Scale Accessories Made Easy

Jul 07, 2010 No Comments by

A look at the Land Rover Mountain ResQ Vehicle

By Kevin Jowett

 

Like most builders, my extra minutes in the grocery, hardware and automotive supply shops are usually spent looking for potential scale items. We tend to look at things a little differently; regular every-day objects become accessories for the next masterpiece. The online forums, local hobby shops and sharing tips on the trails are fantastic opportunities to soak in valuable info. I’m always impressed and entertained by the innovative ideas from fellow builders. Thought I’d show you around our latest build and share some of my favourite details and accessories commonly used in my builds.

Amazing Emergency lights

Looking to make that 911 vehicle stand out?

Using two transparent coloured cigarette lighters as lenses makes for a great effect. Keeping in mind that the fluid inside these lighters needs to be handled properly…safety first! You’ll need to empty the fluid, the safest way is to use cable ties to hold the button down and leave in a safe ventilated area until empty. After removing the mechanical assembly from the tops, trim the material back to make a flat surface to join the two halves together. The seam between the two halves can be covered with a chrome or black vinyl strip. Using small drill bits and polishing stones on the rotary tool I make 5mm holes to receive flashing LEDs . It’s amazing how well the light carries through the plastic, they light up beautifully and most of the people who look at the truck don’t recognize the source.

The secondary emergency lights and spot lights are housed inside a combination of Tamiya Hilux and Axial Honcho light pods. The lenses for the flashing blue LED’s are coloured using Tamiya translucent lens paint.

 Luggage by Altoids

Another cheap solution for luggage/storage bins for your roof racks and interiors, they even open! They’re available at most convenience stores and gas stations in two sizes and are easily paintable, you can dent and scratch them, even have them age naturally on the trail. They hold everything from tools to electronics, making a great hiding spot for those LED units and switches. Of course you can model these out of plastic and other material but these come for $2 and the sucker’s full of mints, fresh breath and cool accessories!

Mud Flaps

A great way to add a functional accessory to that scale off roader is mud flaps. Bicycle inner tubes work great if you need a supply of rubber around the shop. Most have ribs moulded into the tube but this in some cases adds to the effect. This takes a bit of measuring and planning but it’s worth it.

In this example I used brass stock as my mounts to attach them to my chassis. Once all mocked up I wrapped the flat strip of rubber around the tube and adhered the two halves together using Shoe Goo. I placed the mud flaps under a book with a little weight on them; this keeps them nice and flat while drying. After all 4 were dry I applied a few Land Rover decals to give that factory look.

 

Tow Straps and Chains

A must for any off road utility vehicle is tow ropes. A quick and easy way to do tow ropes is to find nylon shoe laces. You can coil them up and tack them together with a little CA glue for detail in the interior or box of your rig. Even better you can have another in your pocket for a tow strap when you’re on the trail with your buddies. A simple loop on both ends, tacked with ca and a little heat shrink to cover the weld and give it strength.

Scale chain is readily available at most arts & crafts, dollar and fabric stores, most having a variety of sizes and is sold in lengths. I use this in many areas of my scale trucks; in this case it’s glued to a scrap piece of polycarbonate to hold the bulk of the chain in one place. A few strands are kept loose so as the truck moves around the chain moves and rattles giving a realistic look without becoming a mess.

 

Hood detail

For those of us who have scratch built shovels and accessories realize the value in pre-made products now on the market from companies like Axial, Proline and Tamiya. Even though everyone will have the same shovel there’s ways to make these bits look better…with a few licks of paint on the handles and some weathering on the metal it completely changes the look.

Landy’s often have aftermarket diamond plate inserts on the hood and fenders to protect the aluminum panels. I made paper templates for the hood and one fender, and then cut my final pieces out of textured styrene (1:12 scale diamond plate). I drilled a few small holes and attached the shovel and pick to the fenders using small black cable ties.

With all of the extra spare tires that people put on these rigs they tend to get a little top heavy so for this project we made use of the plastic spare tire covers from the Tamiya Pajero. This also made room for a cool custom decal created especially for this build.

Bungee Cords
A simple and functional element that can be made for pennies with a little patience. All you need is hair elastics, stainless steel paper clips and CA clue.  Straighten out a paper clip and wrap it around the elastic one time making sure it’s tight enough to keep the elastic from sliding out. Use pliers to hold one end of the clip as you continue to wrap it around the elastic.

I like to wrap it around 5-8 times to achieve a realistic look.

Make sure to wrap any extra material around to so the coil is nice and clean. When you’re sure the coiled wire is straight apply a good amount of CA glue to the coil and be sure it saturates the elastic. After it sets up well, trim the remaining elastic from the end, the CA makes the weaved outer material and elastic solid ensuring a clean cut with no fraying. Repeat the same steps to the other end after you take some basic measurements for length. These will stretch, but of course not that much, so having a basic idea of length for the area or application is a good idea.
Lastly, take your needle nose pliers and bend some nice hooks on the ends and trim off the extra

 

This is great “Bang for the Buck” solution that can be built in front of the TV on a rainy day!

Figures, our buddy Matt Hicks does some beautiful sculpting and similar figures, the Wild Wendy II is available in limited edition runs. Matt created custom arms for both bodies and supplied the replacement head for
the Wild Willy body. These were sent to us painted and detailed to look like my wife and I dressed as Rescue/Ambulance attendants. Although not a cheap addition, after making an investment in these masterpieces you can move them from vehicle to vehicle.

 

Cool Custom Graphics and Color Matching Vinyl

One of the easiest ways to make scale builds stand out from the rest is using custom graphics. For this project I created for all of the Mountain ResQ logos and my local sign shop printed them on vinyl and dye cut them for me. Being a graphic designer comes in handy for creation of your own but in many cases is not necessary. Many of the vinyl I have cut for these projects are based on standard fonts and can be cut out at your local shop for a surprisingly affordable price. Support your local artists; you’d be amazed by the results when you include them in the creative aspects of the builds.

 

I often need to add stripes or panels to projects and sign grade vinyl is a great solution. It’s very durable, easy to trim and apply and you can get it in a full spectrum of colors including chromes, gold and metallics. Most sign shops will sell it by the square foot and depending on the application varies in quality. A standard vinyl will stay somewhat ridged and Hi-Performance vinyl intended for full size vehicle wraps stretches and conforms to contours…very useful in some applications.  It’s often easiest to get your vinyl color first and carry a sample to the local hobby shop or automotive store. This will ensure a close match when picking out your paint. If you’re mixing your paint and creating your color you can easily drop the paint onto the swatch and let it dry for a perfect match.

 

 Sign details I use this allot for stand-alone signs plaques and emblems. Using supplied stickers from your body kits or printed vinyl, apply them to a scrap piece of polycarbonate or styrene and carefully trim around the emblem, first with scissors then with a sharp hobby knife. These can be applied to the grill or even the body using a dab of Shoe Goo for a more 3 dimensional look.

 

Gaps and seams

One of the easiest ways to add realism to bodies is to make sure all of the panels appear to be separate.  Showing seams between them is the easiest way to achieve this look. Painting them in is possible but it’s a handful to say the least and if the lines are too thick it looks even less realistic than not having them at all. So far the best way I’ve found to get them in and look good is a fine tip permanent marker. This keeps the lines nice and thin and the tip makes it easy to stay in those grooves.

 

Tip: In some instances there will be no definite body line where there should be. Small flexible rulers or even a thin strip of styrene will follow the contour of the body to give you a straight edge to work with.

Scale Pylons

Not only great for interior detail, they’re a great detail piece for around the scale shop. These 1:10 scale plastic pylons are a cool affordable accessory from RC4WD.

Kayaks and Canoes

More and more we’re seeing scale rigs on the forums with canoes and kayaks on the racks. A great spot to get the canoe/kayak combo is Bass Pro (online fishing store). With a little paint and some decals they can be easily be made to look like a match set.

On the Trailer

This little gem is part of the future plan for this build. The zodiac was found online and was part of an original GI Joe set and really floats. The outboard is a vintage Kyosho that really works, I have a plan for steering linkage and will hide all controls in the seat and wheel house.  The steering wheel will rotate using a mini servo and an extra Wild Willy figure with a moving arm will be made for when the boat hits the water. A brass trailer will be created to haul this around, matching wheels and tires are set aside to keep the look consistent.

 

Sources

Tamiya

Axial

Proline

Matt Hicks (Toymkr73 Designs)

Bass Pro Shops

RC4WD

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About the author

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