I just got back into the hobby 6 months ago after a 33-year hiatus. I've of course made mistake - let's face it, such a hiatus puts me back into the beginner category (and I wouldn't say I was that great at it as a kid anyway!)
Here's a recent one: I bought a B-1A model a few weeks ago. I opened the box and there were only two sprues with pretty basic parts. "Must be an older model", I thought. I figured, oh well, my current model was giving me a hard time, so why not try an easy one? Famous last words...
It didn't take look for me to realize I was dealing with cheap plastics and parts that didn't fit well together. This wasn't going to be pretty. When the landing gears wouldn't fit, I took a break for a week.
Fast-forward to last night and I decide to finish it. I decide to do it "gears up" (it came with a stand) since the landing gears are a write-off. Well, the "hook" for the stand in the instructions is NOT there. I decide to rig something so the stand can hold the plane safely. I'm so focused on this that I do not realize that I still have a little bit of paint to do, a couple of parts to glue, plus the decals. Then I realized what I had done. Expletives were used.
It's holding well, so I go ahead with the decals. Turns out it wasn't just the plastic that was cheap. A couple of important decals die in the process. Hmmm... OK, I'll just expose the other side on the shelf. I can still save this thing, even though it doen't look that great (remember the ill-fitting parts...)
As I get ready to paint the nose, I scratch one of the large decals (my mistake). Alright, that's it. The plane is in the trash. It already looked pretty bad anyway and I had wasted enough time trying to rescue it.
1) Read the instructions more carefully but, above all, DO NOT assume that they are correct
2) Steer clear of boxes that appear old (looks). That was then and this is now; having worked on recent kits, going back to the old stuff just doesn't seem to work for me.
Interestingly, I ran into a review of that kit and the reviewer had no complaints about the quality. Looking closely at the pictures of his build, I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I got some counterfeit kit or the company just decided to reissue the kit and have it made at the cheapest manufacturing facility they could find. Seriously, even thinking back to the 70s I couldn't think of ever having to deal with something like this. I'm OK with taking a big chunk of the blame though - as you read above I did make a number of mistakes and I still have a ways to go before I can feel comfortable doing this stuff.
Anyway, now back to my Airfix Supacat Jackal armoured vehicle. It may be very small with tons of very small parts, but it hasn't annoyed me nearly as much as that seemingly easy to build B-1A.