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Getting started in Kit Building

Have you thought about trying to expand your modelling ability or layout content by having a go at constructing a kit – but are worried you may not have the ability to put it together correctly or baulk at the cost (and the possibility of breaking or ruining an expensive kit)? This is an understandable state of affairs. With the fine detail and availability of modern ready-to-run/plant rolling stock and buildings there are many modellers who consider it unnecessary to take the plunge and have a go.

Nevertheless kit building can be a rewarding experience, will help you individualise your layout and rolling stock and will help bolster your confidence and modelling skills.

Here we present a selection of brands whose products are perfect for the beginner to kit building and won’t break your wallet either.






These are among the best kits for a beginner, mainly because unlike the others they are supplied ready painted and require only assembly and the occasional use of a black marker pen on the edges where white card is exposed.

Although many modellers believe card is not a viable modelling material Metcalfes kits turn out well detailed and with an impressive presence- they have been used on some of the best exhibition layouts and reward the careful builder.

You can easily build up your suburban scenes with terrace houses, factories, even a brewery, and all sorts of railway related buildings such as stations, platforms and signal boxes. Metcalfe has an extensive range in both HO/OO and N scales.









These kits have been around for a long time and are still a great way to get the hang of kitbuilding. Both buildings and rolling stock are present in the range and are straightforward to assemble, made from plastic and inexpensive. One of the highlights is the fully painted Stanier coach kit, which is already decorated for you and needs to simply be put together. Useful layout accessories such as unpainted people, powerpoles and gates are also among the multitude of available kits.

There are several kits for static diesel and steam engines also and there are kits available to also motorise these! Many modellers got their models of ‘City of Truro’ and Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ via these kits and they still hold their own when built with care.






For the Australian Outline modeller (more specifically those who prefer SA or Victorian types) these two examples are excellent starting points for getting the hang of kit building.

SAR Model Co produces the ‘Red Hen’ railcars as well as 800, 850 and 860 trailer cars, all of which are made from plastic and very easy to build, as well as easily motorised in case of the Railcars (several versions of the kit come with power unit supplied). They also make a thoroughly useful building kit, the ‘ATCO’ transportable which has been seen all over the country since the 1960s. If you are looking for a simple building to try then you cannot go past these as there¬† are literally only five pieces to glue together.

Steam Era produce very well detailed plastic kits of Victorian rolling stock. Though not all of their kits can be recommended for a beginner the majority are straight forward and look superb when finished. A simple evening project is one of their 4 wheel wagons, which come with everything you need except couplers (and glue of course) to finish them.


Hopefully this short guide will whet your appetite and convince you to make a start in kit building (or else make a dent in your backlog sitting in your kit drawer).

Next in the series will be a suggestion of a good modeller’s toolkit for the starter. It can be easy to overlook or go too far in acquiring tools when getting started so we will guide you through a few ‘necessities’ and others to simply make your modelling easier.