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  1. Member Since
    May 2003
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    North Carolina
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    Nov 3, 2013, 7:14 PM - GONK Droid Costume/Prop #1

    I think building a Gonk Droid is something of a rite of passage for Star Wars fans. Not only does the droid hold nostalgic value as an Original Trilogy background character and iconic Kenner action figure, but it's also a fairly simple costume build (they always begin with that notion, don't they?) that every Star Wars parent should consider for their kids. While I had put together some award-winning costumes for my kids in the past, this was the last year that my son would be short enough to pull off the old Power Droid convincingly. With Halloween looming just a few short weeks away, we embarked on our Gonk journey.

    Research consisted of scouring the Interwebs for Power Droid pics. After finding that there are several Gonk designs that were used in the films---none of which are really very accurately documented---I decided to forego screen-accurate for "screen-inspired." That would save a lot of time and money sourcing original parts and seemed to be the way that most who had gone before me had done it. I looked at builds by RPF'ers like TK409, Skaught, adamata and others, and tried to narrow it down to essentials like the stacked storage bin shape, recessed faceplate, ribbed legs with hydraulic hoses, two-toed feet and random greeblies.

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    Because I knew we would be entering a costume contest with this, I wanted to take things to the next level. After all, it would just look like a walking box to most people so this Gonk needed elements to convince people it was a robot. It needed lights. It needed sound. It needed...well, you'll see.

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    We got almost everything we needed with a single trip to a hardware store and Wal*Mart. Two 18-gallon Rubbermaid-type storage bins (being careful to get the size that would work best for my son's height), primer and brown spraypaint, some faucet hoses, foam anti-fatigue floor mats, a square plastic container, two round plastic containers, ribbed split-loom hoses and a flexible pipe. It turned out later that I didn't use the flexible pipe or faucet hoses, but I like to buy what I think I'll need and hold onto the receipt so I can return what I don't use. You'll also note that I picked up an extension cord and a portable travel surge protector/power strip to replicate an idea that Skaught had---turning the costume into a display prop with working power outlets for convention booths. I love functional props!

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    The ribbed legs were a bit tricky to source as my son's thighs were too thick for the standard 4-inch-diameter dryer hoses or black plastic drain pipe. The hardware guy recommended 6-inch-diameter flexible aluminum duct---bingo! One piece was long enough for both legs with some to spare (seen here in its compressed off-the-shelf form).

    The hardest part would be the feet. There's just nothing that even remotely resembles the two-toed Gonk feet, so I planned on building them from the EVA foam mats. I hadn't played with foam construction before, so I figured it would be a good entry-level project.

    Next up, construction begins!
  2. Amazing DJ's Avatar
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    Nov 3, 2013, 10:21 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #2

    I like it already!
  3. Member Since
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    Nov 4, 2013, 2:55 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #3

    This is great! I've been fascinated by the teaser FB shots, so can't wait to see the whole build. Cool project!
  4. Member Since
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    North Carolina
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    Nov 7, 2013, 9:26 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #4

    So, let's get to it!

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    I knew I'd have to put quite a few layers of paint on the bins so while I waited for a test spray of Krylon Fusion to dry on one of them, I began hacking away at the basic shapes. I rough-cut the "face" hole with a Rotozip tool and then smoothed and fine-tuned the edges of the hole with a Dremel sanding bit. I also removed all four handles and then cut a big opening on the bottom of one of the bins for the legs. Tip: Keep a shop-vac handy as you will be covered in small plastic shavings if using a powertool to make your cuts.

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    Next, I attached the two smaller round containers to one side by screwing the lids in place first. I often rely on screws, nuts and bolts vs. glues and adhesives just because I feel they will hold together better. Then I just snapped the container bottoms onto the main body. I cut a couple of small holes and ran a length of the split-loom conduit to connect them on either side as seen in reference pics. The type of plastic on these containers was much more fragile and I nearly cracked them. Use caution.

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    Now, here's where that portable travel surge protector comes in. They come in all shapes and sizes, but I thought this one had a cool and unusual modular look to it, and it was less than $10 USD...plus it had 2 USB ports which I thought would be handy for charging devices at convention booths, etc. I cut a hole in what would be the backside of the droid and then used some wood shims on the inside to make it sit flush with the surface and have a sturdy backing for plugging/unplugging cords (the bins themselves are not really rigid, especially any areas away from a corner or edge). You'll also notice that there is not really any internal power source, but the surge protector simply plugs into an extension cord that will run down the leg and plug into an outlet when in "Power Droid" mode at conventions. Again, no glue---just tightly fitted wood and screws to hold it together. I know...it's ugly, but I was making it up as I went along!

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    It turned out that Fusion (which is supposedly made for plastics) didn't want to stick to the plastic very well, so I asked for advice over in the RPF Facebook Group (not to be confused with the RPF Facebook Page) and some very helpful folks explained that there is typically a layer of residual release agent on these rubber bins that prevents paint from adhering. There were a lot of solutions, but I went with the simplest first, which was to wash down all of the plastic with some mildly soapy water, then sand the surfaces to build up some texture for the paint to grab onto. This was a good task for the boy.

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    Next, I measured and cut the semi-rigid aluminum duct for the Gonk legs. It's not slinky-like as you might think and holds its shape however you bend it. We put some gaffer's tape on the ends where we made the cuts to avoid sharp metal edges. Hey, it's coming together!
  5. Member Since
    Jan 2013
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    67
    Nov 7, 2013, 11:43 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #5

    I always thought Gonk would make an awesome little rig to mount a power bar in to. Imagine a little 12 inch high version that you plug all your devices in to. Someone get on that, pronto!
  6. It's from Shelley! RPF Premium Member Ozymandius's Avatar
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    Nov 9, 2013, 6:09 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #6

    Big thumbs up, man. Can't wait to see how this comes together.

    I love the idea of functional art too and made one of these for my son. But instead of wearable, I turned it into a video game cabinet to hold his games and chargers.
  7. RPF Premium Member NeoRutty's Avatar
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    Nov 15, 2013, 6:41 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #7

    Would love to see pics. I'm thinking of building one for my office at work... trying to figure a way to make it a bar!

    EDIT:

    WOAH... did not notice in my "Gonk" search how old this thread was... heh. Thought I was on that newer one.

    Ozymandius said: View Post
    Big thumbs up, man. Can't wait to see how this comes together.

    I love the idea of functional art too and made one of these for my son. But instead of wearable, I turned it into a video game cabinet to hold his games and chargers.
    Last edited by NeoRutty; Nov 15, 2013 at 8:47 PM. Reason: crap... didn't see the date...
  8. It's from Shelley! RPF Premium Member Ozymandius's Avatar
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    Nov 16, 2013, 6:26 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #8

    NeoRutty said: View Post
    Would love to see pics. I'm thinking of building one for my office at work... trying to figure a way to make it a bar!

    EDIT:

    WOAH... did not notice in my "Gonk" search how old this thread was... heh. Thought I was on that newer one.
    Huh? Date says it's barely over a week old.

    BTW, here's those pics.





    I think Tuskentrooper is going for a movie accurate costume, whereas I wanted to do lifesize version of the 80's toy. I always thought that it was that quirky little toy that made Gonk so endearing to us.
  9. Member Since
    May 2003
    From
    North Carolina
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    488
    Nov 16, 2013, 2:07 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #9

    Nice cabinet, Oz! I did come across that in my research and considered making a "vintage" Gonk toy-styled costume, but the "realistic" (even if a bit customized) look was more viable for my son for Halloween outside of the convention scene. More coming up!
  10. RPF Premium Member NeoRutty's Avatar
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    Nov 16, 2013, 2:39 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #10

    Weird... I don't even know how I got looking at a thread 3 years old, thought my comment was in that thread, and then edited my comment here instead.

    Drunk? Well anyway...

