MP4/4 Mclaren 1/20 Top Studio

So as mentioned in my recent front page post my next build will most likely be the MP4/4 Mclaren 1/20 from Tamiya with full Top studio and full carbon decal kit.

Here is a link to top studios manual/instruction for the additional kit there’s a lot to do so onwards and upwards. F2002 and then the Mclaren from 1988 Monaco GP.

Go to download on the left handside and pick the 1/20 MP4/4 or whatever car or bike you fancy.

For this build I’ll be using JayKay640 for those who know him from F1m and Automotive forums as my inspiration and guide through this, what I can only call my most challenging build. I don’t think I will be going to the extremes that Jay went to but will give it a fair crack of the WIP. Pardon the pun!!20130803-082958.jpg

This is The MP4/4 in all its original glory. Considering the age of this and the way my good friend Graham Trotter has kept the kit they are immaculate to say the least. (cheers matey). There are three main sprues, a set of wheels and a smaller sprue with the rear diffuser light. A set of Marlboro decals. As mentioned before the Top Studio kit to follow. I was quite impressed with the level of quality on such a small kit and considering there is more to come with the studio kit it bodes well for a fantastic replica of the most successful F1 car of all time.

Bare in mind the kit I’m doing at the moment is a 1/12 from Revell I’m quite disappointed in the quality of it in terms of the company name and the volume of kit they do but nevertheless without wanting to slag them of too much they do a pretty decent variety so for now I’m more interested in this kit. As mentioned before I’ll be following Jaykays rendition of this chassis but not to the levels in terms of scratch building he has achieved. I’ve managed to collect quite a number of images recently of said chassis and would be ready to start ASAP however I’m considering starting a mass WIP on F1M with this car so if anyone fancies it please let me know. Drop me a pm or start a thread in F1M forums.20130803-185118.jpg20130803-185126.jpg

As you can already see the main difference is immense between a 1/20 and 1/12. This is a first for me but a big challenge. Already looking at the way the main parts fit together you can see that what or why Jaykay did what he did was a necessary. Firstly the chassis looks too “Toyish” to quote him correctly. This needs a lot of cutting and sanding. I don’t think I’ll play with the rear end as much but the main areas I will be concentrating on are around the engine and gear box and where the air boxes are located. Looking at the pre downloaded top studio manual I have there is already a lot that has been accounted for but not all. Unlike Jay I will be leaving the air intakes for the turbos and leaving the radiators as they are due to the period of the GP season I am depicting. I’ll be putting a lot more effort and care into this than normal due to its size but hopefully get a true MP4/4.

As for the top of the car, the main cowling will be cut at the point where the suspension sits on the monococ. I won’t be going overboard with sanding and re shaping but will do a bit. My main observation is that the parts seem to just slot into place unlike a model I’m building at the moment!!!!20130804-194259.jpg

Thought I would have a look at the chassis and remove some mould lines and marks and some of the holes in the four main corners of the chassis that hold the cowling down. It’s quite strange working in this format but I quite like it. This should be ready for primer soon. A few more removals before I do that. Plus I don’t think I should get too involved in this yet as I still don’t have the top studio kit and I still have the F2002 to do. (One thing I hate is those circular marks on the bodywork and the chassis that take ages to remove as they are concave and need so much sanding but with so much care so you don’t damage any part of the kit).20130804-223928.jpg

I’ve cut the front wing off and sanded down all the horrible bits that need to go. Filled in the holes created in the chassis base with filla ready for sanding again and constructed and glued the air ducts in the cowling ready for sanding. That’s where I’ll leave it ready to get back to it when the time is right. (When the F2002 is completed or when I have to wait for Brian to finish the gearbox and engine block).

Top studio kit ordered and should be with me within two weeks from the states….. Cannot wait . 20130817-085209.jpg

(27/08/13) The studio MP4/4 1/20 kit arrived today can’t wait to get it started but will have to drool over it as I finish off the F2002. Can’t believe the precision work in this kit.

In addition to the extra resin and photo-etch parts you get a full photographic manual aid and a full build manual too. You will notice that a lot of the original kit will need removing or replacing so a lot of studying Is required.





Here are some more parts of the top studio kit. Including additional resin parts. I can’t believe the moulding on these with the quality surpassing anything I thought possible. There are also quite a substantial amount of photo-etch parts too and I think I need to re think my tooling and cement option on these. I’ve already requested some advice through f1m and know where I’m at so hopefully I should be ready to start this when the f2002 is done….


This is only a fraction of the stupid amount of quality detail this kit offers. And for the price I got this at it’s well worth it. Adding this kind of detail to an already fairly well moulded kit is phenomenal and should bring out some quality in this piece.



As you can see from the above two images I’ve detached the complete front end of the nose. I’ve done this after careful analysis of the top studio kit. There are quite a few additional parts that eventually will be hidden and felt that this would be a great shame so off it came.(all the brake and steering mechanism will not be on show). Luckily there isn’t a great deal to scratch build on this section but I’ve got to be incredibly careful as the parts are thin and need to by symmetrical and fit otherwise it will look awful. I’ve still not decided how I’m going to add the base to the monocoque without leaving any join marks or lines. This is something I must sleep on and take care with.


Obviously I haven’t added this yet but this gives you a general idea of what I’m looking for with the front end.


Even with the top studio kit being as good as it is, has it’s issues! I’ve been playing about with a few parts and come across a few issues. Ie in the above cockpit area the resin seat provided isn’t for me one of the best moulds I’ve ever seen. So this needs a few bits adding and removing but that’s all part of the fun.
I’ve also noticed around the period of the 88 season that I’m using reference from Mclaren added a few features to the car to not only increase performance but also aid more rigidity in the cockpit. Possibly reinforcing head neck and shoulder positioning for high G Forces possibly. I’m not sure whether I want to add this but might be worth considering as the seating arrangement at the rear top needs re thinking.

