The most popular subjects of plastic models by far are vehicles such as aircraft, ships, automobiles, and armored vehicles such as tanks. The majority of models depict military vehicles, due to the wider variety of form and historical context compared to civilian vehicles. Other subjects include science fiction vehicles and robots (Most famously the "Mobile Suits" from the various Gundam series), real spacecraft, buildings, animals, human figures, and characters from motion pictures. While military, ship, and aircraft modelers prize accuracy above all, modelers of automobiles and science-fiction themes may attempt to duplicate an existing subject, or may depict a completely imaginary subject. The creation of custom automobile models is related to the creation of actual custom cars and often an individual may have an interest in both, although the cost of customizing a real car is obviously enormously greater than that of customizing a model.
Most plastic models are injection-molded in polystyrene, and the parts are glued together, usually with a plastic solvent-based adhesive, although experienced modelers may also use epoxy, cyanoacrylate, and white glue where their particular properties would be advantageous. While often omitted by novice modelers, specially formulated paint is sold for application to plastic models. Complex markings such as aircraft insignia or automobile body decorative details and model identification badges are typically provided with kits as screen-printed water-slide decals. Unassembled parts of a Hasegawa 1/72 F-18E kit Recently, models requiring less skill, time, and/or effort have been marketed, targeted to younger or less skilled modelers as well as those who just wish to reduce the time and effort required to complete a model. One such trend has been to offer a fully detailed kit requiring normal assembly and gluing, but eliminate the often frustrating task of painting the kit by molding it out of colored plastic, or by supplying it prepainted and with decals applied. Often these kits are identical to another kit supplied in normal white or gray plastic except for the colored plastic or the prepainting, thus eliminating the large expense of creating another set of molds