Star Wars

I’m Back, Pt. 1

It’s been over a year now since my last visit to this page; at one point, I’d planned to delete it as it wasn’t serving the function I’d hope it’d serve.

But I’m glad that I’ve opted to give the page a second shot.  In the last year or so, I’ve gotten more involved in my various hobbies, and this gives me a way to both show off what I’ve got/done, while getting feedback, advice, and the like.

A new title, a new start, and a new set of hobby goals . . .

So what have I been up to?

I’ve toned down the Star Wars interests – both RPG and prop making – because it didn’t see it going anywhere.  I reluctantly sat and watched The Force Awakens, and have yet to make the effort to see Rogue One.  Can’t say that I was burned out, but it was clear to me that my Star Warsish enthusiasm had diminished.  I listened to debates about how the series had gone off the rails, I listened to people whine about how it was now too child friendly, and I read about people who’d abandoned the franchise for something else.  As for me, I made a handful of props – some good, some not – but nothing else came of them.  On to the backburner they went.  Until today, that is.

Despite my numerous complaints about Anovos and their ability to deliver their products, I’m still a fan of theirs.  I’d wanted to take advantage of their recent Star Wars 40th Anniversary Sale, but the window was so tight (one day) and the selection so limited (virtually every I want is a pre-order, if it’s still offered at all), that I missed out.  I was surprised to see, for example, that they no longer offer the olive Imperial Officer Uniform or the cap, as I’d been waiting for those to come in stock.  Honestly, I’d wanted the cap more than the uniform itself, but still – if you’re going to offer a product, then offer it; don’t tease potential customers for years that “it’s coming.”  I’m not a fan of the Empire, but you have to admit that they do have some nice looking threads.

What surprised me most about the sale, however, was the fact that they’re now offering the Imperial belt and belt buckle.  The buckle is available now for a whopping $35 (!), while the full belt and buckle (due this winter), is a reasonable $50.  Star_Wars_Imperial_Officer_Belt_00

So let me get this straight: The buckle is $35, while the whole belt is $50.  The buckle (I can’t emphasize this enough) is 70% of what it costs for the full belt.  I don’t have a problem with the cost of the belt; I have their Star Trek II belt, and honestly, it’s better than anything I could have dreamt of making.  I spent three years trying to make a decent copy of that belt, and it was an expensive disaster.  The Anovos version – boom, baby!  It’s perfect.  Now if I just had $2,000 to drop on the rest of the uniform, I’d be on Cloud Nine.

My problem is with the cost of the solitary buckle.  You’d thinkStar_Wars_Han_Solo_Buckle_00 that the leather and workmanship of the belt would cost more than the metal plate acting as a buckle, right?

Oh, I get it.  But then again, I don’t.  Still, it’s their bat and ball, and my guess is that licensing fees to the House of Mouse are figured in there somewhere, so they can pretty much do what they want.

So . . . rather than rant all day, I decided to do something about it.  I’ve ordered the data discs from an online source and will – hopefully – simply make my own buckle.  If I play my cards right, I might even be able to craft the whole belt (albeit, not as fantastic looking as the one above) for less than what Anovos is asking.

That’s the easy part.  Anovos’ other new product that I do want are their Data Cylinders.  I mean, take a look at these babies:

Star_Wars_Data_Cylinders_00

Aren’t they sweet?  And a set of three for $45, that’s not bad at all.  I made a set of cylinders on the cheap about two years ago.  They were decent in a sort of “used by the guy in the far background” way.  But these look stunning, and they’re almost enough to tempt me into putting together a full pilot’s uniform.

Almost.

So, that’s one of the many projects I’m looking at this summer.  Making an Imperial belt.  I might revisit my cylinders, now that I have an idea as to what I’m doing, but anything I put together is going to be trash compared to what Anovos has done.

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‘Star Wars’-ish Binoculars

Inspired by an excellent post on constructing prop electrobinoculars from Star Wars, I decided to try my hand in making a variation.  The end result is as follows.

My purpose wasn’t to out perform (or what have you) the author of the cited piece.  In fact, had I the time, resources, and patience, I probably would have followed his detailed instructions to the letter to create exactly what he created – a reasonably decent replica of a film prop.  Frankly, I like what that gentleman did and give him major credit for posting his easy-to-follow instructions.  At the same time, howBinocsever, I started thinking on what I could do to make such a project my own.  The end result was that I wanted to create a “knock-off civilian” version of the electrobinoculars, something that could have been used for non-military purposes, but that eventually found use during the Rebellion.

Now, realize that this does happen in our own world, so it should be seen as ridiculous when considering a fictional one.  I have three pairs of civilian binoculars manufactured in Paris before WWI, yet all three came from the estates of veterans who, after arriving in France, purchased them for use in the field.  So why not here?  It does not strike me as strange or odd that a Rebel soldier, pilot, or sympathizer might have use of something non-military to help them in performing their mission.

* * * * *

Rather than cutting down a plastic water pitcher to create the body of these binoculars, I Suppliesopted instead to find something that was reasonably suitable right from the start.  In this, I was fortunate to find a Rubbermaid 10-cup storage box with lid.  Nothing fancy about the container or the lid, and save for the imprinted “Rubbermaid” logos and some miscellaneous stamping on the bottom, the storage box is free from any major disfiguring marks.

For the eyepieces, I picked up two (2) 1″x3/4″ PVC Bushing Reducers, and a 1-1/2″ PVC Slip Joint Trap Adapter fitting for the main lens.  I also used several 4-1/2″x1/8″ wooden dowels, random plastic bottle caps, a pair of rubber test-tube stoppers, and a pair of D-ring picture frame mounts.  Finally, I had some 1/2″ rubber bumpers (the four white squares in the center) to use as buttons.  To this, I added several wood screws (for appearance), and a cotton-tape strap (although leather works just as well).  You can see the end results below – front, back, top, and bottom.

