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6 Important Lessons From My First 6 Model Car Kit Projects – Lesson 5 Revell BMW i8

Project 5 – Revell BMW i8

Project 5 – Revell BMW i8

This was my first Revell kit, and as soon as I saw it, I had to have it.

This, I thought to myself, will be the one to compete with the Mercedes 300sl.  

With it’s smooth, modern lines, this kit is beautiful.  It went together nicely,  and certainly gave the Tamiya kits that I had used a run for their money.  One part was too short in the box (very odd, but Revell sent me a replacement free of charge once I told them what the issue was).

My problems with this kit were that I could never get the external  finish as glossy and smooth as I’d dreamed of (my fault – not the kit’s), and once again my stick fingers managed to smear the clear gloss windscreen.  When will I learn ?  

The problem with the external paint caused me to start researching about getting a (proper) airbrush.  I will deal with my airbrush stories in another blog (I bet you can’t wait, can you ?), but even with my nearly acquired airbrush I still couldn’t get the pristine finish which I’d envisaged when I first bought the kit.  I even stopped using tap water to mix dilute the acrylic paints for the airbrush, and migrated to good old Tamiya x-20 A thinner, which definitely made a bit of a difference.  Its hard to explain why, but it seems to mix better, and results in a slightly better dried finish (less stippled)

Without wishing to be defeatist, I maybe set my sights a little high with this kit in terms of what I imagined it would look like in the end.  Looking at the above photo, it really doesn’t look that bad (if you don’t look too long at the windscreen).

Most important lesson learned :

  • Thinners do give a better finish than just tap water
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6 Important Lessons From My First 6 Model Car Kit Projects – Lesson 4 Tamiya Toyota Supra

Tamiya Toyota Supra – Project 4

Project 4 – Tamiya Toyota Supra

After hearing the praise which I’d heaped on the Tamiya model which I’d worked on in Project 3, my wife treated me to another kit by the same manufacturer.  With no disrespect intended to the good old Supra, this project was never going to yield the same level of “wow” factor as the gorgeous Mercedes 300sl, but it was again a nice kit to work with, and lived up to what I hoped would be Tamiya’s usual standards.

The engine compartment was nice to work on, and looked good when finished.

The interior wasn’t particularly detailed, and in retrospect I could have perhaps gone for a more adventurous colour than black for the exterior, but it again gave me the change to try aerosol paints, and although the finish isn’t anything like some of the gleaming examples I have seen online or on Youtube, it doesn’t look to bad.

The end product was rather like the actual Supra itself (although obviously 1/24 of the scale),  nothing to write home about in comparison to glamour cars like the Mercs, but a nice steady build on which to further develop skills such as fine detail acrylic painting.

Most important lesson learned :

  • Don’t be afraid to be a bit more adventurous with your colour schemes, and don’t expect every project to be a classic !  
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6 Important Lessons From My First 6 Model Car Kit Projects – Lesson 3 Tamiya Mercedes 300sl

Tamiya Mercedes 300sl – Project 3

Project 3 – Tamiya Mercedes 300sl

I saw this kit in the shop, and just had to have it.

Looking for all it’s life like the classic James Bond Aston Martin DB5 (which it clearly isn’t) I figured that even I, with my penchant for paint the consistency of porridge which has been left laying around for a few days, couldn’t make this lovely vehicle look anything other than fantastic.

And amazingly, I was right.  To date it remains my favourite project by some way, and I still can’t believe that I made it.

It took me ages – but it was worth every moment.  The kit was of a quality which far exceeded what I’d experienced previously from Airfix and Italieri (the parts fitted together far better), and that lovely grey flecked finish on the bodywork also represented my first attempt at spray painting.  Yes the aerosol can stank the room out (always use sprays in a well ventilated room !), and I had to keep out of my wife’s way for a week or two after the spraying was done (never spray in your dining room – even if well ventilated !) but when I looked at the finished result, I finally felt that I was getting somewhere.

I very nearly got to the end without any major mistakes, but then split part of the side ventilation grill (although I was able to mend it without any trace of my clumsiness) and again got glue on the clear plastic window sections.  I could have cried, but the way that the rest of the model looked on completion meant that I could kind of squint and just pretend that the windows were just a bit grubby.

Most important lesson learned :

  • Don’t lose faith.  You learn a little bit from each project you work on – and you can soon start producing results which you can be proud of !
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6 Important Lessons From My First 6 Model Car Kit Projects – Lesson 2 Italieri Porsche 928s

Italieri Porsche 928s – Project 2

Project 2 – Italieri Porsche 928s

When I’d finished licking my wounds, and decided to give this model making thing another try, this kit seemed the obvious choice.  It said on the box that all the main parts were pre-coloured, and didn’t require painting of any kind.

Bingo !  Whatever kind of hash I made of this one, at least the paint finish should be perfect.

