How to Preserve Your Model

A Guide on Preserving Your Completed Models


Building model airplanes, cars, ships, armour is your hobby, hopefully not an obsession but simply a time well spent on building and finishing a preferred kit of a static vehicle that you like. At this point you value and are proud of each model you have completed and wish to display it somewhere in your home or office or another spot like a clubhouse.
It only make sense that you plan and find a place and display it as safely as possible.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran, preserving and sometimes exhibiting your collection is easy enough, given that you have the proper knowledge. In this article I’ve assembled some of the best tips I can give you and from learned experiences and other sources on how you can ensure that your completed model will be displayed and kept in excellent condition for years to come.

Create an inventory!

Having an inventory of your model collection is helpful in a lot of ways; for one thing, you get a personal record of all your models and know that are either on display or stored away. Two, you get to determine which are in your storage and wait for the building and see if anything is missing to complete the kit. Another reason is location, you will know where all the un-assembled kits are and where the displaying models are. Ultimately, doing an inventory of all models it serves as an excellent way to collect all the information on each model and access the information whenever needed; for example, a guest in your home/office wants to know what it is, how you came about or to build it, maybe some historical relevance, this is your chance to shine a bit. In business sometimes off topic conversation can work to one’s advantage.

How to Preserve Your Model Inventory List
How to Preserve Your Model Inventory List

Assembling an inventory:

Assembled model: take a picture of each finished item and keep the printed photos in a photo album protect the image’s quality, if you store the pictures digitally then set up a folder, place the photo in the folder dedicated to the display in a date, location, era, historical fact, cost, just a few suggestions. Here is a tip: save each model file/picture with a specific number, and store the information about the models, preferably on a spreadsheet with a link to the picture file. An old fashion way and still being used is what some modelers do that have opted for a 3 x 5 card and placed all the information on it, write all the essential details about the model, historical facts, materials used, creation date, and storage or display location.

Un-assembled model: create a spreadsheet or a database of all the pertinent information such as the name of the model, manufacturer, cost, location, date of manufacturing, model or kit number, purchase date; whatever you see as pertinent to you and easy to locate the kit when it’s time to assemble.
Also, do not forget to update your inventory as your collection continues to grow or lessen or change over time.


Proper preparation is a key factor when storing models and ensuring that you have made every effort in preserving them to the best and original condition as possible.

First, you need to clean the models to free them off from any dust or other minute debris that can damage the finish during the display.

Make sure to vacuum all the dirt and dust first off, the surface you are placing the model on, then can use a damp cloth or one with a PH neutral, delicate, synthetic soap for cleaning, the care you must place is going to be obvious.
If you are contemplating that the cloth approach is too large or cumbersome then you can try a feather like approach, or an eye glass cloth or fine long hair paint brush, you get the idea, if you’re still uncertain look into discussing it with a product consultant at your favourite hobby store like Sunward Hobbies

Never use chemicals, such as solvents, furniture cleaners, any spray cleaners, some soaps can also be extremely harsh, as they can significantly harm your model’s finish. Very often, as with a lot of cleaning products today, ingredients that at first seem harmless, eventually some products can be very harmful, so there will always be a certain amount of chemicals left on the model surface, look for neutral Ph products.

Prepare the surface and the location where the model is to be displayed. The first rule is it has to be out of the sun’s rays, the sun’s rays will certainly damage the finish and most likely alter the shape of the model, especially if it is mostly plastic. Another rule is to place the model way from windows, as the temperature near and about the window, example day vs night, summer vs winter, fall vs spring over time will also alter the shape and the finish of the model. Another location to stay away from are the air vents, as hot air in the winter and air-conditioned air in the summer can not only damage the finish but contribute to the dust and other debris on the model. Another spot is cooking areas, keep it away from cooking areas as steam along with air dust or particles can attribute a buildup of a grimy like coating.

A well-placed spot is in an around a wall unit, a bookshelf, a recessed spot in the wall; you’re looking for a dry, hopefully well-ventilated area, and keep in mind you need to have good and unimpaired access to the model for the annual or semiannual cleaning, depending on the location air circulation.

I have known modelers that used these very simple rules and have managed the display in excellent locations around their homes and offices and such models lasted decades, and looked perfect as if they were completed the day before.
You can also opt for a glass shelf, which is what I have, as it displays the model from the top, sides, and bottom, we also spend a lot of time in finishing the model, so why not display the bottom too? I also find it extremely useful that shelves are placed at an angle a notch or two higher from the rear facing the viewer, this way the viewing effort is minimal, and the whole model can be seen without guessing or moving it, just look don’t touch! I have my bookshelves and glass shelves from 5 to 10 to 20 degrees depending on the height.

Some models may need lighting, so it is a well worthwhile effort to investigate a lighting system to enhance the experience of the viewer when looking at the model you’re so proudly displaying.

Storing your model.

After cleaning, it’s time to cover your models to avoid dust from wreaking havoc. Deviate from using bubble-wrap, foam, and newspapers as these materials can also damage your model as they deteriorate. Instead, use acid-free ones like acid-free tissue paper or linen muslin wraps to cover and protect your model. You might want to use that old closet that is not being used and turn it into your model storage closet.

Select the proper storage unit.

Now that you’ve wrapped those models up for storage, it is also wise that you put them in acid-free tubs/totes or boxes. If you don’t have one, you can use plastic container units as an alternative, but line them with linen muslin fabric. Drying or silica gels are also great additions that can help control moisture from building up and damaging your valued collection. In one of my closets, I have it arranged that once a month I place a fan and leave it here for a few days, this helps in moisture control and keep things dry. I was asked how to manage the storage in case of basement humidity or flooding; I suggested to keep the containers some six to twelve inches from the ground to avoid the possibility of your storage unit getting wet, otherwise find a place on your main floor.


You now have a model that you want to display in your home or office? but where exactly should you exhibit them? One solution to go about this is by choosing a room dedicated to displaying the collection. By doing so, you get to control over sunlight that may come in and regulate the temperature inside the room and having a serious discussion with your other half or spouse! Good time here is to mention the little fingers, kids. Do have a serious discussion with the little ones, it would be a shame to catch one in the act!

Remember, some models use resin and other oil-based plastics which react to movements in temperature, affecting your model through time. Moreover, having a room means getting the opportunity to customize it, install shelves, add PVC racks, or mount your models on the wall to further showcase their beauty. After all, they are meant to be adored and appreciated on this display!

Last word

These are the best tips on how you could preserve your model.

Just make sure to devote a good effort and you will gain the proper respect in taking care of your collection – they will last a long time.

Thomas Ricci has been building model airplanes since the age of 12. When I reached the age of 14, he formed a club with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron in Toronto, and helped build plastic model airplanes for general displays.

Over the years, Thomas has continued to build aircraft and joined local modelling clubs within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

His skills are now focused on building Italian aircraft, and aircraft flown by Italian pilots and or engineered by Italian engineers. The main goal is to build the aircraft as historical accurate as possible with a story line.

A list of past and ongoing modelling participation by Thomas include:
-Peel Scale Modelers, Aerobuffs, IPMS Italy, IPMS Toronto
– Founder and President of the Club Frecce Tricolori of North America No117
– Participated in the MB339 aircraft model building and display representing the Frecce Tricolori PAN in Oderzo and Rivolto (UD) Italy (2012)
– Founder and Supporter of the Checkertails di Lesina, a monument dedicated to the U.S.A.A.F. 325th Fighter Group, Checkertails; Lesina (FG) Italy (2011 – present)

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