Why build cardmodels?

Discussion in 'General Card Modeling' started by andrew ferguson, Nov 17, 2005.

  1. cygielski

    cygielski Member

  2. k5083

    k5083 Member

    I agree with most of the points here, but a couple bear correcting.

    With respect to aircraft, the variety of subjects available in paper is MUCH, MUCH LESS than in plastic. Only a fraction of the subjects kitted in plastic, especially in 1/72 scale, have been issued as commercial paper models, and hundreds of easily available (and quite famous) plastic aircraft subjects either have never been issued in paper or exist only as a poor quality, out-of-print Maly or Geli kit from 30 years ago. My sense is that the gap in armour and warships is not as large, but plastic still wins handily. So you sacrifice range of subjects when you move from plastic to paper, especially if you consider variety of color and markings options to be part of "variety of subjects."

    As far as ultimate accuracy and detail of the finished model is concerned, in my opinion the initial poster is quite correct that the best paper models do not approach the best plastic ones, and yes, I have seen the very best of both.

    The reasons people have advanced that do resonate with me are:

    Variety of subjects IN LARGE SCALES. If you like your models bigger than 30 cm or so, paper provides subjects you can't get in plastic. The variety of 1/32 and larger aircraft kits available is greater in paper than plastic, and the same goes for 1/24 and larger vehicles or 1/400 and larger ships.

    Cost. Again, especially considering the size. In 1/32 scale, anything bigger than a WWII fighter quickly becomes unaffordable in plastic.

    Storage of unbuilt kits. I have collections of roughly 1,000 unbuilt 1/72 plastic models and 1,000 paper models. The plastic models take up half my garage. The paper models take up a few inches of bookshelf space and several CDs.

    Skills/tools. It takes more time and effort to achieve comparable results in paper than with plastic (which is part of the appeal of paper for some), but because of the narrower range of media and no need to paint, the skill set and tool kit involved are narrower (although at the more expert end of the building spectrum, they converge to the point where there is probably little difference).

    Toxicity. I have a two-year-old. I will not use toxic adhesives, paints, or solvents for plastic models in the house. The garage is getting mighty cold. With paper models I just have to remember to put the knife and scissors away.

    Coolness. I haven't really seen this reason articulated, but I think it is implicit. It is just plain COOLER to be able to produce a good replica out of flat sheets of ordinary paper than from a plastic kit. Non-modelers agree. When I labor for 2 months to do a nice plastic model, my wife shrugs, but if I spend 2 hours whipping together a Fiddlers Green fighter for my two-year-old to play with, she says it's "beautiful."

  3. nebeltex

    nebeltex Member


    price. plastic models are getting expensive. if a wargamer needs two dozen of something in 1/72 scale, it can easily cost $250.00. one example used to build many will cost you $2.50 or, in some cases, nothing. as TP said, the net has increased paper modeling's attraction due to ease of distribution. most of all, it is addictive. especially when you build something you have designed yourself. cheers, c.b.
  4. jleslie48

    jleslie48 Member

    I was a modeler as a child, always building the plastic kits, but as I got older the hobby faded into my past. Then about 5 years ago my 8 year old son and I sat down to watch “Apollo 13” with Tom Hanks. He was absolutely fascinated and the questions were flying 3 at a time. He was very upset that they didn’t foresee the errors, especially the Apollo 1 disaster. We had a lengthy discussion about how the Saturn V was like no other rocket ever built before; just its sheer size alone put it in a class of its own. To further his interest and his understanding I decided to build a model to show him how it all worked.

    Well I went to the hobby store and was shocked. $99 for a 1/96 scale Saturn V rocket. I couldn’t afford that and certainly can’t imagine a child affording one. I figured I could maybe do better on the web if I searched. Well that’s when I found some paper models of rockets. 1/96 scale Mercury, Gemini, and the Saturn 1b rockets. All for free. I built them and was hooked immediately. I was particularly intrigued by having all the models in the same scale, something I couldn’t do in plastic at any price.
  5. As mentioned, the fume issue to a degree (the use of spray adhesive for glueing up frame members is done outside along with sealing with krylon, I do all my printing on laser printers). Second cost. Just consider the cost of screwing up a large scale platic kit towards the end of the build (it can HAPPEN) versus lets say Roman's FW-190 let alone building two. Third creativity. Another site I belong to, StarshipModeler http://www.starshipmodeler.com/index.htm as does dhanners has included a seperate forum for paper and card modeling and a number of people are begining to use card modeling techniques for prototype builds of scratchbuilds. Fourth, skills transfer. Learning to do things in card sometimes allows you to do things in metal and plastic that you might not consider otherwise. Lastly I like the challenge. A kit with complex curves in plastic is dependent on the skill of the moldmaker and complex costly CNC and EDM machines. But in a card model while it may require some software to achieve the basic design the rest is up to the skill level of the individual.
  6. EricGoedkoop

    EricGoedkoop Member

    Coolness is definitely a factor.

    I like the way a paper model looks. I scratchbuild Pioneer- and WWI-era aircraft using colored cardstock as much as possible, very few printed parts or textures and hardly ever any paint. There's a lot of satisfaction for me in a finished model that was created from flat sheets of paper. I enjoy detailing to a point, but especially like analyzing, identifying and re-creating the essential shapes of the airplane. It's almost minimalism in a way, and it really appeals to me.

    The other aspect of card modelling that is important to me is that it captures a vital characteristic of early aircraft that plastic simply can't - the translucency of fabric covering and the delicate, almost fragile construction. Ribs actually showing through a wing strikes a chord that a painted simulation of the same effect doesn't, and so does functional rigging that holds things straight which otherwise would warp and droop. There's something of the original's essence there that a plastic model misses entirely.
  7. Texman

    Texman Guest


    I must beg to disagree with your comments that there are less subjects available for
    aircraft in paper. If you restrict yourself to a certain type (civil/military), a certain
    era (WWI/WWII, etc), or a certain scale, then possibly. But, as for me (Ray's opinion)
    paper provides plenty of subjects, most certainly due to the fact that I build in 1/144
    scale, and that is rather limited in plastic. As such, any kit I find in paper, can be
    rescaled to 1/144, thereby providing me some most unheard of subjects for my scale.

    I could never find an XF-92, XF-85, Aviatek Berg D1, Cessna 172, or any number
    of others I have built in my scale in plastic. I do still have the plastics on the shelf,
    but paper does provide another aspect to my kit collection.

    Just Ray's opinion.

  8. Well, there have been some very interesting responses to my original question.

    As for me, this is why i have been attracted to this hobby: For the last few years i have been collecting 1/18 scale aircraft, armour and figures produced by 21st Century Toys and BBI. Some of you may be familiar with these products. I LOVE the huge size of these models. Very addictive.

    The problem is that variety is lacking. Only a couple of dozen subjects have been covered and many types are never likely be covered due to obscurity (these things have to be sold in large numbers to justify the production cost) or size (the biggest likely to be produced in this scale is a WWII twin engine fighter.....like the P-38 that has already been produced).

    So, in my search for another source of 1/18 scales models i have explored a number of ideas. I have found a small number of r/c aircraft kits that, as luck would have it, just happen to be 1/18 scale (my favourite is a B-24 i found). But there are too few r/c kits around that are the right size.

    For a time i experimented with doing 'flats'...which are essentially good quality illustrations of planes, tanks etc that i enlarge photocopied to be 1/18 scale. They were fairly cool, quick and cheap to do....a variation on toy soldier 'flats' that have been a popular hobby for at least a couple of hundred years.

    The problem with these 'flats' is that they are, well, flat. I soon wanted more.....something 3D. One day i stumbled across a paper model retailer on the internet. I was at first bemused. What kind of a model can you make out of paper? After doing some research and digging i found that fairly decent models could be produced. Once i saw that i combined my enlarge photocopying idea with these new found paper models and voila....the answer i had been looking for was at hand......at least so i hope.

