Building hints and tips.

Most of my early mistakes were the result of being in too much of a hurry to get the model built and painted... So rule number one take your time, the result will be well worth it in the end. Be careful removing parts from the sprue! use a good pair of cutters! The type used in electronics with a very sharp flush cutting face are ideal, you will need to spend some time removing the remains of these connections. Also you will find mould lines and ejection marks where the parts come out of the mould, some makers are worse that others for bad moulding and sink marks, that is where the moltern plastic sinks away from the mould leaving an hole or dip in the plastic, especially on things like wheels.

Before you reach for the liquid poly cement, and always use this type of cement, its much more controlable then the stuff out of a tube!! Try fitting the dry parts together first, some times a bit of filing will be needed to get the fit just right! These's nothing worse then fighting to get the parts together with cement on them, it gets on your fingers, and the model too. Liquid Polystrene cement usually comes in a bottle with a brush applictor, apply a thin even coat to both parts, wait 15-30 seconds then put them together, they should go together and bond, but still allow you some time to make any final adjustments. You can also buy Liquid poly in an applicator with a long thin needle like nozzle, this is ideal for putting a few spots of cement in to the more difficult places, etc.

Sometimes you still finish with a joint with the odd gap where it should'ent be and you may need to use a bit of filler, many companies make it including Revell, Tamiya and Humbrol.. Be careful with the Humbrol, it's like liquid cement with plastic dissolved in it! If you get it on the wrong place, it can mark parts. There is another type which is supplied in two parts of Epoxy putty, mixing them together starts the curing process and 24-48 hours later it will set like rock. This is good for making things like sandbags, rocks and other bits

Fillers are best applied with a small spatula, failing that a toothpick, matchstick or similar will do, don't try to add too much at once, slowly work it in to the gap! and smooth it off the best you can. When its fully dry (24 hours at least) remove the bulk of it with a fine needle file, then use a very fine grade(600 grit+) wet and dry paper for the final finish. I use the paper wet as the fine sludge that it produces helps to fill in small gaps, etc.

You will be suprised how much everyday household stuff comes in handy! Things like cotten buds, tooth picks (OK! Cocktail sticks) kitchen foil, cling film, etc... Tooth picks are very handy for holding wheels while painting, Blu-tack is good for holding odd shapes, sometimes you need to fill a cavity while spraying, sometimes I use Blu-Tack for this too! but I have just discovered cling film its so thin and is easy to stuff into cavities, etc. And when finished you just pull it out and throw it. Kitchen foil is good for masking up parts! that you don't want sprayed or for making a mask for camaflage patterns...

Paints and painting...

It's a shame to spend so much time and effort building a model then spoil it with a bad paint job! I know I've done it many times. In the early days I used Enamels these were usually too thick and took an age to dry! no one ever told me about thining them down with white sprit? Then I started using Tamiya Acrylics, these where better, you cleaned your brushes, etc with water. The special acrylic thinner is very useful when airbrushing, you could almost do a wash with it, acrylic paint is spirit based and so drys very quickly, sometimes a little too quick for general brush painting..

So I went and got an airbrush, not an expensive one! but the Aztec 320, a friend who went to the USA left me his compressor and I was in business!! I have recently brought a chap chinese airbrush and for about £18, it is very good. This is a dual action (press button for air, pull back for paint) and a lot better for not much money. But buying a regulator for the compressor made a big difference, as you can now control paint and air flow better, even down to a sputter. Fine lines and patterns are not a problem (just keep practicing lots).I still get it wrong sometimes..

Now do you want the finished item to look like NEW or a bit old and used! I bit of fine mist spraying can add a coating of dust, or mud around the bottom or on the wheels, a mix of PVA glue, paint and pollyfila (even add a little sand) can make a thick mud for putting on wheels and undrsides. Pastels or dry powder/poster type paints can be use to add weathering (general wear and tear) or rust (burnt Sienna) effects, especially on military vehicles.