What are Model Cars?
Model Cars are a miniature representation of a real life vehicle. They are designed to be a scale model of the real automobile. They can be buses, regular vehicles, trucks and even ATVs. Initially Model Cars were created for children with the idea of having them as toys. However as time went by the model cars started to become more and more accurate from a visual standpoint and extremely ornate. That started to bring in more and more ideas to the table and now we have outstanding, visually distinctive and appealing model vehicles that can be used as collectibles. Nowadays there are even kits that you can use in order to create your own models cars if you want.
Many Model Cars are precision-detailed models that are created to scale. Some are built by hand by people very passionate about this field. Or they are sold directly in the finished format. The interesting thing is that most Model Cars appeared in Europe when real cars started to emerge. Then they appeared in the United states. Initially the first model cars were replicas made out of brass and lead. Later on during the 20th century they were created by iron and plaster, among others. After the war the most popular materials were diecast zinc and pressed tin, among others. Nowadays a variety of materials are used to make the model cars as distinct and as visually appealing as possible.
What’s the difference between model cars and die-cast cars?
In the model car world you have two options, the resin models or the die-cast cars. Each one of them is designed to offer you an incredible perspective and outstanding features, as well as a tremendous value and quality for money. With that in mind, resin casting is very popular. Most resin models are produced in small quantities, up to a few hundred copies at most.
The thing to note here is that resin casting is labor intensive when compared to injection molding. You have a low investing in resin casting, and that means the hobbyists can create small runs as they see fit. And they can also access plenty of customization options. The texture is smooth and fine, everything holds the paint together and there’s no zinc pest. Resin will also have a great shape too. But the door is sealed, the resin models can be expensive and the structure is not as resistant as the die-cast cars.
The die-cast cars are created via adding zinc alloy or molten lead into a mold. Most of the die-cast cars are made out of metal and you can have a variety of models here. This includes trains, construction equipment, military vehicles and so on. You can get more exquisite details this way, the die-cast cars feel rather heavy in the hand and you can open the doors. The downside is that the die-cast cars will deteriorate a lot easier, so they need extra care.
Why do people like building model cars?
Every person has a different reason why they want to start building model cars. Some do this because they are already a part of the automotive industry and they enjoy the idea of using vehicles. They want a representation of their favorite car in a scale that can be put into their home. There are also model car collectors that are very passionate about the shapes and incredible designs that most vehicles tend to have. So there’s always a different reason coming with this type of situation. The idea is that creating building model cars is more than a hobby, it becomes a huge passion and you just want to accept it and enjoy it the way you want.
Of course, there are multiple materials and approaches you can have when it comes to building model cars. So it’s all about perspective and trying to figure out what works for you and what you cherish the most. But the fact that you can express yourself and also showcase your love and passion for vehicles through these scale models is what really sets such vehicles apart.
What should you look for in a model car?
Each person has their own requirements when it comes to buying a model car. Some people want one that’s really easy to use and store, so they go for a smaller one. Others want a large collectible, so a larger model might come in handy. As you can see, scale is one of the crucial aspects of the entire process. But aside from scale, model car enthusiast are also looking for model quality. They are interested in intricate details like doors that open, roofs you can take off, wheels that can be replaced and so on.
Plus, the existence of a base is just as important. You really have to figure out how to bring everything together and that on its own can make quite the difference. It’s all a matter of understanding what are your expectations from the model car and what you really want it to do in order to suit your requirements the right way and at a professional level.
How do you put together a model car?
Creating a model car is extremely delicate and challenging. The first thing you want to do is to acquire a model car building kit. Most kits have their own guidelines on how everything can be put together nicely, so all the information will be provided there. Once you receive the information, you will know how everything can be put together adequately.
That being said, the kit will also tell you what glue you need to use, what other tools are required and so on. There are also YouTube tutorials for all types of model cars. Since every vehicle is different, you want to find a tutorial, be it video or written, created specifically for your own model car. That way you will know 100% what steps you need to follow and how to create the desired item without a problem.
What tools will you need to make a model car?
Normally the tools you use will differ based on the size of the model, how intricate it is and so on. But more often than not you will need cutting mats and rulers, decal supplies, cutting tools, drills and bits, display cases, glues and adhesives, filling and sanding items, holding and gripping tools, knives, masking and finishing tapes and so on.
You will also need a magnifier, lights and motors or gears, photo etch tools, compounds for polishing and prepping, molding and sculpting items, putty fillers, workstations and so on. Of course, this is from a general perspective. More often than not you will find yourself using all kinds of different items here, so it’s all about finding what works for you and what type of product delivers the value that you need. It’s a great idea to acquire a product that comes with its own set of tools if possible. This way you can be 100% sure that no tools are missing.
Of course, following online tutorials will also help. Most of them will let you know exactly what tools are needed and what steps you need to follow. It’s important to use such guidelines, because you will always know exactly what you have to do and what steps you need to focus on!
What are photo-etched parts for model cars?
Using photo-etched parts has become the norm for a lot of model car creators. There are many reasons why you may want to work with this kind of material. You create the photo-etched parts by transferring a photo negative of the part to a metal sheet. That can be stainless steel, aluminum or brass, depending on the situation. When you transfer the artwork to metal, this resists the chemicals and that helps a lot. When you remove the metal from parts, you will receive the original patterns.
While the photo-etched parts were rather limited at first, nowadays you have a ton of different options to choose from. This includes nameplates, emblems, grilles and brake to carb linkages. So there’s definitely a lot of customization to be had here, and the quality as a whole is among some of the best out there without any worries and challenges.
Can you photo-etch model car parts at home?
Yes, technically you will be able to do that. However, the idea of making photo etched parts means that you will be working with dangerous chemicals. That’s obviously hazardous, so you need to pay a lot of attention to safety here. At first you need to make sure that you create the artwork and ensure everything is measured correctly. This is a crucial aspect, because whenever the artwork is wrong, you will have to get back to the drawing board.
Then there’s a lot of printing and etching that needs to be done so everything will be just right in the end. The main challenge here is that you have to constantly measure and focus on making everything fit the way you want. It will take a little bit to get used to the photo-etching experience at home. The downside is that everything is labor-intensive, and you also need to know what you are doing. Once you know that, things will be a lot better and you will not have a problem getting the best results and experience more often than not.
Peter has been building model trains for longer than he can remember. An avid fan of HO and O scale this blog is a creative outlet to allow him to dive further into other scales and aspects of the model train community and hobby.