3XCWModeling Tips

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Using toy car models is what 3XCW is all about. Imagine hanging around the toy section at Wal Mart, "ooh"-ing at all of the little cars; wondering how cool that little racer that's shaped like a shark is gonna look when you run it in the next event; collecting a bunch of little cars in your shopping basket; hoping that the motherly-looking women around you don't ask something like "how old is your little boy?"

If you don't have at least a little interest in the miniatures, this stuff will sound like a tedious waste of time. In fact, if you don't like miniatures, why the heck are you still reading the 3XCW pages?

The Arena

Regular Car Wars is usually played on gridded paper; the terrain features like buildings, ramps, etc. are just drawn on the paper. This is fine for the little counters, but if you're using vehicle models, you should consider using three dimensional wall, building, and ramp models too. The models will add to the realism effect, and will help with line-of-sight questions.

Cardboard and plastic things that are hanging around your house right now are the easy choice for structures. Boxes can be used for buildings; ramps made of cardboard; etc. A very interesting arena can be made in a few minutes with just cardboard, tape, and scissors.

Model train props might help make your arena more interesting. Most of the buildings that are readily available aren't the right scale for any standard Car Wars size, but the other things like lichen, trees, gravel, grass mats, and wall sections will still look good.

->I've never been good at remembering modeling scales, but an avid duellist named Jim Businger (submitter of Freeway Fun below) gave me a few pointers on this topic:

    For the record, regarding model trains:
  • N scale is 1/160 (Micro-Machines and similiar are 1/144)
  • HO scale is 1/87 (model tanks and planes are 1/72)
  • S scale is 1/64 (Matchbox & Hot Wheels vary near this number)
  • O scale is 1/48 (Ertl farm equipment and similiar are 1/50)

Freeway Fun (Roadway Templates) -> A super-helpful duellist by the name of Jim Businger has donated some great paper templates for 3XCW-scale highway sections. In Jim's words:
I've always like the MAD MAX part of this game, so here's the first installment of something you and adversaries (freinds) might have a little fun with. I call it Freeway Fun.

I created it using MS-Word 7.0 (Office 95). I use continuous 8.5" x 11" paper in an IBM proprinter III to print the five pages (page 1: shoulder w/ditch / page 2: five lanes / page 3: median w/ditch / pages 4: five lanes / page 5: shoulder w/ditch). The "lane" on the first and last page is where you park when your car breaks down (it should have debris and wrecked cars). The grey band is the gravel at the edge of the pavement. The gravel and beyond (as well as the median) should present a handling hazard at speed. Narrower freeways can be made by separating the 1st and 5th pages and overlapping them on the lane pages. I don't recommend printing this on a LASER printer, as they usually have unprintable areas at the margins.

Download File: CW3XFF1.ZIP (10K)
You are free to use and re-distribute this file.

Dead Link/Corrupted File: http://home1.gte.net/dmaltais/3XCW/CW3XFF1.ZIP


Needless to say, there is a wide variety and availability of vehicle models. The little cars made by Matchbox, Hot Wheels, and other manufacturers are everywhere. Although the stock cars are the easiest to find, I have seen models for nearly all of the Car Wars vehicles in the 1.5X and 3X scales (excepting the big stuff like tanks and jets). Indy cars, dragsters, and funny cars are easy to find. Motorcycles with riders often pop up on store shelves, but watch the scale: they're usually a bit big.

In general I like to go by this nice, simple guideline: "If it fits on the counter, it's the right scale."

-> Several avid duellists have pointed out that the vehicle models for the old Dark Futures game are the perfect scale for 3X-scale models. And they even have mountable guns and turrets! If you can still find some of the props used for this game, scoop them up!

Be sure to mount all vehicles on an appropriate base! Movement, collisions, firing arcs, and most of the other Car Wars rules are based on the vehicle counter, not on the vehicle itself! Things are bound to go wrong if you try to play the game with the vehicle alone.

It's easiest to make bases out of cardboard. Cut the base to the correct scale size, and glue the vehicle right on there. Alternatively, you can use the modelling wood sold in hobby stores. This stuff won't get dog-eared like cardboard, and you can easily paint it gray to look like pavement.

->Avid duellist Kurt J. Aldinger had this to say about vehicle bases:

In regards to mounting your cars on bases, you may want to look at your nearest hobby/train shop for Evergreen brand sheet styrene. It comes in a variety of styles including one with 3/8" squares already inscribed. This is the perfect size for Micro Machines which are 1.5 times the normal Car Wars scale. I can't say for certain, but I believe that they make sheet styrene with 3/4" squares which would be perfect for your Matchbox/Hot Wheels scale

You can also use plain styrene for turning keys. It is a little more complicated because you are cutting at various angle, but it is well worth the effort. I have used the same keys for years now and the edges are still as sharp as day one.

For events that have non-combat cars -- parked cars at a truck stop; old junks in a junk yard, etc. -- you can probably leave the bases off. They are just line-of-sight blocks and obstacles to be rammed in this case. To assemble some realistic props for a junkyard event, a fellow duellist bought a whole box of cheap cars and spent an evening whacking them with a hammer.


Car Wars cars are usually bristling with weapons. The little models in the store are not. For added realism, you might want to add some weapons to the cars you purchase. If you're lucky enough to be a futuristic 25mm gamer (as I am), you probably have some left over guns from your 25mm troopers. These things look great sticking out of the grill of a little 1.5X or 3X car. You can paint the gun after you attach it, but there's usually no need to repaint the entire car--they start out so niceley painted, it would be a shame to start over.

