Opinions about kits

Discussion in 'Kit Reviews' started by Larry Marshall, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. Carl, I thought that rather than hijack Chris's build thread I was starting to do, I'd start a new thread where we can discuss kit experiences, opinions, etc.

    As a newbie I find the ocean of designs & manufacturers producing them to be really hard to navigate. Seems that for each kit there are several parameters that vary without logical form. It's easy to pass this off as 'deal with it' but it also seems that comments from those who have trod the ground could enlighten a lot of us.

    For instance, you once said that Halinski kits might be complicated but everything fits and they're well documented. You suggested that there were worse places to start building card models. I just received some and I suddenly couldn't agree more. But it's interesting that depending on where you order a Halinski kit, you may or may not receive English instructions. I just got my kits from Hobby Factory and was pleasantly surprised that they send out English translations. That sort of info is, kinda sorta, important.

    Another example is JSC. I just bought JSC kits from Hobby Factory and Lighthouse and I was surprised to find that their instructions are in English as well.

    I guess what I'd like to know is whether there are any 'patterns' to any of this? I know that people have said that early Maly (prior to 1990) are not as nice as their more recent kits. I suspect that's true for most of these companies.

    Any comments, no matter how small, might be useful to someone shopping.

    Marek kits:
    I love the Marek kits sold by DeWayne. Great designs, great art, wonderful pricing. Instructions are lacking, though, so some experience with modeling is required.

    Haven't built the kit I've bought but WOW...they are detailed and for many there are large series of build photos included with the download packages.

    Haven't built them but the recent designs by Nobi are very cleanly done and worthy of a good build.

    ...drool....waiting for my Super Corsair as we speak.

    Cheers --- Larry
  2. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    Thanks larry, I was going to start one of these too.

    I would like people to specify publishers the really like and ones they really dont like :) give reasons where applcable like poor colors, poor fit etc etc etc blah blah blah :D
  3. shoki2000

    shoki2000 Active Member

    As soon as I get home from work :grin:
  4. Bowdenja

    Bowdenja Active Member

    Funny thing........... if this was two three years ago it would be a very different post. It is amazing what has happened with this hobby in that time frame. Almost nothing was in English and very very few places to get models, the book kind, except from over-seas.......... since I'm in the US I an referring to "the Continent"

    With the addition of downloadable models and more places to buy model books this hobby is starting to catch on here in North America.

    People like Michael, DeWayne, and others, were able to either get designers to trust them to sell there models in a downloadable format, or like Nobi and Kancho some designers started offering their wares on their own sites, when they saw a market.

    Some of the stores that sell the book via the mail, also do their own instruction translations, and with the demise of some of them lately that may be a lost perk!

    Until the hobby really catches on and the demand for more models over here gets noticed, English translations may just be a lucky find.

    The good thing is that we have sites like this one, where you can ask questions and get multiple answers in a very fast time.

    So I guess what I am saying........ in a nutshell, it is up to US, you and me, to grow this hobby, so that we here in North America have some clout with purchasing power to get better instructions, translated instructions, and such. And to make it grown we MUST support both venues.......... Stores and Internet sites, we just had a very good example of what can happen if we don't.

    If you find a model or maker that doesn't stack up, post a thread here and tell everyone, like what Carl did. Also on the other side of the coin, you must also post the good too! Don't just say it's poor, or crappy paper or whatever, be specific. 99 out 100 times, the designer will log on a see it. It has happen before and will contiue to happen because designers WANT to please us, the buyers. Constructive criticism can only help the hobby........... destructive or opinionated criticism will do more damage.

  5. Absolutely no rush, Michael. You guys who sell via download are far too concerned about how many hours there are between order and response :) Remember Carl's comment about 2 months between order and receipt of his Halinski kits (grin)?

    This does relate, however, to this thread, I suppose. Somewhere on cardmodels.net people were talking about getting stuff from Canada and it taking a long time. They blamed planetary alignment, Canada Post, and just about everything but US customs for the problems they'd had. Here's some data:

    ordered shipped received
    Hobby Factory Sept 20 Sept 26 Oct 2
    (Edmonton, Alberta)

    Lighthouse Sept 26 Oct 1 Oct 4
    (metro Toronto)

    These shipments were received in Quebec City, Quebec. Note that transit time was 6 and 3 days respectively. In my experience, Canada Post is rarely the problem with shipping. The nonsense going on at the border sometimes is.

