Note from the Editor: Creating a scale look from an RC vehicle requires imagination, creativity, the willingness to express one’s ideas, and a proper base vehicle. The duo of Robert “Scale Rat” Pezza and Matt Howell have the imagination, creativity and willingness in spades; all they needed was a suitable vehicle to throw it all onto.
That’s where RocHobby’s 1/6 MB Scaler came into play. This near-perfect large-scale replica of the World War II-era Willys MB Jeep was the right vehicle for the team’s vision. Roc Hobby’s 1/6 MB Scaler is a ready to run (RTR) detailed crawler that features a realistic injection-molded body, functional front and rear lights, and is powered by a 550-sized 35T motor. Enough about the MB Scaler, let’s hear what Pezza and Howell did to get this island-themed Jeep created in Pezza’s own words.
The Willys MB reminds me of an old World War II Jeep that got lost in the jungle of Bamboo Island just off of Cambodia. It paints a picture of a young man finding it about 40 years ago and doing everything he can to keep it running since then. I imagine an old Cambodian man with one leg driving this Jeep around, smoking cigars, wearing rough clothing, and never going anywhere without his surfboard. He lives off the wildlife of the sea, earning his income and dinner with the fish he catches and crabs he traps.
This build started as a stock RocHobby’s 1/6 MB Scaler RTR rig. This build is an early Scale Rat build done with a partner of Scale Rat, Matt Howell. We live on the Gulf of Mexico between Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida. We are surrounded by salt air, water and humidity, so oxidation surrounds us and influences all the builds we do. Utilizing our skill set to blend colors using proper color portions, chipping paint and using natural resources, we were able to distress the Jeep’s finish and give it the weathered look to match the Bamboo Island environment I had imagined.
CREATING THE LOOK
Everything fit perfectly, and it was easy to find the details needed all around us in our back yards. As you look at the Jeep you’ll probably first notice the crab cages. Those were actually made from full-size cages, just pieces cut off of them to make smaller versions. Matt was able to find the bamboo for the cage and the surfboard at a local flea market. The cage was assembled by using twine and a little glue. The propane tanks were 3D-printed then weathered and distressed to match the oxidation found on the Jeep. Ground-up pieces of metal were used as a paint in areas where the rust needed to look like something beyond just surface rust, oxidation that ate all the way through the body.
The canopy was made using a piece of cloth, with bamboo stands that would roll up and be tucked on top of the cage. Matt had a great idea with tearing up the seats and making a spare tire cover. The process involved tearing and burning carefully that would reveal the multiple layers of the seat. This took patience and a careful hand, along with knowing when enough tearing and burning was enough. Going too far would have ruined the effect. Matt did an amazing job and it’s my favorite part of the entire build.
If anyone would research Bamboo Island off of Cambodia, I think they would agree that this Jeep nails the island’s look and feel perfectly. I’m proud to say that this Jeep won a major award at USTE, the Ultimate Scale Truck Expo, for the best in detail of 2022.
Base Kit: RocHobby 1/6 MB Scaler RTR VEHICLE SPECS
Length: 20.88” (530 mm)
Width: 10.15” (258 mm)
Height: 10.63” (270 mm)
Ground Clearance: 1.55” (39.5mm)
Wheelbase: 12.75” (324 mm)
Chassis: All terrain 324mm wheelbase crawler chassis
Suspension: Adjustable Oil Filled Coil-Over
Motor: 550-size 35T Brushed
We “scalers” thrive on detail; we work with what we have and make the best of it. We encourage everyone to scale. From what I’ve seen, scaling brings out the best reactions from people, even with audiences beyond the RC crowd. When people see the hard work and time that you put into a build with their own eyes, just about everyone has the same expression. They are wide-eyed, and can’t help but smile and say “wow” when they see it. Let’s keep on scalin’!
To see more custom creations by Robert Pezza, aka Scale Rat, followed him on Facebook and Instagram with the handle @ScaleRat20. You can also follow Matt Howell on Facebook at
Text by Robert “Scale Rat” Pezza
Images by Leigh Guarnieri