I use two kinds of modeling tools in my form studies:
1) A commercial magnetic spoke-and-hub tool called Dyna-Magz. This tool works great for quick studies and smaller forms. However, for large complex studies it is too heavy to stay intact as a form’s node count increases. The small strut size also makes it difficult to work the model with your hands as the complexity grows. So, there is a practical limit to form complexity here. (Note that in the models shown in the essays that use the Dyna-Magz, the strut colors are random unless otherwise evident.)
2) A tool I developed and placed into the public domain called “Compensating Skeletal Geometric Modeling System”:
This is a very light-weight tool with a strong attachment mechanism so it can support large build-outs. The struts can compensate length to a small degree to get past certain hurdles. It is intuitive, easy and fast in build-out, and importantly, easy and fast in model take-down.
Below is a picture of one strut and two node pins. Thin die-cut mylar tabs, with 1/4″ holes, are glued into a white corn starch-based drinking straw. The best node pins are the inexpensive brass folding paper fasteners that are widely available. Strut length is approximately 7.5″. This is a practical working length as you can easily get your hands inside the model. Strut length is arbitrary as long as the hole-to-hole length of all struts is exactly the same.