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I make toys for kids who don't want to grow up. I'm on the lookout for new projects. If you're interested in commissioning me to build something ridiculous, shoot me an email.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

November UFO Sightings in the Workshop

 Forgive me readers for I have sinned.  It has been eight weeks since my last blog entry.

A lot has happened in that time.  Most of it in my personal life and world travels.  But that's not what you're here for.  Instead, let me present to you a series of UnFinished Objects that are currently scattered around the shop.  
I've been on a bit of a Star Wars kick lately.  As a result, there's a lot of that in this post.

First up, there's my version of Captain Enoch:
Test Fitting Front

As soon as this guy popped up on screen, I knew I'd have to make his helmet.  So I got to work on it almost immediately.  Life's been happening pretty heavily since his on-screen debut, but I should have the whole thing ironed out and ready to mold in no time.

Then there's the Paz Vizla Heavy Mandalorian jetpack:

Jetpack casting

This thing is a big chunk of rotocast parts that will all be painted separately, then glued together to make the final piece.  It took me forever to get around to making the mold for the main body, so now that that's come together, I should be able to build and paint myself one of these guys in no time.

Speaking of molds that are taking forever, I'm still making slow progress on my B-2 Super Battle Droid:
First Body Cast

The main body, waist, and pelvis will all be cast in hand-laid fiberglass and I have all of those molds done.  I also have molds for the feet and the right lower leg.  Now it's just a matter of molding the arm parts, the thighs, and the left lower leg and we're off to the races.

I have no idea what I'll do with the finished droid once it's built, but I'll have molds, so I'll probably make more than one.

Speaking of making more than one, here's the current state of my Jedi Temple Guard masks:

These were modeled after the live-action version seen in the Andor series so I should be satisfied to just have them sitting on a shelf on display like in the show.  But since I'm some kind of twisted completionist, it's only a matter of time until I have to build the rest of the costumes to go with them.

Then there's this guy:
Jawa WIP Thumbs Up

This is the early, rough assembly of the first of four or five Jawas I'll be building.  That project has been a lot of fun and should come together pretty damned quick once I get a wild hair and decide to finish it.

In that same vein is the clonetrooper armor:
Untrimmed Clone Parts

I've had two of these kits sitting in storage for years and this year I finally finished one.  The second one isn't finished yet because the guy who made the kits is retiring from building them and has given me permission to pull my own forming bucks off of the untrimmed kit that I still have from him.  At this point I have molds for everything except the parts pictured above.  Once I mold these parts, I can clone myself an entire army!

Finally, there's my next book!  After the success of Make: Props and Costume Armor, the good folks at Make: have asked me to write another book to cover even more materials and techniques.  So in another three or four months when none of the above things are on the "done" list instead of the UFO list, it's because I'm burning the candle at both ends to share even more of my hard-earned knowledge with the world.

So that's all the latest, greatest, not at all finished stuff in the shop.  Stay tuned for more updates as we make progress wrapping up a few other things!

Monday, August 7, 2023

Sideshow Skeletor Costume Build

 The other day I published a post about the construction of Skeletor's Havoc staff based on this statue:
Sideshow Skeletor

I started with the staff first, but the main goal all along was to build the entire outfit. It turns out I pulled it off:


To see how the whole thing was made, read on...

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Building Skeletor's Havoc Staff

When I was a kid I like He-Man as much as anybody, but wasn't really a huge fan. In more recent years, I've chuckled at all of the Skeletor memes, but didn't give it much more thought. Then Sideshow went and released this statue:

Sideshow Skeletor


It's what you'd expect Skeletor to look like if Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop decided to make Masters of the Universe instead of Lord of the Rings. I love the look and I haven't been able to talk myself out of building it lifesize.

