Building the Indy Car Models’ 3D kit

Into pain?

by Steve Erlichmann

Indy Car Models’ 3D kit of the 2021 Helio Castro-Neves Autonation Indy 500 winner was a challenge. Like climbing Mount Everest on your hands. In December. No gloves.

Dave recently built the same car using the excellent Brickyard Models 2020 Indy winner kit. Those kits were made in very small numbers and they disappeared quickly. 

Indy Car Models' 3D kitI’ve already built the 2018 and 2019 winners from Indy Car Models’ 3D kits prior to this and used Indycals decals to decorate them. The builds were simple and straightforward. I was able to get acceptable finished models from the kits. 

Indy Car Models' 3D kit

What you receive for the 2020 car is a raw resin casting that includes a lot of feed tags that have to be removed from the main body and sanded smooth. The separate nose and tail assemblies have these feed tags.

Indy Car Models has attempted to improve their kits by including wheels, tires and separate suspensions molded to the brake assemblies. The previous kits had everything as one piece with the body. They now include both road course and speedway wings supplied in the same kit attached to their own nose. You have to choose which version nose you want and mount it to the body. The fit is very poor and requires a lot of fiddling, filling and sanding to get it right.

Breaking mad

Indy Car Models' 3D kitTo remove the feed tags, I chose to snip them off with small scissors which was a BIG mistake. The resin material is VERY brittle. The rear wing broke into 3 pieces and the nose broke into 2 pieces. A better solution might have been to heat an X-Acto knife blade to easily slice the resin causing less breakage.

Indy Car Models' 3D kitFeed tags gone and now a lot of sanding of the casting. And more sanding to eliminate the lines all over the body from the 3D printing process. I used 400 grit sandpaper followed by 600 to get it smooth. The broken rear wing was epoxied together followed by careful sanding of the seams. I did the same with the nose before attaching it to the body. Once all of this was done it was time for…

Paint

I used two coats of Rustoleum 2X white primer in the rattle can. It dries a little rough (as a good primer should) and sanded the additional now obvious rough spots in the casting. I airbrushed the Zero Paints Fluorescent Pink. This was my first try with Zero paints. I’ve read about them but had trouble reliably finding them in the U.S. so I ordered from a source in the UK.

The secret to Zero paints is in applying several light coats. In this case there were 6 coats with ten minutes drying time between coats. I’m pleased with the result. I hand painted the black upper body with semi-gloss black. I could already tell the end result was not going to be great so I didn’t feel like doing a bunch of masking. 

Decals

Indycals is well known for their high quality decals and I’ve always had good luck with them. I also ordered a set of their excellent Indy 500 tire decals. These come printed on a black background which covers the entire sidewall. Indycals supplies decals for both the outside and inside of the tires.

Indycals decals require close trimming as there is an all-over carrier film. Always use a sharp knife blade and you will have no problem. Use a bit of Solvaset or similar setting liquid to snuggle the decals into body lines and the like with a moist Q-Tip. Indycals also provides the small logos for the inside top rim of the aeroscreen. Nice touch.

Once all decals were in place, I allowed them to dry for a while and then applied Zero’s clear coat. I was anxious to try this since I usually use 2-part automotive clear coat which I was looking to move away from. As with their color coats, Zero’s clear coat requires several light coats. In this case it was four coats. Start with a mist to cover the decals and build up to a nice wet final coat, waiting 10 minutes between coats. The clear coat dried for 4 days. I prefer a sealed in finish rather than a really glossy look. I used polish to rub out the bright gloss for the desired effect.

Assembly

There isn’t much to assemble with this Indy Car Models’ 3D kit since it’s mostly one casting. Having installed the rear wing before painting, I fabricated the mounting plates for the wing from thin metal stock as the kit’s shattered when I broke the wing. All that remained was to be install the steering wheel and add seat belts using black pinstriping tape. The seat is molded in so this was a bit tricky.

The aeroscreen was trimmed out carefully to fit flush from the outside. I used canopy glue (for airplane models) to install the windscreen. Canopy glue is a white glue that’s a little stronger and dries clear quickly. If you get a little too much on the model, scrape away the excess with a toothpick after the glue dries. I then added the halo support that comes up from the nose using a small piece of wire.

The 3D-printed wheels and tires that came with the kit were just plain terrible. A spare Tameo Indy car kit supplied a set of their excellent wheels and tires. The wheels are not the current design but they are not really apparent since they are painted black. After adding the tire decals I sealed them with flat clear paint

Front suspension

The suspension is another disaster. Indy Car Models cast the suspension arms and brakes as one piece. The suspension has nice aero shapes but is very thin and fragile. The pieces are molded in black but it doesn’t look much like carbon fiber. Use a black Sharpie for a good semi-gloss finish that’s closer. The brake and suspension assembly was then glued into the wheels.

The challenge came when I tried to fit the assembly to the body. There are no markings on the body which would indicate suspension position at any corner. Expert approximation ensued as I stuck the front suspension/wheels/tires where I thought they looked right. Much eyeballing followed so each side was symmetrical. 

Rear suspension

The rear suspension had a different problem. While there are holes in the transmission where driveshafts would connect, they are in the wrong place. There is a driveshaft molded into the rear suspension which I painted gold. Frustration came when I fit the rear suspension to the body but found that the control arms don’t come anywhere near the transmission attachment point.

All-new suspension arms were created from thin metal stock to replace all of the resin suspension. After gluing the wheels to the diffuser in their correct position, the new suspension was added. Call it a best-case scenario.

Final thoughts

I don’t like to compromise when building model racing replicas and try to be as perfect as possible. But given the time and effort I put into this build, the result was only acceptable. That’s not good for an $80 kit (plus decals).

Would I attempt another Indy Car Models’ 3D kit again? Not until kits like this are vastly improved.