Monday, March 31, 2008

Zorg Remote: SO CLOSE!

Tonight, I've all but finished the Zorg Remote for the ZF-1. This is a nice little companion piece to the ZF-1 itself, which is also in my collection. Well, the closed up pod is.

Anyhow, I'll walk through the final phases of this project.

The project kind of hit a snag when I got to a point where I didn't have any mold release. I need this to make a two part mold. I could have brushed in vaseline or something as a separator, but that usually gets a bit messy. I've always had really good experience with these types of spray on separators, so I awaited its arrival.

The first half of the mold had already been pulled, and it was ready to be prepped for the second half. I pulled apart the foam-core box I had built, to find this.

I carefully removed the clay, making sure not to loosen the game that was embedded in the rubber. That would be bad.

Here's what the mold looked like after I got all of the clay cleared out.

I sprayed it with a coat of the separator, and built up another box around it.

Then it was time to pour the rubber in.

A couple of days later, I finally returned to the project. I opened up the mold, and pulled out the master. It came out perfectly. No picture of the completed mold tonight, but I'll get on it.

Then it was just a matter of cleaning up the master. Removed some glue, picked out all the clay and rubber that got stuck in the little grooves, and I was good to go.

Nothing terribly exciting here. I'm just painting the front and back halves with krylon semi-gloss, which I'm almost positive is the exact same paint that was used on the screen used pieces. NICE!

Not pictured is me primering the front and back half. After all, no big deal.

And at last, here's the final product. Actually, this is a bit of photographic trickery, as the back side has not yet been screwed on. But since that's such a trivial activity, AND I wanted to have this posted by tonight, I've skipped ahead, and pretended that it is finished.

So yes, I still need to screw on the back half, but this is pretty done. I'll pour up a few resin copies for friends, and then put this one to bed. Oh, the yellow tape required a TINY bit of trimming, but it fit into the main window really nicely.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with this simple little prop. Too bad it took me almost 18 months from initial discovery until today :) But hey, it was a really fun trip. Along the way, I met a few really interesting collectors of hand held video games, and had a really good hunt. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't working on this project 18 months non stop. A good year of that was the time between me discovering the original prop, through acquiring one of the video games. The rest was just procrastination.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

More Primer, Putty, Paint

I only found about an hour and a half to work on projects today, but still got some solid work done. I'm focused on three items at the moment, which regular readers of this blog will know is an unusually low quantity.

The rifle is coming along nicely, but I've noticed a few places where the Krlyon black seems to be repelled. It's another case of mis-matched paints. So I went in with some primer and blasted the problematic parts.

Once that had dried, I went back over it with the Krylon and got all of the hard to reach places. It didn't work perfectly, but it's good enough. I plan on weathering the heck out of this piece once the paint dries, so it shouldn't matter all that much.

On the padd front, work continues on the two small TNG style padds. Here's the large window padd after I had done some sanding on the putty. This type of clean up is an iterative process. You clean up one set of problems, then address the next. This is after I had sanded down the first putty attack.

And here it is a few minutes later after a coat of primer. Grey primer really goes a long way in revealing the flaws in a piece. I've learned over time that natural lighting also helps a lot. You cannot just look at a piece in artifical lighting, especially when that lighting is either single source, or not the best.

While that was drying, I spent a little time on the other TNG padd. Just more putty clean up. I'm also trying to clean out the side railing. It's pretty dirty, and not very uniform. Here it is after another coat of primer.

Going back to the part about this being an iterative process, once the primer dried on the large-window padd, I went back in and put putty on the newly revealed problems. This is really meticulous work, which would probably be totally skipped were this a prop for screen use. But since this is something that I want to look good under closer scrutiny, I'm taking the time to get it nice and smooth. I try to limit myself to three of these iterations, as you could just go on forever if you wanted to.

Lastly, a little update on the Zorg remote project. My roll of reflective yellow tape showed up yesterday. It is PERFECT. It looks exactly like the stuff that was used on the screen used one, so I'm stoked.

The remote itself is half way under rubber. I'm still waiting for the mold release spray to show up so I can pour the second half of the mold.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rifle, Padds, Lions, oh my!

Early this morning, I finished up the final little piece of masking work on the Mangalore Rifle. Yahoo! It's now ready for painting.

