For some, painting their RC vehicle’s body is an activity of pure joy. Having a clear polycarbonate body as their blank canvas to apply their imagination and creative talents to is a fun and artistic outlet. For others however, the thought of painting their own RC body invokes nothing but dread. Some say they don’t have the knack for painting or aren’t artistic enough. One bad paint job is enough to give anyone misgivings about doing it again. Perhaps it’s not their skill or creativity that’s to blame; maybe they haven’t been using the right paint.
As fantastic of an idea as that sounds, using the wrong paint or painting techniques can seriously degrade the results of a paint job. Using a quality paint and paint delivery system is key for success. First of all, one must use polycarbonate specific paint to paint on polycarbonate, aka Lexan, aka “polycarb” for short. By the way, both materials are actually the same; Lexan is just a brand name of polycarbonate.
So using polycarb specific paint on polycarb material sounds simple, right? Unfortunately there are many out there who don’t realize this and use any paint that they find at the hardware store, which invariably leads to poor results. Paint made for polycarbonate is formulated to stick to the slick surface and is pliable enough to shrug off most impacts. If you’ve ever used the wrong paint for your RC body you’ll know just want we mean. Paint doesn’t adhere right and most of it flakes off much too easily.
Luckily for us RC enthusiasts, Traxxas has released an entire line of paints created specifically for use on RC bodies. Known the world over for its easy to run, user friendly RTR vehicles, Traxxas takes on RC paint with the same mindset. Its ProGraphix paints can be considered the “RTR” of paint for its simplicity of use and user friendliness.
The company spent a lot of effort in perfecting their ProGraphix paint line and it shows. The formula that Traxxas developed allows the paint to quickly and evenly coat surfaces with spectacular results. Dry time is measured in mere minutes so getting additional coats onto a body is a quick affair. Prep time is taken down to the bare minimum only requiring a simple rub down of the surface to be painted with rubbing alcohol. Also, the paint is made in a way that it almost magically allows masked off areas to appear sharper and the blending of shades creates smooth transitions. Nitro racers will be glad to know that nitro fuel won’t peel or crack the paint either.
Available in 23 colors, the paint line includes a variety of shades including solid, metallic, florescent, transparent and candy colors. There are many specialty colors as well including chrome and transparent metal flake among others. Achieving a unique and custom look for your RC project isn’t a problem with such a wide selection to choose from.
For those who shy away from the time, cost and effort that airbrushing takes, spray cans are the way to go. Traxxas ProGraphix paint comes in convenient to use spray cans that are specially made for RC bodies in mind. Traxxas states that the combination of its unique paint formula and the can’s special valve design helps produce an airbrush-like experience that produces an even coating that doesn’t spatter or waste paint. Its more efficient method of painting means less paint used and wasted and an overall lighter weight result for your RC vehicle.
ProGraphix paint cans also include an oversized nozzle and broad fingerbed that gives you maximum comfort and control when applying paint. The cans are available in both 5 and 13.5-ounce sizes. The larger cans are offered in the most popular colors. These generously sized cans allow for the painting of large bodies or multiple projects.
We were eager to try out these paints and prepped not one, but two bodies to paint. Traxxas offers many of their RC bodies in different variations. Some are direct replacements while others come with pre-applied graphics to give your paint job some instant pizazz.
For our Slash 4×4, we chose the ProGraphix version of the body. Prographix bodies come with pre-applied graphics on a clear body. This allows you to spray any color you want, yet still have all the exciting graphics that you get on a Traxxas RTR. The body comes with basic decals that cover the headlights, grille, windows and more. It also comes with a sheet of racing sponsor decals and a sheet of Traxxas logos. The decals are all pre-cut so decorating the body after painting it is quick and fun to do.
The second of the bodies we painted is a Ford Mustang. We had a few roll over crashes in our 4-Tec 2.0 Cadillac CTS-V that left the surface of its roof in pretty bad shape. We decided to change up the overall look of the 4-Tec 2.0 too by swapping bodies. The Mustang body we chose is a direct replacement that comes in clear. Traxxas does make pre-painted bodies but we wanted to apply our own colors to it. The Mustang also came with a decal sheet that covers the headlights, grille, windows and more. As a bonus, the body also came with a sheet of pre-cut window masking tape so if you wanted clear windows on your body, it’s only a matter of applying the tape. That’s what we did.
After wiping down the bodies with some rubbing alcohol, we went to town with the rattle cans. Following the instructions is key for problem free application of the paint. We also suggest getting the cans warmed up for an even smoother painting experience. In our case, we let them sit in a bath of warm water. Leaving them out on a hot day can do the trick too. After shaking the cans and hearing them make that wonderful rattle noise, we let the painting commence.
SLASH 4×4 BODY
For the Slash 4×4 body, we sprayed a combination of Summit Yellow and MAXX Orange from the 5-ounce cans. We let the two shades fade into one another to give the body a bold and sunny disposition. The cans’ nozzles applied the coats evenly and covered the entire area of the body in seconds. We sprayed light coats of yellow and orange, only having to wait for the paint to dry for a minute or two between coats.
In less than ten minutes, we had three coats of paint on the body and it was done. Wow, that was quick, easy and the results were fantastic. We actually ended up using very little paint too so these small cans of paint will live on another day to coat many more projects in the future. We love how the body turned out. Of course the pre-applied graphics really help the entire look of the body immensely.
The Mustang was a different project entirely. We went for a sleek, street look that depended much less on graphics for its looks, but an uninterrupted and well-applied paintjob instead. For this body, we used a combination of Metallic Black, Chrome and Black in the large 13.5-ounce cans. We noticed that the paint pressure from the larger cans was noticeably greater. The paint came out with a bit more urgency than with the small cans, which is certainly a good thing for larger projects.
Again as on the Slash body, the paint was very evenly spread and left a thin layer. It was a dry, hot day when we painted so the paint dried extremely fast. When Traxxas says they’re “The Fastest Name In Radio Control” we didn’t expect that to apply to its paint too, but it does.
We used a metallic paint, which came out wonderfully. We also experimented with chrome, which we mixed onto portions of the body. Chrome needs to be backed by a coating of a special black chrome backer to really bring out its effect. While it came out well enough on our first try, we think we need more time to experiment with this special color to get the most out of it. The paint is great; our attempt doesn’t do it justice. But overall, the Mustang body came out looking great and our 4-Tec 2.0 is once again ready to ride.
With both bodies painted within an hour, we were astonished at just how quickly and easily we got them done. Our two vehicles now have completely custom looks, which are sure to set them apart from other RTRs on the track. After getting to go hands on with Traxxas rattle cans, we are of the opinion that painting your RC couldn’t be easier.
Traxxas ProGraphix Custom RC Paint
MSRP: starts at $10/5-oz and $16/13.5-oz.