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Model kit hobbies to enjoy with your grandchildren

Model kits have come along in leaps and bounds in the last few years. Gone are the days when they were too fiddly and fragile to do with children and teens. As creators worldwide continue to dream up imaginative new builds, there’s something out there to suit everyone’s interests.

Olivia Barnes-Brett
· 6 min read

Let’s look at how you can enjoy various modelling hobbies with your grandchildren.

How to choose your model kit

If you’re looking to build a model kit with your grandchildren, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1.  Always check age suitability

Model kits can be a little deceptive, especially if you haven’t tried the brand before. One kit might look complicated but be very accessible because of large pieces or excellent instructions. On the other hand, you might find a kit that looks straightforward, but, in reality, requires very dextrous hands or contains hazardous small parts.

Kits aimed at kids usually display age guidance prominently. But you might need to search harder on the box or product description when it comes to more designs aimed primarily at adults.

2.  Pick a theme with your grandchildren in mind

As adults, we can see more clearly how all the little components fit together to create a beautiful model. Children with short attention spans might be a little more short-sighted. Choosing a theme that a young child or teenager likes will make the end goal much more exciting.

Alternatively, in the list below, there are several examples of model kit hobbies that have steps specifically aimed at children, such as interactive game kits or colouring in. This is another excellent way to get younger family members involved in what could be a complicated project.

3.  Find something you would be proud to display

If you’re a model kit enthusiast, you might not have room to display everything you’ve made. But if the aim is to create something special with a grandchild, showcasing your handiwork will remind you both how much fun you had!

4.  Consider the instructions

It’s always a good idea to read reviews. Even products designed by big-name brands can be flawed or overly complex. If navigating instructions isn’t your strong point, you might prefer to pick a model kit with an enhanced guide, like a LEGO kit with an app that helps you build.

Model kit hobbies: quick inspiration

LEGO sets

LEGO says their sets are popular with adults and children alike. You can shop by interest, age, or price on the LEGO website, with a wide range of options. Some sets are designed to be built within minutes so that kids can get straight to playing with them, while others are designed with extended building time in mind.

The most detailed model kits are found in the Adults Welcome and Creator Expert sections. There, you can build a Harley Davison, a gorgeous bouquet, or even the Colosseum. However, many of these models aren’t recommended for under 18s, so it's essential to check whether your entire "building team" will be able to participate.

3D puzzles

Take jigsaw puzzles to the next level by building in three dimensions. 3D jigsaw puzzles work similarly to traditional ones but with increased levels of difficulty and extra satisfaction at the end. Because of how intricate the designs can be, 3D jigsaws are often more suited to teens and adults.

3D puzzle company Wrebbit suggests first separating pieces into several piles, for example, by colour and design. Then, it's time to make flat sides before carefully following instructions as you assemble the model so that it stands up.

UGEARS model kits

Ukrainian company UGEARS creates distinctive wooden mechanical model kits. Their designs are chic and, once complete, the models showcase your hard work through sophisticated designs.

The UGEARS website lists many different kits, from model trains to a hurdy-gurdy, but they also create functional designs such as a phone holder and a cardholder, which might interest teens.

Most of their models are suitable for ages 14 and over. However, younger children can enjoy colouring models, which they can decorate with acrylic, gouache, watercolour, or markers.

These usually have an assembly time of half an hour to an hour, perfect for shorter attention spans!

The UGEARS business began in 2014 and has since grown to have a reputation for creating distinctive, educational, and fun models for customers around the world. They say one of their aims is to unite children and their parents.

Model railways

When you think of model kit hobbies, railways will almost certainly spring to mind. For many, the pleasure of building model railways comes from its accuracy and intricacy. You can spend time researching different types of trains, tracks, and scenery to decide which models are suitable for you.

Then, it's about creating something special. Sets can be pretty pricey. However, you can build them up over time, creating an elaborate plan to add platforms and bridges as well as buildings, people, and animals as you go.

If you’re building a set with younger children, you might need to opt for something less accurate and more child friendly. But this depends on the age and interests of your building companion!

Augmented reality model kits

The future of model kits has arrived, combining technology with physical building blocks. Using augmented reality (AR), children and adults alike can see their model kits come to life through their phones or tablets. What better way to engage with the tech generation?

So, what is augmented reality? Well, while virtual reality needs a headset and creates an entirely new digital world, augmented reality builds on what’s already in the real world. For example, you might hold up your phone camera as though you’re taking a picture and see a funny character on the screen, seemingly dancing around your living room.

As far as model kit augmented reality goes, LEGO seems to be the current leader. In 2019, LEGO launched its Hidden Side series for ages 7+, which they describe as the “bridge between physical and virtual play”.

First, you download an app, then build your set. You can then use the app to play alone or in multiplayer mode, exploring the town of Newbury and hunting its hidden ghosts. For more information and to see which sets are available, have a look at LEGO’s AR guide.

Please note, Pension Times does not currently have links with any of the businesses listed above and is not responsible for content or products on external sites.

For more activities, have a look at our hobby pages. We regularly publish diverse guides with hobby ideas, whether you’re looking for an outdoor hobby or something a little closer to home.

Olivia Barnes-Brett

Olivia Barnes-Brett

Olivia is an experienced writer and has written and edited content for a variety of online platforms and publications. A languages enthusiast, Olivia speaks three languages and is also involved in teaching and creative fiction writing.