Building a RC car or truck from a kit is very gratifying and you gain loads of experience. The included instruction manuals that come with car kits will walk you through every step of assembling the chassis. Having this step-by-step help for the chassis build makes you more willing to tackle the task and you know that you will end up with a good result. Painting and detailing a body is a bit different because along with the instruction, it takes some skill along with the proper tools to achieve a good pro-level finished body. This can intimidate a new builder or even a seasoned hobbyist and keep them from completing the last step. There have been numerous times where we have seen people out bashing with a clear body and when asked, they say they are reluctant to attempt the paint job out of fear of messing it up or just not sure what they need. Painting and detailing a body is not difficult, especially if you have the right tools for the job. That is where Tamiya comes in. Tamiya paint and accessories are what you need to achieve a pro body painting results.
When painting clear Lexan / polycarbonate bodies, it is critical to use the correct paint for the job. The paint needs to be specially formulated specifically for polycarbonate bodies. Spray paint that is intended for ABS plastic models will not work and will flake off. Tamiya carries over sixty different color choices which come in convenient spray paint cans. The special Tamiya spray paint for polycarbonate has a “PS” designation which stands for Polycarbonate Spray. Each color has an item number that starts with PS so that you know you are getting the correct paint. The PS spray paint colors were developed especially for decorating transparent polycarbonate bodies. Each can contains 100ml of paint which is the appropriate amount to complete a body. These paints are impervious to oil and fuels, so they can be safely used on not only electric RC cars and trucks, but also nitro-powered vehicles.
For trail trucks and scale cars that have separate ABS plastic parts like side-view mirrors, windshield wipers, rear wings and full interiors, Tamiya carries bottled paint for this purpose. The Tamiya acrylic bottled paints are made from water-soluble acrylic resins and are excellent for both brush and airbrush application. These paints can be sued on styrene resins, Styrofoam, wood, plus all of the common model plastics like ABS. The paint covers well, flows smoothly with no blushing or fading and can be blended easily. Tamiya sells their acrylic bottle paints in both 10ml and 23ml sizes. There are numerous colors to choose from in both gloss and flat pigments.
Most of the time we uses paint brushes instead of an airbrush to paint the ABS plastic parts that are included with some bodies. It is worthwhile to get a set of paint brushes and then you will have a variety of different sizes that can handle large to tiny parts. Tamiya offers two paint brush sets that each include three brushes. We like the Modeling Brush HF Standard Set (#87067) which is good for the beginner, intermediate or expert painter. This set comes with a High Finish Flat Brush No.0, a High Finish Flat Brush No.2 and a High Finish Pointed Brush-Ultra Fine. If you don’t want to buy a set, Tamiya offers many brushes individually, in various sizes and quality so you can select just the ones that you think you will use.
For painting small intricate details on your RC body like the interiors, use pointed paint brushes like the Tamiya Modeling Brush, Pro. They are available in three sizes: #0 -#87072, #00 -#87073, and #1 -#87071. Each is a high-quality pointed brush that uses Kolinsky Sable hair which is the leading material for artist brushes. Kolinsky Sable hair has the favorable characteristics of a being flexible soft hard that is also highly durable and naturally forms to a fine point. The brush point is even retained after frequent use. Additionally, Tamiya did not give this brush an ordinary handle and carefully designed one that fits ergonomically in your hand to reduce strain during extended use. All this makes these brushes a great choice to paint those ultra fine details like the faces on driver figures.
Depending on the color scheme you select for your RC body, you will most likely need to mask off certain areas of the body. This allows you to spray one color without getting overspray onto the sections that will end up a different color. Using a quality mask is essential if you want to end up with crisp and sharp lines between paint colors. Cheap mask can have rough edges that will not give you the nice sharp lines found on pro-level painted bodies. The lesser quality tape is more likely to allow paint to bleed underneath the mask. To help you achieve an awesome finish, Tamiya has a great selection of paint mask products. They offer rolls of masking tape in a variety of widths, large masking tape stickers and even masking tape attached to plastic for covering large areas on the body.
