American Girl, Our Generation, Retro Cruiser, The Repaint Project
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The Car Repaint Project, Part II

So.  I’ve gotten the OG car home, and I decide that it can’t be anything else but British Racing Green.  Here to explain the history of this particular color is Richard Hammond:

(note: I started this project back in the middle of March, before The Fracas Heard Round the World.)

Now, I realize that when painting plastic models, the best thing to do is to pull the entire car apart and do it separately.  And I tried, but for the life of me I could not get the blasted thing to come apart!  I unscrewed every screw I could find, pulled and tugged and tried to pry it apart–and I couldn’t do it.  Mind you, I probably didn’t use as much force as I probably could have because I was afraid of snapping or breaking something.

I suspect that this had a big part to do with not being able to get the wheels off.  Now: I am sure that there is a way to get this off; but I didn’t have the tools/strength/patience to manage it myself.  I couldn’t get the tire off (and I tried pulling off just the black rubber part) and I even MacGyver’d a jeweler’s screwdriver at a right angle to try and get to that screw–and then I ended up stripping the bloody screw.  This is where I gave up and decided I would take my chances with painting the whole thing assembled.  (Note: I think I was so hesitant because I didn’t want to break the car–even though it’s cheaper than the bug, $90 is $90 and I didn’t want to immediately toss it in the bin.  However, about a month after I bought the first car Target had a 30% off sale on all Our Generation and I ended up buying another one.  So I’ll probably be much less paranoid when I go to paint the second one.  It’s personal now.  I have to figure out how to get that stupid thing apart.)

This was my biggest problem.  YMMV.

This was my biggest problem. YMMV.

Right, the paint.

I decided that if I was going to do this I wanted to use nice paint, so I decided to buy the same spray lacquer that’s used on model cars.  I ended up using two cans of primer coat and three of the color.  This is more expensive than using Krylon, but I was willing to pay more for paint if it meant it would come out nicer.  I used Tamiya paints.

The only thing that would make this better is a Jaguar sized for 18 inch dolls.  If you find one, drop me a line.

The only thing that would make this better is a Jaguar sized for 18 inch dolls. If you find one, drop me a line.

I think you would be okay with any model lacquer, but for the love of God, DO NOT MIX ONE BRAND OF PRIMER WITH A DIFFERENT BRAND OF PAINT!  There’s a chance the two could react and really mess up your day.  I didn’t think this would be a problem–“what could POSSIBLY go wrong?”–but then guess what happened!  I’ll get back to this later.

I pull off the top of the car.  It’s quite snug for the dolls when it’s on, and it’s probably going to stay off unless it’s on display without a doll in it.  I could see it becoming pretty frustrating for a child during play (and, fool that I am, I forgot to take pictures of a doll in the car for scale!)

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…and take it out on the back porch for the primer coats.

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I’m sure I made all of the mistakes that novice model makers do whenever they go outside to paint–get so excited to see real results and make some easily avoidable mistakes.  Like giving your back porch a suspicious white cast in spots.  Learn from my fail.  (My many, many fails.)

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I decided I wasn’t too invested in the engine bay of the car since it’s mainly for display.  (I was also chomping at the bit to get some British Racing Green on that car.)  So it didn’t matter to me too much if primer/paint got on the engine.  Maybe someday I’ll brush some liquid primer on and go into some detail work, but I freely admit I just didn’t want to be bothered with that at this point in time.

The only piece besides the top I could remove from the car!

The only piece besides the top I could remove from the car!

Here’s the bonnet after two coats of primer and one coat of British Racing Green.  Oooooh.

I decided I would just paint over the “chrome” trim.  It was too plastic fake looking and not quite right–I know I can do better than that with modeling supplies.

Another thing–I was leaving the pieces on my back porch to dry.  While the smell of those paints is atrocious, the huge drawback to this is all the GARBAGE that floats around in the air!  I had to sand down and apply a couple more coats than I probably should have from bits of leaves and tiny bugs getting stuck on the paint.  (I even left the car outside in the rain once.)  I started taking it inside between paint jobs after this, and one morning I woke up, took the dogs outside, and saw that the tree next to the back door had dropped a very fine layer of pollen all over the back porch–right where the car would have been.  If I had come out to find the car in a layer of pollen and having to strip the entire car and start all over from scratch, I would have gone mad.

Oh yes.

Oh yes.

Here is the backside and one half of the car.  Those of you with sharp eyes will spot tiny bubbles in the paint–three over the rear wheel arch and three in a vertical row to the left of that rear wheel.  This is what happens when you get too close to spray the stuff–the gases get trapped and cause those bubbles.  And the only way to fix it…is to sand it down with some super fine sandpaper and spray it again.

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Here is the result of me getting too excited and 1) not waiting for each coat to properly dry and 2) spraying it too closely.  See those wavy lines?  Drip marks.  The only way to fix those is the same with the bubbles–sand it down and spray it again.  When I do that second car, I’m going to make sure I hold the can farther away and wait a day between each coat.

Inside, away from pollen and dust and bugs and spiders and God only knows what else

Inside, away from pollen and dust and bugs and spiders and who knows what else

Okay, here I’ve started to paint the interior.  Painting the rumble seat was more of a bother than I initially suspected–the latch is difficult to get open even when it isn’t painted, there’s not enough room for a doll (obviously) or even a pet.  There really isn’t a point it it at all–it’s just for looks.  On the second car, that rumble seat gets left alone.  It can get sealed shut for all I care.

And in continuing with the “here’s where I messed up, now don’t do this”…remember how I said not to mix brands?  Yeah…this is what happens.

Fail.

Fail.

The primer is Tamiya, the colored paint Model Master (Leather and Wood).  The Wood didn’t have an issue with being layered on a Tamiya primer…but the Leather sure did!

At first I thought I could fudge it by passing it off as a texturing look, but then I just had to give in, drive back to HobbyTownUSA, shamefully buy a little jar of Model Maker liquid primer, repaint the leather “upholstery”, and redo the leather paint.  Pictures to follow since the project is still ongoing.  I think you can still see a bit of the cracking as it is now, but after another layer of the proper primer and color it really does look just like leather that’s aged and been well worn a bit…and not quite as bad as “this is an obvious mistake.”

The completed rumble seat/back end of the car.

The completed rumble seat/back end of the car.

Brush marks in the wood paint doesn’t bother me; I think it makes it look more like wood grain.  I think I may have given the leather another coat of paint after this picture was taken, but I really can’t remember.  I thought I could get this car completed over Spring Break, but somehow it didn’t happen and as soon as school started back up again it got kicked to the back burner.  But I just took my last final this evening, and making this post will hold me to getting this car completed.

Stay tuned for the completion of the interior, application of chrome, and little detail work that still needs to be done, followed by a big photoshoot of the finished product, complete with the car’s “owner”…my custom modern doll, McLaren Brooks (sister of McKenna).  It’s a big project, but I’m really enjoying it.  I’m thinking that if Our Generation goes on sale again (especially once we get into the Christmas season) I may buy a third car or one of the Jeeps and use that as a Christmas present for a very lucky niece.  Surely I will have ironed out all of my mistakes by the time I get to doing a third doll vehicle.

I’m thinking the second one should be Italian Red…what could possibly go wrong?

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