Saturday, April 18, 2020

Building the Morita Assault Rifles from Starship Troopers

For quite some time now I've had a prototype of this rifle kicking around my shop and getting in the way:
Morita Body Prototype in Progress

It was made from a digital model by my friend Michelle Sleeper.  You can see more of her work here: LINK.  She started with an original screen-used Morita prop and decided that it was going to take too much work to make it presentable.  Instead, she took painstaking measurements off of it and produced a nice, clean, straight, damage-free digital model which I was able to bring into the real world with my collection of CNC machines and 3D printers.  Once it was sanded smooth and painted up to be nice and shiny, it immediately got set aside so I could focus on other frivolous projects.

Then months passed.

When I finally found time to mold it, it just needed to be dusted off prior to building a mold box around it.  Then I built up a clay bed and set the rifle into the box like so:
20190802_181457

Then the clay bed was covered with more clay to make a watertight mold wall around the rifle along its centerline.  Because I have no regard for those of you reading along at home, I neglected to take any photos of that process before I filled the mold box with silicone rubber.  Freddy helped:
20190803_190807

When that cured, we screwed a lid down on top of it, flipped the whole arrangement over, and removed the bottom of the box.  With the clay removed, it looked like so:
IMG_20190806_144131
Note the big lump of clay still in the mold on the far end.  That's going to form the plug for the magazine well.  It'll all make sense soon.

After spraying on a judicious coat of mold release, we filled the second half of the mold with silicone rubber:
IMG_20190806_172438

After the second half cured, we removed the box and took out the lump of clay for the magazine well plug.  The resulting hole was sprayed with more mold release and then filled with another batch of silicone:
20190807_133551

After that cured, the mold parts were peeled apart:
20190807_151959

Then the molds were dusted with talcum powder:
20190807_175547


In order to keep the weight down and to add a bit more rigidity to the resin cast, a length of PVC pipe was capped on both ends and placed into the mold:
PVC Pipe Insert Placed

Finally, everything was clamped back together and ready for casting:
20190807_181855

Once the first cast was out of the mold, I couldn't resist the urge to cast a second rifle.  Here's the first two next to the prototype:
IMG_20190807_195326

Here's my young friend Briar trying one on for size:
20190807_201128

At this point I still had to mold the rest of the details and add-ons:
Bitty bits to Mold

They were all simple block molds for the most part.  Once the castings started coming out, it was time to begin assembly:
Morita Current Kit Parts Cast

Michelle even made a model of the Ruger Mini-14 action to fit into the opening at the rear of the stock:
20190909_102413

The last piece I molded was the muzzle assembly.  It consisted of an actual M-60 flash suppressor and a magazine tube cap off of a 12-gauge shotgun fitted to a 3D printed bracket:
Muzzle Prototype Progress

So far so good:
20190909_102347

The final parts were a piece of tubing to simulate the shotgun barrel and a hand-sculpted bracket to tie it all together:
Morita Muzzle Prototype Upright



Morita Muzzle Prototype Horizontal

Once it was all done drying, I made up another mold box and filled it with rubber:
Muzzle mold

The castings came out perfectly:
IMG_20191002_181232

With the muzzle cast, I now had the full set of parts:
Complete Set of Morita Parts

The whole set of parts worked out to a total weight of under six and a half pounds:
20191002_182711

Now that all of the molds were made, it was time to make more parts:
Morita Muzzle Casts

If one rifle prototype was in the way, this stack was going to become a problem:
Raw casts being prepped

BUILDING

Sanding off the seam lines and applying a quick bit of spot putty took no time at all:
Filling in progress

Meanwhile, I trimmed the excess resin off of all of the other parts too:
Morita Detail parts Drying

After a quick wash with warm soapy water, the parts were rinsed clean and primed.  Then they were ready for...

PAINT

The receivers, buttplates, muzzles, and little details for the magazines were painted flat black to start:
Morita Painting Progress 004

The shotgun grips were given several coats of textured truck bed coating:
Morita Pump Action Grips

The main bodies of the rifles were given a couple coats of greay sealing primer:
Morita Painting Progress 003

Then they were basecoated with Flat Medium Green from Model Masters:
Painting base green

The triggers, shotgun barrel section, and the recess in the side of the butt where the receiver goes were picked out by hand with flat black paint.  Then the rest of the pieces could be glued into place:
Base paint done.

The muzzle assembly was masked off and the flash suppressor was painted in a gunmetal metallic:
Morita Assembled

At this stage, the base green was way too light.  Fortunately, the flat sheen did a great job of soaking up the blackwash.  This helped pop out the details and brought the color down to something much more screen accurate:
20200102_231043

After a bit of silver was drybrushed onto the shotgun barrel, muzzle, and receiver, the whole thing was given a coat of matte clear for protection.

The last touch was adding...

THE SLING

Making a sling sounds simple enough until you take a closer look at the odd contraption that was custom-made for these rifles in the film.  I guess it's called a "safari style" sling with some garnish to make it look a little more complicated.  Here's the ingredients:
Sling Makings

Since I couldn't find flat metal sliders and tiny little carabiners in the correct black finish, I had to settle for painting them myself.  So here's step one:
Morita Sling Progress 005


The slider on the sling was this doubled-up pair of paired plastic slide loops:
Morita Sling Progress 006

The carabiner was slipped onto a piece of 3/4" nylon webbing which was then sewn onto the end of the 1-1/2" webbing the rest of the sling was made of.  There was also this weird little vestige of 1" webbing with a slide trapped on the end of it for no reason I can think of:
Morita Sling Progress 008

I ended up quitting after I'd made seven of them:
Morita Slings

With the sling attached, this project was basically finished:
Moritas Done

Moritas Done

Moritas Finished Outdoors

Most of them went to friends, but I ended up keeping two handy so I can take cool photos like this one at the Scum and Villainy Cantina in Hollywood:
Harley trooper

Otherwise, they just hang on the recently finished projects rack:
Display Rack Clutter
That's cool and all, but I've also got these other things lying around the shop, just begging for me to replicate them:
MI Armor and Helmet

I may make the carbine version of the Morita too.  Who knows?


Stay tuned for more...




Friday, April 17, 2020

The Mandalorian Armorsmith's Helmet

A while back I got to see the first three episodes of The Manadalorian before they were released as part of a special event for costume fan clubs.  While the show was pretty good and I liked it a lot, the real standout for me was this lady:
FB_IMG_1574368457959

This is the Armorer.  A sort of spiritual leader for the enclave of Mandalorians hiding out on the planet Nevarro.  As the show progresses we see that she has the respect and deference of these legendary warriors and turns out to be a badass in her own right.  Add that she's a maker of things and I couldn't resist the urge to bring this one to life.

Here's the finished helmet:
Finished Armorer Helmet

To see a detailed explanation of how it was made, read on...