A few simple customs

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Here are a few basic modifications I've slapped together over the last few weeks:

First up, a VOTC Tusken Raider with ball jointed hips. I boiled and popped the Raider and a TVC Quinlan Vos, than used a razor saw to cut off both figures' waist pegs. Next, I transplanted the Tusken peg onto the Vos pelvis using a #2 sheet metal screw (from the local R/C hobby shop) with the head removed. The last step was to boil and pop the Raider shins and feet onto the Vos thighs.



I haven't [yet] painted the Vos thighs because they're completely covered by the soft goods. If I become incredibly bored at some point I may tackle it. In the meantime, here's a shocking NSFW upskirt shot.



Next on the menu are these two cantina clowns.



Not a lot to say about these two... The spacer is a Saga Bossk with TVC B-wing gloves, TVC Stormtrooper head (dremeled to fit), and boots transplanted from a POTJ Imperial officer. The boots were the only tricky part, because I had to find feet that were angled to match Bossk's wide stance. I used cut off #2 screws again because I don't think any glue would hold up as well.

The Corellian pirate, well, everyone already knows the parts here. The only tricky part was matching the shade of paint on the Ceremony Luke neck to Willrow's head and hands. After a couple of tries, I found that a 50/50 mix of Michael's craft store "Brown" and "Cocoa" was dead-on.



Thanks for looking.
 
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Very neatly done! Do the B-Wing gloves go right on the Bossk forearms, or is some work required on them?
 
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Very neatly done! Do the B-Wing gloves go right on the Bossk forearms, or is some work required on them?
Thanks. I know they've been done to death, but I'm happy with them. I trimmed the tips of the Bossk forearm pegs to allow the gloves to slide all the way up to the forearm. It probably would have been just as easy to drill the glove holes deeper. No noticeable effect from trimming, though.
 
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I picked up the TRU Geonosis Jedi packs during the BOGOHO sale a few weeks back, but I didn't know about the mismatched hands debacle. I finally got around to fixing them up a little. In addition to swapping out and painting the hands, I used some 2000-grit wet-or-dry sandpaper to remove excess casting flash from the jawlines of the female Jedis, and did some major touch-up to the Asian Jedi's hairline.





I know the hair's still not perfect, but you should have seen it before...





For the next bit, full credit to DarthJace for his idea to use the ROTS Palpatine legs to improve the K-Mart Imperial officer (http://forum.rebelscum.com/t1103527/). I made a couple of small tweaks, and am fairly pleased with the result.

1. First, I used some 1000/1500/2500 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper (left over from a taillight restoration I did a few months ago) to remove the sculpted details from the Palpatine boots. The details are raised, so they're fairly easy to remove; however, there were a few lines below the surface that took a bit more effort. A piece of 3/8" basswood made a perfect sanding block, and some masking tape above the boots protected the legs from any sandpaper slips. Coarser paper might have made the job faster, but the fine grit is safer -- I'd have to make a serious effort to screw something up. As an aside, this was the first time I've ever used Testor's acrylic. I found it much easier to work with than Tamiya's stuff. YMMV.

2. The Palpatine legs plug into the officer's pelvis perfectly, but you're left with a fairly large crotch gap. Really no worse than TVC Tarkin or the comic pack Sunber, but it still bugged me. After sifting through my parts bin I noticed the pelvis from the TAC Smuggler Han figure would also fit, and was about 1/8" narrower. I used 600 grit paper on a rubber block to taper Han's pelvis at the top (basically enough to remove the belt details) to avoid stretching out the lower tunic, gave it a coat of semi-gloss black, and popped everything back together.

3. I swapped out the hands for the LC TPM Obi-Wan hands for several reasons: First, the cupped fingers (with no angled-down wrists or extended trigger fingers) reduce the monkey-arm effect. Second, I was able to order six of the Obi-Wans from China for $10 shipped. When the other Obi-Wans arrive, I'll set up an "assembly line" to give all the hands a lighter skin tone drybrush and paint the small silver semicircles under the rank badges semi-gloss black. Some of the belt buckles could use a little touch-up, too.



Here's a comparison between the stock (on the left) and Smuggler Han pelvises.



Proportion-wise, the figure fits in well with other Imperials, despite a serious lack of jodhpurs. :grin:



Presenting every Staff NCO's worst nightmare -- A gaggle of lieutenants. Keep them away from the maps and compasses.



