Today we are going to take a look at how to strip, polish and paint your Hot Wheels Diecast Cars.
The Basic process of stripping the paint and choosing a new colour is one of the core skills needed to customise Hot Wheels but I thought I would make this guide a valuable and worthwhile read by showing you how to polish your diecast casting before splashing on that new colour scheme.
Polishing is a bonus skill that allows us to give our diecast cars that incredible spectraflame effect as well as helping to clean up the casting itself. It also provides us with the option of leaving the casting bare for that ultra chrome – super shiny look. Winning!
How To Strip The Paint.
First things first, getting that original paint and livery off. If you only want to remove the tampos then read this guide HERE, otherwise let’s continue…
The car I have chosen to use as an example is one that came with the Fast and Furious series – which like many of the Pop Culture/Boulevard/Garage series cars has paint that seems to be a lot more stubborn to remove. I am telling you this because you will find yourself pleasantly surprised when your mainline paint starts peeling and bubbling within seconds of application 😉
Step 1: The first thing you are going to need is the paint stripper itself. I use the brand shown below and simply paint it on with a brush. I used to use a spray can but it’s far more costly and not nearly as effective so avoid using them. Got it? OK good.
I have just applied the paint stripper to the vehicle. Now we wait…
After 5 minutes the paint is starting to budge. A normal mainline will be ready to go by now
After 10 minutes we can really start to see the paint stripper doing its work.
15 minutes later and half my job is done 😀
Step 2: The most effective way to strip the paint is to do each side and top individually with a small piece of steel wool. I say this because when you first wipe the steel wool across the body it will pick up the majority of the loose paint – paint we don’t want to inadvertently start rubbing back into the casting as we attempt to remove more paint 😉
Once you have used three or four small pieces to wipe the major surfaces you can take a larger piece and go to work removing the paint from all the hard to reach areas…
I have spent a good 15 minutes scrubbing at this WRX with a fine grade steel wool and in the process have already given the car a slight clean and polish….Very slight mind you!
Let’s make it less slight 😉
How to Polish & Shine the Casting.
I’d like to first thank my customising brother Rashdi Razaha aka @mistadixster for helping me with this part of the guide. I’ll share some of Rashdi’s polished customs at the end of this guide so you can get an idea why I reached out in the first place 😉
So you have just removed the paint from your hot wheels casting and given it a bit of a shine and polish with the steel wool whilst removing every last bit of paint. But if you look at the casting closely you will notice it is covered in tiny holes and dents and imperfections. It’s also not really that shiny at all.
How to Polish Your Hot Wheels
The process I am going to share with you is all manual and involves no dremel or buffing machine. I prefer to do this by hand because it is a delicate process and I don’t want hard spinning metal near my casting. (Read: I have had too many castings ruined by accidentally running the dremel into the casting and leaving nasty scratches)
Step 1: Take a medium to fine grade steel wool (I know, I thought they were all the same too!) and go turn on the TV or something, you’re going to be here a while. I spent around 2 hours in total polishing the car I am showing you today and you can see that there is still a lot of imperfections in the metal.
*To remove these imperfections and really create a chrome like finish on your casting you also need to attack it with a fine grade (around 1500) wet & dry sandpaper.
The results after a 1 hour marathon of polishing with steel wool
And another hour later. How much more you do from here is up to you. (again I recommend using a fine grit sandpaper to really get those imperfections out. To quote Rashdi:
“The key to shine perfectly actually hold at your steel wool and sandpaper. A mirror to reflect perfectly has to be super smooth & clean surface right? Well you have to scrub it and polish it until it is super smooth without any scratches or cracks then only you polish it.”
Step 2: Applying some sort of polishing compound.
For this particular car I am using Silvo. Silvo is an all purpose metal cleaner that is very effective (as you will soon see) but after advice from Mr Razaha I decided to try a metal polisher caller Autosol. (Also called Hardex Autosol) This polisher is far more effective and as such I am now exclusively using and formerly recommending Autosol to polish and clean hot wheels castings.
Apply the Autosol/Silvo/Metal Polisher by placing it on a rag or microfibre cloth and apply it liberally to the casting.
After application it will start to dry a white colour. (they all will) Wait 10 – 20 minutes and then remove the dry polishing compound with a clean and dry cloth – microfibre preferably.
The car is now ready for a new coat of paint – spectraflame ready that is 😉
Testing the Autosol Metal Polishing Compound
I have also used the Autosol brand of Metal Polisher on a 2tone hakosuka I created and as you can see from the results it is a very effective polisher indeed. These images and the Hako itself are also good examples of how polishing the casting leaves your options for paint schemes (or a lack thereof) wide open.
The Hakosuka BEFORE application of polishing compound.
Partial removal of the dried polish reveals how much dirt and crap was still ingrained in the diecast. (ewwww)
Photo does not do the shine justice.
But this one does 😉 (you can see the chrome like finish on the roof and boot)
How To Paint Spectraflame
One of the reasons for polishing and cleaning the absolute crap out of your hot wheels diecast cars is so you can create that amazing metallic like paint – what Hot wheels refer to as Spectraflame so let’s see about showing you how to do that shall we 😉
Painting your polished Hot wheels to create a spectraflame like effect -or any metallic shine for that matter – is the same process for normal paint, the secret is in knowing what paints you can use.
In order to really capitalise on the polished chrome like finish on our Hot wheels we need a paint that is almost transparent and as such allows that mirror finish to shine through. Your options therefore are Candy, Pearl or Metallic. Candy paints are the most transparent (brands like House of Kolor specialise in these types of paint) and are therefore the most effective. Metallic and Pearl paints are also good as they enhance the already polished body but neither is as transparent and so a lot of the shine is lost.
Applying the Paint.
When painting your polished hot wheels you need to apply the paint in extremely light (thin) layers. I recommend literally giving the vehicle enough of a coat to barely cover all the areas for the first round.
Wait the obligatory 20 -30 minutes and then do the same light misting for the second coat. The third coat can be slightly heavier although if you find after the third coat it still looks like it needs more then wait another half hour and do a fourth coat.
To give you an idea of the differences between painting with a metallic paint vs. a true transparent Candy paint; The Hako above was half painted in a dark red metallic spray paint (Dulux Metallics) which is why it sparkles and shines but doesn’t quite have that mirrored spectraflame effect.
Rashdi Razaha on the other hand uses a proper House of Kolor Candy paint…
Now do you see why I asked Rashdi for his advice before writing this guide? Of course you bloody well do! 😉
Now go make polish and shine ALL THE THINGS!