Carol’s Garden

Carol loves her garden. Every year it seems we discover something new left by the past.

The first year we were here we thought we would have to plant Irises in the back garden. They magically appeared anyway in the spring.

Then we discovered white Hydrangeas in the back. The builder planted several types of Hydrangea on the front, but the back ones were leftovers from the past.

Tulips. Day Lilies. Miraculously I saw American Sweet Pea flowers that are as delicate and beautiful as Orchids.

We planted a Japanese Red Princess Maple. We planted Cherry bushes. A Lilac. Last year we planted two types of Ginkgo tree. We put in a vegetable garden in a risen wooden bed. We put in Dusty Roses and tall Blueberry bushes. This year, a trio of white Birch. The kind we know and love from Newfoundland.

And a very kind neighbor gave us a piece of heavy slate, 22″ x 12″, which we thought we would use as a door step of some kind. Instead I used it behind the Roses to hide a bit of a blemish in the concrete wall of our neighbor.

But that slate got me thinking.

So I decided to surprise Carol with a cool thing. But I couldn’t keep it secret. And I wanted her opinion on it. So I told her. I’m going to make a stencil, stick it to the slate, spray paint letters and a graphic, and then use my Dremel to grind into the letters to form a relief slate stone to mark her garden.

So I thought I would document the progress here.

First, I took some photos of her favorite Hydrangeas.

I used Inkscape, a cool vector art program to sketch out some Hydrange flowers.

Then I put her name in Garamond Bold, on curves around them.

The plan is to use my Cricut to cut the above graphic as a paint stencil, lay it down onto the slate and spray-paint the slate, which will give me black lettering. Then I will use grinding wheels to cut into the slate and make a relief of this image.

The plan is to add my own stems (the stencil wasn’t necessary for that) and those little bulbs that fill in the spaces around the Hydrangea flowers, by hand, with the Dremel.

This is partly what the finished idea should look like, using Photoshop Emboss tools. It’s not complete of course, as the aforementioned stems and bulbs aren’t shown here.


I will keep you all posted as I progress.

Soooo, I haven’t updated my blog in many months, and today I’m sitting here with some time on my hands, and earlier in the week I decided to go through my Dropbox Camera Uploads and separate out my photos by year so I could be better organized.

Going through them I realized how much I had done this past year, and figured it’s time to update some things. So blog posts incoming! Be warned.

Starting with this overdue update on Carol’s Garden slate stone progress.

It’s done. It’s out in the garden now. Here are some pics of the work in progress:

First etching after spray-painting the stencil in light black to get the outlines: Some of the darker black are actually spots of water from spray-washing it, that have not yet dried. The darker gray is spray paint.

Then filling out the first name: It looks very white here because the dust is still there.

Main design nearing completion:

Here it is, probably almost finished. You can see some of the black spraypaint where my stencil was not stuck down firmly enough, but I believe that will fade with time.

CSS HADFIELD – Canadian Space Station Hadfield Model

In the 1958 the Space Race was heating up. Model kits reflected this optimism and The Lindberg Line introduced the U.S. Space Station model kit.

The standard inflated-tire design was evident here, which showed itself in a lot of space station concept ideas. This could even be seen in a dual form in “2001: A Space Odyssey”, the 1968 Kubrick film.

I coveted this kit as a kid, but never got it. I managed to get a few other rocket model kits from the same line but never this space station.

Until recently when Lindberg released a dual reproduction kit of the Space Base (now called) and the Explorer Rocket. I snapped it up, and it sat on my shelf unbuilt for a few years.

I just recently finished it. Here it is, painted to my ability, which is … not terrible, but hardly expert.

The decals that were supposed to go on were on this sheet (though this sheet has decals for both the station and the rocket models.)

When I saw the American flag, which is for the Explorer Rocket, I thought: “Hey, why not make this a Canadian Space Station?” After all, Canada is deeply involved in the space program, and recently I recall Col. Chris Hadfield’s real stay on the International Space Station beginning with his launch on Dec 19, 2012. Memorably, he played “A Space Oddity” by Bowie for a YouTube video while up there.

So I thought I would commemorate this achievement by Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield by naming this station the Canadian Space Station Hadfield, with serial number CSS 12192012, the date Col. Hadfield launched towards the International Space Station. (Stupidly, I used the Empirical date notation of month, day, year, rather than the Canadian SI standard of day, month, year, but oh well…)

And you will note, the Hadfield Shuttle 1 and 2 are also labeled now.

