Saturday, November 29, 2008

This Weekend's Project: A New Wig

The goal is to progressively evolve Hotaru's structure to greater levels, beyond her humble origins of a Magic: the Gathering construct. I've been fond of her current hairstyle due to the subtle green tint used in the chemical fabrication of her black paper hair. I've yet to find a similar substance so far, thus making me hesitant in outright replacing/redoing it. However, her strands are fragile and tend to suffer from bends that lead to strands breaking. Not to mention, her hair isn't really dynamic.

So far, my first subject, Lia, had mixed results from the transition from construction paper hair to synthetics. A bit too much applied and lots of unsecured strands. Unfortunately, I didn't really keep that in mind the second time around, especially the too much hair part. Anyways, onward with the experiment!

I bought a cheap Halloween wig from Target for $10 for the purpose of making wigs out of the strands. Much more cost efficient than cannibalizing a Barbie in terms of dollars per volume. Most Halloween wigs cost $20, so I wasn't expecting anything great from this one. We'll see what fits in that "One size fits most" disclaimer on the box.

I won't digress into the details (especially since I didn't take progress pics), but I used the tried and true method of hot glue gun and fingerfulls of strands. I'll need to remember to cut back on the volume used. Too much material results in a poofy hairdo. I've actually resorted to using a twist tie to hold back the excess volume of hair. I was expecting half the strands to come loose over time, but that plan failed. I'll have to do some pruning/pulling later to get it under control.

This is the painted Pancor Jackhammer, with my new favorite color: Gunmetal Grey. The shotgun shells Hotaru is holding came from the European Shotgun set by Dragon.

I'll get some more colorful twist ties to make things look better til I control her hair.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Flightless game + Shotguns = Thanksgiving

Ever since the colonial days, future Americans have been shooting large flightless birds with really big guns. What else says Thanksgiving than paying homage to our legacy of blasting large animals with shotguns?

I've noticed that in the 1993 movie Jurassic Park, if you wore a brimmed hat, statistically you had a 66% chance of holding an exotic shotgun.

Robert Muldoon. Franchi SPAS 12 shotgun. Hat.

Alan Grant. SPAS 12. Unfortunately lost his hat by this scene.

So, what better person to use to demonstrate the spirit of Thanksgiving than the Sniper?

TF2 Sniper. Franchi SPAS 12 Shotgun. Hat. CHECK!

This 1:6 scale shotgun comes from Dragon Models Limited's European Shotgun set, which I purchased for $7 at A nice set of solid plastic with a moving pump. The SPAS 12 is one of those "looks cool, so let's use it in video games/movies" deals, which makes getting a model fairly easy. Great for picking off vicious Velociraptors. But, what if you were being overrun by lots of fast moving flightless creatures? Nothing says American like lots of firepower in large copious amounts.

This is the Pancor Jackhammer. A prototype automatic shotgun that, like the SPAS 12, is one of those "looks cool/futuristic, so let's use it in videogames" guns. Unfortunately, this gun doesn't have a 1:6 scale model out there to buy, so naturally, I had to make one.

Here's my prototype Pancor Jackhammer. 132mm long, faithfully recreated in 110lb cardstock and a few scrap Magic: the Gathering cards I needed to junk. I based the actual model off the Mk3A1 version than the US patent office submission, as the former looked better. No one's going to care, since only 2 of these shotguns actually exist in the world.

I started off with the pictures from a russian gun site, as they provided a nice side and front profile. Good reference pictures are necessary for any model you plan on making. This model was simple, as most of the parts are cylinders and blocks. For the blocky handle, I decided to laminate 10 layers of cardstock than use two sheets of Magic cards supported by a hollow tube between. It worked well due to the thin nature of the grip. The top rail was made by sandwiching two Magic cards over 7 layers of cardstock, and then punching out the holes with a 1/4" hole punch.

Here, you can see the back of the Pancor's stock. There are little grooves on the stock, made by thin strips of Magic card. At a small scale, the thickness of paper can create interesting details by itself. Magic cards are about twice as thick as 110lb cardstock, so any raised details can be achieved just by layering a card.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nov 19 is "IIlegal Arms Smuggling Day"

A year ago or so I played Call of Duty 2, a video game set in WWII. I remember the day I found two spectacular in game weapons: the Maschinenpistole 44 (Sturmgewehr 44) assault rifle and the Gewehr 43 semi-automatic rifle. In real life, the Gewehr 43 jammed and was pretty bad, and the MP44 was pretty rare. However, in the glorified world devoid of gravitational drop on bullet trajectory and profuse bleeding killing you, these two were kings. They'd normally give you either a pistol or some sub-machine gun along with a rifle you may or may not fancy. They'd be usually bolt action rifles with long reload times, or sub-machine guns with low ammo capacities.

