How to wreck a toy car

Gaslands car tutorial for beginner

In this tutorial I show you a beginner friendly method for building a basic Gaslands car on a budget.

Gaslands is the cheapest miniature wargame I know of. And a fun one too. So if you’re on a budget, I can only recommend playing this game. Also modding a Gaslands car, as shown in this tutorial, is a great beginner crafting project. Since Gaslands takes place in a post-apocalypyse on Earth, scavenging of parts and up-cycling are of course 100% encouraged.

Gaslands car tutorial for beginner

Basic material and tools you’ll need

This Gaslands car tutorial is aimed at a beginner level, thus you don’t need any fancy and expensive material.
Below is your shopping and/or scavenging list:

  1. Die-cast car (Matchbox, Hotwheels, etc.)
  2. Plastic and metal rubbish. I used:
    • cable zip tie
    • “lip” (these freshness seals) from large plastic bottle caps
    • wire connector piece (type “Wago”)
    • small electrical fuse
    • thin plastic tubes (for instance from a lollipop)
    • toothpicks
    • plastic packaging ribbons (those which come tied around large cardboard boxes)
  3. Cheap rattle can primer
  4. Cheap hair spray
  5. Different acrylic paints (brown, orange, black, grey (or white to mix with black), beige, silver and your color of choice for your car)
  6. Acrylic washes or watered down acrylic paints (black and (dark) brown)
  7. Some different sizes of cheap synthetic paint brushes
  8. Fine (small) sponge or blister foam packaging material
  9. Scissors, hobby knife or cutter
  10. Super glue (plus optional accelerator: see my hobby shortcut)
    • Power drill and drill bits for metal
    • 1/72 scale figure(s)
    • Wire mesh (mine came from an old mesh cover for cooking pans)
    • Sharpie
    • Pencil

Let’s build a Gaslands car!

This Gaslands car tutorial for beginner is divided into 5 easy steps:

  1. Preparation
  2. Greebles, Weapons and other bits
  3. Priming and Base-coating
  4. Rust and Painting
  5. Weathering and Finishing Touches

Step 1: Preparation

First I choose an appropriate car. In my case a Matchbox Ferrari Testarosa from the deep 1980ies, which I can use as a Performance car in the game. After thinking of some ideas of how to make it look in a postapocalyptic setting, I decided upon a rusty car (since it was lying around for years somewhere) with lateral and frontal armor plating, a frontal ram, a roof mounted machine gun and a kind of enlarged engine block at back. I gathered my go-to material for Gaslands cars: plastic packaging ribbons, cable zip ties a wire connector, a small fuse, plastic tubing and some wire mesh (which is optional).

Gaslands car tutorial for beginner

Interior (optional, but fun step)

This step is completely optional. Alternatively you can just leave the windows in place or paint them a dark color, like dark blue or green.

Something I personally like to add to my Gaslands cars, is to detail the interior, by painting the inner part, adding a miniature, replacing the clear window parts with a piece of wire mesh. Therefore you’ll need to disassemble the car, which is very easy, if the bottom and top pieces are rivetted together. Simply take a power drill with a dedicated drill bit (for metal) and drill into the rivets until the connection points break.

Gaslands car tutorial for beginner

Take a piece of wire mesh and bend it into shape on the inner side, cut off the excess and super glue the mesh into place from the interior. Super glue accelerator helps tremendously for this task (as for the whole build by the way).

I used some cheap 1/72 plastic miniature, cut off the torso and the legs and attached the two pieces on the seat using super glue. After a short drying, I primed the interior piece black using cheap paint from a rattle can.

Step 2: Greebles, weapons and other bits

Next I cut and add the different bits to areas of the car I think make sense and look cool. Using a sharpie to mark the lines where you need to cut your bits is very helpful for precision. I also suggest “dry fitting” the pieces on the car, before gluing them into place. In my case I added, armor plating, an engine block, a cannon and an antenna made of a toothpick point to make the car look even cooler. Once everything is in place, I attach the bottom and top pieces using super glue at the contact points. Then let it dry.

Step 3: Priming and Base-coating

I primed the assembled car with cheap grey spray primer. After a short drying time, I painted the whole car brown using a large flat brush and left it to dry.

Step 4: Rust and painting

With a small pieces of sponge or blister foam, I “stamp” the whole car with some orange paint. Don’t use too much paint, as this deposits too much of it on the surface. I then spray cheap hairspray allover the car and let it dry quickly. Then I paint the main color, leaving the “add-on” pieces out. I used purple for my car. Let the paint dry again.

With a moist toothpick I then scratch away the main paint to reveal the brown-orange color underneath. The paint doesn’t stick very well unto the hairspray layer and can thus be removed easily. I find this easier, than the classic hairspray salt technique for which you’ll also need an airbrush. The result is maybe less realistic than the salt technique, but still very believable.

Gaslands car tutorial for beginner

Then I spray everything with a clear matt varnish to lock the paint layers forever into place. Let it dry before painting the other parts in the colors of your choice. I used black for the tires, some trims and parts of the engine and gun. Next paint on the silver bits and dry brush the rusty parts with silver. You can also drybrush some grey onto the black to add a more weathered look to your car. Which brings us to the last step: Weathering.

Gaslands car tutorial for beginner

Step 5: Weathering

Once the car is painted and fully dried, apply a black wash to the silver and black parts of the car and brown wash to the rest. And as with every step, let it thoroughly dry.

Gaslands car tutorial for beginner

I then use a lead pencil to go over some edges and everywhere else, where there would be wear and tear from usage.

Gaslands car tutorial for beginner

Lastly I drybrush some beige or skeleton bone acrylic paint to the bottom parts (especially on and around the wheels) and on the back. Basically apply it everywhere, where dirt ans dust would collect from driving around in the wasteland. Also you can add some black where soot would gather. You might add oil pools as well or even blood effects on the front part. The car is yours to customize and to tell a story.

Gaslands car tutorial for beginner

Finally seal your built and painted car in clear matt varnish. And, you guessed it, let it dry, before having a spin (no pun intended) in the Wasteland.

The final result

And here’s the final result! Not too bad. Knowing that you can build this in 1 or 2 evenings time.

Gaslands car tutorial for beginner

Since building a Gaslands car is an iterative design process (design as you build along), your Gaslands cars will definitely differ to mine. They are your own individual creations and as such unique pieces (of art?). Plus you’re upcycling stuff and reducing waste, which you would have otherwise thrown away. Once you start valuing and keeping interesting parts from old packaging, used electronics and other “waste(land) products”, you’ll quickly build a precious “bits”-box. Furthermore it’s addictive and you’ll never see garbage with the same eyes ever again. Believe me.

Have fun building your Wasteland ride! I certainly have each time.

Advanced techniques

As you venture deeper into the rabbit hole named Gaslands, you might want to tackle more advanced (not necessary more difficult) techniques to build your Gaslands garage.

Topics such as:

  • Swapping wheels
  • Kit-bash different cars into one
  • 3D printing bits and pieces
  • Airbrushing
  • Pigment powders

Let your imagination and your resources be your guide to the Wasteland!

Witness me!


  1. Thanks for the tutorial! Very nice and good to see how easy it could be. Very helpful and inspiring for my own customizations.

    1. Hi Andi! Great to hear that you liked it. Have fun tuning your cars! Feel free to show us your finished results.

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