Difficult Model Kits To Give You the Challenge You Crave

Small components of a model car kit mounted midair for painting.

You get all hyped up over a new model that’s marked with a higher difficulty rating, you’re all primed to improve your skills and actually be challenged… and you’re done in less than an hour.

No new skills gained, no fun challenges, and a mediocre model. So frustrating! I’ve been there, and it’s terribly disappointing.

To help save you time and money, I want to share here some of the models that I personally have found to be difficult in a good way.

If you’re in a rush, here’s a quick look at one in each category:

Metal: Wuhan Yellow Crane Tower – amazing design, 357 pieces, great challenge.

Car: Tamiya Ford GT – gorgeous car, full of detail, requires gluing and painting.

Wood: Rokr Marble Run – requires many assembly steps, delicate pieces, super fun to watch in action.

Plastic: Queen Anne’s Revenge – awesome ship, 293 pieces, 8+ hours assembly time.

Difficult Metal Model Kits

Metal models are some of the most visually exciting model kits you can buy.

The twisted alloys will mold together and create a shiny new Millennium Falcon or desk-top transformer.

Take a look at my recommendations for metal model kits below to find the most challenging designs. 

Wuhan Yellow Crane Tower

Microworld 3D Metal Puzzle, Wuhan Yellow Crane...
  • 【Original Design with Exquisite Details】The Yellow Crane Tower metal puzzle is an unique design...
  • 【No Glue Required & Detailed Instruction】No glue or solder needed and all metal parts would be...

If you’re a fan of Asian architecture, then you’ll love this intricate metal model.

The kit comes with 357 pieces and, when finished, forms an authentic Chinese crane tower from the Wuhan region.

You also won’t need to worry about a big mess as this kit does not require glue or soldering. 

However, you should prepare for a challenge. The degree of difficulty is 8 to 10 and will require advanced creative and problem-solving skills. 

ICONX Peacock 3D Metal Model Kit

Fascinations ICONX Peacock 3D Metal Model Kit
  • HOBBY MODEL KIT – Unassembled model with easy to follow instructions. Ideal for ages 14 and up.
  • NO GLUE OR SOLDER NEEDED – Parts can be easily clipped from the metal sheets. Tweezers are the...

If you’re looking for a beautiful metal model that can serve as both a centerpiece and a conversation starter, then the Peacock is the right model.

The stunning bird stands at 9.5 inches tall and over a foot long. 

The parts for the peacock are in metal sheets. You can pop them out and attach them through tabs and holes.

The colored instructions will lead you on the right path, and the model is a part of a set that you can collect. Try to build them all! 

ICONX Silver Dragon 3D Metal Model Kit

Fascinations Metal Earth Premium Series Silver...
  • HOBBY MODEL KIT – Unassembled model packed in an envelope with easy to follow instructions. Ideal...
  • NO GLUE OR SOLDER NEEDED – Parts can be easily clipped from the metal sheets. Tweezers are the...

This intimidating and shiny model will remind you of Mechagodzilla with its scaly exterior or maybe the dragon coaster at your local carnival.

This model is even more challenging than your average metal model and should only be undertaken by modelers 14 and up. 

However, the Silver Dragon is a bit small when fully assembled. At only 6 x 5 x 5 inches, you might want to invest in a larger model if you want anything more than a desk ornament. 

Western Star 4900SF Log Truck

Fascinations Metal Earth Western Star 4900SF Log...
  • HOBBY MODEL KIT – Unassembled model packed in an envelope with easy to follow instructions. Ideal...
  • NO GLUE OR SOLDER NEEDED – Parts can be easily clipped from the metal sheets. Tweezers are the...

If you’re more into models on wheels, then the Western Star Log Truck could be just the thing you’re looking for.

All you’ll need to build it is a set of tweezers to bend and manipulate the steel tabs. No glue or soldering is required. 

This model was inspired by the powerful log trucks with their big steel arm to add and remove logs from the truck bed.

If you’re a truck enthusiast, it can make a fantastic decoration or addition to your collection once completed. 

Difficult Model Car Kits

If you’re a car maniac, then you probably like to build car models.

Nothing says “I know my automobiles” like a vintage Chevrolet model displayed in your bookcase.

