Death Star Surface Tiles - Full scale 2x2 replicas


Master Member
Hello All,
Sharing progress on an ongoing project that started this past summer.

My good friend Dan Durda (3DImpact) and I began the journey of mastering and casting the large 2' x 2' Death Star Surface tiles, utilizing original kit parts and attempting to get as accurate as we could. So far, we have completed 3 of the 6 tiles, and this thread will show the build progress on those to date. They include per Joe Johnston's sketchbook, Module 1 (Question Mark), Module 2 (Flat Tile), & Module 5 (Square Tower). The other 3 tiles are currently under construction ( a future thread)

For these first 3, we started with the basic base structures made out of wood, MDF and hi-density foam. Dan heroically took on Tiles 1 & 2, while I worked on Tile 5.
We added some laser scribed styrene in certain areas, and cleaned up bases to be ready for the parts layouts.
Using references of the original tiles, and nearly complete ID maps that several studio scale experts had previously created, we were on our way to start laying down parts.
After the parts were down, we made mold boxes, covered the tile masters in rubber, then poured a mother mold on top of that, and we had a huge casting box ready to go. We learned a lot in this process, including using a flexible foam for the mother mold, which turned out to be poor decision as our rubber was too thin, and pouring the expandable foam wound up deforming some areas of the casting - but now we know what to fix, correct, and eventually remake proper mother molds. That's the fun of 'trial and error' at this scale on a project like this!

So, with that brief summary, here's an overview of the tiles so far...

Here's a quick preview of the end result to show the size/scale of these!

Here's the reference of the Tiles from Joe's Sketchbook to track tile naming.

Question Mark
Module1 - Question Mark_Small.png

Module2 - Flat Tile_Small.png

Kit Kat
Module3 - KitKat_Small.png

3 Fins
Module4 -3 Fins_Small.png

Square Tower
Module5 -Square Tile_Small.png

Starting with Module 1, here's the progression:

Progression of base tile, then parts layed out, then primered.

Here's Module 2 progression:





And Module 5:

Parts layout

Primered and out in the Sun - look like the Originals!!



The other 2 tiles ready for molding/casting....


And these in the Sun, shadows look so legit!



Next Post will show some of the molding and casting process...


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Part 2 - Molding and Casting

The basic approach was to lay down the rubber over the master, multiple coats, let that cure, then apply the flexi foam mother mold, then coat the mold with a few thin coats of resin 'skin', then pour in expanding foam (like the original), secure the box with clamps, cure, then demold.

Dan and I prepping one of the masters


Applying rubber in layers with colors to verify coverage (our friend Jim helping out)....



Cured Rubber ready for mother molds




Ready for Resin!

Resin layer

Final cast with expanding foam (and the vent holes)

Pulling back from foam/resin casting

Mold and casting (you can see some of the deformities in this particular tile - next mold will fix all that!

And, at the end of the day, here's what we have - many unpainted, the others on the wall primed or started painting.



And they will also make excellent bases for various Studio Scale models!!


Thanks for looking, I'm sure Dan will post some more comments from his end on this Journey.

PS - as mentioned, we are working on the other 3 tile masters from scratch ;)



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This has been (and continues to be!) such an amazingly fun project and the reason is solely because of the partnership with Sean. Yeah, it's fun to see these studio-scale and hopefully pretty darned accurate replicas come to life and sit in one's basement (I still just go down there and gaze at them every now and then :) ) but the real fun is the time spent back and forth with Sean working out all the details and just sitting around enjoying lunch and working on these things together in our basements. Our friends Jim and Con and Dirk have contributed their help and comaraderie as we've evolved the project. I think Sean might agree that if either one of us were just doing this alone in our basement we wouldn't get near the same satisfaction out of it all.

I look at photos like this

module panels death star surface ilm star wars 1977 model shop.jpg

now in a completely different way. We're living it and I can't quite put into words how amazing that feels. It gives you so much more a visceral connection to the amazing team of people who made Star Wars.

When I posted my original Death Star surface pyro model made from the little Bandai castings someone semi-jokingly asked who was going to make the first studio-scale version. At the time that rang humorously, naturally. Now? Well... ;)

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Great work and the results are fantastic:cool::cool:(y)(y):notworthy::notworthy: I don't know what was more satisfying; the rubber mold being peeled off the foam, or the finish tiles:unsure::p(y)(y)
Good morning Sean, those are amazing. Your work never ceases to amaze me. One of those would be perfect for the studio scale Y-wing I'm working on. Very nice indeed.
Just another perspective on the WIP on these, with reference to my comment above about feeling a bit more connection with the ILM guys:


Again, I love the messy work space stage of these projects.

And one of Sean's images captured a hint of the scale of these relative to the Bandai castings we made our trench and other models from. Here's a more explicit comparison:


The temptation to revisit at least a portion of that famous parking lot trench in full studio scale is very real...


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