    Nice Gronk! My plans were to do the old plastic bin route, so I don't think I could have it open as you do. That would make a cool bar as well though.
  11. Member Since
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    From
    North Carolina
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    Nov 16, 2013, 6:18 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #11

    Now I think one of the things that takes a costume to another level is the unexpected---kind of like an "easter egg" of costuming. In consideration of what I could add to this costume to make it both convincing and memorable (particularly for the judges), I knew I wanted sound and lights, as well as a trap door for candy collection. I knew that fellow RPF'er Skaught had done a drawer mechanism on the front of his son's Gonk, and I went so far as to cut up the lid to a large plastic under-the-bed storage bin that had a nice hinge. However, I couldn't figure out how it would open and close without revealing my son's hand or the presence of a human inside the costume. No matter...I had another plan for a front-side feature!

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    From years working in an office environment, I knew that spraying a compressed air can upside-down results in a steam-like venting effect. This seemed appropriate for an old robot and would be sure to get attention. I wanted it to be easy (and safe) for my son to operate, so I mounted a large hose-clamp ring to the inside of the lower-half where he could easily reach the trigger. I went with the hose-clamp as it would allow me to quickly replace cans of any diameter (keep a flat-head screwdriver handy!). I drilled a hole in the front of the Gonk, added a greeblie and positioned the straw-nozzle as needed.

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    Speaking of greeblies, it's always fun to find interesting trash laying around that might look cool on something futuristic. In this case, some of the things used were a lens and circuit board from an old webcam, snap lid to a wet-wipe package, the hinged lid to a dog treat container, the base of an old edger/weedeater and the top pump of a soap bottle.

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    Now I knew I didn't want the weight of this thing to rest on my son's head (and believe me, it was getting heavier with each modification), so I took some elastic band left over from my son's 2012 Oompa Loompa costume and rigged some suspenders. No time for sewing, I just dremeled slits in the lower-half and safety pinned them in place.

    Next up---sweet, sweet primer!

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    Ah, that's better. I wasn't quite sure how to hide the joint between top and bottom storage bins, but I found some old painter's carpet shield strips in our basement from at least 8 years ago. We have all hardwood floors now, so this was the answer! Two strips were enough to wrap all the way around and I simply screwed them into the top-half's bottom lip so the upper bin would set on top to hide the joint and gravity would hold it in place.

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    A few more greeblies, more primer, then I started layering the final brown color. The weathering stage began with some black rattle can misting and paint applied by brush quickly followed by misting water over it before it dried. Spattered some paint as needed to get that Star Wars-y "used galaxy" look. Weathering is so therapeutic.


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    While the paint was drying, it was time to tackle the Gonk feet. There's no found item for this, but I've always wanted to do some foam work (some of the stuff here on the RPF is incredibly inspiring) and I figured this would be a good starter for me. The first step was figuring out a custom Adobe Illustrator template based on my son's old boots. They are a little larger than a canon Gonk foot, but we needed practical functionality. I printed out the template then traced it onto the foam, trying to minimize the gluing by designing it with folds versus separate pieces.

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    Took some trial and error, but got a satisfactory shape and size. Before gluing it together, I traced it onto another piece of foam for the other foot.

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    Don't forget the "camel toe!"

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    Some detailing with foam from another project, plus adding the hoses that run up the legs. I originally purchased some washing machine water lines, but they were overkill so I went with the split-loom tubing leftovers by gluing them to the feet and then just rubber-banding them near the top of the legs. You'll also see here how I used the elastic to create a garter belt type of system that would run through a belt to hold the legs up.

    In the home stretch now---more to come!
    Last edited by tuskentrooper; Nov 21, 2013 at 7:46 AM.
  12. It's from Shelley! RPF Premium Member Ozymandius's Avatar
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    Nov 17, 2013, 7:04 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #12

    Wow. That is an impressive bit of work. You really have to post some video of it completed.
  13. Member Since
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    Nov 17, 2013, 10:31 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #13

    Ozymandius said: View Post
    Wow. That is an impressive bit of work. You really have to post some video of it completed.
    Thanks, again. There's video, but I don't want to spoil the build thread by posting it too soon! Also fixed the broken image links above.
  14. Member Since
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    Nov 17, 2013, 1:21 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #14

    Now on to some of the interior effects---namely lights, sound and the candy-drop access hatch.

