Our feature for this issue is great movie-based model cars you can build with your child.
Since there are so many flavors of toys, from pre-assembled, to detailed wooden kits, we’ve decided to focus on the beginner (Level 1) kits, which mostly glue together, but several are snap together. (The great thing about snap-models is you can glue them too, if you want a more play-worthy durability.) There are some that even have pull-back and go mechanisms, but be steered away from them.
The key thing to remember, is your finished model is not going to look like the picture on the box. There will be some sanding and painting to really make it look like the movie car. That being said, we’ve also include info at the end of the article about glue, paint, and brushes.
Just remember, knowledge is power. If you’re searching online (Amazon.com) for models like ones below, read the customer reviews and the Q & A sections. These are invaluable in helping you determine what your finished work will look like.
Most of the model cars we’ve selected are from movies we’ve written about here in Fraser Fast Facts, so be sure to click on the name of the movie car for a link to the feature article about it.
Who didn’t love the cartoons Speed Racer, not to mention the fast-action of the movie as well.
The two versions of the Mach 5 listed below are either snap-together or glue-together, which will give you a good indicator of the quality and final look.
Both are 1/25 scale models with fairly detailed interiors and metal axles allow that allow the wheels to roll freely. A sticker sheet is supplied to decorate the car. It even features gadgets like a robot bird scout and underwater bubble canopy. (From the product description.)
For the snap-together kit, no glue is needed, but we still recommend having some on hand. And again from the description, “parts come in white plastic, allowing experienced builders to paint as desired.” (But it still looks great with the stickers alone.) The cars are about 7 ½” long, and average about 50 parts. Parts are mostly white, with some chrome and clear parts, as well as black rubber tires. Paint optional. Skill level 2, Ages 10+
We’re pretty impressed with the fit and finish of this model. From what we’ve read, it’s very detailed if you don’t want to add your own paint.
The kit features every detail to be expected, from the flux capacitor to its gull-wing doors, and even a lightning rod hook power assembly. The car body features a slick authentic-looking brushed metal aluminum look of the real car. The tires roll and the snap assembly means the kit can be assembled without glue.
According to a detailed Amazon review, It’s good quality and the pieces fit together! Some pieces required a little bit of sanding and shaving but that’s typical with any plastic model. The body of the car comes in a brushed aluminum color that requires no paint! Other pieces will look better with some painting. The final product was outstanding!
This is an officially licensed model from the film. Skill level 1 (8-up) – 45 snap-together pieces.
This is one of the best movies for kids, even though Ecto (the Ghostbuster’s 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance ,) doesn’t get a lot of screen time. The good thing is there are two different plastic models available, Ecto-1, from the first movie, and Ecto-1A from the second movie. The only real difference is the second Ecto, had more gadgets on the roof.
We couldn’t find a lot of detail on the original Ecto-1 model, but here’s part of a review: All of the parts were accounted for, and they come out clean, meaning none of them were poor stampings. My only challenge is that the lights and the windshield aren’t colored already, so if you want authentic, be ready to paint.
We also wanted to include the LEGO Creator Ecto 1, which retails for about $350. We know this is expensive, but this is just a puzzle-lovers dream. The craftsmanship, fit, and final finish is fantastic. A super-duper project for the wealthy, or LEGO-obsessed.
Based on the DC Comics character, this is not the original 1989 version of the Keaton Batmobile, but rather the updated Batman Returns version. The difference being the original did not have the removable engine or computer banks. This version can be built either as intended, or in the original style. The noteworthy update is the inclusion of a resin Batman figure. The kit is an easy build for beginners. The kit includes an assortment of personalizing options to make the car as simple or intricate as you wish. Kit includes resin Batman figure.
We did decide to include the metal die-cast version as well. Again, packaging and details were light, but we know this is a pre-painted die-cast metal kit, meaning you do have to assemble some of it. The doors do open, and the interior is fairly detailed. It include rubber tires. It is 1/24th scale, comes in 26 pieces, and reflects the movie Batmobile reasonably well.
What makes this version kinda cool, and unique, is that it’s really heavy. It feels like a model you can play with, and not risk destroying.
First, there are lots of different vehicles in the Fast & Furious model series. So, if you like this one, search for more and start a collection. Second, they’re die-cast metal, so there’s not a lot of assembly, and there is a lot of durability.
We were particularly impressed with the design and fit of these models. Clearly the manufacturer is going after the collector, rather than the casual beginner. We chose Dominic’s Charger because, well, it’s the coolest.
The exterior styling appears to come directly from the movie, and the interior is well-detailed. The tires are real, and the model itself is a solid, die-cast metal. PLUS, it includes a 2.75″ Dominic Torte die-cast figure, (who apparently can’t sit in his own car.)
What’s that? There’s a crazy LEGO version of Dominic’s Charger? Sure is, and we think it’s cool too. (But be ready for an adventure, it has 1,077 pieces!)
Both of these cars the Take Apart Racing Car, and the Lightning McQueen, are is designed for youngsters to assemble and disassemble as much as they want. They both come with oversized parts, and tools to work with.
Basically, all plastic model glue is some form of a super glue. From plastic cement to extra-thin, to the ones with metal applicator, and the ones that dry faster or slower, you’re going to have to start basic and work your way up. The universe of model glues can be explored here.
Tool kits are as wide-ranging as the selection of glues, but we chose this package for its cost, and included tools: 1 side pliers, 1 manual model tools file, 1 pen knife and blade,1 polishing cloth, 2 double-sided polished bar, 2 tweezers, and a plastic storage box.
It meets all beginner’s basic requirements, and has a fairly good range of tools for those looking to start building model kits. The trimmer pen is tightly clamped, with good hardness, and a safety cap to protect blade. The cutting pliers are carbon steel for good durability, and the tweezers are stainless steel, which is anti-static, anti-acid, anti-corrosion and anti-magnetic. Check it out here.
Testor is basically the grand-daddy of model paints, and are formulated to work well on wood, plastic, and metal. They are enamel-based, add come in vibrant color that are durable and long lasting.
The set includes: eight 1/4 fl. oz. glossy paint colors in glass bottles: Yellow, Red, Dark Blue, Green, Black, White, Gold, and Silver); and one 1/4 fl. oz. bottle of paint thinner. Yes, enamel means oil-based. It also includes a single paint brush and work tray. Look at it here.
While we’re sure you “could” get by with the one miserable paint brush included in all of the Testor kids, you’ll really make your experience easier with a quality set of modeler’s brushes. This set claims to be an excellent handmade model paint brushes set, with six premium tipped detail brushes.
Better-quality brushes let you stop worrying about rusting, shedding, or falling apart, so you can focus on your art instead. They feature easy-grip handles made of wood; designed with a triangular shape for a more-secure feel while working. See them here.
Thinking about building a replica with an american-made engine? Fraser has the right engine ready for you!