R2 Update: Electronics, Wheels, and a 3rd Foot

In the middle of this last week, I received the fuse box for the electronics board. This allows me to put each motor on a separate fuse. That way, if a motor shorts or overloads, it will blow the fuse and not destroy the expensive speed controllers. I got the fuse box mounted onto the electronics panel and wired it up.

Continue reading R2 Update: Electronics, Wheels, and a 3rd Foot

R2 Update: Control System Proof-of-Concept

This last weekend, I decided to do a proof-of-concept with R2’s control electronics. I wanted to be sure the radio transmitter, receiver, and motor controllers not only functioned, but functioned the way I think they should.

I had an old Kenner radio controlled R2 given to me a few years ago, but it didn’t work. At one point, I took it apart to fix it (I did go to school for electronics after all) but the electronics were in pretty bad shape. Bad capacitors, cold solder joints, etc. I decided this would make a perfect “proof-of-concept” test, since the basic layout is the same: 1 motor in each foot, and 1 in the dome.

Continue reading R2 Update: Control System Proof-of-Concept

Major R2 update!

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.

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:

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: