Saturday, 29 April 2017

Construction: AT-AT, part 7

Troubles ahead...

Cutting to the chase, the 'simplification' I had in directly attaching sloping roof to the flat roof does not work. The angles are all off and the 'step' section is needed as a kid of fudge to make everything connect.

There are two options - fill the side panels will cardboard as (for once an asset) the warpiness of the material it has a bit of give and could be bent to fit.

Alternatively, option 2: build it properly.

Either way, for the moment, this places the body on a back-burner. Thoughts instead turn to the legs...

The problem with the legs, for me, is expense. I don't have an infinite budget, so options are limited. At some point I may go back on fill in my thought processes, but for the moment every minute I spend typing this, is one minute less on the actual build. I'll skip to the end, therefore, and tell you what I decided upon.

450mm square, 1500mm long fence posts. Annoyingly, the stock control at my local Homebase is awful, which meant I had to travel. I could have gotten more wood for less money, but it had to fit in the car and thus I ended up with what I did.

In more positive words about Homebase, a few years ago my local one moved (about 200m). During the clearout of the old store they left a pile of wood outside with a nice 'free' label on it. I've had a bunch of MDF sitting about in the shed ever since.

I've decided to attach the legs as you would a table, resulting in...

The fence posts are currently screwed it; I may switch to bolts but I don't currently have any bolts but do have a lot of screws. Annoyingly, the fence posts, despite being all '1500mm', aren't all the same length. But, hey!, problem for another day.

It's getting a bit tall now. It's also not super-stable, which may have to be dealt with later on. Hopefully (there's rather a lot of that going on with this build), once the feet are on, things will be improved in the not-toppling-over department.

Head attachment is problematic. Despite being cardboard, it's still a bit on the heavy side. Still having a length of MDF left after the leg-attachment, for the time-being, I've simply screwed that down to the base and, after cutting a slot at the front and back, slid the head on.

Apologies for no close-up of the head, but, if you look carefully, you can see where the plank sticks out of the front of the head. The neck bends a little (in part from the head-weight, in part due to it's own weight), but I see this as an advantage as it means the gun turrets aim towards the ground.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Construction: AT-AT part 6

I've had a couple of thoughts after being away from the build for a week.

Firstly, I've always known that the front end of the body, in order to support the head (however I end up attaching it) is going to need to be very strong and secure. Cardboard just isn't going to cut it. So back to Homebase for another lump o' chipboard.

Ta da! Two ends, looking similar (though the sizes are slightly different). I've attached two L-shaped brackets to the bottom in order to attached them to the base. I'm using bolts in the hope that it'll be quicker to assemble/dissemble.

One minor issue was that after drilling the holes for the brackets, I realised I hadn't bought enough brackets, went back to Poundland to buy more and... arrived home to discover this...

Yep, the two backs of what seemed to be exactly the same thing, actually contained two different things and none of the holes I'd drilled now fit. Dammit.

Originally, I was going to cover the whole of the body in cardboard since it's, well, cheap. It's also, as I found out when lying the large pieces I'd been hoarding on the ground, very liable to warp. Since the chipboard-slot system had worked so well for the base, I decided to use the same method for the central roof. I'd also still got some (extremely horrible to work with) plywood leftover from my carbonite build so I've used that for the central side panels, screwing it in at the top and bottom.

It's worth repeating just how horrendous the plywood I was using was to work with. Nasty, nasty stuff, even though it was free.

Next step: The sloping parts of the roof. I know on an actual AT-AT there's a slight step between the flat roof section and the sloping parts, but, in an effort to simplify things, I'm going to ignore it and connect the flat roof and the front/rear vertical sections with single sloping sections. For this I need wood of a total length of 140cm.

In the shed, acquired from another school skip, I found...

So happy! It's not wide enough on it's own, but two pieces side by side gives..

Something that I forgot to mention earlier: before I went away I began to fill in the pizza plates on the head with Poundland filler. Hopefully (AT-ATs are build on hope), when this has dried and sanded down, this will look ok.

Which gives a final day AT-AT looking like...

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Review: Revival Retro Solstice '16

Wrote this a looooong time ago and for some reason never posted it for, probably, needing to add photos. Which I still haven't done. But here it is anyway.

Whilst not apparent from the title of the event, Revival Retro Solstice was a retro computer gaming event held at Bank's Stadium in Walsall. Knowing that these types of events take place in various places around the country, and figuring that, being a kinda large city, there must be one held somewhere vaguely close to my house, I've been on the lookout for a gaming event for quite a while. After lots of putting random computery-type words into Google & Facebook, I finally came across this one.

