(Written by Andy Taylor)
How to Make Your LEGO Windows, Cockpits, Canopies and Other Clear LEGO Pieces Really Pop, Shine and Sparkle!
Hello, all! I am a fairly new member of the AFOL community, having worked through my “Dark Ages” via an assortment of similarly crafty hobbies such as model-railroading and plastic model-building. While none of these have brought me quite that same level of pure Zen-like peace that working through a LEGO MOC can (and without spilling paint all over the office carpet - a bonus!) They have all given me a fairly broad spread of modeling skills. While most of these tricks and techniques are something of an anathema or simply a pure opposite of everything that LEGO is (so no comparisons on glues or paints, etc). There are a few very basic tricks that seem to work well for LEGO-building, without violating any perceived rules of purity.
The most basic of these is a simple trick that the airplane-model builders have used for years. As we are all well aware, clear LEGO pieces are made of a different type of plastic than the regular colored bricks. The clear LEGO bricks are slightly more brittle. As a result, over time – or even sitting in a bag or box with other parts – the clear LEGO pieces will slowly develop micro-scratches that make them seem duller or more foggy. When it comes out of the box, the clear plastic canopy of a LEGO starfighter looks like a child’s toy. While this is in most cases appropriate to what it is, with a very simple trick, you can have it looking like a real glass canopy or window. Or turn colored translucent LEGO pieces into real gem-like shining jewels.
The secret is this. These clear LEGO pieces are made of an acrylic plastic. The fogging or dullness and loss of shine comes from minor scratches. The way to fix these scratches is to give the piece a quick dip in a bath of liquid acrylic. In short; all you need is a bottle of classic Future Floor Polish (now being marketed as Pledge With Future Shine). It is the uncolored, unscented version of the cleaning product. In the hobby-world this stuff is liquid gold!
Use of it is simple. Pour out some Future in a small bowl. Dip the clear LEGO pieces in the polish, making sure that the LEGO piece is fully covered. Then set the LEGO pieces aside to fully dry (I recommend setting them on baking parchment-paper). The liquid acrylic floor-polish is self-leveling and will fill any micro-scratches or minor flaws in the LEGO piece. Once fully dry you can lightly polish the LEGO piece with a soft cloth. (Really only needed for large flat pieces). Other than a light polish no special handling is needed once dry.
The end result? The parts will be crystal-clear. Canopies will look like glass. Jedi Light-sabers will seem to glow. Windows will be sharp enough to see minifigs through and cast a reflection. Gems and jewels will sparkle as the tempting loot that they are meant to be.
I hope somebody finds this trick useful. If you have any questions or comments, or secrets of your own, please share them below. Thanks for reading my first post here!
You may also want to check out the Care & Feed of LEGO section for other tips on taking care of your LEGO, or a follow these links: