Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Trash Bashing a Sci -Fi Vehicle From Start to Finish.

Well here we go again. I swore I'd never make another deodorant container vehicle but I went and did it anyway. And this one gave me some ideas for another one. I'm glad summers in Indiana are hot and humid so I can build my stash of raw materials. To revisit my previous trash bash vehicle check here.

This is going to be a road car primarily for Mongoose's Judge Dredd Miniature Game and Gangs of Mega City 1. Big vehicles are great additions to a game as they can be used as terrain, targets, objectives, or combatants. They can remain stationary or be moved each round to create a dangerous traffic pattern that models must maneuver around. Plus they just add to the visual appeal of a futuristic city.

I'm going with a very 1980s style here, big and chunky. This style suits itself to this method of model building since it allows for more cartoony bits to be used. As Diego Diz showed in last year's Trash Bash contest a more finely detailed look can be achieved but he's better at this stuff than I am. 

Diego's winning entry for Trash Bash 2012.
So the first question is what kind of junk to use. Pretty much any reasonably hard plastic can be glued and painted. The softer stuff seems to be more of a problem, shampoo and dish-soap containers and the like, and ping-pong balls are usually a nightmare to cut and glue. But by trial and error combined with cussed determination you can usually find a way to make the best stuff work.
This is how hoarding starts.
The main body of my vehicle will be made from the classic form of an Old Spice Antiperspirant container. After pulling it all apart I scrubbed the parts that I wanted to use with heavy duty de-greaser and then ran them through the dish washer to remove any of the waxy deodorant. Then I scoured the whole part with medium grit sandpaper to help gluing and painting later on.

It’s at this point that I started to design the vehicle in my head. Maybe some quick sketches. Maybe just stacking other parts onto the main body to get an idea of the final shape. Unless you’re trying to replicate an existing design this style of modeling can be very organic and ever changing. Sometimes a shape just won’t work out and needs to be left off. Sometimes one addition will inspire you to add another, and then another. Often the hardest part is knowing when to quit gluing stuff to other stuff.

Some of the parts will need cut up or otherwise modified to fit correctly. I use a Dremel tool and a cutting wheel to quickly hack through the plastic but be careful! You can also use razor saws but I’d avoid hobby or utility knives for most heavier cutting. I used a fine line permanent marker to mark the piece before cutting. Once the cut was made I used sand paper to clean the cut and also to scour the surface. It’s usually easier to sand the surface of each part as you prep it rather than waiting until the whole piece is assembled.

Some parts can be simply disassembled into two equal parts. Toys and model kit parts are often great for this since they are cast in two halves. Micro screwdrivers are often useful to take apart toy parts or other bits like this candy container top.

This capsule, from a Kinder Egg-like candy, will be used to make the driver's cockpit. Here you can see the mess left by the rotary tool and the piece after being sanded and cleaned up.
Since this vehicle will be driving around the mean streets of Mega-City One I tried to make it look solid and give it the comic book design sensibility of 2000 AD stories from the late 1980s. This means big chunky tires and a ridiculous sense of “road bully” attitude.

I usually start by seeing how parts start to fit together and then adjust the overall design based on these sub-assemblies. You’ll be amazed at how well some pieces fit together, almost as if by purposeful design.

Now is when the final design starts to coalesce. You can use blue-tac to temporarily attach parts to get a better idea of what you want before gluing everything down. Train yourself to forget what these bits once were but instead what they look like scaled down. See them only as the plastic forms they are and not as yesterday’s mint container.


  1. I will follow this build with interest,


  2. Looks goods a good shape look forward to seeing this finshed

  3. We'll be keeping an eye on this project from Chicago...

  4. Spying treasure in a trash pile is genius!

  5. Man, that looks great. Can't wait to see the next step!