I’ve just received another 1/20 Mclaren of a mate of mine and also a shed load of data referring to this MP4/4 of which I’ve only just noticed a few errors I’ve made on prepping the nose cone. These need sorting before I do anything else. Apart from which I think I have all I need for this build now. Just can’t wait to get started on it properly. I think doing a Senna car makes you think more and want to do the best you can on it so hopefully I’ll be getting on with it soon.


I’ve put the basic engine block together and the lower wishbone that comes with the original kit. I’m gradually getting certain areas glued up and ready for primer and then paint. After that I can start to allocate certain photo etch parts and drill relevant holes for the extra parts from the studio kit. So far it’s pretty simple and easy but that’s going to change soon. There are some complex areas and choosing what order to do everything in is taking its toll. Just wish the gearbox and the engine could get finished so I can complete the F2002 and get on with this as it’s on my mind 95% of the time.. I’ve removed one moulded electrical box on the side pods and will remove the other tonight. Quite a tricky thing to do, not due to it being difficult just a tight area to get the dremel in to sand it off. I’ll update before and after pics later. There are some holes that appear due to the mould so i’ll be putting a plastic plate underneath and putting some filler in on top and smoothing off. In my eyes there isn’t a right or wrong way to do this its what ever suits you or however comfortable you are with your own process.


Before shot with the electrical hubs removed….


I’ve started prep on the nose section where the steering rack and brake gear goes. Got some more ideas for that too but will have to wait.


The front section of the area containing the drive system and brake servos etc is ready for the top stop studio parts but there are a few more parts that need adding before I glue the base of the car on to completely conceal the front of the monocoque….

The metal plate that you saw earlier that comes in the Top Studio kit is added and ready for mr modeller metal primer. This will allow the paint to sit on the metal and not flake off over time. I’ll be adding a few more metal components as well so saving time and hassle painting at a later stage. I’ve decided to glue the metal (large metal parts) with some very powerful glue so no mistakes can be made. I’ve been playing with a few glues and find that most of them after a while don’t seem to last very long. I keep touching parts and try fall away of don’t sit right. I’ll update with pics over the next few days…


Set up the front end ready for filling in and prep should be done ready for the first primer coat. Mr modeller is on their too as mentioned before. Looks a bit crude but always does at this point. I’m fairly happy so far. Still a long way to go….. I’ve also added the suspension support arm joints inside the monocoque nose ready for them when I’ve made them.


I’m always checking to make sure that all parts are meeting nicely. However as you can see even though the cowling and main top upper body work fits nicely there is an issue with where they meet at the front. This needs building up as per reference material and visually…. I’ll get this done over the next few days before I do anything else.


As per the manual it suggests removing parts of the side panels just bellow the main part of the cockpit, I’ve done this as recommended however I’ve also made my own extended panel so that it pushes the sides away from the body of the car. Just need that to set and then I’ll add it to the monocoque. Once this is completed I’ll be ready for the first coat of primer.


Panels are now glued on and need a bit of filla around certain parts and it’s nearly there. I’m still debating on whether to glue the base on after putting the steering system in so as to get rid of all the join lines but there are so many other areas of the car to consider when doing this so whilst it’s drying and before I spray the primer I’m going to have a think about it.


Just finished the right side pod ready for primer. I’ll do this later today and see what happens. Quite happy so far. Much better than a revell kit. Feel more at home with a quality moulded kit. But that’s just my opinion…..

I’ve just been looking at some reference material and might redo the side panels that sit just outside the sidepods. They look a lot thinner in the flesh so going to remove them.

I’ve now re done the side panels as mentioned previously and they look a lot better than before. These have been sanded down and made to fit in with the scale of the car. Just waiting for these to set and then it’s spray time.

Over the past few hours I’ve been debating on the finish I would like for the monocoque and find a mixture of Zero Paints and carbon Decals is the way forward but I’ve noticed that the side pods are obviously Rabin but a very dull black/grey and deciding on the material to use has thrown up a challenge. I think I’m going to have to mix some paints to get the desired effect. My mate Graham is having a play with this as we speak to see what he can create. I’ll see what he can throw into the mix and have a go too.


The first layer of under coat has gone on and brought up some areas that need more attention. More filler and sanding needed so will spend the evening doing this to make sure it’s perfect.


I’ve had a couple of hours over the last 24 hours to do a bit so here are the little things I’ve been doing ready for primer. Front upper wish bones with top studio connectors for the suspension rods. Including both front suspension rods, these were a pain as the parts are so delicate to sand down. If you have this kit be ever so careful. Side pod radiators with additional coolant pipe added to the sides. These weren’t so bad, it was just a Case of sanding down both components and gluing together with a smidgen of filler. The nose cone is done and ready however I’m going to give this a very light coat and use cf as I don’t want to build up too much paint as it won’t fit to the monocoque later at the end….

I’m in a quandary! Do I glue the large sections of Photo-etch onto the undercoat or onto the finished coat? By doing it on the undercoat it allows the finished part to look part of the body however they are so thin that if I coat it after, I run the risk of the paint covering it too thickly…. What do I do? However this doesn’t need to be decided yet but is something I’m going to have to think about carefully.


After a long sleep on it session I decided to add the photo-etch then paint over the top. I had another look at some of the reference material I had and that confirmed my choice. I’ve added the side pod detail and glued with some really strong resin. After it’s dried I’ll put some filler round the edges at the back of the side pods as there are a couple of gaps showing . It’s a bit crude at the moment but should look batter soon.


Here are the turbo inter coolers that sit just behind the radiators. I’ve removed all the moult lines and added the little pipe connectors that come with the top studio kit. Things are beginning to slowly take shape. Can’t wait to get my new needles for the Iawata. Very frustrating without them, I’m unable to do any paint work but hopefully they will be here soon.


I found my old airbrush so decide to give it a go. Oh my god, the difference between and Iawata and a run of the mill brush is amazing. Still looks ok but needs a bit of tidying up but I’m happy the detail is subtly coming through the paint work which is a good thing. Just need a bit of sanding then it’s ready for paint and cf work….


