Tips & Tricks for Scale Model Cars

Written by marianne moro
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Tips & Tricks for Scale Model Cars
There are many ways to build and decorate scale model cars. (sporty model car image by Ray Kasprzak from

Assembling and detailing scale models cars is a popular hobby the world over, with many enthusiasts keying in on a certain type of car (sports car, race car, T-Model Ford) or putting together models from scratch instead of merely using prepackaged model assembly kits. According to DMOZ (Open Directory Project), there are model car clubs devoted to recreating low-riders, Grand Prix racing cars and several other car replicas.

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Use Real Auto Paint

Although hobby stores sell paint specially made for scale model cars, three are several advantages to covering your model car with automotive paint made for their real life counterparts.The Paint for Cars website listed 40 colours as of August 2010, but auto manufacturers release new colours every year. Real auto paint can be applied in thinner coats than hobby paints, dries quicker and accentuates even the finest detail. Ask salesman at the auto paint dealer which pre-paint thinners may be used safely on styrene. Apply thinners with have little or no toluene before painting the model. Invest in a small airbrush, since automotive paint will harden too fast on regular paintbrushes. Apply automotive acrylic paint as a base coat on plastic. This will help the main coat better adhere to the plastic.

Realistic Looks for Tires & Interiors

Buy white acrylic enamel paint to create white letters or lines on tires. Use a toothpick to apply the paint to letters on the tires. Spray the tires with clear coat paint to give them gloss. Add details to miniature seat belts by using colour ribbon from a fabric store. Cut into strips and crazy glue in between the cushion. Cut plastic from an old toy or plastic utensil to make a seat belt buckle, and glue that onto the ribbon. Buy small pieces of imitation leather, cut and attach them to the scale model car seats. You can use cotton pads underneath the leather to give the illusion of cushioned seats.

Safety Tips

Use metal office bulldog clips to set small parts with glue. This will keep your workspace clear and help you keep track of small pieces as they dry. Wear safety goggles when using drills, cutters or caustic adhesives.

Rust & Weathering

If you want to give a scale model car a rustic look resembling an aged finish (or add faux dust, fuel and road grime), combine portions of tan, brown and black paint and rubbing alcohol until you get the colour and consistency you want, then spray it on the model body.

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