A coworker called me in a panic on Valentine’s Day. He’d bought some Tamiya model kits for his son, and quickly found they were in over their head. Would I build them for them?

I finally got started today.

The first thing I did was clean the sprues. I sprayed them with Simple Green, rinsed, and dries them with a hair dryer. This gets rid of the remaining oil residue from the manufacturing process.

Next, I sprayed the sprues down with primer. I used cheap, store-brand gray primer that costs less than $1.25. It makes the paint stick better, and brings out the detail. I think this makes it easier to assemble them, frankly. Shiny plastic obscures where everything’s supposed to go.

I then painted where necessary with acrylic paints. I always use acrylic. It cleans up easily, and doesn’t react with the primer and cause it to lift. There’s nothing worse than watching your paint job bubble away. Painting before assembly is necessary because you won’t reach details afterward. And if you paint before assembly, you won’t glue your hand to your model either. A little paint will peel off and your hand is free.

For assembly, it’s mostly a matter of following each step, one at a time, as slowly as you have to. I’m using a gel-type super glue for fast drying time, and to eliminate the possibility of modling my fingerprints into the model. I do as much assembly as I can with the main piece on the sprue for as long as practical, as that makes it much easier to handle.

It’s been a long time, so this isn’t a museum-quality build by any stretch, but I think it looked pretty good. We’ll see what he thinks tomorrow.