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    Wow, it sure is ugly on the inside! I had an old battery-powered blinking red/green Christmas 10-light LED set that I've used on and off for various projects for the past 20 years. It's compact enough that I just duct-taped the battery pack inside the top half of the Gonk and ran the wires and LEDs to a translucent part of the droid's faceplate that I intentionally left unpainted for a glowing effect. Other wires you see on the faceplate are strictly cosmetic with no functionality. The electric wire caps were simply for safety so my son wouldn't accidentally poke his eye out getting too close to the exposed wires. You can also see that I hot-glued two layers of screen mesh material to the inside of the face for what is essentially the only way to see out of the costume. The small mailing box is for collecting candy. I wanted to have an intermediate space so that people outside wouldn't be able to see directly into the costume, so I velcro'd the box into a position where it matched up with the round access hatch on the outside. The box could then be opened from the inside to get the candy after the outer hatch closes.

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    And here's that outer hatch. You can see how I painted the inside of the cardboard candy box and added some greeblies to give the effect of actually peering into a machine. I'm not totally happy with the functionality of this hatch as some candy was too big to fit and it could only hold so much before it was full. Part of the reason I used velcro to hold the box in place was because I figured we'd eventually remove it leaving a larger hole to hand bottled water or larger items to my son if we're out at a convention. On a related note, the boy sweated his rump off wearing this thing. Earn your stripes, kid!

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    I took an old battery-powered external speaker set that had some good volume (it's actually hard to find cheap ones that are loud enough) and, because of my fear of glue failing, drilled a couple of holes in the bottom edge of the lower bin. I put some long bolts with nuts and washers as posts to hold the speakers and secured them with rubber bands. I know...such ghetto droid construction! Can you tell I was in a time crunch? Then I spent some time tracking down not only canon Gonk sound effects (there's really not much out there), but also anything that sounded mechanical. Other droid sounds, whirring motors, gears, clicks and steam effects. I edited it into a 2.5-minute clip that we could just loop indefinitely. Initially, I left some silent gaps in the audio clip, but we found that it's better to have near-constant audio to really give it the feel of a machine that's in operating mode. My son really got into it after a while and started coordinating his actual body movements to the soundtrack---I was surprised at how many people really thought this was a functioning robot that I was controlling with my iPhone!

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    Back to the outside---and more paint. Gonk droid builders will tell you that there is a distinct "E"-shaped panel on the side of the most common GNK from A New Hope, but I ended up just going with a quick Aurebesh "F" (my son's first name initial) to indicate some kind of in-universe ownership. Then it was weathering with brush-applied silver metallic paint and some white followed by misted water to create drips and runs. I also added more black to the crevices and wiped away with a damp rag. I can't tell you how much I enjoy the weathering process. I just sat there on the back porch for hours adding "chips" and "scratches" where I imagined something would get bumped or damaged over time. I thought of how hoses might burst or leak, and how a droid repairman might clumsily leave a mark when replacing an access panel. My mind was definitely in a galaxy far, far away....

    After the paint had dried it was showtime!
    Last edited by tuskentrooper; Nov 17, 2013 at 1:28 PM.
  15. Member Since
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    Nov 17, 2013, 2:23 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #15

    We live in a rural area where the homes are too far apart for door-to-door trick-or-treating. Instead, the local townships have businesses extend their hours a bit and give out candy to costumed kids. Fortunately, the first event on main street was at 3pm, providing us with ample daylight for the first real full test of the costume. Would my son be able to see? Could he navigate crowds without tripping or bumping into other kids? Was the overall costume too heavy? So much anticipation!

    We suited up in a parking lot, flipped on the lights, and found out right away that the mp3 player needed to be at top-volume to be heard over the ambient noise of the crowds. I didn't have any earplugs, but my son suggested that he just wear unplugged earbuds to help damper the audio inside the costume. With spare batteries, duct tape, a Swiss Army knife and extra compressed air cans in my backpack, I was prepared for anything as I acted as a handler for the debut of the Gonk.

