Wow man, very nice work!
Wow man, very nice work!
A very cool thread. Your model skills are awesome and I seem to remember that original R2 model being offered in 1978.
Hey guys, thanks so much. It's one thing to have family or co-workers say "nice job", but to have fellow modelers - most here on this forum with finer skills than mine - compliment my work means a great deal.
Yes, I thought the model was probably issued in 1978, but someone had said they felt it was probably 1981 so I put that in as a question. But 1978 would be my best guess.
Legs are “in the can” and I started working the main body. Good results there so far. More pictures soon.
FEET AND LEGS
Up to this point, the R4 and R5 heads and the holoprojectors have been 100% scratch-built. But the feet and legs from the MPC kit can be used as a basis for accurate versions via some heavy modifications.
The MPC kit feet were terribly inaccurate, in both shape and size. Fortunately the left and right main feet are symmetric, so I only had to build one master for those in addition to the center foot.
First with the center foot: this is the worst. The taper of the front and back of the foot is entirely wrong, plus the foot is too narrow and too short. You can see in the photo how much the taper needs to change to adhere to the Club blueprints.
The sloped sides on both masters are really the only part salvaged from the MPC kit because I felt they had good half-moon detail that could be saved. The front and aft ends of each foot were rebuilt, plus a groove was added down the center of each foot for the leg to insert into. Also, 0.10” square stock was used on the bottom of each foot to make the feet taller. Here they are work-in-process (WIP):
And here are the final masters with detail added to the sides alongside cast resin copies. Note that the sides of the resin copies have been sanded to give that tapered shape to the bottom of the feet.
The battery boxes took a good deal of work as well, but I failed to get WIP photos of them. For the hydraulic cables connecting the battery boxes to the feet, I’ve cut 14 gauge copper wire and bent it to shape. Once painted, it’ll be perfect.
The center leg from the MPC kit was hopeless:
To scratch a new center leg, a wooden dowel was sliced lengthwise just slightly off-center (not an easy thing to do; check out the Rube Goldberg contraption I put together in my miter saw!):
Rectangular stock was sandwiched between the half-cylinder pieces and a styrene triangle was epoxied to the end as the new center foot interface. Lots of sanding and putty later, a new center leg emerged (I still need to add the small ankle cylinders missing in this photo):
I tore apart the main legs from the MPC kit and salvaged the shoulder “horseshoe” as well as some of the ankle and the leg itself:
Liberal use of styrene tube, half-round stock and sheet permitted a reasonable facsimile of the main legs to be built. The point of rotation in the middle of the shoulder (“shoulder hub”) was a compromise (it should be recessed) but looks okay overall. Not shown in the photo are the ankle cylinders and wedge which I later added and are integral to the cast resin copies.
I only recently learned that there should be grooves on the inside of the shoulder horseshoe. All of that research and I missed it! If I had known a week earlier I could have built it into the model. Well, too late now!
Despite missing that horseshoe detail, I’m particularly proud that I was able to get that thin groove around the top of the shoulder built to a reasonably thin scale and also a consistent width across the shoulder.
In fact, I’m darned proud at how well these legs turned out; far better than I had initially hoped. But – and here’s the big BUT – I cheated a bit on these. I realize that, technically speaking, the left and right legs are NOT symmetric due to the detail on the side of the shoulders…
However, I felt that my ability to get left and right leg masters built that were exactly the same length and consistent in features and details was pretty slim. I also looked through a lot of footage from the original trilogy and saw that on film the 1:1 scale astromech props were not consistent in which detail on the shoulders faced forward (that, or perhaps the film negatives were occasionally flipped?).
So - and this is just between you and me (shhhhh….) - I am going to use a single master to cast all of my left and right legs. I’ve noticed that Hasbro does the same thing on their 1:18 and 1:6 scale figures, and they’re the professionals, right? Frankly, 99% of the people who see these models won’t know the difference. And as for the other 1% (including me), well we’re all nerds who really should get a life anyway, right?
Look at all of those sexy legs! Five sets so far; about half of what I’ll need for this project.
Hey, I taped things together and propped the R5 and R4 heads on the WIP main body and took these photos last night. The R5 head sits too high on the body, and the R4 sits a bit low. I’m still working on that head-body interface. But it’s starting to look like an astromech! Woo hoo!
Sorry for the glare in the photo - all of that white styrene and resin is reflecting right back at the camera!
Up next: The main body.
Looking great - youll end up with a cool array/swarm/gang/murder (or is that only when it comes to crows?) of Astros!
Last edited by renesw; Jul 15, 2012 at 4:55 AM.
Very nice work. I love builds of this size. Challenging detail but your work is stunning!
With regards to the movie release dates, as far as I know it was re-released in theaters in 1978...and '79, '81, '82, and the not-so-Special-Edition in '97 (not counting special screenings).
Awesome work ! I love all the work put in them ! The R4 unit is my fav, cant wait to see them all finished !
Really fantastic work, I bought an R2 bubble bath for my kid around the time of episode 1 (1999-2000) the bubble bath was all used and he played with the R2 for a while, then I conviscated it from him and took it apart to try and make it more accurate.
About a year later I picked up another 2 of these in a bargain basket but they had missing heads, my plan to make alternative astromech droids.
Your progress has made me consider resurrecting this project
Odd that, of all the original Star Wars kit re-releases, this one and C-3PO have not be re-released since ROTJ. Of course, the C-3PO kit is a real box of poodoo, so no loss there!
I purchased 7 of these candy holders just about the same time with the same thought in mind.
They had a sucker in the body with the stick protruding from the top of the head. There was a candy powder that you're supposed to dip the wet sucker into for that extra POW! pucker factor when you lick the sucker. The candy was gross; not even my kids would eat it!
