To me, the best part of doing a custom van kit is the interior. That’s why I love the old MPC vans (and of course the Sundance Express); the full interior really gives you a chance to cut loose and let out your inner Vannin’ Design Demon. Thankfully, the good folks at MPC made darn sure that Gold Rush and its cousins, like Bad Company, had more than enough going on inside to keep even the staunchest scale Vanner occupied!
This baby has got a serious amount of the bases covered. Bucket front seats? Check. Couches/beds in the back? Check. Pimpin carpet? Check. Strange lighting? Check. Diamond-patterned buttoned Naugahyde? Check. I mean, it’s missing a mini-bar and a disco ball, but it has a lot of the other stuff you’d expect to see in one of these mean machines. One thing it does have, though, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, is SHINGLES.
Yep, shingles. Just like you’d find on the outside of a tool shed, or perhaps a ‘70s-era townhouse. “Why? Why would there be shingles IN a van?” Well, that’s a good question. I, myself, am trying to figure out how we missed out on getting shingles on the OUTSIDE of the van, but let’s stick with what we know. I really can’t think of any reason not to. After all, good taste (as if you’ll find that here) and restraint got left at the last State Line, right? It only makes sense TO have shingles in the van.
That’s what the scale Vanner in me thinks. However, the challenge of building a street van, for me, is to try and figure out what would have been going through the minds of the real Vanners who would have built the van of which I’m building the kit. How does “Gold Rush” as a name correspond to having shingles? Lots of bling would seem to make more sense, wouldn’t it? The key to determining how to handle Gold Rush’s interior lies in the answering of this question.
In short, I need to figure out Gold Rush’s backstory, some kind of theme that can unite and explain the somewhat disparate-appearing design elements found in the kit. After pondering this for a while, I came up with what I feel is a plausible explanation. It was deceptively simple. The answer is right on the box, in big, albeit somewhat schizophrenic letters: the gold rush!
Since there are wooden shingles and chrome carriage lamps inside this van, and since the name is Gold Rush, I’m thinking there was some kind of “prospector” theme, at least in the interior. Thus, I came to the conclusion that I should try to work the idea of a ‘70s Vannin’ take on a prospector’s shack into the colour scheme presented by the decals, and handle the interior painting based on that. Sure, it’s only my interpretation, but that’s what Vannin’, at ANY SCALE, is all about!
Back to the Staffroom
Before I go too far, I need to explain this constant “staffroom” allusion I keep using. My mother was a high school teacher, and the staff room at the school at which she taught was, well… antiquated. I don’t think it had seen an update since about 1975. Right up until I last saw it in 1995, it looked the same. There were many brown and orange Naugahyde chairs and couches, orangey-brown drapes, and lots of tables with that weird, shiny ‘70’s wood grain on them. To this day, I cannot see a combination of brown and orange without immediately thinking of this staff room.
Looking at the shag carpet and odd little coffee table in the back of Gold Rush immediately brought the staff room to mind. The “sunset stripe” of oranges and browns that adorns the side of Gold Rush, and indeed forms the name itself, also helped to conjure up this image. Thus, I decided to do the interior of the van in a palette that would match the stripes on the side, and evoke both a prospector’s cabin and that old teachers’ hangout from long ago.
Ifs, Ands and Butts
Right off the hop, I decided that the couches would be brown Naugahyde, with gold buttons on them. That meant that the driver’s and passenger’s seats would have to be painted to match. However, the front seats also had a striped inlay. That’s when I figured I could do wild ‘70s cloth with a nice thick brown Naugahyde bolster.
The brown I chose for the Naugahyde was a modified version of some kind of Testors Model Master Acrylic (MMA) brown. I don’t know which it was, because it’s in an old Tamiya jar now. Testors makes great paint, but their jars suck, and the brown’s pooped-out a long time ago. However, the colour is a medium-darkish brown, which is more or less how I remember my dad’s old La-Z-Boy when I was growing up. It was hand brushed over some lightly applied Paint-It (the new Wal-Mart house brand) primer. I’m glad to report that the Paint-It is as good as the old Colourplace, and actually maybe a bit better. Two light coats are still better than one thick one, and it’s still super-cheap!
Once the Naugahyde was on, I set about painting the stripes in the middle of the seats. I decided to use the lightest orange and the darker orange to offer some contrast. For some reason, all I can think of are the old McDonald’s high chairs when I see this. I’m not even sure that’s legit, but since perception is reality (especially on a van like this) that’s what I’m going with. The end result was an overload of ‘70s colour, complete with a shocking amount of muted loudness and an utter lack of good taste. PERFECT!
I primered the entire interior and all its other pieces in the Paint-It primer as well, and painted the couches and the walls in the dark Naugahyde Brown colour. To highlight the very pronounced buttoning effect, I applied a dark brown pastel to every line on the walls and couches, to provide shadow. I then flat coated everything with Delta Ceramcoat Indoor/Outdoor Matte Urethane Varnish. To make the buttoning visible, I used a gold Prismacolour pencil and literally “coloured on” each button. This worked really well over the matte surface. To get that sickening Naugahyde sheen, I hand brushed on a heavily Futured version of the Delta Ceramcoat Indoor/Outdoor Matte Urethane Varnish that I call a “Vinyl Coat”. It sank into the matte surface, but the Future in it gave it a bit of a sheen; the kind of waxy pallor you can only get from vinyl and Naugahyde!