So this evening, I blasted down the first couple coats of krylon semi-gloss black. Lookin' good so far. I'm still on the fence about how I'm going to attack the attaching the brass detail bits, but I'll worry about that later.

I also did some minor putty work on the two TNG PADDs that I've got cooking. Nothing spectacular to report really. I'm just cleaning up little pock marks and dents and stuff. I'm not trying to get them perfect, just taking out the major imperfections.

And lastly, here's the next padd I'll be working on. This one was featured heavily in the fourth season episode "The Drumhead". It's painted red with white buttons. This is a very oddball little padd that didn't see much screen time. But I still think it's pretty nifty.

Overall, a pretty productive day. I only put in a little over an hour of work tonight, but seeing that rifle getting painted is a big step. A big psychological "win" for me too, as that's been idle for a long time now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Almost There: Stay On Target

It's really hard to stay motivated to finish up that Mangalore Rifle. As much as I love the prop, and want a finished one in my collection, it's just SUCH a pain in the butt doing all that masking! The good news is that I've only got one tiny little piece remaining to be masked off, and then I'll be ready to blast away with the Krylon Semi-Gloss black. Nice!

Here's where the rifle stands as of tonight.

I did some clean up work on the TNG PADD, and also started in on a new one. This new one is one of those oddball padds. Not a super "primary" padd, but one that was featured in a number of episodes. Tonight I cleaned up the flash from the casting process, and blasted it with its first coat of primer.

Big-up to a fellow trek-head and prop collector named SurferGeek who provided me with some excellent screen captures of the first TNG era padd I'm working on.


Tonight I also dumped rubber on a couple of pieces. One is the Zorg remote that will go with the ZF-1. The other is another oddball TNG era Padd. What can I say? I'm on a roll.

And just to make sure my apartment is still a big draw for the ladies, I hung up my recently framed Time Bandits map the other day. Looks pretty stellar over my couch, n'est ce pas??

I managed to do a bunch of online shopping tonight, to round up some supplies. I got my 1" yellow reflective tape for the Zorg remotes, some mold separator for the Zorg remote mold, and I also ordered an Estes Phoenix rocket kit, which happens to have a set of decals I need for another tiny Fifth Element project that is still far on the back burner.

Oh, and to my absolute shock and horror, I actually had a successful trip to Michaels today. This is a store I absolutely hate. 10 times out of 10, they do not have what I am looking for. WITHOUT FAIL, EVERY time I got there, I leave empty handed and upset. Upset because I just wasted my time. But today was different. But only because I knew as a fact they would have what I was looking for. Then again, knowing them, it's a surprise they were not out of stock of the items I was seeking. I needed some glue for my hot glue gun, and some popsicle sticks. They had both! The glue I use when making boxes for my molds. The sticks come in handy for all kinds of stuff, though I mostly use them to mix up putty.

Anyhow, that's all she wrote for today. Well, that's all *I* wrote for today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Plenty of Painting Action

Lots to report on, but I'll try to keep it short.

First up, tons of progress on the oddball alien padd. I finished masking off the green parts, and blasted the entire thing with a coat of dupli-color bright silver.

Here's how it looks with the masking tape removed. Turned out great.

Next, I prepared the remaining part for painting. This little guy gets painted blue.

Got a little more work done on the left hand size of the Mangalore Rifle. Definitely slow going on this bad boy.

I've also prepped the Zorg remote for molding. This is another Fifth Element prop. So yeah, I'm trying to keep my plate full.

And laid down a coat of primer on the TNG padd. Still some work to be done on cleaning up the back side of this padd, but it's coming along very nicely. The front looks great.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

PADD Updates Galore

I've been on a real PADD bender lately. Good stuff.

The other day, I laid down the first coat of the green highlights for this weird alien padd. These will need to be masked off, and then the silver will be painted. If you flip back a few blog entries, you can see where I cleaned this up and primered it. It's looking quite good right now.

I also pulled out an old TNG era padd. I recently watched season 4 of TNG from my DVD library, and this padd shows up all over the place. So I thought I would give it a try. The padd is a little wonky. I think that's partially due to wonkiness in the master, and partially due to some wonkiness in the pull. Not a big deal, as it still looks quite nice.

I spent about an hour cleaning it up and doing some minor puttying. Nothing serious, just filling in some bubble and straightening out some lines.

And then it was on to the primer. I'll need to round up some of the proper Krylon paint to finish this up, but so far so good.

The PADD has remnants of the original graphics on it, so I'll be able to precisely recreate that brown LCARS "T" shape that was on this style of padd. I'll need to get those plotter cut in vinyl, but that's a no brainer.

R2 Is Back In Business

R2 has been in pieces ever since his last appearance, which was something like six months ago. I grew tired of not being able to see him in full form, and he was also taking a beating by sitting in the garage. Seems like every time I would walk past him, I'd ding him, or drop something on him, or whatever.

So I pulled all the pieces up into my apartment, and assembled him last night. Looks pretty good! I'm going to charge up the dome lights and voice box, so if anyone happens to come over, I can give them a show.

An R2 show, that is. Not a sexy-party show. Sheesh.

Rifle Update

A tiny update on the rifle, which is of course, the raison d'etre for this blog. I got started masking off the left hand side last night. Still a ways to go, but it's progress nonetheless. I would REALLY like to get this masking stuff wrapped up by the end of this weekend.

And since this blog has sort of turned into an all purpose prop blog, I'll throw this one up there too. This is a reproduction of the photo from the very end of "The Shining", the fantastic Stanley Kubrik film. Go see it if you haven't. This entire prop cost me under 6 dollars. The graphic itself was made available via a fellow prop maker. I added in a white border, and sent it off to costco to have it digitially printed. I think it cost me 60 cents. The frame I founda at Michael's for 4.99. The frame is not 100% accurate, but it looks very similar to the one seen on screen. And besides, who cares.

I like this piece because it's sort of a "stealth prop". You could put this on your mantle, or on your desk, and there's a good chance nobody would know it's a prop replica... unless they asked. The same cannot be said for a lightsaber, or a blaster, or something like that. Sounds like a whole new category of props!

Enterprise Radiation Meter

I'm sort of in a prop making frenzy right now, working on multiple projects at once. I've had this litle guy "on the bench" for a while now, so it seems that it is time to finally finish it up.

I'm a big fan of completion, and I guess when a big project (like the rifle) starts to drag, I like to tackle some smaller projects to get more immediate results.

This little gem comes from one of the few really good episodes of Enterprise. Naturally, it's a fourth season ep. One of the mirror universe ones, in fact. Let's start off with a picture of a screen used piece from It's A Wrap:

My resin casting came out of the mold very cleanly, and didn't require much clean up at all. Within 20 minutes, I was hitting it with a coat of primer.

I decided to just go with Dupli-Color bright silver on this one. Don't know if it's the exact paint code, but I'm beyond caring about that stuff :) Besides, it'll look cool, and since I'm the only fella on the block to have one, there won't be anyone contesting me.

Because I had such a great reference shot for the graphic, it was a snap to put it together in Adobe Illustrator. Got the font 100% right too, which is always satisfying. I got some transparency printer paper, but it didn't work to well. The ink just rubbed right off.

The pic below shows the project as it stands today. I've got the badge all painted, and the graphic created. I just need to print it out in a way that will hold up to handling.

If not for the fact that the graphic is absolutely dead on perfect, I suppose this project wouldn't have turned out as cool. I'm quite happy with it. Now I just need to finish it!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bits of Progress, Here and There

It was kind of an "all over the place" day here at the shop. Er, I mean, in my garage. I'm still pretty sick, but I find the strength in the evenings to head down to get a few more little things done.

Fortunately for me, I moved the rifle itself up to the living room, so I can work on it in the comfort of my home. I have finished masking off one half off the gun. The other half is probably about half way done. So I'm making progress. Here's a picture of the right side of the gun. This is the side that is finished.

After the fiasco with the incompatible paint types on the Vulcan Phaser, I finally got that first little dome re-primered, and painted it the correct copper color. Here's how it looks with the masking tape removed.

I'm plenty happy with the results. I think it's close enough to the original that only the makers would know for sure. I also did some tests with the paint, and have determined that as long as I spray a coat of primer over the silver paint, the copper paint should stick fine. Which is cool. Means I don't have to strip it down and start again. Now it's just a matter of masking off all the parts that need to be painted copper. And you KNOW how much I love doing that type of work.

