When I first got back into our great hobby, I was solely focused on building 1/35 armor. Mainly, because I was in the military and either worked on or around armor for all of my career. I had access to the real items to photograph, sketch and take notes on. That, and if I made a mistake in the build, it was only a matter of adding some damage or extra weathering to cover my mistake. More times than not, you would never see the error. I also dabbled with aircraft. Well, here it is some 15 or so years since I re-started my adventure into the hobby, and I grew bored with all things OD, that had bombs, guns, and the like. I had helped run a local contest and a car builder brought in some of his work. His name was Aaron Thomas. I had seen Aaron's work before, but never really gave much interest as they were after all, “cars”. Well, I took a closer look at his work and it really spoke to me. My kids had gotten me a couple car kits several years back and I decided that I would do my best to finish at least one.
I had been working on some other commission builds and set these aside to pursue my new found interest in these things that were shiny, had wheels instead of tracks, and tons of decals. I decided early on that I would build it strictly OOB. It wasn’t long before I was neck deep in building the Tamiya Accord PIAA racer. The body was overall white with just a splash of black along the bottom portions so there would be minimal painting…or so I thought. The kit was a curbside, meaning that there was little to no engine detail to build. This was nice as I know about squat about what one of these little racing engines should look like. What was visible was the bottom of the transmission and that was easy enough to paint and detail to look the part. The painting call outs called for lots of Tamiya X-18, semi-gloss black. Well, since a lot of these pieces were already molded in black plastic, I left them as is and just shot a semi-gloss coat over them. It worked like a charm.
For those of you reading this who are new or have never done a car, there is a ton of detail painting that must be accomplished with a brush. There is no way around it. Here is where that “Patience is a virtue” saying will come into play and really pay off in the end. Silver, titanium gold, red, blue, aluminum, steel etc… I got to know these colors solely by the numbers. I found out that working in sub assemblies was the way to go. While one part or series of parts was drying, I could move on to something else on the build. However, at some point I had to set the whole project down and let everything catch up, dry or whatever. When this happened I found myself looking at what I was going to build next. Funny thing though, it had nothing to do with anything military. Yep, more cars! It was like some new drug and I was hooked.
After I had got to a point where everything was coming together, I could see the end in sight, I was stoked! I painted the areas that needed to be semi-gloss black, and set them aside to dry. Since the body was molded in white, I left it as is and shot a clear coat in preparation for the decals. While the clear was drying, I masked off the windows, with the provided masks (Why can’t aircraft kits come with these?) and painted the framing and set this aside to dry as well. By this time my clear coat was dry.
I rarely set things aside to dry for 24 hours or more like you read in other articles etc. If it is dry to my touch and I feel I can continue I will. I guess I just have a knack for knowing as I have very rarely had any problems. The only exception is when shooting gloss paints. I will let them set as long as needed to harden.
Now that my clear coat was dry I began with the decals. All ump-teen thousand of them. I would compare this kit to a Japanese F-4 Phantom with all those stencils as far as decals go. There were a lot of them. They didn’t want to come away from the carrier sheet easily, so I had to coax them a bit. After a good 5 minutes they began to slide off. I adjusted my soaking time accordingly and moved on. When I read thru the decaling instructions, it said that some go on before others and as such the decals should be applied in numerical order. I looked at the decals and it would have me bouncing from the front of the car to the rear and then onto the other side. I didn’t like this at all.
I decided I would start at the front left corner of the car and do one side, then the rear, and then start on the opposite side and continue to work my way back, being careful if I got to a point where decals might overlap. It worked out well and I had only a minor fit problem with a couple of the decals. Luckily, I avoided disaster with the very first decal. I did my normal routine of laying the decal down and then applying some Solvaset. Bad move. It immediately tried to turn itself into some form of goo. I quickly realized what was going on and doused it with lot of water to dilute it. It worked and the decal wasn’t too badly deformed and I prodded it back into shape. Note to self - “These decals hate Solvaset”. As it turned out, I wouldn’t have to use any setting solution and the decals would snuggle down into all of the cracks and crevices on their own. I applied the remaining decals over about a 3 hour period that night. I then let things dry over night.
At this point the body was painted, and decaled. The windows were painted, and the lower chassis, roll cage and “cockpit” was assembled and painted. The only thing left to do was marry everybody up and call it quits for this build. I cleaned off all of the excess decal smears and dried the body with a hair dryer set on low. I decided I didn’t want a gloss finish on my build and opted for a semi-gloss one instead. I mixed up some Testors Semi-gloss clear and loaded up my Iwata Revolution. Ten or fifteen minutes later the semi-gloss was on and dry enough to continue. The decals seemed to melt right into the paint as I couldn’t see a defined line where the carrier was. I liked it. I added the glass portions and let them dry.
The body and chassis went together without a hitch. I can recall back in the day when I did a car that it seemed to sit too high. Almost looking like a four wheel drive. Not so with this one. It sat nice and low to the ground as you would expect with a racer of this type. Except for some minor washes to bring out the doors and hood, my build was done. It took me a little over a week to finish this, and I was hooked. I began looking for more of these type kits and now have plenty more to build. In the weeks since I completed my first car in 12+ years, I have also finished three more. I have a new found respect for the folks out there who can build these things and build them so well. If you have never built one, give one a try. You might find yourself enjoying a new side of the hobby. I for one am happy I took the plunge to get away from OD burnout. MODEL ON!