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THE Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing


WraithVerge
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BTW, thanks rawhide! This helps out the rest of TFans, and helps me because i didn't have this stored on disk!

No problem. Had it fortunately still on the computer at work so it was very easy to post it.

 

Was glad to help, because I missed the idiots guide. Look forward to future tips.

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Cool!

 

Okay, I think it's high time for a new installment.....

 

 

The Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing: Part 4- revenge of the sith-er, I mean, direct scratchbuilding. (heh, heh. freudian slip there....)

 

 

Seriously, though, there will be times in kitbashing where there's no appropriate robot or vehicle to work from, nobody's done it before, and you're out in the cold by yourself trying to figure out exactly how the hell you're supposed to make the required parts, or the whole damned thing. You don't have Takara's tools, time, supplies, and most importantly, budget. plus, you're not a mechanical engineer.

 

So how do you do it?

 

First off, the best way to solve a problem is to state exactly what the problem is. Most people get confused in scratchbuilding because they have no idea WHAT they need to build. Example: Devastator has a plate connecting his legs to his body. You want him articulated, but there's no appropriate robot to take the atriculation from. How do you do it?

 

Answer: build a waist unit that retains the connectors for the legs and body, and incorporates a set of poseable thighs.

 

That answer seems a little obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people freeze when presented with similar challenges. Trying to determine exactly what you need is going to be the first major step in scratchbuilding. But that's only one part of the battle...

 

Next, you have to determine HOW you're going to build it. Returning to Devastator ( I know someone already did a refit for his legs, so we're going to use an example from my masterpiece Devastator project):

 

Problem:The requirement for Devastator is that he have as few removeable gestalt components as possible. (head, chest shield, thighs and lower arms don't come off for transform back into component constructicons.) Devastator's head has to fold up into Hook's chest, but the chest of the robot you have is solid. Plus, if you cut into it, it will lose all structural integrity and fall apart the moment you transform it. The sides won't hold up, and the arm-slide mechanism for Hook takes up the space where devastator's head would be stored. How do you go about building it?

 

Answer: remove the entire torso, and then cut what's needed from it, retaining as much of the original superstructure as you can. Use ABS plastic and Devcon Plastic Bonder to reinforce the torso, rebuilding the sides if necessary. Since Devastator's head slants forwards at the top, and Hook's arm-slide mechanism is placed fairly close to the top of his torso, and Devastator's head has to be back a little in order to be positioned as close to center on his shoulders as possible, You should be able to just clear the arm-sliders with the head in place. You may also want to consider the possibility of perhaps making the arms part of Devastator's head. in any event, the swivel for his head should allow it to clear the shoulders adequately.

 

Now for the most terrifying thing imaginable; scratchbuilding the WHOLE DAMN THING. This one can petrify most people into submission. You see, most folks see the whole project at once, and this is what scares them; the entire rtinue of moving parts confuses them, and what pepole don't understand frightens them. But the truth be told, it's far easier than you think...

 

Consider plastic model kits. The instructions for them break down complicated assemblies into smaller, simpler, easier to understand ones. If you disassemble a transformer, you'll see that even the most complicated transform mechanism is made up of smaller, simpler units. As Henry David Thoreau said; "Simplify, simplify, simplify."

 

The trick is: break the assembly down into smaller, simpler units. Define what you need to build, and write out exactly how you plan on doing it. All you have to do then is follow your plan.(Most likely, it won't go EXACTLY as you envision it, but having a plan is essential nonetheless.)Then, assemble the components into their larger superstructures, allowing for any adjustments to make them fit. You'll find that once you do this, things will go a lot easier for you.

 

The last piece of advice I can give you on this is; Don't get discouraged if something doesn't work out quite the way you envision it. More often than not, the things we build are not always going to be as we envision them. And it's not because we're all a bunch of dumbasses; it's because as human beings, we can't see all the pontnential flaws, parts conflicts, and difficulties all at once like a computer can. we're analytical beings, but we're not designed to be SuperComputers that can perform the functions of CADCAM, AUTOCAD and CNC machining.

 

In short, allow yourself to make mistakes. It's how we LEARN. And that doesn't make you a DUMBASS: it's what makes you HUMAN. :)

 

Well, that's all I can think of for this installment. As always, if anyone has their own entries to post here, please feel more than welcome to do so. And I'll also answer as best I can any questions regarding kitbashing or scratchbuilding, or someone else here can as well if I'm, not around.

 

So, until next time, Good luck with your projects, and may Primus smile upon all our efforts! (Hey, it sound better that "may the Force be with you!" Plus, I won't get sued by George Lucas! :D)

Edited by WraithVerge
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I doubt G.L. even has any interest in our web site but that did sound more TF lore than the other one any way. I can say from expeirience that you are right the first time I went to put the arms on my Rodimus it was a dissaster they were way too low in bot mode and didn`t fit in truck mode they kind of stuck out to the sides. So I went back to the drawing board so to speak I kind of rethought it in my head then looked at him from every angle to see if it would work using the arms from Sideswipe and conecting them where the old hole for the car body screw was on Smokescreen and it did. Then I asked V.P. for advise on the wheels you know how to remove and replace them got his advise used it and bam every thing fit. Unfortunately after buying my Alt. Jazz and paying bills I didn`t have enough for the hinges I need for the cap but there`s always next week. :tfgrin :tflaugh

Here is what I mean.

post-39-1102137443.jpg

Edited by Rodimus VTS
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Hey, I was wondering if you could help me out with something.

 

I have an idea for a Soundwave made from a portable CD player. I have most of his trasnformation worked out in my head and the parts I'm going to use, including having the circular piece that holds the CD were his abs are. What I wanted to include in that was a CD that transforms into Lazerbeak.

 

For Soundwave, I don't see any problems. I'll just cut up a CD player, use the appropriate parts from other transformers, do some gluing, some painting, and he's done. But with Lazerbeak, I'm going to have to build the whole thing from scratch, down to cutting out the pieces I'll need. See, I plan on layering him with three sheets, one with the joints, and the other two sandwiching the joint sheet. I already have Lazerbeak's transformation worked out, but no clue how to go about it.

 

See, I don't know how to go about making the joints. They're all hinge joints, and I don't know how to make that on my own. Worse, they have to be thin, since I'm going for accuracy where size is concerned(can't have the CD too thick). Have you got any ideas, or tips, suggestions, or anything else you could offer me?

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I can help on this. No problem:

 

you idea of making laserbeak into a cd is rather interesting and innovative. i suggest that since the construction is going to be three layers, and that it will have some thickness to it, use pop-rivets for the joints. They come in differents lengths, and i would suggest getting the shortest length they have.

 

If pop rivets aren't an option for you, i can also suggest that you try a 'slip-pin' assembly. This involves drilling a hole in the piece you wish to fit, then gluing a pin into the other piece ajacent to it, and slipping the two together. It's kind of like the way gundam model joints are done; post-in-hole construction. Pressure would keep the assembly together, but it could slip apart for painting and other stuff.

 

i'll leave you to decide which assembly would work the best for you. if anyone else has any ideas for optimus 3000, by all means post them!!

Edited by WraithVerge
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I doubt G.L. even has any interest in our web site but that did sound more TF lore than the other one any way. I can say from expeirience that you are right the first time I went to put the arms on my Rodimus it was a dissaster they were way too low in bot mode and didn`t fit in truck mode they kind of stuck out to the sides. So I went back to the drawing board so to speak I kind of rethought it in my head then looked at him from every angle to see if it would work using the arms from Sideswipe and conecting them where the old hole for the car body screw was on Smokescreen and it did. Then I asked V.P. for advise on the wheels you know how to remove and replace them got his advise used it and bam every thing fit. Unfortunately after buying my Alt. Jazz and paying bills I didn`t have enough for the hinges I need for the cap but there`s always next week. :tfgrin :tflaugh

Here is what I mean.

Have you considered trying to manufacture the hinges yourself? All a hinge consists of is a rod that is placed inside a tube that is created from parts contributed by both parts to be joined. Take a look at a door hinge and you'll see what i mean. To make a hinge for you project, get a length of metal rod from a wire coathanger, and the tube you can get really cheap from a hobby shop. (Plastruct section) cut the tuibe into an even numbered amount of smaller parts, then line them up along the hinge line using the rod as a guide. Then glue the parts into place. repeat this for the other side, then when both sides are ste, slip the rod in to join them, and trim the excess rod off. (Note; make sure that you leave enough space between the tube parts for their corresponding 'neighbors' to fit in.0

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I would definitely use it then. But before you take him apart, i would wash optimal optimus in dish detergent and water first, to remove the mold release. in the case of knock-offs, this is especially important, since they tend to use a lot more mold release than has/tak.

 

Also, you may wish to consider using krylon Fusion spray paint, since it bonds to the plastic and is highly resistant to chipping. In fact, this is a great lead in to my next installment.....

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Okay, time for...um...part 4.5! yup...that works...

 

The Idiot's Guide to Kitbashing part 4.5: Fusion spray paint.

 

Since the guide was started (and then restarted), I've finally had the unique opportunuty to finally use krylon's fusion spray paint, particularly on my silverstreak/prowl conversion. what I found out during the process was quite, um, interesting. That's

 

 

First off, they recommend that you wipe any new unpainted surface with paint thinner. One word: DON'T!!! paint thinner eats plastic, particularly styrene (model plastic). The chemical in Fusion that makes it fuse to plastic is xylene ( pronounced " Zigh-Leen"), which is also the principal solvent in model cement. While this makes for a pretty durable paint, it also means that you should be careful about letting drips or runs happen on your stuff, especially if you're using model parts in it.

 

Secondly, if you try using it like regular spray paint, small spots are going to form on the surface of the plastic. This is where the paint pulls away from certain areas. That is why it's doubly important that the project you're working on is clean of ANYTHING that could screw-up paint adhesion. Also, the key word here is LAYERS. Spray misty coats on, letting the color "build', rather than trying to get it all in one shot. Krylon recommends about 30 seconds between layer; from my experience, I would give it at least a couple of minutes between coats. And it also bears mentioning that krylon recommends that after 24 hours, you wait a week before recoating. I would agree with that, since anything earlier risks the paint lifting from the model.

 

Finally, make sure that any clear plastic pieces on the model are either removed or masked THOROUGHLY. ( I learned this one the hard way!) Krylon Fusion is an absolute Starscream to get off of clear plastic. I spent 3 hours polishing Prowl's windshield with toothpaste before I got it back to "clear' again!

 

All in all, I found that once you get used to the way Fusion works, it's actually a pretty durable and long-lasting coating for your models and conversions. But keep in mind: be CAREFUL with the stuff.

 

Okay, that should just about cover my take on Fusion. But I invite any other kitbashers out there to post their recommendations and/or experiences with fusion here, as mine are somewhat limited. Until next time, good luck to everyone's projects, and if you need advice or have a suggestion, please feel free to post! See ya!

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Concerning DLP's project:

 

First off: sculpey is too brittle for holding any sort of joint. It's not intended for structural support. most modelers use heavy wire, like coat hanger wire, for the supporting skeleton. i would advise you use a combination of coathanger wire, and Devcon Plastic bonder. Plastic bonder is more than capable of holding up to joint stresses (i've used it for that in custom projects before), and is compatible with metal.

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