Before you dive into that kit, take a few minutes to look over the contents of the box. Is everything there? You should find an instruction sheet and maybe a decal sheet. For injection molded (styrene plastic) kits, there will be one or more "sprues" or "trees" that the parts are attached to. Be sure that all sprues are present. For cast resin kits the parts are typically cast individually though several small parts may be cast together on a tree or slab. The instruction sheet may indicate how many parts you should find. Most of the parts will probably be molded in a particular color. You may also find clear, chromed or other parts in the box. Spread the box contents out on your work area.
Check inside the bottom of the box carefully for any parts that may have broken off the trees. Try to locate the tree they broke off from. The instruction sheet may have a diagram of what the trees should look like. When you identify the part, write its part number on it - pencil or "Sharpie" markers work well for this. If there are a lot of nearly identical parts, I'll commonly mark the number on the part anyway after I cut it from the tree.
Read over your instruction sheet. Most of the time, you can follow the order of assembly given. There are times, however, when I've found it better to alter some of the assembly order. Make sure you understand which parts go together. Look carefully for notations that indicate a part should not be cemented, or requires other special handling. If there are a number of identical assemblies, the instructions may show one such assembly along with a notation such as "2x" or "3x," indicating the number of times this assembly should be repeated. Note carefully whether certain part numbers -- for example, parts in right-hand / left-hand assemblies -- need to be assembled together. You may want to color-code these with differently-colored markers.
Now's also the time to check for any casting artifacts & defects in the parts. If they're not too severe, defects are often repairable. But in extreme cases, you should request replacement parts, carefully QCed, from the manufacturer.
The Model Citizen's "Sprue U" pages are �2000-2004 Roger Sorensen
last updated 04 December, 2007