Putting parts together temporarily whilst building as you go along for me and most is a very important part of the building process. If I hadn’t done as above I wouldn’t have noticed a section of radiator that hangs down too far on one side. By doing this you get to resolve issues before it’s to late. It’s a minor issue but could be the difference at the end. Above is a shot I the left side pods with radiators and inter cooler attached.


The first layer of Matt black has gone on and I’m pleasantly surprised at how well the photo-etch shows up. I’ve changed my opinion of this stuff over the past few hours. Got a few more bits to do then it’s time to start adding some detail but not before I secure the bottom plate. Just done another coat of black and am really chuffed with the results as it mimics the finish in the reference material. Fluke maybe but the grey firmer leaves a rough finish on the side pods which I haven’t fine sanded down and sprayed over the top and it’s left a more than desirable finish. I’m just adding some detail to the chassis before I primer it them it’s time to add it to the monocoque. Can’t wait to add the detail.

I’ve done a few extra bits this afternoon, mainly the drive mechanism and the steering rack at the front of the monocoque. Included I’ve added the photo-etch to the radiators and intercoolers. These are ready for paint. The chassis is on the spray block and I’ll finish that off on Wednesday. Back to work tomorrow. I’ll add pics later on Wednesday…..


Checking the drive and steering rack to see that it fits right ….I’ll be updating the other pics on Wednesday as mentioned previously.

These next images are of radiators and the intercoolers with resin studio parts added and photo-etch. These are ready for primer in gloss from alclad and should be painted later today. Lastly are the tools I’ll be using to make bespoke cf for the front and rear of the monocoque. I’ll be measuring the sections and transferring it to the cf sheet ready to cut and place over the sections. I’ll be finishing off the sections in a gloss over coat so they fit firm and nicely to the car. Should have some updates later ….




Once the stainless and chrome effect is finished on the radiators I’ll be adding a blue hose kit as above to depict the original connection via a top studio kit.


As with the radiators the intercoolers will be chrome/stainless finished and at the top I’ll be adding the top studio fasteners that show in purple. I have found these in a dull red as I have no purple I might use this however I’m on the look out for a purple Alclad clear to get the authentic look..


Drive shaft is complete with photo-etch bolts ready to be added to the monocoque.


Word of advice when doing this top studio kit!! Make sure you have a sense of humour and a lot of patience because your gunna need it!! Oh my God the detail and precision in this detail kit is unreal and so fiddly…… Here is one of the rods that’s holds the air duct fences under the left side pod.. You can see that this part is only 1.5 cm in length and took over an hour just to get this bit done. There are still the two end coupling sections to add and that’s only one side.


This is the chassis plate with detail set pedals and canister set ready for the cables. Can’t believe how tiny some of this stuff is it’s a great deal more complex than the 1/12 stuff and takes a lot of time and patience… Need a rest my eyes are gone lol.


The fences are now in ready for the support arms but those can wait they still need some work.


The steering rack is on and the drive shaft too. It’s looking more like an f1 car now, well beginning to anyway.

I’m still debating on whether to use cf with a light wash of black and Matt clear coat or scratch into the black paint and use a similar technique over that that I was thinking of doing over the cf but using a pale gold colour instead of black…. I spoke to my mate graham the other day about options and I’m stuck in two minds… Time to think a bit quicker as I need to make a decision soon.


So after a long few months off I’ll be back on the model and giving you an insight into a few areas I’ve been working on and will be working on tomorrow. I’ll have my daughter with me however I’m sure she can find something to do whilst I potter about with some painting. The radiators and intercoolers are primed ready for alclad so I’ll be finishing these off and uploading a few pics during the course of the day…


Wishbomes and radiators in the spraybooth ready for alclad base again had to wash them off and redo as noticed a few less than smooth areas which I wasn’t happy with but now should be ready to go.


One of the radiators on the clamp being glued…


Today I manged to get to grips with my new compressor and spraybooth. Mainly just getting some black undercoat on a few parts and will update with some pics tomorrow. I’ve not had a great deal of time but I promise to get some on soon. Mainly the radiators and the intercoolers are ready to add to the body. I have come across an issue with the brake fluid reservoirs, mainly the kit holes that are made that the studio kit extras fit into. These have had to be enlarge somewhat and a bit of extra tlc as it’s getting a bit tight at the front end…. So definitely some images tomorrow and this is the beginning of me getting on with the Mp4/4. I estimate with the time I have this should be finished by easter fingers crossed but knowing my situation probably later but that’s my goal…

My next post should also have some pics of the spray effect I have added on the front and rear of the monocoque to depict the carbon effect without using cf decals. Should be good and give a better representation of the real thing.




I’ve primered the engine, gearbox and the rads and intercoolers again as I wasn’t happy with the outcome. The pics don’t give them justice so I’ll get the stainless and chrome effect added later tomorrow and put some pics on. It’s slow going but I’m that way out I’d rather re-do them if I’m not happy with the final product after all this car and it’s driver were legends and I want to do it justice


I’ve been spraying the coolers again and this time I’m a lot happier with the result. I’ll be giving them a bit of a polished look once they have dried out over the next 24 hours. Next are the radiators.


I might be re doing the one on the left as it’s left a nasty strange flat spot at the top. Don’t know why but needs looking at once dry. If it’s wrong it changes the look of the car and to be honest isn’t nice and visibly very obvious. Time will tell, I’ll let it dry and see how I feel in the morning.


I went up a bit ago and saw how bad the mark on the radiator facia was and decided to remove it and soak in fluid to remove the layers of paint. It had to be re-done. You can just about see the stain mark the glue had made when it seeped through when I had the clamp on it the other day. ( I won’t make that mistake again). I’ve not glued it in yet as it’s still a bit damp from the fluid I used to remove the paint. I’ll be using a thicker viscosity glue next time and make sure there is just enough to tack it to the main body rather than doing it all over again.. So I’ll put an update on tomorrow when it’s done. So I’ve left it to dry and hopefully it will look like the other side.



I’ve put the radiators on the monocoque temporarily just to get an idea of the fit and make sure it’s snug. Will put a bit of finishing coat over the alclad as it’s quite lightly painted and don’t want finger marks etc all over it. Hopefully these will be fixed on properly soon.