These masking tapes are available in four sizes: 6mm, 10mm, 18mm and 40mm widths. The 6mm, 10mm, and 18mm tapes come in very handy plastic dispenser that is reusable. (Only the very large 40mm mask does not come with a dispenser.) The dispensers have teeth that cuts the tape to your desired length. When the included roll of tape is used up, Tamiya sells refills. The tape is thin yet a very strong adhesive tape perfect for polycarbonate bodies. It adheres well to uneven surfaces and will give you sharp and crisp lines. Tamiya ensured that this tape will not absorb paint or leave unsightly marks on the body.
If the body you are painting has a lot of tight curves molded into it and/or your paint scheme has curves in its design, the Tamiya Masking Tape for Curves is just the thing you need. Precise masking is the key to ensure that your creation gets the perfect paint job. This masking tape helps a great deal in the process. It allows smooth and secure masking of curved lines where standard masking tape would end up creasing or pulling up off the body thus letting paint to bleed seep underneath. Tamiya offers this tape in four widths: 2mm, 3mm, 5mm, and 12mm. The 12mm is the widest in the tape range and is ideal for covering larger areas in one large sweep. When you run into sharper curves, use the thinner tapes which are better suited to follow the tight curves.
The Tamiya Masking sticker sheet (#87129) is perfect if you need to mask off a large area on the body. It comes with a grid printed onto the mask for precise measurements.
A clever painting accessory offered by Tamiya is the Masking Tape/Plastic Sheeting (#87164). It is very useful to mask off larger areas of a body during the painting process. Tamiya masking tape comes pre-attached to plastic sheeting. When the plastic is unfolded, it measure 550mm which is nearly 22-inches. Just like the other Tamiya masking tape, this one will attach securely to the surface to be covered and peels off easily once the object has been painted.
Tools for the job
Lastly, here are some tools to consider for the body painting and detailing process. These tools will surely help you to get a first-class completed result as well as help make the task easier. Tamiya carefully designed and manufactured each one to accurately perform certain tasks. We are a big proponent of having the right tool for the job and Tamiya consistently has what we are looking for.
Tamiya Modeler’s Knife Pro (#74098)
A good sharp hobby knife like this Tamiya Modeler’s Knife Pro is a great tool to always have on hand. This professional knife is ideal for cutting custom shapes into the tape masks as well as score the body when trimming off excess polycarbonate. It comes as a set that includes three straight blades, two curved blades and two chisel blades. Tamiya built the handle out of a super comfortable elastomer grip and uses a metal chuck to secure the blade. When not in use, there is a protective cap for the knife and a plastic spare blade case to store the additional blades.
Tamiya Curved Scissors (#74005)
Tamiya Curved Scissors make quick and precise work of trimming polycarbonate bodies. Constructed of high-quality stainless steel gives these scissors durability and long life. The super sharp curved blades enable easy access to body curves and effortlessly cut through the polycarbonate.
Tamiya TRF Car Body Reamer (#42260)
Although you would not use the Tamiya TRF Car Body Reamer very often, it is still an invaluable tool when finishing a RC car body. It is purpose built for making perfect circular holes in bodies for the body posts to pass though. Don’t be that guy using a hobby knife who would spin it like screwdriver to create the body post hole. This leaves a hacked-up jagged hole. The TRF Car Body Reamer features ‘stepped’ sections which allow the measurement of holes up to 12mm in diameter in 1mm steps. Each step has a straight section to prevent the holes from being made any large than desired. A blue anodized aluminum cap is included to ensure that the tool can be safely stored when not in use.
Tamiya Decal Scissors (#74031)
You will find that depending on the car kit, there are some that have piles of stickers that need to be cut out and placed on the body. Some stickers can be very small with intricate detail. These Decal Scissors from Tamiya feature a very sharp point with blades made of high-quality carbon steel. They are intended for paper stickers, so the lifespan is not as long when cutting the vinyl stickers that come with most RC car kits. But while they are new and still sharp, they allow you to accurately cut out super small stickers.
Tamiya Straight Tweezers (#74004) & Tamiya Angled Tweezers (#74003)
These are by no means a necessity nevertheless if you have them, you will definitely utilize them. You will find they are a great counterpart for whenever you use the Tamiya Decal Scissors. The slim points a terrific for holding tiny stickers during application onto the body. Each are made from stainless steel with a black cationic finish for long life.
Once you have finished building the chassis of your new car or truck, it is then time to paint and detail the body. Don’t rush this step. Take your time and use the right paints and supplies so that you end up with a finished product that you are proud of. Tamiya has you covered with everything that you would need to get it done.