A few decades ago, vehicles equipped with an ABS hard body were not common and polycarbonate molded bodies was the material of choice. Things have changed a lot over the years due to the popularity of ultra realistic scale builds especially in the crawler and trail truck side of the hobby. In order to achieve the ultimate in scale realism, today’s manufacturers are producing bodies molded from ABS plastic instead of polycarbonate. The level of detail that can be achieved in an ABS hard body is unparalleled when compared to a polycarbonate body. Now just like a polycarbonate body, an ABS hard body needs to be painted however it requires the correct paint that works with ABS plastic. Along with the paint there are also some steps and tools that you can use to ensure you end up with a museum-quality completed ABS hard body. Tamiya is the go-to manufacturer for completing one of these bodies and here we will show you the Tamiya paint gear you need to complete an ABS hard body.
Tamiya Spray and Bottled Paint
When it comes time to paint your ABS hard body, be sure you select the correct paint for the job. Don’t use the paint developed for polycarbonate bodies, but rather one that is intended for ABS plastic like the ones from Tamiya. For one thing, Tamiya’s paints are very high quality which is key in achieving an awesome finished product. Tamiya also gives you the option of either using spray paints or bottled paint to finish your ride. The spray paint cans are ideal for painting large surfaces while the bottled acrylic paint comes into play for finishing off the fine detail work like window trim, vehicle emblems and door handles or for use in an airbrush.
You will notice that Tamiya has three types of spray cans: “AS” spray paint specifically developed for finishing aircraft models, “PS” for polycarbonate bodies and TS for plastics. The “TS” paint is a synthetic lacquer that cures in a short period of time and is the one to choose for an ABS hard body. Added benefits of the Tamiya TS spray paint are that they are not affected by acrylic or enamel paints. This means that once you have laid down the base coat, you can then add details using enamel and/or acrylic paints.
As mentioned above, the Tamiya bottled paint is perfect for brush painting detail onto the body or for use in an airbrush since they are made from water-soluble acrylic resins. We have found that Tamiya acrylic paint flows smoothly, covers well, can be easily blended and prior to it curing, the paint can be washed away with plain old water. The bottles of paint are available in 10ml and 23ml amounts. You will notice that the colors either have an “X” designation which is for a glossy finish while the “XF” designation is for a flat finish. Like the Tamiya spray paint, there is a large selection of acrylic colors to choose from and shown here are just a few and beneath the photos of the bottled paint are the paint chips for the glossy and flat finish paints.
Tamiya Fine Surface Primer
Using paint primer is not a must, but if you want to get the best finish possible it is a worthwhile step. The main benefit of laying down a coat of primer like Tamiya Fine Surface Primer is that it will improve the adhesion of the top coats. Additionally, the primer will reveal some surface defects that you can address before laying down your main color and it can even fill in small scratches and imperfections. It will also reduce the amount of paint needed for complete coverage and deepen the appearance of the color. The Light Grey surface primer shown here is ideal for dark color applications while white is great for light color applications.
There are typically small ABS detail parts that need to be attached to the hard body so you will need a good way to adhere them together. Tamiya Cement works great when assembling plastic parts. The inside of the cap is a brush for convenient application. And to keep the bottle from easily being knocked over, it is hexagonal to be more stable.
Tamiya Plastic Scriber II
Depending on how serious you want to get with making your ABS hard body stand out from others will determine if you choose to get items like this Tamiya Plastic Scriber. This tool can accentuate the tiny grooves or mold lines between body panels. The metal scribe at the end of this tool allows you to deepen those grooves or mold lines to make the hard body look more realistic.
Tamiya Finishing Abrasives
If you take a close look at an ABS hard body, you may find some imperfections like visible mold lines or excess plastic. Sandpaper is your friend to remedy these flaws and Tamiya’s Finishing Abrasives are a great option. They can be used wet or dry and are clog resistant.
Tamiya Basic File Set
Files are another great tool like the sandpaper mentioned above to remove flaws from a hard body. The Tamiya Basic File Set is a very good option because it includes three types of files: flat, round and half-round. The different shapes allow you to access different parts of the body. Say for instance a headlight hole in the body is not properly shaped to receive the light bucket. A file is ideal to help reshape the hold to the proper shape.
