Tampographs are the small printed graphics that are applied to die-cast cars during the production process. They are essentially stamped onto the painted body and allow the manufacturers to apply much more detail to a car without using expensive paints. Racing graphics, sponsor logos or headlight detail are some of the features that are achieved through the use of tampo’s.

Tampo titillation.

Removing the tampo’s from a Hot Wheel car is something that many customisers like to do. Sometimes you want to get rid of factory-applied graphics that have suffered a sloppy application or you just want to strip the artwork off to give yourself a clean canvas to work with in order to apply your own decals and paint detailing.

Judging by the tutorials I’ve seen online, there seems to be no definitive way to remove the tampo artwork. Various people like to use various methods. But the objective is always the same: to remove the tampo without damaging the paintwork on the car.

One method I have seen a lot of is the use of acetone. Simply, the acetone is applied to a cotton tip or something similar and then rubbed against the tampo until it comes off. Acetone is used in nail polish remover and its quite potent. Using it to remove tampo’s is effective but it can be risky in that the chances of damaging the paintwork underneath the tampograph is quite high.

That’s why I prefer to use eucalyptus oil. I’ve not seen anyone use it but I gave it a try because I found acetone to be too volatile and easily damaging to the car’s paint.

Eucalyptus application is the same as with acetone: soak the end of a cotton tip in the oil then start rubbing it against the tampo. It requires a little more work than the use of acetone in that you’ll have to be a little more patient, but the result is ultimately the same and the chances of damaging the car’s paint considerably reduced. Plus, it leaves the car smelling great! Unlike acetone which stinks and will probably give you brain damage if you sniff it too much. Using eucalyptus oil too vigorously on the car can still wear off paint, particularly along leading edges, but unlike acetone, you’ll notice the early signs of this happening (such as the paint colour appearing on your cotton tip) and have time to adjust your technique accordingly.

Here’s a Hot Wheels Surf ‘n Turf which has a large woody-effect tampo on the side. I want to customise this car so the tampo has to go. As the tampo is quite large I’m going to use some paper towel to apply the eucalyptus oil, rather than a cotton tip.

With a tampo of this size you need to disassemble the car as getting eucalyptus oil on the plastic parts will damage them.

After about 30 seconds of gentle rubbing the tampo is already becoming history:

After a couple of minutes it’s job done:

You’ll notice that some tampo is still inside the door seams. Just dip a cotton tip in the eucalyptus oil and use it to work the harder-to-get to areas.

As you can see in the next image, there is some minor paint loss along the leading edges of the door seams. This can be fixed with a light touch-up of enamel paint.

Here’s the end result with the car back together and small paint touch-ups done. I’m also swapping the wheels on this car (as of writing I’m short a set of Real Riders for the front!)

I may apply my own decals to this car or leave it as is; I quite like the cleaner look. At least that faux wood is gone.

Anyway, I hope you found this useful. Or if you think I’m insane and you prefer another method, let me know. After all, there’s no right or wrong!