Our Collective 5-Foot Millennium Falcon Build

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Studio Kitbash

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Okay, so, it turns out.... building a studio scale Millennium Falcon is a SERIOUS pain in the nether-regions. And for those of you following, I take it all back about making this affordable -- there is NO cheap way to build this thing. Because every set-back, every mistake, every subcontractor always wants his pound of flesh, and you end up paying not only for your mistakes, but for everyone else's as well. So be prepared to lose some serious coin.

The above photo sure LOOKED good, but upon measurement, it was 47.5" at OD (not wide enough) and 4.5" high at center top of dome, a full 3/4" too high off the specified 3.75" height.

I made this order back in March of 2020.

Today, September 15th, 2020, the problem was finally corrected:
Blown Dome CORRECT Height and Diameter 9-15-2020.jpg

The correct outer diameter was achieved....

Here's a close-up of the OD -- as close to 48.56" as is likely possible:
Blown Dome Correct Outer Diameter 48 point 5.jpg


Here's a close-up of the height -- 3.75" requested, and we landed on 3.7655 -- totally happy with a number this close. (That's less than half a millimeter off -- 0.3937 mm to be exact)
Blown Dome Height 3.76 Inches 9-15-2020.jpg



Anyway, this is six months overdue and many thousands of dollars more than expected, but still it's always satisfying when something finally, actually, works out. So the truth is, I couldn't be happier.
 

Studio Kitbash

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yeah, you want one? I'm doing ONE last run, so check the Project Runs board.

But like I said, it's not for the faint of heart...
 

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joberg

Master Member
Thanks for the offer...but, yes...my GF will kill me and then divorce me if I announce to her that I'll park that baby in my model room:cautious::p
 

Studio Kitbash

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yeah, it's often a deal-breaker in relationships, so make sure the bond is stronger than superglue before attempting this. If you are NOT already single, this increases your chances greatly...
 

Bjorn

Active Member
They look beautiful. Sorry to hear about the problems with the 1st batch.

Are they blowing them through a hoop ring or is there a pattern/buck form that they are being molded from?
 

Studio Kitbash

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Hoop ring.
Laser-beam height gauge, kill-switching the heat once it hits the center-point max height.
Air flow gauge synched to laser-beam height level reader, spurts on/off as plexi cools and shrinks (i.e., "lowers") to maintain height.
Hand cut without flange.
Hand beveled.
Hand boxed.
Hand shipped.
Hand made.
Handsome.

My new theory: ILM requested two domes blown at 4 inches height. They got one at 3.75" and one at 4.15", which was pretty close to accurate for 1975 technology. They put the taller one on the bottom, where you wouldn't notice the difference as much thanks to all the landing gear bay boxes.
 

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joberg

Master Member
Yeah, it's often a deal-breaker in relationships, so make sure the bond is stronger than superglue before attempting this. If you are NOT already single, this increases your chances greatly...
Yep, since I've built that 2001 Space Station (at 7 feet, respecting Studio Scale) I'm not allowed to go bigger with any model. :rolleyes:
 

Studio Kitbash

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Refinement of the new theory, which is purely speculative, but now based on experience:

1.) ILM requests two domes blown at 4" max center height
2.) Fabricator blows the first at a perfect 4 inches, and it shrinks/sags to 3.75" by the time it cools, hardens and "fixes"
3.) Fabricator reasons, "each dome drops by 1/4 inch after blowing"
4.) So he blows the next one at 4.25" figuring it will freeze at 4" even, only to discover that this one hardens/fixes faster at 4.15"
5.) And thus, your uneven porkburger, because ILM neither has time nor budget to waste on manufacturing the already-redesigned Falcon

Thoughts? Seem plausible to you? This is a circumstantial evidence argument; if any of you know more/better accurate info, I'm all ears as to how these two numbers were derived.
 

Bjorn

Active Member
I would speculate that it was more by accident. They probably said shoot for 4" height and we need 2. Actually give us 3x in case we make a mistake.
They seem close enough upon inspection.
When they get back to the shop they realise they need an access cover at the back and the 3rd is used on the aft quarter for the engine deck as a removable panel.

I know there is a ridiculous amount of planning in things built for film but a great deal of it would have been done on the fly.
T2sides fantastic build thread mentioned it took several attempts from his supplier to get his right. Blowing them seems very difficult given the accuracy that we are chasing. Forming to a buck would be better but it would mean more cost in tooling and if your cater for the differences of the upper and lower it would mean double the cost. :oops:

And I should mention that his supplier said that they didn't want to do any more because they lost money.
 

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Duncanator

Sr Member
Refinement of the new theory, which is purely speculative, but now based on experience:

1.) ILM requests two domes blown at 4" max center height
2.) Fabricator blows the first at a perfect 4 inches, and it shrinks/sags to 3.75" by the time it cools, hardens and "fixes"
3.) Fabricator reasons, "each dome drops by 1/4 inch after blowing"
4.) So he blows the next one at 4.25" figuring it will freeze at 4" even, only to discover that this one hardens/fixes faster at 4.15"
5.) And thus, your uneven porkburger, because ILM neither has time nor budget to waste on manufacturing the already-redesigned Falcon

Thoughts? Seem plausible to you? This is a circumstantial evidence argument; if any of you know more/better accurate info, I'm all ears as to how these two numbers were derived.

I'm pretty sure ILM ordered up 4" tall domes, and just used what they got. The term "close enough" gets used a lot in the film biz. ;)

So many folks think that everything ILM did was figured out to the finest detail, but it wasn't. We messed things up, parts didn't align well, finished models had to be cut up or modified on set to get a particular shot (and then put back together), or whatever. You just "made it work". Sometimes we used to joke "It's not a flaw, it's a feature!"

Custom blown domes always had some variation to them, and you just dealt with it. As prop replicators, we are trying to match "flaws".
 

vfxsup64

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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joberg

Master Member
I'm pretty sure ILM ordered up 4" tall domes, and just used what they got. The term "close enough" gets used a lot in the film biz. ;)

So many folks think that everything ILM did was figured out to the finest detail, but it wasn't. We messed things up, parts didn't align well, finished models had to be cut up or modified on set to get a particular shot (and then put back together), or whatever. You just "made it work". Sometimes we used to joke "It's not a flaw, it's a feature!"

Custom blown domes always had some variation to them, and you just dealt with it. As prop replicators, we are trying to match "flaws".
I`ll try that with the wife when renovating the house...Honey, it`s not a flaw, it`s a feature:oops::p:cautious:
 

joberg

Master Member
The domes are indeed asymmetrical. One is "saggier" than the other. Further, they are non-spherical, meaning of non-constant radius across the dome form.

(Screen grab from https://static.rapidonline.com/pdf/34-8646m_v1.pdf)

View attachment 1354734



If anyone is interested, here is a paper on some of the materials science: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1757-899X/48/1/012004/pdf


Regards,

André
Very interesting Andre...thanks for that, it explains a lot
 

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