Anyways, I found myself holding the G43 and loving how unrealistically effective it was. Ten shots of semi-auto glory with easily aimed iron sights. Mowing down German troops with precision shots. It was magnificent. After a while, the MP44 popped into my hands by accident, while rummaging through piles of fallen soldier weaponry. "What's this? This looks different." It was much more powerful and was 30 rounds of full on auto fire, better than the MP40s and my clumsy aim with the Thompson.

For those of you not wishing to read the backstory behind my fondess for virtual firearms set in an idealized world, start reading here. I set upon making a 1:6 scale prop (model would imply I tried to also recreate the details, which I clearly didn't do) of the Gewehr 43 and MP44 a while ago. I was never satisfied with the results, but hey, when you're cheap with no income, simple copies of things you can't have work. However, I now have the luxury of 1:6 scale arms smugglers who handily have a supply of nostalgic facsimiles of firearms. The first time I managed to replace my inferior hand made copy with professionally made plastic ones, I decided to compare how "off" my model was in terms of size. Mind you, I made my models by using one side view of the subject in question and scaling it to 1:6 scale.

Well, there's the results. I was fairly accurate, within about 90% accuracy in terms of proportions for the MP44, featured left. However, my attempt at a G43 rifle sucked hard. Too short and really bad looking in general. Oh well. I've gotten better now anyways and could probably do better if I tried. I'll keep the MP44 around as a reminder of how far I've progressed, but man, that G43 needs to go...

About the toys themselves: The guns were manufactured by Dragon Models LTD. For those wishing to purchase them, here's the site. Each set (MP44: Item no. 71029 and G43: Item no. 71030) comes with a scoped and unscoped version, two ammunition pouches for your 1:6 scale figures and removable magazines. The G43 came with a clip of ammo along with the magazines, despite there being no moving parts to insert it into.
This is the scoped version of the Gewehr 43. The fake wood grain looks a bit too pronounced, making it look more fake than necessary. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any moving parts. Not a bad model, but some moving parts make the difference between "fun" and "sweet".

Here is the MP44, with the "Vampir" night scope and what I presume is a giant flashlight. On a side note, I attempted to pry off the scope since it looked so obscenely large. I was successful due to the low glue strength holding it on, but immediately glued it back on since it doesn't really do me any good. I expected the cocking lever to move, and sheared it off trying to do so. Had to glue that back on. (Man, I am expecting way too much from these things)

The highlight of the model is that the flashlight accessory isn't a solid lump of plastic, but a hollow tube with a piece of transparent plastic for the lens. The downside of the model was the paint application. There are stripes running down the side of the wooden stock, probably residual lubricant/excess paint from the roller or something. It doesn't look intentional, nor does it make the wood look like wood.

In all, I'm satisfied for the reduced price I paid for these (buying them on e-bay is silly: they cost twice as much there than from where I bought them), but was expecting too much. I'd wish I could recommend these, but I am not completely satisfied with the build quality and paint application. If you want a cheap set of these two guns, it's not a bad deal.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday's Project: A WWII U.S. Entrenching Tool

Meant to build this over the weekend, but I decided to make a revolver instead. The U.S. Military Entrenchment Tool, better known to us as a "shovel", is one of my favorite melee weapons in Team Fortress 2. It's so silly, is wielded by one of the slowest classes, and plain old embarassing to see people get taken out by it.

The shovel was made from 110lb cardstock, a bamboo stick and one Magic: the Gathering card.

The shovel folds up from a bludgeoner's length to a slightly inconvenient length for "concealed carry". Why a shovel needs to be folded for transport is beyond me. It's still a big shovel but now with a wobbly head. Guess soldiers back then needed to have their shovels with them at all times in a convenient bag. But it's the modern era without wars, so why does Hotaru need a shovel?

Some time during your life, you may have intruders in your home, rummaging through your things. If you happen to come home when they're still there, you may need to fend off the invaders with whatever you have handy. And sometimes, the closest thing to use is your trusty shovel.

Here, we can see the shovel's effectiveness. The head has been extended fully, allowing the more massive head to be near the end of the moment arm. Other effective dispatching techniques involve the "Roman Shovel Jab" and "Divine Shovel Swing From the Heavens" and "Pound the Victim on the Head Repeatedly but Ineffectively with Light Taps". And most of all, as you can see by the surprised Sniper and Spy, no one expects to be beaten to death by the silent and not so swift shovel.

And as an added bonus, your entrenchment tool can be used for its primary purpose to dispose of the subjects/evidence.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Meet the Heavy... and Sasha

Amidst all the fun and joy of destroying my hands and lungs making the minigun in one week, I didn't get any pics of the Heavy with the newly painted minigun. I now appreciate keeping this translucent runner I saved from these GUNDAM stands to use as a posing support. Speaking of which, I don't recall ever saying how awesome these things are.

First off, here's the product in question: an "Action Base" made by Ban Dai for displaying GUNDAMs in fun poses. ($9 at my local toy shop, probably $5 online) Why buy these if I have no GUNDAMs? For the ability to do things like this!

What a random sidetrack. Now back to the main purpose of today. Enjoy the Heavy Weapons Guy and his glory.

"We make good team!"
"All of you are babies!"
"Cry some more!"

Sunday, November 09, 2008

1:6 scale Minigun "Sasha" from Team Fortress 2

One paint job and 4 hours of paint thinner fume exposure later, I have the minigun completed. Total time: a little over a week from start to finish.

The Team Fortress 2 minigun, or "Sasha" as it's referred to by the Heavy Weapons Guy, is the most pain in the ass object to make in terms of weapons. The flamethrower had nowhere near as many components as this had. The sheer weight of Sasha rivals that of anything a 12" figure is capable of supporting without forcibly moving their limbs or tipping it over. I'll likely need a special stand for assisting Sasha in poses.

I used a bottle of Flat Black Testors Enamel paint that I had lying around for about four years. Still decent! The quality was a bit thicker than I'd like, and a bit of thinner was needed. The Gunmetal Grey was a bit better despite also being unused for four years. I used some of the Aluminum paint for the silvery part. A recommendation to anyone who decides to try building something like this: paint your parts first. There were way too many small crevices that required a bit of effort to paint when most of it was built.

Here's a sketch of the front profile of the minigun, as traced from the Valve poster. A very handy image to have to work with. I'll finish off with a few more shots of the minigun from different angles to get a sense of the details.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This Week's Project: Re-engineering the Minigun out of cardstock

Following up on a project long abandoned since September, I've decided to try redoing Sasha, the Heavy's minigun. Not quite papercraft, this paper model is properly scaled to the best of my ability this time to be 1:6. Unfortunately, I did not document this model step by step. I however have an archive of sketches and drawings of what was used to get this going. These will be filed away unless people here request them.

First, the reference image used to do this project, taken from VALVe's store.
I'd like to point out a few issues with this image. First, it's really small. Scaling it up to a 1:6 model causes a lot of pixelation problems, thereby making accurate measurements hard. Second, the lower silhouettes are WRONG. The gun is pictured larger than it is relative to the Heavy, thereby causing the 1:5 scale on the first attempt.

Now, with the reference image established, here's a near completion progress image of what has been going on in the past week.

As always, it helps to have some perspective to the size of this thing. Just the job for Hotaru to handle.

Always a sucker for big guns. Now, for some details behind the model itself. The gun is largely 90% 110lb cardstock with Magic: the Gathering cards for the ejection port cover. The barrel also rotates like the predecessor, but has been radically redesigned in construction. How? Let's look at the barrel.
The barrel has been partially separated to reveal the 6mm tube "core" and the 8mm diameter sleeves and array discs. Why use a compound tube system when a single 8mm tube would have been sufficient and lighter, you ask. The answer lies in the ability to align the array discs uniformly and to add structural rigidity to the assembly, as there are more surfaces to contact with glue. Also, the design relied on uniform hole sizes. Rather than make 8mm holes by cutting manually, I made use of a 6.35mm (0.25 in) hole punch. Simpler and uniform results.

Here are the main components for the minigun. The handle was made from laminating 16-20 layers of 110lb cardstock and mitering them to fit at angles. It's a solid piece that weighs as much as a plastic 1:6 scale rifle. The washer element holds the barrel assembly into place, and allows it to rotate. The ammo drum assembly/ barrel housing is largely tubes and little else.

Aside from two box objects made of Magic cards, it's almost all 110lb cardstock tubes. The large drum has a diameter of 64mm. There's a few structural cardboard elements inside to prevent it from collapsing upon improper handling.