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Deconstructing a Toy Car

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6 June 2019page first published

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian writes:

Sometimes, you have to take it apart, so you can put it back together again.

That's the case with toy cars, which are often easier to repaint or customize once broken down into their component pieces.

Military Playset

We recently profiled the Military Playsets currently at Dollar Tree stores in the U.S., and now I'm going to take the military car apart.

Military car

I've picked up three of these so far. The convenience of having several similar cars is that you can create 'teams' of related vehicles for gaming.


The first step is to flip the toy on its back and see what holds it together. With this particular type of car, the metal top has clips on the front and back which attach to the black plastic bottom. Initially, I didn't have any luck bending the clips back, so I chose to cut them off with a Dremel cut-off wheel. I only cut off the rear clip.

Clip removed

Above, you can see the top part after the clip head has been cut off. Remember to wear safety goggles, and be careful not to damage the plastic bumper.

Metal car top

By the time I took the third car apart, I found the right tool for the job! A ¼" chisel will fit under the clip and retract it so the toy comes apart; a small screwdriver might work also.


Once the car is disassembled, you can see the major components: metal top, black plastic bottom, and tan plastic interior. Depending on what you are planning to do with the vehicle, the interior piece might be discarded (if you plan to paint over the windows, for instance); however, make sure that it isn't holding something else in place! With this car, the interior piece helps keep the wheels and windows in place.

Windows and rivet

The next step is to get the clear plastic piece – the windows – away from the metal car body. It has been riveted in place.

On my first car, I tried using a hobby knife to cut around the rivet. While I was able to remove the clear plastic part, it was cracked in the process.

On my second car, I used a Dremel grinding bit to remove enough plastic so that the part would come out. That worked, except that the part was cracked again when I pulled it out.

On my third car, I used a ¼" drill bit to drill out the rivet. I still managed to crack the part, but not in an area that will be visible when the car is put back together.


The axles turn out to be surprising easy to remove from the lower body. The plastic is bendy, so if you push on it just right, the wire axle will pop out.


I would have liked to remove the wheels from the axle, but the axle is a double-headed pin, so I thought it was best to leave the wheels in place (rather than to cut off the pinheads or drill out the wheels).

That's it for this article – the toy cars are down to basic pieces, and now I can focus on modifying them, touching up the paint job, improving them a little, and getting them onto the gaming table.