Sunday, September 26, 2010

J.Norad Transmutes a Furuta 1:6 Scale XM-177 to an M16A2

This week's project was to determine whether a Furuta 1:6 scale XM-177 could be converted to Golgo 13's custom M16A2. I could have bought an M16A2 model and just used that, but that would be too easy. And it wouldn't be as great as it would be a static model. The goal was to overhaul the Furuta model so I could strip down the M16A2 and store it in a briefcase like the other Golgo 13 figures. Never mind that I don't have a briefcase fabricated yet, but we'd need the gun first anyways to determine how to fit the pieces in.

I purchased this XM-177 as part of two Furuta Metal Gun Mania sets, one of which had the G11 rifle. Average cost for each gun is about $3, with shipping (14 guns for about $30). I unfortunately don't have a photo of the gun intact, as I started dismantling the heat guard and ended up at this state. Oddly, the barrel and front sight are made of metal, which ruined my plans. Difficult to glue metal to things, especially by a small point of contact.

 First act of business was to separate the gun into the usable components. Here, I've cut the barrel ring from the heat guard halves and glued them together. The stud holding the heat guard to the frame snapped off after trying to pry off the lightly glued parts. Likewise, the stock came off quick, needing only a 0.5mm deep starting cut around the separation point, and snapping it off by hand. The plastic used for Furuta's guns are quite soft. Good for carving up.

I drilled 1/8" diameter holes in the frame and stock to accept some bamboo sticks to allow the gun to be recombined later. I learned that I could manually twist a drill bit into the plastic than use the Dremel, as the Dremel tended to overbore the holes. The plastic was compliant enough to allow for me to bore a hole by hand. Great, I guess?

Since I couldn't feasibly use the metal front sight, I decided to rebuild everything from the frame outwards by hand. Nothing was usable except for the barrel ring I salvaged from the heatguards. I used a bamboo stick, carved a groove, then put a thick paperclip in the groove to act as the gas return line. This piece will also serve as a structural component to prevent the barrel from rotating, by using the paper clip to act as a key for a keyway system. I used some 110lb cardstock and fabricated two cylinders: one 3.175mm ID, 5mm OD with a 1.5mm wide keyway carved out; and one 5mm ID, 7.49mm OD heat guard cover. The keyway is important, otherwise the heatguard will rotate freely.

 The front sight was nothing special. Chaff cut up Mountains from a previous job, glued with plenty of Loc-Tite glue.

To get the front sight rabbit ears, I used 2 layers of Magic card and glued the V shaped sections over the sight assembly. Perhaps the easiest part of the job.

 The next part was to complete the handguard. The M16A2 has a recessed row of heat dissipating holes with light ribbing around the diameter for gripping. If I was building the M16A1, it'd be a much easier triangular cross section grip with a smooth outer surface. I added a taper to the guard from 7.49mm to 9mm, then carved 2.4mm of material along the top and bottom. To get the heat dissipation details, I poked a set of holes along a strip of 1 Magic card, then lightly drilled the face with a Dremel so that the material wasn't completely drilled out. I did this for both sides to widen the holes better.

Having glued those, I needed the separation line for the two halves of the heatguard. Two layers of Magic cards 1mm thick was used. I cut a groove to help align the piece to the heatguard.

 The XM-177 differs from the M16A2 in several spots. It essentially has the same body as the M16A1. As a comparison, I used my Soldiers of the World M4, which has the same frame/body as the M16A2.

I started off by shaving off all the details on the upper part, namely the sight adjustment screws. 

 The XM-177 has less material on the upper receiver. I fleshed it out by gluing Magic cards to it. I also added the brass deflector that was added on the M16A2, but absent on the M16A1.

Magic: the Gathering cards are like Bondo for model making. Great for filling in small gaps, then you just sand the excess away. Here, I've filled in the spots that are solid on the M16A2 and narrowed the receiver region.

 Here's the M16A2 with all the pain in the ass parts completed. I've added the details to the heat guard by gluing 110lb cardstock in 0.5mm wide strips to the guard, spaced 2mm wide. I've also completed the remodeling of the upper receiver by adding a layer of printer paper to cover all the Magic cards I added as thickener, then added some simple details.

 The scope was a standard tube and cone build. I opted to use a heavy card protector to create the lenses. Not too visible here, but they'll be there! The scope was copied off the DVD cover. I didn't feel like tracking down the exact design it was based off of and replicating it. The scope fits in the groove on the upper receiver like the actual scope, but I have not added a mounting/clamping screw nor made provisions to allow the rear sight to still be used with a hollow sight mount base.

 Current state of the M16A2, all parts attached. I'll need to redo the magazine to make it a straight 20 round magazine. I'll need to build two magazines anyways.

 The M16A2 can be disassembled somewhat. I didn't want to scratchbuild the receiver this time to get the level of detail from the Skynet Golgo 13 doll, where the upper and lower receiver could be dismantled. What I had now was good enough for me. I haven't gone into the painting phase yet, with hopes that I can strip the existing grey paint off the receiver first. Paint thinner doesn't seem to be cutting it yet. If anything, I'll just sand it down and paint it with an unnaturally shiny smooth black finish.

So, if you are really bored, you can in fact, convert a crappy Furuta  XM-177 to a strippable M16A2 rifle. Is it worth it? Only if you don't want to spend $300 to buy a Duke Togo just for the rifle.

Total added cost to the "Golgo 13 for Under $130" Project: $3 (XM-177 rifle).


Anonymous said...

Just curious, if you were going for the A1 handguard, how would you have done it? The round A2 handguards need only a rolled, slightly tapered sheet, but the A1s are triangle shaped..

BTW, are you familiar with shirtless-kuns AR papercraft? its high level of articulation and detail sounds like it would appeal to you.

JNORAD said...

@Anonymous reader:

For a triangular handguard, I'd likely have done the following: Build a three sided prism frustum (out of 4-6 layer thick card sheets) around a cylinder, then sand the edges smooth. It would give me good control on dimensions, flatness and stiffness as opposed to carving a cylinder into a triangular tube.

I'm aware of Shirtless-kun's modular AR from a while back when it was just starting out, but haven't checked on it until now. Too bad I've moved out of 1:1 scale for the sake of storage, otherwise I'd have totally built that.