Resin vs Plastic - What's Your Poison?
Clearly polystyrene plastic is the default material for mainstream kit manufacturers. But it doesn't take a modeler too long to notice accessories in other mediums such as photoetched metal and resin. These days kit manufacturers are searching pretty far and wide for new subjects, so in the traditional genres (armour, aircraft and naval) a modeler has a high chance to get what they need in plastic. Still there is still as demand for kits that only appear in resin. So I here are a few thoughts the medium and thought I would see what readers have to say.
Right let's Get Started
It could be argued that Francois Verlinden was the first to bring resin to the masses with his vast array of resin aircraft and armour accessories, conversion sets and figures. While he wasn't the first I am pretty sure he kicked the door wide open and these days resin and even 3D printed resin parts are common as dogshit and for modelers who's tastes run into the more esoteric.
I was surprised to realise that my own first encounter with resin came in the early 2000's when a colleague was offloading a 1/12ish scale by Japanese Garage Kit (GK) brand Amaze. Unsurprisingly that kit remains in it's box only partly assembled having succumbed to the "I'll wait until I get better at this" mentality.
Of course these days I have gathered more than a passing familiarity with resin since Chrissy and I started up our GK operation back in 2016 and since then I have worked on resin kits almost exclusively. I say worked on and and not finished on purpose as I am a serial kit starter but have trouble finishing stuff off - a habit I am hoping to fix starting in 2023 (fingers crossed!)
While it seems like resin accessories are pretty mainstream these days - if you haven't checked out the Reskit stuff then do yourself a favour and take a look - I see far fewer full resin kits being built. Now to be clear I am talking about hard edge subjects such as tanks, aircraft etc. Figure modelers and anime/sci-fi builders seem more comfortable with medium but I still see plenty of people swear "I hate resin" or "resin so so hard to work with." But I can tell you that right after finishing the Sex Machine build with it's hundreds if plastic parts that each need trimming, assembling, gap filling etc. that resin kits really aren't that hard to build - if you get the right kit . Usually the parts count is lower which means you can get to the painting and finishing a lot faster. Really the biggest downfall is that you can't use regular model cement and are pretty much limited to either cyanoacrylate or epoxy adhesives which can be bit more fiddly to use.
Good Resin Bad Resin
These days there is no reason to accept bad resin. Just make sure you do your research and make sure your not getting something carved from a bar of soap. I have been burnt by a few shitty kits in the past but the proliferation of 3D printed masters and professional pattern makers means in more recent times makes it is pretty easy to get a good kit. If you aren't sure then hit up a specialist media page or forum and ask for advice. It will save you a bit of cash and wasted time.
Don't Buy Recasts
Since 2004 I have seen loads of resin Macross kits kit the street thanks to blokes like John Moscato and Mike Salzo. And thanks to outfits like Industria Mechanika and Kallamity some really cool original designs with quality casts can be had. But they aren't cheap, not even close. That's because you just can't scale those kits up to make your money back. each step of the production process required a person. Pattern making, mold making, pouring, demolding, even boxing and shipping is taking precious hours, days and weeks out of someone's life.
John Moscato of Moscato Hobby Models milling parts for resin kit patterns
That means that costs can be high, certainly much higher than a plastic kit and it is those costs that makes some people think twice before pulling the trigger on that rare piece. And that were the nemesis of the industry come in - recasters. These shitbergs buy a kit at retail, throw it in some rubber and punch out copies at the expense of the original kit maker. Rather some bandit is making money off someone else's work so they can expand their collection of ceramic cats and no one wins. The purchaser gets a crappy recast at least one generation removed from the patterns (and likely plagued with other flaws as well) and the original artist get nothing. That means no funds being recovered which means no money to pay the pattern maker for the next new kit. Yes original resin kits are expensive but do the right thing rather than save a few bucks.
Build your kits
Talking just in terms of Macross kits it seems that very few actually get built and I don't know why. Is it because they are considered rare? Expensive? Are people just waiting until their skills improve? Whatever the reason is the fact that these poor kits are languishing in boxes and on shelves is a huge shame. Last year Return 2 Kit Form even held a competition to encourage people to build their resin kits. Of the 20 or so entries just 5 were finished by the deadline (3 of those by a single entrant) and it is a damn shame. So kids go and build your resin kits.
Take precautions when building, particularly with resin dust but paint fumes can be just as bad. In fact generally the use of a dust mask and other precautions would be effective regardless of medium as even dust from styrene kits could cause problems. I always recommend wet sanding and these days there is no excuse not to. I even wrote an article about modeling health and safety. For other tips check out Anthony Goodman's VF-19 video below
I really don't think that a decent resin kit is any harder to build than a plastic kit. The part count is lower for sure and you may have to adapt a few skills and make sure you have some 5 minute epoxy on hand but other than that there really is no reason to dig out those dusty old kits and start building. But what do you lot think? Am I completely off my rocker? Do you agree? Whatever your thoughts are feel free to leave a comment as I am genuinely curious.