When I mentioned it, I'm not sure my wife knew quite what to expect; quite possibly she was thinking it would be something along the lines of the UK Games Expo. So when we entered the room in which the event was being held, and she saw what was there, there was a sudden look of panic and an attempt to back out and go shopping instead.

Thankfully, she didn't (though she did leave to go to the shops for a couple of hours in the middle of the day) and what was had was a fun day of playing old video games for me and the children.

Yes, all of them, including my 5 year old daughter who pretended she didn't know me and one point and want off to play games on her own. Because she's a big girl now.

Essentially the room, probably about the size of a school hall, was filled with rows and rows of old consoles from the past 30 years or so and a bunch of arcade machines. Down the side were half a dozen traders selling, well, it's a bit obvious what they were selling. There was a panel room at the back (I never actually went to any of the talks so I can't comment on those) and in the centre a stage where various tournaments took place...

My 7 year old signed up for absolutely everything he could. He was a boy obsessed. An announcement went out, and seconds later he was scribbling his name down on the sign-up sheet. Hadn't heard of the game? Didn't matter. Hadn't heard of the machine it was running on? He couldn't care less.

The funny thing was he actually did quite well. He'd have won the Megadrive football tournament if he hadn't started fouling the opposition and had half his men sent off. As I pointed out to him afterwards, it was a lose-lose scenario for the middle-aged bloke he played in the final - the man faced the prospect of either beating a small child, or being beaten by a small child.

My older son played a bunch of games but was particularly fond of the light gun and House of the Dead 2. He wasn't particularly happy when I explained that while, yes, we had a Dreamcast at home, and yes, we even had that game, he wouldn't be able to use the light gun because of our lack of CRT TV.

And, as I mentioned, my daughter had a load of fun playing racing games and attempting to play arcade games that she wasn't tall enough to see the screen (we got her a chair in the end).

Meanwhile I bought none of the things I was looking for from the traders (Jaguar, you continue to elude me) but a bunch of things I wasn't looking for. This included an N64 that I was 'forced' to buy after 7yo didn't win the football tournament and I had to make him happy somehow.

I'm not sure it was the best of days for my wife, but for everyone else it was a Grand Day Out and we'd definitely have gone the following day too (for more tournaments, if nothing else) but we had a prior appointment at Grandma's house. We look forward to the next one!

Construction: AT-AT, part 5

Quick update about things I'm not supposed to be doing while I should be packing to go away...

If you'll recall, the size of the build was essentially determined by the largest piece of wood I could buy from Homebase. Well, today, I went and bought that wood and can announce that work has officially begun on the body of the AT-AT.

The next problem is the building of some kind of frame upon which to fix the panels to cover the body. There are many (better) way of doing this, but after some digging around in the shed I found an old clothes drying thingamajig which I'd been keeping because It Might Come In Useful One Day.

I've drilled some holes in the base for the thingamajig to slot into and (hopefully) this ought to be strong enough to support a cardboard shell.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Construction: AT-AT, part 4

Today I've moved onto the smaller 'head' guns, piecing them together from whatever sized cardboard tubes I had available. I was quite happy with my progress until... Well, I'll get to that in a moment.

After the guns were made there was the problem of how to attach them. Essentially this was where any hope of making an interior for the AT-AT went out the window as I plumped for 'security of guns remaining attached' and threaded a big tube all the way through the centre of the head.

I like square things. Square things are easy to make out of card, wood...pretty much any material. Round things, however... I hate curves with a fiery vengeance. And AT-ATs have two giant dome things either side of the head.  My papercraft plans simply have these as flat discs, but that wouldn't look too good scaled up. I looked round various shops, hoping to find objects of the right size that I could simply stick on, but eventually gave up.

Instead got a load of polystyrene discs, leftover from months of Pizza Tuesdays, cut them in increasing smaller size, and stuck them together. I'll eventually smooth these over with filler. Not perfect, but I think I'll get away with it.

Finally came sticking the guns onto the head-pole. They looked great! And yet also...

Yeah, they're about double the size they should be. At some point I'll try and redo them, but hey! this is for kids and kids are stupid and won't notice...right?

Things are going to pause here for a couple of weeks. In part because, with the head more or less done, I need to think properly before commencing on the body (I've 80% got it sussed), and, in addition, because the kids are off school for a fortnight and they'll get in the way 'helping'.

Finally, things have to stop because I've managed to break both my glue guns. One I broke the trigger of by trying to force still-cold glue through, the second simply went 'bang' when I plugged it in. This is generally not good.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Construction: AT-AT, part 3

Added the bottom guns today. I've had to deviate from my papercraft plans somewhat for this, since they aren't particularly '3D' in that model. There was a fair amount of guess work and plumping with whatever sized cardboard tubes I had available, rather than what was 'correct'.

