Welcome to our new "Tips & Tricks" feature. We are hoping that people share and learn new tricks for building the best models. Please share any helpful hints or tricks you have learned along the way.

Here's some things we've tried from around the house and garage to aid in our modeling adventures. Just a few little helpful hints to pass along.

Richard 'Tiny' Teague

I wanted to share this little bit of info for those of you custom car makers. I have used many kinds of clear coats on different cars but now I Used Only ONE KIND! FUTURE FLOOR WAX!! NO more runs , cracks, no messing up decals and SUPER Easy to use. After the car has been decaled and sets for a day or less, just place it on a stand. The same stand you use for painting or decaling. Pour a little in a bowl and use a Four Inch, Very Soft Bristle Paint Brush and JUST BRUSH IT ON. Use light coats and as many as two or up to four. You may encounter some drips on the bottom edge of the car but wait till they dry and use a exacto-knife to trim it up. I usually wait about six hours between coats and it gives the Great Shiny Finish. Try It One Time That's All. Good Luck & Happy Modeling.

Mike Moore

I use tons of tooth picks when painting models they are great for detailing gauges carbs shifter handles fire ext. nitrous bottles etc. also when applying standard decals i use puffs kleenex to pull the water out from under them makes the decal set faster and pulls all the water out very clean experiment with pressure it doesnt take much

Mike Martinez

In painting model parts I found that heating a small safety pin with a candle and slighty inserting it into the part in a hidden spot or future gluing spot is a great way to hold parts for spraying. After I hang them on a line of not real tight kite string for drying. scoring the windshied lightly on a stockcqr winshield to simulate tearoffs is realistic and not over bearing. A bright orange sprayed piece of scotch tape cut to a super small triangle works well for indicaters, again it is not over bearing. To get the look of aluminum simply spray the part silver and when still a bit wet over spray sparingly and checking on progress with flat white spray. As far as creating scuffs,take some time into looking at what a fine brass wire wheel will do for your super good look. Put the tire on a wood dowel and roll it around the tire will "come in". Display your Stock car models stting on glass with a mirror pitched 10 degrees or so under it to display the tire work as well as the under chassis. Look into using a soldering gun with a wire "finger" wrapped on it for cutting parts off trees and cutting time it takes to the "file "stage. Time is tricks and the trick is to save time.

Chris Wikstrom

For screens in the ducting holes on the front facia of those new rice rocket models I found a disposable brass coffee filter at the grocery store called "Gold filter". It looks just like scaled down expanded metal. Just pull it apart untill the diamond shapes are as big as you want. Good luck

Mike Buczynski, AZ:

Tooth Brush:Before painting plastic body's...tank an old tooth brush and some dish soap and scrub the body in lukewarm water. Scrub it well, then rinse well, and let air dry . This will remove a releaseing agent on the body and leave's a nice clean surface for painting .Your paint job will turn out much better .

Old Paint Brushes:Small part holder useing your old paint brush's ...start by cutting of the brisel's. Then take a "gater clip" and some masking tape . Tape the clip to the old handel of the paint brush . There you have it! A small part's holder for painting or holding while waiting for it to dry after glueing .

Brian Olson, Highlands Ranch CO:

I use black gaffer's tape for the roll bar padding in the NASCAR models I build. One roll will likely last you a lifetime and it looks extremely realistic.

I also use electrician's tape for the support bars on the front and rear glass. Very clean and realistic looking.

Several of my models are "Race-used" versions. For donuts on the sides of the car, I simply put some flat black paint on the sides of a spare tire, then rub it on the side of the kid with a circular motion.

Dry brushing the sides of the car with colors from other famous driver colors, like the #24 or #2 cars adds realism when simulating "trading paint."

As far as oil spots from other cars, just hold a can of Testor's flat black a couple of feet in front of the car and give it a quick "burst" of spray. Make sure you mask off the left front windshield to simulate a fresh tear-away strip while the right side of the window has "oil" spots.

I also always sand the tires down so simulate "scuffed" tires. Again, a very realistic look.


Discovered this quite by accident. For a very realistic "stains" on "raced" models, simply rub newsprint over the areas you want smudges, exhaust or soot.

Roland Gagne, VT:

Having problem to paint drag cars? As a modeler I use finger nail polish, specially the florescent and opacue colors. I find that finger nail polish isnít just for the ladies. it works well with an air brush. thin it like regular paint. I use base coat clear coat thinner. and it dries fast. just a little practice and you can create some wild colors . you cant get this from spray paint cans. Using metalic colors you need a base coat of silver or gold your brite colors you need a base coat of white. Most plastic cars come in white, they need lightly sanded . But for the first time user, try an old body first, it the best way. Any one interested in finger nail polish and want to know how to use it they can reach me via email at gagr@us.ibm.com

Don Fletcher

When I need to hold the body or the chasis from moving when doing fine detail work, set a role of masking tape flat on your work surface then set your work on the role of tape, when doing fine detail work even the slightest movement can cause frustration, this way you can eliminate any movement, simple, but it works. I use my dremel tool for a lot of things, the most useful is the round sanding disc, the tires fit perfectly on the disc, then on low, I can just hold the sand paper up to the tires as there spinning on the sanding disc, then whoala, I have race used tires, saves a lot of time.

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Pat Mc Donald

I have found that using a hair dryer or some type of heat gun is very helpful in applying certain decals on compound curves without causing overlapping seams or bubbles. On some decals a setting solution will not work so getting the decal hot (carefully) without damaging it will make it expand. When it cools down on the area where you want it, it will shrink down to the curves with no lapping or bubbles, this works great on certain models that have very curved tailights that use a decal, like funny cars. You do have to work fast because the decal cools down rapidly so in most cases it has to be done on the model itself. that is where you have to be careful as not to get it too hot as to melt the body. It works best while the decal is still wet.

The diagram is for a painting jig I use for doing 1/24 scale car bodies. I can paint and handle the car body without touching it using this jig. It can be clamped in a vise or held in the hand for doing detail work. one thing I forgot on the diagram is that the piano wire is glued into the wood block 1/2" in from each corner. Using piano wire makes it flexable to fit any body without damaging it. I know in the past I aways would ruin a paint job just by setting it down on a table or something to dry and it would wind up sticking to it and pulling some of the paint off when you got to move it. now using this jig my body paint jobs come out great with no marks or anything.

Randy Groves:

If you are doing a kit and can't find any great SLIXX decals to replace them with and the waterslide decals in the kit are brittle and you are afraid they may come apart when you put them in the water, here is a neat little trick I learned just from experimenting. Spray a high quality gloss coat such as Testors Glosscote #1261 or Testor's Model Master High Gloss Clearcoat #2936 over the decal sheet and let dry at least 24 hours before using. I have found that this prevents the decal from breaking up when sliding off the paper or when putting on the model itself. Please beware that this may not work with all decals and may even harm or ruin some old decal sheets but I have found that it works pretty well on almost all of the older Monogram kits. This is why it is a good idea to buy SLIXX decals and do the model right but if there is no substitute try this. Hope this helps! Fellow model builders are some of the nicest and are very willing to share idea, tricks, tip and knowledge. Pass this on to the younger modelers and keep our hobby strong

Gene Sisemore at Slixx:

Scotch Brite pads: Available in different "grits". Good for cleaning, buffing and scrubbing, but avoid the courser grits, as they will scratch the plastic easily.

Pool chlorine: Used for removing chrome plating.  We've found it works faster, is less messy, and leaves no residue like EASY-OFF.  You may find a clear coat under the chrome that can easily be removed with a fine Scotch Brite pad.

Simple Green: We find it works well for stripping of old paint jobs, even ones that are years old.  It's a lot less messy than EASY-OFF or brake fluid. Just use it full strength out of the gallon jug.  How long you need to let it soak depends on the type of paint.  Regular old model paint will start to come off in a couple of hours, while automotive acrylic enamel could take a few days and a couple of scrubbings.

Wesley's White Wall Cleaner: This stuff, which looks like a concentrated WINDEX, can be found in auto supply stores.  We have soaked resin bodies and parts in this stuff to remove the mold release.  Just soak it for a couple of days and rinse, simple!

3M Thin line automotive masking tape: This may be a little expensive for tape but well worth it. It's available in different widths, We use 1/16" for masking our paint separations.  It's not thick, so the paint buildup isn't bad, and it will make good curves with out lifting.  The 3M automotive tapes cost more, but you get what you pay for. Try looking at the auto paint supply stores.

Resin funny car bodies: This can apply to other resin stuff too.  First, clean as above, then start to trim out the body.  You will want to leave about 1/16" around the window openings so you will have something to glue the windows to.  This can be done with a DREMEL tool, files, or a #11 XACTO, using the back side of the blade and score the piece until it's cut out.  Remember resin appears strong, but it is brittle, so take your time.  Also often resin bodies or parts do sometimes warp, all that is usually needed to get it back into shape is run the warped area under hot tap water and tweak the body back into form.  As soon as you have it the way you want it, run it under cool water so the body becomes rigid again.   It may be necessary to repeat this a couple of times to get it just right.   Resin requires special glues, such as epoxy, super glue or Zap-A-Gap.  Regular plastic cements won't bond well to resin...

Jeff Shreve:

I have been using clear silicon/RTV for assembly of tricky areas for the past couple of years with very good results. Especially for installing windows. Eliminates the crazing from styrene or super glues and has much more strength than white glue. Not as messy as epoxy and excess can be removed when dried. Also works for older full body car kits of 60's - 70's vintage for mounting the chassis, just some big globs on the floor pan do the trick. No reactions with plastics allows for easy disassembly.