The plastic holder itself isn't bad in proportion and detail. Good enough for some quickie astromech droids. I have no idea what I'll do with them now that I'm working on this current project. Maybe a diorama of Queen Amidala's Royal Spaceship droid room from The Phantom Menace?
Also, RC2 mothballed their AMT division not long after they bought Playing Mantis (and their Polar Lights and Johnny Lightning divisions), focusing on their die-cast collectibles. Now that Round 2 Models has re-acquired Polar Lights, and acquired MPC and AMT, anything's possible. They've reissued quite a few kits that haven't seen the light of day in decades, and have even enhanced and/or improved parts for some of those kits.
Unfortunately, modifying existing steel molds is expensive, so they wouldn't do it unless they believed the demand for these kits justified the expense. R2 could probably be reissued as-is and sell relatively well, but the 3PO and Vader kits are so "off" that they would require all-new (and expensive) tooling.
I prefer styrene as a model kit medium over resin and vinyl by a wide margin, and I'd love to see one of the big companies produce accurate R2-D2 and C-3PO styrene kits in the same scale. I don't think I'll see that happen in my lifetime, but with some of the new and reissued kits that have been produced in the last few years I've learned to never say never.
Details! Love it!
I think Fine Molds would be the perfect company to produce accurate R2-D2 and C-3PO kits in styrene, but they seem focused on producing the ships in various scales for the time being. Besides, I'm still waiting for them to produce a TIE Advanced x1 (a.k.a. Darth Vader's TIE Fighter) in 1/72 scale.
If anyone was going to produce new R2 and 3PO kits in styrene, I think Revell of Germany would be the likely candidate for the foreseeable future. But considering their Original Trilogy ship kits have many of the same inaccuracies as their MPC/AMT kit counterparts, if they produced R2 and 3PO kits I don't think they'd be any more accurate than the MPC kits.
I’ve always wished Fine Molds would do a R2 thru R5 line since they can be easily configured into separate droids. Basically it’s a droid body with different had parts. Even the clear dome head is straightforward. The great R4 up thread with that awesome hexagon head was always my favorite.
Would this also work for c-3po? I know there are some protocol droids throughout SW with same body, different heads, like the LOM. Just the different head and maybe a different front chest piece could be all that’s needed. I always liked that insect headed one. And the ones in chrome, rust red, hoth-white etc would also look great.
Just as long as they get the proportions right. The MPC C3po was crap. I thought it looked awful in 78, and I worshiped the other MPC SW kits as a kid.
I’ve always wondered Fine Molds never did this. Guess they were too busy making another interminable TIE fighter or Xwing kit.
I didn't get much time over the weekend to work on my droids, so just a partial update today:
My measurements indicated that the MPC kit main body was fairly accurate in diameter and length. Furthermore, the panel markings are (mostly) correctly located and sized. The primary challenge with the main body from the kit is lack of detail, or incorrect and soft detail for the power coupling, octagon port and front vents. The kit also lacks the side vent detail and flat spots at the bottom opposite the leg ankles.
First, some work with a file and sandpaper combined with styrene stock (tube, strip and sheet) yields reasonable representations of the octagon ports (right) and power couplings (left; front shown here both but copy-paste for the backside as well). There is a detail pattern on the back wall of the octagon port that I could not reproduce in this scale. I also noticed after I took the photo of the power coupler that I neglected to fill in the center tube with a slightly shorter piece of rod (it should be solid). I’ll catch that later.
I wanted to show at least one of my droids with utility arms and the data port interface arm deployed. One of the vertical panels was left open and boxed in, and the panel door thinned and shaped to fit the opening once copies were cast. I’ve just loosely taped it on for the photo; in reality it fits better than the photo would imply.
A single utility arm master was carved out of styrene strip that had been curved around a PVC pipe and warmed using a hot air gun. Two copies of this arm will be cast in resin for each of the astromech droids. Having the arms cast as separate components, rather than integral to the main body, will make it easier to paint them even if they are ultimately glued into the main body in the retracted position.
I know, the claw / hand detail is inaccurate…
Of all things, the recessed detail that represents the front utility arms is inaccurate on the main body of the MPC kit. The shape of the arms is just… ugh. So I sanded down the entire front utility arm area on the body and re-covered it with 0.01” styrene sheet.
The utility arm master that I had just carved was used as a template to open up the recessed areas on the main body for the arms to retract into. In the photo below I’m starting the “connect the dots” process of cutting out the utility arm areas.
And below I’ve finished trimming the top utility arm area and I’m test fitting the arm. I’ve stuck some blue tape to the back of the opening to keep the arm from falling through the hole. I’ll put a strip of styrene behind each cutout to form the “box” that the arms recess into.
I'm hoping that this coming weekend I'll be able to close up the main body and start working on the missing side details. More soon...
Sadly, the "Death Star Droid" (so-called by Kenner back in the 70's) seen in the Death Star corridor outside the turbolift, 4-LOM, and the white junk droid seen in the sandcrawler (from the waist up) in A New Hope all have different heads and differences in aspects of their bodies (including limbs). I've looked at a few of them for the potential of making mods, and you're right - it would at a minimum involve sanding down and replacing the C3PO-like features on their chests and back. Typically even more work than that, tho.
But I will be building C3PO and K3PO to pose with R2-D2 and R3-Y2 droids from this current build. I have the Kaiyodo kits for the protocol driods (NICE kit !!!)
EDIT: Wookiepedia says R3PO was on Hoth with K3PO, but the red bugger was an Imperial spy! I didn't know that...
I love this project! Do you plan to sell upgrade kits?