The perfect Formula
Anyone can assemble a model car, but a perfect one requires meticulous attention to detail, writes Zoe Mak
Like many young men, 25-year-old Matthew Ho Chun-kit is passionate about racing cars, but unlike most others he actually owns several - Ferrari Formula Ones.
He made them himself.
'I know owning one of those cars is just a dream, so I build them myself,' says Mr Ho.
'I don't even need a garage, I can put them together in my room.'
Mr Ho is a model car enthusiast, and he works with kits produced by Tamiya, a Japanese company, that range from HK$100 to HK$200. Anyone can buy a model car kit and assemble it, but what Mr Ho does with the kits he assembles is to transform them into prize-winning works of art through meticulous attention to detail.
A 2002 Ferrari, which took him half a year to build, won him first prize at the MegaCity Model Motor Madness model car competition in 2006 in Toronto.
According to Mr Ho, one of the key factors that makes model cars stand out is how you apply the paint.
He says most modelling shops sell spray paints, but to do a really good job an air brush is needed. At about HK$800, air brushes are pricier, says Mr Ho, but they are essential for detail work on engine parts and exhaust pipes.
'Only an air brush can realistically reproduce the colours of the car,' he says, adding that an air brush is essential for modelling enthusiasts who don't want the paint to chip off easily.
Mr Ho's attention to detail even extends to every tiny rivet in the panelling of his vehicles, drilling holes with a 0.3mm drill, and then using metallic-coloured stickers to reproduce the rivets themselves.
'You can see the difference and feel the rivets with the tips of your fingers,' he says.
Another challenge, says Mr Ho, is adhering stickers smoothly to curved surfaces on the model car's panelling. It is essential to have spare stickers on hand in case the operation goes wrong.
Spare vehicle parts are a must too, he says.
'I've messed up the panelling and the stickers many times, so I have to have at least two kits and several sheets of stickers as replacements,' he says, adding that when the stickers are in place you have to spray three layers of clear-coat lacquer to protect them.
'If you want to build the perfect model car, you need to be very patient and attentive to every minor detail - just one flaw will ruin the entire piece,' he says.
Mr Ho says those interested in taking up the hobby should visit small shopping centres in Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok, many of which have shops that stock kits for Formula One car models, along with accessories required, such as paints and stickers.