Kids these days have much in the way of distractions -far more than when I was a youngster. Sometimes it's difficult to tear them away from video games, but introducing them to a more constructive and rewarding pastime can be done...with a little patience. This group of typical Taiwanese kids, aged 8 -11, are not very different from their North American counterparts, showing little interest in anything that's not a computer game. Fortunately, their town is home to a squadron of Republic of China Airforce F-16s which regularly zoom overhead with full after-burners lit, sparking a germ of interest in a group of otherwise bored boys.
things to keep in mind
The aim is not to build a prize-winning model on the first attempt. It's easy to forget that the best and most rewarding way to learn any new skill, is by trial and error...mostly error. Resist the urge to intervene too often. Rather, show the beginner examples of what can be accomplished after years of building models. The only steps requiring adult help with this kit were painting and cementing the clear canopy.
Keep it simple: choosing an easy, larger scale kit will make the experience much more enjoyable: In this case, I chose the F-16 IDF ROCAF "eggplane" kit from AFV Club (item AFQ001). With only one sprue of parts, this inexpensive kit is a great introduction to the hobby. Before any assembly started, these kids practiced cutting, sanding, and cleaning-up scraps of sprue.
It is far better to not bring the child along when shopping for the first kit -you want to choose a project based on ease of build, rather than what may look appealing on the hobby shop shelf.
Keep it fun: realize that the attention spans of kids are short. Choose a project that can be completed in a single weekend, but take plenty of breaks. After these kids were bit by the kit-building bug, we broke to read modeling magazines and talk about what might make an interesting future project.
Having a beginner finish an older, unwanted project which has had the tedious groundwork already completed, can be a good option.
Keep them busy: If more than one child is involved, delegate tasks for everyone: parts call-out, cutting sprues, clean-up, assembly.
Keep it relevant: When possible, choose a vehicle that is familiar from a movie, video game, or local museum. I well remember how watching the "Battle of Britain" those many years ago was the catalyst that first lit my own model-building passion.
Obvious, but sometimes forgotten: one can't give too much praise!
My sincere thanks to AFV Club for the review sample.
Good job Kim, Peter, Max and Ian!