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THE Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing


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Alright....I think it's time for yet another riveting installment...



The Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing 5: Plastics


In kitbashing or scratchbuilding, your end result is only as good as the materials you plan on using in your projects. For most of us, we tend to use whatever is readily available to us in the stores. But in this installment, I'd like to open everyone's eyes to the worldfull of readily-available and free (or at least REALLY cheap!) plastics at hand.


First off, most of us are aware of the "sheet styrene" that most hobby shops sell at 3-4 dollars a pack. While this is usefull for most projects, the form it comes in, let alone the cost, is sometimes more than many modelers are willing to shell out in a single trip. Needless to say, this slows down many projects to a crawl.


To remedy this, I recommend something I've heard of in recent years; plastic supply houses. They supply some of the smaller-scale businesses with their plastic needs. (like small shops, factories and what not.) They're found in the yellow pages, and I've heard that they ofter have reasonable prices for their wares. Additionally, they sometimes have scraps of different plastics from different orders, that they may be willing to let go for cheaper than normal. This includes ABS plastics ( AcetylButylStearate, what most toys are made of), and styrene.


Also, many items around the house can be a good supply for what you need. A lot of objects lying around are made of the materials that you might need. Some examples:


Clear Styrene- CD "Jewel Boxes", clear plastic bubbles from candy machines.


ABS plastic- Video game system housings (PS2, xbox, ect, ), appliances (AC covers, coffeemakers), old toys, computer tower/scanner housings.


styrene- 'for sale' signs, credit cards, old plastic models.


Now, obviously you would want to use stuff that is broken or not used anymore. (Your brother's xbox while he's playing HALO 2 is a BIG no-no!!!) Instead of throwing these busted items out, you might want to cannibalize them for their plastic, as well as any cool stuff inside. You can also get some awesome led lights from some stuff too.


On another note, let's talk about durability: how strong the material you plan on using will be. Now, while styrene might be good for shaping and detailing, it is a VERY poor plastic as far as strength and durability are concerned. You might be saying "well, i'm not planning on PLAYING with the thing!!" after you finish it, but over time, styrene can become extremely brittle. it's not unheard of for plastic models built several years ago to become so fragile that merely picking them up to move them causes some pretty bad damage.


ABS, on the other hand, is a high-impact platic. But working with it can be a royal pain, given it's resillient nature. It can clog up dremel sanding and cutting wheels, and I've lost more than a few attachments to that plastic. Yet for all it's tenacity, it's that selfsame quality that keeps many my projects standing strong. ABS is often good for frameworks, joints, and parts where strength and resiliency is called for.


Now, two plastics all of you should be VERY wary of are polypropylene and polyethylene. The are the infamous "soft plastics," which aren't much good for kitbashing. They're what make up those cheap hollow-formed toys you find for a buck or two at the local department stores. Greasy in makeup and flexible in composition, theydon't take glue or paint very well, and cannot reaslly hold any considerable amount of weight. Not to mention that once they break, they are practically IMPOSSIBLE to repair; they are all but useless in my opinion. In short: stay away from them.


Well, that's it for this instalment. Next time, we'll go into alternate materials for construction. As always, tips, sugesstions and questions are ALWAYS welcome here at IG2KB. Until then, Best of luck to your projects!!

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for smaller and cheaper sizes, try these links:









these two are the TOP suppliers of retail hobby plastics for modelbuilders and kitbashers. Hope these help you out!



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i was wondering, being thet i'm a beginner's beginner in the tf kitbashing, the idiots guide helps ALOT, is there a book or manual, a manifesto? anything?

im working on making Autobot Spike from G1 Season 2 i am stuck on some body mechanics and parts. HELP!




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Johnyy Reb,


Transtopia is a good site for beginners, as is starship modeler. Starship modeler is for general models, and transtopia is specifically for tf builders. While there's no book as of yet (THERE'S an idea!), most of the info here will serve you well, and any specific questions can be answered by those of us here wit particular expertise in the field.


As for your project, Autobot Spike from G1 season 2, I wouls suggest that since he has no transforming parts, you could go one of multiple ways: actionmaster parts for one, or if you're making it in a larger scale, try ebay for old transformer parts.


as for actual mechanics, i said before that autobot spike doesn't transform (to my knowledge.) That being the case, it's a simple matter of joining the parts on a basic moveable figure frame. i personally would get a bunch of the appropriate G1 parts, and piece them together so that they move like spike did in that episode. it's going to take some work, but teest fitting and taking your time with it is the keyword here. if you take it slow and carefully, you should have very few problems.

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Time for another installment:


The Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing 6: Alternate Materials



Now, in writing this post, I know that some of you are wondering what exactly I mean by "Alternate Materials." Well, it means just what it says; materials that are an ALTERNATE from the usual run of the norm. Stuff that you wouldn't usually use to build with. In short: improvised materials.


Examples of alternate materials are: masking tape, cardboard, sculpey, plastic welder, resin, epoxy, paper, wood, fiberglass, metal, and good ol' duct tape. But they're not limited to just those. In fact, just about anything and everything that can be utilized in the construction and detailing of a project. this literally means that anything that you lay your eyes on (with some obvious exceptions) is fair game for use in construction. You see it lying around, it can be used, provided no one else needs it for something. ("HEY!! THAT'S MY KIDNEY!!!")


But to use these materials, you need some experience, and often more than a mere exacto knife and sandpaper. When working with these materials, you will find that a dremel tool or other rotary tool is indispensable for cutting and shaping many of these items. As for experience, that comes with using them. From whatIi've learned, sculpey is fine for modeling heads for figures, but doesn't hold up too well when building a transform. Paper, cardboard and masking tape are also fine for 12" figures, but alas, are poor substitutes for plastics such as ABS.


And while metal, fiberglass and resin are often good for construction, shaping and forming them can be even more of a challenge than designing the whole piece!!resin alone involdes making a mold of the piece, casting a new part, and cleaning the casting of both mold release as well as "Flash." (the fringes of material that seep between the mold parting lines.) Planning doesn't merely cover design aspects; it should also cover materials and tools as well. knowing what to use and what NOT to use in construction is crucial to a project in both time and money; neither of which is in ready supply nowadays.


It pays to take time to research what you're using, and to then make the most of it.


Used properly, alternate materials can enhance and spruce up your models. But remember: many projects fail due to bad materials. And time is the one part of a project that cannot be replaced; only spent.


okay, I've run my yap enough for now. keep going on those projects of yours out there, and i'll see you next time for another installment. Until then ...HEY!! THAT'S MY KIDNEY!!!

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Well written! I've been an armchair railway modeller for a long time, and a lot of what you've written backs up a lot of what I've learned, and a lot of what you've written is good ideas to learn, thanks! I've got a couple projects I'm sketching right now, including a "minibotto no 6-nin gattai" (minibot 6-combiner) and a seeker based on a MiG-29 model kit, dunno what scale yet though. Also, I don't know if the seeker will transform, or just be a statue, but either way I'm planning on doing a few test runs with cheap Chinese kits before starting the main project with a Hasegawa kit. I guess that's my only real addition to this thread: if you're planning on doing something you haven't tried before, always do a few test runs on something so you can get a feel for the technique/what needs to be done, so you don't screw up the actual project you're working on!

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