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Rubie's Yet Again: Astyanax's E11 Conversion

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Hi gang:

 

As I continue to work on my Foamtrooper armor for kids, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to do some research and learn some skills while making the Rubie's E-11 prop blaster look nicer. I don't believe in making smaller blasters for kids; I think full-size or near full-size looks best anyway.

 

I also like the Rubie's blaster because it looks slightly more "cartoony", but without compromising the overall silhouette. Sure, the T-tracks are a little bubbly, but darn if it doesn't have a Hengstler counter and a mag receiver and magazine! And even a molded D-ring on the end. It's based on the "Rebels" TV show, and even the stormtroopers on this show have the more bubbly-looking tracks. Maybe we should call it the E-10, since it pre-dates ANH?  :D

 

So here's what you get when you buy it:

0blaster.jpg

It's a little expensive on Amazon, but hunting around on eBay should be fruitful.

 

I'm not going to go nuts doing every little detail, but I think I can do a few things to make it look much nicer and certainly at least good enough for kids. I need the painting practice. In fact yes, I do realize this is all "lipstick on a pig." But it's an exercise in learning some new techniques before I work on more worthy models, and it makes my kids happy. :) Plus, it's quite 501st approvable, at least at the first level.

 

By the way, first thing I did when I got this was paint it black so my kids could play with it. I would not do this next time.

 

In a few moments I'll catch up to where I am now...

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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0. TOOLS & MATERIALS

 

 

SPRAY PAINTS

 

So after much research, I landed on the following finishing paints:

 

0sprays.jpg

 

1. Flat Black Paint/Primer: This is my base coat. I needed somehting that would stick to plastic, and a flat back is a good base coat for other paints to stick to.

2. Satin Black Paint: This is the main base color for much of the blaster, mostly the Hengstler, magazine, trigger areas. It's also a base coat on which to add...

3. Hammered Metallic Black Paint: There is some controversy about this, but I've decided to go for 1-2 light coats on the base metal parts, such as the barrel and stock. I'll be masking to make this all happen.

 

In addition, I want to take a stab at weathering and details, so I'm using the following brush model paints:

 

1. Gloss Black: This is for the hand grip, which is made of plastic.

2. Silver: This is for weathering on the overall blaster.

3. Gold: This is for weathering the scope and scope mount. (I couldn't find bronze, but gold was close enough for this application.)

4. Gunmetal: This is for painting the exposed bolt on the side.

 

All of these are completely optional, of course. I want to challenge myself!

 

 

ADHESIVES

 

1. Superglue: It has helped hold a couple parts together in a pinch. I like the gel as opposed to the liquid, because it doesn't leak everywhere and bonds really quickly.

2. Bondo: This is for filling gaps and holes. I like the single part #907 in a tube: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002JM8PY

3. Silicone: I also needed a strong bonding agent that wasn't time sensitive, something I could "massage" a little before it sets. You can also use E6000 if you have it, as it's almost the same thing.

 

 

OTHER

 

I'm also using the following:

 

1. Sandpaper: 60/80 grit (for the top t-track and bondo), 100 grit (for the bondo), and 150 grit (for smoothing out Bondo'ed areas and for sanding off the Rubie's Logo).

2. Wax-based modeling clay (Sculpey): I bought a pound of it to fill the interior of the blaster. The gun is very lightweight, and I wanted to make it a bit heavier. :)

3. A Dremel: This thing is worth every penny. $40 gets you an awesome cordless kit: http://www.amazon.com/Dremel-7700-1-15-MultiPro-7-2-Volt/dp/B002BACCDA

4. A short piece of 3/4" PVC pipe: For the inner barrel!

5. Masking or painter's tape: I used frog tape, because it's thinner, leaves a sharper paint line, and removes less paint when you peel it off.

6. Black Sharpie and Silver Sharpie markers: Very optional, I did this to add some fake "3-D" definition to the exposed bolt on the right side.

7. Parchment paper: Yes, the cooking kind. Being silicone-infused, it really helps setting sticky painted objects onto parchment so that they can dry.

 

 

Okay, next comes everything I've done so far...

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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1. BARRELS

 

First and foremost, I took that 150-grit sandpaper and sanded off the Rubie's logo from the rear part of the barrel.

 

Then, upon close inspection, I could see that the Rubie's Rebels blaster has little indentations where the barrel holes should be. It occurred to me that I could drill those out on the one side and use a piece of PVC pipe as an inner barrel.

 

At this point I carefully removed the screws and separated the two halves. There are only holes on one side.

 

My Dremel came with a griding tip that fit the holes perfectly, so I went for it. It did melt the plastic as I went through, however the plastic solidifies instantly as little shards that you can break off. A very light touch with the round sanding tip to smooth it all out and I was good:

 

1holes.jpg

 

The barrel holes didn't line up with each other perfectly, but that was the nature of the blaster's manufacturing. They look good in the end!

 

Next, I had some 3/4" PVC pipe lying around, so I cut a 6" length to use as the inner barrel. Unfortunately, there's a screw in the way inside the blaster that prevents the barrel from fully covering the front hole, so out came the Dremel and I cut a notch in the end:

 

1ibarrel1.jpg

 

For more details about how I dremeled out the barrel holes and PVC pipe, check out this post.

 

After that, I painted it satin black and used silicone to attach it to the side with holes. I just laid a thin bead of silicone above them.

 

1ibarrel2.jpg

 

2ibarrel3.jpg

 

This picture doesn't do it justice; it actually came out quite nice! There's about 1/16" of separation between the two barrels.

 

I also drilled out the barrel opening using the dremel grinding stone, about 3/8" diameter:

 

1ibarrel4.jpg

 

Next up, weighting down the blaster!

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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2. WEIGHT

 

I know that real trooping doesn't really lend itself to heavy blasters, but this thing is crazy light. I wanted to add a little weight to it, so that at least when my son carries it around it looks like he's packing.

 

So I had this craft modeling clay lying around. It's Sculpey, wax-based, which means it should never dry out. That's a good thing, because you dont want a rocky gravelly sound in there when you shake it.

 

0clay.jpg

 

And here you can see that I filled both halves as much as was reasonable. I even jammed some clay into the interior of the inner barrel. A chopstick came in handy. :)

 

2clay.jpg

 

After that, I screwed the halves back together. It was a little effort, but I was able to secure the screws.

 

I only added one pound of clay, but now this thing seems REALLY HEAVY! Maybe too heavy. Consider that in your own builds.

 

In the next day or so, I will deal with holes and seams.

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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Heat? What kind of heat? If you're talking about the weather, I suppose it could be a concern if the blaster sits in the sun for a few hours, yes. Like in the trunk of my car. But honestly, I'm not sure. Most of my online research suggests the opposite could happen, that the sculpey clay would harden and try to bake in intense heat. But I don't really know for sure.

 

It might actually be worth an experiment. :-)

 

Guess I'd better seal up every seam as tightly as possible! Oh crap, the barrel will be open. :)

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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Hey guys, sorry it's taken me awhile to get back to this project; I took a little break. But back to business. :)

 

3. HOLE AND SEAM FILLING, SANDING, AND THE TOP T-TRACK

 

I laid a thick coating of the Bondo #907 all over all the seams between the two halves, between the seams on the magazine, and I filled all the screw holes (except for the two in the hand grip). I wore nitrile gloves while doing this. :)

 

It's a big sloppy mess:

 

3bondo1.jpg

 

3bondo2.jpg

 

3bondo3.jpg

 

Next, I spent SEVERAL DAYS with several grades of sandpaper, sanding down the Bondo back to the blaster's regular surfaces, and smoothing around all the holes. This was a lot of work, but with patience, it came out pretty nice.

 

3sanding1.jpg

 

3sanding2.jpg

 

3sanding3.jpg

 

 

I may not have finished with a fine enough grit sandpaper on some of the surfaces, but I don't think it matters because of the hammered metal finish we're going to end up with.

 

Finally, I wasn't going to, but I decided to take some sandpaper to that top t-track and flatten it out a bit.

 

I took 60 and 80 grit sandpaper with a sanding block, and went to town. It works, it's just a bit time consuming. When I ran out of pieces that could fit my sanding block, I put a piece of sandpaper upside down on a piece of 2x4 wood block, and ran the blaster upside down along the sandpaper. Turns out this was even more effective.

 

I did not go perfectly flat with my t-track, but stopped when I had gotten this far:

 

3track1.jpg

 

3track2.jpg

 

The top t-track then needed a little bondo and sanding, because sanding it down this much did open up a small two inch seam on top.

 

Next step tomorrow: finishing!

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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4. FINISHING (part 1)

 

First off, I sprayed four light coats (each side) of the flat paint/primer, each coat 10 minutes apart.

 

Next, I followed this with three light coats (each side) of the Satin black enamel, also 10 minutes apart.

 

You can see the results here:

 

4finish1.jpg

 

4finish2.jpg

 

4finish3.jpg

 

Turns out the Bondo helped with some of the seams more than others. I'm very happy with the front of the blaster, not so much with the back. All in all, it was a worthwhile exercise, and will help me with future builds. I think the lesson here is to try to remember to sand the seams BEFORE using the Bondo, because there can be as many raised seams as recessed ones.

 

After all that, the t-tracks, trigger guard, trigger, hengstler, and scope rail are the only parts that will keep the satin finish.

 

Tonight: after a little more dry time, I will mask off the areas around the grip and I will brush paint it with gloss black.

Edited by Astyanax
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5. FINISHING (part 2)

 

Last night I masked off the areas around the grip and brush painted a single coat of gloss black:

 

5grip1.jpg

 

5grip2.jpg

 

It's raining today, so the humidity is going to be far too high for me to be able to paint at all. Instead, I spent a couple hours focusing in on correctly masking this blaster for the hammered metal finish.

 

This involved covering the scope rail, hengstler, grip, trigger, trigger guard, bolt opening, and t-tracks in frog tape. Regular blue painter's tape will work just fine, but I like that the frog tape is thinner, making it easier to smash it into corners, and that it leaves a sharper paint line (although that might not be best for trying to transition finishes).

 

5mask1.jpg

 

5mask2.jpg

 

5mask3.jpg

 

I don't think the masking has to be perfect, as the hammered metal finish shouldn't look to much like a sharp line where it transitions to the satin finish. Especially since I'm only doing a couple light coats of the hammered metal.

 

The plastic knife, x-acto knife, and the back ends of the paint brushes are used for pushing the tape into hard to reach places or cutting off excess.

 

Tomorrow I hope I can spray the hammered metal finish.

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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I like your idea of using Bondo to hide the seams. The seams on the Rubie's blaster are an eyesore. I may have to do the same if I ever decide to go back and work on mine again.

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6. FINISHING (part 3)

 

Yesterday I was able to exploit a gap in the rain and a brief drop in humidity to spray the hammered finish. 

 

I sprayed two light coats on each side, 10 minutes apart, using a piece of parchment as a base so that one side would not overly stick to the ground while I sprayed the other side.

 

After about 20 minutes or so, I pulled off the tape (always do this before paint fully dries), and voila!

 

6hammer1.jpg

 

6hammer2.jpg

 

6hammer3.jpg

 

You can really see the difference in the finishes right at the bolt opening on the right side, where I masked it off.

 

6hammer4.jpg

 

It did not completely obscure all my seams, but it did come very close, to the point where no seam is noticeable at all unless you're looking for it.

 

I couldn't be happier about the paint job so far. The hammered metal effect is a really beautiful finish, and I can't recommend it enough for any blaster project. I'm definitely going to use it on my Disney conversion later (I'll add a link to my signature when I start it).

 

Tomorrow I hope to find some time to re-mask and paint the bolt opening in gunmetal. 

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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7. BOLT

 

I decided to devote a little bit extra effort on the exposed bolt on the right side, since people will be seeing that side much more than the magazine/hengstler side.

 

I started by masking off the exposed bolt area carefully (it was kind of tricky), and then brush painting it with Tamiya brand acrylic paint in gunmetal. By the way, gunmetal is a quite a bit darker than silver, not as bright as these photos show. In retrospect, I'm very glad I did the research and went with gunmetal over silver. It's far more believable.

 

7bolt1.jpg

 

It took 2 light coats, about 10 minutes apart. After another 10-15 minutes to dry, I peeled off the tape.

 

7bolt2.jpg

 

Not bad for starters. But I wanted to give the exposed bolt more definition, so I masked off the top and bottom of the bolt, exposing the "stripe" that goes down the middle, and then took a pencil eraser (fairly aggressively) to the exposed area. This had the effect of darkening the exposed area just a little, giving me a nice striped effect.

 

7bolt3.jpg

 

And the last part, AFTER REAPPLYING THE MASKING TAPE around the stripe (I never should have removed it in the first place), was to take a Black Sharpie marker and very carefully trace down the bottom edge of the stripe, and a Silver Sharpie marker and trace down the top edge. The tape has the effect of cutting my line in half and making it nice and sharp. Once I peeled off the tape, it looked like this:

 

7bolt4b.jpg

 

From a couple feet away, there's some nice shadowed and highlighted definition there.

 

7bolt5b.jpg

 

Mission accomplished! I am definitely using this technique on the Disney conversion later.

 

Next up, it's time to approach the dreaded weathering technique, something I've never done before. Maybe first I'll practice on my son's sprayed-black Rubie's DL-44 blaster. ;)

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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8. POWER CYLINDERS

 

So today I got distracted by Kawnr's very nice Rubie's blaster conversion, and decided I should really put some power cylinders on the magazine.

 

I had some craft foam on hand and some AAA batteries, and figured I would use these to make this happen in as simple a process as possible. After some trial and error, I cut a piece of thin (2mm) craft foam into the following shape:

 

8power1.jpg

 

After cutting the foam, I lightly scored it with my x-acto knife so it could be folded, and then hot glued the AAA batteries directly to the foam after inserting them through the holes.

 

8power2.jpg

 

Then, I sealed off the foam with a heat gun (this can also be done with a couple coats of white glue), and then sprayed the whole thing with two coats of the flat primer, followed by two coats of the black satin finish. I did also spray the underside with one coat of primer, just to make sure the whole thing would be black.

 

8power3.jpg

 

Once it had dried, I glued the whole assembly to the blaster using E6000. Silicone would also have worked just fine. I wanted to make sure there was a solid, lasting bond to the blaster, but also be allowed a few minutes to align it just right. E6000 was the best option.

 

8power4.jpg

 

8power5.jpg

 

At this point I don't think I will go with wires between the power cylinders and hengstler counter. I like the cleaner look.

 

The next step is definitely weathering! :)

 

Bill

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9. WEATHERING

 

This is my first time attempting weathering. It came out pretty good, but in truth, I think I overdid it just a little. Classic rookie mistake, from what I understand. It still looks quite nice, but I wish I had gone a little drier with the drybrushing, and stayed away from flat surfaces, sticking to the corners.

 

I wasn't able to find locally a small bottle of bronze color brush paint, so I went with gold for the scope. I think it works perfectly fine. For my next E-11 project, I'll hold out for the bronze.

 

9weather1.jpg

 

9weather2.jpg

 

9weather3.jpg

 

9weather4.jpg

 

9weather5.jpg

 

9weather6.jpg

 

9weather7.jpg

 

9weather8.jpg

 

I stayed away from the t-tracks and grip completely.

 

All in all, I'm pleased with the results; the blaster looks and feels ten times better than just slapping flat black on it. Especially from a few feet away, and especially considering that this is my take on an E-11 for kids. 

 

Two more small things to do in the next couple days, and then I'll call it done!

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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I like how your blaster turned out. I really like how you did the clearing strip on the inner bolt without having to add extra parts. I may end up using that idea someday when I go back to my Rubie's to make it look better.

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10. DECALS

 

As one does with any decent E-11 mod, one tries to come up with some decals to add to the whole experience.

 

10decals0a.jpg   10decals0b.jpg

 

(Those are the full-size JPEGs I made and printed.)

 

The scope reticle image comes from various online sources (I resisted the temptation of the Jar-Jar in crosshairs version). I attempted to whip out some meager Photoshop skills and include a little bit of the metallic ring around the edges, hoping, in the right light and at the right distance, to give the slight effect of depth in the design.

 

The counter decal is based on any other Hengstler counter with the typical "1138" conceit. But I went with Aurebesh numerals in red on black, in keeping with the more "Star Wars Rebels" aspect of this particular blaster, since the show uses Aurebesh numbers everywhere. Also, this once again being intended as a kids' blaster, I wanted to go a little more "science fiction-ish", rather than anything that might be construed as ANH screen accurate. Just having fun!

 

I didn't break out the laminator for these, because I wanted them to lay flat and be flexible for gluing flat. So, after printing them on photo quality stock, I used packing tape as "laminating" effect. The trick is to lay down a large piece of packing tape on the front and back of the printed decal BEFORE cutting it out. Once I had done that and very carefully cut them out, I had these two nice decals, just about the thickness and glossiness of a nice business card. The cutting of the counter was easy with a very sharp x-acto knife. The cutting of the scope decal was more difficult with scissors, but it didn't really have to be perfect. Put those reading glasses on! :)

 

10decals1.jpg

 

To glue them onto the blaster I used a VERY THIN coat of E6000. Silicone will work just fine as well. It's hard to choose an adhesive here because of the painted and plasticky surfaces, so a high strength slow-curing glue is in order.

 

Came out pretty well!

 

10decals2.jpg

 

10decals3.jpg

 

My next and final post is about child safety, since this is intended as a child's play weapon. First one to guess correctly gets a Mr. Miyagi-style nod of approval from me. :D

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax
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11. SAFETY CAP

 

Since this project was originally intended for kids, I wanted to have an easy way to add or remove an orange cap, in case taking the blaster out in the real world requires it. The cap had to fit snugly so that it doesn't fall off easily, but also  not damage the paint after repeated uses.

 

First step, I went around the house trying different caps and lids from different products. I landed on the perfect size with this room freshener:

 

11cap1.jpg

 

The cap fits ever so slightly loosely, so it will easily fall off. But my strategy was to line the inside of the cap with something soft, thus making it a tighter fit. Silicone!

 

Before applying any silicone or paint, the cap need a good sanding, inside and out. This is VERY important, or else the silicone and paint will not adhere to the cap's smooth finish. I used 80-grit sandpaper very aggressively.

 

Then, nitrile using gloves, I applied a thin layer of silicone to the inside of the cap and let it dry overnight.

 

11cap2.jpg

 

After this, I found some orange-ish acrylic paint lying around the house and brush painted about 4 coats on the outside. Spray works fine too, but why pay a few extra bucks for such a quick paint job?

 

11cap3.jpg

 

I went with orange, not fluorescent orange. The cap is supposed to disrupt the "dangerous" look of the blaster, not draw lots of attention. :)

 

The silicone worked perfectly. The cap goes on really tightly, but the silicone's soft surface protects the paint.

 

11cap4.jpg

 

Done! I fully believe this is approvable for basic admission to the 501st.

 

Now I think I've learned enough to take some of these skills and modify the new Disney blaster with a DoopyDoos Hasbro kit. I'll post a link to that project in my signature when I'm ready to post something.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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