So I went ahead and purchased the statue and started noodling over how I would go about building a wearable version of it. Knowing that I may not actually get around to completing the full build, I decided to start with something that would still look cool as a standalone piece; the Havoc staff. I started by scanning the top of the staff using my Revopoint mini 3D scanner. I'm still early in the learning stages of making this device work, but my early attempts show a lot of promise. Here's the scan of the staff head:

Scan Image

After filtering out the noise and smoothing the model a bit, I split it into functional separate parts, then I scaled it up to lifesize.  At that point, it looked like so:

Model Prepped for Printing

I also used the boolean function to hollow it out to fit a rod down the inside that would fit snugly inside the aluminum tube I planned to use as a handle and cut out space for a six-inch glowing spherical night light that I found here: LINK.

Each of the individual pieces was printed on one of my Zortrax M200 3D printers.  After a  bit of sanding, the main body looked like so:
Havoc Staff Skull Print Smoothing

The horns and the little plate that sits behind the sphere were separately printed.  Here's an early test assembly with the glowing sphere in place:

So far so good:
Havoc Staff Size Reference

Of course, a lot of the finer details didn't really survive the transition through the scan-smooth-enlarge-print process. Mostly I lost this scrollwork on the backside:
Statue Staff Back

I basically have no 3D modelling skill, so I began going through the process of adding these details by hand:
Resculpting Base Begins

The raised portions are built up with "Magic Sculpt" a 2-part epoxy putty I pick up at my local TAP Plastics:
Sculpting Back Details on Base

Once the details were roughly applied by hand, I waited for the Magic Sculpt to harden, then I could go back over them with a Dremel and a knife and some sandpaper and refine the edges.  This made the details much sharper:
Sculpting scrollwork

Of course, a quick coat of primer revealed that there was more work to do:
Staff Top Progress

I used the same process for the bottom tip of the staff:
Staff Parts in Progress

After a few more rounds of filling and sanding, I attached the horns:
Horns Attached

Then the staff was ready for paint.  I started with a couple of coats of Rustoleum "Dark Steel" spraypaint:
Staff Top in Base Paint

Then, as with all things, it needed a heavy blackwash to darken it up and really bring it to life:
Havoc Staff Head Painted

Havoc Staff Snoot to Boop

It's tough to get the whole thing to fit into a single photograph, but here's my best attempt:
Full Length Havoc Staff Front

And a better angle in slightly dimmer lighting:
Full Length Havoc Staff Angle

But seriously, here's the head of the staff in dim light to showcase the glowing orb:
Havoc Staff Top Finished in Dim Lighting

And again in slightly brighter lighting to showcase the metallic finish:
Havoc Staff Details in Brighter Lighting

On the other end, here's the spear tip at the bottom of the staff:
Havoc Staff Bottom Tip Details

While there are a few things I'd like to change (a different, more interesting lighted globe and a break in the middle of the pole to make it easier to pack and store, among other things), I'm pretty happy with it.

Here's the finished staff leaning against a wall in the hotel room at San Diego Comic Con:
Skeletor Finishing005

Did I not mention Comic Con?  Oops.

Turns out I was so excited about the building of the Havoc Staff that I went ahead and built the entire costume to go with it:

We'll go into great detail on that build in the next article.

Until next time...

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Phase One Clonetrooper Build

 As a young Navy lieutenant station in Newport, Rhode Island back in 2004 I had just started getting into cosplay and prop replica building.  I'd made a passable set of stormtrooper armor from scratch and was looking really excited about the new clone troopers that had appeared in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.  

I spent a lot of time looking for whatever reference images I could find and stumbled across a website called starwarshelmets.com.  There you could find all sorts of information about every helmet that had appeared in the original trilogy and suddenly all sorts of images of these new clone troopers.  There was even a page about fan-made clones and even then, just a year or so after the movie had come out, there were a few fans who'd absolutely nailed perfect replicas of this helmet despite the fact that the production itself had used only CGI animated versions for the films.

At that time there were only two really spot on fan-made helmet replicas and no affordable licensed replicas available.  Of the two fan-made replicas, one was a one-off made by someone called "King Jamie" and the other was this beauty made by "Clone Six:"

I didn't really know anything else about it at the time except that it was gorgeous and I wanted one.

