Friday, November 7, 2014

Un-Pimp My Ride

Started with that ^ Ended with this >
This is a Hot Wheels brand, HO-scale 2006 Honda Civic. Debra owns a full-scale 4-door version, and this being the only HO scale Honda I’ve seen, I bought it even though it’s 2-door and tuner-ized. I figured I might be able to somehow customize it into something that was similar to hers. Like most of my planned projects this year, it went straight to the shelf of good intentions but weak will.

But, the plan to take the Red Apron model to their customer appreciation night changed all that. We drive to the Red Apron in Debra’s car, so I figured the diorama had to have it – or a reasonable facsimile – parked somewhere nearby.

This isn’t actually a conversion of a toy to a model; I’d say it’s more like a conversion of a toy to a prop. My conversion seems like a model of an actual car as long as one doesn’t look too closely. First, although the Hot Wheels packaging says it’s HO-scale, it seems a little large. Also, the toy’s mouldings and details aren’t as fine as those on true HO replicas one can buy, and for deadline reasons I didn’t try to make them any better. And there’s the 2-door versus 4-door thing. And I cut a few corners on the conversion so I could get the diorama completed by the big night. The upshot is that the result is ok as a prop, but needs better work to be a more credible model.
The first step is to drill out the rivets that hold the thing together.
This is a mildly dangerous step. I drilled out the rivets using a sharp, new bit in a Dremel tool. It's easy to slip if you're not very careful and hurt yourself or damage the car. Don't try this if you're not very experienced. Better yet, clamp it in a vise and use a drill press. In the above photo, the rivets are are about halfway drilled out.
The car will fall apart once the rivets are drilled out. At this point I've also cut off the rear plastic wing.
The interior tub and chassis are chromed, so I soaked them in SuperClean to strip them back to raw plastic. It only took about 5 minutes. The parts were then washed in warm, soapy water to clean off any residue and ready them for painting. 
I then tried removing the paint from the body in SuperClean. That paint is on darn good. This is what it looked like after soaking for a day and scrubbing with fine steel wool. I should have probably used a stronger paint remover and worked on getting the body down to bare metal. This is one of the short-cuts I took: I stopped at this stage since the gloss was gone from what was left of the paint and it was fairly smooth.
The holes where the big wing was attached were filled with Tamiya putty.It took 3 rounds of filling and sanding before it looked passable. After painting there was still some remnant of the holes. For a better model, some more work is needed at this stage to properly smooth out the trunk area.
The body was then washed with mild dish soap before painting.
When dry, the body was primed with Tamiya white fine surface primer. That photo shows it after the first round of priming. I did two, but there should have been more sanding and smoothing and priming at this stage to get a better finish. Again, I cut this corner.
The large speakers on the rear window shelf were ground off and the interior bucket was brush painted a light brown. The chassis was painted flat black, and the rims were brushed with flat aluminum colour.

I then brush painted the body with Tamiya blue. In this project I just used paints and materials I had on hand; with no blue spray paint in the workshop there was no spraying. With a model, this step should be better handled to get a better finish. Once the blue was on, I made a big mistake: I stupidly sprayed the body with Tester's Dullcote to tone down the showroom finish and it attacked the blue paint. The blue is acrylic and the Dullcote is lacquer, so the blue was damaged. Luckily, it wasn't severe, so some touchup with blue covered the sins. Also, the end result was a car that looked like it had seen close to 9 winters, so it ended well.
To finish off, headlights and tail lights were brush painted on and license plates were added. It was parked beside the store and that was that.

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