Scratch-Building vs Kit-Bashing – What’s the difference?

Someone who has no idea about the terminology I use but is interested in seeing what I’ve done asked the question: What do Kit-Bashing and Scratch-Building mean?

Let’s take a look at what Wikipedia has to say:

Scratch building is the process of building a scale model “from scratch”, i.e. from raw materials, rather than building it from a commercial kit, kit-bashing or buying it pre-assembled.

Scratch building is easiest if original plans of the subject exist; however, many models have been built from photographs by measuring a known object in the photograph and extrapolating the rest of the dimensions. The necessary parts are then fashioned out of a suitable material, such as wood, plastic, plaster, clay, metal, polymer clay, or even paper, and then assembled. Some purists consider a model not to be truly scratch-built unless all of the parts were made from raw materials. However most modellers would consider a model including commercial detail parts as scratch-built. Scratch-building a new body onto an altered ready-to-run chassis is also acceptable.[1]

Kit-bashing or model bashing is a practice whereby a new scale model is created by taking pieces out of commercial kits. These pieces may be added to a custom project or to another kit. For professional model-makers, kit-bashing is popular to create concept models for detailing movie special effects. Commercial model kits are a ready source of “detailing”, providing any amounts of identical, mass-produced components that can be used to add fine detail to an existing model. Professionals often kit-bash to build prototype parts which are then recreated with lightweight materials.[2]

So fast recap: Scratch-build is to make a model from scratch. You can take bits from preexisting models, but most of the model should be made from scratch.

Kit-bashing is to take preexisting kits and put them together, sometimes with some Scratch-built pieces.

Is everyone caught up? Great!

Now there are some silly people that make the mistake of using Scratch-build in place of Kit-bash when discussing their work, like this guy:

Great video! Really demonstrates the spirit of Kit-bashing left-over model pieces to save money! But I find I must deduct Awesome Points for misuse of the Jargon.

He called it a Scratch-built Conversion? What’s that?

Conversion is taking something that wasn’t intended to be used for one thing and Kit-bash it into something you can play with in a different way. That’s the only part of the episode title he got right. Silly man.

Using the proper nomenclature (and yes, I just wanted an excuse to use the word nomenclature… have to put my wasted college years in English Literature to some use!): He Kit-bashed a Deff Dread out of Random Bits, none of which came from a Deff Dread. While he did Convert. He did not Scratch-build.

Come to think of it… I don’t think it is possible to Scratch-build and Convert… I need to think on that one…

Actually, I guess if I build a jet engine or a laser-cannon from two soda-bottle caps, some hardware from the hardware store, scraps of wire and a fair bit of glue that would be a Scratch-built conversion… since you are converting materials from their intended purpose. So I guess it is possible to combine the terms Scratch-build and Conversion and not sound like you don’t know what you are talking about. But I digress.

These are scratch-builds:

This dude is scratch-built from all sorts or beads and dowels. I think I see a few mini-clothespins as well. This image is property of Pete at Builders Studio on Deviant Art. He does good work, you should check him out at

This is a Scratch-built Ork Deff Dread, and does include some bits from kits. But it’s mostly plasti-card (sheet styrene) and other materials. So, made from scratch. This image is property of Scratch Built Studios. No infringement is intended. You can find more of this guy’s work here:

For the uninitiated, I hope this make some sense.

Here is a Kit-bash/Conversion:

And almost everything this guy does is Kit-bash and Conversion, with the exception of his weapon mounts and engine pods (Which are Scratch-built Conversions just like I talked about before). Just be warned it’s in Spanish. If you don’t speak it, just mute it and watch anyway because he does good work: