Millennium Falcon Costume - 3d printed and scratchbuilt

TerranCmdr

Active Member
I usually pull out all the stops for costumes and of course Halloween is my favorite time of year. My son's been old enough to choose his own costume for a few years now and so far we've done an ambulance and X-Wing pilot Luke. He set me quite the challenge this year though when he said "I want to be the Millennium Falcon!"

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When I sat down to plan this beast, my first question was "who's going to fly the Falcon?" I knew at some point he'd get tired of wearing a big bulky costume, plus if he had any kind of Halloween event at school he'd probably need something a little easier to wear. We settled on Poe from Episode 9 and so that's where I started with the costume.

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We hit up our local thrift stores and I ended up finding basically all I needed to complete the Poe look. I had some canvas-like material left over from our little one's Grogu costume last year so I sewed up some very basic pouches and added some leather straps to them. The pants needed to be taken in and the belt shortened. The shemagh was one I already had that I cut into 1/4. The gloves we got from a local motorcycle shop on clearance (score!) Voila!

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Anyway with that out of the way it was time to start on the main event. I had a rough idea of how to construct it and needed to gather some supplies. I figured the easiest way to create the domed sections would be to use two snow saucers. Once those were sourced they would set the scale we'd be working with. Luckily a friend of mine scours neighborhood cleanups for greeblies for his builds and grabbed me two saucers. I did a rough measurement on my son's waist and came up with about 11" for the opening. I took a nail and a piece of string, drilled a hole in the center of the saucers, attached a pen to the other side of the string, and used that as a makeshift compass to get a decent circle. I cut it out with a jigsaw. I did realize afterwards that I'd need to do the same thing to cut the outer part off and ended up having to sort of place the center back in place to mark it out again but it worked out.

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Once the saucers were cut down I could use those to figure out the scale. I found an excellent 3d model of the Falcon by Andy Crook (which would serve as a guide for the 3d printed pieces) and started sizing things out in Rhino. Turns out my costume/model would be around 30" long, very close to the size of the ESB model! It just so happened that a Home Depot bucket was almost exactly 11" diameter so I grabbed one of those and cut it down to size. It was a bit floppy so I actually took the top part and attached it with rivets to make a stronger center. I printed out a full size simplified top-down view to build off of and realized this thing was going to be pretty sizeable!

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I figured I'd use 1" aluminum coming from the center as supports for the mandibles (the 1" height sized perfectly for the sides of the Falcon, a happy accident). At this point I also riveted on the straps.

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Things got a little sporadic at this point as I wanted to start getting parts on the 3d printer. I used Andy's model as a sort of template to create the cockpit exterior - his model was not designed with 3d printing in mind and it was just easier to remodel than to try and fix most parts. I also cut the mandibles out of foam core (trying to keep this costume as light as possible) and printed out a set of greeblies (sourced from here). Moving on from there, I did a lot of work to make the interior of the cockpit printable (not much remodeling here but a lot of digital cleanup) and printed that out on my resin printer. I designed the control panel to accept an LED so I could light up specific parts of it by masking it off when I painted. I also printed one of the large circular side greeblies (I think it's a docking port?) and an awesome Wankel rotary (found here) because it's a very recognizable specific greeblie.

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While all that was going on, I was also figuring out the wiring for this beast. I couldn't build this costume without adding some lights, so I figured out a simple circuit utilizing 4x rechargeable AAs we had on hand. I wired it to have a headlight in each mandible, two lights for the cockpit, and one blue LED strip for the engines.

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Continued in part 2...
 

TerranCmdr

Active Member
Next on the list of 3d prints were the circular greeblie interiors for the mandibles. I made them exactly 1" minus two thicknesses of foam core so they would act as spacers for the two foam core pieces when everything was glued together. I also installed a small switch in the inner circle to control the lights, and then began to modify the lower disc. I first cut out the side notches where the larger circular docking port greeblies sit. I then cut out the large raised areas on the bottom that house the landing gear. I knew I'd need a way to access the internals once everything was assembled and I saw this as the perfect way to do that. I took a piece of cardboard and cut a curved notch in it as a way of getting the curve of the disc. I cut it, sized it up, then cut it again until I had a pretty good fit. I then took a picture of that piece of cardboard and took it into Rhino where I traced it and used that curve to create a digital version of the disc. This was necessary since I modeled the bottom raised panels to cover the holes I had just made, and they needed to follow that curve.

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To attach those covers I intended to use magnets on both sides but I realized I didn't have enough so I had to get a little creative. On the covers I drilled small holes and inserted steel ball bearings. I then used a dab of paint on each bb and pressed the panel into place, leaving small paint dots where I needed to drill. I then drilled holes in the disc to insert 1/4" neodymium magnets. Worked perfectly and only used about half the magnets I was planning to. The battery pack was attached with velcro to the back of the middle cylinder so I can get at it to change the rechargeables. I also added the two raised pieces that go out to the docking ports, as well as the piece that comes out in between the mandibles.

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At this point I went back into Rhino and modeled a simple engine grate, and added some space behind it for my LED strip to stick. I had to print in two pieces due to the size of my printer and I had a bit of trouble when the print didn't adhere properly but I decided to just continue in the interested of time. The mandibles were assembled and wired up, and attached to the aluminum prongs. For the first time I could get a good sense of the final shape by setting the top disc in place.

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The top dics needed some cuts made for greeblies and the deflector dish so I made those with the jigsaw. I designed some unnecessarily complicated engine exhausts and printed those out as well. Printed the circular part of the dish in resin and the bracket part on the FDM. I then got to work on the cockpit. After masking off some panels in the front section I primed and painted it. I painted it grey before realizing it's mostly black, so I brushed it black and did a light drybrush in white to give a hint of panels and buttons. Same process for the top and back of the cockpit. I went in with beige for the seats and hit those with a brown wash. For the back panel I really wanted some fiber optic lights so I just dove in and went for it. I used a pin vice to drill 21 holes in the back panel. It was arduous but the final result was well worth it. I dabbed some red and blue over some of the fiber optics before I glued everything up.

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I modeled and printed the tube leading from the cockpit to the main body. I was very surprised with how nicely this fit the disc. The last thing to complete before attaching the top disc was filling in those 3 greeblie holes I cut earlier. I hand cut some foam core and did some kitbashing to fill out the panels. My son couldn't resist doing a quick test-fit at this point as well.

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The moment of truth had finally come and I went ahead and glued the top disc on. It required a lot of coaxing and holding things in place while they dried but everything went together better than I expected! I glued down the rest of the 3d printed details on the top disc with a one-two punch of E6000 and hot glue. It seemed like we were so close to being finished but there was still so much to do!

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Continued in part 3...
 

TerranCmdr

Active Member
Final stretch now! First order of business was to cover all the sides with styrene. I then cut the large semicircle at the back. I was planning to heat bend the styrene but it conformed to the shape of the disc just fine with minimal persuasion. I used my nibbler tool to add some notches to represent the flaps of the engine that I wouldn't have time to do. I then used a Sharpie to trace out where the panels should go and left the whole thing overnight to give the glue a chance to set.

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First order of business the next day (just one day left at this point) was to attach the Wankel engine greeblies. I then put my family to work to help me out - my son did some attaching of greeblies on his own while my wife finished off the rest of them. Meanwhile I began paneling. For the mandibles I measured my lines with calipers and drew them out on styrene before scoring and snapping, and adding a few notches with the nibbler. I have an old AMT kit (unbuilt) that I was able to use for reference. After the mandibles were done I moved on to the main body. I didn't really have a plan when I started but I ended up figuring out a process. I would get a piece of paper, lay it on a section, and trace the lines underneath. I'd then clean up the lines and cut each paper panel out, making sure to number each one so as to not get them mixed up. I used the paper panels as templates to trace onto the styrene and cut them out by hand, cutting maybe 1/8" inside of the lines I drew. A few panels needed some slight adjustment but the process worked very well. I also found some brush-on superglue which was a total life saver for this process.

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More of the same and a couple hours later the paneling was all finished. Since it was getting late and we needed this done, my wife and I tackled the back section and just went to town slapping any and every greeblie we could find on it. Failed 3d prints, small caps, discarded toy parts, sprues, etc. This is probably the least accurate section of the costume and I do want to go back and redo it, but it still looked fine once it was all painted up.

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That night I managed to get a coat of primer on the whole thing. This is hands down my favorite part of any kitbash / scratchbuild. I used Behr paint/primer for the first time and I liked it a lot. Very good coverage and dries nicely.

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It was now the day of Halloween and we began with a black wash over everything. After the black wash I did some selective brown wash and then some grey drybrushing to clean up some of the panels. I did a few more passes with lighter grey drybrush to make the greeblies pop. After that I did some detail touchups, including red and grey panels as well as adding some exhaust streaks to the engine vents (that was a late addition so is not present in most of the photos). By that time it was just about time to suit up and do the neighborhood Kessel run! My son had a blast and only complained about the weight of the costume once or twice. We walked around for a good 45 minutes and the ship only sustained some minor damage (a couple of greeblies that got knocked off).

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All in all it was a very fun and rewarding process, and I'm honestly surprised how nice the finished product looks! I think the proportions really help sell it as being the Falcon and I attribute that to the very lengthy planning and inner structure construction process.

Of course nothing is ever finished and I still have some plans for this. I didn't panel or detail the bottom at all due to lack of time, and realizing that nobody would be looking at the bottom. I may or may not go back and panel it. I have some small wire that I want to add as piping detail, and I do want to pull the greeblies off the back and redo it more accurately with the exhaust flaps and everything. We're thinking of hanging this on the wall as we're so proud of it. For that though I'm thinking of making a "plug" that would go in the center and make it look more like a model than a costume. Stay tuned for future updates on that. Anyway that's a very abridged version of the build, thanks for reading along with my rambling!
 

TerranCmdr

Active Member
Thanks for the kind words all, I had a blast doing this costume and I'm looking forward to the next one! I think I'll bring my boy along to the next con as well, I'll probably go with an easy costume so I can supervise him not bumping it into everything :lol:
 

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