I also did some work on that alien padd. Here's a shot of where I used the super putty to fill in bubbles along seam lines. The spot glazing putty that I use on flat surfaces does not work well in these types of places. Because it doesn't bond very tightly, it tends to snap out of those little crannies when sanding. So I switch to "the good stuff" for these types of problem areas. It's coming along really nicely.

After that putty was all sanded and smoothed, I zapped it with a coat of primer. I may make one more pass with the glazing putty, but that will be it. It's getting very close to being finished.

I also managed to pick up the paints for this padd today on my lunch break. I don't think I got the colors exact, but that's OK. I'm just going for a "flavor" approach on this one. Because they probably made a number of variations of this padd, I'm not too concerned about matching the colors perfectly. I think it will look cool just being finished.

That's it for today. Thanks again for reading.

Primer Good, Primer Bad

Couple of news items on the primer front. I'll start with the easy one.

I've blasted the new alien padd with primer. Nothing much else to report. The good thing about grey primer is that it helps reveal any tiny flaw in the casting. I suppose that's also the bad news.

But I ran into a problem with the Vulcan phaser. I had it all masked off and ready to apply the bronze/copper paint. However, when i sprayed it on, it went all "orange peel" on me. Basically, the paint reacted violently with the paint underneath it. The two types are incompatible. Lacqer vs. Enamel. Classic struggle. So I had to knock the paint down with sand paper, and put down a few coats of primer. Hopefully, the copper paint won't struggle with the primer. If it does, I'll just pick up a can of tamiya copper, and give that a try. I don't want to spend the rest of eternity sanding and primering hard to reach places on that gun.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

We're Ready to Pump You Up!

A bit of work got accomplished today. Still no movement on the Mangalore Rifle, which is a tad ironic, as this blog is supposed to be dedicated to its build. I'm thinking of re-branding this blog as a general purpose "bulding blog", instead of focusing on the rifle. After all, what would happen once the rifle is finished? Will it simply go the way of my R2 blog?? Unclear.

The first thing I did was cut out the padd screen template that I had drawn up last night. I expected to use my coping saw, but it was going too slowly. I deferred to my fiberglass cutting wheel for my dremel tool. It made short work of the thing. I ended up using a set of coarse files to get it down to shape, but it ended up fitting quite snugly inside the padd body.

I expect I'll need to do a little more work on the screen once I paint the padd body. The paint will add a bit of thickness to it, which will necessitate some further sanding. NBD.

But next it was time to do some molding. I poured up a batch of silicone, and let the vacuum pump work its magic.

Turns out I didn't need to do those silicone repairs I did last night. The force of the vacuump pulled that ring into whatever position it wanted it to be in, stripping it straight off the glue. NBD. (That stands for No Big Deal, BTW. [That stands for By The Way]) At the end of the day, the pump worked great, and did a darn fine job of sucking all the air out of the silicone.

Here's the molds all filled up with silicone. Notice that I put the molds on a piece of wood, on top of a box. Why? So I could level it out. You can even see my level on top of the wood. this makes sure that the molds are sitting flat as the rubber kicks. That way, when it comes time to pour up some resin, I can get better pulls. When the molds lay down perfectly flat, the resin will pour flat. Assuming I'm pouring resin on a level surface too. Oy, so many variables.

Long story short, they're all set. I can probably start pulling pieces out of them tomorrow night, but I'll probably let them go an extra night just to be sure. I'm in no rush.

Ex Post Facto

It's a bit after the fact, but I now have photos that document the stuff I was posting about yesterday. Here be they:

First up is the vacuum chamber that I am repairing. Just a little silicone glue around the bottom seal, and it should be ready to suck.

This is the Vulcan hand phaser circa Enterprise. This is the base coat, all finished. I personally am not a fan of the finish, but it seems to match the screen used piece, and that's what I'm after. next up is the bronze highlights.

And finally, here's that other alien padd that I was talking about. I drew out a template on a piece of plex. Now I just need to cut that out, and it will serve as the main viewscreen for this little gem. Once again, big thanks to "It's A Wrap Hollywood" for getting so many of these weird little pieces into circulation.