Re-liveries, water labelling and detailed Scalextric artwork
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In this edition of Test Track we’ll be looking at the production journey of re-liveried models and a newer process we’ve been using called ‘Water Labelling’. We’ll also be revealing two new 2016 cars, which certainly make the most of water labelling with their liveries - neither are new tooling but are re-liveries of some very popular tooling.
Before we get into the production journey of a re-livery it’s important to get a brief overview of what water labelling is. Water labelling is a manufacturing technique that lets us print out a livery and stick it directly to a model. However, this isn’t just a simple sticker but is a specially designed decal that once applied to a car, will never come off again. In fact, it’s almost impossible to tell that it was ever a ‘label’ at all.
A water label being applied, an incredibly skilled task to get right time and time again
This process is being used with fantastic results by our Development team as they can achieve unbelievable levels of detail, recreating racing car liveries we could never hope to model before. It also allows the graphic designers in our Development team to make their own truly unique artworks.
Last time in Test Track we gave you a quick rundown of what was involved in a new tooling project (and mentioned we’d expand on the artwork processes) but there’s plenty of models that use tooling we’ve already created. These projects are an integral part of the Scalextric range and allow us to really explore what’s possible with what we already have. While the re-livery journey is much shorter, it certainly involves no less work or effort.
The first thing for our Development team to do is carry out the necessary research. This is almost identical to the research carried out for a new tooling project, where any livery information is acquired from the licensor and site visits are arranged if we need them. Hundreds, if not thousands, of photos are taken so our designers can match the livery exactly.
Product artwork created by the Scalextric Development team for the C3761 Campervan
Next we have to construct the artwork itself. This is designed and created by the graphic designers in the team using specialist software, where it is built up in layers. The artwork is amazingly detailed and is, in many respects, the work of an artist. The time, skill and effort this requires is massive and you can really see this in the livery itself.
Product artwork created by the Scalextric Development team for the C3711 Monster Truck
Once the artwork has been finished it is sent to our factory in China. They will check the artwork file and break it into sections, which will sit on the model itself. Again, this is something that sounds easy but can be quite complex - the label edges need to be “hidden” in panel lines and other similar recesses when fitted to the model.
The artwork pulled apart ready for printing
With the artwork now in sections it can be sent off to be printed. The water label is printed off on a backing card and sent back to be used. The water label is applied by hand, much like an Airfix decal, with great care and attention. This sample is known as the Decoration Sample, which is sent to the Development team here in Sandwich to check and make any amends (of which there can be many!).
A worker applying a water label to a sprayed model
Our factory will then make the changes we’ve requested and send another sample through for approval. This is called the Signed Sample and should represent exactly what you, the collector, will receive (including the box and any other additions).
There are rarely any changes to be made to the Signed Sample and once it has been signed off, mass production of the model can begin.
Much like with the new tooling production journey, our licensors are involved at almost every step of the journey. Their approval is incredibly important and their feedback is incorporated and sent back to our vendor alongside any changes we make.
You may have noticed in the last Test Track that we showed you the artwork for the C3625 BMW Z4 GT3 when discussing the production process. This was no coincidence and was actually a small clue (which we are fond of dropping in from time to time…) for this Test Track.
Decoration Sample at the front with Signed Sample in the display case
The C3625 BMW Z4 Hatsune Miku makes full use of the detail we can now achieve with water labelling, as designs like this would have been essentially impossible with the Tampo printing method we used to use exclusively.
Tampo printing is a type of pad print that “builds up” artwork in layers. An image is etched into a flat printing plate and ink is flooded across the surface leaving ink only in the etch. A silicone rubber pad then presses down onto the etched plate and picks up the ink (which due to solvent evaporation has become tacky). This is then applied to the substrate.
This means that intricate designs have to be printed again and again, with each colour in the design being added separately, over the top of the other.
Read more on Tampo printing here
Features: DPR, Easy Change Pick Ups, High Detail, Magnatraction, PCR, Working Rear Lights and Xenon Effect Headlights.
Spot the difference! Decoration Sample on the left with the Signed Sample in the case on the right
New for 2016!
If the C3625 BMW Z4 Hastune Miku doesn’t show off the amazing detail that water labelling allows us, for the first time we’d like to showcase another two new releases, both due in 2016, which should convince you.
The VW Campervan was fantastically popular when it was first released in 2014 and we couldn’t stop ourselves releasing another Campervan in a groovy “hippie” livery.
This unique livery was created by the Development team and was inspired by VW vans of the 1960s.
Features: High Detail, Easy Change Pick Ups, Magnatraction, DPR, Xenon Effect Headlights and Working Rear Lights
This livery has only been made possible by the water labelling process and we’re astounded by how well it has come out.
The C3761 VW Hippie Campervan, due for launch in January 2016, is now available to pre-order – don’t miss out on your chance to grab this unique model.
Like the VW Campervan, the Rattler sports some amazingly detailed artwork. This unique livery has once again been created by the Scalextric Development team, designed in the style of a rattlesnake.
Features: Super Resistant, Easy Change Pick Ups and Magnatraction
This fun and beautifully decorated Monster Truck, due for launch in January 2016, is also available for pre-order now.
Before we leave you, we have a quick update on the new tooling BMW M3 and Sierra RS500, due for delivery in April 2016. Both the first shots have been received for these models and we’re now able to show them off.
Remember to let us know what you think, and we’ll keep you updated with further details as each new production stage is reached for this Legends twin pack.
Also, don’t forget that the Touring Car Legends – Ford Sierra RS500 and BMW E30 can be pre-ordered now through the Scalextric website.
All questions are welcome and do let us know if there’s anything you particularly want to see.
The Test Track Team
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