Fast forward eight or nine years.  I had moved back to Northern California and gained a bit of notoriety as a capable costume maker.  I had just finished my Ironman suit and had a stack of Halo Spartan armor and the internet was starting to notice me.  

Then one day I get a message through the Replica Prop Forum from a user named "clonesix" asking if I was going to the NorCal RPF get together because he'd really like to meet me in person.  I was more than a bit surprised.  I had no idea where in the world this person was located and not only did he turn out to be in the US, but California.  Northern California even!   He was actually living just outside of Sacramento, not even two hours drive from me in Petaluma.  

I ended up going to the gathering and met Jon (aka "clonesix") and got to see one of his gorgeous suits of armor in person:
Clonesix Clonetrooper Armor at the NorCal RPF Prop Party

Jon told me all sorts of details about the development and construction of the suit and explained that he called himself "clonesix" on all of the forums because of this project.  He had built six clonetroopers for he and his friends to wear to Wondercon.  Only six.  After that he was done making clones and had no plans to make more.

Fortunately, he had given all of the molds and vacforming bucks to his friend Darren who could continue making clones for other fans.  As luck would have it, Darren was there too.  This is him at his tables with a bunch of cool stuff he had brought for show-and-tell:
Darren at the RPF Prop Party

Darren and I got to talking and ended up collaborating on a few things together.  First, he made the vacformed parts of this suit:
Shae Relaxed Stance

That was our Shae Vizla build.  You can read mroe about it here: LINK.

Somewhere along the way, we worked out a trade and I finally had got me a complete kit to make myself a set of clonesix clonetrooper armor.  Then, before I had a chance to actually build it, I got a second set from him.  These two giant boxes of parts migrated around my shop from corner to corner and shelf to shelf waiting for me to finally get around to doing all of the trimming and assembly, then painting and rigging to make them wearable.  Then when a friend of mine asked me if I could dress him up for a local comic convention at the USS HORNET museum, that was the last little nudge I needed to get this project back on the workbench for a minute.

In the middle of reorganizing the shop again, I dug these two boxes out of my storage shed and laid out the pieces I'd need to make up the full set of clonetrooper armor:

Untrimmed Clone Parts

At that point, I had about a week to go before the convention.  

The parts I got from Darren were vacformed perfection.  The plastic was a nice, thick 1/8" high-impact polystyrene.  Stronger than your typical cosplay kits tend to be.  In pretty short order, I had everything trimmed and primed:

The arm and leg parts required a bit of assembly before filling and hiding the seams, but even that didn't take all that long.  Here's two sets of lower legs and the backplate with the resin cast detail insert, all ready to go:

All of the trimmed, assembled parts were primed and given a coat of satin white paint:

Then it was time to start rigging the parts to make them wearable:

While I was in the middle of rigging, wearing the torso armor as seen above, my nephews walked into the shop and told me I looked "ridiculous."  For complete context, they were dressed like so:  

So take their opinions with a grain of salt.

Weathering the painted armor was a matter of lightly dusting the parts with grey primer, then buffing it back off with Scotch pad:

The resulting effect was a very subtle shading in the recesses that really brought out the details in the suit:
Then all we had to do was drive out to Alameda and get Jay all dressed up out in the parking lot:

I was a bit nervous because we'd never had a chance to do any test-fitting or adjustments prior to actually just showing up at the convention, but Jay turned out to be the exact right size for the suit.

Surprisingly he was even able to do stairs:

Once we were on board Jay got around quite a bit:

His girlfriend Renee caught up with us a few minutes later:

I didn't get to see too much of whatever else was going on with the convention.  Jay and I were too busy finding really cool photo opportunities:





At the end of the day we had a lot of fun.  Then we piled the armor into the passenger seat of my car and it was time to go home:
I still have a whole other set of parts to put another clone together.  Stay tuned to see what else I do with those.  It shouldn't take too much longer to make up my mind...