green is the happiest color

We need not remain dissatisfied with the factory look of our stuff. While custom paint may take some practice, the rewards are worth any trouble. For me this started with repairing scratches and cracks with a little glue and a touch-up, but now I consider serious customization during the retail experience. For some, painting the stuff is possibly more fun than using the stuff. My family seems to enjoy this part too; everybody has an opinion about color, while far fewer care to discuss the power system.

My Roboquad was initially covered with the shiny plastic silver typical of a ten dollar DVD player. As you can imagine, this was not the theme I was going for. In my mind, the robot was stolen from some industrial military defense contractor, and subsequently vandalized to match the fake chrome of the thief’s entertainment center.

The first step to reclaim his dignity was to take the shine off. I use scotch-bright pads; these rough sponges are great for preparing plastic parts for new coat, and also for smoothing older work. I take my time looking for shine and smoothing factory seams. If I press too hard and create deep scratches, then I’m just making more work for myself. Even without the new paint, the robot is already looking better.

I then used Testors flat olive drab enamel model paint. I have a whole kit of these flats that I purchased locally, but individual bottles cost about a dollar. I covered with a thin coat, the next day I smoothed with scotch-bright and put on a second thin coat. The slower I work, the better my results with paint.

The most fun was adding the small flag detail. I used scotch-tape to mask a small rectangle and filled that with flat white paint. The next day I smoothed that, masked and painted the blue rectangle. On the third day I masked and painted the stripes. And finally masked and painted the star… The star was first printed on paper, and then covered with scotch tape. After I carefully cut out the star with a very sharp knife, I carefully removed the paper and stuck the tape onto the flag.

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