Where can I buy model cars online?

One of the favorite places to buy is Hobby Link Japan, available at www.hlj.com
They have a superb live database site which has pictures and a clear and concise ‘in stock’ display. The kits are incredibly cheap, but once postage is added you will pay close to local prices! You will get a good selection and it is a fantastic place for accessories. Worldwide postage is slow, and it often takes a week just for the parts to leave Japan, so think ahead when ordering! I usually receive items within a 5 weeks, 6 if you go for the cheaper surface mail option.

 A new and up coming company is Media Mix, who have a fantastic Race Car accessory list and carry many items in stock. Postage is as fast as they get and once again you can view a live database. Available at http://asiapac.worldpay.com/cnb/shop/mediamixhobby tell Wong that you are from Automotive Forums and he will treat you extra nice!!!

 Local  to the United Kingdom is Grand Prix models, available at www.grandprixmodels.com. It also has a live database but without the pictures. Very fast postage service if the items are in stock, but order out of stock items at your risk!

Which Model kit manufacturer is good for beginners?

A question with many answers, especially as the choices in model cars is so large! If you like Nascar then only Revell will do, as no one else makes them. If you like Japanese Touring cars then only Tamiya will do and so on and so forth!
But if you are flexible and are looking for a kit just to break you into the hobby, then us guys will say go for a Tamiya! If you have never used decals before DON’T go and buy the brightest, multi-coloured, ultra winged Race beast you see as it will dishearten you! Go for a single colour road car, preferably without an engine! (Fiddly!)
We say Tamiya as the part fit is perfect, the instructions very clear (Though I have noticed omissions!) and the subjects are inspiring!
The two Skylines, the WRX STI, the S2000 and the WRC Subaru in my gallery are all good starting kits.


How can I tint model car windows?

It can be done using car window tint film.

When putting it on you need to clean the window so there are no marks etc.
Lightly spray the window with soapy water then apply the tint on to the wnidow.

Use a really soft cloth or stiff cardboard to rub over the window tint to smooth it down. This helps to get rid of any tiny air bubbles that occur.
Allow to dry.
DONT do it dry......you will never get the bubbles out.

DON’T use Tamiya X19 smoke. It does not give acceptable results!

How do I paint the black round windows?

The best result will be achieved by spraying semi-gloss black paint over Tamiya masking tape or the masking set included with many models. Apply the mask to the clean clear plastic, rubbing the edges will with the back of a fingernail or something similar. Then apply a very light dust of spray over the area, and leave to touch dry which is about 5 minutes. This seals the tape edges against paint ingress. Then apply another slightly heavier coat, allow to dry, and then another, until the surface opacity has gone. Remove the masking tape within 30 minutes to prevent the paint lifting with the tape.


What is primer?

Primer is a filler and a barrier coat, preparing the plastic to grip the paint, filling scratches and imperfections, as well as neutralizing any incompatabilty between the paint and plastic. Automotive plastic primer is the best choice, as it is suitable for any top coat and comes in white or grey. Also available in clear though that has no filling properties. ‘Key’ the plastic by rubbing the whole body with 800 grade wet & Dry paper, then apply up to three coats of primer. Then leave for 24 hours, smooth with 1200 grade paper, then add the top coats.

 What is the purpose of Lacquer?

Vital for metalics and optional for solid colours, lacquer, or clear coat will add a clear film to the paint which can then be mirror polished. A superb way to seal race car decals and protect them, though it often attacks the decal and so must be used carefully.

It gives a hard shine similar to enamel and so may be undesirable for some finishes, but is a good way of polishing a model for the inexperienced, as the lacquer can be cut back to a shine and still give warning before you polish too much off! i.e. As soon as you see colour on the cloth, STOP!!!

It should be left for at least a week to ‘gas off’ before polishing otherwise your new shiny surface will dull again as the lacquer continues to shrink!

What is the difference between the various paint types?

Each paint type has a plus and a down side. Each type also has its place, though the following is through my experience and you may feel differently!