Front Back Top BottomSide View

You can’t tell from these shots but the Trap Adapter is actually in the case – I cut a small hole to allow the male screw portion of the adapter to come out and then affixed the cap on the outer side of the box.  This was much easier (believe it or not) than trying to glue the cap on to the outside of the box.  It also allowed me to create a lens (which you can see if you zoom in on the first photo).  The bushings used for the eyepieces are also cut into the lid and glued in place.  They too, have lenses.)

I toyed with painting the entire thing in white or a light gray, but in the end, I felt that an olive drab green would be the best choice.  Later, I painted the eyepieces in black, the various “buttons” on the front and side in black or aluminum, and the then used a brush with a flat steel colored paint to create the illusion of wear and tear.  In some spots – notably that large spot in the center of the bottom (last photo), I went over it again, this time using a rust colored paint.  I used a clear sheet of polystyrene (.10″/.03mm) to create “lenses” for the eyepieces and the front lens, using black on the inner side to darken up the lenses.

The project took about three (3) days, although if I had been focused exclusively on it, I could have finished in maybe half of that.  Technically, I ‘m still not finished, because I’d like to seal it all with a coat of dull clear paint.  My home already smells like a chemical factory; I figured that I’d give my olfactory nerves the day off.

It’s hard to put a price on the project because some of the items used were things I already had.  That said, were I doing this fresh, the entire project would have cost less than $20 USD (not including paints or epoxy).

I’m contemplating making another pair in either a sand (which for Testor’s paints is techincally a faint yellow), or in white.  Having made this pair, I have some ideas on how to improve any subsequent version – mostly correcting errors that I made.  The binoculars have a little heft to them, but not much.  As I’m only doing this for me, I have no idea as to how they’d hold up at a convention or in game play.  But they look great on the shelf and in the limited use that I’ve had for them.

EDIT:  I added a side view (the last photo) that should have been with the initial set.  The only difference that the right side has from the left are the inclusion of the two dial buttons near the D-ring.  (I figured I’d better add some sort of controls to the equipment.)  The left side lacks those dials but makes up for this with more ‘wear and tear.’

A New Saber

Don’t ask me why I did this.  I think it was the result of being bored and restless.  That, or it was the result of me just getting paint-happy when I worked on those various blasters.Darth Player

In any case, this is what happens when you take a standard Hasbro plastic light saber and repaint it.

I’d done this before, but last time was just just a black saber with some wear and tear.  This one was meant to be a newer version of the saber with some colorful highlights.  This version had the telescopic plastic blade; I removed that (which wasn’t easy) because I wanted one to carry on a belt (as opposed to using in fights).  I think that, although a tad gaudy, the paint job works.  It’s pretty cool.

Solo’s Blaster

After I painted my first Solo Blaster, I wondered whether it would be a good idea to have one that was in newer condition.  It also didn’t hurt that I had $11 that was burning a hole in my pocket.  So I stopped by a local costuming store to see if they had one of the Rubies accessories in stock.  They had a few of the Rubies accessories on hand, but since they lacked either the Princess Leia pistol or the Royal Naboo pistol from the Prequels, my only other choice was something called the “Captain Rex Blaster” from the Clone Wars cartoons.  As I was not a fan of those, I took a pass.  It would be Solo.

Unlike my original, I made a weak attempt at plugging the three screw holes on the right side of the blaster with model putty.  Then, I followed the scheme that I’d used before: a coat Solo 2of primer, followed by flat black.  But then something interesting happened.

While preparing the blaster for the coat of paint, two pieces of the blaster fell out of place.  Specifically, these were the two upper halves of the scope’s mount; the glue had weakened and while they would stay in place by sheer pressure, they were loose.  At this point, I had an idea  to paint the scope’s mount a different color to off-set it from the black.  Using a flat gun-metal paint (which looks like a gray-blue), I touched up that area around the scope.  I also hand-painted the flash-guard with the same flat aluminum that I used to weather the earlier piece.  Finally, the handle was painted brown.

I toyed with using a clear gloss to give the blaster a nice sheen, but at the last minute, I wisely decided to stick with my traditional dull coat.  It made no sense to get ‘shiny.’  I think it actually looks nice in comparison, and makes a cool companion piece.

Star Wars, pt. 2

Okay, I’m getting in deep with this.

Credits I knew that this would happen.  Now that I’ve got Star Wars on the Brain, I’m going to fixate on creating a character, no matter what.

I don’t recall ever seeing money in any of the six films, but there were references to credits and some sort of economical compensation.  I mean, all Han Solo seemed to talk about at one point was his need for money.

Well, while visiting an area gaming shop, I came across some fantasy money that I thought might be appropriate for my ‘character.’  That green bag and the contents (roughly 3250 credits, thank you very much) proved to be much more expensive than I’d hoped, but once bit by the Bug, I have no choice but to submit to Its will.

BeltThen, as if carrying around a bag of heavy, fake money wasn’t enough, I stopped in a Tandy store.  Why I did this is beyond me.  Tandy’s okay, but it’s the kind of store that you visit because you have a specific need, not just because you’re in the neighborhood.  While there, I found the above belt buckle, which is surprisingly similar to many of the buckles used in Episode IV (and for Imperial troops).  It was $3 (with tax), so that was easy.  The greenish/brown leather for my belt was something I’d picked up a year ago from a different leather dealer.  I got it for a different project but that fell through.  The leather sat on the shelf, gathering dust, until I realized that it’d be perfect.  Not too heavy, not too thin.  I think it’ll work out just fine.

Now, to find some clothes . . .