The 10 Best Engine Model Kits
10. Porsche 911 Boxer Engine
- great gift for automotive enthusiast
- text and diagram instructions
- too complicated for most youngsters
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
9. Wilesco D9 Steam Engine Kit
- handsome conversation piece
- very expensive option
- company has customer service issues
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
8. Minicraft Models Visible Rotary Engine
- parts molded in multiple colors
- unique stick shift on-off switch
- annoyingly small components
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
7. Perisphere and Trylon Games
- lubricated with common vegetable oil
- easy for most kids to build alone
- occasional pieces fit improperly
|Brand||Perisphere And Trylon G|
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
6. Smithsonian Institution Motor-Works
- large poster of motor included
- produces lights and sounds
- many components break easily
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
5. Trends UK Haynes
- uses multiple chrome-plated pieces
- automatic shutoff feature
- frequent timing belt issues
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
4. Airfix A42509 Engineer Combustion Engine
- easy step-by-step instructions
- effective as instructional model
- batteries sold separately
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
3. Hawk Ford Flathead V8
- solid diecast parts
- stand emblazoned with ford logo
- fun for hobbyists aged 10 and up
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
2. ELENKER Mini Hot Air Stirling
- great low price tag
- powered by alcohol
- nonskid footpads on base
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
1. Revell 85-8883 Visible V-8
- illustrated assembly instructions
- screwdriver comes with kit
- great reviews from owners
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
A Brief History Of Scale Models
Building scale models is one of the oldest hobbies known to man, as humans have been constructing miniature versions of the world around them ever since they created the tools to do so. Of course, when the practice started, it was purely for its functionality, as very few ancient kings saw the value in hanging a scaled-down version of the Death Star over their desks.
When the Great Wall was being considered in China, it was first conceived as a wooden miniature. Likewise, Greek warriors used models to design fortifications before starting the arduous process of constructing them. However, it would be an Italian who would truly perfect the art form.
Leonardo da Vinci built models of most of his inventions before realizing them in their final forms. He even created dummy versions of ideas he could never get off the ground — quite literally, in the case of his flying machines. Considered by many to be the most gifted modeler of all time, da Vinci proved that miniatures could be as useful as they are interesting.
It wasn't until the mid-20th century that the art form would begin to be seen as a hobby, however. In the 1930s, the British company Frog began manufacturing plastic flying models. Frog would put their skills to use for the Allies in WWII, building models for targeting purposes, but they got right back into the toy business after the war's conclusion.
On the American side of the Atlantic, companies who designed miniatures for car manufacturers discovered a rabid audience of hobbyists who wanted to build their own versions of the Chevy Bel Air or Ford Gasser. Businesses like Revell, Aurora, and AMT soon sprang up to fill this demand, and a new pastime was born.
While modeling has never been a mainstream pursuit, interest in the hobby has held steady over the years. There have been technological advances within the pastime as well, with a variety of high-tech tools and fillers replacing the old-fashioned tweezers and putty of yore. The subjects have also become varied, with figures from pop culture proving to be as in-demand as the traditional cars, planes, and military vessels.
It remains to be seen where the hobby will go from here, but one thing's for certain: buying one of these kits is the only way I'll ever be able to take a model home with me.
Benefits Of Building Scale Models
If you're looking to get the most bang for your buck, few other hobbies can compete with scale modeling. Assuming you're the type who enjoys really digging into the details of your favorite subject, you can get months of enjoyment out of assembling one of these plastic collectibles. If you boil that down to the cost-per-hour, it gives you the kind of value that most other entertainments can't possibly match.
Constructing these miniatures can also teach you valuable skills that will translate to your other endeavors. If you're the impatient type, you'll quickly learn to curb those impulses, as models do not respond well to being rushed. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to finish a kit, as well, and exercising your willpower muscles will pay dividends in all areas of your life.
Beyond that, it's a tremendous stress reliever. Allowing yourself to really focus on the intricacies of the model takes your attention away from any other problems in your life, giving you the chance to set your worries aside for a few hours at a time.
While building the miniatures is fun and relaxing, the benefits don't stop there. Once you're finished, you'll have an attractive conversation starter that you can display in your home or office. It can offer a creative rush similar to showing off your own artwork — and some models truly are works of art.
You'll also learn about the subject as you build it. Many of the model engines on this list actually run, giving you first-hand experience in the inner workings of a motor. That's something that could potentially pay off big down the road, especially if it spurs interest in doing your own auto work.
Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Model-Building Experience
While putting a model together can be extremely rewarding, it can also be frustrating — which is why you need to take every precaution to ensure that your experience is a fulfilling one.
First off, designate an area in which to work and protect it with your life. If you're sharing space with someone else's stuff, or if you're constantly being interrupted, you'll find it hard to focus, and that's when you break something (and that's when the cursing starts!). Keep the area quiet and serene, and maybe even set the mood with peaceful music and aromatherapy.
Make sure you get the right tools for the job, as well. Using old, clunky tweezers or the wrong kind of glue will set you up for failure before you even begin. As noted above, building models can be a very inexpensive hobby, so don't be afraid to splurge a little on your equipment. You'll be using it for many hours, so make sure you're comfortable with it.
Ultimately, though, just remember to have fun. Don't allow yourself to rush, and if it stops being enjoyable, walk away for the day. The whole point of the hobby is to eliminate stress and take your mind off of your job, so don't let this replace one tension with another.
Oh, and if you have kids, look into soundproofing, because trust me: there will be cursing.