    Cheers --- Larry
  6. cdcoyle

    cdcoyle Member

    My experience with card models is very limited, so I can't really comment on one publisher or another, but I'm keenly interested in hearing what experienced builders have to say on the topic. Hope they will all chime in!

  7. barry

    barry Active Member


    It is a bit of an unanswerable problem it's mainly WHO designed them, the publishers well you can say whether you like the paper and the printing.
  8. popala

    popala Member

    Here are my few cents on the publishers whose models I built:

    Halinski s.c. (Kartonowy Arsenal, Military Model) - best print, best fit, best end effect.
    Those are some of the most impressive card models ever. They do require a high degree of accuracy. Even a smallest mistake can resonate throughout the entire model. Definitely not models for a beginner. Probably the biggest reason behind Halinski’s consistent quality is that unlike other publishers, he has the same, excellent team of gifted modelers designing every kit.

    Maly Modelarz – fit and print quality depends the model in question.
    Maly put out some of the best beginner kits and that is really the audience their models are meant for. The name means “Small Modeler” or ”Young Modeler” depending on whom you ask. Not all their kits are an easy build but in each class of models: aircraft, ships and vehicles, Maly Modelarz is an excellent starting point.

    GPM – good fit, good print, interesting subjects.
    Just the wide range of subjects and number of offerings make this publisher stand out. Generally their kits (especially in the last year or two) are of very good quality but because they have different people designing their models, the quality is not consistent. What complicates things even more is that unlike Halinski, Maly, Modelik or others, they don’t print the designer’s name anywhere in the kit (please correct me if I am wrong but I am unable to find it).

    I own kits by Modelik, Orlik, Hobby Model and others, but I did not build any so I won't offer opinions on them.
  9. Good point. I get the feeling that I stumbled into the cardmodeling world at the right time.

    And maybe if people would be more vocal about good customer service, good designs, English translations provided, etc. these companies would do more business.

    Right now they're "lucky" because places like this aren't saying "these guys provide English instructions." I had no expectation of English instructions from the JSC and Halinski kits I just received but they were there nevertheless and they came from places where people here shop. It shouldn't have been a 'lucky find' but rather a reason for me to buy from where I did, right? There's nothing more pleasant than dealing with DeWayne to buy Marek kits, on all levels. That's stuff worth broadcasting, me thinks.

    Boy, do I agree with that. I'm naive about the cardmodel world but what I see is a struggle to make a buck while producing excellent bang for the buck. Much of the reason is that there's just too darn much free stuff and that's caused people to believe that buying a kit shouldn't cost much money. When I look at "expensive" Halinski, Gremir, and ModelArt kits what I see are incredible bargains, with sooooooo much effort in developing the intellectual property being sold. As you say, people need to support these companies to whatever extent their budgets can support. I'm afraid I'm a bit beyond that point at the moment but I can't help myself :)

    Of course one man's "constructive criticism" is another man's "opinionated criticism" :)

    Cheers --- Larry
  10. You mentioned that Halinski kits aren't for beginners and you're probably right, even though I suggested that their great instructions/drawings provide a lot of builder support.

    I think the difference in our view is that beginners need something far more than 'easy to build.' Fiddler's Green models are "easy to build" but most come with almost NO instructions except for drawings that tell you to put the back of the fuselage behind the front of it.

    I just received a GPM Bleriot, which might not be a 'beginner' kit but it's the first kit I've received that begins to provide the instructional support required by beginning modelers. There is a build SEQUENCE laid out. Each set of steps is described graphically, with graphics showing particular tasks. When contrasted with other cardmodel products, where you're supposed to "know" that when there's an asterisk next to the part number you should make it 1mm thick, this is a major leap forward. If kit designer/manufacturers really want to make inroads into the plastics world, they're going to have to start getting a bit closer to those plastics models in terms of builder support. I see some of this happening but there needs to be more emphasis on it in my opinion.

    Cheers --- Larry
  11. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    An Interesting Observation

    A couple of observations may prove important to the cardmodel buying public.

    1.) Build reviews are one of the most important sources of information regarding a particular model. Remember that into every designers life a stinker or two are bound to make a debut.

