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  You buy a kit, gather together your Exacto knife, some glue, sandpaper, paint, brushes, and thinner and an afternoon or so later, voila. You've got a little jewel that's all yours. But let's say you want to throw it in a contest at the local model club. There are a lot more demands on the modeler in a competition, particularly in workmanship and accuracy. Thus, there comes a larger investment in tools and their mastery. Below are some key implements you'll need to bump your skill level up several big notches and likely take home some of that hardware along with some applause, handshakes and smiles.
  First stop, an airbrush. This tool is going to give you a smoother finish, use less paint, dry faster, and allow you to do those cool feathered edge camouflage patterns that brings wows. There are many brands and pricing. Paasche airbrushes are top rated and reasonable. Entry level would likely be an H model at $55, while a little more advanced modeler might choose a VL model at $90.  
Paasche H Model Airbrush
  Now, you need to blow some air through that airbrush to get the paint to lay down real nice. There are two ways to do this: an air compressor or a compressed gas cylinder with a regulator. Air compressors are easier to handle and don't require refilling but are a bit noisier and less mobile. The air compressor should be able to provide 40 PSI for effective results. For example, the 1/8HP Model Maker CP101A with regulator and filter will foot the bill for around $145. through some online sources.  
Model Maker CP101A Air Compressor
  The trusty X-acto knife with the No. 11 blade will take care of virtually all of your modeling needs. However, you may consider having a set for the ease of having knives reserved for certain function: one for cutting decals, one for scraping seams, one for occasionally checking your blood type, etc. Sets can be organized like the illustration, or by just setting aside a set of color coded knives for different purposes. Organized sets run around $38 for all that you'll need.  
X-acto Knife Set
  A Dremel Moto-Tool is crucial for many advanced techniques in modeling. Tiny drilled holes can be quick work with this tool, as well as grinding away plastic for open panels or simulated damage. Newer models now have variable speed features, which are important when dealing with plastic and resin. The vaiable speed Dremel Model 395 will handle the demands well, and all for around $57 online.  
Dremel Moto-Tool 395
  A magnifying visor is another important addition to the tools of the serious modeler. Working with tiny structures, accuracy in hole drilling, or searching out a small piece that's fallen onto the floor willbe a breeze with this item. There are different manufacturers and different price levels, but expect to pay between $25 and $45 for a reliable and comfortable model.  
Optivisor Magnifying Visor

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