Scale Cars

1:18 100% Hot Wheels Deora II (TEKU Custom)

For many years I’ve always wanted a TEKU Deora II as it was seen in the first Acceleracers movie Ignition, whether that be in traditional Hot Wheels 1/64 scale or even crazier, in 1/18 scale, since the Deora II was one of very few original Hot Wheels designs ever created in anything larger than palm-sized.

As a builder I never thought myself good enough to do it, especially with the complex decal work required to pull a design like this off, but here we are – I skipped 1/64 completely and jumped right into tearing into one of my most cherished childhood toys.

Many core memories were made with this toy. I remember whining and begging my mom for it in elementary school – it was expensive even back then (nowadays good luck finding one for less than $300 shipped). It’s effectively grown up with me, one of the most resilient pieces of the childhood that revolved around Hot Wheels, Acceleracers, and this car in particular.

The Deora II was the hero car in Hot Wheel’s 2003 film Hot Wheels: The World Race. Growing up I had owned everything to do with the movie – lunch bags, McDonalds toys, backpacks, the cars, the tracks, the DVDs, the comics, you name it. But this – this was the ultimate piece to that collection as a kid, and I suppose still is.

It’s funny now that I’m grown and have developed my own tastes and love for cars as an enthusiast, this thing would absolutely never even cross my radar the way it is.

It’s an evolutionary car based on a Dodge, has its roots in Ford design language, sports a Cadillac engine, and is more truck than sports car. My only two actual cars are Japanese and British, both small 2-seater sports cars with Toyota engines – but I’m not ashamed to admit I love the Deora regardless because of those childhood rose-tinted goggles – it’ll never not be the Hero car to me.

The most awesome feature for this model growing up was always the opening cockpit. As far as I know, this is the only version of the Deora II with an opening hatch, bar the actual 1/1 real-life car.

I remember adding these little pieces in as a kid – those speakers painted blue glued onto the sides and that little screen on the bottom didn’t come with the model. 10-year old me pulled them out of some Import Tuner cars back in the day and painted them myself with acrylic arts and crafts paints.

The speakers were meant to evoke the import tuner style of the TEKU from Acceleracers, while the little screen is actually movie-accurate (as far as I can remember) to the World Race where the interior of the Deora II was shown on-screen quite often.

I even stole some nitrous tanks off some other poor import car and stuck them onto the underside because Nitrox 2. :’)

So, what are we doing with this thing? As I mentioned briefly earlier, the livery that the Deora II wore in Acceleracers: Ignition was a one-movie wonder – it was never made as an official variant by Hot Wheels, though that hasn’t stopped the Acceleracers community from making many, many customs. My dream has always been to bring this version of the car to life in 1/18 scale.

The key to this project will of course be the many markings and decals that make up the core design. I can’t produce decals of an acceptable quality on my own with my own home decal system (I did so for the 1/24 Hollowback I built last year, and on those models the decals were barely acceptable), so I turned to TK Diecast to produce a custom sheet for me.

TK Diecast specializes in 1/18 modeling, and they have their own custom decal printing service you can make use of, whether you design the decals to be printable yourself (as I did) or give them the generic idea of what you want and pay them for the design time. All of these decal assets are publicly available online (many on the r/Acceleracers subreddit). All I had to do was vector them into larger, printable designs, color them the way I wanted for the model, and size them for TK Diecast to print.

Time to get to work! The two surfboards with the Highway 35 logos are naturally detachable, held in by slots below the rear window and pegs near the back. Check out all that dust between them!

Pulling off the wheels first before we disassemble the body. Unfortunately, it looked like the connections for the front wheels are designed to be near-permanent – there was no way to snap them off or unclip them as far as I could tell, and I didn’t want to break the steering axle since I still needed that. I ended up just cutting the hubs off behind the rotors – they can be glued back on later.

After separating the wheel hubs from the brake assemblies I realized the front wheels were probably held in by screws, hidden beneath a chrome center cap in each wheel that I could’ve probably easily popped out. Oh well, no big deal. But that would explain why they wouldn’t come apart with any amount of pulling.

Separating the chassis from the die-cast body. Just like with any traditinoal die-cast model, all it takes is a few screws at the bottom and the whole thing comes apart.

I won’t be disassembling the rear-mounted engine any more than this, since there’s really nothing I need to do. It’s quite well detailed already – the big supercharger is painted a darker gray than the rest of the silver covering, and the pulley belt is even filled in flat black! I’ll likely be painting that little blue strip below the exhausts in by hand with some black paint.

The entire plastic interior tub is held onto the diecast body with plastic rivets – same with the outward headlight assemblies. Very easy to drill those out and everything will drop right out.

The bottom portion of the dashboard pops right out, just shove a screwdriver or some pliers between it and the back of the metal hatch and it’ll give.

