Once again, the purpose of this series has been to demonstrate some individual, self-contained elements of a build that translate well to other builds and materials that elevate a build beyond simple assembly and paint.
This time, it’s mag catches:
Even shorter again, clocking in at under 15 minutes!
It would indeed have been up by February as promised last time, but some people decided they wanted to pay me to do stuff, so it’s late. Understandable, right?!
The scope, safety selector and paint are being axed. The scope because the LED system in there isn’t sufficiently different to the ammo counter to warrant a video, the safety selector because they ended up being less functional than I’d like and the NN-14 has a much better version so demonstrate when I get that far, and the paint because honestly, the surface prep is 95% the same as for moulding, and the actual paint schemes themselves are pretty obvious in their execution (just slow and tedious!).
Onwards unto better videos on newer, better projects!
Because, apparently, I’m incapable of being reasonable, I decided for my second trick I’d do the LPA NN-14 that Han gives Rey on Takodana in The Force Awakens. Not in foam or resin, but in metal.
It caught my eye, because despite being objectively fairly unbalanced, lumpy and ugly, it has some individually beautiful design elements, as well generally appearing to be an homage to Original Trilogy lightsabers. It looks to be the only blaster we’ve seen so far manufactured by LPA, which makes sense because it’s heavily divergent from the general design lines common to most of the blasters we see in either Old Republic/Pre-Empire or Empire/First Order settings.
On top of this, it’s relatively simple to machine manually due to its mostly 30’s machine-age aesthetic. This is very appealing to a guy who hasn’t yet built any CNC technology! Similarly important for me right now is that every part of it fits into a 4″ square, which is all the space that my lathe milling attachment gives me- and even then, the extremes are iffy because the dovetail ways and gib on the thing don’t have a lot of grip on each other and can rack under pressure from the cutter. Sometimes it’s better to flip parts around near the end of its travel.
This isn’t going to be a completely exhaustive build log by any means; that’ll come if I can find the time when I build version 2, hopefully later this year. But I will touch on the highlights, with plenty of pics to break it up. Don’t be fooled, this is still a seriously substantial write-up, should probably grab a beverage of some sort… But there’s a lot more to it than this. Ok, let’s get started.
So I don’t know how well it may have come across on video, I generally tried to frame somewhat carefully, but the shop as it existed from around the middle of 2015 onwards was a nightmare. Stuff- tools, materials, trash…- strewn across every available flat surface, including the floor, piled up against benches and walls, some bench tools on the floor… Working in it was like playing Jenga in a hurricane.
So, this summer I made good on my threats to actually do something about it, and put a good couple weeks’ of effort into really turning the space into something useable. It’s a huge amount of work, and really has to be broken down into two phases, but the first phase (create more workspace, clear most of the floor, give all the tools a permanent home) is now more or less complete.
I did what was supposed to be a quick video giving something vaguely resembling a tour:
The idea of this series is to focus on a handful of specific, fairly self-contained parts of the build that can easily transfer to other prop builds, kit assemblies, whatever. To look at some of the more “functional” aspects of a prop build that can be used to improve a project beyond good assembly and paint. Check it out:
This one even manages to be about 35% shorter than my usual running time! 😀
One idea I also had was to make an L-shaped slot so that the handle has a point to catch for an empty/missing magazine, and then could be flipped forward after “reloading”. Since the BR85 seems to have a closed-bolt firing position or a floating bolt assembly- it gets fully racked back-and-forth after replacing the mag in the game- this wasn’t really relevant to this build, but there may be some other weapons (particularly pistol slides) that operate that way in-universe.
For a pistol, you’d need a separate lever that could flip the lever (connected to the slide) back up into the main guideway. Alternatively, a spring-loaded crossbow-style wedge, that allows you to rack the slide back, and then pops up into the main cylinder in front of the returning piston head. The wedge itself would be directly connected to the release lever that would allow you to depress it back out of the cylinder. May be easier that way, since you wouldn’t need to allow a floating, rotating bolt to connect to a linear slide. Anyway, random ideas aside…
which set me to wondering. Not so much about cat condos, as entertaining (and potentially yet slightly disappointingly profitable!) a concept as that may be. But it is distinctly noticeable that the world of propmaking, just like the world of “professional photography” that I also have a foot in, has been becoming increasingly crowded.
I think the reasons for these two “bubbles” is both the same and entirely different. Photography has boomed primarily thanks to the democratisation of the hardware. You can pick up a camera that’ll happily compete with the big boys for $500 used (or new, in some cases) and Chinese OEMs have flooded the accessory market with affordable gear- I have three Yongnuo speedlights myself as well as my American-made StudioMax and Einstein strobes. Having the gear is one thing, but it’s the education and sharing that has really accelerated the trend. Continue reading The Value Proposition of Craftsmanship→
Day 6 was a little all over the place while I waited for different sections to dry or cure, but I seemed to get a fair amount done. The grip and receiver section got all the love, and now are getting pretty close to complete and ready for a first priming.
First, I got the new files out and set to smoothing/sharpening up the magazine bevels.
Building basically done. Filling and fitting today! First up, Dremelling down the parts of the forward scales enclosing the mag well. While the front core is supposed to be 1″ wide uniformly, the table saw made a diagonal cut for some reason on that one piece, so that the bottom part ends up closer to 3/4″ wide. The mag well is 1″ wide, so it pops the slotted scales up when inserted into the front end.
Where I smoothed the receiver scales into the mag well, it took down the mag well’s thickness a little towards the front, so there wasn’t too much to remove. It just needed maybe 1/32″ or less off the inside of each scale.