I'm working on this build as being 'toy accurate'. This is a term I've completely made up, so I shall endeavour to explain. You know how toys look more-or-less like the thing from the TV show/film the toy originated from? It's definitely recognisable, but there are a bunch of things that aren't quite right, due to it being, well, a toy.

Due to my iffy method of upscaling and fudging to make things fit, this thing is never going to be 100% accurate to that seen in Empire Strikes Back. It will, however, be recognisably an AT-AT and about as accurate as the toy versions that have been released over the years. In fact, the AT-AT is approximately in scale with Hasbro's 6" Black figures, which means that if I'd actually bought the Luke in X-Wing outfit I saw in Forbidden Planet many moons ago, instead of going 'Ooo, that's a bit expensive' and put it back on the shelf, I could have had a little Jedi dangling from the final build.

But I didn't. So I can't.

I also had a thought of making an interior for the vehicle, so I could sit some of the upcomingandthereforepossibletogetforlessthanamillionpounds AT-AT drivers inside. But then I realised that things were complicated enough already. Maybe this'll get added at some far-flung future date.

I'm finding it quite tricky to take photos that show off the head at its best. Held aloft it looks great, but I am lacking a model to do the holding while I take photos.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Construction: Han Solo in Carbonite, part 8

Wash time!

Armed with some of the crappy paint that school's always seem to buy, I covered the whole build with a black wash. Thanks to a hot day, despite being watered down, the paint was drying quite quickly and I managed to get a few coats on before requiring to do things like cook food for the children. There was a lot of trial and error involved, and, after initially starting with quite thin coats, I moved onto thicker ones as it looked a lot better.

I now await the arrival of my Rub n Buff, a product I've wanted to try out for a looooong time, to add the finishing touches.

...besides the side panels, of course, but I'm not really sure what to do about those at the moment.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Construction: Han Solo in Carbonite, part 8

A big day! Finally things start coming together.

Waking up to a sunny day, I decided to make a big push towards the finish. I lay duct tape in a border around the edge of the board and then started spreading out watered-down Filler to make the swirly background. Annoyingly, I ran out before I got to the end so had to pop to Poundland to buy some more...which they didn't have.

After much swearing, and not wanting to spend silly money on filler from Homebase, I bought some filler for one of those cartridge guns. Once home, I emptied out the entire tube, watered that down, and began spreading.

The consistency was a little runnier then my usual Filler, which, at the time, annoyed me no end, but proved a plus later. Being really runny, I poured it in blobs straight from the container onto the board and pretty much left it as it dripped. The final result looks a lot better than when I was trying to spread the thicker stuff, but it took fracking ages to dry (well, hours compared with the minutes of the other stuff).

I pulled up the duct tape and then smoothed over more of the runny filler around the frame, in the hope that it'd cover some of the wood grain. It hasn't really worked, but the thought was there.

With everything still very wet, hopes were fading that I'd get to use the Halfords spray paint, that I'd also bought while out, today.

Eventually, however, it did seem more or less dry enough. Spurred on by impatience, a fear the weather wouldn't be nice again for the rest of the year, and not wanting to move the build in and out of the garage more than I had to (I'd managed to knock off a thumb in the process of getting it outside), I got out the paint!

First I actually did the sensible thing of giving it a coat of primer. This was 500ml of Halford's cheapest grey primer and more or less covered the entire thing. A second coat would probably have been a good idea, but, hey! at least I'd given it a bit of a base.

While the base coat was drying, my son pointed out that the hands were too smooth compared to everything else. He was definitely right. With a small screwdriver, I scraped away a bit of detail to the hands and added a bit of Filler just to roughen things a little. They still aren't perfect, mostly thanks to them being born from some rubber gloves, but they were certainly improved after the adjustment.

Finally on with a 500ml can of Halford's cheapest silver spray. This easily covered the whole model and I ensured I kept a little back just in case.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Construction: Han Solo in Carbonite, part 7

A few additions over the past few days. Firstly, the hands were stuck on. I wasn't entirely sure what the best glue to use was, but I went with Poundland PVA and it seems to have worked fine. Should I have added pins for added security? Probably, but I also ran the risk of shattering the hands. Plus, you know, impatience.

Once fairly sure the glue was dryish, I added a lot of trusty old Poundland Filler behind the fingers. Not only does it make the build more accurate, but also adds strength to the fingers (lessening the risk of snapping) and, with luck, secures the hand to the board a bit more. Maybe.

You may notice that they've changed colour. This is due only to wanting to see, again, how well the various parts blend together and this is a lot easier when everything is the same colour.

Not being entirely happy with the shoulders and neck, I've done a little remodeling here. It looks better, though not perfect.