Major R2 update!

Welllll….
I was looking back through my entries here and realized I haven’t done an update on R2 in a LONG time! I’ve made a lot of progress since the last update.

Last fall, I received the CNC-scored skin set. This set consists of 4 skins (2 layers for the front and 2 for the back) that have all of the panels pre-scored in them. It wasn’t too tough to cut them out (some of them just snapped out with a little bending) and get them glued in place.

I used the scrap that punches out of the utility arm area to scratch-build some utility arms. I also scratch-built the large data port (the long blue slot on top). I think they turned out pretty good for scrap:

Continue reading Major R2 update!

Vintage Kenner Death Star Space Station Playset!!

The Empire’s ultimate weapon – The DEATH STAR. An armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet… and in 1978, it was the coolest toy in the Galaxy.

I always wanted one. Only one kid in our entire neighborhood had one. It was just a very cool toy. It had plenty of action features, like a working elevator, an “exploding” laser cannon, a retractable bridge with a plastic rope for re-enacting Luke and Leia’s swing across the chasm, and a trash compactor complete with a Dianoga monster and a moving wall.

But don’t take my word for it, check out the vintage Kenner television commercial for it:

Unfortunately, the Death Star was one of the few playsets that Kenner didn’t continue to produce throughout the run of STAR WARS toys and action figures. After 1979 or so, they weren’t on the shelves any more.

Make a quick hyperspace jump 34 years into the future, and I finally scored one on ebay for an affordable $31.00. Based on the photos and description in the auction, I knew it wouldn’t be in the best shape, but it wasn’t bad either. Besides the cardboard side panels, it was only missing the plastic rope, and replacements can be had on ebay. There appeared to be some yellowing of the parts, but that comes with age, and one has to spend a much greater amount of money to get a Death Star without yellowed parts.

The Death Star arrived this morning. My son and I carefully unpacked each piece and did a quick assembly to make sure everything was there. Here’s what it looked like out-of-the box:

The yellowing on the grey floor pieces was worse than I thought it would be, but still totally acceptable considering the price I paid. Overall, the Death Star was in good shape, typical of Star Wars toys from the ’70s. A few of the stickers were loose, the entire toy had dust on it, a few scratches, etc. In addition, one of the support beams was broken off in the roof piece, and the end of the laser cannon was broken (the seller had mentioned both of these in the auction, so it wasn’t a surprise). On the good side, everything worked. The foam “trash” was still intact, the Dianoga was in good shape, the elevator worked and locked on the different floors like it is suppose to.

Restoration
The first thing we did was wash every part of the Death Star in warm, soapy water. We scrubbed everything with a toothbrush, getting into every nook and cranny to remove dust and dirt. We dis-assembled everything we could without breaking something (35+ year old plastic can be brittle). We then dried everything. We were able to get the broken piece of the support beam out of the roof section and used some ABS plastic weld to glue the piece back together. The barrel of the laser cannon was bent, and using the old boiling water trick we were able to straighten it. We then glued the cannon together with superglue. We also were able to buff out a lot of the surface scratches with some plastic polish.

We then re-assembled the Death Star.

Years ago I found scans of the cardboard panels online and have been saving them for this day. So, after a quick trip to Walmart for some 8.5″x14″ paper, we printed the images and spray-adhesived them to a piece of poster board. They slipped in place perfectly and although the color doesn’t quite match (I may have to fix that in photoshop and re-print the panels) they look great:

We were able to salvage most of the original stickers. A couple simply lifted off without any trouble. We sprayed the back of them with some spray adhesive and replaced them. There did seem to be a few stickers missing, and the center sticker on the “tractor beam control panel” had been placed incorrectly and had to be removed and replaced. I printed a scan of the original sticker sheet that I found online at 12back.com and cut out the stickers we needed. We then replaced the missing stickers.

I’ll be ordering a replacement for the plastic “rope” soon, and that will complete the restoration.

It’s great to finally have this piece in my collection. But the best part of it was spending the afternoon with my son cleaning it up and restoring it!

Here are a few pics of the completed Death Star for your viewing pleasure. Many of these are attempts to re-create the photos on the original box.

Until next time, may the Force be with you!




One more for fun, with a photoshop glow in the light panels behind Luke and Leia:

*EDIT*
I’ve had requests for the Death Star panel images. Here they are. Please keep in mind, I found these on the Internet somewhere and I don’t recall where. If the originator wishes them to be taken down, please let me know and I’ll do so.

level 1 Inside:

Level 1 Outside:

Level 2 Inside:

Level 2 Outside:

Vintage Kenner Landspeeder Restoration

When I was a kid, one of the few Star Wars vehicles I had from the Kenner line was Luke’s Landspeeder. I remember how cool it was. With the lever to activate the “floating action”, it was a fun toy. I remember when my mom bought it for me at a local toy store, and I remember taking it with me everywhere – even the doctor’s office.

Sadly, one day I left it outside in our front yard when Mom called us in for dinner. When I went back outside to get it, it was gone. Some pesky Jawas must have made off with it while I was eating!

Ever since I decided to try to rebuild my vintage collection, a vintage Landspeeder has been on my list. I’ve just never picked one up. They aren’t especially rare, but most are in pretty beat-up shape (like mine was when I lost it). Well, I decided it was time to bite the bullet. Now, I could have payed out about $40.00 and picked one up in really nice condition, but I try to keep any money I spend rebuilding my vintage collection as low as possible. And, restoring these toys has become somewhat of a secondary hobby. I realize that restored toys with replacement stickers don’t hold much value, but that’s not why I do it. Anyway…. I picked up this bad boy for $4.99 on ebay last week:

Overall, it was in good condition. 90% of them out there have yellowed windshields, it’s just something that happens to the plastic over time. Really, the speeder just needed a good cleaning, replacement stickers (It appeared that the original owner put the decal under the hood on backwards, then tried to remove it to fix it and tore it. No problem), and SEATS!

I took the speeder completely apart and washed it in warm soapy water, getting rid of years of dust. I scrubbed in all of the nooks and crannys with a soft toothbrush. The springs in the wheel mechanism were in good shape but were full of dust and lint. I cleaned them out as well. The chrome is actually in better shape than I’ve seen on some $20.00 speeders.

I printed up some replacement decals, using a scan I downloaded at 12back.com ( Click for the Sticker scan ). They aren’t perfect, and I’m on the lookout for better stickers or a better scan, but they’ll suffice. I glued them in place using 3M spray adhesive.

I picked up a seat for the speeder on ebay for $7.99 (yes, I paid more for the seat than the speeder itself. Welcome to vintage SW collecting). The seats arrived earlier today and were in GREAT shape! I installed them (they just snap in) and the speeder restore is complete:

R2 Progress – Leg Struts

Not a ton of progress the last couple of days… really decided to take a day off of working on R2 after my adventures with the paint on the dome. I did decide to try to put together something that at least somewhat resembles the leg struts, since budget doesn’t really permit for resin cast right now. These will eventually be replaced with more accurate pieces, but these will work for now. I machined up the detail pieces out of PVC, and added them to some polycarbonate tubing I had left over from a previous project.

Here are the unpainted detail pieces on the tubing:

Continue reading R2 Progress – Leg Struts

R2 Progress: Skirt and shoulder mount system

First, as promised here is a photo of my PVC spacer system for mounting the shoulders. These spacers are cut just about 1/32″ shorter than the black PVC shoulder hub, and they offer support for tightening the bolts down while allowing the PVC hub to snug up square against the shoulder mounting plates on the body.

Continue reading R2 Progress: Skirt and shoulder mount system

R2 Progress – Legs, Shoulders, Frame, Booster Covers

I’ve made a lot of progress since my last post. First, a quick recap of the dome. It’s aluminum, I don’t know the maker. I picked it up for $40.00 and got the resin-cast vents, power couplings, and octagon ports as part of the deal. This is what the dome looked like when I got it:

And this is the current state of the dome:

Continue reading R2 Progress – Legs, Shoulders, Frame, Booster Covers

Back to the Future Hoverboard Project Update

Tonight I picked up the paint I needed to finish the parts for the underside of the board. I must say, after years of building blasters and lightsabers, I never thought I’d be buying spray paint in hot pink, plumb, and burgundy. But alas, I did. So I painted up the parts and glued them in place on the board!

Next, I’ll start work on the top of the board. Not much there really, the foot-mount disc thingy with pink fuzzy stuff and some green velcro.

Here’s a fun pic of my hoverboard with some other things from my Back to the Future collection:

And one with the DeLorean all lit up:

And for reference, here’s what I’m going for:

Back to the Future Hoverboard Prop Replica Build-up

Ever since “Back to the Future II” I’ve wanted a hoverboard. Who wouldn’t? They’re extremely cool. The prop itself is a fun design, and I figured it’d go great with my growing prop collection. Rumor has it that Mattel is going to market a licensed replica this year, but like all licensed prop replicas it will be WAAY out of my budget.

Members of the Replica Props Forum (www.therpf.com) have posted dimensions and even downloadable, printable graphics to help build your own. To really build a nice one, some of the parts should be machined and molded/cast or vacuum-formed, but I wanted to do this “on the cheap”. So, here goes.