    My plan is to simply enlarge photocopy paper model kits, glue the photocopy paper securily to thin bristol board (for stiffness) and then build the model. I will then be able to make a large variety of 1/18 scale models to suppliment my existing collection.

    All this is still purely theoretical with me so far. I have yet to complete anything....being somewhat intimidated by the process. However, I have just started my first model, a Russian KV 2 tank. So far so good and i am VERY excited about the potential for the future.

    I was also very happy to find this site with its forums. I'm going to need much advice and moral support in the months ahead, no doubt.

    Glad to be here. :)
  9. NYC Irish

    NYC Irish Member

    Yup check out what you can do with the Arizona Kit when you scale it up with your printer: USS Arizona 1/144 scale

    Ok so what do you think is missing, I promise you cant pick a subject that we cant find a model of it...

    (Dont let me down fellow paper heads..))

    John John
  10. rickstef

    rickstef Guest

    Bring it on, I am game
  11. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    Interesting discussion...,

    Paper is one of many mediums in which models can be expressed. Decorating a plastic shell designed and molded from styrene is a nice way to develop skills and an understanding of a particular genre and time in history. It does not allow for the deepest of modeling motivations and that is to scratch build. Scratch building in the plastic community has begun to show up as marvelous creations built of styrene sheet and rod that could also have been created in paper. The nice thing about paper though, is that it is low cost, highly available with its basic construction techniques well understood. The combination of the PC, Color Printer, Paint & 3D Modeling Software and the Internet combined are the impetus behind the emergence of card modeling as being "Cool". Simply put it's a modeling medium that lends itself well to the current communications technology. Some have mentioned that plastic just cannot be equaled by paper..., I think they need to realize that it's not the medium but the modeler that counts...,

    Thoughts on the subject from -Gil
  12. k5083

    k5083 Member

    I would turn that around a little. Yes, if you limit yourself to 1/144 scale and to those small aircraft that will measure less than 2 inches when completed, the pickings in plastic are pretty slim. Those tiny models are an unusual niche. However, if you take more customary 1/144 subjects (bombers, transports, airliners) the plastic selection blows away paper.

    In 1/72, plastic has way more variety than paper for any class of aviation subject, and so does 1/48 for anything the size of a B-29 or smaller.

    Don't get me wrong. Since the opening of western markets to eastern European producers and the greater interest within the west, the variety in paper aircraft subjects is improving. Just in the last few months we have finally seen detailed, up-to-date models of the P-36, Hawker Typhoon, Bf 108, and Seafire XV, of which the first three previously existed only as poor, out-of-print kits, and the Seafire not at all.

    But there is still a long way to go. In paper modeling it is still impossible, in any scale, to find good, detailed models to do a comprehensive collection of even common categories like American WWII fighters (no P-63), British WWII fighters (no Tempest V except the rare old Maly), American WWII medium bombers (no Douglas A-26), British heavy bombers (no Stirling) and you can barely start trying to collect less popular subjects like British, French, or US fighters of the 1950s, any nation's military or civil aircraft of the 1920s-30s, or general aviation aircraft or military trainers of any era. As someone used to 1/72 plastic where you can obtain pretty much any subject if you're willing to shell out the bucks for a limited-run kit, I do find it frustrating. Paper models have plenty of their own rewards but you do have to live with gaps in your collection.
  13. k5083

    k5083 Member

    Well, here are a few aircraft I would honestly like to have. These are all well-known, production aircraft; I'm not going to torment you with obscure types. (Sorry for repeating some in my past post, it crossed with this one.) Some of these exist in the form of old Geli, Maly, Wilhelmshaven or Fiddlers Green kits, but not as the basis for a serious scale model. If there are good kits of these subjects that I don't know about, I'd really like to.

