The 14 Best Model Kits for Adults – Complete Review

Plastic Model Airplane Kit 1_72 Scale

Remember building model houses and ships as a kid? I do. It was somewhere between childhood and adolescence or maybe when technology took over that we lost touch with this art.

And as adults, we’re seeing modeling shops become a thing of the past. But…there are still some really awesome model kits for adults out there.

Either way, going back to it as an adult has been great for me. It’s something I can do with my kids, my wife, and even with a few friends.

I take out half an hour here and a few minutes there for this task.

In the end, when I put the model up on a shelf or a table, it’s worth the time spent. The joy of building something to add to your home is just incredible.

Want to get right to the point? Here’s a quick summary of the model kits you won’t want to miss…

CubicFun 3D Puzzle for Adults Moveable LED Pirate...
USS Iowa Big Battleship Plastic Model Kit 1/535...
AMT 1:25 Scale 1968 Shelby Mustang GT-500 Model...
Queen Anne's Revenge Sailboat, 1:95
USS Iowa Big Battleship, 1:535
1968 Shelby Mustang GT-500, 1:25
340 Pieces
71 Pieces
80+ Pieces
CubicFun 3D Puzzle for Adults Moveable LED Pirate...
Queen Anne's Revenge Sailboat, 1:95
340 Pieces
USS Iowa Big Battleship Plastic Model Kit 1/535...
USS Iowa Big Battleship, 1:535
71 Pieces
AMT 1:25 Scale 1968 Shelby Mustang GT-500 Model...
1968 Shelby Mustang GT-500, 1:25
80+ Pieces

Our Favorite Model Kits for Adults

1. AMT 1968 Shelby Mustang GT-500, 1:25 Scale

AMT 1:25 Scale 1968 Shelby Mustang GT-500 Model...

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Are you a fan of cars? Are you in love with old hot wheels from the 60s and 70s? If not, what’s wrong with you? These are some of the most iconic cars ever built.

For the rest of you, this is the perfect modeling kit for your nostalgia to burst out and take control. Think of this less as an excuse to build 3D models and more as a window into your childhood.

The 1968 Shelby Mustang is the landmark of a time when Ford was known for being the fastest car ever.

This was the time when Ford had outpaced Ferrari at the 24-hour Le Mans in France for two years in a row.

Looking at the label just makes you nostalgic. You can almost smell the paint job and feel the engine purring. Feel free to pop this baby up on the fireplace when you’re done building it.

If you’re completely new to building model cars, this beginner’s guide shows you exactly what you need to get started – everything from what paints are best to use to which tools you’ll need.

2. Revell F15E Strike Eagle, 1:144 Scale

Revell Germany 03972 1/144 F-15E Strike Eagle...

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This is for the air force fans in the audience. You needn’t have flown one of these babies to want to build a model. Hell, you could’ve just seen the original Top Gun and known the thrill of the speed.

If you’re feeling the need for speed, then there is no better model airplane to assemble.

The F15E Strike Eagle kits come in a classic gray but the suggested paints include White, Steel, Silver, Gloss blue, Leaf green, Gunship gray. 

If you don’t already have one, you’ll want to get a model building tool kit (like this one) before completing this model.

Build it with your kids after watching Top Gun or Pearl Harbor. Just don’t let this baby gather dust. It deserves to be built and put on display.

Tip: The eventual buildup of dust is inevitable. That’s just the way it is. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Model Cars and Planes Safely to keep your models looking brand new.

3. USS Iowa Battleship 1/535 Scale

USS Iowa Big Battleship Plastic Model Kit 1/535...

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The USS Iowa dates back to 1942 when it first set sail. It saw action in World War II, once carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt across the Atlantic, and was ultimately decommissioned in 1949.

This model by Atlantis does an incredible job of showcasing its detail and might. 

The kit includes 71 molded plastic pieces and once assembled, measures in at just over 20-inches in length.

4. Moebius 942 Battlestar Galactica

Moebius 942 - 1/4105 Battlestar Galactica Series...

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Even if you haven’t seen the original series, you must’ve heard of Battlestar Galactica. This vessel is from the original run of the series in 1970.

That means it is one generation after Star Trek and one before Star Wars. It’s a nice little transition between the two greatest space franchises on Earth.

Even if you’re not a sci-fi fan, which you should be, you can appreciate that. The level of detail and the craftsmanship on this beauty is astounding.

Not only is it a great piece of 70s memorabilia, but it is also one of the best model kits out there.