Some of those car model designs are just too easy; you put on the doors and the wheels, and then you’re finished.

Take a look below to find car models that will put your assembly abilities to the test. 

TAMIYA 24346 1/24 Ford GT

TAMIYA 24346 1/24 Ford GT Plastic Model Kit
  • Details include: depictions of buttresses, door-side air tunnels and underside design.
  • Multi-piece depictions of head and taillights for superb realism.

This sleek model sports car looks so slick it might just swerve off your shelf!

The model is incredibly detailed with door-side air tunnels, a complete underside design, multi-piece head and tail lights, a rearview mirror, and a steering wheel. 

The wheels and the oil tank are metal plated, so it will have a more realistic look when you put them on the car. 

LEGO Ford Mustang Kit 

LEGO Creator Expert Ford Mustang 10265 Building...
  • Authentic Mustang Replica - Exclusive 1960s Ford Mustang model with dark-blue bodywork, white racing...
  • Special Elements Included - 5-spoke rims, 2x8 brick with bow, 1x3 Mustang logo tile, 2x4 bow with...

If you’re more into classic cars and want a model that’ll make you feel like you’re in a 1960s action movie, then the LEGO Ford Mustang is a perfect choice.

The kit has 1,471 pieces, and you can feel the details with headlights, a supercharger, and a full V8 engine. 

LEGO model kits are a bit easier to build than other products on this list. However, the high piece number still makes this particular set best for people over sixteen.

It’s easy to tell why this is one of LEGO’s trickier designs because, despite the high number of pieces, the model stands at only 3 x 13 x 5 inches, which means lots of small and easy-to-lose parts. 

Revell 1/25 83 Hurst Oldsmobile

Revell 85-4317 '83 Hurst Oldsmobile Model Car Kit...
  • Construct this fast '83 Hurst Oldsmobile yourself with this 94-piece, skill level 4 Revell model kit...
  • Features detailed 307 c.i. V-8 engine, front and rear spoilers, pre-painted redline wheels, chrome...

The Revell 1/25 Hurst is a great model kit gift for someone who loves the Oldsmobile brand. The 1983 version of the car inspires this particular model.

It has a built-in engine as well as wheels that turn and move. 

The kit contains almost entirely plastic pieces, and anyone over the age of 10 can build it.

It’s a good starter kit for people who like car models and want to begin with something more challenging.  

Difficult Wood Model Kits

Wood models were some of the first models to become famous on the market.

Kids in the 1950s would put together wooden airplanes, and boy scouts built excellent wooden carts for downhill competitions.

But what are the most challenging wooden models on the market today? See our recommendations below. 

ROKR Marble Run Wooden Model Kit

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When seeing the ROKR Marble Run fully assembled for the first time, you might not be sure what you’re looking at.

It can appear like a figure out of an MC Escher painting with all the mechanisms and whirly-birds. 

However, put a couple of marbles into the depository and turn the crank, and you’ll see the purpose of this intricate design. 

The kit measures 9.92 x 9.06 x 6.5 inches when complete and has 254 pieces.

The primary feature is a “waterwheel coaster,” which moves the marbles up the track and then releases them down a slide. 

Vintage Movie Projector

ROKR 3D Wooden Puzzles Vitascope for Adults -...
  • 【Original Brand and Product】Everyone of ROKR adheres to the original research and development...
  • 【Unique and Thoughtful Design】No batteries and no cables required. The 58-frame classic clips of...

If you’re looking to build a model that has a functional purpose, this projector is the right one for you.

This complex model takes time and problem solving to build and is a real-life movie projector.

The projector has no battery but instead is powered by a hand-crank like in the good ol’ days. 

The model can take between four to six hours to build wholly and correctly, and it contains 183 pieces.

When fully assembled, it measures 9 x 5 x 10 inches.

Once you make it, you should buy some old film reels, pop some popcorn, and enjoy the show! 

Wood Motorcycle w/Rubber Band Motor

Wood Trick Motorcycle w/Rubber Band Motor Rides up...
  • NATURAL WOOD - Our motorcycle model kit is made entirely of wood and requires no glue for full...
  • DETAILED MOTORCYCLE MODEL - This motorcycle puzzle is a close wooden replica of a real motorcycle,...

