Sunday, 31 May 2020

Bumblebee, Autobot Transformer in car form [WIP - Volkswagen Beetle Seats & Door Interior]

With a few screen captures of the Bumblebee Volkswagen Beetle interior in hand, I began to delve into little details that would allow me to closely mimic the movie car via paint. But before I even started I had already come to terms with the fact that I'll not be able to recreate a 100% accurate replica of the Transformer Autobot in car form. This was, unfortunately, due to the movie utilizing a 1967 model of the Beetle versus Tamiya's 1966 model I'm using. Sadly I was already mid-way into the project before I found the 1967 model by Hasegawa. In short it was already too late to change.     

Tamiya Volkswagen Beetle Work-in-Progress: Front/Back Seats and Door Interior

As always, before any painting began, I reached for my go-to primer (i.e. the Tamiya Fine Surface Primer) and sprayed on a few layers of the light gray coating. Previously I had tried three different primer colors - white, black and light gray - before settling on the latter most hue. Of all the primer hues I tried out, the light gray one seemed to provide the best foundation for the subsequent paint layer to look most like the Bumblebee yellow that I was aiming to achieve. 

Assembly stage of the Tamiya Volkswagen Beetle Front/Back Seat and Door Interior
My go-to product, the Tamiya Fine Surface Primer, was used to lay a strong foundation for future paint layers

Putting the front/back seats together was easy while the door interiors didn't require any assembly at all. The "issues", if you could call it that, only came into play when I needed to apply masking tape over certain areas of the parts before painting them. It was a cumbersome process. Before layering on the Bumblebee Yellow, I had to painstakingly mask off areas I didn't want to turn yellow. While I could've left everything unmasked, and then painted over the yellow later on, it wasn't an ideal thing to do. Why? Well, experience has made me wary of putting too many layers of paint onto a part. Over-painting almost always results in weak paint adhesion which may lead to peeling eventually.

Backseat, door interiors were masked with tape prior to layering on the iconic Bumblebee Yellow
As determined previously, Mr.Color Chiara Yellow was a close substitute for Bumblebee Yellow
Volkswagen Beetle seats, door interiors, etc. after being airbrushed with the yellow lacquer paint
Volkswagen Beetle seats, door interiors, etc. with the masking tape removed

A clear semi-gloss top coat was then sprayed over the yellow paint in order to serve as a protective layer. Following that, the masking tape was removed. After being left overnight to dry, it was on to yet more masking! This time it was the turn of the yellow sections to be masked. Then Tamiya X-57 Buff was airbrushed onto the seats and door interiors followed by another similar protective topcoat before being left to dry overnight. To create depth, both general weathering (on yellow sections) and panel lining (on seats) was applied using the same product i.e. Mr Weathering Color Ground Brown

More masking, this time involving the parts recently painted with Bumblebee Yellow
Tamiya XF-57 Buff was the color of choice for the Volkswagen Beetle's Seats and Door Interior 
Buff hue was matte in nature which was actually accurate in terms of the material it was replicating ...
... however a semi--gloss clear coat was applied after panel lining into to make the colors more vibrant
Seats and Door Interiors after the buff basecoat, dark brown panel lining and a semi-gloss clear coat

When it comes to painting small details by hand, I tend to revert back to using acrylic paint. Both the Vallejo Model Color and Citadel paints were used on the door handles and a pouch located on one of the door interiors. The black sections that you can make out in the photos below were actually a result of using a combination of Mr. Finishing Surfacer 1500 (Black) and Tamiya Weathering Master sets. Unfortunately I set the lighting conditions were too bright so the details on these black section aren't too clear in the photos below. In future post I hope to adjust the contrast to better show off its details. 

Some of the acrylic paints and washes used to bring out the details of the Seats and Door Interiors
Back seat and rear interior sections of the Volkswagen Beetle, after painting but before assembly
Tamiya parts rarely snap-fit together so the top half of the backseat and rear interior section had to be glued on
Back seat and rear interior section of the Volkswagen Beetle (front view)
Black sections actually have weathered effects on them but that did not show up under the bright lights
Front Seats of the Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (back view)
Front Seats of the Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (front view)
Interior section of both Front Doors of the Volkswagen 1300 Beetle
Left Front Door Interior of the Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (closeup view)
Right Front Door Interior of the Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (closeup view)

Next up is the Front Interior comprising the dashboard, radio, glove compartment, steering wheel, as well as the Boot Interior. These parts require more finesse as the molded details are extremely tiny to the point it's almost indiscernible. Painting such parts are never much fun but the end results, if they turn out well, always makes the effort worth it. I'll leave you with a quote reflecting a recent injustice in my country where, for the same crime, a single mum is given a jail sentence while children of political bigwigs are given a discounted fine ... In theory we are all equal before the law. In practice, there are overwhelming privileges that come with winning the birth lottery. - Arianna Huffington.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Michal. For sure I'll upload more photos as the work on this Beetle progresses :)

  2. Great work as always Kuan !

  3. I love this project so much already!

  4. It's fantastic to find such joy in common elements like pieces of a car. I mean, it's crazy, these are everyday items, not a fancy Millenium Falcon or a fabulous 1/16 human miniature. These are just pieces of an old car, yet you make them look interesting and make me want to see the next step. That's really something.

    1. Thank you for your brilliantly positive comments. I guess us scale modelers will always take delight in almost all things in miniature form as they are an art representation of the real world. It's like capture life in mini 3D. My apologies if I'm not making any sense. Again thanks for the nice words Suber! :)

  5. These seats look almost comfortable. Such a wonderful amount of detail, a worthy successor to your MF project.

    1. Thank you Wouter ... both projects are difficult in their own way too.


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