    2.) Never buy a model "sight unseen". Halinski has very cleverly discovered the power of the "Vanilla Build" and displays them to promote the models on their site. P-Models also has an extensive gallery of built models. This will most likely be a standard for all manufacturers that wish to survive and prosper.

    3.) An exception to number 2.) above is models designed and offered before the PC design revolution. Many of these models are the results of very creative designers and methods tested multiple times as part of the design process verification. Still, there are rare exceptions in this category.

    4.) If you desire to rescale a model an "email" or "all digital" model is recommended. Scanning a printed halftone model will frustrate even the most accomplished of modelers. An all digital model bypases this.

    5.) Quality of paper does makes a difference. Old "Cold War" eastern block models are printed on paper that has attained legendary status for its ability to yellow with age and a texture that makes particle board blush. These models are in a category all by themselves. We owe them a debt of gratitude for the preservation of cardmodeling as a hobby between the advent of injection molded styrene plastic models and the development of the internet, PCs, color printers and affordable software. Building these models is well worth the effort as they are a nice change from the perfection of computer aided designed models back to the days when pencil paper and assorted coloring methods were used. Models now are printed on high quality cardstock and are run on presses capable of printing details down into several microns. The surface finish or "coating" hasn't been discussed much but has is relatively important to the overall finish of the completed model. So if you're doing a review please examine the papers surface and if possible under magnification. Also examine the surface smoothness by viewing the papers surface at a very shallow angle to a light source. This shows the "mirror" capability of the surface. Knowing whether the surface is matte, semi-gloss or gloss helps a great deal in explaining in words what is very difficult to capture in photos.

    These are a few points useful in categorizing models. None are hard and fast as the end choice is in the mind of the modeler and, as usual, nothing can ever stop us from being infatuated with a particular subject and that undefinable but ever so important urge to buy.

  12. Darwin

    Darwin Member

    A few comments on this topic, which is somewhat dear to my heart. Attemts to evaluate specific models, or more generally, publishing houses, is quite subjective. When I started the "first impressions" forum, I attempted to introduce some guidelines to make the process more objective. I didn't make it a requirement to use them, but attempted to stay consistent with them on my own evaluations. Recognizing that there can be a hell of a gap in timeliness and quantity of postings, the site management made a decision (which I still contend is a good one) to create individual forums for first impressions of kits received but yet to be built by the evaluator and for indepth build reviews. Even that decision proved to be a point of contention on the part of some members. Attempts to critically evaluate one's impression of a kit generally seemed to garner more negative response from the membership than positive....if any response was received at all on the review. I finally said "enough," and went on to more productive use of my time. Point I'm making is that it takes time and effort to put together a kit evaluation. The person doing the evaluation is certainly not receiving monitary rewards, and they aren't receiving freebies from the publishing houses to provide the subject model for the evaluation. I know Charlie was about to give it up based on near total lack of response to his evaluation efforts, since I wrote him on at least one occasion pointing out that even if his efforts didn't garner response from the group, his threads got a lot of hits, so people were apparently reading them. On my own part, when I the negative responses outstripped the positive, I reached the "what the hell am I doing this for" point myself. If you want members to make postings for whatever purpose, you need to give some indication you appreciate their efforts by giving them feedback. It doesn't have to be gushing fawns....there are always areas for argumentation or constructive criticisms, and I for one enjoy spirited debate. However, even in this group, it all too often devolves into personal attack, and in (thankfully) rare occasions, downright flames. Enough said....I'm standing down off my soapbox.
  13. charliec

    charliec Active Member

    Can I make the point that now Poland is part of the EU there will be pressure
    on the cardmodel publishers in Poland to provide multi-lingual instructions to conform to EU regulations. I notice that GPM has started doing this and I'd expect the others to follow suit.


  14. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    I didnt really want full blown kit reviews. Just a general feeling. I didnt know it would stir up old feelings....

    Has anyone thus far been overly negative? Not in my opinion. Granted its typically easier to remember the bad than the good and those that have had a bad experience tend to be more vocal about their issues than those that had good (or neutral) experiences but this is a pretty level headed place :D
  15. popala

    popala Member

    You are absolutely right. Many kits do not have enough assembly diagrams and in too many cases instructions seem incomplete. Halinski has excellent instructions but I think that his models require more precision than most beginners are capable of. Also a prospect of assembling a single engine fighter composed of 500-800 parts could be daunting for a beginner.