And just because I hate wasting otherwise good bits and pieces, I dremeled out one of the TAC Hans and made this from an extra Target three-pack Han.



Thanks for looking, and as always, my apologies for the crummy photography.
 
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I finally had enough of my TVC Y-wing's collapsing rear landing gear so I opened it up to take a look. The shafts connecting the control lever to the rear struts were too flimsy and warped to stay on the cog tracks, so I rigged up some replacements. "Fabrication" required some 3/16" aluminum tubing, brass scraps, sheet metal screws, and moderate swearing.



I also lined the inside of the control lever slide with two thin strips of moleskin to take out the extra slop. The fighter no longer collapses under its own weight, and the gear lowering/raising is nice and smooth. Eventually I'll tap threads in the tubing and replace the screws with machine screws, largely due to my inability to leave well enough alone.
 
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Here are a few basic modifications I've slapped together over the last few weeks:

First up, a VOTC Tusken Raider with ball jointed hips. I boiled and popped the Raider and a TVC Quinlan Vos, than used a razor saw to cut off both figures' waist pegs. Next, I transplanted the Tusken peg onto the Vos pelvis using a #2 sheet metal screw (from the local R/C hobby shop) with the head removed. The last step was to boil and pop the Raider shins and feet onto the Vos thighs.



I haven't [yet] painted the Vos thighs because they're completely covered by the soft goods. If I become incredibly bored at some point I may tackle it. In the meantime, here's a shocking NSFW upskirt shot.



Next on the menu are these two cantina clowns.



Not a lot to say about these two... The spacer is a Saga Bossk with TVC B-wing gloves, TVC Stormtrooper head (dremeled to fit), and boots transplanted from a POTJ Imperial officer. The boots were the only tricky part, because I had to find feet that were angled to match Bossk's wide stance. I used cut off #2 screws again because I don't think any glue would hold up as well.

The Corellian pirate, well, everyone already knows the parts here. The only tricky part was matching the shade of paint on the Ceremony Luke neck to Willrow's head and hands. After a couple of tries, I found that a 50/50 mix of Michael's craft store "Brown" and "Cocoa" was dead-on.





Thanks for looking.
Echo- Great Job on your customs!!! I have a couple questions for you;
1. What helmet did you use on the yellow spacer?
2. The corellian pirate is the TAC Ceremony Luke and the Legacy Wildrow Hood Head?
 
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Finally finished this guy.







I know he looks simple, but it's far and away the most complicated custom I've done (first color change, first swivel head to ball joint). Pardon me if I drone on a bit. :grin:

He's a Saga Legends Bossk with a POTJ BoShek head, TVC Bespin Luke forearms, and Willrow Hood feet. I sanded down the scales on Bossk's neck to look like human skin, then sanded and tapered his shins to convert them to boot tops. I'm pleased with the boots mod, and will be repeating it on my earlier cantina spacer custom to re-gain the ankle articulation. One note of interest: I ordered a fodder Bossk from Tunghori, and mine arrived without having gone through the sonic welding/gluing processes at the factory. The crotch didn't have to be cracked, and the harness attachment points didn't have to be cut apart. A few less things to worry about!

The mating collar for the helmet is the Bossk collar sanded thin (to the thickness of the silver y-straps in front) then superglued to the top disk, which started as a wheel from a 1/25 model car kit. This collar sits higher than on the POTJ BoShek, but they're approximately the same diameter.

I originally tried using RIT to dye the pieces, but that proved futile -- After days of simmering the bits, I ended up with brown pieces with blue joint disks. I then went with VHT automotive vinyl spray dye, which performed awesomely. Very smooth, even texture with a nice semi-gloss sheen. Since playability is primary, I smoothed out the joint disks and sanded them down to prevent paint rub. Using thin strips of very fine sandpaper (cut to the width of the joint disk) and a lot of tedious back-and-forth joint ratcheting, I was eventually able to thread the paper completely through the joint.



Once I got to this point, it was easy to sand the disk to a point slightly below the joint's surface. Caution: If you try this, cut the paper as close to the width of the disk slot as possible. If it's too thin, the paper will slide from side-to-side and sand the disk surface to a concave shape. Ask me how I know.

There are still a couple of issues with the figure:

First, no holster as yet. Obviously a gunbelt won't fit, and the harness straps and hoses are big obstacles. I'm thinking a BS Mara Jade holster has potential, though.

