## How big is 1:64 scale?

1:64 scale is a popular size for diecast cars. At one time it was popular for slot cars and electric trains too. But how big is 1:64 scale, really?

I’ll explain it mathematically and by giving sizes of some common objects.

## Testors model paint tips for better results

Testors is a brand that’s been around for decades. It’s by far the most common brand of model paint for hobbyists. Here are my Testors model paint tips to reduce frustration, give you better results, and save you money. After all, a hobby should be enjoyable, not frustrating.

## Testors model paint dried out? Here’s what to do.

If your old bottles of Testors model paint dried out, you’ll have trouble getting the jars open and there’s no guarantee what you’ll find inside. But it’s definitely worth a try.

Here’s how to get the lid off, what to do with the separated paint, and what you can do to keep it from happening again.

## Department 56 vs Lemax

Department 56 vs Lemax is a battle between the two biggest names in holiday villages. There are a lot of similarities between the two brands, but the differences may matter to you. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering one or the other.

## What scale are Hot Wheels cars?

What scale are Hot Wheels cars, you ask? Unfortunately it varies a bit. They tend to be a bit less than 1:64. But scale isn’t Hot Wheels’ objective. Fitting in the package is. That means the size of Hot Wheels cars is between 2.5 and 3 inches, depending on what looks right for the prototype model. That’s when a prototype even exists. So it can take some homework to figure out the actual scale of any given model.

Or you can just not worry about it, assume they’re more or less 1:64, skip the next section, and get on with things.

## Determining actual scale of Hot Wheels cars

To do the math, find out the length of the real thing. Usually a Google search takes care of that. Then convert the length to millimeters. If you can’t find the length, get some other measurement from the real thing, like the width or the wheelbase.

Sometimes there is no real thing, so you have to approximate. Pick the real car that most closely resembles the Hot Wheels model in question.

Then measure the same thing on the Hot Wheels car. In millimeters, ideally, but convert if you have to. Then divide the measurement from the original by the measurement you took from the Hot Wheels car.

Here are some measurements I took from the Hot Wheels on my train layout:

 Model Actual wheelbase (mm) Hot Wheels wheelbase (mm) Scale 1935 Duesenberg 3899 49 1:79.57143 1932 Ford Delivery 2845 43 1:66.16279 1940 Ford Woodie Wagon 2845 44 1:64.65909 1941 Willys Coupe 2642 38 1:69.52632

Let’s estimate a Ford Focus. We’ll assume the Hot Wheels version is 2.5 inches long, 63.5mm. The prototype is 4369mm long. If these assumptions are correct, it will work out to 1:68 scale.

With other makes of diecast cars it’s often possible to cheat, but if there’s something out there that lists the scale of particular Hot Wheels models, I haven’t found it yet.

## Dioramas for Hot Wheels

I assume the main reason you want to know Hot Wheels scale is to make dioramas. Rather than duplicate a bunch of content, I recommend you check out my entry on Matchbox scale. The materials that work for Matchbox are perfect for Hot Wheels as well. Fortunately there are plenty of sources of good material, thanks in part to the hobbies of model railroading and holiday villages.

To rehash, I recommend 1:75 architectural figures. A bag of 100 figures costs around \$5. They come painted and unpainted and you can paint them yourself fairly easily.  You can also use dollar-store holiday village figures.

For buildings, I recommend O/S-sized Plasticville buildings or Department 56 and Lemax buildings. For roads and sidewalks, you can use road pattern tape and HO scale sidewalks meant for model trains.

I have some cheatsheets on model scales and model railroading scale that you might find useful.

You might also be interested in my blog post on customizing Hot Wheels. And of course, since I discussed Hot Wheels, I’ve also discussed Matchbox and old-school Tootsietoy scale. And speaking of old school, there’s Londontoy.

## What scale are Matchbox cars?

What scale are Matchbox cars, you ask? Unfortunately it varies a bit. Nominally they’re around 1:64 scale. But scale isn’t Matchbox’s objective. Fitting in the package is. That means the size of Matchbox cars is between 2.5 and 3 inches, depending on what looks right for the prototype model. So it can take some homework to figure out the actual scale of any given model.

Or you can just not worry about it, assume they’re more or less 1:64, skip the next section, and get on with things.

## Determining actual scale of Matchbox cars

To do the math, find out the length of the real thing. Usually a Google search takes care of that. Then convert the length to millimeters.

