THAT ATE MY
WALLET, SON OF THE GARAGE KIT THAT ATE MY WALLET and REVENGE OF THE GARAGE
KIT THAT ATE MY WALLET. The latter two volumes include not only profiles
of kit companies, but include articles on sculpting and painting model
- Girl kit
- A popular genre among garage kit builders. Girl kits feature female
characters, often nude or seminude, and frequently in seductive or
- Gremlins in the Garage
- Modem shorthand for "In my humble opinion."
- Modem shorthand for "In my opinion."
- Injection molding
- The most common method of making plastic models. Liquid polystyrene is
injected into metal molds and allowed to cool, forming the parts. Most
store-bought (i.e. non-specialty) models are made this way.
- KitBuilders Magazine
- Slang, most commonly used with various glues. "Kick" refers to when
the glue makes the transition to the hardened state. Many model shops sell
"kicker," which is a product that can be sprayed onto cyanoacrylate glue
(super glue) to accelerate the hardening process. Kickers also provide a
stronger bond. The term is also used for putty or resin.
- Light Emitting Diode; a small, bright light that can be used for robot
eyes, ship interiors. Usually sold at electronics stores like Radio Shack.
- Legal license granted by copyright or trademark holder for the use of a
likeness or character in a model kit. As licenses are usually expensive,
many garage kits are unlicensed reproductions of likenesses and characters
from television, film, comics, etc. A licensed kit is considered to be the
official version of that kit, even though other similar kits may exist.
- Modem shorthand for "Laughing out loud."
- Large Self Addressed Stamped Envelope
- Sculpting term for a basic sculpted model used to determine the final
pose and detailing for a master sculpture. Maquettes are also used in the
conceptual design stage of movie preproduction.
- Molding terminology for the original sculpture created for the molding
and casting process. A master can be sculpted from many materials, the
most common being Super Sculpey, a polymer clay.
- Model & Toy Collector Magazine
- A technique by which the glued joints of resin models are strengthened.
Metal pins (often cut from coat hanger wire or brass rod) are inserted
into holes drilled into either side of the joint. Pins are also used to
join the model to its base or stand for greater stability.
- A tiny hole in the surface of a resin or vinyl kit, caused by trapped
air bubbles during the casting process.
- A coat of paint, usually sprayed on, that serves as the foundation for
all coats of paint to follow. For resin and vinyl kits, a laquer-based
spray primer is recommended, as it provides good "tooth" for subsequent
coats of paint. Primer should be applied in light puffs, and should be
allowed to dry for 24 hours before any further paint is applied. A popular
brand of primer among garage kit enthusiasts is Floquil spray primer.
- Any of a number of compounds used to fill gaps, pinholes or seams in a
model. Generally, the putty is squeezed out of a tube and applied to the
seam or hole, where it hardens. It can then be sanded smooth. An example
would be Squadron putty, sold in most model shops. See also: epoxy putty.
- Recasting is the controversial practice of making new molds of the
parts of an existing kit, and then casting new kits from them, without the
authorization of the company that originally issued the kit. These
unauthorized new kits, called recasts, are of varying quality. Recasts
are often done of limited edition models or of models which are no longer
- Polyester or polyurethane resin, a material used in making garage kits.
Resin consists of a two-part mixture which hardens in a short time. Most
garage kits are resin castings. Unlike hollow vinyl kits, most resin kits
- Room-temperature vulcanizing, a term for rubber compounds that solidify
and stabilize at room temperature. RTV rubber is a two-part mixture that
is commonly used to make molds for garage kits.
- Self Addressed Stamped Envelope
- A model, model part, or base built from scratch, as opposed to using
pre-manufactured kits, parts, etc.
- Sculpey is a polymer clay material used commonly by sculptors. This
clay stays soft during the modeling process, and can then be baked in a
home oven to a ceramic-like hardness. There are different types--most
sculptors prefer the waxy pink Super Sculpey to the white, doughlike
Sculpey. Super Sculpey can be mixed with other polymer clays such as Fimo
or Promat to vary its working consistency and final hardness.
- The channel through which liquid casting material is poured during the
casting process. After the cast has hardened, some material (typically
resin) will remain in this channel, and must be removed before the model is
built. Injection molded models will come attached to a rectangular sprue,
or "part tree," as it is sometimes called.
- A caricature model kit that has odd proportions, typically a very large
head and very small body. Usually cast in resin.
- Super glue
- A cyanoacrylate bonding agent commonly used to assemble resin and vinyl
- The Modeler's
- A flexible vinyl compound used in making model kits. Unlike solid
resin kits, vinyl kits are often hollow. Some modelers prefer to fill the
legs of their vinyl kits with plaster for stability, and others prefer to
fill the entire kit with expanding foam to prevent the vinyl from
- Heavily thinned dark paint brushed on over a textured area, which runs
into cracks and crevices and dries to form shadows and shading. Washes can
be improved by adding a tiny bit of liquid dishwashing soap, which prevents
it from beading up. Washes are often used in tandem with drybrushing to
create a more realistic 3-D effect in a paint job.
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