The key component to all the YouTube-friendly tracks these days is the modeled scenery. It takes any track from just a hill for cars, to being a universe where stories can happen and details make the difference.
I have yet to take my Hot Wheels track to that next level, but I've done it with other tracks and models...and I'm sure a lot of you have too. I grew up with a model train set that got lots of world building and more recently I modeled up my slot car track.
I've made 2 slot car layouts with model scenery. My slot car set is 1/43 but my model making skills are firmly in 1/64 and thus my slot car track was a bit out of whack with scale...but this isn't a story about matching scale, it's about making mountains.
My technique was something I picked up in a slot car forum. I used Blue Towel shop towels, glue, and water. The simplest of the simple...a poor man's paper mache. When I was little, my mom helped me with the newspaper strips and wheatpaste or whatever, but this is a much easier and more efficient process.
I've made a themed Spring Mountain track and a Desert Mesa track. And you can check out my Pinterest boards for more photos than those shown below...might give you some more ideas.
I started with trash. Quite literally...I raided the recycle bin for cardboard, styrofoam, and grocery bags to build up the regions where I wanted hills, mountains, and raised sections of track. You know that scene from Close Encounters...it felt like that.
Then it's all water and glue. Next, I took a bowl of water and mixed in plain old white glue until it felt like thick water...almost paint-like consistency. You don't need it very thick, the Blue Towels will hold it well. Just get yourself some dish washing gloves to save your skin.
I dip a towel into the bowl and get it all soaked in, then run it through my fingers to get the excess off. Then just drape the towel over your base and form as you want. No need to hurry either.
I also found that a single layer is often enough for most scenery. Double up here and there where you need some extra support but otherwise the towel is very sturdy once it dries and hardens. It holds the shape great, at which point you can start painting.
I'm not doing to tell you how to paint or anything like that...we're all after different styles and effects, so just have fun and copy something you like. Below are some pictures from my final slot car tracks. You can also check out my Pinterest for more shots.
All in all, a $10 pack of Blue Towel shop towels and a $10 gallon bottle of white glue got me enough supplies to build two 8'x4' slot car layouts with plenty of extra to spare. I can probably get 2 or 3 more tracks out of what I bought...so it's cheap.
My diecast setup right now doesn't lend itself to a lot of modeling room, plus I don't have the video capability to really take advantage of such detail, but maybe someday. Model making is a lot of fun and doesn't requite a lot of investment outside of time. It's something I did a lot when I was a kid with my train set and then didn't do for decades...I had forgotten how much fun it was.
How do you build?
What are you techniques for model making with your diecast track? Share your photos and ideas. With all the fat track being made for channels, it's something we can all get inspired by.
And don't forget to check out the Track Directory to see how others have built their racing worlds.