This now proudly hangs upside down on a string in my 3D printing room, above my desk alongside a four-foot-long Discovery from 2001.

Huxter Industries – Cotswold Collectibles and RACCS

RACCS – Ready Attachable Configurable Component System

Greg Brown and I usually communicate by text message. One day he texted me and said he had had this idea for something along the lines of the vintage GI Joe Trouble Shooter. Only this would be a flat platform that covered the cargo bay of the vintage Adventure Team Vehicle, or Trouble Shooter. Something like my Helijet rack but more versatile, more flexible.


He said he envisioned something like the Trouble Shooter radio/radar pack which was this massive wonderful toy that slotted into the slots of the ATV. Only this would be modular, and allow various equipment modules to be snapped to the rack.

Immediately images came to mind. I sketched up something that spanned the cargo bay’s top area, and snapped in using the holes in the ATV.


But it had to be able to have multiple various modules connected to it. So I skteched up a grid design figuring I’d connect modules using square pegs. Modules could be slotted onto the platform, as many as would fit, completely configurable by the user.

Greg looked at the sketch I sent and declared I was reading his mind. (He has said this on more than one occasion as he pitched design ideas my way.)

I test-printed a version of the platform (which we still had not named) and it slotted nicely to the ATV.


Then Greg asked if it could tilt up like a car trunk. Immediately I started sketching an idea for a hinge that would fit between the ATV and the platform seamlessly. It just might work!


Here’s where the rapid prototyping made possible by 3D printing comes in very handy – when I slotted the hinges to the ATV and then the platform to the hinges, any forward movement of the platform would cause it or the hinges to slip forward.

I was flumoxed. How was I going to prevent this kind of slippage.

Well, thought I. What if I rotated the slots on one part of the hinges sideways? That way the platform would not be able to be pushed forward on the hinges. And the hinges themselves fitted pretty tightly to the ATV.

The result was that you had to snap the hinges onto the platform by rotating them a bit, but once locked on, and the hinges attached to an ATV, that platform wasn’t slipping anywhere!

And so the platform was nearly perfected.


But I had a problem: my printer has a build volume of about 13.5cm x 13.5cm x 13.5cm. A 5 inch cube. The ATV’s cargo hold is wider than that. The platform would have to be printed in two pieces.

Immediately my symmetry-loving brain saw a way to make this platform work with two identical halves which snapped together. I was incredibly excited!

So I created a tab and slot for the platform which allowed for two identical parts to fit together perfectly, and still slot onto the ATV like normal.

Huge win!

Greg coined the term RACCS which is an acronym for “Ready Attachable Configurable Component System”.

This whole design process was going down around the release of the GI Joe Collector Club’s new freebie figure, a modern retake on Mike Power, Atomic Man. A new head sculpt on a vintage body with one arm and both legs made of clear plastic.

It also coincided with the re-emphasis of Cotswold’s own Cybernetic Explorers, figures made on repro vintage bodies, with various combinations of arms and legs molded in clear, which was getting some attention, and had its own outfit sets already developed.

This was a very popular figure, and club members couldn’t wait to get their hands on the new Mike Power.

The vintage Mike Power came with a two piece copter blade set that Mike held in his Kung Fu Grip, and a small wheel on his forearm let kids rotate that hand easily, so Mike Power could simply spin his hand and be a helicopter.


Greg noted that many collectors had these, and many would love to have them stored in a module made by me for this new platform design. So I created a two piece module pair that connected to the RACCS and the Atomic Man’s blade could fit snugly in place, carried by an ATV.



I also created a blueprint/instruction sheet for the RACCS platform, with reference to the blade holding module.


And so RACCS was introduced in the sixth catalog in 2016:





By the time RACCS was announced in the catalog, Greg and I had already brainstormed a bunch of modular units that would fit on the platform, so you could configure your own adventure.

The next one up was to be a Mobile Charging Unit so Mike Power or the Cybernetic Explorers could charge their bionics while on a mission.

I started sketching.


First thing I came up with was a box with ridges which would resemble heat sink blades to cool the atomic charging unit. Greg wanted a removable box the Explorer could take with him in case he needed an emergency charge, a box with a handle and its own charging coupler.

No problem. You can see the genesis of the idea in that sketch.


Which then got updated until I drew this:


I ended up with a charging box which looked a bit like some of the parts of the original Trouble Shooter, which was no bad thing.


Even the nub I created for the cuff to store on resembled the Trouble Shooter module.

Then I modeled up and printed up a prototype.


mcu-02 mcu-04 mcu-03 mcu-05

I found some red paracord to act as the main cable to the larger arm cuff. This would be a fast complete charger, charging up Mike’s bionics to full.

The smaller blue box (with the Cybernetic Explorer Atomic Logo on it) has a tilting handle, and a clip on the main box to hold it in place. Pull up and on the back is a cavity to store a smaller arm cuff, connected by a smaller, black cable.

Both of the cables store inside their boxes.

Originally the clips for the MCU would friction-fit into the RACCS slots like the Blade Holder units do. But while the blade holders are smaller and the pegs clustered closer together for a good friction fit, the MCU could not rely on friction. So I created a unique new spring-loaded clip system that worked easily with the original design. I simply created a slot in the bottom of the unit, slid the clip-spring part in, and a single screw connected it all together. The flexibility of the plastic itself allows for enough spring action for the module to clip nicely to RACCS and then remove again by pinching two tabs on the side.

I also came up with a blueprint for these.


The catalog came out recently, and these items were made available for pre-order, with delivery in November.




But what’s this?

Another item?

Greg asked me long before the Charging Unit to come up with a replacement blade for Mike Power and the Cybernetic Explorers to replace the blade that came with Mike, since a lot of owners of vintage Mikes may not have the blades. They tend to get lost.

But he wanted the helicopter blades to be able to fold back like an aircraft-carrier helicopter.


It turns out this was a hard challenge.

I could make the blades hinge, but 3D printing them consistently would be something I didn’t think I could guarantee.


As you can see by the sketch, the hinge plates have to be symmetrical and fit together while snugly fitting into both the hub and each blade. If this was too snug, it would not move. Too loose, and it would not stay in place. It was tough. But I think I did it.

As a further benefit, I didn’t just fit a handle onto it that resembled Mike Power’s blade. Rather, I made that handle lock into the hub. Why?

As a sneaky extra feature, I made the hub compatible with vintage Turbo Copters!!

Here is a pic of an original Mike Power blade, along with my Tri Copter Blade, next to an original vintage Turbo Copter blade.


(Don’t worry. The Turbo Copter blade is turned upside down to show the hub opening. The turbo heads are facing the right direction on mine. (I hope.))



Fully extended:atomic-man-blades-01

Cybernetic Explorer operating the blades, getting ready to take off:atomic-man-blades-06

Stowing in backpack:

Folding blades:


And going:


Seen here, attached to vintage Turbo Copter. It is designed to fit the black, yellow, green (Action Man) Turbo Copters. The more recent Hasbro reproduction (a lovely thing) will not fit, as the coupling is different, and rotates the wrong way.




RACCS Spy Probe Dual Carriage System




They came to Earth from whatever Oort cloud or Nebula in which they were born – created – formed – hatched? – in search of a better place. First, they came as they were. Needless to say, they thought they were doing rather well, socially. They thought they were fooling us. They thought they were fitting in. But with exposed brains inside jars of gas they didn’t exactly make the social scene. And their unfamiliarity with that pesky gravity, they just didn’t stay put.


Soon aware that they were not blending in as well as they thought they were, they tried something else: BERDLZ!


Though this new ruse failed initially as well, they vowed to keep trying. They observed humans going about the course of what they called JERBZ! and took hints from those activities, hoping these new guises were more successful.


And they vowed to keep trying.


WERBLZ are available on my ETSY store. Not all designs will be available right away. Waves will roll out as I can make them ready.

ETSY Description:
They came to Earth from whatever Oort cloud or Nebula in which they were born – created – formed – hatched? – in search of a better place. First, they came as they were. Needless to say, they thought they were doing rather well. They thought they were fooling us. They thought they were fitting in nicely. But with exposed brains inside jars of gas they didn’t exactly make the social scene. And with their unfamiliarity with this pesky new gravity, they just couldn’t stay put.

Try as you might, however, you just can’t knock them down. They will just get back up and try again.

