Building Vinyl Kits by John Zizolfo

The following is a collection of tips from John Zizolfo

  • Heat the parts up with a hair dryer for a minute or so where you want to trim. Use a sharp blade and a steady hand. Most vinyl trims fairly easily when heated. If you don’t want to use a hair dryer, dunking the part in hot water will work also.
  • Test fit your parts often. It’s easier to cut off than it is to add on. Don’t cut too much on the first try. This is especially true at the Trooper’s shoulders, but is sound advice regardless of which kit you’re building. With proper trimming, you should require only the smallest bits of putty, sometimes none at all depending how well the kit is designed/molded.
  • The hair dryer can also be used to flex parts into different positions, to a point. You won’t be able to make a leg go from “standing up straight” to “right angle bent at the knee” just by heating, but if you need to re-position a joint by a fraction of an inch or so, heat it up, bend it to shape, then immediately dunk it under the COLD water. This will effectively “lock” the vinyl into the position you were holding it in.
  • Most figures this size stand better if you weight them down in the legs with plaster or something similar. Be careful with the mixture though, as plaster tends to generate its own heat as it dries. Heat, as we just learned above, softens and distorts vinyl. Make sure the legs are leaned against something or otherwise held in place until the plaster dries.
  • Any type of superglue will work for gluing parts together. Regular model glue is designed to melt styrene. Vinyl kits don’t melt, they depend on the glue to seep into the pores of the vinyl and “grab” it to hold the parts together. I use “Instant Bonding Adhesive” from Radio Shack. Stuff makes KrazyGlue look like spit and a prayer!
  • As for painting, I’ve found that acrylic paints such as Tamiya are better on vinyl, while enamel paints like Testors are better for styrene. Nothing really special or complicated about the Stormtrooper as far as paint scheme (gloss white, flat black, and some gray for shading/texturing). The real work will be in getting smooth coverage. That’s the key to making this particular kit look good. In this case, you’re better off painting the white first, then carefully masking and painting the black areas, as black is nearly impossible to cover with white if you do it the other way around.