This custom truck model was a fun build. The truck model came to us as an RC kit in 1:14 scale. Our model makers were tasked with transforming the generic body into a custom TMA truck for our client, Royal Truck & Equipment.
A TMA truck was driven to our model shop parking lot so the model makers could take measurements and pictures of the real thing. TMA trucks are used at road side construction sites, and are designed to absorb impact in the event of a collision from behind.
The truck model kit was heavily customized in order to create the correct chassis.
The truck model bed and accessories were made from ABS and 3D printed parts.
The Scorpion feature on the back of the truck was made almost entirely out of brass. It folds and unfolds like the real thing.
A custom blinking circuit allowed the arrow light to move up and down. Lights and sound were included along with the RC movement. Miniature reflective tape and client supplied decals completed the truck model.
The completed truck model was test driven out in the same parking lot where the original truck sat at the beginning of the project. Then it was packed and shipped to our client.
Occasionally professional model making feels a little bit like a kid in a candy shop. This phenomena occurred recently when KiwiMill was asked to build a trade show truck model of a car carrier in 1:14 scale (big!)
When it was determined that the semi trailer truck model would be outfitted with an RC controller, lights and sound, it became one of those projects that reminds model makers of why they went into the business in the first place.
Our team started with a cab kit. It was surprisingly challenging to build, considering most of our work is custom, made-from-scratch. All of the chrome parts were swapped out for more authentic looking, hand-built parts. The only way to make chrome look realistic at this scale is to actually make it out of metal – otherwise it just looks cheap. These custom aluminum add ons were more accurate and detailed.
Even though lighting was supplied in the RC kit, additional bulbs were added throughout the model. These decorative lights can be found on real 18 wheelers, which are really like a person’s temporary home on wheels.
The trailer was scratch built from laser cut styrene. Vinyl graphics were added to the trailer which included both the company’s signage and details found on the sides of trucks such as seams, rivets, handles, etc…
The wheels were molded and cast in the shop. The resulting combination of kit and hand-built parts made for an impressive finished truck model that was both a delight to display and interact with, as well as being an economical choice for a relatively large-scale vehicle.
Nearly two years ago, KiwiMill built a model of a five ton FMTV armored cab truck model with a specialized medical hospital payload. The model was 1/10th scale with the truck about 36″ long. It was completely hand-built for trade show use, with a brass frame and numerous brass details. The cab had separately applied bolt head and hinge details on laser etched acrylic armor panels.
Recently the model shop was asked to make a second FMTV truck, in 1/20th scale. Having acquired a 3D printer during the interim, KiwiMill approached the build somewhat differently the second time around. Many detailed parts that were built by hand originally, were drawn on the computer and made with the Objet 3D printer, precisely and quickly. Soldered brass was still used for strength and longevity. The fabric tent design was altered a bit as well.
There is no one right way to make a scale model. Approaches vary depending on the materials and fabrication methods available, as well as the particular preferences of the model maker. Specific client requests may factor in, and of course, budget and time constraints. Skilled model makers adapt and adjust to new technology, continuously honing and improving on their techniques.
Something that doesn’t change in the profession: the purpose of the scale model will always drive the fabrication method and materials used, while the quality of the finished product will determine if the chosen methods were successful.
Recently KiwiMill was asked to make reasonably priced multiples of a truck model to be used as giveaway premiums for special clients. The trucks are used to spray weed control substance on railway beds. The trucks actually ride on the rails in order to do so.
In order to keep costs down, our model makers used two different types of off-the-shelf die-cast truck models that were then “kit bashed” or disassembled for parts. The chassis was taken off one truck and the cab off another.
Custom parts were 3D printed, laser cut and machined out of resin. Each truck model was then hand-built and painted to resemble the Rumble Spray Truck.