This is the first of probably two posts on actual car conversions I have done to support the upcoming WHITE LINE FEVER game, which I will run at HISTORICON and the Summer camp I run. Also read the “Preamble” post on this topic from a couple weeks ago.
I’ve had a lot of fun working on these vehicles– there’s something about gleaming neon colored Hot Wheels cars being converted into rusty, filthy, post-apocalyptic death machines that is deeply satisfying. I’ve got about 40+ cars mostly done. I am waiting a few more cars to arrive in the mail and then I’m holding off on converting more, unless I find a vehicle that is crying for conversion! I will be concentrating on painting up a few pedestrian gangs next and some terrain after I finish with all of the vehicles. The next post will have more groups of cars and the two tanker trucks I am painting up now. I am grouping these by broad categories– from the mundane and easily recognizable to the oddball conversion to the rather fetishistic cars that Hot Wheels has produced in the last five years or so.
Group 1: Food and TV
These are cars with high recognition factor from popular culture with minimal conversions required. I want the original design to be noticeable and not painted over– so I brushed on a matte varnish, added a few additions, and generally “filthed them all up” with a dry brush to make them all grimy and dirty, but still instantly recognizable. From bottom left, clockwise:
- MB 2015 Food truck, Sushi Version
- HW 2012 Mystery Machine (from the Scooby Doo TV Show)
- HW 1993 Oscar Meyer Weinermobile
- HW 2014 Herbie the Love Bug (From the “Retro Entertainment” collection
Notes: The Sushi Truck was the most complex conversion of this lot. I added a metal side door out of styrene, a fencing cage over the open service window, and an armored rear door in the back. I generally “filthed it up” with painted mud and dry brush plus some rust on the “iron plate”. The Mystery Machine got an armored plate up top (this will be a weapons platform) plus I opaqued the windows and added a lot of dirt. The Love Bug was left pretty much as is, just made highly dirty, and finally the Weinermobile got a light machine gun, dirtied up all over, a new hatch plate on top, and cage armor around the bottom.
Group 2: Oddball car conversions
This is a group that used cars that were very futuristic and somewhat impractical looking, all from Hot Wheels. Many of their diecast creations have been blatantly weird in recent years. Their common characteristic is being long and lean with gigantic tires and big engines. MOST of these were minimal conversions, painted a characteristic flat metal and then heavily rusted. Surprisingly, once I had made that minimal amount of painting, they really are quite evil and bad-ass looking.
Clockwise from Top Left:
- HW 2009 Carbonator
- HW 2009 Fast Fortress (Design series– purple and orange)
- HW 2009 Tread Air from 2012 “Code Cars” collection
- HW, not sure of this one, can’t make out the model name
- HW, again, not sure of this one.
- HW 2008 Duel Fueler
- HW 2009 RD-10
Notes: Of this group, The Carbonator got the soda bottle faring removed, then a new cockpit and Stan Johansen gunshield added, also a grenade launcher. The soda bottle looked silly, but the rocket with a chair up front looks wicked. The Fast Fortress was just repainted and distressed. I couldn’t figure out what to do with the Tread Air, so I just gave it a post-Apocalyptic makeover. The unidentified car had new body pieces added because of the awkward “all window” front end, then painted them gun metal and rusted them up, plus added a machine gun. The other vehicle to its left was painted gunmetal and rusted up, with a piece of fence added to the top– it’s a cool looking vehicle, very old fashioned, but not much I could do with it in terms of armor or weapons. The Duel Fueler is very weird– huge flaring nodules on either side but not any decent mounting points for a weapon, so I just added a platform in the center and might just put a human survivor in there to leap on other vehicles. The RD-10 is an old model– I just dirtied it up and added a small platform for a small turret from Stan Johansen miniatures and am painting it as a laser weapon.
Group 3: The Technicals
A “Technical” is a pickup truck, with minor modifications, with a large AT Missile or MG mounted on the back, giving an insurgent side a very cheap and expendable response to light armor. They are common in Middle Eastern countries. My approach was to add a standing crewman firing a weapon to the back of the vehicle, and adding Stan Johansen’s harpoon guns, for the entertainment factor.
There were pretty easy. I added some grill work/fencing on the bed of the trucks to steady the harpoon weapon and to elevate the firing figure. On the larger (red) technical I added a large armor plate upright bolted to the back of the truckbed. The trucks are armored with a mixture of welded on plate pieces here and there (such as the driver’s door) and on the hood and roof. Liberal use of the grill armor contributed to the protection of the driver. From Top, Clockwise
Notes: See the comments above. Pretty simple conversions — I repainted the 2009 Ford F-150 to be a duller red color, then filthed it and rusted it up.
Group 4: “The Man”
When you’re fighting against the forces of Apocalypse, you need to have some defenders of the status quo around.. the odd local police unit still functioning, or old National Guard units, or SWAT vehicle, or hard core survivalists. This group encompasses that kind of vehicle.
Most of these came from a Matchbox military vehicles value pack, so they are somewhat similarly weathered and armored. I wanted vehicles that are grimy, but well cared for, and still functional– though showing signs they will fall apart from lack of spare parts eventually. From Bottom Left, Clockwise:
- HW 2004 Sid Meier’s Sentinel 400 Limo with “Roll Patrol” Police markings
- HW 1992 HMMV, somewhat different from MB version below
- MB 2009 Jungle Crawler
- MB 2014 Armored Response Vehicle
- MB 2013 International MXT
- MB 2011 SWAT Truck
- MB 1994 Hummer with Gun (Tow Missile)
This group was the first vehicles I converted– mostly by recoloring the too-bright paint jobs with a flat armory spray paint (Olive, Burnt Red, Muddy Brown, Khaki) and then adding bits of cage/fence armor here and there. The Sentinel Limo is a very cool police car model designed by noted futurist Syd mead for Hot Wheels about a decade ago. I wanted to retain the markings so I just matte varnished it and added lots of mud colored dry brush to show wear and tear. The Hot Wheels HMMV didn’t come with a weapon and was just slightly smaller than the Matchbox version, and lacked its detail. I added a hatch up top (rusted) and a TOW missile launcher so it would match the Matchbox version. Olive drab undercoat to cover the horrid lime green paint job) and lots of weathering. I painted the Jungle Crawler to look like a survivalist vehicle of some sort– all dark red undercoat plus improvised cage armor and lots of muck and grime– and a turret MG from Stan Johansen. The Armored Response Vehicle– I wanted it to look like a specialist vehicle of some sort so I made it a desert khaki with an open MG turret up top, manned with a gunner. The International MXT didn’t have many good gun mount points so I added a little grenade launcher up front in front of the hatch (from Stan Johansen). Brown base with highlights and weathering. The SWAT Truck is still a project to work on — the version I found was bright silver(!) and so I converted it to flat gunmetal/rust and I’m going to add some blue highlights.. to represent oxidized blue police paint that has worn off. I also added a MG to the roof and a hatch cover up top. The Hummer with a gun was easy enough, I just lightened the Olive tone and weathered it a lot, and gunmetalled the TOW Launcher. And that’s the first bunch. I have a few more posts to go with this project– so stay tuned. Paints came from a variety of sources. The matchboxes and hot wheels were all very affordable, bought in five-packs mostly. Added on armor was styrene plastic sheeting. The grill work (fencing) armor was from a needlepoint plastic grill bought from an arts store. ALL weapons added on came from Stan Johansen’s ROAD WARRIOR LINE, vehicle weapon packs.
Stay tuned for more automotive mayhem.