    Sopwith Dolphin
    Sopwith Pup
    Nieuport 28
    Albatros D.I or D.II
    SPAD XII (2-seater)
    Fairey III
    Curtiss Jenny

    Lockheed Vega, Air Express, Sirius
    Waco 9, 10, ATO, UPF-7, SRE, or heck, any other Waco
    Travel Air 4000
    Fleet 7
    Stearman (other than PT-17)
    Northrop Alpha, Delta (Fiddlers Green's Gamma is not so bad)
    Grumman FF-1
    Grumman F2F
    Boeing P-12
    Curtiss Navy Hawk biplane
    Hawker Fury
    Hawker Hind, Hart, Audax, etc.
    Bristol Bulldog
    Gloster Gauntlet
    Armstrong-Whitworth Siskin
    Armstrong-Whitworth Atlas
    Blackburn - any of several ugly bombers
    Fairey Fox
    D.H.60 Moth
    Gloster Grebe
    Fairey Flycatcher
    Handley Page Heyford
    Stinson Reliant
    Stinson JR
    Fairchild single-engine transports
    Northrop A-17
    Martin B-10
    Douglas B-18

    Blenheim IV
    Hawker Tempest V (the old Maly is pretty hard to find)
    Bell P-63
    Douglas A-26 (that old Modelis is not really buildable)
    Douglas TBD
    Bell P-59
    Spitfire XIV, XVIII
    Consolidated B-32
    Short Stirling
    Blackburn Roc and Skua
    Fairey Fulmar
    North American Yale
    Curtiss C-46
    Miles Master
    Lockheed PV-2

    Hawker Sea Hawk
    Hawker Sea Fury (Nobi's is okay but pretty basic)
    Spitfire 21, 22, 24
    Seafire 17, 46, 47
    Grumman F9F (Panther)
    Lockheed F-80
    Lockheed T-33
    Martin AM Mauler
    Lockheed P2V
    D.H. Hornet

    These are just some that I can think of as fast as I can type them. Again, not a complaint -- I just want to kill this "more variety" argument. Although, to the manufacturers, I would venture to say: Hey! You don't need to all release Il-2m3's the same month! And we've got enough Bf 109s already!

  14. Texman

    Texman Guest

    Great taste! Less filling! GREAT TASTE!! LESS FILLING!!

    Oops, wrong argument!

  15. Texman

    Texman Guest

    Now, as far as the more variety, depends on your point of view. You have also
    just shown your point of view by limiting yourself to what you call "serious scale
    model". They can all be very serious if you put yourself into it. And a "serious
    scale model" in plastic, with all of the "serious scale model" aftermarket parts, has
    become just plain outrageous in the price category. 'Nuff said, got some "not
    so serious scale modelling" to work on.

  16. k5083

    k5083 Member

    Fair point, Ray, but I think at least 75% of the types cited above are totally unavailable as paper models, even if we drop the "serious" filter.

  17. Texman

    Texman Guest

    As just a regular model, I would agree with you on between 50 & 75% not available in
    any paper model form. But there are several of the types available, if you can find
    them, particularly from Zio Prudenzio. Not going to help out much in this instance
    I'm afraid, as they are basic in nature, and would require a great deal of work to equal
    some of the detail you can get with a plastic/resin/photoetch kit. It's just the nature
    of the beast, but one I can tame.

  18. NYC Irish

    NYC Irish Member

    I meant variety as in topics...ships planes, character, sci fi etc...

    Nice shopping list...how many of them can ya get in Plastic anyway??

    John John
  19. k5083

    k5083 Member

    All of those are pretty easy to find in plastic except for maybe 5 or 6 of the interwar civil types. Assuming an unlimited budget, of course!
  20. cygielski

    cygielski Member

    Now, I've been thinking -- how many models are you going to be able to build? I'm talking total lifetime. I don't think that will come anyhere near what is now available, even if you weed out the simpler kits that don't suit your purposes. And new, increasingly detailed kits are coming out almost every day. I'm not really worried about selection -- and if I decided to build a series that included models that were not available as kits, I guess I'd be down to scratch-building anyway.

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