Rocketeer Rocket Pack - Comics Version

TimeyWimey

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I have another thread on here for my movie rocket pack, but I realized there was no way I'd get it even close to done for AwesomeCon DC this year - however, I had been intending on making the comics version anyway, and since that design is more fanciful and less technical, it seemed like something I could pull off. So about April 20th, I started to build it...

Here's what we're shooting for:

 

TimeyWimey

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RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I had to figure out how to approach building the body of the thing - I couldn't find any pipe quickly and cheaply that was the right size, and I'd still have to come up with the nosecone shape anyway, so I decided to sculpt the whole thing. I was making this up as I went along - at this point I wasn't sure if I was going to sculpt it as a solid object and make a cast of it, or if I was going to build it as the actual item. Either way, I began with a stack of styrofoam pieces:



I added a couple of layers of foam to create the scalloped raised part at the bottom, and then covered the whole thing in foil, so whatever I put on top wouldn't melt the styrofoam:



Then I proceeded to cover the thing in Bondo:



And ended up with a rough shape of the pack:



I finally decided I was going to make this be the final piece, so I cut a hole in the back (having realized I'd need to add a flat part to mount the pack to the harness anyway) and removed the styrofoam from inside, carving it out with a spoon (I tried melting it with acetone, which was kind of awesome, but made a sticky mess, so I only did that for a little bit of it). I ended up with a hollow Bondo shell:



More soon...
 

nick daring

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Cool project!

I would have done all my sanding before taking out all the foam. That way if you bust through, you have a platform to build off of.

Also makes the whole thing more robust while doing all that rough sanding and shaping.

Can't wait to see this thing come together.
 

TimeyWimey

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RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I would have done all my sanding before taking out all the foam... makes the whole thing more robust while doing all that rough sanding and shaping..
IndeedI I actually removed the foam because I decided to fiberglas the inside of it, because Bondo is kind of brittle, and I didn't trust the thing to survive without some kind of reinforcement.
 

TimeyWimey

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RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Here's the inside of the Bondo shell, with bits of foil clinging to the plastic. I was never able to peel every little bit out of there.



Then I applied a couple of layers of fiberglass all over the inside of the shell.



I built up the top of the nose with Bondo, so I could sculpt a point.



I managed to sculpt a reasonably uniform point on the nose with lots of filing and sanding:



I filed the hole in the bottom to a precise size to fit a piece of pipe to use as a socket for the rocket motor:



Then I affixed the pipe in the hole with more fiberglas:



After it was set up, I filed the bottom nice and flat and smooth (this is the only action shot you're going to get):

 

TimeyWimey

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RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I took a break from working on the body to build the rocket motor.

I started off with a PVC pipe fitting (The smaller fitting is what I used for the bezel for the red "jewel", later in the process.):



I actually used a cut-off piece of another of the same fitting, to make the socket I previously installed.

Next, using a cut-off piece of PVC from the other rocket pack project, I cut 16 strips of PVC:



And proceeded to glue them at regular intervals around the motor:



All glued on:



After smoothing the ends of the ribs, I painted the unit gunmetal-gray and used rub and buff to highlight some of the edges. I drilled three holes near the top end to use to secure the motor into its socket.



Next, I turned my attention back to the rocket itself. I had realized I needed a flat mounting surface on the back of the rocket, so I built a wooden "boat" shaped piece (so it would look aerodynamic) and started cutting out a corresponding hole in the back of the rocket:



I glued the "boat" in place, and reinforced it inside with fiberglas:



Finally, I coated it with Bondo so I'd have a uniform surface all over:



Next up: Final Shaping and smoothing.
 

TimeyWimey

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RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
After much filing and sanding, the shape is approaching its final form:



Wrapping a piece of sandpaper around the front, I used that to shape the proper curve on the back of the piece that will serve as the bezel for the "jewel":



Then, after using the bezel to mark the shape, I cut out the mounting hole:



Next up, spot putty in the small defects, more Bondo in the large ones:



After sanding it all smooth, the first coat of primer goes on:



Then more spot putty and sanding:



After another coat of primer and some light sanding, on goes the first color coat:



After a couple of coats of purple, I masked off the parts that should remain purple, and sprayed chrome silver on the rocket body:



Unfortunately, some of the paint came up from the masking tape, requiring some repairs:



After all the painting was done, the whole thing got a couple of coats of clear lacquer. If I had enough time, I'd have made another pass on filling tiny imperfections before painting, and would have put several coats of lacquer on at the end so I could polish it to a really high gloss. I can always go back and do that at a later time. As it is, it looks really good unless you get super-close to it:

 

TimeyWimey

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RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Time to build the "jewel".

I painted the bezel with gold paint, and polished it up with golf leaf Run n' Buff (upper left). I built a plastic "cup" (upper right) to act as the body of the jewel. After taking this photo, I painted the inside of it black. I took a half of a clear plastic xmas ornament (lower right) and cut it down to the right size for the lens, and painted the back of the lens with clear red paint (lower left).



I stuck the lens on top of the cup with black Sugru silicone putty, and used the same stuff to affix the bezel to the top, and to mount the finished part into the hole on the front of the rocket pack:



Next, I secured the rocket motor in place with its three screws:



Next, I fashioned a rear fin out of plywood, primed, sanded, and painted just like the rocket body, and affixed it to the front of the rocket with three small screws from the inside:



I didn't take any in-progress photos, but I next made the two side fins and a mounting plate for them, all from plywood, and after finishing and painting, mounted them to the rear of the rocket with small brass screws:



Now it's all done except for the harness!

I cut out a mounting board from plywood, and covered it with brown vinyl. I attached it to the back of the rocket with three large screws, wing nuts, and nylon spacers to leave some room between the rocket and the board. Using three leather belt blanks which I dyed with brown leather dye, I made the shoulder and belt straps, attaching them to the backing board with large screws, washers, and cap nuts:



The straps still need a little bit of refining, and I'll be making a pad to go on the board so it's comfortable to sit against my back, but the apart from that, the pack is essentially finished after about 5 weeks:

 

TimeyWimey

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RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Even though it's not quite finished, I couldn't resist modeling it. This Rocketeer finally has a rocket pack!





One missing bit that I won't get to before AwesomeCon DC this weekend is the gold arrow details that go on the sides of the rocket. I'll have to add those later.
 

LTsmash1200

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Looks good! My friend is going to be at Awesomecon all weekend, I'll have to tell him to keep an eye out for you.
 

nick daring

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
That looks fantastic!!

Can't wait to see the final arrow details. Great Art Deco touch to the comic design.
 

TimeyWimey

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RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
If I'd had more time, I'd have built the body of the rocket as a master to pull a mold from, and then slush-cast it in urethane just like the helmet. It would definitely be lighter, and possibly less prone to damage. I could still disassemble the thing later and make a cast.

I'd like to revisit the fins later and get a better finish on them (you can make out some wood grain if you get just the right light on them) and maybe even cast them in plastic. It would be nice to have spares. I'm terrified I'll run that back fin into something this weekend and break it.

If I cast the pack, I'll fix all the tiny surface defects while I'm at it, and try to get a really nice show-car finish on it.

For now, however, I'm not going to let this perfectionist tendency ruin my enthusiasm for having finished this version of the pack. :)
 

TheSt.LouisKid

Sr Member
Very good!
Glad to see someone doing their own thing instead of having to rely on "made" parts.
Hope this inspires more people to do their own work when they take on a project.
 

Krel

Sr Member
Back when "The Rocketeer" came out, Disney/MGM used to have a two story building that displayed props and models. At the time they had Rocketeer props on display, some of which were rocket pack prototypes of differing designs, one was the comic version. Seeing it full-size, in 3d, you can see why they changed the design for the movie. As I recall, the color scheme for the prototype was silver, and grey. I like your colors better.

David.
 

hokie1

Active Member
Looks great and even better in person. Glad I got to see it today at Awesome-Con and great to meet another RPFer!! We were behind you and I said to my friend "I recognize that rocket pack!!"

Hilary
 

TimeyWimey

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RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I entered the costume contest but didn't win anything. But it was great just to be in the company of so many amazing cosplayers!
 
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