Second, I'm not capable of adding some fine paint detail such as the gold collar tabs, the gloss black/white outlined sleeve panels, or the white shoulder piping. Too much diet Mountain Dew has ravaged my central nervous system to the point that I'd never be satisfied with the results of my attempt to add these details. I'd rather do without than have them slopped up.

Last, the boots don't have the buckle straps like the POTJ version, and I went with gloss black instead of gray. In my mind, anyone with the extraordinary fashion sense to rock a set of porkchops like these wouldn't commit the faux pas of wearing gray boots with a black belt.

Lessons learned:

1) I need bifocals, terribly.

2) If I could do it again, instead of spraying the entire harness white, I'd brush-paint the outer edges only. On re-assembly, paint from the inner edges rubbed onto the black in a few spots. It cleaned off though, and there haven't been any repeats yet.

Now to revisit a couple of previous entries:

TO ALL WHO SHALL SEE THESE PRESENTS, GREETING:

In recognition of exceptional performance in his duties, consisting entirely of standing around at Parade Rest, despite having been shipped from the factory with an unglued lieutenant insignia, this nameless Imperial stooge is hereby appointed a Colonel in the Imperial Army yadda yadda yadda...



And last and least, I completed my Y-wing landing gear project. The "MK I" used 3/16 tubing exclusively, and did okay; however, the tubing was too small for the slots in the gear struts, resulting in slack at full extension or retraction. For the "MK II," I cut some thicker 1/4 tubing for the end sections, then chucked them into a drill and turned them against a file (ghetto lathe) until they fit inside the strut slots.





I shaved the area circled below with an X-Acto to provide clearance for the machine screw head when the struts are lowered.





As Pello discovers, even in a universe with faster-than-light travel, the 5/16 hydrospanner will still fall onto the crossmember just out of your reach.



Now for the final test: Resistance to collapse, as measured in Rowlingometers. So far, so good.

 

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Finally finished this guy.







I know he looks simple, but it's far and away the most complicated custom I've done (first color change, first swivel head to ball joint). Pardon me if I drone on a bit. :grin:

He's a Saga Legends Bossk with a POTJ BoShek head, TVC Bespin Luke forearms, and Willrow Hood feet. I sanded down the scales on Bossk's neck to look like human skin, then sanded and tapered his shins to convert them to boot tops. I'm pleased with the boots mod, and will be repeating it on my earlier cantina spacer custom to re-gain the ankle articulation. One note of interest: I ordered a fodder Bossk from Tunghori, and mine arrived without having gone through the sonic welding/gluing processes at the factory. The crotch didn't have to be cracked, and the harness attachment points didn't have to be cut apart. A few less things to worry about!

The mating collar for the helmet is the Bossk collar sanded thin (to the thickness of the silver y-straps in front) then superglued to the top disk, which started as a wheel from a 1/25 model car kit. This collar sits higher than on the POTJ BoShek, but they're approximately the same diameter.

I originally tried using RIT to dye the pieces, but that proved futile -- After days of simmering the bits, I ended up with brown pieces with blue joint disks. I then went with VHT automotive vinyl spray dye, which performed awesomely. Very smooth, even texture with a nice semi-gloss sheen. Since playability is primary, I smoothed out the joint disks and sanded them down to prevent paint rub. Using thin strips of very fine sandpaper (cut to the width of the joint disk) and a lot of tedious back-and-forth joint ratcheting, I was eventually able to thread the paper completely through the joint.



Once I got to this point, it was easy to sand the disk to a point slightly below the joint's surface. Caution: If you try this, cut the paper as close to the width of the disk slot as possible. If it's too thin, the paper will slide from side-to-side and sand the disk surface to a concave shape. Ask me how I know.

There are still a couple of issues with the figure:

First, no holster as yet. Obviously a gunbelt won't fit, and the harness straps and hoses are big obstacles. I'm thinking a BS Mara Jade holster has potential, though.

Second, I'm not capable of adding some fine paint detail such as the gold collar tabs, the gloss black/white outlined sleeve panels, or the white shoulder piping. Too much diet Mountain Dew has ravaged my central nervous system to the point that I'd never be satisfied with the results of my attempt to add these details. I'd rather do without than have them slopped up.

Last, the boots don't have the buckle straps like the POTJ version, and I went with gloss black instead of gray. In my mind, anyone with the extraordinary fashion sense to rock a set of porkchops like these wouldn't commit the faux pas of wearing gray boots with a black belt.

