Kit-bashing Models

Combining parts from other kits to make something new

Kit-bashing: Basics

If you know anything about how ILM did the Star Wars models back in the day, then you know that they combined parts from hundreds of model kits...a process called kit-bashing. Kit-bashing is different than scratch-building in that instead of building parts, you are trying to find a place for parts (which can sometimes be just as hard). Luckily, you don't need as many tools. Instead, for kit-bashing, you just need a bucket load of parts.

Most of the Star Wars models used a lot of tank parts. These days, I love to use Dragon "smart kit" parts, since those kits usually have A LOT of parts...even hundreds of unused extras. Tank parts are good for hard edges, engines, and adding that industrial look. Airplane parts are great for curved edges, smooth lines, canopies, and bomb parts. Oceanic ships are great for antennae, small gun batteries, and large hull pieces. Of course, there's stuff in any kit that you can find some use for. The key is having enough to build whatever you want.

Now, the easiest way to get parts is through used or incomplete kits. People often sell these at model shows, eBay, or you might see them discounted at a local hobby store. You can also try posting on modeling forums asking for spare parts, as many modelers never use the dozens of extra parts that come with many modern kits.

Kit-bashing: Tools

Apart from the Essential Modeling Tools, you will probably want to get some various saws. Since many model parts are molded as large parts, you may need to cut them down in order to get them to fit. A Dremel may help, but you lose a lot of styrene in the process. So, smaller saws are valuable to have on hand.

  1. Zona saws
    • These are the most common, and they come in many sizes and depths.
    • The thin one in the photo has the most teeth and is also the thinnest in kerf (or saw tooth width)
    • The thicker one is more of a general saw that I also use for cutting brass. It is the only saw I use for cutting brass since it does dull the blade over time
  2. Hobby knife saw inserts
    • Many companies make X-acto handle inserts.
    • Currently, I have a set of RB Productions Pico saws, which come in a set of 4
    • These allow very fine removal of detail with minimal damage to the parts

6 Comments

  1. Any idea where I can pick up bulk parts for kitbashing? Saw a great vid on YouTube where they used kitbash parts to doctor up an awesome lightsaber….i wish to do the same.

    • Hey man. Best advice I can give for a lightsaber is to go buy old electronics and take them apart (which is what ILM did). If you want plastic parts, then buy a tank kit, as they usually have some great parts for kit-bashing. Dragon kits in particular are really great, and you can often find cheap kits at model shows or online forums.

  2. Hey, I watched a couple of the videos on the channel Tested on YT, and Adam Savage who worked as a modelmaker for movies (including Star Wars) said numerous times, that he loves the following kit: K5(E) German Railway Gun “Anzio Annie” Minicraft Hasegawa – Nr. 728 – 1:72
    He said that every single spaceship in the star wars universe, even the ones modeled in CAD software used parts of this kit. I know you’re asking for stuff for a lightsaber but maybe it’s worth checking it out.

  3. hey i am new to kit bashing and i have a 68 dodge charger rt and i am making a mad max OK (overkill) vehicle i have the basic big stuff its just the armor and extras like

    this blackfinger needs to build the ultimate machine better than the black on black

    armor like the armored karin kuruma in gtav:o (Grand Theft Auto V: Online) but more armored if you know what i mean

    thundersticks
    side burners
    exhaust pipes
    harpoon gun (to tare off parts of vehicles)
    no2 (boost)
    tools (wrench and pry bar)
    Jerry cans at least 3 if not more
    front and back emblems
    molotov
    mines

    if found anything or if i can buy some items let me know through my personal email at [email protected]

    i will also send you pictures (your email needed) of what i have and my plans btw i am not that great at drawing but it is not like a kindergarten kid drawing but more blocky as to what and where possibly how but idk when thx

    • I would start with figuring out scale, then you can try to find some pieces that fit the model. Like the tools, jerry cans needs to be in scale. There’s plenty of 1/35 cans, and I even have some. Some of the things you will need to scratch-build yourself, although tank kits will get some nice pieces to start with.

      I’d also look at Meng’s sets of nuts and bolt heads. They have several sets that would look good to add to styrene sheets that would make them look like bolted-on armor. Feel free to email me if you want to talk more. This sounds like a cool project.

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