Tamiya Sharp Pointed Side Cutter
Side cutters are the perfect tool for removing parts from a plastic parts tree. The Tamiya Sharp Pointed Side Cutter is fantastic at cleanly removing parts from the tree and will rarely leave excess plastic. The short and slim jaw profile of these cutters lets you access the smallest parts on a parts tree. Tamiya also designed them with very sharp blades to offer an excellent cutting edge. A spring mounted right behind the pivot keeps the jaws open for convenient use while the handles are covered with a PVC grip. This grip makes the cutters stay securely in your hand and add some comfort while using.
Tamiya Modeler’s Knife Pro
A hobby knife is one of those tools that everyone should own regardless if they have an ABS hard body. They come in handy for so many tasks. If you don’t have one yet, consider the Tamiya Modeler’s Knife Pro which is actually a set that includes not only the handle but a nice selection of three different blades. Set includes Straight blade (3pcs.), Curved blade (2pcs.) and Chisel blade (2pcs.). There is also a protective cap for the knife and a plastic case to store the spare blades. Tamiya gave he handle an elastomer grip and a metal chuck to secure the blade into place.
Tamiya Masking Tape
Quality masking tape makes all the difference in a paint job. Going cheap here will result in a messy looking final product with paint bleeds. The masking tape offered by Tamiya works very well and there are many different widths to choose from. Tamiya’s masking tape is thin yet quite strong and backed with a strong adhesive so it holds to uneven surfaces. Unlike other brands, this tape will not leave a sticky residue behind. When you lay this mask down, you will find that it will not absorb the paint color and will give you sharp and crisp lines.
Tamiya Modeling Brushes
A good set of paint brushes will prove to be quite useful to have on hand. The Tamiya Modeling Brush Standard Set comes with a High Finish Flat Brush No.0, a High Finish Flat Brush No.2 and High Finish Pointed Brush (Ultra Fine). Special plastic hair is spec’d for the brushes and work perfectly for model painting. The smallest bush is ideal for adding the tiny details on the hard body and it is those tiny details that make a good-looking body into an amazing realistic looking body.
Tamiya Paint Mixing Jars
Even with the numerous colors offered by Tamiya, you may need to mix your own to get the desired finished product. A mixing jar is the best way to not only mix the paint, but to also store it while you work on completing the paint job. Tamiya offers a few sizes of paint jars to work with different size coverage jobs. Here is the large size cup with a 46cc capacity that can hold enough paint to handle large surfaces. The cap is fitted with an inner seal so that it shuts tightly and printed on the side of the jar are graduated measurements.
Tamiya Paint Stirrer
Paint stirrers go hand in hand with the paint mixing jars mentioned above for when blending different color shades or for simply stirring bottled paint. One end is shaped like a spatula and the other end is made into a tiny spoon.
Consider getting yourself an airbrush if your goal is to paint bodies with multiple colors and/or with intricate designs. Spray cans are a bit limiting and can’t achieve the same results as an airbrush. If you are just starting out and working within a budge, check out the Tamiya Spray-Work Basic Compressor that comes as a complete set. It has a clever design where it is completely portable and runs off a rechargeable battery pack. You can adjust the spray to cover large areas or dial it down for fine lines. It has a 0.3mm nozzle diameter and is capable of spraying down to 2mm thin lines and much large for base coats.
Tamiya Decal Scissors
If you look closely at completed bodies that look ultra-realistic, you will notice that the stickers are cut so that all of the clear sticker material is removed leaving just the colored sticker. Removing the excess clear sticker can be tricky when the stickers are intricate or small. To trim out these tough stickers, use the Tamiya Decal Scissors. They are made of high quality carbon steel and manufactured with a fine points, thin blades and are extremely sharp.
Tamiya Angled Tweezers
This is one of those tools that you didn’t realize you needed until you get your hands on one. They are perfect for handling small parts like when gluing and for placing stickers onto the body. Tamiya made them from stainless steel and have a black cationic finish to make them durable. Round edges will keep them from scratching what you are working on and the light weight of the tweezers makes them easy to manipulate.
This are just some of the numerous supplies and accessories that Tamiya sells for painting. Be sure to head over to the Tamiya website to peruse the full lineup of painting products.
For more information about Tamiya products, visit: TAMIYA