Article - The 'Rat Look'... Written by: Justin Pitkethly

Back in 1987, I owned a blue Baja Bug, which was amazing fun so I have always loved the Sand Scorcher. Twenty one years later, I painstakingly rebuilt a really tatty rough rider that I got from swapping a few old skateboards with a guy I was working with at that time. With the addition of a Blitzer beetle shell, I finally owned what was as close I could get to a Sand Scorcher. When I heard the Sand Scorcher was being re-released, the thought of building a perfect new version was irresistible!
However, I did use another Blitzer shell with an orange nose cone for this project as it would have somehow felt wrong doing what I did to my perfect new body shell!

Having been so inspired by some of the amazing Sand Scorchers that other people have built, I have used many ideas that I have seen done before. However, I did try and add a few things to the mix!


My favourite Scorchers are always the really tatty lived-in “Rat-look” cars, so that's what I went for.

I also wanted to make two parts that I had on my old Baja bug, the side bars and the kit part at the back of the car above the engine.

To achieve the basic dented old look I did the following

Firstly, I joined the nose cone to the body and using body filler I smoothed out the join. I did trim the wheel arches down slightly, then used a “tala” small flame torch to heat up the areas on the shell that I wanted to dent. I did this really cautiously at first as I didn't want to melt it too much. Once the plastic was soft enough I could use various implements to dent it. I found the rounded end of a pencil was quite good! Once I had enough dents, I then put small amounts of body filler in areas where I wanted rust, then I stippled it with a brush to get a good texture. I also did this on the dents I had created! Once I was happy with what I had done, I primed my body shell.

I then got my tubes of acrylic paint out and painted the scuffed up areas rusty. Usually, I used two colours for this yellow ochre and a burnt sienna. In some areas, I added a little water and let the “rust” run down in streaks. I also sanded areas of the body, like the dented areas, with a fine sandpaper. After this, I did washes of dark brown and black acrylic with plenty of water, that I
rubbed off with a damp cloth, leaving areas to look like grime.

The final touch was applying decals of which some were original and some I made myself using inkjet water slide decal paper. I did enjoy making the tiny window stickers (some of which I had on my dash board in 1987) I also weathered areas of the larger decals with really fine sandpaper.


Side bars and interior roll cage

These were relatively easy to make as I bought butyrate tubing and fittings from E.M.A Model supplies. They sell a variety of tubing and angled joining pieces so it's like putting a kit together.

For the side bars, I used 4.8mm tubing, 90 degree and 45 degree bends. I did have to add a strip of plastic to each side of the car (just under the doors) to attach my side bars to. The roll cage was assemble using 6.4 tubing and the relevant bends, I added a little fire extinguisher to the roll cage, which I still need to make some decals for!

Rear body kit part

I made this by sculpting the part straight on to the body shell using a plasticine type material. I then moulded this in silicone and got a fibre glass “positive” out of my mould. I had to cut away quite a bit of the rear of the body before cleaning up the piece I had made and fitted this to my scorcher.
Number plate

I used the great site - to make my number plate. I went for a Hawaiian plate to give my car a little “Aloha”, heated it up to bend it a bit and make it look older, then stuck on the printed out number plate. I glued on little 3D plastic letters that I have had for ages but sadly I don't know where they came from. I finished it with a little glued on sand and a rusty old paint job.

Other bits

I did fill in behind the wheel arches so my car looked less like a model using these templates - then poured some “fast cast”, which is like a liquid plastic (pigmented brown), over my cardboard filled in area. Just before it had set fully, I sprinkled on some fine dirt.

I bought the roof rack from eBay and added some little plastic pieces to make it look as if it was attached to the car properly. By creating a few holes in the mesh, adding sand for texture and doing my usual rusty paint job, it helped the roof rack to look as weathered as the car. I know the gas canister isn't in the safest of places on the roof but I couldn't resist as I thought it looked good
(which was also from eBay). The shovel was actually a 1/6 scale shovel but I sanded it down a bit to be closer to 1/10 scale. The little tarpaulin is hiding the battery for my lights!

At some point, I do intend to sculpt a detailed driver and also feel that I need some kind of model engine as the back as it is looking a bit 'empty' but I need a few more free weekends before this happens!

The 'Real Thing' - Baja 1000 1971
You got to start somewhere, right?
What? Damaging a new shell?!
When the primer was dry, I sprayed the shell with chrome spray paint. Again after leaving this to
dry I started my paint scheme using Liquitex which is spray acrylic. The great thing about this is
you can pick off areas to make chipped edges of doors etc. really easily! You do need to be careful
as the paint can come off when you are masking it, which I saw as a happy accident. Sometimes I
would mess with areas of the paint before it had dried properly. I tried anything to make the paint
work look old and passed it's best.
Up top, a few essentails...
Plenty of scale safety!
We all could do with some 'Sex Wax'!
Is this legal?

The finished Bug!



Many thanks Justin for this superb article! - The T01 team.

Let us know what you think....
 Comments left by other Tamiya fans. Please feel free to submit your own comment.

By beinglame 11/12/2013 00:59:44

what an awesome job u did on that sweeet good going.


By weetabixears / daz 06/11/2013 19:21:17

looks the dogs mate , im goin to put a roof basket on mine too , prefer the different look to the box finish as its been done too many times now


By Captain Carb 21/10/2013 15:10:39

That looks AWESOME!!!

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