I should have taken more pics from the beginning, but here goes. I started by creating a custom paper size for my inkjet of 8.5″ x 26.9″ (the longest it would let me make it) and printing the graphics on thin posterboard/cardstock cut to 8.5″x28″. Because of the restriction in length, I had to scale the board down slightly. I then 2 pieces of 1/4″ foamcore to the correct dimensions, then 2 more 1/2″ shorter and narrower. I then laminated these together with the 2 full-size pieces in the middle, with the 2 smaller pieces on top and bottom to allow me to taper the board. I filled in the taper with Elmer’s wood filler, cut the angle for the tailkick, glued it back together, and glued on the graphics. Basic board complete:

For the magnets, I found these tapered plastic bowls at the dollar store for 2/$1.00:

I cut the bottom 1/2″ off, and cut a piece of plexiglass to fill in the top:

After some gluing, filling, and sanding. Unfortunately they’re a bit larger than they should be (about 6″ at the bottom) but it’ll work for this build.

I cut the base of the magnets from styrene:

I then built the clamp pieces from styrene and disposable plastic plates. I filled in behind the plastic plate pieces to give the piece strength.

I made the center clamp piece from 2 pieces of 1/8″ styrene (glued together) and used a 1/2″ countersink bit for the holes:

And here’s a dry test-fit on the board:

Still some paint work to do, then I’ll tackle the top of the board with the velcro, foot disc thing with the pink fuzzy stuff, etc.

I realize it isn’t perfect, but total cost breaks down like such:

2 pieces foamcore $6.00
plastic bowls $1.00
plastic plates $1.00
pink paint $3.89
primer $0.96
plexiglass scrap $0.00
2 tubes wood filler $6.00
clearcoat $3.89
thin posterboard $1.96
spray adhesive $4.96
1/8″ styrene scrap $0.00
TOTAL SO FAR $29.66

Disney and Lucasfilm – My Thoughts

Wellll….
As I think everyone in the known universe now knows, On October 30 Disney announced that it is purchasing ALL of Lucasfilm, Ltd from George Lucas for $4 Billion. Since then, everyone I know has asked me what I think. So, I guess I’ll put it here.

First – I have concerns about what this means for the fan organizations the 501st Legion, the Rebel Legion, and the Mando Mercs. Initial posts from both Lucasfilm and the 501st seem to indicate that nothing will really change, and I hope so. Every year, members of these groups donate thousands of hours of their own time to community events and charities around the world, raising millions of dollars in donations. And heck, it’s a lot of fun!

I won’t deny it – Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm doesn’t completely excite me. Anyone who knows me very well knows that I’m not Disney’s biggest fan. However, I look at the recent success of Marvel studios and the amazing “The Avengers”, and it gives me a glimmer of hope. The Marvel films have benefitted from some amazing directors at the helm such as Joe Johnston, Joss Whedon, Jon Favreau, and Kenneth Branagh. Disney themselves have taken a “hands-off” approach to the recent films from Marvel, the Muppets, and Pixar. If they take a similar approach with “Star Wars”, and the new films have a great director like those I’ve mentioned at the helm, I think episodes VII, VIII, and IX will be amazing films. Kathleen Kennedy is set to follow in George Lucas’ footprints as head of LFL. She has been producer on Star Wars and Indy (as well as the Jason Bourne films and others) since the get-go, and she knows not only how LFL works and what “Star Wars” is all about, but understands George’s vision of what family entertainment should be. She’s a proven professional and I can’t think of anyone better to lead LFL as George heads into retirement.

How can I not be excited about the announcement that there will be new “Star Wars” films?

I do have to say that I think Disney got a bargain. Not only did they buy the rights to produce new “Star Wars” films and merchandise, they also obtained similar rights to Indiana Jones. They also got all divisions of Lucasfilm including Industrial Light & Magic (the visual effects company), Skywalker Sound, THX, and Lucasarts (the video game division).

Interestingly, Fox retains distribution rights on the original 6 “Star Wars” films until at least 2020 (they have the rights to distribute Episode IV “well into the future”), and Paramount retains all rights to distribute the current 4 Indy films along with any possible future Indy films. Disney (via LFL) will have rights to any Indy-related consumer products such as toys, props replicas, etc.

I wonder what the Fox piece of this means for future box set releases. After 2020, it’s possible that Disney/LFL will have the rights to all of the films except the original Episode IV. That could complicate issues.

I’m happy to hear that George Lucas will be donating most of the money from this deal to help improve education. Hopefully, that will quiet many of the naysayers who claim Lucas is just in it for the money. He doesn’t need the money.

I guess ultimately, I’m catiously optimistic. Best case they put someone like Joss Whedon or Joe Johnston at the helm (Johnston btw began his career at Lucasfilm as a production designer on Star Wars and Indy – he even designed Boba Fett) and we get some amazing “Star Wars” films. Worst case – well, can it really get worse than Jar Jar Binks???