Kitbashing Basics

Before you can walk, you have to learn to crawl.

creator: x14km2d | build: 2022-01-05 | update: 2022-01-05


If you’re into modeling, you’re bound to come across the term “kitbashing”. Kitbashing is the technique of building new models from old scaled models or sets, taking parts from sets and combining them with the old models to create new creations. Kitbashing also exists in wargaming, fantasy miniatures or tabletop. There are no rules for kitbashing, because everything is allowed. No matter what materials you use or how professional a kitbash project should look. It doesn’t matter if you are a modeler on a movie set or just want to make something as a beginner. A typical kitbash project are for example my Starfisher models.

In this project we will rebuild a toy fire truck. It’s not about a specific result, because we first have to learn to get a certain feeling for kitbashing. If you don’t have a fire truck, you can use something completely different. It doesn’t even have to be a car. It can also be a plane, train or crane. Today we’re just going to learn the basic basics of what kitbahing is, and you can do it with any model. Even a spaceship. Everything is allowed. But if you want to build something 1:1, you won’t get far here, because that’s not the point. That’s something you have to learn first in modeling. Trust your own feelings, instincts and ideas. If you don’t want to do that, you can just build the project without learning anything.


As a model I used a Siku fire engine 1034 toy1. Siku is a brand su Germany, whose model I like very much. these are mostly classic cars. These are made of metal, although in the case of the fire truck the container was made of plastic. The odells are easy to rebuild and are very good for kitbash projects. In addition, this brand is a little cheaper, because I just live in Germany and these then do not have to be delivered around the world.


You won’t need much. Small drills, pliers, superglue, saws and plastic junk will suffice. Most tools and materials can be found around the house and you won’t need to order anything new. What you will need is time and quiet, because kitbahsing is a very intense and concentrated technique. The more quiet you have, the better the model will be. No internet and no smartphone chats. Silence. You and the model. In one universe.

Some people make a drawing or sketch a kitbash idea. You can do that if you want to go in a certain direction. For most, it also helps to flesh out the images from their head. when kitbahsing, drawings and plans just get in the way, so I work freely and creatively. I just let my flow decide what the model will become. Sometimes I don’t even have a specific theme in mind, like this will be a cyberpunk van. I just build away and trust my instinct and gut feeling.

If possible, it is good to have a 3D printer. However, this is not necessary and all the components printed here you can also rebuild yourself from plastic or other materials. however, I will explicitly note this again in the certain places, in case you have overlooked this important paragraph.


Before we even start our project we take a closer look at the actual toy or model. We look for screws, pop rivets or other connections. We look at what is made of metal or plastic. Which components are connected, glued or screwed together. Sometimes there is clear plastic like the window panes and blue lights. These are connected together and can only be separated if you cut them apart. You might want to do that if you want to put LEDs in the model, for example. This is also possible. But this is still too difficult for beginners and we will concentrate only on very simple techniques for this model.

Through our investigation we were able to find out that the plastic container of the fire truck was connected with plastic struts. We can easily drill these out with a hand drill. Be careful not to drill too deep so as not to accidentally break the ceiling of the container. The container consists of two parts, which will be important later. After that I sanded the container with a nail file on the sides, because I did not want to have small edges there.

At this point my first idea developed. The container of the fire truck was much too small for me and I wanted to have it bigger. To do this, I printed out four components with my 3D printer. You could also cut them out of plastic if you don’t have a 3D printer. These new components I glue to all vie corners, so I can attach higher walls. By chance I found another interesting object on my desk. The orange diagonal object is actually from a plastic clamp and will make a great rope winch.

Try to imagine what you want to build. Of course, you can also research on the Internet how a winch looks like, but it is better for your brain if you invent a winch yourself. It doesn’t have to be one hundred percent accurate or work. If people see a winch in it, then it is a winch.

With a kitbash, it’s quite good to start with the big shapes first. In the previous seven photos I have attached the walls to the old container. This gives me more total surface area to work with. It should also make the model car look chunkier and more angular. As material for the walls I used plastic from an old packaging2, which had the same quality as Styrine. Styrine can be used very well for kitbashing, but is unfortunately expensive. If you do not have much money, you can also take simple plastic pieces, which you then cut with a modeling knife.

In the next steps we will get to the details of our kitbash project. But where did I get all the material from? it mostly comes either from old projects or from model kits. Here on the photo you can see my plastic trash box. I put everything in there that I find around the house. Old lids from soda bottles or plastic lids. Also old children’s toys, foils or other material comes into this box. All components should be as clean as possible. if you collect an old lemonade lid, it should be rinsed out with a little water. You should also sort out all the parts once a year and also throw away certain things so that you don’t litter your room.

Here you can see the parts I decided to use. An old survival pipe, clips, a cap from a disposable razor and an element from a deodorant can, which I had already used for a soft button and deodorant palette projects. Since I try to throw away as little as possible, the component ended up in my kitbash trash box. Additionally I cut out some plastic foil, but I didn’t use it. Oh! And the little clear plastic ring is from a superglue tube.

When you take your parts out of the trash kitbash box, don’t be too specific about what you want to use them for. Rather look at the plastic part and think about what it could be used for. A rough idea is enough. Sometimes it’s just a vague feeling or I like the shape of the part. Take some more out of the box and store it in a free place on your desk. You can also pre-sort it roughly, as I did. But that is not important, because every modeler works differently. With me, everything on the desk is a little more sorted.

Here you can see one of the parts that I simply glued to the side of the rebuilt container. At that time I had the idea to build a small neon tube on the side of the container. But later I discarded this idea, because I didn’t want to complicate the project unnecessarily. This project should be suitable for beginners, but unfortunately I sometimes forget that while tinkering, because then the ideas go through with me. If you realize that an idea is too complicated for you and you don’t have enough experience to implement it, don’t be afraid to discard the idea. You can remember the idea and use it on another model. You should not necessarily implement ideas because you want to have it that way right now. That will not work. You will only be annoyed because it doesn’t work and at some point you will no longer be interested in working on the model. The most important thing is that you have fun with the project.

Once again, so that everyone understands. the model must please you, no one else. Not your parents, friends, teachers or the Internet. Only you all alone must like it. You don’t need a specific outcome or to have built something super awesome. Fun. That’s the most important thing.

To make the roof of the container a little more dynamic, I sawed an old survival pipe to size and sanded the end off. If you use kitbash parts, the colors don’t matter, because later the primer will make it all fit together into a unified picture. At the beginning it all looks a little trashy, but that will change soon.

When I took the component from the deodorant can out of the box, I immediately had a concrete image for an idea. This should be a satellite dish3. Like a camper or trailer park trailer. To make the rear part of the dish look better I glued a piece of plastic on the superglue plastic ring and grinded it into the right shape. With such simple elements you can disguise the main function of the actual component. Also a small plastic strip on the surface of the dish can create a whole new design.

So that the satellite dish also fits well on the roof, I simply printed out a thin plate with my 3D printer. You can simply but also take plastic and cut it to size. If you don’t have any plastic, you can also use cardboard from a cornflakes box. Later you will see that almost anyway no more.


At this point, I dealt with the element that I had glued to the front wall of the container at the very beginning. First I took off a component, but I didn’t like it. Then I cut off a corner, but I didn’t like that either. Then I simply tore the whole component off the wall of the container. Admittedly, I then had a hole, but that doesn’t matter. Maybe this can even contribute to the story of the model later.

If you no longer like something, simply tear it down again. Dare to break your model again and then rebuild it. You don’t necessarily have to leave something on the model because you’re afraid of breaking something. I also had to learn this step first, because sometimes you still think about leaving it as it is. But that is wrong. At this point you have to trust your feeling. If you don’t like the component, remove it. No discussion. Just tear it down and move on. Don’t think about it for too long, because sometimes you can think about something for too long and then you never move forward. It is what it is.

