More and more RTR vehicles are coming with scale interiors to increase their realism. Since the interiors are vacuum formed, molded-in details are generally soft. Most are painted a single color (black), which speeds things up on the assembly line but looks far from realistic. There are a few things you can do to your stock interior to dress it up and give it a lot more life. The second I received my Axial Bomber I knew that this would be a vehicle that would get the detail treatment on the interior. While I was at it, I took some photos. I’ll walk you through the steps that I took to get the job done.
PREP THE LEXAN
Before you can do anything, take the interior over to the sink and give it a good wash with soap and water. Even if you’re starting with a new interior, give it a quick wash to remove any mold release or oils that may be on it from the factory. I like to use Dawn for this because it does a great job of removing dirt and grease. Dry the interior well with a clean towel to remove any leftover water because it may leave spots on the surface, and that will keep your paint from adhering to the Lexan. Remove the driver’s heads and peel off the seatbelt stickers to get ready for the next step.
The interior is out of my Axial Bomber and has seen better days. A quick wash with soap and water is all it needs to get it ready for paint.
MASK THE DRIVER FIGURES
Painting the driver figures is a great way to add depth to the interior, and it’s easy to do with liquid mask. Start by using masking tape to cover the large areas around the driver figures to help save time and liquid mask when you start laying it down. I like to use five thin coats to do the job, and you can use a hair dryer between coats to speed up the drying process. Once the figures are fully coated and the liquid mask is dry, use a sharp hobby knife to cut the mask along the edge of the driver figure while making sure you don’t push the knife through the Lexan. When you pull off the mask, make sure you pay attention to the edges to avoid pulling up areas that you don’t want exposed to paint. Once the driver figures are exposed, you’re ready for paint.
Some tape and a few coats of Parma Liquid Mask is all you need to get the driver figures masked.
PAINT THE DRIVER FIGURES
Before you paint the figures, make sure you are using a paint that is compatible with the fl at or semi gloss coat that you will be applying later. Use enamel with enamel, or lacquer with lacquer—that way you won’t have to worry about them not working together and ruining your paint job. Start with mist coats to give the paint a little time to dry and adhere to the Lexan; if you don’t, the paint may run off the body and into the corners. Once the paint has built up after a few light coats, you can finish by spraying one final, slightly heavier coat. Let the color you used for the driver figure completely dry before moving onto the next step.
Spray light coats of the color that you choose for the driver figures until you have uniform coverage.
APPLY BROWN WASH
OK, so we have two drivers with very white suits on and that’s pretty much something you never see when it comes to racing, especially off -road. To fix that not-so-realistic pure white look, use a wash to make those guys look grubby. I use Agrax Earthshade from Citadel, a premixed wash that’s ready to apply. You can also make your own wash by thinning brown paint to a watery consistency. Apply the wash over the figures, allowing it to flow into the details. Keep a paper towel handy for any excess. A light coat is all you need to get the job done.
A light brown wash will give the pure white racing suits a more realistic “dirty” look.
FLATTEN IT OUT
Black is a realistic choice for the interior panels, but the factory glossy fi nish is not. To give the interior a matte look, spray it with fl at clear. Flat clears are off ered in acrylic, enamel, and lacquer versions, so be sure to get whatever matches your paints. No need to worry about masking off the stickers. They need to be flattened, too.
When is the last time you saw a glossy interior? That’s why you need to give it a few coats of fl at clear to make it more like a real interior.
ENHANCE THE SEATBELTS
The stock interior came with stickers that had seatbelts printed on them and that looked fine, but we can take it one step further. Get yourself a pair of shoelaces in the color that you want for the seatbelts. To cut the shoelace without fraying it, apply CA glue across the spot you plan to cut. Hold the cut end against the driver’s lap and see how much material you need to get the belt to reach from the lap to the top of the shoulders where they meet the seat. Mark that spot and use the CA trick to cut a properly sized, unfrayed seatbelt. Repeat to make four seatbelts.
The shoelace belts look much better than the stickers they replaced, and they give the interior more depth.
DETAIL THE HELMET
Helmets are usually molded in black or white and may have stickers for adding details. Paint will look much better though, and let you color match to your car or truck. For easier painting, run a long screw into the helmet to use as a handle. After spraying the main color, use liquid mask or tape for a crisp edge when brush painting goggle straps, visors, or other details. If the helmet has an exposed driver’s face, painting it realistically is whole ’nother how-to. Helmets with solid face shields, or goggles like this Axial lid, are much easier.
A little bit of paint is all you need to give your helmet a new look. You can also swap it out for a different one if it is offered for your ride
And there you have it. Now you can put the interior back in your vehicle, stand back, and enjoy the work that you just put into that interior. This really is an easy process, and it doesn’t have to take forever. I wanted to keep it simple and fast, since my Bomber is going to see plenty of active trail duty and the interior is mostly hidden by the roof and roll cage. But if you want to add lap belts, buckles, shift knobs, and more—go for it! ✇
Mission accomplished. I added a Pro-Line fire extinguisher to finish it off.