Go Floor Yourself
It’s no surprises that one of the most crucial parts of a van interior is the carpeting. Thankfully, like so often before, MPC really came through, giving the Gold Rush an awesome texture on the floor pan. I painted this in a custom-mixed Testors MMA light-orange. It was somewhere between the colour of a pumpkin’s guts and a cantaloupe. While it may not SOUND too tasty, it sure looked great as carpet. To add depth, I then used a darker orange pastel and washed it, using Varsol, all over the rug. Once this was dry, it certainly made the carpet darker and dingier looking. This is fine, but this carpet should look new, and not only that, clean and THICK. To achieve this, I used a light yellow-orange Prismacolour pencil to “drybrush” on highlights! The tops of the top-most bits of shag picked up the coloured pencil, leaving the darker material in the “low spots”, and really adding vibrancy, depth and realism. I will definitely be doing that again, Let me tell you!
While the carpet and other orange fabric is a lighter orange, I decided to do the “metal parts” of the interior in a darker orange. This paintwork doesn’t need pastels; it would be on the flat panel of the van. However, since there are no longer any side doors, it was necessary to paint over the door frames on the right side of the van with brown where appropriate, and orange above that where needed. I also used the darker orange on the engine hump between the seats. I chose Brown for the dashboard though; it seemed more appropriate.
I Wood if I Could
One thing I don’t normally run into on car kits is the need to simulate wood grain. However, that can’t be missed on Gold Rush. Not only are there two slabs of cedar shakes to paint and detail, there’s also that little oblong coffee table. For the shakes, I painted on another MMA mixed brown, lighter than the one I used for the Naugahyde. I then used a very dark brown pastel and Varsol-washed the colour into place. The end result was a dirty looking shingle. It kinda did the trick, but it didn’t look quite right. It was more like looking at a mouldy piece of Shredded Wheat than what I’d expected.
To correct this impression, I highlighted the raised parts of the wood grain using a light brown Prismacolour pencil. This picked up the detail phenomenally well. It also picked out the injector pin mark, but that’s a minor detail. I have decided on a new modelling philosophy, especially when it comes to older kits:
Make what you have look as good as you can, but don’t worry about making what you’re given look perfect.
For something like Gold Rush, with its awkward injector pin marks and all those other awesome ‘70s casting fails, trying to make it look perfect would drive me batty. It would suck the fun out of it. If you’re going to take the fun out of modelling, especially when doing a wicked street van like Gold Rush, then, as far as I’m concerned, you may as well just quit.
I don’t care if Gold Rush is perfect, as long as it’s as good as I can make it. Leaving the injector pin marks highlighted is part of that! Now, that aside, you have to admit that the use of the pencil crayon to pick up the texture of the wood worked really, really well. There’s a depth on there that is startling, and will certainly show up well when the van is done.
The coffee table used a similar trick, but in reverse. I painted it the same light brown as the base of the shingles (which is close to matching the lighter brown on the decal). However, the wood grain pattern is too faint to survive being painted, so there was nothing to highlight or shadow. So, I did what all great ‘70s veneers do: I simply drew on darker lines to make fake woodgrain! I used a dark brown pencil crayon just “slashed” across the surface in one direction, and then made a couple of curves to simulate grain. I think the result is just awesome. I flat- and then vinyl-coated the table to make it semi shiny, again, like all those tables from the ‘70s
So far, I’ve managed to match the colours of the interior to those on the main “sunset stripe” decal on the side of the van. There’s a colour missing, though. That is a goldish colour; the middle one in the stripe. Of course, using “gold” on “Gold Rush” seems like an obvious choice. However, it’s not. Since I’m working this as a take on a prospector’s hut, would there be gold used on fixtures and the like? I doubt it. The prospector’s not going to use his valuable gold to decorate things, is he? No. So, what would he use?
It’s gold in colour, and is a typical old-school metal for things like hinges, lanterns, fixtures and the like. It also gets close to matching the final colour in the stripe! Thus, I elected to paint the “metallic” bits of the interior in MMA Brass. I used this for the inlay in the dashboard, the bases of the two bucket seats up front, as well as the coffee table support and the carriage lights.
The brass-painted parts were also given a wash with Citadel Devlan Mud. This brownish wash not only ages the brass, but adds a bit of a patina to it, really making it fit the bill and look the part. To finish off the carriage lamps, the “glass” was painted with Model Master Oil Chrome Silver, and then overcoated with Tamiya clear yellow. If you’ve seen an old ‘60s or ‘70s carriage light on a house, you likely remember many of them had yellow windows. That’s what I tried to simulate here. I think it worked pretty well.
The interior for Gold Rush is somewhat simple, but isn’t that simple to make look good. Mixing colours to match the decals on the side is not easy, and determining where to use what colours is important. Of course, there aren’t any rules saying that the modeller has to do this, but I like the challenge. If I were going to build a real street van, I’d want everything matching; I want to make sure that my model matches what would have been my idea, if I was the Vanner.
The assembled interior looks every inch the ‘70s basement/staff room combo that I hoped it would. I can only imagine how the shingles are going to look installed in the finished model, too. For now, that’s a pure piece of imagination.
Next time: Time to get the body finished and get Gold Rush on the Streets!