This model has no battery or motor but can still travel up to 16 feet. How? With rubber bands.

The rubber band motor works like your classic wind up toys, providing tension and energy to make the motorcycle ride. 

Like most DIY projects, this can teach young adults and teenagers the importance of patience while also making them feel more independent.

This is one of the more eco-friendly models on the list and is composed of only pollutant-free natural plywood.

It contains 203 pieces and is 14.61 x 9.84. x 1.38 inches at completion. 

Difficult Plastic Model Kits

Plastic is still the most popular material for models. It’s cheap and easy to manipulate.

Just because this is the most popular doesn’t mean there aren’t some unique and original models.

If you’ve built many of these models, maybe you want to expand your experience with a challenge. My suggestions for difficult plastic models are below. 

Queen Anne’s Revenge Sailboat

3D Puzzle for Adults Moveable LED Pirate Ship with...
  • Enjoy The Adventurous Spirit: Hoist The Jolly Roger and Set Sail. Adventure on the high seas awaits...
  • 2024 Upgrade Master Series Puzzles: New technology upgrade of CubicFun Pirate Ship, the openable...

The intricate detail of this old pirate ship will have your guests wanting to tear it open and look inside. Good thing there’s a removable access hatch to the hull!

The first thing you’ll notice about the finished model is the spooky LED lights that can be turned on and off and give the ship its eerie glow. 

The model is a massive 25.9 x 10 x 25 inches and contains 340 pieces.

Among those 340 are 32 plastic deck guns to make your model ship even more realistic and authentic.

Seventeen warm light beads will light the ship’s interior and make it an even more captivating display. 

Bandai Star Wars 1/144 Millennium Falcon

Bandai Hobby Star Wars 1/144 Plastic Model...
  • Figure perfectly sculpted and replicated
  • Able to produce scenes from the anime/movie

What model list would be complete without some Star Wars memorabilia?

This model comes with a weighted stand, so you won’t have to worry about your Millennium Falcon tipping over and shattering into a million pieces.

It also has the original blue striping details from the movies. 

In addition, the kit also includes two LED lights and two laser-effect parts for the weapons.

Any crafty Star Wars fan would love to get this model as a gift. 

Tamiya 1/35 Sherman Easy Eight Tank

Tamiya 35346 1/35 US Medium Tank M4A3E8 Sherman...
  • Slide molded turret and upper hull parts give an unbeatable combination of hassle-free assembly and...
  • The rear showcases sharp, detailed molding on engine grilles and exhausts, as well as the numerous...

Model military equipment is always cool.

A nice Panzer tank or stealth bomber hanging from your ceiling can speak to your interests and help start conversations with guests.

This tank is a lot easier to assemble than some of the other items on our list.

The slide-molded turret and upper hull parts will make the assembly not too challenging, but what they lack in challenge, they make up for in attention to detail.

Related Questions:

Here are some common questions related to difficult model kits. 

What Company Makes the Best Model Kits? 

This question doesn’t have a perfect answer since it depends on the model styles you like to make.

However, for their overall diversity of designs and accessibility (not to mention their global popularity), I would recommend LEGO. 

LEGO has kits for builders of all ages and interests. Their unique designs make every model their own, and none of their kits ever disappoint. 

Which Is Better, Tamiya or Revell? 

Most modeling experts agree that Tamiya may be more expensive than Revell but is worth the price.

Their kits have more details, the parts are more durable, and you won’t have to remove as many seams as with a Revell kit. 


There are a lot of great options here, but if I had to narrow it down to the two best in terms of quality and presenting a challenge, I’d say:

Get the Wuhan Yellow Crane Tower if you want a difficult model but don’t want to fuss with glue or paint.

You’ll enjoy the unique challenge of working with metal, and the finished model is absolutely stunning.

If you’re wanting a more traditional model to improve current skills and become more confident when adding a beautiful finish to unpainted models, definitely go with the Tamiya Ford GT.

You’ll learn patience, develop painting skills, master new techniques, and wind up with a jaw-dropping car to proudly display.



Last update on 2024-05-26 at 14:48 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!