The detail on this thing is close to the one on the USS Constitution. Granted, the latter was a real ship, but this carries much greater nostalgia for present generations.

Who cares how many parts this one has? The finished product is just too cool to ignore.

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5. CubicFun 3D Puzzle Kit of Black Queen Anne’s Revenge

CubicFun 3D Puzzle for Adults Moveable LED Pirate...

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This 1:95 scale ship is one of the few you’ll find on our list and it’s the only one that comes equipped with LED lights (they add a super cool look to the finished product).

If you’re just starting with model shipbuilding, this is a good starting point. It has 340 pieces and is recommended for ages 14+. That said, it shouldn’t be too difficult for an adult.

The pieces are made from EPS foam board and can be assembled without glue following the included instructions. The finished ship measures 25.9 x 10 x 25.0 inches.

One Amazon review did say that you need to pay close attention to the instructions because it isn’t 100% step-by-step so you’ll need to follow the illustrations closely.

6. Notre Dame de Paris Church Model Kit

CubicFun 3D Puzzle for Adults Moveable Notre Dame...

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This 1:250 scale 3D model of the historic Notre Dame De Paris. The detail in this model is absolutely breathtaking.

From the stained glass rose windows to the intricate stonework surrounding it – building this model is the next best thing to actually visiting!

The model opens a full 180 degrees to showcase the beauty it holds inside as well.

The completed model measures 23 x 8.7 x 17.3 inches. It contains 293 pieces and is recommended for ages 10+.

If this model really gets you excited, you’ve got to see the architectural kits reviewed here. Prepare to drool a bit though.

Not sure what type of glue you should be using with your models or if you need to use glue at all? Find the answers here.

7. Tamiya Models Tiger Tank

Tamiya 35216 1/35 Ger. Tiger I Early Production...

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The Tiger I is one of the most revered tanks in war history and makes for one of the coolest model kits for adults.

It was used by Germany in WWII to wipe out their enemies. While it was used for evil back then, it’s still recognized as one of the most outstanding engineering designs ever.

Just think of all those cogs and wheels turning while the Tiger crushes all the forces that stand against it.

You may just get a kick out of positioning all the ships and cars that you’ve been building alongside this. What war scene is complete without a tank anyway?

It’s also one of the few large scale plastic scale model kits without any aluminum. It includes decals and a commander figure which looks suspiciously like the evil Hitler himself.

This piece can serve as the enemy when you finish up your war scene display with ships and spacecraft.

You can find several other amazing military model kits to pair with this one here in this article.

8. Revell Star Wars The Force Awakens Millennium Falcon

Revell 06718 Star Wars Han Solo Millennium Falcon,...

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While fans may be divided on the reception to the new trilogy, the Millennium Falcon will always remain iconic.

Han and Chewie swooping down to blast Darth Vader’s bomber and blasting him into oblivion are still so iconic.

Think of that while you’re building possibly the most iconic ship in the history of science fiction. The Falcon’s model is incredibly detailed and is great to build with children of all ages.

The model has 69 parts included and is pretty easy to build. See if you can clear the Kessler run in less than five parsecs after you’re done building this baby.

9. Playz V8 Combustion Engine Model Kit

Playz V8 Combustion Engine Model Building Kit STEM...

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This scale model has over 500 parts, as it should. Building the V8 engine is no joke. It even simulates a real motor and features ignition sounds and light up spark plugs.

If you’re interested in cars in even the smallest capacity, this should be a treat for you.

While the engine rumbles you can just feel the wind in your hair. You can feel it while you’re building this baby.

Just imagine this attached to the car of your dreams and you cruising down the highway. God, why did we ever come out of the 70s?

You will need to put in 3 AA batteries to run it though. Otherwise, all the tools and parts you need are in the box.

10. Revell Star Trek USS Enterprise NCC-1701

Revell 04882 58.8 cm U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701...

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This baby measures nearly 2-feet (60cm) in length and is the only model ship to rival the Millennium Falcon. This is the Falcon for Trek fans.

No one wants to start a fight here, but one is far more iconic than the other for some fans. I’m not going to say which. Whichever side of the fandom you lie on though, this is a great model to build.

Not only is it sleek and beautiful in its design, but it will also stand out in any corner of your room.

If you’re into model building and sci-fi, you need to have this in your collection. It’s not just an iconic piece of sci-fi history but also a piece of American history.

The model has 91 pieces and a matte white finish that you can’t take your eyes off.