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    As soon as my son began walking toward the crowded street, people began pointing at him with huge smiles. Small kids were completely in awe. Older kids were drawn in by intense curiosity. Parents gave respectful nods. The appearance, sound effects, lights and occasional blast of "steam" all came together in a convincing performance by my 10-year-old who reveled in his anonymous spotlight. Mobility was a challenge as both vision and range of motion were limited (isn't that always the case with great costumes?), but he was a trooper. After spending an hour inching his way up and down main street, stopping for photos and collecting candy through the side hatch, we headed to the next town for the costume contest.

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    It was already getting dark at this point and we barely had time to suit up and travel from our parking spot to the park where the contest was held. Along the way we were greeting with encouraging cries of "There goes first place!" and "You're going to enter the costume contest, aren't you?" I could tell me son was into it by the way he stayed in character and almost went out of his way to tackle obstacles like stairs and curbs. Once we arrived at the contest staging area, we found out that the categories were scariest, cutest and funniest. Uh-oh. A Gonk isn't really any of those, so we formulated our plan of attack. "Alright, buddy. When the guy asks you what you are, I'll hand them this piece of paper which explains that you're a Gonk droid and name-drops R2 and 3PO. Then, if he asks you any questions, just shoot some steam as your answer." Our performance paid off and we took the prize for funniest costume in his age category. The prizes weren't great, but this was more about small-town bragging rights. If you're going to do a costume, you do the best you can.

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    Proud of you, son! Now to get you to a con before you outgrow this thing!
  16. One of us, one of us! RPF Premium Member The Schlitzie's Avatar
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    Nov 17, 2013, 6:58 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #16

    Such an awesome costume! I want to make one for my son now.
  17. division 6's Avatar
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    Nov 18, 2013, 6:53 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #17

    Awesome work.
    Definitely puts all the other costumes to shame.
  18. Member Since
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    Nov 18, 2013, 7:28 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #18

    Ozymandius said: View Post
    Huh? Date says it's barely over a week old.

    BTW, here's those pics.

    http://i168.photobucket.com/albums/u...ps1abe19ce.jpg

    http://i168.photobucket.com/albums/u...psed98f7a7.jpg

    I think Tuskentrooper is going for a movie accurate costume, whereas I wanted to do lifesize version of the 80's toy. I always thought that it was that quirky little toy that made Gonk so endearing to us.
    Now that's the gonk I want in my space functional as well as visually pleasing to the eye lol Awesome
  19. It's from Shelley! RPF Premium Member Ozymandius's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jun 2010
    From
    Orlando, FL
    Messages
    815
    Nov 19, 2013, 5:57 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #19

    Epic win, tuskentrooper.
    Truly blown away.
  20. stromo's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 2010
    Messages
    245
    Nov 20, 2013, 8:37 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #20

    Fantastic. Great job!
  21. RPF Premium Member Funky's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jun 2000
    Messages
    12,450
    Nov 20, 2013, 10:50 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #21

    I've been on the RPF a lot of years and I have to say this thread is now on my top 20 of all time favorite threads!
    Well done, sir, well done!
  22. Member Since
    May 2003
    From
    North Carolina
    Messages
    488
    Nov 21, 2013, 7:50 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #22

    Thanks again, everyone. I just fixed a couple more picture links in the above posts...the RPF keeps timing out on me and I lose the uploads. Anyway, as promised, here's a fun video of the Gonk in action:

  23. clonecollector's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 2009
    Messages
    33
    Nov 21, 2013, 9:30 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #23

    Thanks for posting up these pictures! Great build!

    My youngest son is still too small for this costume but I want to have it made for when he's big enough. I'm bookmarking this thread!
  24. RPF Premium Member Predatormv's Avatar
    Member Since
    May 2003
    From
    Orlando, FL
    Messages
    792
    Nov 21, 2013, 7:30 PM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #24

    Awesome build Dean! Maybe I missed it somewhere but with the catch box in place how does he open the outside hatch for the candy drop?
  25. Blue Leader's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jun 2009
    From
    Portland, OR, USA
    Messages
    482
    Nov 22, 2013, 1:56 AM - Re: GONK Droid Costume/Prop #25

    That is too awesome! I've been wanting to make one just as a prop for conventions and stuff but I've never had the mind to do it, not sure if it's out of my skill range... Still, I suppose it's the easier of the droid builds, eh? :

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