I’ve put the photo-etch parts back on the radiators after being soacked in thinner to get rid of the paint that was already on them. These don’t look pretty at the moment but will be soon.


Above is a pic of them. You can see the areas now effected but these will soon be gleaming….

I’ve not been doing a great deal on this car for a while but as I’ve got some time this week to get some done. Tonight I’ve been sanding down the body and prepping it ready for primer. The first layer has gone on but come across a few areas that need a bit more work but here is the body after it’s first layer.



As well as doing a few bits on the body work I thought I’d make a start on the engine and put a few bits of detail on. Here is a sneak preview of what I’ve been up to today….


Tonight I’ll be adding some more detail to the engine and painting the electrical components that sit on top of the engine block. As well as this I’ll also be finishing off the last coat and final sand down before I put the mclaren white and red/orange on the body… Hopefully I’ll have some images for you all later tonight..


These are some of the items I’ll be playing with tonight. Mainly the rear suspension, driveshaft heads for the gearbox and the top of the engine. Mainly electrical area ready for all those intricate bits I’m dreading.
The idea behind tonight was to get quite a bit done but bloody hell this is like pulling teeth with all the bits…. So far I’ve done this. Not a huge amount but it’s trickier than I first thought.



The rims around where the drive shafts go have been added and all the holes advised by top studio have been drilled for cables and hose connectors. The electrical heads have been added and are now setting in the glue.

The drive shaft parts drying ready for the gold/orange look. I might get a chance to finish these off tonight will see how it goes.


I manged to get them done. It was hard work as I had to hand paint them. I was debating on what to use to get the colour right and by pure chance as I was looking through some old tamiya hand paints I came across some x-26 clear orange. I think it works well so when it’s dry hopefully it will look good. I think it’s the closet I’m going to get but I’m pretty happy with them.


I’ve added one of the engine mounts and I’ll add the other tonight before I go to bed when it’s started to set better. I’m fairly happy with what I’ve done so far considering the time I’ve had. All I need to do now is paint the rear suspension and arms and add them to the gear box. Then the fun starts with all the little bits and bobs. Looks daunghting but should be fun…


Last bit of work tonight all the top section painted as mentioned before ready for the extra detail.


I’ve been having a look through some of the pics of the work I’ve done tonight and seen a few wierd things. Some of the paint work looks really shabby on the rear wishbones. I can assure you that I’ve been back up to check it out and for some reason when I get up close and take a shot the extreme light seems to pick up pigmentation and very small specs of dust or something however the real thing looks solid and smooth and flat. Had my heart going then…..

I’ve not done a great deal tonight but researched some more images of the front end and the electrical side of the car. I’ve also managed to get a few cf decals on the monocoque so I’ll update with some images tomorrow. Big plans for the engine too with even more wiring looms etc so should be fun.

I must have spent 4 hours last night messing about with the decals on the front end of the monocoque and it’s still not done but so far I’m really happy with the result. Still a long way to go with it but I’ll put some pics on tonight.

Don’t think I’ll get chance to do much tonight as the wife is not well. If I do I’ll get some pics posted as and when.



So for those who would like to know how I put cf on tricky areas of models here is how I do it. There are two ways I like to add them. These two are my way some of you will have different and may disagree with mine however it works for me. Each to their own… Firstly I use masking tape and place it on the area I would like to cover and with a very and I emphasise on very sharp scalple blade cut round the area. If the area you are wanting to mask is the same on the reverse oposite side then the template can be used as a mirror image however make sure it fits snug and is measured multiple times. As above I use plastic card. Very thin card and do the same. It works for me but these are my two preferred options. I apologise for the cruedness at present but all will be revealed when it’s finished….


That’s one side done now for the other. Then I’ll leave it alone till tomorrow night when I’ll put a dirty light mist over it then put some matt gloss to get that authentic-ish look.


The other side is done now. I’ve also added some detail to the front suspension heads too. That’s it for tonight. Should be back at it tomorrow night.


The Mp4/4 so far….still a load of work to do. Haven’t even touched the surface yet….



Yesterday I mentioned I had two ways of doing my cf, this is the other. It can look a bit crude at this stage but don’t worry. As long as the general area is covered once it’s cut ie the template onto the carbon decal (cf) then all shall be revealed. Once it’s sat for a few hours I carefully remove and transfer onto the back of the cf card and cut accordingly. The left side will do the right and vice versa. I’ll update with a pic shortly..

I’ve now transfered the taped areas onto the back of the cf card and they are now ready for transfer.


I don’t know if you can see but where I’ve cut round the templates I’ve left a mm or two for any overlay to make sure they fit properly. Any excess can be removed later.


Here goes, now to add to the chassis underplate.
I also have a great tip too, never throw away any template you make for a model you never know when you will need them again. Always keep them stored in a box or tub and put to one side as it saves time at a later date If ever you make more. That includes any extras I don’t use or have lying about..

The rear end is nearly done and under the radiator boxes has been completed. I’m fairly happy with the results will tidy it up a bit later on once the cf has set and dried.



Today I woke up at 8 took my daughter to her playgroup and the Mrs is at work. Whilst the cats away the mouse is doing his models…. So this morning I’ve mainly been prepping the electrical resin parts with primer ready to paint. I’ll be mostly painting by hand on these with a wash of Matt and gloss over coat. But my main objective today is to get the wheels done. I’ve prepped the slicks with a light sanding stick to get rid of the mould lines and painted the rims. The tyre walls have been painted with matt coat ready for the decals however I spotted the advertising template. I’ve never used one of these before so here goes. Let’s have some fun. When I’m done I’ll add some more pics.


My first attempt. Luckily I did this on a spare 1/20 tyre that I had. It’s a bit off center so I’ll have to reset the stencil properly on the real tyre. I’m fairly confident that it will look good on the real thing.


So far I’ve done the rims, added the photo-etch from both sides and added balance wrights and valves. These two don’t come in the top studio kit I just added them. I’ve done one side of each tyre with the Goodyear and eagle livery and once those are dry I’ll do the other side and put them all together.


Whilst I’m waiting for the wheels and tyres to dry properly I thought I’d make a start on the cf at the rear of the monocoque. This side is done just need to do the other and the back where the engine attaches.


So the rear end is now done. All cf is on ready to have a matt overcoat for protection and to dull the cf down a bit.


The finished wheels.



Today I’ve not done much but have spent two hours on this right pain in the ass power pack that sits at the back of the monocoque. Wow its fiddly but managed to get it sorted here is where I’ve managed to get with it.


Once this is dry it’s primer and Matt black and ready to be added to the car..

So tonight I decided to do a few more bits. I played with the resin connectors that the top studio provided but wasn’t happy so I played a bit more and used some brass ones I found in my odds and sods box. Here are the results.


I always check as I go along that all the parts fit snugly. Once painted I’ll need to make a few adjustments with this but nothing major.


Re doing two of the Powerpack wires. Whilst looking back at the images I just posted I noticed two of the rubber shrink tubes were off at an angle. One thing I do advocate is when photographing your work it gives you the third eye and shows some mistakes. I love it, keeps me on my toes. I have also noticed a small scratch on the left front side where the carbon meets with the cockpit sides. Doesn’t show up to the naked eye but will sort that with a fine brush before the over coat. I’ve not done this yet as I have a load of nuts to fit on the front sides and back end…


I’ll be adding a few pics soon of some of the work I’ve been doing over this evening. Yesterday I had a day off with the family but dis manage to get some more glue and some really good cheap diamond holding tweezers, specifically for those tiny bits of photo etch.

I’ve had one of those nights tonight so I’ve closed shop and put everything down. Few mistakes made. I’m putting myself under so much pressure to get this car done that I’ve basically wasted 2 hours. Mistakes are made and will have to re do a number of things I’m just not happy with. I’ve added the pack on the rear of the monocoque after painting it and drilled the holes for the upper wishbones. Here is a rough look at where things are going. I’ve also added the rads at the rear and it’s nearly ready to add the base plate/chassis.




I forgot to add the pics of the rear suspension that I did too. Here they are.




Tonight I’m mainly adding parts that I’ve prepped for the engine and gear box and also prepping all the resin parts that are left over with alclad gloss base for the metallic parts, ie brake callipers etc.


Adding all these minute parts it’s insane. I feel like I’m going round in circles. Once I’ve done a few there are loads more to do. The sheer volume of parts on this kit now is colossal. However it’s testament to the quality of the kit and also the final results hopefully. Time will tell.


Added a few bits to the gearbox.


Last few hours I’ve been doing the rear brake/air ducts. Thes are now drying and ready for a smoke overcoat and then a matt clear coat over the top. Should get these finished off tomorrow.


Aerial view of the engine and gearbox. It’s slowly getting there. I should have all the drive assembly and the air radiator finished and linked up tomorrow.


Amoungst other things tonight I managed to get the master brake cylinders added to the front too. Tomorrow I’ll be adding the cables and electrics to them.



Today I will be having some time off the Mp4/4. I was up till 5 am this morning doing bits and bobs. I’ve also ordered some more extra parts from Steve so hopefully they will be here by tomorrow. Also being in that confined space gives you a headache with all the alclad I’ve been spraying so best leave that be for a day whilst my head and lungs recover. My next mission on the car is as mentioned previously to get the front drive end and the rear done by the time I go back to work.


Tonight I’m setting up the accelerator mechanism and a few more bits on the engine. This is tough work it’s not easy and with all These little parts my eyes are straining to see them. But should get there in the end.


Over the last hour or so I’ve been adding the detail to the fuel and electrical rail for the engine and wow its like pulling teeth. So far I’ve done one side. Obviously needs painting up later but I’ll let it set first then the other side. I’ve used 0.3mm wire and some yellow tube that I’ve slid over the wire like on the real car. That in itself took half an hour just to get them on. This is where I’m at so far.



Finished the rail now just need to connect the electrics but will wait to do that when Its fitted to the engine and chassis.



It’s really frustrating when you look back at work you have done and see that certain additional parts you’ve added look like they are not to scale. The yellow tubing on the electrical wire look huge but in reality they look fine. Maybe I’m reading into it too much….. I’ll be free sometime over the next two days to add some more detail but back to work again. Sometimes I wish I could do this full time….


Had a few minutes before we go and see all the family for easter to get a couple of bits done on the engine.



I’ve not been so good of late due to the car accident. My back has been playing up so have been resting even though I’ve been at work. So I’ve decided tonight I’ll be back at it again. I’ll be attaching the chassis the front wish bones (upper) and the supports that run down into the monocoque. Once this is done I’ve a few electrical components to add then it’s back to the engine. Pics to follow soon.

I’ve been adding the oil hosing either side of the gearbox and lastly I’ve been doing the accelerator level on the manifold and it’s been driving me insane to say the least. What a tricky thing to mess about with. It’s getting there but slowly. Hopefully I should have this done tonight and start to add the engine to the chassis.




Front upper wishbones added. All the front needs now are the brakes, brake lines calipers and the suspension arms.


This part has been really fiddly where the accelerator lever goes but I’ve enjoyed it and it’s coming out good.. Still a bit of hand painting to go on some of the nuts and tubes.


