My Dumb Projects
Saturday, January 21, 2006
  Stormtrooper Vinyl Model Kit by Screamin': Blaster

The Blaster looked OK at first glance but it's way too big, the casting is bad and the sights and folding stock are CARDBOARD. I downloaded the ENH version E11 templates from the Blaster Builders Club

and used these reduced to 27% to build a new one from scratch.

The barrel was cut from 3/8" brass tubing and the grip, magazine and Hengstler counter were made from laminated styrene. The receiver spring was made from copper wire wrapped around 1/4" aluminum tubing.

Pictured here is the completed magazine with styrene details. The front and rear sights were made from pieces of brass as were the folding stock and trigger guard. I removed the pistol grip that was molded into the Trooper's right hand so the new one could slide in. Unfortunately I couldn't attach the trigger or trigger guard until it was put in the Trooper's hand.

Here is the completed body of the gun. It has a 1/8" brass barrel, the muzzle is laminated styrene and the bolt handle is a VERY tiny nail.

The end cap was made by heating styrene and jamming it in a hole slightly bigger than the barrel.

I also made the caps for the Thermal Detonator with this method. Details were carved and filed into the end cap. I used a paper clip to bend into the D-Ring and cut one side off a small piece of square tube stock to hold it. I also completed the Hengstler counter with the twin tubes that will be attached to it with wires. I thought the folding stock would be too fragile to make operational, so I just made it as a solid piece to be glued to the gun. Here it is complete without the buttplate. At this stage I hand painted areas that would be hard to reach with an airbrush: Inside front sight, under sope rail, under dial on top of magazine.

I made the "scallops" (not sure what they're for....) out of 1/4" aluminum tubing, Dremeled to fit and super-glued in place.

Here is the barrel with magazine, front and rear sights, end cap and scope rail attached.

The scope was made from aluminum and brass tubing, a wooden dowel and the blue cone-shaped "clicker" from a Star Wars fan club ink pen. Thanks, George!

I stripped out a few wires from a 9-volt connector, wound them around a tube and super-glued them in place. This was by far the HARDEST part of the entire project. Those damn wires really didn't want to cooperate!

The t-tracks covering the barrel vent holes were made from styrene t-bars. All I had to do was cut them to length and taper the ends to make it look as if they were inserted into the holes.

Here is the final assembled gun with my hand and a penny for scale. I also used a little silver paint to simulate wear. I kept it pretty minimal as I figure a Stormtrooper with a cushy assignment like the Death Star probaly has pretty new gear and probably doesn't see a lot of action (Besides smugglers and Wookiees running loose...)

Or did I build a giant hand and big penny?....(That might have been easier)

And to really show why I had to build this, here is mine next to the kit's. I might have let it go if it weren't so oversized (maybe.)
Friday, January 20, 2006
  Stormtrooper Vinyl Model Kit by Screamin': Head

Another problem with this kit was the fact that they made no provision for mounting the helmet. You can see that there is barely a neck..I guess you are supposed to glue the helmet right on the shoulders of the 'Trooper.

I don't think so.

So the helmet would sit correctly, I decided to sculpt a head for it. And if I was going to go to the trouble of sculpting a head, I'd use my own! Here is the roughed out head in Sculpey (an artificial oven baked clay). It has a coat hanger wire inside that fits down a hole in the neck.

These really show how much neck they left off the kit.

This stage shows the completed head. Sculpey is a wonderful material as it sands and carves easily plus you can add clay anytime and it bakes right on!

Sculpey holds detail nicely but those damn ears kept breaking off. Pictured is ear #3!

Since I built a head, I needed to sculpt a neck seal to hold it. Since this would be part of the torso, I used Apoxie putty since I doesn't need to be oven dried. I pretty much glopped it on around the neck (covered in saran wrap) to get a tight fit. Once it dried I removed the head and carved the collar in shape, including the ribbing.

Here is the final head sitting snugly within its collar!

The epoxy putty is so strong I was able to keep the collar walls so thin that parts would show a slight gap!
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
  Stormtrooper Vinyl Model Kit by Screamin': Helmet

As seen in the previous post, the helmet was a big mess! Besides the general cleanup and edge refining that I did on all the other parts...

I cut off the "ears", extended and reshaped the "snout" with putty, removed the front grill and "microphone" tips, cut out spaces in the "teeth" and lined the inside of the helmet with epoxy putty.

The disk portion of the ears was made with styrene and the "track" running from it was epoxy putty.

I had to completely reshape the eye holes with epoxy putty. I pushed Sculpey through the eye holes from the inside and sanded the lenses round.

The holes in the "teeth" were backed with black tape. The grill on the snout was heat formed out of styrene, with the grooves filed into it. The new "microphone" tips were made from styrene tubes.

The inside of the helmet was painted black and the trim was made from a thick plastic coated cord from the craft store.

The final helmet! The blue hash marks along the jaw will be painted in later.
Monday, January 16, 2006
  Stormtrooper Vinyl Model Kit by Screamin'
I finally decided to build this kit after it had been sitting in my closet since 1993. At first glance, the detail looked great but as I started to research the "real" armor I noticed some problems.

All the pieces had really soft edges and inaccurate details. Some pieces could be brought up to "spec" with just some adjustment others would have to be trimmed away and rebuilt. Worst of all, the blaster was entirely the wrong size, a crappy casting and inaccurate.

Since the Stormtroopers had subtle differences in their armor over the original trilogy, I decided to give my trooper the armor and blaster from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. This trooper would have been stationed on the Death Star, so his weapon will have minimal wear and the armor will be nice and shiny!

To those experts out there, I did what I could with this kit. The only way I could've made it more accurate would be to build it from scratch. Some proportional problems I just had to live with. Vinyl is easy to cut but does not sand. Cleanup would have been easier if I had cast a copy in resin...maybe I'll do that for the Boba Fett kit.

I used an exacto knife to sharpen edges, re-shape armor plates and cut under the armor where appropriate.

At the waist, I had to reshape the crotch and butt plate and decided to remove the blocks that hang from the belt as they were molded in place and should hang free.

I toyed with the idea of removing the belt entirely and rebuilding it out of styrene but I was concerned about stability. I decided to just clean up the belt detail and reshape it later (it should not taper in as shown)

As vinyl kits are softer and subject to warping over time, I poured plaster into the legs.

The helmet had major problems in detail and proportion.
My "To Do" list:

1. Clean up lines
2. Remove large "ears" and rebuild
3. Snout too short and wrong shape
4. Eyes wrong shape
5. Putty over engraved "hash marks" on jaw (these are decals)
6. Rebuild snout details

The right knee plates too thick and soft. I tried carving them down to size but it turned out to be easier to rebuild this.

The left knee suffer similarly in that the detail is soft and the bumps are too big. I was able to successfully cut them down to an appropriate size.

The BIGGEST problem with this kit is the torso barely has a neck and there is no way to attach the helmet without gluing it directly on the shoulders.
These are all the dumb things I find myself obsessed with building when I SHOULD be doing something more productive.

As a kid I built lots of plastic model kits, never knowing that one day those skills would actually be of use.

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Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
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