    Excellent point. If all you ever build are Halinski models, you will never have trouble reading the "code" - asterisks, superscript etc. If you build models from other companies however, you will quickly find out that each designer has his own way of marking parts. To say that lack of standards is frustrating would be an understatement.
  16. Willja67

    Willja67 Member

    Just thought I'd weigh in on this from the designers POV. To design models a fairly good understanding of the skills and processes to build the model are needed and it is often taken for granted that those building the model might not know them or the desinger has been working on the model so long and is so intimately aquainted with it that he has dreams about. At that point it is extremly easy to just scan the model and not notice more than half of it. You'd notice if it were not there anymore but it gets difficult. That said my instructions for my Corsair are probably inadequate in some of the respects mentioned and I'd just like to say that designers aren't supermen (or women) by any stretch.

    I guess you could boil this post down to it's essence by saying that I'm justifying or I have an inferiority complex.
  17. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    Though instructions are important, its not the only aspect I am interested in learning about various publishers etc.

    I never would have know about that specific grumman duck before..... etc etc etc....
  18. It seems this thread is starting to get at some of the meaty issues associated with not only kit quality but kit reviewing and creation. That's wonderful in my opinion as the issues are certainly worthy of discussion.

    It's hard to figure out why this sort of thing is seen as a mystery to be discovered by companies regardless of the type of kit being sold. The marketplace is used to Hasagawa presenting its 'latest and greatest' by presenting a finished model. It gives potential customers a sense of what the model will look like and the confort of knowing that at least one person actually got the parts to fit with one another. Don't know about the rest but one thing that modern design techniques have give us are models being designed and sent to market without ever being built by anyone. I don't much like that myself as I buy kit to cut through some of the parts fitting/creation required by scratchbuilding.

    Electronic downloads, done in a reasonable fashion, are the greatest thing about cardmodel kit buying. I've purchased some hardcopy kits but I very much prefer electronic downloads.

    This could be a thread unto itself. I've managed to find/buy two brands of North American cardstock and I now have several examples of European cardstock in the form of models. Not much of a sample, though, to get a sense of the variation or the ability to describe them.

    Cheers -- Larry
  19. Sure...so what? I've seen this sort of 'complain about the review/reviewer' stuff in other model venues. I can't understand it...at all. We live in a veritable sea of 'opinions'. Sometimes we pay attention to them, sometimes we don't. But when we buy pretty much anything significant we ask for opinions, seek them out, and use them. When we vote we become 'informed' by listening to opinions, trying to filter through the nonsense to get to the 'truth' as we see it.

    Ultimately, we find people who provide opinions that we, regularly, agree with and tend to pay more attention to them than we do to those with a record of saying things that seem inconsistent with our experience. Isn't that how the entire world turns? It's not a perfect world but we should be used to the process by now. Why should opinions given about card models be any different?

    Sculpting verbal opinion is like pushing on a rope. In my experience, the only way to 'standardize' a review in any way is to insist that the reviewer fill out a form in addition to providing their verbal opinions. I've done this for magazine reviews and it works fairly well in getting some standardization of the base information.

    I have much egg on my face as I haven't seen many 'first impressions' posted here since I've joined the group. Not sure why.

    This has not slowed the movie, music, car, book, etc review industry, which provide these same people with 'new product' information. Sometimes people grouse simply because they can't be bothered to do the work required to do a review themselves, Darwin. Unless you limited who could do a review, there's no reason to complain about a review someone else has done, whether it be a kt review or a full build.

    This is really the bottom line. Anyone willing to take the time to write comments about a kit for others to benefit from shouldn't be chastized and chastizing people should be ignored and understood for what they are.

    I don't really have anything to say with respect to this but felt it worth repeating :)

    That's a shame. It would seem, though, that a simple statement 'if you have a different view of this kit, write it as a review' would be sufficient to eliminate this problem, probably with the caveat that reviews should not make reference to reviews by other people.

    Cheers --- Larry
  20. True, but not because of the consistency of building kits from the same manufacturer. Rather, it's because Halinski has a legend that explains what their codes mean. I find it amazing that kit designers believe they can just make numbers red or put asterisks next to them and 'assume' that everyone will know what they mean. This is the stuff of secret societies, not a situation one expects to find when the kits are being sold internationally :)

    Cheers --- Larry

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