Finding unconventional Cold War era model kit ideas

Finding unconventional Cold War era model kit ideas. Model kit enthusiasts often draw inspiration from history, movies, and real-life vehicles, but finding unique and unconventional sources can lead to extraordinary model creations, especially when exploring the fascinating and complex era of the Cold War. In this blog post, we will delve into some unexpected and exciting sources of inspiration rooted in the Cold War period to ignite your imagination and elevate your plastic model-making skills.

Declassified Documents

The Cold War era is rife with declassified documents and espionage stories. Dive into the world of secret agents, covert missions, and espionage gadgets. You can recreate historical espionage scenes or imagine your own scenarios. Model kits of spy planes, disguised vehicles, and espionage gear offer a captivating twist to your collection.

I’ll list at the end of the blog some links to where you can get access to such documents (UK and USA).

Propaganda Art

Cold War propaganda posters are iconic and visually striking. These posters often feature bold graphics, powerful slogans, and vivid colors. Use these posters as a starting point for creating your own Cold War-themed dioramas or models. Capturing the essence of this era’s propaganda can be a unique and thought-provoking project.

Bunker Architecture

The construction of underground bunkers and nuclear fallout shelters was a defining aspect of the Cold War period. Explore bunker architecture and the engineering behind these structures. You can design and build your own miniature bunkers or shelter scenes, complete with era-specific details and accessories.

There are already kits of various aircraft shelters, either just the front or the complete structure. But you don’t see any of radar sites, NBC bunkers etc.

Spy Gadgets and Technology

The Cold War witnessed rapid advancements in technology and espionage gadgets. Think about recreating miniature versions of iconic spy tools like hidden cameras, listening devices, or disguise kits. These unique and intricate model projects can provide insight into the technological arms race of the era.

OK, who’s thinking of the Airfix range of James Bond models?? Or how about some BRIXMIS vehicles?

Proxy Wars

The Cold War era was characterized by proxy wars fought in various parts of the world. Research lesser-known conflicts and insurgencies from this period and use them as inspiration for dioramas or models depicting soldiers, vehicles, and landscapes from these regions. This approach allows you to explore the global impact of the Cold War.

Short paragraph that covers a topic area that could keep this blog going for years on the proxy wars, and fought from 1947 to 1991. Certainly food for thought.

I’ve already touched on this with my Korean Air War project.

Atomic Age Aesthetics

The atomic age influenced not only technology but also design aesthetics. Incorporate the sleek and futuristic designs of cars, aircraft, and appliances from the 1950s and 1960s into your model kits. These designs capture the optimism and anxiety of the era, making for visually captivating creations.

Consider how these designs might transform or deteriorate in a post-apocalyptic setting, creating a stark contrast between the past and the future.

Masterbox have touched on the post-apocalyptic idea with their 1/24 scale post-apocalyptic series of figures

Then of course there is the ICM Chernobyl range of figures, vehicles and vignettes, which are very much part of the Cold War.


In conclusion, the Cold War era offers a wealth of unconventional sources for model kit inspiration. By exploring declassified documents, propaganda art, bunker architecture, espionage gadgets, proxy wars, and atomic age aesthetics, you can breathe new life into your plastic model-making projects. These sources provide not only unique modelling challenges but also opportunities to delve into the rich history and intrigue of the Cold War period. So, let the tension and complexity of the Cold War inspire your next plastic model masterpiece.

Accessing declassified documents

Accessing declassified documents from the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (USA) can be done through government agencies, archives, and online resources. Here are some suggested sources and methods for obtaining access to declassified documents:

UK Declassified Documents

The National Archives

The National Archives in the UK is a primary repository for government records. They have a dedicated section for declassified documents, including those related to the Cold War. Their website provides access to a wealth of historical documents and information.

Website: The National Archives – UK

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

The FCDO may have declassified documents related to foreign policy and international affairs. You can check their archives or contact them for specific requests.

Website: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Academic Institutions

Universities and research institutions may also have access to declassified documents in their libraries or archives. Check with university libraries or specialized research centres focused on history or international relations.

US Declassified Documents

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

The NARA in the United States is a primary source for declassified government documents. They house a vast collection of records, including those from the Cold War era.

Website: National Archives – USA

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

The CIA has a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Electronic Reading Room where you can request declassified documents related to intelligence and national security.

Website: CIA FOIA Electronic Reading Room

Department of State (US State Department)

The US State Department also has a FOIA Electronic Reading Room where you can access declassified diplomatic documents.

Website: US State Department FOIA Electronic Reading Room

Presidential Libraries

Each US President’s library may contain declassified documents related to their administration. Libraries for Presidents from the Cold War era, such as Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, can be valuable sources.

Website: National Archives – Presidential Libraries

Digital National Security Archive

This is a subscription-based database of declassified documents related to US foreign policy. It provides access to a vast collection of documents on various topics, including the Cold War.

Website: Digital National Security Archive

University Libraries

Many US universities, especially those with strong history and political science programs, maintain collections of declassified documents. Check with university libraries for access.

Please note that while many documents have been declassified, some may still be sensitive or have redactions. Additionally, the availability of documents can vary, and you may need to submit specific requests through FOIA or other channels for access to certain records. Always ensure you comply with any regulations and procedures when requesting declassified documents.

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