I thought I’d put the engine together for a preliminary fitting to see where things are and to make sure it all fits together…



During the course of this project I’ve come to learn a few things. 1st is that doing stuff in such detail at this scale has proven a massive test for me. Dropping from 1/12 to 1/20 is a huge eye opener. I’m constantly wanting to add more and more detail, even more than the studio kit offers and have caused myself a lot of headaches. One being the cf work. I’ve made so many mistakes and learnt so much. This kit that I’ve built is not at all perfect but then I didn’t expect it to be. I’m constantly criticising my own work and I’m the first to see mistakes however this wasn’t about being perfect it was about a learning journey on how far I can actually push myself and the boundaries. I do however have some criticisms of the studio kit. In all its great but there are areas where it could be made better. Mainly on the double sided photo-etch parts that link to the body and the suspension and steering system. It’s a complete nightmare unless you use the right glue and leave time between applications. Next time I use this stuff I’ll be better prepared. I’m enjoying this and I’m half way through I guess. The bits I have left are brakes, body work front wing and rear wing and all the extra detail on the engine and the exhaust system. Looking back now I do see that I’ve not gone into great detail on what I’ve been doing on each part so for my next build after the F2002 is finished I’ll be opting for one of the 70’s Ferraris. Lauda 312t in 1/12 or Gilles Villneuves 312t4 either one of these will be done in greater detail and I’ll be using some of’s extras and a lathe and mill. This kit does push the boundaries and questions where I can better other kits of this calibre and more… Next update soon on attaching the monocoque to the chassis.


Thought I’d put the car together and check to make sure the parts all fitted. Here it is.


There’s still quite a bit to do as mentioned before bui think it’s looking good so far.

Amoungst other things that I’m doing tonight I’ll be doing the area bellow that’s ontop of the rear suspension.


Here are the small parts I’ll be using. The rod that runs between the supports to put it in perspective is about 0.7mm in length.


I’ve done the rear axles and these are clamped up to set overnight. I’ve added a few more bits of detail to the engine and the rear suspension system is now complete apart from the connecting brackets that will be added once the glue has set.



Connecting brackets are now on and the rear stabilisers if that’s what they are are fitted too. Had a nightmare late last night as some parts came off. I’m gluing with such a small amount that it’s becoming so delicate any kind of brash movement will cause an upset. So this needed rectifying this morning and is looking good.

The Mp4/4 that I’m doing was originally being built based on the Monaco 88 GP however it’s becoming more and more a Brazilian GP car of the same year. I think someone is trying to force the issue. Maybe senna is talking to me from up above…… You never know. On a serious note I think even though he was a master at Monaco it’s a fitting tribute to be the Brazilian GP.


The engine and gear box are really coming on now. Just a few more bits then it’s the exhausts, turbos and the scoops, then it’s onto the brakes.



Recently on f1m forum there was a thread about how do we store our photo-etch etc when making our kits. Well I use little cardboard trays discarded at work and I put all my after market resin and bits in these as shown below because whilst doing this kit I’ve spent possibly 2 house on hands and knees looking for minute parts and it’s been a mind screw…. This way which is simple and doesn’t cost anything is a great way in my eyes but each to their own, whatever works for you….



Over the last 24 hrs I’ve been doing a lot more research on the intricate additional detail that doesn’t show up in the studio kit. Mainly wiring, tubing and some stainless hosing and hose connectors. I’d show the images but due to copy wright I’m not going to however if anyone wants these images to view drop me a pm in f1m or send me an email to and i’ll send them to you. my skydrive over the next few days. There’s some amazing detail to be added so once the monocoque engine and chassis are all connected and fitted I’ll start to add it. I really do think it will give a new edge to this car in 1/20. I said before I like to push the boundaries so hopefully I’ll be able to replicate this without going too far….


Quick test fit before I glue together the main parts of the car..



I’ve started the left side pod electrics.. Fiddly again and I’m adding additional detail again to that from the original kit and the audio kit too.


I had a big scare earlier when the Mp4/4 decided to drop off the desk and landed on the floor. I couldn’t look. I was petrified of the outcome but luckily only one of the upper front wishbones had dome off. Nevertheless it’s thought me a lesson.. Don’t have so much stuff at once on the desk and have a ten minute break here and there…


I thought tonight whilst I had some parts for the engine and sidepods in the spray booth I’d start on the front wing. Here it is all prepped ready for paint with the studio etched parts.



I haven’t done much tonight mainly just sanding down the inside of the shell to an acceptable level enough really so that it sits flush over the car without damaging anything. I’ve also painted up the front wings and these will be ready for cf tomorrow then clear coat.


The rear wing sections prepped and ready for undercoat. I’ve also added a pic of the rear wing of the car for illustration as I’m unsure of what to do with this. The photo-etch part that goes between the two parts of the rear wing doesn’t really reflect the real thing so I’m pondering on what to do with this however theres still time to think something up.



Whilst I’ve been waiting for some parts to dry I decided to add the radio aerials and the top safety bar at the top of the fuel tank. I thought I’d also show some of the detail I started adding to the right side pod too.


I’ve added the senna boss decals to the roll bar at the top and it’s slowly becoming an f1 car.




As previously mentioned during the course of this build I noticed areas of the studio kit that I wasn’t happy, confident with or even sure of. One being the following. The drive rods that run from the steering rack to the wheel hubs. In the instructions the parts are shown and to be honest they were too small and fiddly so I decided to do my own. Using the existing rods and some cut down combination fittings I should be able to get a more substantial steering system.



Image above shows what I intend to do. So I’ve drilled larger holes in the tube and the combination fittings have been filed down too. You may feel this is not the way to go however it works for me.

No marking for error here but this is what I’m up against.




The steering rack and rods are now on and clamped up to set. I was going to start the brakes but as I’m doing the side pods and electrics I thought it better to get on with the cockpit so that’s next.


It’s a bit rough at the moment but I’ve done the seat. Just needs some clear coat gloss on and then I’ll set it in but there’s a bit of wiring to add and the harness.


I’ve added a few more bits in the cockpit including the ride hight adjuster/level regulator which ever you choose to call it and a few cables. Not complete yet there’s a bit of painting to do and the gear lever to add before I start the steeringwheel and the dash.


The cf on the seat took over 5 hours including adding the black gaffe tape. What a palava. I used half a sheet of cf for this but the studio kit gave you more than you need for the tape so I’m sure I can use this on another mclaren possibly the Mp4/5(b) when I get to it. If you follow the instructions in the kit by using a hairdryer you get that raised tape effect. Never done this before and found the effect quite cool.





Previously I mentioned I had to do some extra work on the underneath of the shell. I’ve spent all this evening getting it to the level of the second image. Tough work but needs doing
As you can see all the mould lines and raised areas from the side vents have been removed and sanded down. I was thinking of using the dremel however I didn’t feel confident using it on such a small tricky part. So out came the flat knife blade and the sanding sticks. There’s still a way to go but should take another few hours.

Daughters in bed the Mrs is watching re runs of the bill and corry and I’ve been doing the gear lever and the right hand side of the cockpit. Just spotted a blemish above the left side pod where the Marlboro logo is. Not happy will have to find a way of removing this.


That’s it for tonight. I’m done in. Tomorrow night if I get the chance I’ll be finishing off the seat and the right handside of the cockpit, mainly the wiring and blemish too that I noticed. I’ll also be prepping the dash and the steering wheel and doing a bit more on the engine.


The cockpit is nearly done. It’s taken me a lot longer to sort the dash and the remaining wiring however it’s looking good now I think.


Tomorrow I’ll be finishing off the side pods and doing the harness. I thought I’d get chance to do this tonight but never got round to it.


I managed to get the dash pic it’s not brilliant as the images are off my phone but this will give I a basic idea of the inside of the car. As mentioned yesterday I’ll be doing the harness and finishing off the side pods today.



Little update on what I’ve been doing today. The sidepods are almost complete, there’s just a few loose ends to sort out then I’ll get on with the harness.


I had to remove the panels directly infront of the sidepods as the race I’m doing (Monaco 88) doesn’t feature black ones so off they came and these will be painted up tonight.




I’ve also noticed one of the engine supports that attaches to the rear of the fuel tank is slightly lower than it should be and this will be rectified tonight.


I have no pics at the mo but will update shortly but tonight being my last night of model building before the weekend I have been prepping the discs and calipers for all four wheel hubs, prepping the side panels infront of the side pods and finishing off the steering wheel. I estimate that these should be ready for mounting between Monday and Wednesday of next week. I’ll get pics on as soon as I get chance.



I thought I’d show you how effective
My monitor set up can be for reference whilst doing my kits. I’m on with the brakes tonight and having this set up allows me to have a clean surface that enables me to view my reference and get on with my work.

Whilst the brake discs and calipers are drying I’m finishing off all the wiring and the accelerator lever on the right hand side. So far this is where I’ve got too. This is now complete and when the parts I’ve painted are dry and ready for assembly I’ll update with images. I was going to show these tonight but I’d rather wait now until they are ready for the photo-etch.




Brake parts ready for assembly, I’ll be doing these and the brake lines today and should be finished later on.


A close up of the caliper.


Front and rear brake and hub assembly time. This is going to be fun. See you in a few hours.


That’s one down three to go then it’s time to add them and do some wiring and to paint the minute brake pads grey.


I’m glad I test fitted this as I had to get the dremel out to bore out the hole the disc sits in.


I’ve somewhat underestimated the amount of time and work that’s going into these brakes. The front ones are done but I need to run the brake lines and do all the couplings for them. I should have all this done by Wednesday but I’m not sure now but I’ll keep updates coming through.


Today I managed to get the front brakes, calipers, brake lines and connectors all added. It’s taken me all day to just do the front end but it was worth taking time over it. I’ll update the site with images shortly.



Today I’ll be getting the rear brake lines finished off and the exhaust and turbos. If I have time I’ll be getting the harness added and that the main part of the car done. All I’ll have to do is finish off the boards infront of the air/side pods and then we are in the final stages with just the wings and shell to complete.


I’ve just noticed a major mishap on the rear end. Not happy and ruined the car. Unless you look very carefully you can’t see it but once the wheels are on you will. I can only say school boy error with the clamp when setting the rear suspension arms and wishbones. The car is about 2mm out which on a bigger model wouldn’t have been a big issue as I could have resolved it but due to the scale of this and how fragile it is I’m not going to mess about with it. Gutted is not the word but has taught me a valuable lesson. Going to make a jig up next time Im doing these it’s a must.


Sat with hands in head. Can’t believe this is happening….Ahhhhhh. I’ve spoken to a mate of mine and it’s possible to recover the mistake but I’ll have to be very careful l. Either I’ll anchor it down a bit or I could warm the parts a bit with some heat and tease it into a more simetrical or level position so that attention isn’t drawn towards it. However from now on I’ll be using a jig on these so will have to make one up.

Thank god for that just noticed that it was the actual gearbox and engine that wasn’t sitting true in the belly pan as I call it and as I had not set it in place with glue I snapped it back to the correct position. It’s still not perfect but when the wheels are on it looks a million times better. (Phewwww).

Main brake lines done just need the connecting parts added and the rear is done.


One side of the cars exhaust system is nearly done. Just need to complete the turbo scoops and add the sensors.


The other side is done now. Including the radiator edging too.


After the disaster this morning things have got back on track. The car is almost complete. There’s just the rear wing support that’s ready to be put in place and to finish off the exhaust turbo scoops and it’s done, ready for the shell and aero. Got quite a lot done today. Should have all that done by tonight.


So here it is. All the work I’ve done over the past two months is coming together.


Side view of the Mp4/4.



Not had a great amount of time over the last week to do much on the car, however I’ll be getting back to it tonight and tomorrow. Pics will be uploaded soon. All parts are painted all that needs doing is setting them in place and then the shell needs finishing off. Will update soon.


Rear wings just drying from the last coat of mclaren red/orange, ready for decals and then assembly. I’ve also done the rear sections that slot into the rear suspension and wishbones.


These should be completed and assembled tonight. Whilst I’m waiting for these I’ll be starting the final stages of the front wing too.

The sides of the rear wings are done and ready for assembly. Don’t think I’ll be getting this completed tonight as I’m having an issue with the panels that attaches to the re. Will update as soon as completed.


The rear side sections that sit between the suspension have been been added finally but I’m really not happy with them. There’s not a lot I can do with them now but that’s life.



The rear wing is now in place. Just a few areas to clean up and add some rivets and that section is done. Now for the turbo scoops and the main parts of the car are done.


One side done. Didn’t think it would take this long so might be at this again tomorrow night. But would like to get this done before the Froch vs Groves fight on Saturday night.



I’ve done my bit tonight. The left hand turbo scoop done. The chassis support arm that connects to the engine is complete and the wiring that runs through the back of it complete too. Here is the car so far. In the home straight now. Not a great deal left to do.




As usual football got in the way of my build. Should have thought better than to watch England attempt to play football…… Managed though to get a load of gear off Steve and ebay to start the Mp4/5 and fw11/b. Can’t wait to get the goodies in the post. Will update soon.


The final turbo scoop is on and both engine mounts too. Had to remove the rear wing as it was getting in the way of adding some other detail. Will add this again later. Now onto the front wing and the body.


Rear wing re added just a few bits to add and the car is basically complete. Tomorrow night I’ll be adding the front end and there’s only the body to be completed.




It’s been a long day at work and as I’ve got a huge headache I’ve just about managed to get the cf done on the nose cone. I’m not in the mood for making my headache worse by spraying zero paints around so I’ll leave ethat till tomorrow night. I’ll update a pic soon on the front end.



The front end is complete on the Mp4/4, I’ll be putting pics online tomorrow night as it’s currently drying and I really don’t want to ruin the finish by handling it. The body has a few areas I’m still not happy with but that’s basically ready for the Marlboro red to go on I’ll update with pics on that tomorrow or Wednesday too.


As I’ve been working away from my local branch I haven’t had much chance to get anything done. I did say I would get some update pics on the site but I didn’t get a chance to so I will tonight.

Front Wing.


Just noticed a couple of issues with the front wing. Some of the carbon under the wing as found its way onto the upper side on the right. That needs a fine scalpel to remove shortly. Also need to remove the 12 and replace as it’s going a bit yellow. Not happy with it it will have to go.

All I have to do now is finish off the body. Might be a while on this one but will update as soon as I’ve completed it. Still have a few loose ends to finish off on the front wing but I can do that once the decals are set and I’ve re sprayed the wing.


Demolition time. Out comes the dremel and off come some plastic layers ready for test fitting.


Ahhhhh noooooo just broke off one of the turbo scoops trying to fit the body on the car for test fitting. Luckily it was at the glue joint so nothing to worry about. Re placed and left to set. No harm done… Phewwww…. Onwards and upwards it’s now ready for the paint job. Will get to that over the next few days but will add a couple of layers of extra primer before the white and Mclaren red..

15 thoughts on “MP4/4 Mclaren 1/20 Top Studio

    Graham said:
    September 17, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Looking good Paul, well have to start that WIP.

      f1models responded:
      September 17, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Just playing matey… Wanna get on with the f2002 but can’t do much matey.. Cheers

    m1cro said:
    April 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Just stunning, so glad you told me about this one mate. 😀

      f1models responded:
      April 16, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      What did I tell you? Sorry it’s been a long day? Cheers by the way


      f1models responded:
      April 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Lol just realised it’s you Andy lol. Didn’t recognise the name on here!

    Maarten said:
    April 20, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    3 questions (first of many probably)

    But how do you scum those tires so nice?
    Do you clear coat the side walls of tires?
    And lastly, does the kit include a way to reattach the nose to fully assemble it once you done?

      f1models responded:
      April 20, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Hi Maarten thanks for your questions. Firstly I’ve played around with many processes and found that hand sanding them with an emery board (stolen from my wife’s nail set up lol) is the best way for me. Hours of work… I do wash and dry then clear coat the tyre walls with Matt clear coat but just a quick layer not too much down people use gloss or semi doesn’t really matter. Then apply the decals and then fine gloss over the top. I’ve tried doing it with a stencil but didn’t like the effect at 1/20. As for re attaching the nose it’s down to a bit of hand craft as there isn’t a kit that I’m aware of to re assemble the whole nose. Hope this helps


    Kevin said:
    June 25, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Excellent work I’ve got one of these to do myself

      f1models responded:
      June 25, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Cheers not completed yet as such the body work needs doing. Thanks for you kind comments

    Trevor said:
    July 24, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Great build 🙂

      f1models responded:
      July 24, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      Thanks Trevor for your kind words

    Brandon said:
    August 13, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Hey, so I just came across your build since I’m looking for help on my related build. I got the MP4/4 kit from Tamiya (black box) while I was in France and am now just starting to realize how difficult this is, but I’m determined to build it. I don’t have much modeling experience (this is my first build) and as such my knowledge of generally how to do things isn’t that great.

    I read through everything above, but I don’t know how I should start as a beginner with this set. Should I assemble the model then just paint the exterior, or paint each part individually and then assemble? What kind of sanding needs to be done? What paints, cements, and primers should I use? How should I apply them?

    Please excuse my complete ignorance, but hopefully your knowledge can be of some help to me.


      f1models responded:
      August 14, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Hi Brandon thanks for the PM. Sorry I haven’t got back to you just been a bit busy of late. Where to begin? I think the best approach is to sit down with the model kit and think hard about one, how you want to present this kit and two, how accurate you want it and how much detail you want to put into it. Personally as a first build I’d make it straight out of the box (oob).. Some people paint straight off the sprues and some like me remove all the parts sand the paint… I think the main thing is how confident are you about spending time on the kit and how quickly do you want it finished. I’ve always gone full whole Hogg with builds and gone a bit crazy. I’d experiment with some donor kits for painting. Personally I’d get an airbrush it doesn’t have to be expensive as the quality of the finished piece will look a lot nicer when finished. I could go on forever regards paints and finishes etc etc so before I do, where do you live? Are you from the uk or further afield? If you have Skype or FaceTime or viber we could have a proper chat and you could take notes? Just a suggestion it may make it a lot easier for you and for me lol?

      Hope to hear from you soon


    Patrick Murphy said:
    September 16, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Hey there, fantastic build, what carbon fibre did you use for the tub?

      f1models responded:
      September 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Patrick thanks for the nice feedback. Model hero gold/copper cf from

      Thanks Paul

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