Friday, 12 April 2019

Transformers Bumblebee in Volkswagen Beetle form [WIP - Engine Assembly & Attaching Cylinders]

If there is ever a synopsis of why my projects take so long to complete, I suppose it can be summed up in one sentence. Slowly, in a painstaking manner, the modeler painted tiny parts of which most may never see the light of day. And so it is with the Tamiya 1/24 scale Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (1966 Model). Specifically its engine assembly which eventually will be covered up first by other mechanical parts before being enclosed by the car body. If I've analyzed it correctly, then certain parts will still be visible in the final build, but the majority won't be. This begets the question ... why do it?

Top angled view of the Tamiya 1/24 scale VW 1300 Beetle engine assembly
Bottom angled view of the VW 1300 Beetle engine assembly

Well, the easy answer to this is I can't not do it. The frowned upon double negatives aside, I am seriously plagued by the need to paint in every little detail I see regardless of whether it is visible in the final build. And even at this early stage of the build, the details inherent are astounding in this 1/24 scale replica of the Volkswagen 1300 Beetle engine. If I had left everything unpainted then it will forever bug me that the scale model kit is not complete even if it looks finished from the outside. One positive: my need to fill out the details invariably rubs off on the visible parts. 

Instructions for the Volkswagen 1300 Beetle engine assembly and attachment of cylinders
Paint materials used in priming, base-coating and clear-coating the Beetle engine assembly and cylinders
Weathering materials used to outline the engine parts as well as add engine oil and grime effects
Engine parts comprising the cylinders, transmission, engine block, oil strainer system and swing axle

Paint job involved recreating metallic textures such as flat aluminum and metallic gray as well as non-metallic ones such as flat, semi-gloss and gloss black. The blacks were easy enough. However the metallic hues had issues inherent with the Tamiya Acrylic metallic paints in that they are notorious for flaky finishes. While weathering somewhat reduces how noticeable the metallic flakiness is, it's still there if you look hard enough - not so much for the flat aluminum texture compared with the metallic gray finish. I'm able to live with it only because most will be hidden from view eventually.

Weathering consists of black wash outlines plus application of enamel effects such as engine oil and grime
Side view showing (from left): engine and cylinders; swing axle and transmission
Seam lines aren't so evident on the transmission due to the dark hues and the way the piece was molded
Engine oil effects were added to the swing axle as moving parts would be exposed to said oil

Meanwhile weathering effects involved usage of AK Interactive enamel-based products like AK082 Engine Grime and AK084 Engine Oil. Incidentally my use of enamel colors came about quite by accident. My initial plan was to use Vallejo Weathering Effects acrylic products. Sadly all five bottles of paint that I had intended to use had spoiled. Pigment sediments had separated completely from the dissolving solution and the whole paint product couldn't be reconstituted.  

Tube-like contraptions on the engine (aluminum section) took a bit of patience to attach properly
Side view showing (from right): transmission, swing axle and then the engine/cylinders
Seam lines across the engine (aluminum section) will be hidden from view in the latter stages of assembly
Long horizontal aluminum tube (located at the center) is the intake manifold
Top down view showing (from top to bottom): transmission, swing axle, and engine/cylinders

When I first started out in this hobby, a constant dilemma was whether to paint the parts separately before assembling them or vice versa. In this case, I just decided on the former without too much thought and it seems to be turning out well. In fact, this could be a turning point for it's a lesson for me not to overthink things too much until inertia sets in. An example of this is my intended maiden Gundam project i.e. the RX-78-2 which lies dormant. The thought of having to figure out how to paint the many small parts individually before assembly has made the project a non-starter, for now. 

Reverse view of the piece showing (from top to bottom): oil strainer, swing axle and transmission
Engine grime gave the aluminum engine block a suitably weathered look
All these details painted just to be covered up ... why oh why do I put myself through this?
Ridged square piece containing a circular seal with six nuts is the oil strainer

Existence of seam lines of two interconnecting part is usually a bugbear of mine. It wasn't this time around because ... and it bears repeating ... most of these parts will eventually be hidden from view. In addition, the existence of injector pin marks on some of the parts meant they needed to be sanded down and smoothed out. Fortunately, not all of the parts required this extra, tedious step because some of the injector pin marks comprised surface areas where other parts will be glued onto.    

Engine oil effects were applied ... surprise, surprise ... on the oil strainer
Painted innards of the swing axle are already enclosed and hidden from view ...
... which begets the question, why paint the mid-section of the swing axle in the first place?
A typical detailed-oriented modeler's answer: Just because!
That piece propping up the engine at an angle (located at the bottom most part of the picture) looks like the carburetor

Tamiya's attention to detail means the Beetle engine is barely half-finished after Steps One and Two. There is still the fan housing, exhaust system, etc. to be assembled, painted, weathered and then attached to the existing piece. And  after that, there is the car interior to assemble and paint as well. So it'll be a while before Bumblebee's usual striking yellow on the car body even takes form. As with most of my projects, the journey is bound to be a long one. But at least it has begun.


  1. Great start on Bumblebee. Looking forward to see more.

  2. That's some impressive attention to detail from both you and the kit!

    I'd have just glued it all together and drybrused it silver. I guess I'm just too impatient for scale kits!

    1. Trust me, I'm so tempted to do what you just described. But the OCD in me just won't let it go. Arrggghhhhh X_X

  3. Wow, impressive start and amazing details!

    1. Thank you Phil ... the impressive molded details makes painting them a pleasure.

  4. The mark of a true perfectionist 😁!
    Superb detailwork and painting on a piece you're barely going to notice!
    Looks like another great kit you've given (or dug up?), have fun.

    1. Ha ha ... I'm not too sure perfectionist should be seen in a good light here :) Anyway, thanks I will ... have fun. :)

  5. The fact that you did all this just for the engine is jaw dropping. Let me stop writing to give you an standing ovation (I need both hands for that)

    1. Awww thanks Suber ... me, I'm kinda wanting to slap myself for not being able to resist painting parts that are likely to be hidden after full assembly LOL ;) :)


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