The plastic model is a miniature model most often presented as a kit to mount and decorate oneself. It is generally produced by injection molding of polystyrene or by thermoforming resin. It often features elements made from other materials such as rubber or metal used for photoetching of hard-to-reproduce molded plastic details.
It was after the Second World War , when the basic material became common, that the idea was launched by Airfix (founded in 1948 ), a British molding company. His first model kit is a Massey Ferguson tractor . Faced with the success of this type of product, it produces small scale boats and the first plane kit in 1953 : the Spitfire Supermarine Mk.1, scale 1/72. This is a huge success that will immediately give rise to competition. The scale will be adopted as one of the standard for this type of model. Firms like Revell, Monogram , Italeri and Faller appear at this time.
In France, it is Heller , company created in 1955 , which proposes in 1957 its first kit: the Caravelle with scale 1/100.
In the 1970s , Japanese firms such as Hasegawa and Tamiya, which predominantly occupy the market until today , emerged . Firms from Eastern Europe, Russia and China have appeared more recently.
A good part of the scales is composed of multiples of 12 to facilitate the conversion of measurements from the imperial Anglo-Saxon system: a foot is composed of 12 inches, themselves divisible by 12, hence a great simplicity of calculation for scales like 1/12, 1/24, 1/48, 1/72, and so on. Scales tend to unify according to the types of models:
- Planes: 1/24, 1/32, 1/48, 1/72 and 1/144 being the most widespread, that of the 1/400 remaining reserved for models of large multi-engine;
- Military vehicles: 1/35, 1/48, 1/72, 1/76, 1/144;
- Automobiles: 1/12, 1/20, 1/24, 1/25, 1/32, 1/43, 1/48;
- Motorcycles: 1/6, 1/9, mainly 1/12 and sometimes 1/24;
- Trucks: mainly 1/24 and sometimes 1/43 (Heller);
- Boats: 1/96, 1/350, 1/450, 1/700;
- Trains: most often 1/87 ( scale HO ), and 1/64 (scale S). The static model trains are quite rare, the firm Revell has produced some; some craft companies offer wheel sets to assemble, most often wagons and cars ( Meridian Models (UK), PBL (USA) …);
- The sets for model railroad (stations, houses …): 1/87 (H0), 1/160 (N), 1/220 (Z).
Various techniques are used by designers to imitate the reality of the model: airbrush, drybrush, juices, pastels. These techniques are often used to simulate wear, soiling, degradation or rust on a model.
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A large number of brands, still active, or now missing, have marked the history of model making (kits to mount):
- Aber (Photoetched);
- Accurate Miniatures;
- Airfix ;
- Eduard (Photodécoupe);
- Eduard (Model);
- Frog (now extinct English mark);
- Gunze Sangyo;
- Hobby Boss;
- Heller ;
- Legend Production (resin detailing set);
- Lion Roar;
- Matchbox (now extinct English mark);
- MR Hobby;
- Protar (Italian brand now extinct);
- Pocher (Italian brand now extinct);
- Revell ;
- Tamiya model;
- Traveling (Photodécoupe);