Lessons learned:

1) I need bifocals, terribly.

2) If I could do it again, instead of spraying the entire harness white, I'd brush-paint the outer edges only. On re-assembly, paint from the inner edges rubbed onto the black in a few spots. It cleaned off though, and there haven't been any repeats yet.
Awesome just missing the little details on his shoulders.

 
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Awesome just missing the little details on his shoulders.
Thanks. Believe me, I spent a lot of time practicing thin lines so I could add the details, but the results weren't acceptable. As long as I'm "painting within the lines," like on the vest or belt details I can do okay -- When I try freehand stuff, things go south in a hurry. :grin:

Edited to add: After thinking about it a little more, I can probably paint four thin styrene strips a gold/brass color and glue them to the mating collar... The shoulder/sleeve details are still beyond my meager abilities, though. I considered printing up waterslide decals for the gloss black/white outlined panels on the upper arms, but I'm afraid that even if I could apply them over the sculpted wrinkles on the suit they wouldn't hold up very well.
 
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I'm just wondering when Wilrow Hood went on such an extreme diet plan. He really lost a ton of weight when he became a corellian smuggler.

B)
 
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I'm just wondering when Wilrow Hood went on such an extreme diet plan. He really lost a ton of weight when he became a corellian smuggler.

B)
Well, chronologically the pirate became Willrow, so... Apparently the moral of the story is that if you carry an ice cream maker (oh sorry, a "computer memory core") around with you all the time, you might add a few pounds. :hmm:
 
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I picked up the TRU Geonosis Jedi packs during the BOGOHO sale a few weeks back, but I didn't know about the mismatched hands debacle. I finally got around to fixing them up a little. In addition to swapping out and painting the hands, I used some 2000-grit wet-or-dry sandpaper to remove excess casting flash from the jawlines of the female Jedis, and did some major touch-up to the Asian Jedi's hairline.
How did you fix the hands on these two?
 
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How did you fix the hands on these two?
Just a matter of paint matching, or in my case, close-enough-to-paint matching. :grin: For the female Jedi I used a mix of Testor's light skin tone base and warm tint skin tone (the factory paint on mine had a definite pinkish tint). For the alien, I eventually gave up trying to match the left hand to the right and decided to paint them both. I painted the hands with Michael's craft store brand "cocoa," then gave them three progressively lighter tinted drybrushings to try and match the tones on his face. Maybe it's the bad lighting in the photo, but the paint on the hands is a closer match to the face in person.
 
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I finished the obligatory Baniss Keeg using a comic pack Owen Lars body with head and hands from the POTJ Ellors Madak. I dremeled the head, carved/sanded hand pegs from Ellor's forearms, and painted Owen's blue shirt brown.





Fresh from checking out sector 12 is this mish-mash of a Rebel trooper and "Search for Luke" BP Han.



I also fine-tuned a couple of earlier projects. I was never happy with the first attempt at painting BoShek's harness because (1) the white paint tended to rub off, and (2) the soft plastic always seemed slightly gummy to the touch (although I used acrylics). Using a fresh harness, black VHT dye, white VHT dye, and some very careful masking, I made another attempt that turned out much better.



For the spacer, I repeated the BoShek ankle mod, and added a mating collar sanded as thin as I could reasonably get it. I think the suit look much cooler with the y-strap but I didn't want the spacer's helmet to sit too high.





Thanks for looking!
 
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A few more new ones and some minor updates.

First, Garouf Lafoe.



Torso: TVC Endor Rebel Commando
Pelvis/legs/holster/blaster: TVC Bespin Wing Guard
Arms/belt (trimmed from lower tunic): TVC Dr. Evazan
Hands: TBS Yavin Luke
Head (dremeled socket): Random GI Joe
Cap: ROC Cover Girl
Goggles: TLC Sandstorm Luke
Vest: ROC Dr. Rex trenchcoat

Materials: Testor's "sand" acrylic (boots), "brown" (Gee, no kidding!) Hi-Tech automotive spray vinyl dye (vest and cap)

Fairly simple; unfortunately, the vest is rigid and prevents GL from sitting. I actually tried making a soft goods version from a Jedi robe, but the more I fiddled with that, the better the vinyl vest looked. :grin: The vest should also be a bit longer, but the trench coat had a slit up the back which served as my cut-off point. At some point, I'll find another trench coat and instead of trimming the collar/lapels off, I'll sand them down and cut the neck opening into a more accurate oval shape instead of the circle I ended up with here.

