December 31, 2016

Make Toy Vehicles Look Old

Do you love the look of Christmas trees on cars (and in 
trucks) like I do? It can be pricey to buy ready made
ones to decorate your home but you can easily paint
 your own and save lots of money. 

I got this idea from Jennifer Rizzo's blog.

Look in the toy section of stores at the cars and trucks.
The miniature ones can start at $1. The bigger the vehicle
the bigger the price. If you want the vehicle to look old,
look beyond the way the car looks in the store. You can
paint the car/truck and completely change the look.
Sorry about the fuzziness of the cars on the back row. My regular camera lens broke and
 I am having to use the "fancy" one that blurs the background....even if I don't want it to. 

The trucks in the above picture were about $6 each.
They are five inches long. They came from WalMart
and Target. I think they all were from a line called
"Just Trucks". No fancy packaging or actions. 

The cars in the photo above are smaller. They are 2.5" to
3" long. They are only about $1 also from WalMart (but 
widely available at other stores too.)

The cars in the above photo are ones that I ordered off ebay.
I wanted some actual older cars/trucks as painting "go bys"
 and to hopefully add some authenticity to the Christmas
 display I was planning. These came out to being about $1 each.

Leanna Maksymuik got her toy cars and trucks at a thrift store.
See how she uses the vehicles to make winter scenes in jars at Poot & Boogie blog.

Here is my new vehicle collection waiting for paint jobs.
Some already have most of their paint on and some are
waiting for their first coat. I just used craft acrylic paints.

If you already like the look of the toy vehicle but want to
add some age quickly, here are some things to do that I 
learned from the actually older cars/trucks from ebay.

1. Get a bottle of medium grey acrylic paint
2. With a small brush dab full-strength grey paint along
the front edge of the hood and along edges of the
vehicle that might get lots of wear normally.
3. Use watered down grey paint to knock the shine
off of chrome and/or plastic parts.
4.Also use watered down grey paint on the tires
and hub caps.

Here are some examples of the quick-y method:

oops! This close-up shows that's a pretty messy paint job on the plastic grill. It will be
 easy  to fix with some water on a paper towel to wipe it off and start over. 

On the front row of the "parking lot" the red truck and the white/red car had the quick paint job. 
The woody on the back row used to be a NYC police suburban but it got a complete paint job. 

If you want to completly change the color of the vehicle
you can use acrylic paint for that too. 

For a complete color change you will probably need to
paint two coats of acrylic paint. 

With a small brush you can dab a rusty/red/brown color
 on places that you think rust would be on an old vehicle.

Have a paper towel ready to dab off paint if you get too
much on the vehicle. If you don't realize the paint covers
 more then you intended until after it dries, 
you can dab the base color back on top of the "rust". 

You can also add some gray with the rust color.

You can decide how rusty/old you want your vehicles to look.
The red pickup only got minimal aging. 

My "splurge" vehicle was one I got on ebay for about $12
(with shipping). The seller was honest about the condition of 
the truck. Even after cleaning up the outside of the Tonka
truck it was pretty gross on the inside.

There was not an opening on the bottom of the truck to be
able to get inside to clean out the algae and mold. I took a
chance and pried the plastic grill off of the rusty metal body.

After the grill came off, the plastic "windows"
came out like an odd-shaped box.
I had not even been able to see that there were seats also.
After cleaning the window box, the seats and the grill 
well, I was able to snap everything back together. Whew!

The only thing I painted on the Tonka truck was the plastic
grill to make it look as old as the rest of the truck.

Here is my "Put A Tree On It" car/truck Christmas vignette
in it's beginning stage. I used rusty or industrial metal objects 
as display stands. The "snow" is made of a layer of sheet or
buffalo snow with plastic snow flakes on top. Cardboard
cut to size holds up the "snow". 

Green bottle brush trees would look good too but all
of my artificial trees have been bleached. 

Here are some of the actually old trucks that came from ebay
in the display. This reminds me of "Ice Road Truckers".


There is a mix of old and new vehicles in the tray
 (from WalMart). Some of them were too small to put
 a tree on top. I'm calling this the "parking lot".
Kind of a catch-all for remaining vehicles not on display stands.

The top tier of this stand (from World Market) will never be 
 the same after I left it in the floor and then tripped over it.

I'm ending this post with my secret favorite vehicle in this
too-late-for-2016-Christmas post wishing you a great 2017!
P.S. If you want some "put a tree on it" vehicles for your
2017 Christmas be on the lookout during the year for them.


  1. It is hard to tell the old from the new after your handiwork. Great job. I have one old vehicle and one new from CVS. I never thought to paint it.

  2. Gayle- You did a FANTASTIC job on those! WOW! I love how you made them look like antiques. I see a new business for you in the future! lol xo Diana

  3. Thanks so much for sharing these cuties at my Show and Share party. Wishing you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!


  4. So cool, Gayle! You are sooo creative! I would have never thought of that! Thanks for linking up and sharing at Dishing It & Digging It! I always look forward to seeing what you're going to create next! Happy New Year!!

  5. I hope you and yours had a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and are having a very HAPPY NEW YEAR. May we display your header on our new site directory? As it is now, the site title (linked back to its home page) is listed, and we think displaying the header will attract more attention. In any event, we hope you will come by and see what is going on at

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  7. I am so happy you like my feather art work! You have such a creative hand, love all the fun valentines crafts. Glad to meet you Maria

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  9. Great idea. I am going to pin it for later use. I have been looking for a bigger truck with a tree, but, they are so expensive. I am looking forward to trying this idea.

  10. What a great post! I love the vintage truck look. Two Chicks and a Mom featured your post as part of our "wrap up" of the Holiday Link Party 2017. Thanks for joining us!

  11. Beautiful photography and a great project

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