Sunday, September 16, 2012

Assembly Instructions

For those of us growing up building injection plastic kits from Tamiya, Hasegawa, Bandai or any other established companies, we are spoiled by well written assembly instructions. And we probably took it for granted that model kits should come with very detailed assembly instructions. Even though we often do not follow exactly the step by step procedures, the instruction still can play the role of letting us know which piece is supposed to go to where.

But in the world of 1/43 car kits, that often not the case. In the old days, putting together a good assembly instruction requires a lot of effort. I wrote enough technical instructions so I know a lot of thoughts need to be put in to it. Good instruction needs a lot of pictures: "a picture is worth a thousand words". But then drawing takes a lot of time.

This is one of the older instruction from FDS. It's a very crude simple kit, not a lot of parts, so a simple 1 diagram is enough to do the job.

Here's an instruction sheet from SRC. Clear diagrams, step by step procedure. Not too bad.

This is from an older Tameo. Again, not very complicated, 1 sheet front and back, pretty clear instructions in the drawing.

Nowadays, kits have a lot more detail and have way more parts than before. 1 sheet is not enough anymore. Now Tameo's standard kits' instruction is a booklet printed in full color with photographs and 3D drawings directly from the 3D solid modeling program. The way that kits are designed nowadays has a lot more CAD/CAM involved, thanks to computers and solid modeling applications becoming more and more affordable.

Company size probably also makes a difference in how good the instructions are. The following is from BBR. With very clear instructions, including drill size. (I wish Tameo has drill size in the instructions, saves me time to measure with a caliper)

This is may be the worst instruction sheet that I've seen so far. From Provence Moulage. 1 tiny sheet single side with only a couple of photographs and very crude hand drawn pictures. No description on how the roll cage is put together. 

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