Then measure the Matchbox car. In millimeters, ideally, but convert if you have to. Then divide the length of the original by the length of the Matchbox car. Don’t be surprised if the number deviates from 64.

A large 4-door car, like a Ford Crown Victoria, works out to 1:70 scale.

A small car, like an original VW Beetle, works out to 1:58 scale.

Standard pickup trucks, like most of Matchbox’s F150 models, work out to about 1:64 scale. Matchbox’s Chevy Silverado extended cab worked out to 1:76 scale.

You can cheat a bit with Matchbox, fortunately. The fan site matchbox.wikia.com lists the scale for most Matchbox vehicles, so you don’t necessarily have to measure and calculate yourself.

## Dioramas for Matchbox

I assume the main reason you want to know Matchbox scale is to make dioramas. Fortunately there are plenty of sources of good material, thanks in part to the hobbies of model railroading and holiday villages.

## Figures for Matchbox dioramas

If you want to populate a diorama with figures, your cheapest bet will be 1:75 architectural figures. A bag of 100 figures costs around \$5. They come painted and unpainted. I’ve written before about painting figures. Some pre-painted figures are fine as-is. But expect to find some painted strangely. I don’t normally see guys walking around in pink or bright green pants, except maybe on a golf course. But you can expect to find some in a batch of prepainted figures.

If you want a little bit of a closer match and don’t mind winter dress, look for Cobblestone Corners figures at Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree generally gets them in the fall and they tend to sell out fairly quickly, but the figures come 4-5 in a package for a dollar and the quality is reasonable. The buildings are undersized for Matchbox but the figures and streetlights work pretty well.

## Buildings for Matchbox dioramas

If you want to build a town for a Matchbox diorama, a non-obvious option are Plasticville buildings intended for 1950s Lionel and American Flyer trains. Be sure to look for the larger-sized buildings marketed for “O/S scale.” The smaller HO scale Plasticville buildings are too small–they’re 1:87 scale.

They aren’t the best match for contemporary architecture like Colonial-style 2-story houses and big-box stores. But the diner, motel, grocery store and drugstore all resemble what you would have found along Route 66 in its glory days and some traces of those types of buildings are still there today.

For that matter, the buildings still resemble what you’d find in a middle-ring suburb or a small town.

Vintage Plasticville buildings are generally about 1:64 scale, which is pretty close to the scale of an average Matchbox car. Look for buildings without their original boxes. Vintage boxed Plasticville buildings can be rather collectible, but the loose buildings are pretty cheap. Glued loose buildings are very affordable. Don’t be afraid of beat-up buildings. Cleaning them up is easy. You can paint them to make them look more realistic.

If you don’t mind a winter scene, Department 56 and Lemax buildings are a reasonable match, scale-wise, for Matchbox. Their scale varies too, but it varies along the same lines as Matchbox.

## Roads and sidewalks for Matchbox dioramas

These days you can buy road pattern tape suitable for Matchbox. I wish they’d had that when I was a kid. The tapes available online don’t always match perfectly but the one I linked above fits fairly well.

If you want sidewalks, step down to HO scale sidewalks meant for model trains. They’ll be a bit undersized but will look the part.

I have some cheatsheets on model scales and model railroading scale that you might find useful.

You might also be interested in my blog post on customizing Matchbox. And of course, since I discussed Matchbox, I’ve also discussed Hot Wheels and old-school Tootsietoy scale. And speaking of old school, there’s Londontoy.

## Spray painting tips to paint like a pro

I’ve gathered a lot of spray painting tips over the years but I’ve never seen more than 10 collected in one place. Spray paint is a tool, and using it is a skill you can learn. With a bit of practice, you can get enviable results and make the object you’re painting look better than new.

Whether you’re painting something for your house or for your hobby, here are more than 20 spray painting tips to help you paint with the best of them–in the order you’re likely to need to use them in your projects.

## Department 56 scale: The definitive guide

The Department 56 product line is rather extensive, but there are items they don’t produce and likely never will. If you want to complete your village with other items, or use Department 56 in other settings, such as a train layout, then scale might matter to you—and “Department 56 scale” is undefined. Here’s how to make sure the things you want to use together will go together, size-wise.

The answer, by Department 56’s own admission, is that it varies. But since I see the question come up again and again, I’m going to tackle it. It varies, but there’s a method to it the madness.

## How to repair small plastic parts

Gluing small plastic parts back together is a two-part challenge: First you have to find a suitable glue, and then you have to find a way to hold the pieces together while the glue cures.

Challenging need not be impossible though.