Spacecraft Models And How To Build The Spacecraft Models


Stories and facts about space always fascinate children and adults. Movies like Star Wars and Star Trek had spacecraft models, which enhanced the interest of people about future navigation technologies. People explore the solar system and are always curious to find the creatures living on other planets and the techniques to get to these planets. Children in school are taught these subjects to develop their interest in astronomy, and space science projects are designed for them to experiment with their learnings, which include spaceships, the Milky Way, and tools like telescopes, etc. These experiments are not just reserved for children, but adults with this hobby find this activity very interesting. Many TV programs and magazines publish space science projects for people with this interest to help them create models out of junk.

In this article, we will discuss the building of a scale model Spacecraft as a beginner and guide you on how to buy, store, and make money out of this hobby.

Spacecraft is a device that communicates earth to space. It can be a satellite, shuttle, or any navigation device. Many hobbyists have made these models before from scratch. They used cardboard, bottles, and paper, which is the easiest way of building a spacecraft model and takes less effort. If you have never tried this before, and you’re interested in building your own spacecraft model, then, we have a piece of good news for you as many hobby stores sell scale model kits for beginners and professionals to keep their hobby alive. This might be new learning for you and will help you to improve your building techniques. Scale model kits for spacecraft can be easily available at your local hobby stores, and if you’re living far from these stores; then, the best way is to search the internet and order online. We will tell you how, so let’s begin.

What are the Spacecraft scale models?

The spacecraft scale model is the miniature model of the original spacecraft. These models are 3D and useful for making the model in large size. Spacecraft models come in different categories, and it depends on you whether you choose a satellite model kit, shuttle model kit, or spaceship model kit, etc. The market sells different sizes of models as for shuttle and spaceplane, and the size may vary.

Scale defines the size of an object. For beginners, we would recommend you to purchase a 1:43 scale model kit as it is 3-5 inches long and is considered as a standard size. Kits, nowadays, come in plastic, glass, wood, and metal, but as a starter, always work on plastic model kits because they are cheap and wouldn’t cost you much if damaged or broken. 

Another thing one should remember when buying a kit is the skill level necessary for building a spacecraft model age-wise, and to deal with the material/tool handling. Model kits come in five skill levels, so make sure to opt for the one you can handle comfortably.

Which skill level is made for you, let’s find out.

What’s the best level kit for you?

Skill levels are mentioned on the model kit, and it’s necessary to read out the instructions provided on it before purchasing it.

Skill level 1 model kit: These level kits are specially designed for the beginners or children under the age of ten. It only requires the fastening of the pieces. Paints are not necessary for this level.

Skill level 2 model kit: This kit is designed for the beginners that can work with glue and paints. The number of pieces is usually mentioned in the kit.

Skill level 3 model kit: This level requires more effort than the level 2 kit. It contains more pieces and requires working with tools. This kit is specially designed for the Intermediate level, but beginners can work on this level too by spending more time.

Skill level 4 model kit: It’s an advanced level kit designed for experts. It has more than 100 pieces and requires you to buy other components and tools that are not provided with the kit.

Skill level 5 model kit: These level kits are very expensive because they contain moving parts like motors and engines. These kits take time to build and give a realistic look when displayed.

By now, you have already known which one is best and can be handled easily. We recommend using skill level 2 and 3 kits if you’re above ten because it requires gluing and painting that can be real fun for you.

How to build a Spacecraft model?

Spaceship in the hands. Building process.

You have your model kit in your hands, and you’re ready to build a spacecraft model, but before starting the building process, it’s important to look for a place where you can keep your model kit and all the necessary tools on one side. This place can be a garage or a workbench. Make sure your workstation is full of light because working on miniature models requires bright places to work on.

While organizing your workbench, keep all the tools like sharp hobby knife or a plastic scribe, file, primer, and sprue cutter in one box. Arrange another box for securing the model kit parts after cutting them and spread the sheet under the table to prevent the spilling of paint on the floor. 

Now that you have organized everything, it’s time to open the model kit and follow the instructions carefully:

  • Read the instructions before drawing the parts out of the box.
  • Model kits come with picture guides to familiarize the hobbyist about its parts and joining techniques.
  • Draw out the parts and Count them as per the contents list.

