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THE Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing


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I have a couple of questions about a custom figure i am planning to embark on in a couple of weeks. I want to make my own custom painted Marlboro Wheeljack figure out a junker G1 Wheeljack. The question is: how do I modify the head to look more like the Marlboro head? What would be the steps? Also do you think using Tamyica Mica Blue spray paint would color the windshield and wings the right color? Thanks!

Edited by SentinelPrime878
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Don't use the spray paint. Use a colored acrylic clear coat. I recommend Tamiya Color X-23 Clear Blue. It will add color while keeping the transparency of the windows, and provide a much sharper effect over the silver on the fins on either side of the head as well. As for modifying the head, you'll need some sheet styrene, an X-Acto knife, Dremmel tool, and some Jeweler's files, as well as some filler putty and liquid plastic welder (liquid model cement designed to weld styrene, acrylic, butyrate, ABS). There are a number if head sculpting and fabrication tutorials over at Sector70.com, here, including a head fabrication tutorial I wrote (it's an attached PDF). Any one of them will be useful to you.

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  • 7 months later...

Tramp is right: spray paint will NOT dry correctly on the type of plastic used for Wheeljack's windshield. The G1 toys used a softer type of polypropelyne/polyethelyne plastic for the windshields of the G1 series vehicle toys, and a harder plastic would crack and break (such as soundwave's clear cassette door). An acrylic such as tamiya's transparent blue works fine. just make sure the plastic windshield is clean. In fact, I would recommend using an airbrush 9if you have one) and spraying it from the inside in order to protect the paint job from scratches and rubbing.


The head: Aves poxy sculpt and styrene should be of tremendous benefit in this, in addition to the materials Tramp has already suggested. I knwo I am a little late on this one, but i would like to see pics when you can.

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The Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing: What is Next?



Well, all good things must coem to an end. Does that mean I am done kitbashing?



Not in the least!



But in the real world, with taking care of my dad as well as other responsibilities, I have had to cut back on both my time here and my projects. Also, I know there are FAQ's out there with far more advanced advice (and in many cases superior advice) that goes entire orders of magnitude beyond what I can offer). That siad, the info here shoudl be able to help folks on their way into kitbashing.


but as for myself, I am pretty much done with writing articles for the IGYKB. It's been a fun ride, and I hope folks continue to ask questions here. But since it's been more than 6 months since I posted in this, i realized i cannot offer what i used to.


I thank everyone here for reading my stuff (and putting up with my jokes! :lol: ), and i wish all of you the best.


See you around the boards!




WV out.

Edited by WraithVerge
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  • 3 years later...

Been a while folks....



Through 3 moves across country, several projects later and a LOT of fussing in between, I've landed back here with a resounding "THUD"! I may be quietly in the background, but if anyone has any questions or comments, fel free to shoot them my way!



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  • 3 months later...

The Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing Special Topic: CHROME


It's been a while folks, but "poppa's bag with a BRAND NEW BAG!!!"


Okay, let's get this ball rolling, eh?!



Now, those of us who love Transformers know that (especially on some MP as well as many G1 Transformers) chrome is a major part of many transformers. We all love that metallic look that chrome gives, but sometimes stuff happens. A piece we've had for years will slowly have it rub off, while on others it may crack, peel or flake. And yet still, we may seek to put chrome as a finishing touch on our 'bashes.


In any case, when we decide to do so, we run across the fact that chroming can be a royal pain! So, how do we handle this issue?


First off, let me list the various means of "chroming" along with the pro's and 'cons (punintended! ) :)



Professional Chroming:


This is essentially having the piece sent out to be chromed by a company, who immerses it in a tank of chemicals along with the metal needed to chrome it. From my info, plastic parts canot undergo this, but require "vacuum metalizing", which is putting the piece in a vacuum chamber while heated, vaporized metal (aluminum) is deposited onto the piece.


PRO: Professional finish, looks awesome


CON: Cost ( it can get expensive, especially when you only have a few small pieces), you have to make sure the parts are FLAWLESS or it will show; shipping the part to and back from there or transporting it yourself if local. Also, you have to wait for the place to get to it on their docket of orders to fill.





A number of companies make "chrome paint" out there, all with differing properties and applications. AlClad, Testors (Metalizer), Tamiya, SNJ Spray Metal and Alsa Corp. (Killer Chrome) all make various ways to apply a "chrome-like surface" to a piece.


Pro: (Usually) cheaper than having it professionally done, no shipping involved for the piece. Faster, as you don't have to wait on the chroming place to do it.


Con: Not as durable as real chrome; also, many products listed as "chrome-like" don't always deliver on their promises and it looks more like silver paint than chrome. Some, like Metalizer, can come right off without a protectant, which can dull the sheen and ruin the effect. Fumes can also be an issue, and sometimes the paint may not adhere well to the plastic, even after dilligent cleaning and sanding. Finally, as mentioned before, not all paints are cost-effective: the "Killer Chrome" method can easily run a big chunk of cash! Then there's the usual issue with handling the part without getting thumb/finger prints in the fresh paint.


Note: some systems like Alsa's "killer Chrome" say they are not paint, but a metal deposit system. For the purposes of this tutorial though, since it is in a spray that the consumer uses, I'm treating it as paint.





Different companies make foils that can be applied (such as Bare Metal Foil) that can replicate almost perfectly the chrome or metallic effect you're loking for. Adhesive-backed, they can be applied to the surface and burnished down.


Pro: Easy (usually) to apply to flat surfaces; no drying time required. No worries about fingerprints in freshly-applied chrome. CUstom shapes can be cut flat then applied.


Con: Complex shapes (recessed areas, intricate detail and rounded shapes) can be difficult or almost impossible to chrome. Also, any imperfections underneath may show through the foil. The foil also is not as durable as real chrome, as it can scratch, tear and sometimes even come off. Appliaction in tight areas can tear the foil or result in wrinkles that ruin the effect. Also, application of the foil can be time-consuming. Finally, Intricate details can become "lost" undet the foil.


Now, there is not going to be one single method to handle thisissue, but I believe the last two are the most practical in given situations. I myself prefer Krylon's Spray Chrome and/ or Metalizer Aluminum Plate. The latter especially can buff to a nice, chrome-like effect. One thing I have found is that after buffing, if you apply Krylon Crystal-kote and them buff it again with a dremel tool's cotton wheen (soft ) at LOW speed (anything more than one click is a disaster waiting to happen) can produce a chrome effect that is considerably more durable. I'll demonstrate this in a later post (possibly VIDEO).


My newest trick, which I just used on G1 Prime's smokestacks, is using the very reflective side of aluminum foil, contact cement, and an Xacto Knife.


Step 1: Clean and sand the piece you plan on chroming. if it has chrome on it that is damaged, ALL of it needs to come off.


2) using mineral spirits as thinner and CONTACT cement, paint the piece with a thin, even layer of cement and LET DRY. if it's still wet, it isn't ready!


3) For Prime's pipes, I used 4 pieces of pre-cut foil. 1 rectangular piece for the upper pipe, one for the lower, a strip for the intermediate bevel between pipes, and a square for the bottom. I applied the first to the upper pipe, then to the lower, then the bottom square, then the intermediat strip. I then took and burnished it down with the knife handle, taking care to press with my fingers to reveal the divots in the lower pipe. I took a small screwdriver and pressed the divots deeper as to bring out the detail. then, i cut the foil at the top of the pipe and burnished the small excess down, even getting it into the hole I had drilled in the top of the pipe! Finally, after trimming the excess, i burnished the stack overall to create the chrome effect.







Yeah, the foil has some imperfections (tears and whatnot) here and there. But with how badly Prime's stack's were (almost bare of all chrome), this is a major improvement.


You can also redo your transformer's stickers (foil ones) by printing the sticker onto clear decal film, then applying that to a piece of aluminum foil. After using Micro-SOl on it and allowing it to dry, simply clear-coat it and use contact cement to apply it to your figure (or whatever glue you find works).


The way I apply foil to recessed areas is to apply it from the center outwards, pressing it down from the center of the area and working to the ehges. The, I use a burnishing tool (steel rod or other item) to smooth and burnish it down into recesses and crevassed. if you experiment with it and develop yout technique, you can get some pretty impressive results.



Well, that's if for this installment of "The Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing." As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask them here and I'll do my best to answetr them.




Edited by WraithVerge
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I would say to try Metalizer Aluminum first, with the buff-coat-buff technique. You really have to buff it after the clearcoat a second time to really get the effect, and it can go wrong in a hurry. But if you're careful, it works great.

Edited by WraithVerge
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Also, working on a plate for Optimus that would fold into the open space in his back in robot mode. Trying to make this part of his transform so it isn't an "add-on".

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  • 4 months later...

Okay folks, time for annother installment:


The Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing: Staying the Course


Now, in the world of kitbashing, sometimes we can get pretty discouraged. We can get folks who say things like" I wouldn't do that, you'll break it", or the typical "that looks dumb", or even "That will never work!!!" Alternately, we can get discouragement from within, from the "bats in our heads" that may say some of the same things. Or, we look at a project, and we get daunted because we know what it will take to accomplish our goals with it. Discouragement is never hard to find; it's always waiting to find us, and it's never very far away.


The question is: how do you fight it?


While we all have our own ways to do so, one thing is in common: we all need to learn to stop listening to the voices of discouragement. Recently, my own wife wanted me to stop work on a project, because she was "afraid I would break it". Well, after completing it, she was impressed and apologetic for trying to stop me. Many times, folks just mean well when they do so, and don't really want to make you miserable. They just don't want to see you get hurt, or end up upset because a project went sour. Then there are others who just want to dump cold water on you for whatever reason (jealousy, "sour grapes", underwear a couple of sizes too small, etc.) The thoughts we often get in our heads are usually the result of the echoes of those who, for whatever reason, try to dissuade us from our project goals.

So, all that said, I developed a few ways to keep discouragement out:


1) Work in private:


I have found that one of the best ways to combat discouragement is to not let anyone see me working on a project. This way, i don't get the issue of "dissenting voices" that so often attempts to derail my work. It can be tough, but it's better to simply let your project sit until you have time where no one will bother you, rather than have someone try to interrupt you with opinions.


2) Don't show it online until its' finished:


Often, I'll keep pics offline until the project is already 3/4 of the way done, then I'll start posting pics of it.


3) Take charge of your own mind:


You don't have to be a slave to your thoughts; just because they race around in your head doesn't mean that they are correct. Start telling those voices to "SHUT UP"; for me, prayer works for that.


4) Ignore the dissenters:


Despite your best efforts, sometimes there will just be those who will say stuff about your work just to be a royal pain. Frankly, they can go find a nice, cold lake and do a few laps in it! If someone is extremely vocal about your work, isn't being nice about it, and simply won't leave you alone, then be kind enough to tell them that YOU have had enough, that if they can do better, they are welcome to try, and to leave you alone.


If they refuse, then kindly show them the lake, and "help them get in". 😄


NO ONE has the right to discourage you on a project. Yes, they may care about you, but if they do care, you need to ask them to TRUST you and your skills. If they are your friends, they need to respect your efforts. If they are neither of the first two, then they need to leave you be.


Keep in mind the motto of the British SAS: "Who dares, wins."



Well, that's if for this installment of "The Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing." As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask them here and I'll do my best to answer them.




Edited by WraithVerge
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