Kit Bashing Using Inexpensive Plastic Kits


What is kit bashing?

Kit bashing is a technique used to combine components from two or more buildings into one structure. It gives the builder almost endless possibilities of creating unique buildings or other structures that are not commercially available.

Why kit bash?

It allows you to build a structure in a relatively short period of time without having to start totally from scratch. 

When should you kit bash?

If you have exhausted all other means of finding just the right building, then kit bashing in an excellent way to get what you want without having to completely re-invent the wheel.

How do you kit bash?

Some of the more subtle changes to an existing building can make a big difference. Things like changing the roof, or adding a carport or porch roof. You could add a chimney, roof vent, weather vain, down spouts, or a dormer.

Sometimes a two-story house will make two interesting single story houses or one large single story house. You could add a door or a window, or board up a window or door.

By combining several building components it is possible to make an industrial complex that could be tailored to almost any industry.

Two of the most important components of any kit bashing project are the detailing and weathering of the model after it is assembled. This will not only add interest, but also help to hide any imperfections from your kit bashing process.

Every house needs landscaping, a sidewalk, fencing, bicycles, dogs, cats, people, laundry, a newspaper or two on the roof, an old derelict car in the back yard, a swing, a vegetable garden, a for sale sign in the front yard, someone on a ladder washing windows…the possibilities are almost endless.

Detailing can be a lot of fun. Sometimes the simplest of detail will help to bring your buildings to life. Things such as a vine growing up the side of the building, a broken window, empty boxes siting behind a store, or yard tools around the garage door opening. If you use your imagination you can turn any scene into a more believable setting.

Don't overlook the junk and clutter that is everywhere. Signs, telephone poles, cars, trucks, birds, garbage, or anything that will help bring life to your miniature world.

Graffiti on the side of buildings, fences, or almost any structure will help to make a plastic model look more realistic.

Many detail items can be found in magazines or catalogues. Things such as curtains can be cut from a page showing curtains or other material. Signs can be cut from adds for soft drinks, or almost any product. These adds can be glued to a sign board such as card board or styrene plastic.

One technique is to use fine sand paper to sand the back of these ads until they are very thin. The sign can then be glued directly to the side of a building or other surface, leaving a good bit of the surface detail to show through the sign.

Don't overlook the possibility of some sort of animation. This could be in the form of a smoke generator in a smoke stack in a building, a campfire, or smoke coming from a burning building. Other types of animation could include a child flying a kite, an operating windmill in a farm yard, carnival rides, and of course the trains themselves.

Weathering adds realism to any kit bashing project. It is the result of several factors including the natural aging effect of the weather itself, and also the effects of day-to-day use. Water stains and stains from other things such as oil, coal smoke, bird droppings, rust, dirt, etc. will all add interest.

You may want to do some modifications or physical weathering during or before assembly of your buildings. Things like cracks in brick or stone walls can be added with a hobby knife. You can also add knot holes and rough grain to wood with a hobby knife. Cut away a piece of trim and leave it dangling or laying on the ground.

Try and paint as many of the various parts as possible before assembly. Windows and doors, shutters, the roof, shutters etc. The paint is a very important step because it hides the plastic surface and gives you a good foundation for further weathering.

One interesting technique is to simulate peeling paint. To do this first use a wood colored stain and then rub rubber cement on areas you want the peeling paint effect. Next apply the finish coat of paint. When the paint dries, rub the surface gently and some of the paint will peel off where the rubber cement had been.

The painting can be done with a brush or it could be done with an airbrush. Pastel chalks, charcoal, colored pencils, or felt tip markers can all be effectively used for weathering.

One technique for weathering is to use the dry brush method to highlight the high spots. To do this dip a flat paint brush in white paint and then brush it back and forth on a paper towel until very little paint remains. At this point you are ready to lightly drag the brush over any surface with enough texture to receive small amounts of paint. This gives the surface a more three dimensional appearance.

After all the weathering and detailing is completed there are two important steps that will add that final realistic appearance. First use a very fine mist of white, gray, or light brown paint to add a final layer of dust or pollution to the model. Next use testers dull cote to add the final sealing layer to the model. This will not only seal all of your weathering layers, but it will also help to dull any surfaces that have any shiny areas remaining.


Tools and other equipment

1) Paints and chalk in various colors for weathering.

2) White glue, super glue and accelerator, rubber cement, contact cement or walthers goo.

3) Tweezers, scissors, ruler, hobby knife, drills, paint brushes, air brush, files, sand paper, a dremel tool, razor saw, pins, clothes pins - (for clamps)

4) Woodland scenics ground foam scenery materials.



1) Building an Ho Model Railroad with Personality (Kalmbach)

2) Detailing Tips and Techniques (Kalmbach)

3) Kit Bashing HO Model Railroad Structures (Kalmbach)

4) HO Trackside Structures You Can Build (Kalmbach)

5) 222 Tips for Building Model Railroad Structures (Kalmbach)

© 2005 HR Trains & Toys, Inc, - Don Morris