Garage kits are a type of model kit that is used to produce limited run model figures. These are usually from the genres of horror, science fiction, gaming and anime. They can be sold as complete models, but are more often sold in separate pieces so that the buyer can assemble the kit and paint the model themselves. Garage kits are especially popular in Japan and the USA.
What makes a garage kit different from other model kits?
Mass produced model kits are usually made from injection-moulded plastic, which requires specialised manufacturing equipment that is extremely expensive. This means that is not economically viable to produce small runs and limits the range of models that can be produced. Garage kits, however, are made from cheaper materials such as resins and vinyls that do not require expensive moulds and can have production runs of very small numbers. Garage kits are generally more detailed and are made with more attention to detail than mass-produced kits.
Where does the name come from?
Originally, garage kits were a grass-roots hobby, made by amateurs who would build them in garages or workshops. The kits first became popular in the early 1980s when Japanese modelers became dissatisfied with the availability of figures in the subjects they were interested in. At first, garage kit models were only sold at conventions and festivals, and later online, but over time professional companies began selling resin kits on a larger scale. These were usually sold in printed, boxed sets, while amateur-made garage kits are usually packaged in plastic bags with copied instructions inside.
Garage kits today
While the ‘golden age’ of garage kits was probably in the 1980s and 1990s, there are still many people continuing with the hobby and producing detailed and collectible garage kits today. Garage kit conventions are held around the world, including WonderFest USA in Kentucky and the Wonder Festival in Tokyo.