The goggles were a perfect fit on the cap with no modifications necessary.



Next is Yerka Mig.



Torso, jacket, arms: TBS Yavin Luke
Pelvis, legs, holster: TVC Scanning Technician
Head: Sandstorm Luke
Hands: Random fodder that vaguely match the weird skin tone of the Sandstorm Luke head. Not crazy about the hands at all and am looking for better versions.

Materials: VHT black (trousers and jacket) and yellow (shirt) automotive spray dye, semi-gloss black acrylic for the joint discs, misc. acrylics to mix the jacket blue and neck skin.

Okay, I realize the Luke head doesn't look much like Yerka, but it doesn't look much like Luke either, so I'm cool with it. The best match hair-wise I could find was the TAC torture Han, but the open mouth grimace was a little too weird. I sanded down the original jacket stripes, and spent quite a bit of time prepping the shoulder joints. The straight "pivot" section of the shoulder exposes much more of the joint than a standard ball, so I had to do a lot of extra sanding and trimming of the visible "spokes" on the side of the discs to avoid paint rub.

As I've already established, I couldn't paint a freehand straight line to save my life, so I cut some thin strips of electrical tape, painted them, and used them for the jacket piping. They grip well and don't affect the range of motion. The side panels were easier because I had sculpted outlines to follow.



Then I set my sights on a [slightly] more accurate Djas Puhr. This was my first time using Green Stuff, so be gentle.



Torso: TVC Bespin Wing Guard
Pelvis, legs, arms: TVC Bom Vimdin
Hands: TVC TIE pilot
Head, lower tunic/holsters: Saga Djas Puhr
Pistols: TCW Cad Bane (I think, but could be wrong.)

Materials: Black VHT vinyl dye (vest), blue Hi-Tech vinyl dye (trousers), flat black acrylic (neck), gloss black acrylic (lower tunic), misc. acrylics to match collar to sleeves.

This guy throws off a strong Old West vibe for me. After sanding most details from the Wing Guard torso, I skinned it with Green Stuff and added the tuck-and-roll pleats. The seams around the shoulder openings were the toughest part. I shortened the forearms, and transferred wrist pegs carved from a TIE pilot's forearms using epoxy for plastic. The reference photo showed what appeared to be black trousers, but I went with blue just for a little variety. It's hard to tell in the photos, but I sculpted a large seam on the lower tunic and painted it gloss black to match the upper torso. I made sure not to extend the shoulder seams past the original arm openings to prevent rubbing and possible [probable] damage to the Green Stuff.

*** Edited to add: Really, the lower tunic does match the vest! It's the bad photography making it look ragged and green, I swear! :grin: ***



I updated Pirate Willrow with the lower body from TVC Dr. Evazan. Much better than the TAC Yavin Luke legs, and he now has ankles. The leg strap for TBS Yavin Luke's holster fits perfectly over the sculpted strap.



Last and least, a couple of minor updates. Yularen received the correct black trousers and I repainted his boots with gloss black. Mismatched speeder pilot Luke received the lower body from TVC Dagobah Luke.

"This is an OUTRAGE! Someone bring this Rebel scum a tin of boot polish immediately!"



Thanks for looking!
 
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Great stuff! Love the Garouf Lafoe and Djas Puhr; nice work with the Green Stuff.
 
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These are excellent !! Thank you for sharing what you used! I myself have made these figures but i have to say after viewing yours i may have to go back and update especially Djas Puhr i really like the vest ! Great job !
 

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Very nice, weren't sure if you were aware but Djas Puhr's vest is from The Planet of the Apes



and he isn't wearing gloves

 
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Very nice, weren't sure if you were aware but Djas Puhr's vest is from The Planet of the Apes



and he isn't wearing gloves

Thanks! While looking for references I did read about the PotA re-use and how the props were probably bought from a warehouse in the mid-70's. Learning stuff like that is part of what makes SW interesting.

It was a toss-up whether to use the gloves or not. Since the Superbowl commercial photo had the best detail, that's what I used. I decided against trying to sculpt pleats on the gloves because frankly, in that way lies madness. :grin: I did consider cutting grooves with a small triangle file, but I fought off that impulse, too. I find that when dealing with limited skills (like mine), sometimes "good enough" is better than trying for perfection and screwing something up.

