If you are a modeller, you will undoubtedly know a thing or two about scale building. Model kits are traditionally known as being small-scale recreations of real world subjects, such as; planes, cars, machinery and trains. However, there is a level of historical significance that is often overlooked when sifting through the Tamiya and Bandai kits at our favourite hobby shop. These miniature designs have a deep and rich history that can date all the way back into the early 20th century.

The history of plastic model kits is a rather interesting one and I encourage you to stick around.


  1. The Historical Journey of Model Kits
  2. The Early Days
  3. The Rise to Expansion
  4. The Golden Era
  5. Technology and Modern Day Advancement
  6. Today and The Future
  7. Did You Know?
  8. Summary

The Early Days

Plastic model kits first made an appearance in the mid 1930s when manufacturer Frog released their 1/72 scale model kit “Penguin”.

Image: Frog’s 1/72 model kit “Penguin”

Airfix, Frog, Hawk and Renwal were some of the first brands to introduce pre-cut wooden and plastic models. But it was not until the early 1950s that major brands, Revell and Aurora started to manufacture plastic kits using injection moulding. Alternative processes such as Vacuum forming and Resin casting then followed as they offered more detail, accuracy and precision to the design of model miniatures. The 1950s marked the beginning of plastic kits as we know them today, with the first affordable and versatile options being offered to retail consumers.

The Rise to Expansion

The 1960s marked the official beginning of the hobby. Plastic model kits hit the shelves like wildfire and there was an endless amount of offerings that suited all kinds of interests. Automobile models began to be designed in detail and one of the most popular brands ‘Tamiya’ emerged from the woodwork. Hasegawa and Italeri also made an appearance in the 1960s, giving Tamiya, Airfix, and Frog a run for their money.

At this time, Tamiya specialised in the production of 1/100 scale aircraft kits and became famous for their intricate and never seen before accuracy. But they soon made the switch to 1/72 scale kits as the scale gained more popularity.

Image: Tamiya 1/100 scale aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas F-4EJ Phantom II

The Golden Era

The1980s through to the 2000s were essential to the rise of plastic model kits, and the competition in the industry was growing at a fast rate, with Chinese firms beginning to dominate the scale-model manufacturing industry. Chinese brands had the upper hand as they had access to newer and more efficient technologies. Companies in Russia, Central Europe and Korea also jumped onboard the model building trend. UK brand “Frog” began to stand no chance against such a large number of competitors!

Image: Dragon Models Limited (DML), Chinese model kit manufacturer.

Technology and Modern Day Advancement

With the assistance of technology in the 21st century, we are seeing improved moulding techniques and greater levels of detail, accuracy and ease of assembly. This gives hobbyists more of the good stuff, with less frustration during assembly and more flawless satisfaction. With 3D printers and CAD, we are also seeing incredible quality in production and efficient manufacturing which lowers the cost and increases the variety.

Ninesteps Industries also benefits from the modern day advancements in technology through the manufacturing of high quality and affordable hobby tools. Major hobby tool companies including Ninesteps Industries have the history of model kits to thank for their major success in the hobby industry!

Today and The Future

Plastic and wooden model kits continue to have a major following worldwide, although we have seen a shift from traditional aircraft and warfare scale building to Gundam kits and JDM cars. Largely due to a change in demographics as more younger consumers have picked up the hobby and “out of the box” kit builds are becoming more accessible in the US, UK and Australia.

Ninesteps Industries is all for supporting the next generation of model builders, being accessible and giving everyone a community in which they can form friendships and learn new building techniques.

Did You Know?

  • Model building is almost as old as civilization itself. It was discovered that many people were buried with miniature models of items they cherished in ancient Egyption tombs.
  • World-War II sparked an intense interest in mass produced model kits, as the public wanted to understand the design and intricacy behind war vessels and fighter machines.
  • The 1960’s revolutionised model kits once again, as we saw the industry transition into science fiction for film and television.


In summary, we do not see plastic model kits going away anytime soon, but now is the time to reinvent the craft! Just like other hobbies and interests, model kits are designed to grow with the generations. There is more to scale-model building than just the building itself. You have the potential to learn, foster a sense of craftsmanship, follow your imagination and be part of an online family! The choices are endless, and Ninesteps is here to help!

At NINESTEPS Industries, we offer a wide range of products for beginner and experienced modellers alike. Find the best one for your needs and preference here!

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