Today we’ll be taking an already hellasweet casting and making it oh so hellasweet…er – thanks to Hot Wheels & the timeless beauty that is the Datsun ‘Fairlady’ Z
This post is also a How To Guide for Hot Wheels Decals as I will be sharing some tips on using clear vs. white backed decals and how to benefit from the best of both worlds. Now sit back and watch as we turn this Fair Lady into a K&N Sponsored Fat Girl in Uggs
Once Upon a Time…
There was a Nissan ‘Fairlady’ Z and a new market unwilling to give her a chance. And then along came a man known affectionately as “Mr. K.” and in the fall of 1969 the Datsun 240Z was born*. True story, but I digress…
I highly recommend that you read this interesting and highly insightful story of Yutaka Katayama, the man behind the Datsun Z
It’s All About The Shoes Darling!
ahem, apparently anyway. One hears these things you know 😉
Seriously though, if you follow MCH then you’ll know that customisers look at everything as a potential part, and since discovering the secret to deep dish wheels I look at every thing round and roughly 7mm in size as a potential wheel insert. So it was not surprising that when I found some cheap plastic cars in my kids’ playroom with the perfect donor inserts I took all of half a second to whisk them away to my den of diecast destruction* (just thought of that, sounds awesome, copyright and patent pending etc etc)
I got to the task of drilling out a mainline wheel and trimming the new insert to fit inside and … yep, looks good. 3 more to go.
So I had me some new shoes… and in the spirit of a getting to the point, I ‘blah blah blah blah’ and hey presto:
Now she needed some livery of some sort – at least she does now that she has bright white wheels!
How To Apply Decals Like a Pro
The key to good looking custom is tonal balance – and this is not just my opinion by the way, it is human nature to seek out harmony and symmetry in everything we see, especially when it comes to art. Let’s play a little game together to highlight my point.
Do You Have an Eye For Balance?
- Put yourself in a position where you can see some or many Hot Wheels cars – mainlines, customs does not matter which.
- Now look at each one as if you are seeing it for the first time and let your eyes go where they naturally want
- Where did they go? What part of the car were they drawn to first? – or was the design perfect and your eyes enjoyed the whole vehicle? (our goal)
- Did you notice some design elements highlighted and improved the overall look while others detracted from it?
Do this exercise a few times and you will notice that in each instance the livery/tampos/decals either detracts or highlights the casting and overall design. And it’s not just the livery or tampo design that can ruin or improve the look – why do you think the wheelswap is such an enjoyable and popular undertaking 😉
So looking again at my Custom Fairlady Z WIP can you see how the eyes are instantly drawn to the wheels and not to the vehicle as a whole. This is not because my wheels as so insanely awesome (even though they clearly are) but because of our good friend ‘tonal balance’.
What is needed to correct this balance is more white to offset the wheels and some design elements to break up the ‘vacant space’ that our eyes see between the wheels. That means I’m going to need decals… which as I’m sure you’re aware is TOTALLY NOT A PROBLEM 🙂
But the decals I want to use require a clear back which means I can’t have a splash of colour and some additional white to offset the wheels. Or Can I?…
How To Get Bright Colours and Whites Using Clear Decals
*Feel like I’m about to sell you some washing powder or something here sheesh*
If you have no idea what I am referring to when mentioning clear backing vs. white backing decals then I recommend you read the FAQ over on my Hot Wheels Decals shop so you can stop giving your monitor that WTF look and worrying your mum. For everyone else you therefore know that the advantages of using clear backed decals far outweigh the negative making it the preferred choice.
The issue however is that any colours or white sections of the decal will appear faded or non existent as the colour of the vehicle underneath dominates. So unless your customising a white car you’re going to need to… well your going to need to do this:
- Hold your decal against the casting to see if and where trimming is required
- Trim…. as required (magically making car turn around is optional)
- Take note of where the decal is either white or coloured in relation to the casting
- I did it visually – using door handles and frames as reference points but since I missed some spots (you’ll see) I recommend using a ruler and taking the time to measure out exactly where the white is required. What? I’m impatient and lazy :p
- Paint a block of white where you diligently took your ruler and established the location of on the Hot Wheels car itself
- Now we wait for the paint to dry. This is the part of the process that puts the ZZZ in Datsun Z
- Once thoroughly dry you can apply your decal. This is where you find out how badly you missed the spot, well it’s the part where I found this information out anyway :p
I also added the GT stripe over the entire body and another smaller K&N logo to the bonnet as a way of further breaking up the vacant space. I also made sure these design elements highlighted the natural lines of the Datsun Z and didn’t detract from them or cause a design clash.
Now she had her livery and her shoes, it was time to add some details – and an exhaust – and send My Fair Lady on her way (even if she was destined to be stanced like a fat girl in Uggs)
How To Hellaflush a Fairlady
The wheels that I used were attached to rather thick axles that were actually the perfect width (taking into account some negative camber of course) and as such I decided to keep them and save myself the task of making new axles.
- So after using pliers to bend the axles at the required points –
- And making sure the angle of camber was roughly even all around …
- I carved out a slot in the base for the thicker axles and superglued them into place.
Wheels with this much camber would never roll and with fixed axles I was never going to expect a rolling custom
- The exhaust was cut from the base of some random Maisto diecast model and for the exhaust I used my trusty clay modelling wire – great for so many applications and so easy to mandrel bend! :p
Put it all together and add a sprinkling of diorama…