19 Best Model Kits for Adults by Category (Cars, Airplanes, etc.)

Best Model Kits

There’s not one definitive model kit that meets the needs of every person — of course, the right choice depends on the modeler’s individual needs and interests…

In order to take this into account, I narrowed down the best model kits by:

  1. Subject
  2. Advanced or beginner-level (Nothing worse for beginners than throwing away money on a kit that’s too complex and easy to mess up).

While some modelers have a theme for their collection, others just build whatever seems interesting. I fall into the latter group…

The way I personally do things is first pick a random subject/theme that I find interesting (i.e. airplanes) and then pick the kit.

Once I have the subject picked, then I start narrowing it down based on several factors:

  • Easy to build or complex? 
    • By reading online reviews, have other people run into problems building this? 
    • Are the instructions clear? 
  • Original release date of the kit?  
  • What’s the size of the kit?
  • Does the kit quality justify the price?  
  • And so on..

In this post, I took many of the factors above into consideration (among others). 

Contents:

  • Best Model Car Kits
  • Best Model Airplane Kits
  • Best Model Tank Kits
  • Best Model Engine Kits
  • Best Model Kit Trucks
  • Best Star Wars Model Kits
  • Best Wooden Model Ship Kits
  • Best Japanese Robot Model Kits
  • Best Motorcycle Model Kits
  • Best Battleship Model Kits
  • Best WW2 Model Kits
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Best Model Car Kits


Revell 1970 Pontiac Firebird (1/24 Scale)

My Pick for Beginner Modelers
Revell 1970 Pontiac Firebird (1:24 Scale)
  • Great looking, historic car first introduced by Pontiac in 1967   
  • The car model kit is 8 inches long and contains 83 parts, so it’s relatively easy to assemble
  • Great looking water slide decals
  • Instructions are straightforward and easy to understand 
  • Most reviewers said the kit came undamaged and there were no missing pieces  
  • This is an affordable option for beginners who are just starting out and worried about making mistakes when building the kit.


Revell Ford Bronco Plastic Model Kit (1/25 Scale)

My Pick for Experienced Modelers
  • The Ford Bronco was the top 2 door SUV in the United States for 30 years. 
  • This is one of Revell’s more complex kits at level 5 with 137 pieces — it’s a great choice for those that enjoy a challenging (yet satisfying) build. 
  • Several reviewers said the parts are clean and fit together well.

Interested in finding out more about the best model car kit brands? Check out this post:

5 Best Model Car Kit Brands/Companies in 2020 (My Personal Picks)

Best Model Airplane Kits


Revell P-51D Mustang (1/48 Scale)

My Pick for Interminate Level Modelers
Revell P - 51D Mustang (1:48 Scale)
  • The P-51 Mustang is a single seat fighter-bomber that first took flight in October of 1940, and was primarily used by the United States in World War 2 and the Korean War. 
  • This is a re-issue of a Monogram model kit that was first released in 1977.
  • One reviewer said it was the first scale model they ever built, and it took them about a week to complete by simply following the instructions, along with some outside research.


F4U1 Corsair Fighter (1/72 Scale)

My Pick for Experienced Modelers
F4U1 Corsair Fighter (1:72 Scale)​
  • The Vought F4U Corsair is a high speed fighter aircraft that was primarily used by the United States in WW2 and the Korean War. It was the first carrier based fighter that surpassed 400 miles/hour in level flight. 
  • The aircraft model includes a detailed cockpit interior with seat and controls 
  • Several reviewers said the moldings have very little flash and the fit is solid.

If you’re wondering, the most popular scale for a model aircraft is either 1/32, 1/48, or 1/72. For more choices, check out this post: 

16 Best Model Airplane Kits in 2020 by Brand (Revell, Tamiya, Etc.)

Best Model Tank Kits


Tamiya US M41 Walker Bulldog (1/35 Scale)

My Top Pick for Beginner & Experienced Modelers
  • The M41 Walker Bulldog tank was designed in 1949 by Cadillac for reconnaissance purposes. It was produced from 1951-1954 to replace the older M24 Chaffee tanks that were primarily used in WWII.
  • The kit is priced well for someone that has never built a model kit before and wants to get their feet wet without being too stressed about messing up. Many reviewers said it was easy to put together and extremely straightforward. At the same time, it’s a high quality model that experienced builders will appreciate.

For more choices, check out this post: 

16 Best Model Tank Kits in 2020 by Brand (Tamiya, etc.)

Best Model Engine Kits

I wouldn’t recommend most beginners to start with a model engine kit. So in this section, I’ll list my preferred choice for experienced model builders:


Revell Visible V-8 Engine Plastic Model Kit (1/4 Scale)

Revell Visible V-8 Engine Plastic Model Kit (1:4 Scale)

This is a great choice for adults who want to experience the old days again, and perhaps even teach their kids how a gasoline engine works (i.e. what parts move inside, why the valves are arranged a certain way, etc.)

Best Model Kit Trucks


Revell/Monogram 55 Ford F-100 Street Rod Pickup Truck (1/24 Scale)

My Pick for Beginner Modelers

This replica of the Ford F-100 Street Rod from the 1950s is incredibly detailed. Most Americans in those days could have never imagined that 70 years later, people would still be painting/designing this classic pickup truck in different creative ways.


Revell Peterbilt 359 Conventional Tractor (1/25 Scale)

My Pick for Experienced Modelers
Revell Peterbilt 359 Conventional Tractor (1:25 Scale)
  • You may have seen this popular and dependable truck on the highways before, delivering goods from one state to another.  
  • This kit is extremely detailed for its size, and you can customize/paint it so it looks the way you want.

Best Star Wars Model Kits


Bandai Star Wars Millennium Falcon (1/144 Scale)

My Pick for Beginner Modelers
Bandai Star Wars Millennium Falcon (1:144 Scale)

This kit is based on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It looks fantastic and it’s quite easy to assemble. One reviewer even said it was their first ever model kit and they didn’t run into many problems when assembling it (since the instructions were detailed and straightforward).


Bandai Hobby Star Wars A-Wing Starfighter Building Kit (1/72 Scale)

My Pick for Experienced Modelers
Bandai Hobby Star Wars A-Wing Starfighter Building Kit (1:72 Scale)

A-Wing models are generally rare, so this could be a unique addition to your collection, especially if you’re a sci-fi/fantasy fan. Many reviewers have said the detail is top notch and it’s a great value at the price.

For more choices, check out this post: 

21 Best Star Wars Model Kits in 2020 (My Personal Picks)

If you’re also a Star Trek fan, you may like this article:  

14 Best Star Trek Model Kits in 2020 (My Personal Picks)

Best Wooden Model Ship Kit


Amati HMS Vanguard

My Pick for Experienced Modelers

For more choices, check out this post: 

16 Best Wooden Ship Model Kits by Experience Level (2020)

Best Japanese Robot Model Kits


Bandai Hobby MG Gundam Kai Model Kit (1/100 Scale)

For Intermediate/Experienced Modelers
Bandai Hobby MG Gundam Kai Model Kit (1/100 Scale)
  • The amount of detail in this kit is absolutely incredible. While it’s challenging and takes a while to build due to the large number of parts, you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when it’s complete.
  • Pro Tip: It’s highly recommended you also get a gundam marker to trace in the armor panels


Bandai Hobby # 4 EVA-00 Proto Type Rei Evangelion Model Kit

For Intermediate/Experienced Modelers
Bandai Hobby # 4 EVA-00 Proto Type Rei Evangelion Model Kit​

This kit is based on an anime TV show called Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s worth noting that the instructions are in Japanese, but many reviewers said they had no problem assembling it based on the labels (i.e. numbers, letters, illustrations, etc.)

For more choices, check out this post: 

9 Best Japanese Robot Model Kits in 2020 (My Personal Picks)

Best Motorcycle Model Kits

Motorcycle kits are usually harder to assemble because the parts are very delicate. I would recommend the following 2 choices for experienced model builders:


Tamiya Kawasaki Ninja H2R Plastic Model Plastic Model Kit (1/12 Scale)

Tamiya Kawasaki Ninja H2R Plastic Model Plastic Model Kit (1:12 Scale)
  • This kit is perfect for fans of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 motorcycle. It has a supercharged engine and can reach speeds of up to 249 miles per hour. 
  • Several reviewers noted that there was an incredible amount of detail for the price, and it’s an overall great value.


Tamiya Ducati 1199 Panigale S Tricolore

Tamiya 1199 Panigale S Tricolore
  • The Ducati 1199 Panigale is a sport motorcycle that was first introduced by Ducati in the Milan Motorcycle Show in 2011. It’s known to be reliable and it reaches an estimated top speed of 177.6 mph.
  • This is a good kit for hobbyists who appreciate incredible detail, which is generally typical for Tamiya models. Most people say the instructions are thorough and straightforward, and some reviewers regret not taking more time to paint each part.

For more choices, check out this post:

12 Best Motorcycle Model Kits in 2020 (My Personal Picks)

Best WW2 Model Kits


Tamiya German Hanomag Sd.Kfz 251/1 Plastic Model Kit (1/35 Scale)

My Pick for Beginner Modelers
Tamiya German Hanomag Sd.Kfz 251:1 Plastic Model Kit (1:35 Scale)

This kit is unique because it includes a five man fire team in addition to the Armoured Personnel Carrier vehicle. As usual, Tamiya delivered a high quality model that’s extremely detailed.


Tamiya M4A3 Sherman 75mm (1/35 Scale)

My Pick for Experienced Modelers
Tamiya M4A3 Sherman 75mm (1:35 Scale)

This kit was designed really well, and it’s highly customizable. Some reviewers complain that it’s on the smaller side, but at the price, it’s an overall great value.

For more choices, check out the following post:

9 Best WW2 Model Kits in 2020 by Category (Airplanes, Tanks, etc.)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best model kit brand?

While there isn’t a definitive answer, my personal opinion (and the general consensus) is that Tamiya is the best model kit brand, and they consistently produce high quality and incredibly detailed kits. Keep in mind that every brand has their good and bad kits, so you should research each model individually.

If you’d like more details, check out this Reddit thread about the topic.

What are the most essential model building tools and equipment?

Here are some very important model building tools that most modelers have in their toolbox: 

  • X-Acto knife
  • Sprue cutters
  • Model glue 
  • Superglue
  • PVA glue 
  • Sandpaper Putty
  • Brushes
  • Tweezers 
  • Masking tape 
  • Cloth pegs 
  • Bottle caps

For more details and explanations on how/why use these specific tools, check out this helpful Reddit thread

Also, here’s a useful video/tutorial for beginners about the most essential model building tools:

What is the most helpful resource for beginner modelers to learn about the ins and outs of the hobby?

If you’re just getting into model building, then I highly recommend that you give this Reddit thread a read. 

It covers everything from A-Z, and includes topics like:

  • Gluing and painting
  • Filling seams and gaps using putty 
  • Airbrushing 
  • Decals 
  • Youtube channel recommendations for modelers
  • Etc.

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