Products and Design

A Talk With Jeff Brown, Shapeways’ ‘King Toy’

The scale modeling community here at Shapeways just keeps amazing us with the things they’re creating. Even more, we love that they’re working together to bring their perfect builds to life. We recently caught up with Jeff Brown of King Toy, a model car maker with decades of experience, to tell us about his passion, why he does what he does, and how Shapeways is helping to make it easier. 

scale model red truck

How long have you been working with model cars?
I started seriously building model cars about 30 years ago when I was 16. I had built lots of models before, but mainly planes and ships. It wasn’t until I started driving that I really go into all the creative things you could do to model cars.

How does it feel, after the hours you put in modeling, tweaking, and getting things just right, to finally hold that finished piece in your hand?
Well, I have always been an artistic person. I see building model cars as an outlet for my artistic nature. I’m also a huge car guy, so I get ideas all the time for cars and trucks. This lets me bring them to life on a smaller scale. I also love making models of real-life cars as well.

How did you buy or make model cars before you discovered Shapeways?
I generally bought most of my kits on-line from sites like eBay, specialty retailers, or small parts companies. Before Shapeways I sometimes had to buy a whole kit just for a special part. I was never afraid to kit bash or customize.
scale model police car
How has your experience been with buying and selling creations on Shapeways?
I always buy several copies of the pieces I create for my store so I or my builder friends can use them. I have also bought parts from other makers to improve my models. Making new parts and using Shapeways has really taught me it takes a lot of time and effort to do this. Shapeways makes the process a lot easier helping with guidelines in the creative process.

What 3D modeling software do you use, and how did you get started with it?
I use SketchUp. Honestly, I just sat down and started playing with it. In the beginning I wasn’t sure what I could do with it, but things changed for the better soon enough.

What has 3D printing added to your appreciation of model cars?
It really opens the door for creating parts and pieces that haven’t existed before. I try to concentrate on making parts that are not available anywhere else, or helping replicate new real world parts that may take years to come to scale models.

How long does it take you to design one of the 3D printed models? What about Painting?
Usually it takes a week or two casually designing in spare time to do a simple part. One of my more complex parts took about a month or so of trial and error to get it just right. For painting I like using Frosted Ultra Detail — it has a smoother surface for easier prepping and painting.

Tell us about a project you’re particularly proud of.
That would be my Street Beast purple ’83 Supra. It started as a model club build contest entry. I then decided to really go all out and push the envelope and try to showcase as many of my part creations that I could. It has the first ever wheel design I did. I also has several of my aero enhancements.

Finally, what does the future hold for you? What do you have coming up, and what plans do you have moving forward for your model-making?
I try to continue to learn new techniques and tips to be a better builder. Most of what I have designed so far are external enhancements, but I’m currently working on designing some really new, off-the-wall products, possibly with some mechanical parts.

I want to get to a point where I can easily transition from using different sources for building models: kit part, 3D-printed, resin-cast or scratch-built. I am also trying to get back to where I started by trying bold ideas with my models.

You can find more from Jeff at his Shapeways store, and check out his Instagram and Facebook pages.

All images provided by Jeff Brown.

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