by Chuck Gajewski
HO scale slot car Jeeps from a number of manufactureres have been around since 1978. But like most any other hobby, slot cars have fans who like to go their own way. Whether repainting our favorite bodies, converting existing toys to work on slot car running gear, or making our own stuff from scratch, many slot car enthusiasts are also excellent craftsmen.
Because HO slot car racing evolved early in its history from 1/87th scale to 1/64th scale, many diecast toys are roughly the right size to fit some slot car chassis, but the metal bodies are too heavy for serious racing. Resin casting is the art of making a mold of an original or master item, then making copies using a 2-part liquid plastic similar to epoxy.
Big Kevin Masters casts his flatfender Jeeps (above) by basing them on modified Matchbox flatfenders. I bought 4 of these from him and have finished 3, with the 4th for the time being stuck unpainted but trimmed and mounted to a Johnny Lightning T-jet chassis with AFX mag wheels all around. The workmanship of Masters' resin bodies is consistent and very good. His bodies are easy to build even for a beginner and with a little work can look like masterpieces with just a moderate level of effort.
Once I built some of Kevin's CJ's, I had to try resin casting myself. My Jeep obsession soon showed up in my resin casting projects once I had the technique down. I modified a Matchbox '98 TJ Wrangler using Tyco chassis mounts, and cast several sets of rally bumpers, off road lights and other accessories to make different variations of the model. Shown above is a fairly unfinished casting alongside the blue and green models, my first attempts. The yellow TJ is a replica of my real-world ride, a '00 TJ Sport, and is mounted on a highly modified Matchbox Speedtrack slot car chassis using Tyco Turbo Hopper/Quad knobby tires.
I also based the Grand Cherokee and Cherokee sport resin casts on Matchbox diecasts. The blue Grand and red Sport are mounted to Tyco HP-2 chassis and the black monster XJ is mounted to a Tyco US-1 trucking chassis modified to accept Quad/Hopper tires as well. If you know your video games, you'll recognize its flaming skulls paint job as Hammerhead, the monster truck from Sony's Twisted Metal 2.
I have many more resin cast Jeep replicas planned, and often sell on eBay so keep an eye on those auctions!
Plastic bodied Jeeps are few and far between, but they do exist. Between 1999 and 2002, Funline toys was issuing plastic bodied monster trucks in 1/64 scale, styled after modern trucks and SUVs. Jeeps were well represented, as there were models of the Wrangler and Jeepster concept (shown) as well as a Grand Cherokee and Dakar concept models. Converting these bodies was a snap, a little trimming and a little hot glue to hold the tops of the chassis and they were an excellent fit for Tyco/Mattel 440 X2 widepans. At the time, Mattel even had wheels styled like the old-school Hot Wheels redlines mags with red stripe tires that were the perfect match for the Jeepster!
-- Chuck Gajewski
Congratulations to Chuck for some great work, and thanks for the photos. -- Derek Redmond
See also Chuck's history of Slot Jeeping in HO Scale.
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