Separating the rest of the inward headlight assemblies and dash should’ve been easy by just undoing those two screws you see there, but unfortunately mine were seized and wouldn’t turn. I probably could’ve hit it with some penetrating oil and let it sit overnight, but I was impatient, so I just cut the plastic around the screws to get everything out. Shouldn’t make a difference later on when I glue the interior back in.

Once the rest of the interior is out you’ll be able to take the side and rear windows out together as one piece. The rear window frame requires removal first, with some of the same plastic rivets that held the interior tub in.

Taking the main windshield out requires removal of the upper headliner bit. Easy to pry that bit out, looks like it was held in by some glued plastic pins to the diecast body.

There it is – fully diecast body, all metal. At one point I was truly prepared to do this build by masking the windows and lights and doing it with the interior intact, since as far as I know no one else has disassembled a 1/18 Deora II like this, much less made a guide on how to do it, so I was truly going in blind and prying at things until they came apart.

Still, I’m glad I took the leap and got it all separated out – this will make painting and handling the bodywork much easier than it otherwise would’ve been, trying to work around the windows and all that jazz up front.

The rear wing and hatch are technically separate pieces (the wing is held in by metal rivets), but I decided not to separate them since it shouldn’t make much difference to the body work I had to do.

I love stripping metal bodies – it’s so much easier than plastic since I can freely use harsher chemicals like lacquer thinner and not worry about melting anything.

It’s a Zamac!

Scuffed the body with 800 grit before we moved onto primer.

I intended to do as much of the body graphics that weren’t actual letters or logos by good old fashioned paint and masking tape. Most of the TEKU livery is just pinstriping and straight lines after all, so it shouldn’t be difficult to achieve with tape.

After primer, the first coat down was white. When masking multi-colors, a good rule of thumb is always to start with the lightest color on your design first, or at the “bottom.” This way later on when I’m painting the black pinstripes in I’m not stuck spraying a million layers of white over black to bring the brightness and vibrancy up.

Starting the masking work for the blue. Figuring out how much blue there is on certain parts of the body was actually a little more difficult than I imagined – especially since there are varying references from fan-renders, customs, artwork, and the like. I didn’t have the actual movies playing at the time to watch them frame by frame for how the car looked on-screen, but I figure I could get away with proportional adjustments since this casting isn’t completely accurate to how the car looked in the movies anyway.

Really struggled with which blue to go with. TS-10 French Blue feels more like how the car was portrayed in the movies – I think most people would think “light blue” when they think of the TEKU livery. Ironically I only ended up going with TS-44 Brilliant Blue because that was the shade that matched the printed decals better.

It’s a light enough blue that doesn’t feel dark, and with the surfboard deck painted orange I think it’ll come together nicely.

Let’s talk about wheels. In the film, the Deora II is equipped with some split 5-spoke wheels. The original 3-piece thick five spokes that came on the original die-cast would’ve worked just fine as a substitute, but just for the sake of standing out I wanted to go with something different, even if it still wasn’t going to be movie-accurate.

Luckily I had these 21-inch Advan GT in the parts pin that have been sitting for years – meant for another project that I never got around to. They’re actually also from TK Diecast, and it looks like they don’t even produce this size anymore!

They’re a little smaller than the original wheels that came with the model, but they do technically work. The car will just be laying bodywork on the ground, but I’m down for that. They’re really not that much different than the wheels that came with the car originally, but I have a soft spot for GTs dammit.

Now that the blue is on, moving onto the black pinstripes, mostly at the bottom of the car.

And finally, peeling all that tape to see the fruits of my efforts…just to have chunks of paint pulled up on the passenger side rear quarter and on the rear bumper 🙁

Happy it wasn’t much worse than this, at least. I’m not even sure why it only peeled in these sections and not the others – I had used primer and scuffed the body good, but maybe next time I should be prepping diecast with harsher grit to have the primer bite better. The peeled sections went down to bare metal, so it’s definitely a primer-to-metal issue.

Sanding those areas down do we can spot-repair them. No way am I stripping the whole body and doing all that masking again for these sections.

After building a few more coats of white up and re-masking the blue section, it’s looking better.

Wheels are painted standard silver.

Nice that the barrels and lugnuts all come as separate pieces. Barrels are chrome’d with Molotow Liquid Chrome.

I decided to mess around a little and do the lugnuts in colorshift Midnight Purple, just for funsies. Not like they’ll really show the color much once it’s all together.

The TK Diecast hubs actually fit perfectly into the hub holes in the rotors, made my life so much easier instead of having to come up with some custom mounting solution. These are just the rotors and brakes that came with the model, painted chrome and gloss red for the calipers. I could’ve grabbed some very nice fully functional rotors, calipers, brakes, and hubs from TK Diecast but I didn’t see the need.

This is the exact color scheme I have on the Advan GT on my own Lotus Evora – coincidence?

Surfboards were easy – dunked them in brake fluid for a day to melt the decals/graphics off, scuffed it with 800, and sent it with some primer and gloss white.

The body paint isn’t all done yet, but I couldn’t resist putting what I had together real quick just to see the vision come together. Oh yes, this is it.

The final bit of paintwork on the body is the two orange pinstripes that run the length of the car, from front hatch to rear bumper. I’m breaking my own rules a little bit by saving a light color for last, when it will be going over some of the darker blue in the rear, so after masking I hit those areas with some silver to lighten the base coat the orange will be going over a bit.

The whole main body is sealed with a coat of gloss clear before we get to the final step with the decals. Unfortunately I hit it with a bit too much clear…

My lines were actually really crisp before this, I’m pretty mad at myself for screwing it all up like this on the home stretch. Any lacquer will melt what’s underneath if you hit it too hard and too thick, and in this case I went too ham with this coat of clear.

Thankfully most of the damage was localized to the rear quarter panel, which is coincidentally where the big TEKU logo decal will be going, so I decided not to stress too much and just touch up certain areas and hope the decal would hide the rest.

Finally onto the fun part.

TK Diecast prints the decals you request on the smallest sheet possible that will fit all your designs, but the decals themselves are not pre-cut for you, which means to get a clean edge you’ll have to cut your designs out yourself.

I’ve used TK Diecast’s catalogue decals before on my 1/24 builds, but this is my first experience with any of their custom printed stuff. Needless to say, they hold up to the same excellent quality. The decals are thin but very strong, meaning they resist tearing and can be re-positioned, stretched around corners, and moved around plenty before being settled. I even had a hard time cutting the bottom of the TEKU logo to wrap it around the top of the wheel arch because the decal was so tough to cut.

Of course clear borders are still visible as they would be with any clear water slides unless they’re cut to perfection around the actual design, but TK Diecast’s paper quality is still very good so the edges are thin even if they’re there.

Surfboard fins painted blue by hand with some of the same decanted lacquer spray used on the main body.

Ironically these surfboard decals took the most effort to vector and colorize myself, since I wanted them all to be on-theme with the blue bodies and yellow outlines.

Stripped the parts I added myself as a kid to the interior, with the intent of repainting them and adding them right back in.

I didn’t want to mess too much with the interior since I think it’s nice as it is, but the original infotainment screen had some silly country road graphic as the decal – took that right off and printed some of my own TEKU-themed graphics to insert on both the custom tablet screen and the main dash screen.

Done! What a dream come true.

I’ve wanted to make something like this happen for a very long time, so it’s still surreal to me that I managed to do it myself now, all these years later. I’ve never even built a 1/64 TEKU Deora II!

The gradient design on the rear quarters where the thick blue stripe fades into the white of the body was really tough to get right. I played around a lot with masking and misting paints, but without an airbrush I’m severely limited in what I’m able to do with that sort of effect. In the end it’s really not even a gradient – I just got lucky the big decals there sort of distracts from the color transition.

I think if I were to do it again I would make the big TEKU logo decal over the rear quarter a bit larger – in the movies proper it extends past the intake vents. I’m happy with how the rest of the logos look though.

The Advan GTs are actually slightly smaller in diameter than the original wheels, which means to have them fitted nicely up against the wheel arches the whole car does sit lower than it did before (on the ground actually!) The ground effects would definitely be dragging on the pavement if this thing could roll – good thing it doesn’t, right?

You’ll notice I did introduce a bit of negative camber on all the wheels when I fitted them. What can I say, I’m a stanceboi at heart.

I’m very careful with opening the front hatch now since it’s on a free-swinging pivot joint, which means if you hold the car upside down and let the hatch just swing open, it’ll rub the top of the roof against that bit of frame above the rear window. It was always like that in the original diecast, but now that it’s all custom painted I’m very ginger with making sure it doesn’t chip the fresh paint.

I always thought this casting had the surfboards too close together on the deck (in most other media the boards are spaced further out) but I didn’t feel like modifying the mounting points by cutting into the plastic parts to space them out.

Realizing now I forgot to paint the underside of the rear wing white – there’s masking marks and bits of yellow, primer, white, blue, and all that there because I forgot it would be visible in shots like this. Oops.

Something I did find mildly amusing was when I was applying the rear quarter TEKU logo decals, I realized that I forgot to mirror the design for the driver side – d’oh! But then after checking movie screenshot references it looks like it was that way in the original films too – the animators never bothered flipping the logo so it pointed the same way on both sides, so I guess I unintentionally made it more movie-accurate!

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