Another good source is regular plastic models--the big kind that take hours to assemble. A WWII ship model will have dozens of guns sticking out of it--some of them already mounted in turrets. Cannibalize one of your older models, or buy a new one in a store.

If you're willing to cannibalize some action toys, you'll have a huge variety of 16X wepons to choose from. Any toy store will become an arsenal of blasters, zappers, zingers, and crushers. Of course, they start out attached to some other toy, but that isn't hard to remedy.

A final source that I have used in the past is the small-diameter modeling tubing, which you can get at hobby stores. A little stretch of tubing sticking out of a turret or the front of a car looks like a large bore weapon.

For turrets, you'll need to find some roundish plastic thing that you can attach to the roof of the car; then attach the gun to the turret. For 15.X and 3X-scales, the top of a disposable pen might work, or some plastic tubing.

Dropped Weapon Counters

In addition to shooting at each other, Car Wars players love to throw dangerous stuff like mines, oil slicks, and smoke clouds around the arena. Since the rules allow vehicles to drive right over or through these things, it's not such a good idea to use three dimensional models for them. Sure, cotton puffs would look great on a smoke cloud counter, but what happens when someone needs to drive through that spot?

I've found it best to just use cardboard counters for all of the dropped weapons. I keep a bag of card cut from cereal boxes which has all of the usual sizes: from the 0.25 X 0.5 Scale-Inch debris counters to the big 1.0 X 2.0 Scale-Inch HD smoke, oil, etc. counters (those things are nearly a yard long in 16X-scale; Yikes!). I usually just write the name of the counter type right on it ("mines", "smoke",etc.), but a friend used his computer to draw out counters in the original style of the Car Wars graphics and print them. They look pretty good. Alternatively, you could take a hand full of your old, regular-sized counters to a copy machine, hit the enlargement function, and pop out sheets of Scaled counters.

->A suggestion from avid duellist Chris Groves:

Glue buttons on to cardboard to make mine counters. They should be flat enough for the model cars to drive over [paraphrased].

->Here's a bunch of really great suggestions from avid duellist Tom Lentz (check out Tom's 16X-scale additions to the Photo Gallery too):

Oil: These look absolutely great. Cut black posterboard out to size and smear a thin pool of Elmer's glue on it. The glue dries clear and looks just like a black oil slick. During the game, place a cotton ball over the top to make it flaming oil. These counters are very quick and easy to make and we get a lot of compliments on them.

Ice: Same way, but with light blue (or white) paper.

Mines: I'm using some spent primers from bullets. I have a friend who reloads his own ammunition and he throws these away by the hundreds. They're metal, round, flat, with a dimple in the top that makes them look more real than a button or something like that. Glue them to a counter (hot glue works best). They might be a little small compared to the size of the ones on the counters in the game, but I figure they should be small to fit 10 groups of mines into one dropper.

Smoke, paint, etc: We put down a cardboard counter and then set cotton ball material on top of it. Just pick up the cotton ball if you want to move through it. The counter is there to sharply define the edges of the cloud to settle any disputes, and you can write on the counter any info you might need ("hot smoke", "tear gas", "There are mines under here", etc). Wal-mart has cotton balls in pink too!

Others: A thin wisp of cotton tucked on top or underneath your car says you're on fire, or marks "dead" cars. Debris counters I make by coating the counter with Elmer's glue and sprinkling on some "debris" I made that consists of coarse sand and some plastic model bits. Afterwards dab some colored paint on a few of the sand bits to make it look like car parts. Obstacles are plastic model bits glued to a counter. Bust up your least favorite model or matchbox car, or just use the sprue tree left over after you've built the model.


Finding pedestrian miniatures of the right scale can be more of a challenge at the 1.5X and 3X-scales. Most toy figures are much larger (to avoid being ingested), as are my beautiful 25mm figures. And once again, model train people are too big/small. Fortunately, pedestrians don't often figure into Car Wars events: every duellist knows that fighting on foot is suicide.

Micro Machines is distributing small Star Wars figures which are about the right scale for 3X-scale. A friend just picked up a set of Storm Troopers -- they look like little autoduellists dressed in Body Armor and carrying high-tech guns in their hands! They supply other models from both the Rebel and Empire sides too.

-> Avid duellist Jim Businger (is this guy up on his modeling, or what?) sent this suggestion in:

I think that I may have stumbled across figures that would be perfect for 3X-scale. A local discount/closeout store (Oddlots) has "Star Rider" figure sets for only $1.49 and they're closer to Matchbox 1/64 than the Star Wars figures you mentioned (and much cheaper).

In 16X-scale, the pedestrians come first! Nowhere else will you find stunningly dressed male and female supermodels to drive your vehicles. Or maybe you'll opt for that olive drab military look. There's no question that 16X-scale provides the best possible choices in personnel.

The counter does not play as important a role for pedestrians. Therefore, it's not as vital to mount your pedestrians on an appropriate base. But it can't hurt, and it will help them keep from falling over. The standard Car Wars pedestrian base is 0.25 X 0.5 real-inch, but a walking pedestrian only occupies the forward 0.25 X 0.25 inch part. I think that the extra size was just included to make the tiny counter easy to handle. You can probably just use a Scale 0.25 X 0.25 counter to mount your duellists on.


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Copyright 1997 by Doug Maltais, All rights reserved.

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Posted by Doug Maltais, June 01, 1998.
Reprinted by the Seattle Washington Autoduel Team, January 25, 2011.

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