I did pick up a couple of Boms when Target clearanced them at $2.98, so I think I'll see how Djas looks with unmodified forearms and Bom's less-gauntletish gloves -- Even after X-Acto-ing the TIE gloves' trigger fingers they're not great at gripping weapons.

 

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Thanks! While looking for references I did read about the PotA re-use and how the props were probably bought from a warehouse in the mid-70's. Learning stuff like that is part of what makes SW interesting.

It was a toss-up whether to use the gloves or not. Since the Superbowl commercial photo had the best detail, that's what I used. I decided against trying to sculpt pleats on the gloves because frankly, in that way lies madness. :grin: I did consider cutting grooves with a small triangle file, but I fought off that impulse, too. I find that when dealing with limited skills (like mine), sometimes "good enough" is better than trying for perfection and screwing something up.

I did pick up a couple of Boms when Target clearanced them at $2.98, so I think I'll see how Djas looks with unmodified forearms and Bom's less-gauntletish gloves -- Even after X-Acto-ing the TIE gloves' trigger fingers they're not great at gripping weapons.

Ha Tom is usually better with the details, and ironically they gave this outfit to Bom in the Holiday special cantina and that time put his gloves on the outside of his shirt

 
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Garouf Lafoe turned out pretty good! Djas Puhr also looks nice, almost makes me want a resculpt of him now. I've been wanting to do the same to BoShek, for a long time. But was waiting on an official figure.
 
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Garouf Lafoe turned out pretty good! Djas Puhr also looks nice, almost makes me want a resculpt of him now. I've been wanting to do the same to BoShek, for a long time. But was waiting on an official figure.
Thanks. Garouf actually started as a Barada WIP, then I changed gears after the 18-figure wave rumor started... Since that list has tanked, I'll probably take another crack at Barada. Anybody have any extra Wing Guards? :grin:
 
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That list hasn't tanked. The first 18 have all been announced, so I would guess the rest of the list will be true as well.
 
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That list hasn't tanked. The first 18 have all been announced, so I would guess the rest of the list will be true as well.
It'd sure be nice. The thought of sanding another set of Ceremony Luke shoulders to do Shasa Tiel gives me the heebie-jeebies.
 
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Wonderful stuff. Thanks for sharing. This is the kind of thread that makes me want to sit around all day and customize. Thank you for this great inspiration.
 
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Hey Echo, great work all around.

I'm really psyched to see someone come up with a Y-Wing fix. I hve the yellow TRU version, and in its old age collapse is so common I gave up on displaying with gear down entirely. Assuming I can find the parts I'm gonna borrow this idea, so thanks again.

Loved the Y wing maintenance photo shoot, too.

Thanx 4 the fix.
 
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Assuming I can find the parts I'm gonna borrow this idea, so thanks again.
Thanks! It's really not very complicated... The "point of no return" is when you cut the plastic cogs from the factory shafts. :grin: Here are a few bits of info I learned.

- I found the tubing and brass at a local RC hobby shop, but I've since seen tubing at Lowe's in the fasteners department. Cheaper than the hobby shop stuff and it comes in shorter lengths.

- You can cut the tubing with a saw easily enough, but a small tubing cutter makes the job even easier and cleaner.

- I drilled and tapped threads into the tubing where I machine-screwed on the cogwheel. Sheet metal screws held strongly enough on the first version, but since I had to loosen and adjust the cog positions several times to line them up evenly, I was worried about the screws stripping out.

- On the subject of tapping threads, if you have a vise or Vise-Grips you're golden. Unfortunately, I had to use a pair of Channel-lock pliers which made the job unnecessarily difficult. If I were to do it again, I'd invest in a pair of locking pliers to hold the tubing.

- I used lockwashers on the short end pieces... I left them off the first time and the nuts loosened almost immediately.

Just a couple more thoughts... This was actually my third attempt at a fix. First, I tried using elastic bands inside the engines to keep tension on the struts when they were lowered -- The struts stayed down, but wouldn't stay retracted. Then I tried to increase friction on the sliding center piece by adding self-adhesive Velcro strips (both sides), different kinds of tapes, even Band-Aids (One of the maintenance pics shows a small piece of brown duct tape near the lever). Again, it didn't work very well.

If you've got any questions feel free to hit me up.
 
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