Art has been my passion since I was about six years old; I drew everything I could see. Recreating what I saw and drawing it on paper always fascinated me. I continued and eventually made creating art my career. I work on creating visual design through print as well as through technology.
Cars were also a passion of mine, I played with Hot Wheels and die-cast cars; as I got older (about 12 to 13 years old); I started playing with RC cars. My first RC car was the FireFox made by Shinsei Radio Elecon. It looked just like the Brain Buggy created by Bandai of Japan, which was licensed to Playart. Those cars came in silver and red. In 1978, my dad got the silver one for me for Christmas. As soon as I saw it, I was hooked. In years to come, I kept one or two cars throughout my life, mainly bashers.
As I learned about the crawler scene, I wanted to take a Lexan body and paint it, so it looks like real patina. Before I move on, let’s define what patina is. Patina, as I use the term, means a surface that is worn through age and exposure. With patina on my mind, I ordered a Pro-Line Racing Power Wagon body and started looking at real Power Wagons online. I was gathering reference photos and looking at how time has taken its toll on them. There were many pictures, it was hard to decide on which to base my build on but I finally picked one that had the look and feel that I wanted to mimic.
The body you see here started out as a 1946 Dodge Power Wagon Tough-Color (Black) Body by Pro-Line Racing. In deciding what color and theme to create with it, I thought about how the Power Wagon was used back in the day. Back then companies would utilize these sturdy vehicles as delivery trucks. With a little research, I found a company called Copper Dog Whiskey that I thought was a perfect fit for my vision. I decided to work my paint job around the name “Copper”.
When it comes to my projects, I always feel the need to do more than just paint everything on Lexan. I ordered a seat, dash, floor, and door panels from Shapeways. I also got exterior items, such as the front grill emblems and side mirror. Sometimes I’ll create parts from styrene, like the visor, or I’ll use scraps of Lexan to make small additions. These little details seem minor, but I feel that they add immensely to the authenticity of the look and sets my style of painting bodies apart from the norm. I was never one to do the bare minimum.
Now the fun part begins, painting it! First, I review reference material by Googling the type of vehicle to familiarize myself with the style. I never just “wing it” because staying true to the original inspiration is important to me. I don’t use an airbrush because a.) I don’t have one, and b.) The effect of the airbrush doesn’t fully capture the multi-dimensional look of patina (in my view). All my work is done with Tamyia rattle cans. For the interior, I add acrylic paints.
The process of creating patina and a weathered look is an art in itself. For me, the look of patina suggests a history. Where has this been? Who was the first owner? Why was it left and forgotten or maybe it just couldn’t get fixed and was left on the side of the house or behind that old barn? Was it driven from coast to coast?
One can research about the process of creating a patina look on YouTube. However, through trial and error, I developed a formula that works for me. I won’t get into exactly what my process is, but I will say that using salt is one way to get the effect of a rusty look on your bodies, whether it’s a Lexan body or a hard body. Some of my bodies have rusty holes and cracked windows. The holes can be made with a soldering gun and or heat gun for dents. Adding that extra layer of dimension as well as attention to every detail is something, I think, sets my work apart from the crowd.
I then recreate the company logo on the doors. I sometimes paint the logo by hand, or use my vinyl cutter to create the logo, and then use it as a stencil. I don’t like to use many of the decals the bodies came with. If I do, they are mainly for the badges or lights. I will weather those items as well. For this particular wagon’s cab, I added rivets to the visor, which are really beads. I also always look for items that are used for other purposes to incorporate in my paint jobs and additions. It’s like being MacGyver.
I decided to open the windshield, so I created a styrene windshield frame and used another clear Power Wagon windshield and added tiny latches to make it open. I also cut the vent windows open. In order to get the full effect, I cut the doors open as well. The bonnet is opened on one side for easy access to the on/off switch; it also has tiny latches and rivets.
The Chassis & Build
This Power Wagon chassis is built from many different companies components. I used the Flatgekko C23 V2 Supaflat LCG AMS Chassis Kit from procrawlers.eu as well as parts from Axial SCX10 II Raw Builder’s Scale Trail RC chassis kit. I also added the portals from an Axial SCX10 III and the TGH 2.LOW transmission from GSspeed LCG.
The copper colored shocks are from Delux. The truck is fitted with Method 1.9 race wheels with 101 orange anodized v2 with clear rings and Pro-Line Interco Bogger 1.9” tires. Electronics wise, I installed a Reefs RC Triple7 14V high torque servo and a Castle Creations 1406-3800Kv 4-Pole Sensored BL Motor with Castle MAMBA X ESC. The Power Wagon’s custom cage is built by Nathen Nayer. This beautiful rig was assembled and programmed by Neil Laxamana who also created custom 3D printed parts.
A few days after painting it, I thought about adding some lights and decided to take it into my local hobby shop (JJ Customs, LLC) to get the lights installed. As I walked in, the owner Jason asked me who had painted the body. I told him that I painted it. He was so amazed at the work and he mentioned that he knew people that would be interested in that type of paint job for their cars.
A New Business
I really didn’t think of selling my projects. However, his suggestion made me ponder the idea of making this into an actual business. That night, I opened my laptop and started creating a logo that would represent my favorite style of painting. This is how “RC Patina Guy” was born. Mind you, this was during the beginning of this whole COVID-19 epidemic. So the fact that my activities were limited, it was the perfect time to get into this hobby business. And with the support of my wife how could anybody pass up this opportunity to get paid doing what they love?
It took me a while to figure out how to figure out how to engage the RC community. I created a couple social media profiles and saw whom I could connect with. Throughout that process, I made a lot of friends and learned so much about this industry. Because I’ve been an artist all my life, having a reason to pour my passion into creating beautiful and unique RC bodies that suit the client’s request. There is nothing more fulfilling to see the amazement and gratitude my clients express when they see their vision materialize once they take it out of the box.
How to Create A Patina Look
First, spray your main color of choice; let’s say it’s blue. Then you spray a patina-like color such as brown where you think a body would be rusted in real life. Let it fully dry. Next, apply salt to the body and follow it up by spraying the first color again (in this case, blue) over the salt. Allow to fully dry. Once it’s dry, remove the salt. The effect you get is a rust look. It can take some practice to get it down just right. If you need more guidance, look up videos online, they’re pretty helpful.
Text by Erick “RC Patina Guy” Padilla and RCCA Staff
Images by Erick “RC Patina Guy” Padilla