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Modeling on a budget

Q: I am writing about two big problems. I live in a small town, and am in a bind when it comes to model kits. I'm limited to the local Wal-Mart, otherwise I have to drive 70 miles to the nearest hobby shop or order kits by mail-order, which I don't like to do because of the expense.

My other problem has to do with model paint suppliers. I recently called a manufacturer and asked for a color chart. I almost dropped my teeth when they gave me a quote of $45 for a chart. I don't think this is fair to kids, or those like me on a limited budget.

- David Maley
Fredericksburg, Texas

Ken: We're certainly not economists here in the Workshop, but one way to control mail-order shipping expenses is to place a larger order. Most mail-order dealers list a minimum shipping charge, and if you only order one or two kits at a time, shipping charges could almost double the cost of a cheap kit.

If you're shopping on line and need supplies as well as kits, try to locate a dealer that sells everything you need. The shipping cost will usually be the same, no matter what's in the box.

The cheapskates here in the Workshop think $45 for a paint chart is pretty steep, too. It sounds like you may have called a high-end auto-paint company instead of a model supplier.

For some basic information on colors, the Testor's Web site (www.testors.com) offers an online color chart for its paint lines, including Model Master, Floquil, and Pactra. Granted, you're limited by the quality of your monitor when looking at these charts, but at least it'll give you an idea.

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