Is a very reactive paint, and will not allow automotive paint to be applied over it. It is happy over every other paint type however.

The gloss colours have a very deep, harsh shine which is a bit too plasticy looking for car bodies.

It is perfect for fine detail however as the oil base is very easy to work with and it will happily sit where you place it. Have a small amount of enamel thinners near by in a small pot, and dip the tip of the brush in the thinners, then the paint pot, dab on paper and then paint on the detail.

Enamel is also good for large surfaces which require brush painting, as it is slow to dry. Allow 6 hours before adding another coat if required. Very difficult to remove as chemicals that remove the paint also attack the plastic. A strong degreaser like Castrol Super Clean is the only way known to safely remove it at this time.

USES: Fine detail painting. Large surfaces which require brush painting.

DO NOT USE: On car bodies. The shine is too harsh and unrealistic and it doesn’t polish well. Do not use on any surface which requires another paint type on top.



Because it is water based it is very friendly to use, but the water tends to ‘hold’ the paint off the part you are painting, making detail painting difficult. Again, thinned with a little soapy water, the results can be improved but expect to require a few coats to achieve complete coverage.

This type of paint is easy to remove, just spray the part with oven cleaner, leave to work and then rinse under a tap. The paint dries quickly, which makes painting large surfaces undesirable.

Great for matt colours, as it is easy to hide the brush strokes and dries to a very smooth, velvety finish. The gloss colours dry to a soft shine. Then just four days is required before polishing to a shine.

USES: Car interiors and light lenses.

DO NOT USE: On large surfaces. The paint dries very quickly and each new brush stroke tends to pull at the drying surface.



Also very reactive, and requires a plastic primer for modelling. Enormous colour range and it’s possible to use the exact colour of the car being modelled. Some metalics can be out of scale but true mica paints can be used, where the round metal particles reflect the light and give different shades.

Drying time is fast, touch dry in 10 minutes, but required hardening or ‘gasing out’ for a week before polishing.

Not suitable for detail painting, but possible to spray each part a single colour, and then add other colours with enamel or acrylic paints, or mask and spray other shades over the others.

USES: Perfect for car bodies, or model parts sprayed in a single colour.

DO NOT USE: With a brush as it leaves brush marks. Not suitable for detail painting.


How do I polish the body?

When you spray a model car body, the paint is usually a bit rough, what is called orange peel, especially if automotive paint is used.

To achieve a scale shine, the paint is polished to a glass like finish, using cutting compound and car polish.

There are many grades of compound, and experience will teach you which is best. Aim for something around 5-6 for a start.

If you are new to this try it on a lacquered paint job as you can watch the cloth you are using. As soon as you see the body colour on the cloth you know you have rubbed through the lacquer and that it is time to stop. Doing so on a solid colour will reveal the primer underneath and you will have to add more paint, which is very frustrating!!!

Once the paint is smooth, you can polish out the swirl marks using a car wax, which is also a mild abrasive, or milky swirl remover around compound 9. Finish the model using a high gloss polish such as Tamiya Polish or Autoglym Gold High Gloss Shine when completed.


What do I do the really small lettering with?

Gundam Markers! These are really fine marker pens used for detailing robots. Try an Animation enthusiasts shop or art shop for various fine markers.

You can paint marks on tyres like most race teams use using a 00 brush and slightly thinned white, I prefer matt enamel for this. Teams will usually indicate which side the tyre is for, front or rear and which driver or car it belongs too, as well as information such as cut slick or intermediate use.



Fillers are used to hide gaps and to blend parts of your kit together. Apply it with a piece of card and make sure it is fully dry before sanding. Some fillers will only bond to bare plastic, others to only paint, so make sure you know what you are using.
If you are using putty which is Touline based, apply some masking tape 1/16" - 1/8" on either side of the length of the gap, apply a small amount of the putty to the gap to fill it, remove the tape, then use a q-tip (or cotton ball) dipped in normal strength nail polish remover to remove excess putty just after it sets-up and starts to harden. Clean up any residue with a soft cloth. This will leave the joint perfectly smooth and you probably won't even have to sand it afterward!!




