Phoenix Props v2 Kylo Lightsaber Modifications TFA/TLJ

Discussion in 'Star Wars Costumes and Props' started by tomleech, May 15, 2018.

  1. tomleech

    tomleech Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Hi guys! Since February I've been hard at work finishing off my PPv2 Kylo lightsaber. I wanted to do something a little different and get it plated with the appropriate metals and also somehow get a real heat stain on the quillons. Ultimately I ended up achieving that and more, relocating the buttons to the front where I think they're 'intended' to be (and replacing them with translucent versions as on the actual prop) and relocating the recharge port to the 'clover' screw on the back, adding a more accurate 'clover' piece.

    I updated my progress on this project on various Facebook groups but only just thought that I should have had a thread here too, so I'll briefly go through all the developments, with appropriate pictures, and catch up to where I am now :)


    February 22nd. There was a huge amount of drama before I even received the hilt as USPS mistakenly delivered it to the wrong address where the residents said they'd never received a package and USPS basically shrugged their shoulders. Ultimately Derrek from Phoenix Props filed a claim with the German post (which was in itself a long story) and kindly sent me a hilt he'd held back presumably in case of a situation like this. I was very pleased to finally receive the hilt!



    March 22nd. With the inside of the hilt measured up for chassis design I set about doing the necessary machining before doing any kind of finishing work. I was planning to not only put the buttons where I felt they'd be in-universe but also upgrading them to the translucent look seen on the screen props. Yes, cutting into this rare and valuable piece was terrifying, especially after the aforementioned trouble I'd been through to actually get hold of it...


    March 24th. I started work on finishing and weathering the parts that would not be plated. The 'core' pieces appear quite reflective in pictures of the screen props and the PropShop version so I mirror polished them and then powdercoated them in a black chrome to darken them and also protect the mirrored finish.


    March 27th. I received the hilt back from the plating shop, I had most of the hilt copper plated and the quillons chrome plated as an experiment to try and heat stain them.


    March 28th. First attempt at heat staining. I put the quillons in my lathe, rotated them on the slowest setting and slowly/carefull applied heat with a blowtorch. This is a risky endeavour as chrome supposedly heat stains at a temperature that is very close to aluminium's melting point. Successful enough that I proved to myself that it could be done, unsuccessful in that the pattern wasn't right due to heating location so I planned to have them stripped and rechromed.


    March 31st. I applied the black painted layer over the copper, this was done with a matte black Duracoat, it lived up to the 'matte' part of it's name almost too well, I was expecting slightly more of a sheen to it. I tried to polish the paint and got it a little closer to where I'd intended. The weathering was mostly just achieved with q-tips and acetone 24 hours after the initial paint application. My initial weathering used the PropShop promotional images as reference but ultimately I thought it was too extreme when compared to images of the screen props (especially as I was aiming for something between TFA and TLJ) so I resprayed most of it and weathered again. This picture is the final result.



    April 4th. Disaster. I had the quillons stripped and replated (along with the detail section of the blade plugs) and long story short when I went to the shop to pick up the parts they weren't ready as I'd been told, I'd said I wouldn't be able to get back for a while so they were done there and then I think it's possible they were rushed or maybe a step in the process was not done the same. Either way the result was that the plating immediately bubbled and cracked, essentially ruining the parts. The main plug bubbling I decided was acceptable but one of the side plugs crumbled just as the colours appeared, leaving me a plug short. This was a pretty disheartening turn of events and at this point I pretty much resigned myself to airbrushing the heat stain if I could salvage the quillons.


    April 6th. I forged ahead with the clear buttons and started testing ideas and 3d printing mechanisms in a 'clear' filament, arriving at something that functioned perfectly but was visible when looking into the cutaway section. This update included a video but it was uploaded directly to Facebook so I'm unable to include it here.

    April 12th. At this point I started planning out the install in earnest, I intended to fit a Plecter Labs Crystal Focus v9 and accompanying Color Extender along with a 7.4v 18650 battery pack. I was really hoping to fit a Saber Essentials 31mm speaker in as the internal diameter of the bottom part would just allow it. Unfortunately this made putting the recharge port in the pommel so I came up with an alternative location (originally the location for the main activation button, now unneeded given my relocation of them to the front) that would allow me to charge the saber without taking anything apart and also to improve the accuracy of the 'clover' piece which could function as a main 'kill key' to turn the power on and off.


    April 18th. Preliminary install completed. I finished prototyping my front button mechanism and installed the sound board, main LED, speaker and recharge port. Again this update was a video uploaded directly to Facebook so I can't include it here.

    April 19th. Success! I had the quillons stripped and rechromed, thinking that if I was going to airbrush the heat stain I might as well have a nice shiny base to give the paint some depth. When I received them I (probably foolishly) decided to very slowly take the huge risk of trying to heat stain them one more time and discovered that this time round it worked almost as well as the first time! Armed with the knowledge of there to apply the heat I was able to get close to the reference I was using (the TFA Hero prop as seen in Wired and on the Topps card, which I believe is real heat stain unlike the TLJ prop). The colouring and placement wasn't quite perfect but I think the variation adds to the realism of the effect rather than detracts from it.


    April 21st. My success (finally) with the quillons renewed my excitement for the project and I painted the black fade onto the quillons. Perhaps a little hasty as I ended up stripping a lot of it back and repainting to keep more of the heat stain colouring but this was my first attempt.

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  2. tomleech

    tomleech Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    April 23rd. With the quillons (re)painted and the install mainly finished this was my first view of the fully assembled saber, getting very close to completion! At this point I was waiting for the high detail 'clover' kill key I had designed and the transparent acrylic button covers I had ordered from Shapeways. The configuration of the sound board still needed a lot of tweaking too.


    April 28th. The first of my several Shapeways orders arrived, bringing translucent base parts along with stainless steel detail parts of the two side plugs I had designed to replace the one I had lost. I made them compatible with the originals and will be making the translucent parts available for those who want to upgrade their blade plugs to 'shine-through'. The stainless steel plug details didn't heat stain as well as I'd hoped, likely because of the bronze content in the steel that Shapeways uses. These were heated until they were glowing red hot and I still ended up with more of a brown than the purples and blues I was hoping for. Maybe in the future I can have them chromed and try to get a better effect, in the meantime though I'm happy with the result.


    April 29th. Not much of an update but I added crumpled up cellophane to the inside of the blade plugs and was rewarded with a much more even and diffuse light coming through the plugs. This picture accurately represents how they look in real life.



    May 8th. The second of my Shapeways shipments came in, including the translucent main blade plug. Unfortunately I had measured the thread wrong on the original piece and they didn't fit. I solved this with a dremel and am reasonably satisfied with the result but I need to address this in the future, especially if I'm going to be offering this translucent replacement part.


    May 9th. The high-def acrylate 'clover' kill key was painted with the same flat black and copper paint was added to tie it in with the rest of the saber. Unfortunately this material is not very hard wearing so I had to machine off the shaft and replace it with a nylon kill key piece after a couple of days in order for it to actually shut off the saber.


    It's worth mentioning that at around this time I sped up the ageing of the copper by protecting the electronics and core details etc. with rubber gloves and tape and sealing the hilt in a plastic tub with some ammonia and letting the fumes do their thing. I even ended up with some tiny spots of verdigris, an unexpected but beautiful benefit :) Some can be seen in the bottom left of the above image.

    May 10th. This is the latest update, the translucent switch covers were cleaned up, polished, weathered and installed.


    Well, that brings me up to date, I'm currently doing some final tweaks/details and handling it often to improve the weathering and ageing of the copper before I take final pictures and do the video.

    Thanks for reading :D
  3. eethan

    eethan Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    oh wow, I'm usually not a fan of that lightsaber as I think it doesn't look realistic, but your result is amazing! it's good that you were persistent in your attempt, the result is worth it.
    congrats :thumbsup
  4. Clutch

    Clutch Master Member

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    That is bada##!
  5. tomleech

    tomleech Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks :D Yeah I didn't think much of the design when I first saw pictures of the stunt prop at Celebration but it's really grown on me and is now one of my favourite lightsaber designs. It's deceptively colourful too :)

    Thanks! I'm really pleased with how it's turning out :)
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  6. tomleech

    tomleech Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Not an update on the saber itself as such, but my plans for the unstable blades came to fruition :D I'm really happy with how they look and have made them available for others in my Etsy store :)

    The14thDr likes this.
  7. Anakin Starkiller

    Anakin Starkiller Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    So beautiful it makes me want to cry. This is probably the best finishing job I've ever seen
    tomleech likes this.
  8. Mr Mold Maker

    Mr Mold Maker Sr Member

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    That is an absolutely stunning finish.
  9. Shoggarth28

    Shoggarth28 New Member

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    Best job of a jylo v2 ive seen so far is. Did you copper plate it yourself or send it imof to a shop?

    Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk
  10. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Tom I read this whole thing... I am completely at a loss of words..

    This IS THE BEST paint job I have ever seen on a crossguard!!! No lie!!

    The copper plating! The chrome plating!!

    What I love about this build is, you had a bad experience twice and you didn’t give up!! You believe your technique would work and continued until you proved it!

    And that paid off big time!! That’s what I love about this the most is it’s REAL heat signature!!!

    No one that I have seen has done this before, your the first. And it came out freak’n awesome!!!

    This is now in my heart as one of my top 5 favorite build threads!!

    Absolutely out of this freak’n world man!!!

    Excellent job!! My hats off to you man!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  11. tomleech

    tomleech Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Very high praise indeed, thank you :D I hope I can do justice to your latest v2 as well!

    Thank you, there's areas I think I could improve a little but I'm happy with it :)

    Thanks :D I had it plated at a local shop, I think I might have got a discount as the guy was a Star Wars fan too :)

    Thank you so much! I really appreciate all the positive comments, I really tried to push the envelope on crossguard finishing with this one and do it in the way I thought it should be done regardless of logic, as real as possible :D

    The real challenge would be seeing if I can get the heat stain on a korbanth crossguard 2.0, I'm pretty confident the cast aluminum would melt before I can get anything to happen tho :S
    The14thDr, halliwax and Shoggarth28 like this.

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