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Project Build

This is the start of a project to adapt one of our 23C vehicles into something different and more detailed by utilising plastic kit parts, paint, lining and lettering. This page will follow the build as it happens, listing each step in detail, so even we don't know what it will look like at the end!!! Please visit regularly for updates.


This beginners project is designed for children of ages 8-14 under adult supervision, age 14+ and adults. If anyone wants to view firsthand the progress so far, we will have the model with us whenever we attend  Merton Abbey Mills.

Doner kits


The following instructions requires the use of the occassional craft knife, paint solvents, abrasives etc. None of this should be attempted by anyone under the age of 14 years without adult supervision. Antares Concepts Ltd. bears no responsibility for any injury incurred whatsoever. Please always read and follow the instructions provided with any items, paints, finishes etc. that you may purchase for this project. We are now going to call this a MODEL. This is to differentiate from a toy which is for playing with. We are doing this build for display purposes. It will not survive being played with, nor will it be safe to give to children for such use. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

This workshop is designed to introduce the 1st time or younger  modeller to adapting and modifying models, in order to produce something unique or a desired item that is unavailable. The genre is firmly ‘Science Fiction’ enabling a large scope for modeller’s and artistic license. You do not have to follow these instructions step by step, they are intended as suggestions on a broad canvas, with the actual items used coming from almost any source. However, in order for this build to make sense, we are going to list what items we have used and leave it to you to take a different approach with whatever you may have available.


Everything that we use is easily obtainable, other than our specialist cast resin parts, but these are only to show you how far you can go with this build. As we want this build to be achievable we will only concern ourselves with simple painting techniques that anyone can do.


Please bear in mind that after any stage, you can stop and say that it is finished, you do not have to follow this to the end. We will be adding plastic kit parts, adding/replacing wheels, lining and lettering, adding especially cast resin parts, as well as painting and sealing with lacquer/varnish.

To start with, we will take, as the subject of our build, one of the 23C vehicles in our range. These are ideal starting points as they are large, basically shaped and have been especially designed to come apart easily for painting and detailing. Although made entirely out of wood, this makes them easier to adapt, and also gives a nice weighty feel, something lacking in purely plastic models and kits. Their only drawback being that, as they are wood, the paint finish will not be mirror smooth without a lot of priming and sanding, however, this is meant to be a first attempt and there are also ways around this in order to make the finish look good.


Stage 1

This is the vehicle as purchased. However, we are going to cheat and use one before the top body vents (?) are fitted. This is because it gives us a broader canvas and also because they are really hard to get off afterwards!!! If you wish to buy one without these, then please drop us an email saying when you want to collect so that we can have it ready for you. We suggest that you part the main body from the chassis and, if you are able, remove the wheels. Ensure that you keep any parts removed in a safe place!!

In order to seal the wood, and to stop it fraying, we need to prime the vehicle with 3-5 coats of PVA wood glue diluted 50/50 with water. This needs to be brushed on and left to dry for 12 hours between coats and sanding. Sand after each coat, using either wet and dry or similar abrasive of 320 or 400 grit, this is to seal the surface and to provide a key for the paint and any parts that may be glued on.

We will be sourcing parts from 2 plastic kits. These are kits that I happened to buy cheaply, however, I anticipated that an aircraft kit would help the body sides, and a tank kit would help with the detailing on top. A single warship/boat  kit may have been just as useful. I generally keep a lookout at car boot sales for unused/partially finished kits or shops which are offering end of line items.


There are 2 ways to attach the pieces, either directly onto the body or onto  plastic panels and then glue the whole panel on. Each has it’s own merit and we will use both in this build.


Plastic sheet is available from model shops or model railway shops, with trade names such as Plastruct, Evergreen and Slater’s Plasticard. Other shapes are also available such as tubes, girders, strip, domes etc. However, these are not cheap and although will make the finished product look great, will add considerably to the cost.

Starting Point
Take apart

Without wheels

The body parted from the chassis

Coating with PVA and water in a 50/50 mix

Part 2

As they come, our products should not have need of filler, but the occasional knot sometimes splits open, and also we have picked a reject that could do with some filling. We use any ‘polyfilla’-type surface filler in this instance, in fact ours has come from a Pound Shop. The filler needs to be the same hardness as wood or a little softer, this is because when sanding smooth, you don’t want to sand the wood away and leave the filler proud. Use 320 grit to sand smooth. We only need a couple of minor touch-ups, then seal with the final coat of water/PVA mix, and fine sand again once dry, possibly with 400 grit abrasive.


Now it’s time to open the boxes and examine the parts, this will help to give you an idea of where parts could go. I anticipate putting each side the aircraft fuselage onto each side of the body and the main tank top part on top. This will then leave various bits and pieces that can be used to add detail over the rest of the model.

Kit Parts-s

As supplied, the tank top stands proud, some judicious pruning and flattening with a craft knife soon solves the problem, followed by a sanding (320 grit) to smooth off all edges and knife cut lines. The part is then coated with Humbrol Liquid Cement, or Liquid Poly, to hold everything together and keep it flat. Liquid cement is only effective glueing  polystyrene onto polystyrene, and is brushed onto the plastic joint that needs to be glued. It acts by cappilliary action and is drawn into the joint, it does not glue in the traditional sense, but dissolves the plastic which then hardens as one. The old ‘glue-in-a-tube’ that we used to glue our plastic models with is actually (as far as I am aware) this solvent with polystyrene dissolved in it to make it thicker. Brush it on with the supplied brush in the screw cap and hold together for about 30 seconds.

Tank Top Cut-s
Jet Sides-s
Glue and Hold-s

In order to glue the aircraft parts to the wood we need to use some sort of universal glue and Bostik-UHU (or similar) is quite suitable. Use sparingly and ensure that any excess is cleaned away with a tissue. I ‘clamped’ my parts with elastic bands as they are cheap, re-useable and imminently suitable for such things.

To Be Continued . . . ..

Progress so far . . .

TOOLS and MATERIALS - this list is general and will increase as the project continues!


Craft Knife

Abrasive/sand paper - 320 + 400 or 600 grit

Sealf Healing cutting mat

UHU or Bostik-type All Purpose glue

Humbrol or equivalent Liquid Poly

Steel ruler

PVA glue




1 x 23C Vehicle without roof vents

1 x Aircraft kit and 1 x Tank kit


1 x Warship kit

0.5mm plastic sheet


Part 3

Tank Top-s
Glue Tank Top-s

Next we are going to add some simple plastic panelling to the top, and this is cut from a sheet of very thin polystyrene. These sheets are available in most model shops or model railway shops under the name of Plastikard or just plastic sheeting. They come in different thicknesses, so we will use some that is 0.5mm thick. This is just cut up into simple rectangles and glued onto the top, again with Bostik.

Cut Panel-s
Glue Panels-s

Now we need to just select other bits and stick them where we think they look good! There is no order or guide to this, it is up to you, it is your build after all. Please note that in the pictures the grey bits are from the aircraft kit, the ochre bits from the tank and the white is the plastic sheeting.

We are going to cut a rectangle of plastic sheet and stick some of the kit parts to it and then glue this onto our model. This is a different way to add detail but has the advantage that you are not trying to glue small parts to wood with the thick Bostik-UHU-type glue, rather you are using the more elegant liquid poly, then the plastic rectangle is glued to the wood. This is also a useful technique for using up those spare kit parts on rainy days, by pre-preparing panels of detail for future models either already or not yet planned. We’ll put this panel on the cab body. We will also be adding bits and pieces as we go along, so keep your eyes open for these little details that will pop up!

Panel Parts-s

We have to decide what the tank top is going to represent and, as I don’t like guns or warfare particularly, we will make it a tracking vehicle. As we don’t have a ready supply of plastic domes that can be used (these can cost about 50p-£1 each if bought from  EMA who supply such specialist pieces) we will make our own.

Radar Bend-s
Radar Bend 2-s
Panel Parts Glue-b-s

The underneath of what would have been the tank is a good piece to use. Trim the ends so that everything on it is centred and then immerse in warm water (washingup-type temperature is fine for this) for a few minutes. This warms up, and slightly softens, the plastic. Now wrap it around something round, I used a salt container, and then, when it is curved, wrap it around something smaller, such as a broom handle and keep like that until it has cooled down. When you release it it should spring open but stay curved enough for our purposes.