And the 928s was my dream car in the 1980s, when I was a teenager.  Who could fail to love that beautiful rounded boot and back section ?  Not me – that’s for sure !

So on this project I was able to concentrate on getting the parts to fit together neatly and properly, and when the dreaded moment of fixing the base to the top finally came, I was relieved to find that I had none of the problems that I’d had with the Mini Cooper.  

The only parts that I did have to paint were the indicator and break lights.  This time I diluted the paints down with water (“milky consistency“seems to be the name of game apparently),  although I didn’t at that stage realise that you could get clear colours specifically for lights.  

It did, however, feel a bit like cheating not having to paint any of the main parts, with the result that I didn’t quite feel that I’d created the end product in the same way that I had with Mini Cooper (lumps and bumps and all), or my subsequent projects.    It was a bit like that feeling you get when you finish a crossword puzzle, before you realise that it was a puzzle for 5 year olds, and you are a fully grown adult.  

Most important lesson learned :

  • Never touch bodywork or clear parts whilst you have modelling glue on your fingers.  The most common glues effectively melt the two bits of plastic which are intended to be glued together, and weld them together as they cool.  Brilliant if you want a strong join, but not so good if the bit of plastic being melted is part of a body panel or window section on the car, and doesn’t need to be glued to anything.  All you then end up with is a smeary mess, which you will never be able to get rid of (at least not without a load of soul destroying work).
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6 Important Lessons From My First 6 Model Car Kit Projects – Lesson 1 Airfix Mini Cooper

Airfix Mini Cooper – Project 1

Project 1 – Airfix Mini Cooper

Well we all have to start somewhere don’t we – and this little beauty  (an Airfix Mini Cooper) is where my obsession with making model cars started (and could quite easily have finished – but more of that below).

This little project (and at 1/32 scale it is quite little) was intended to soothe my fevered brow and relieve my executive stress.  As you will see from the above picture – nobody had told me that you had to add water or any kind of diluting fluid to the acrylic paints which I’d purchased, along with my first set of brushes.  As a result, the word “lumpy” does rather spring to mind doesn’t it ?  Hard to believe, but I never actually completely finished this model, due to the fact that I couldn’t get over how bad the paint looked (especially on larger flat surfaces), and the fact that (no doubt due to my complete inexperience more than anything else) the internal roll-bar cage was slightly too big, meaning that (despite filing it down to within an inch of it’s life) I could never quite get the body to fit onto the base. If you look carefully at the front wheel arch – you can see that the body sits proud of the base.

To date this is the only Airfix model which I have personally tried, and had I read reviews online before I purchased it, I may not have bothered.  The general view seems to be that a lot of their moulds are perhaps past their best, and the parts on the spruces lacking the accuracy and sharpness of most of the other model car kit manufacturers.  But it got me started, and despite nearly throwing it in the bin when my upteenth attempt at getting the roll-bar cage to fit still didn’t work, it obviously gave me the bug, and a determination to do better next time.

Most important lesson learned :

  • Never use acrylic paints straight out of the pot !
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6 Important Lessons From My First 6 Model Car Kit Projects – Lesson 6 Revell 1953 Corvette Roadster

Project 6 – Revell 1953 Corvette Roadster

Project 6 – Revell 1953 Corvette Roadster

Another beautiful looking car, and an undoubted classic.

It has ended up looking quite good, but I think I still need to master by airbrush.

Rather like the BMW i8 above, I had an image in my mind as to what this kit would look like when fully assembled, but I didn’t quite manage to achieve it (again my lack of experience rather than any criticism of the kit).

I used the exact white gloss pain recommended for the exterior which was recommended in the instructions, but try as I might, I could never get it to look that glossy.  It stayed quite chalky, even though I tried difference levels of dilution and rubbed it down and resprayed it numerous times.

This kit is marked as one of the higher levels of difficulty, even thought it doesn’t have as many parts as all the other kits which I’ve worked on.  I thought this seemed odd, but the kit does demand a bit of improvisation and guesswork from time to time (presumably expecting a certain level of experience and expertise).  Being slightly less guided by the kit itself was a little unnerving, and I’m certainly glad it wasn’t the first kit which I tried.

The engine was nice to work on, and looks really nice on the finished product (as does the cockpit area).

Most important lesson learned :

  • Never use normal (non model-making) masking tape on clear plastic parts.  Having messed up so many previous projects by getting my gluey fingers on windscreens or windows, I was intent on not making the same mistake again, and so on day one of the build put some masking tape on the front windscreen to protect it.  Come the time to remove it, on the last day of the project, I was horrified to find that the adhesive from the making tape had fixed itself to the plastic, and took ages to get off.  In the process, I ended up cracking the screen in half.  It doesn’t particularly show on the finished item, but it didn’t stop me  feeling sick about it at the time.  Another lesson learned, bit sadly the hard way !