Since i didn’t have a miniature at hand at the moment, i painted a small human on the side wall of the container. i oriented myself on the door of the fire truck. Please ignore the much too short legs, which are anatomically incorrect. It should only be a rough help for my head and orient me to certain situations to the correct proportions.

On the back of the container I added another element, which is supposed to be a winch. This is also from a typical plastic clamp that you can buy at the dollar store.

So that the container later does not simply fall off the model I have attached two screws with nuts. thus the necessary components are held firmly. however, I have refrained from gluing the container to the retaining plate, so that I can perhaps change something later. Sometimes this can be the better way. You can always glue it later, but to loosen something that is glued is more difficult.

If you want something more detailed to make it look more interesting you can sometimes glue on simple shapes. For example, you can attach simple plastic parts to a simple roof and it will look like something properly built. This is a very small trick with a great effect. Small elements make big elements more interesting. But you should also make sure that the elements you put together fit together. A pipe that comes out of a wall, but otherwise has no sense looks strange and can not convince the viewer. Just look around in your room. All products have smaller elements that make the object more interesting. Buttons, lines or highlights are such design elements.


Here I have dealt with the winch. In some places I have glued elements from very small cut plastic pieces. This doesn’t have to be much, just to make the object look a little more interesting. I also picked out a cable and compared the proportional thickness with the drawing on the side wall of the container. I wrapped this cable around a small plastic tube and glued that to the other elements. I did the same for the roof. Since I wanted to keep this very simple, the smaller elements are very simple shapes that can be cut with scissors or a modeling knife.

Here you can see how I tore off a side wall again. I had a spontaneous idea that I could build a sales cart. But at the same moment it dawned on me that this would be too complicated. So I just printed out corners and glued them on. I keep but the idea in the back of the head, because maybe I implement this later yet.


When you create a kitbash object it looks all wild and jumbled at first. To most viewers, it appears that everything you’ve come up with doesn’t fit together. It’s not until you paint the whole object in a uniform base coat that the whole picture automatically comes together. Since I had already primed part of the toy fire truck in a Mosuo black paint test, I won’t describe that again here. I will also not describe the dry brush technique here. But it is also sufficient if you simply prime your model with a black primer from the spray can. The result will not be the same as you see here in the article.

If you want to prime components, you should stick or glue them on somewhere. Since most of the components of the fire truck have holes, I just put them on chop sticks. This also has the advantage that I can fix these constructions with clamps on my table without having to hold them all the time. Before, of course, all components must be taken apart, because I do not want to paint the glass panes, for example.

While tinkering i found a piece of corrugated cardboard. corrugated cardboard is one of the best materials if you want to build cyberpunk terrain or containers for example. sometimes it’s also quite suitable to represent the front of a closed store. you can also make or buy corrugated cardboard, but mostly you can find it in gift boxes4.

After a first inspection, I like the object more and more. The primer makes everything uniform, as if everything has always belonged together like this. Now we just have to prime the rest of the components and reassemble everything

Come up with tricks for the best way to prime small components. The best way to do this is to put them aside. This will save you a lot of time and you can continue to work on your interesting parts of the model.


I am super happy with the first draft of my kitbash project. Today you learned how to build a kitbash object and what points to pay attention to. How to combine big and small objects. What fits and what doesn’t. All this will help you to realize your own kitbash projects. As I said before, there are no real rules, but you can observe a few small points to make your model look more authentic to the viewer. I didn’t paint the model, because that’s done elsewhere. Anyway, you should understand the basics of kitbash.


  1. Unfortunately, you can not buy the model in America. I also looked at but there are only very few models and they are really expensive. I advise you to switch to a local toy car brand if you don’t want the project to be too expensive.↩︎

  2. tp-link AC5600 High Gain Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter Archer T600U PLus.↩︎

  3. In reality, however, this satellite dish should not be able to receive any data. But I am not sure right now.↩︎

  4. For example, from extremely expensive perfume, what you got from your parents for Christmas.↩︎

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