Radar 2-s
Radar 3-s

Now we drill a hole through it by either using a small drill bit and twisting it with our fingers, or perhaps teasing it out with the point of a compass. As long as the hole is big enough for the gun turret to pass through, it doesn’t need to be neat, then glue the two together. You can use the original turret holder and glue it in it’s normal place, then your radar dish should just fit into it.


We’ll carry on detailing the piece by adding more plastic panels, a piece of sprue ( or runner to give it it’s proper name) at the back, headlamps and rear tail lights.

The head lamps are made by using 4 of the tank wheels, making a rectangle of plastic with thin walls around it, then glueing the wheels inside and adding a piece of plastic rectangle between them. This is then trimmed and sanded. The rear lights are just 4 smaller tank wheels glued onto a piece of plastic cut and shaped to match the rear of the vehicle. A simple process for both, but it makes all of the difference.

Now that we have finished the building part we move onto painting. To start with sand down all exposed wood surfaces with some 320 grade wet and dry, and give any smooth plastic parts a rub with 600 grade wet and dry, then brush the dust off with a soft paintbrush or dry cloth. The wet and dry abrasive paper is available from Halfords, Screwfix or any car maintenance shop. The idea is to remove any grease that was left through handling and to provide a key for the paint.

There are several ways to paint the vehicle. Either with car spray paints, enamels, or modellers acrylics. Spray gives the nicest coverage, not leaving brush marks, but enamel or acrylics is probably cheapest. A compromise could be to prime with a spray and then paint the main colour with enamel/acrylic. We are going to use sprays and then detail with enamel.

Separate the chassis and body and, using a can of grey primer, spray the whole model. Give it a light spray, it won’t cover the first time, so leave to dry and spray again. Do not be tempted to put too much on as it will either run or be patchy, the idea is to give a backing in a neutral colour to take the final colour paint. This first process tends to show any slight holes, deficiencies or unevenness in the model, so you may want to give it a couple of coats whilst sanding with 320 or 600 grade inbetween. Remember that if you do give it several coats of primer too much paint on the plastic detail will obscure it, so ensure that you mask the detail parts with a bit of cardboard or similar.

Once primed, we can think about colours. I plan to paint the body and chassis the same colour whilst picking out details in other colours with enamel. We won’t be doing any complicated paint jobs involving intricate masking tape and a spray gun, just an overall colour with added decoration coming from pvc lining tape.

I’ve selected a colour from my local Halfords, Ford Sapphire Blue, which I think will look quite good. Like the primer, give the model an overall spray, but not too thickly as it will drip or fill in detail, you can always spray it again, but it’s really hard to sand it off! Once finished leave to dry for at least 24 hours before handling.

Our next step will be to pick out some of the details with enamel or acrylic paint and then add decals, transfers and lettering.

What details you pick out are up to you, we are going to paint the headlights silver and the rear lights red, for starters, although to keep matters simple, we will use an overall colour scheme of white and silver. Then we will put on some vinyl self adhesive lettering to give it a number/code. The lettering comes from Hobbies of Knights Hill, West Norwood, London, and is fairly cheap although it only comes in one size and 2 colours! You can buy smaller lettering, but at about £4 per sheet this starts to add up. If you are making models regularly, then it makes sense to invest in a different size or colour sheet everytime, as you will then build up a stock.

Remember, after each step you can stop and say that it’s finished, but this guide will follow through and add more detail, it is up to you if you wish to go further, we all have our own skills.

Next we are going to add some simple lines. These are like automotive tape, but are made for modellers. They come on a reel that contains several thicknesses from 1mm to about 5mm, and in several colours. These are also obtainable from Hobbies or a model shop. We are going to keep the colour scheme simple and so will continue the white/silver theme with the tape. It doesn’t really  matter where you put it as it is decorative, but think about where it will go before you put it on, it can be moved after application so no disaster if it looks incorrect.



Part 4

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