Do not use the tube type of glue, as it is too messy, but the bottle based glue is superb. It comes with a small brush, and can only be used for basic assembly as it won’t work in the presence of paint, the glued surfaces must be bare plastic. It works by melting the two surfaces together. For initial building purposes, i.e. joining two engine halves together before painting.


The best choice for suspension parts, especially joining the brake discs onto the hubs. Apply using a toothpick, and squeeze a drop onto the toothpick, never try to apply super glue straight from a tube onto the model!

Do not use on or near clear parts, as ‘fogging’ will ruin clear parts turning them white. It can also melt thin plastic, so use sparingly when mounting doors or other panels onto hinges.


The ONLY choice for clear parts, and also non stressed parts, such as rear view mirrors, door mirrors etc. Very weak until set, the parts often require tacking until the glue takes hold. Also water soluable, and a great way to glue light lenses is to use a few drops to place the part, and when dry, run a thin bead of clear glue round the lens. Then immediately wipe off the access with a wet cloth, leaving a thin bead which fills the gap and dries completely clear.


How do I apply decals successfully?

Decals vary according to manufacturer, and most will sit on flat panels very easily. For curved or angular panels however, they will benefit greatly from a softening solution such as Microsol.

This will make any decal conform to a surface, but must only be applied after the decal is in the right position, as it will break if moved after application. The decal may wrinkle a little while it is wet, but will dry tightly and neatly.
Cut the decal from the sheet staying close to the design so you remove the clear carrier film also. Dip in warm water which has a drop of dish washing liquid in it, then set the decal on a piece of paper to release. Once it will slide off with no effort, offer it up to the model with a pair of tweezers, and slide the decal into position, with either a thin layer of water or Microsol in the position the decal needs to go.
Then, with a wet cloth, and holding one side of the decal with another cloth, carefully push down and across the decal, removing water and bubbles from underneath the surface. Then hold the other end and repeat.
It goes without saying you can rip the decal using this method so be careful, but when the decal is dry it is the best result you can get. You don't need to rub small decals.

A decal will on an uneven surface will fit better if pressed with a hot cloth, or with heat from a hairdryer. Care must be taken with both methods though, to avoid drying out or moving the decal.

A few nips with a sharp scalpel will also help a decal to conform to an awkward shape.




How do I attach photoetched parts?

Cut the metal parts off the sprues using very sharp scissors, or preferably tin snips. Any remaining sprue that needs removing can be done with needle files.

The best way to glue something like a badge or script is to use ‘photo mount’, a spray adhesive used to mount photographs. It is a dry adhesive that can be sprayed on the back of the photoetch and then the part placed onto the model. It won’t be the strongest grip, so it could be sealed using Krystal Klear as if mounting headlight lenses. Brush some over the script, then wipe away the excess with a wet cloth.

Most photoetch is glued using super glue, and the best results will be achieved if the parts are primered.



How do I remove the rib running through the middle of tyres?

Use a very coarse wet paper, around 180 grit, and work away at the line using plenty of water.

Then finish using a finer paper, before sealing with Tamiya Polish or other clear polish.

How do I apply the sidewall decals?

The sidewall of the tyre must be very clean, and very dry. I usually add them when the wheel is complete so as not to damage the delicate decals.
The decals are reversed and it is hard to see where you are placing them, so they must be cut to shape, as close to the writing as possible.
Remove the tissue protection film and place the decal dry onto the dry tyre. Then apply lots of water onto the film using a small brush, and leave for a few minutes. Repeat the process once more and then press on the whole decal with a finger in a sure, positive action. As you remove your finger the paper usually moves with it, leaving the decal nicely stuck on the tyre. With a wet brush make sure all the decal film is sitting on the tyre and not raised by the rim. Leave to dry before touching.

I heard you can get good results by airbrushing Tamiya matt lacquer over the tyre sidewall, but I have yet to try this.





This site was last updated 02/17/02