11. Hasegawa, F-22 Raptor – Modern Fighter Jet    

Hasegawa 1/48 F-22 Raptor USAF

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Hasegawa – F-22 Raptor is one of my all-time favorite model airplanes. Styled at 1/48 scale, this fighter jet will keep you engrossed for hours.  It is an Air Force battle plane with fine detailing and a pilot figure with two helmets. It also features a weapons bay and cockpit.

The best part is that both of them can be displayed opened as well as closed. So, unlike some other models where all the interior detailing is hidden once the model is complete, your Hasegawa F-22 raptor will allow you to boost all its features.

The model also includes an ejector seat rail along with hydraulic lines and ductwork. It is perfect for intermediate to advanced modelers who enjoy spending time on detailing.

Keep in mind that this amount of detailing does not come without some extremely tiny pieces, so make sure you are comfortable using tweezers. If the idea of using your magnifier excites you, this is the model kit for you.

Based on your budget, you can also invest in aftermarket photo-etched parts to turn your fighter plane into a trophy model.

12. Miniart, T-44 Soviet Medium Tank

Miniart MIN35193 Modellbausatz T 44 Soviet Medium...

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Intended for advanced builders, Miniart T-44 Soviet Medium Tank is a detailed model with an intricate engine compartment. When it comes to interiors, the model only has partial compartments. This makes it the perfect sport without getting overly involved in the building part.

It is a plastic kit that features around 700 pieces. Apart from that, the kit contains as many as up to 100 photo-etched accessories for the tank.

Instructions are easy to understand and follow. However, the color scheme is only provided for MIG paints. So, if you working some other kind of paint, you’ll have to take the time to find colors that match the ones shown.

On the other hand, you can also take creative liberty and let your inner artist take over the project. The kit includes a number of decals so you can build different kinds of tanks. If model tanks are right up your alley, this glorious tank will take your collection one step forward.

It is intended for experienced modelers but beginners can also try it out as the kit is not overly engineered. Nonetheless, the detailing work is impressive.

13. Tamiya, Mitsubishi A6M5/5a Zero Fighter (Zeke)

Tamiya Mitsubishi A6M5/5A Zero

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Tamiya Mitsubishi A6M5/5a Zero Fighter is the 1/48 scale replica of a one of a kind Japanese aircraft. Made of light gray, heavy-duty plastic, this kit is an accurate model of the original aircraft.

The detailing is astoundingly precise and impressive. Apart from 115 pieces of the aircraft, the kit includes 221 grey pieces for the assembly of four pilots, decals, and a canopy.

Despite the best quality plastic used for manufacturing the parts and pieces of the kit, the model is fairly lightweight. It is also relatively less expensive as compared to some other model airplanes of the same quality. The kit is perfect for modelers with medium or advanced modeling skills.

The instructions are pretty clear and easy to follow so you shouldn’t have any trouble in completing the model. The manual recommends using 18 different paints.

You can buy them all if you want but keep in mind that most of them are only used for the cockpit. When I was building this model, I used a military flat set of paint and the completed model turned out great!

14. Revell, Black Pearl – The Mystical Vessel of Captain Jack Sparrow

Revell 05499 - Pirates of The Caribbean - The...

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Black Pearl is known as the one and only true love of Caption Jack Sparrow, the iconic fictional character from the Pirates of the Caribbean. However, the legends of the mystical vessel go beyond pirate fanatics. So if you are looking to have some pirate-style fun and looking to add a beautiful model vessel to your model collection, Revell Black Pearl is the kit for you.

The kit has 112 parts and is just 10-inch long and 9-inch high. It is perfect for beginners as it is quite easy to assemble. It comes equipped with a number of accessories including guns, flags, a boat, anchor, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Inches Is 1/32 Scale?

When a model kit says it’s a 1/32 or 1:32 scale model it means that 1 unit of measurement on the model is equal to 32 units on the object being modeled.

Let’s say you’re building a model boat kit that’s scaled at 1:32. If the model measures 1-foot (12 inches), you know that in reality, the boat is 32-feet long.

My article “Miniature Scales: The Complete Guide” explains sizing and scales in much more detail.

What Are Scale Models Used for?

Scale models are size accurate representations of various things from cars to planes, trains, and characters, miniaturized. For the most part, they are used for entertainment by hobbyists.

Once the model is complete it is usually put out for display. Model builders also enjoy collecting them.

Still hungry for more? You can find more awesome models for adults to construct here.

Last update on 2021-02-26 at 22:51 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API