Start building the spacecraft model by following this step by step guide:

  • The first and foremost step is to wash the plastic kit with a mild detergent and allow it to dry completely before cutting the parts. Washing the kit removes the greasiness and helps the paint to stick.
  • Take the necessary tools out of your toolbox and start working on cutting the parts.
    • Try not to turn or twist the parts from fingers. Use a sharp hobby knife or a scriber to cut it safely with soft hands to avoid damaging the element. Then use a sprue cutter to cut the sprue parts, put all the pieces in your container to prevent it from flying here and there.
    • After cutting the parts, cover your face and wear glasses for the filing process to avoid getting the dust in your eyes.
    • File the pieces with a metal file and sand it using sandpaper. The filing and sanding process gives finishing to the edges and body of the model kit.
  • Keep your workstation clean because the sanding and filing process creates a lot of waste, and it can stick to glue and the paint finish.
  • Assemble the parts and glue it by reading the instructions carefully. If the glue is not provided with the kit, you can buy the Tamiya cement as it has super drying powers.
    • For better results, dissolve the plastic in the glue to give a real texture to the joining parts.
    • Applying excess glue can shrink the plastic, so try to apply a little.
    • Let the glue dry after all the parts are joined then check for parts that need more glue.
    • Rubber bands and masking tape can be used to tighten and minimize the gaps left after applying the glue.
  • Your model is ready. Now it needs a sanding again;
    • Gently sand it with sandpaper to remove the finger marks of glue and dust.
    • You can glue the sandpaper with a popsicle stick also, this can easily remove the dust.
  • After sanding the model, apply the paint.
    • Arrange paint brushes for this process and a mixing palette for mixing the paint.
    • Water-based acrylic paints are suitable for plastic kits. Buy a color mentioned in the kit and apply the paint on the model using a little thinner to soften the paint color.
    • Let the paint dry out completely for 2-3 days.
    • After the paint, weathering can be done with oil paints to give the spacecraft model a transparent, glossy look. Leave it to dry for a couple of days because this process takes time to cure.
  • Your spacecraft model is ready for the display.

Spaceship and space rocket ready to be launched.

What helpful tools should you keep in your toolbox?

A lot of tools and supplies should not be purchased as you already have them in your home toolboxes and as a beginner, we suggest you not to overbuy. Some of the necessary tools and supplies you can keep are:

  • Tools: sharp hobby knife, scriber, sprue cutter, scissors, tweezer, and a metal file.
  • Supplies: popsicle sticks, sandpaper, toothpicks, masking tape, rubber bands, paintbrushes, mixing palette, and glue.
  • Paints: water-based acrylic paints, oil-based paints, and thinner.

Furthermore, for the decoration of your model, you can add removable decals to give your spacecraft a different look.

How to store your Spacecraft model?

Many hobbyists display their spacecraft models hanging on the wall, bookshelves, side tables, cabinets, and whatnot. Displaying your model exposed to air isn’t a good idea. You have put a lot of effort into building your first spacecraft model and presenting it openly gathers dust around it, and cleaning miniature models regularly is the main issue and security concern.

The best way to save and secure your model is to keep it in a closed display case and get rid of cleaning it regularly. You can blow the dust away using an airbrush once every 1-2 weeks. As a beginner, you can also make your DIY display case at home using glass jars and terrarium glass containers, but if you want to give your model a unique look; then, go for a display case that can be easily purchased from IKEA, craft stores, and online from Amazon website. 

Make sure to buy a display case a little larger than your model size for a better display. These stores have different varieties of clear plastic and glass display cases to choose from. Since it’s your first build so decorate it with fairy lights to give your spacecraft model display case a bright look in the dark.

What is the average cost to build a spacecraft model and where to buy from?

As a beginner, the average cost to build a spacecraft model is around $10-$30, depending on which category of spacecraft you’re buying. The prices vary from material to material; plastic model kits are cheaper than metal model kits. Nowadays, many local hobby stores sell cheap plastic model kit brands, which can cost you around $9-$15, but these model kits are not reliable. 

If you want to invest in good quality and realistic model kits; then, go for brands like Revell, Estes, AMT, and Bandai Hobby. They sell a wide range of spacecraft model kits of different skill levels at different prices. These brands can be purchased online from the following link

Many hobbyists of all ages buy spacecraft model kits of NASA, Stars Wars, and Star Trek movies. These model kits are trending as best sellers for a long time.

How to make money from this hobby?

Miniature models are treated as a showpiece for many people and hobbyists. You will find these models in a toy shop or at a collector shop. If you want to make money out of this hobby; then, upload the photos of your spacecraft model on your social media account or simply make a page on Facebook or Instagram where you can sell your model. Add on the details of your spacecraft model using hashtags to get the buyers’ attention. 

Customers with scale modeling interest usually buy these models to complete their collection and many, resell it to make more profit. On the other hand, there are forums that are loaded with the folks who are interested in creating a career in scale modeling. You can join these forums and get along with your colleagues and find a way to sell your models.

Space rocket and satellite on the ground base