Depends on the subject matter. For most vehicles, I prefer styrene, female figure kits in resin and I haven't seen any recent vinyl kits I'd rave about. The old Horizon stuff was really well done (though I had a few female kits by Sol that were really nice too), but I thought vinyl as a medium was pretty well over with.
Styrene any day. I'm not saying I'd never buy a vinyl kit (can't be bothered with resin at all) if the subject matter isn't available in styrene but even then I wouldn't really be happy until a good styrene kit of that subject was released.
Styrene first, by a huge margin. Then resin, then vinyl. Maybe it's because I've been building styrene kits since the late 60s, so that's the medium I'm most familiar with.
Resin is okay, but I don't like the fact that there are no glues available that melt/fuse the parts together the way styrene glues do--I hate CA. And then there are the varying degrees of casting quality and the resins used. Granted, that has improved greatly over the years since resin kits first arrived on the scene, but I still receive kits with warped or broken parts, mismatched mating surfaces, air bubbles and/or voids, odd surface textures, etc..
Vinyl, for me, is a last resort (i.e. if that's the only medium the kit is available in and I really like the sculpt). I simply do not like the flexible nature of the material.
Styrene because of price!
Next would be resin because of subject matter.
Last would be vinyl because of the challenge of filling it and building it and it's still cheaper than resin. It is definately a different kind of build. Must take warpeage into consideration when assembling...must fill the kit with something first.
I like the challenges of different materials. So, it really doesn't matter what the media is (injection-molded plastic, vacuform, resin, fiberglass, vinyl, wood, metal, etc., or any combination thereof), as long as it it well-made and not junk.
Styrene hands down, 100%..I hate working with resin, and for the same reason some mentioned..crazy glues have to be used..and I dont prefer vinyl kits at all..I guess I am just an "old dog" in that sense...started with styrene...and I guess I will end with it...:thumbsup:
Styrene figures offer the best price and widest distribution. Plastic models are made and sold everywhere. If a company uses modern molding technology and engineering, the results can be close to resin. If you look at Dragon's newish 1/35 scale "Gen 2" military figures, they are incredible. One figure can have as many as 30 parts. Coat sleeves are hollow and the seperate hands (often with spread fingers and not a crude "C" shape" fit inside. For more relief, things like collars are seperate from the torso and neck, etc.
Resin can offer good undercutting and capture fine and sharp detail. Really good casters use a vacuum chamber, but a lot of "garage" stuff is not cast as good as it could be. You often have long seams down the side of a part and if the mold registration is off, there is an offset to fill and remove. Resin is labor intensive and costly so figures and kits cost more than plastic. A 1/6 plastic figure migiht run you $30 but in resin its more like $130... But smaller outfits can do resin work basically "in the garage" without the cost of injection molding machinery, tooling, etc. Since the 80s resin has moved mainstream at least for military figures and armor/aircraft/ship modelling.
Vinyl is sort of a happy medium between resin and styrene. it's poured sort of like ceramics, and again doesnt involve quite the complicated molding machinery of styrene kits. Detail can be good if the model is larger. Vinyl is very heat sensitive and can sag with time, so most large figures need bracing or a plaster fill up. Its harder to sand and fill seams in some cases, since the vinyl is still somewhat rubbery at room temperature. I have built some vinyl vehicle kits and they were inferior to styrene or resin, being a bit asymetrical and lacking the mechanical crispness of a tooled metal mold, styrene kit.
I prefer styrene, most likely because, like others, I've worked with it since the early 60's and know it best. Second would be resin, I've built several resin figure kits with good results. I always use 2-part epoxy for gluing on those. Never worked with vinyl. - Denis
I'm with the "whatever" crowd. It's the subject matter and the sculpture that matter to me most; after that, I'll deal with the kit as needed. I've built many Mummies: the Aurora kit, Horizon's, and a little 120mm mixed-media effort by Soldiers. I've enjoyed them all.