Comes with colorful Gravitronic Stabilizer! (Colors vary.)

Each WERBLZ is designed, 3D printed in bright, colorful ABS plastic, and assembled by Sean Huxter.

NOTE: THESE ARE NOT FOR KIDS. They are made from small parts, and each contains a 1″ metal carriage bolt head for weight/werblaility, and held together by Krazy Glue!


ETSY Thoughts

After the Cotswold Commission (30 Heli-packs and 25 ATV Racks) my next project I promised myself was to open up an ETSY store and see what sells, and how I can manage the sales, given only two printers and only 24 hours in a day, a lot of which I spend working and sleeping.

Well, I’m going to try it. For now, here are some items I will be putting up. The costs I put down here are likely going to be larger than these, but I thought I’d see what they look like anyway, just for my eyes. (I will edit this later.)


(Measurements are approximate)

Apollo 42


This rocket is about 8.25 inches with engines deployed, and 6.5 with engines stowed. This one has four articulated engines that swing out. Glow-in-the-dark canopy.


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This was the first of my odd concept rockets. I was playing with shapes and tried to come up with something elegant and royal, and would fly, but no one had seen before. 8″. Glow in the dark windows.

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Luxury Liner


An odd concept that came to me one day, and I just wanted to see how it played out. 7.75″. Glow in the dark windows.

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Ring Rocket


Another odd concept I wanted to try. This one has an engine intake inside the body, and a ring rear. Unique in design. 7.75″

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Silver Bullet


My favorite. Elegant, simple, truly captures the retro design aesthetic that I love. Could be right out of a 1950s Sci Fi movie, but entirely my own. 8.25″

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Father’s Day


My first rocket. Modeled after a sketch on a Father’s Day card my daughter gave me one year. I loved it so much I kept it, and when I got my 3D printers, this was the first rocket I modeled for it. 5.75″

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Funny story. A friend with a Corgi wanted me to model and print a Corgi with a jetpack. I did. Later, I took the rocket elements from that jetpack and modeled this rocket. 6″

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Modeled after a T-shirt I have, this rocket was one of my first forays into rocket modeling for 3D printing. 5.25″

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Based on a photo sent to me by a fellow modeler, this is a new rendition of what I call my Oddity rocket. Nice contrasting red with a turquoise blue and silver fins and struts. I use a sewing pin for the tip antenna. 8″ (8.5″ including antenna)

IMG_5466 IMG_5467 IMG_5468




A very simple child’s toy rocket from the Sputnik era. 7.5″

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Rocket Jockey


Another design that harkens back to a simpler time of 1950s Sci Fi movies. This one has a cockpit and a sewing pin for an antenna. 8″

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Tangerine Nightmare


A rocket taken from a simple sketch I saw, this one is meant to be a racer. Glow-in-the-dark blue canopy, bright bright orange with white stripes. 9.5″

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These are a few of my UFOs, some of which are meant to be modular in design so you can match different tops to different bottoms.

These will be going for something around $25 – $35 each depending on features.


The 3D Veiled Virgin

As a teen I glimpsed a photo of a marble sculpture of Giovanni Strazza’s Veiled Virgin. It amazed me. It is a perfect sculptural illusion which depicts a sheer gossamer veil in hard solid stone.


There are several examples of this effect in the classical art world; a famous example residing in a convent in St. john’s, Newfoundland which as often happens in life, I never visited because I lived there and took it for granted. The sisters there are rightly intensely proud of their Veiled Virgin.

So this week I found a 3D model of Strazza’s Veiled Virgin on Turbosquid. I have never paid for a 3D model but the perfection of the artist’s work, modeling from photographic references, deserved money and I paid it.

I printed it on my Afinia H480 3D printer.


Konami Eagle Pods – Improvements

I was sure, due to some quick test prints, that the Freighter and Winch pods I modeled for the 4″ Konami Eagle would not sustain printing the superstructure at either end of the pods.

After tests with the Dinky version (which is almost twice as large) worked rather well, but I expected that. Here is a pure white version, next to the Product Enterprise pod that inspired it:


So I decided to adapt that model for the 4″ Konami model, meaning the pod itself would be about 4cm long, and those struts would be tiny.

But here is the result:


I was very impressed that this actually worked on my printer. It turned out very nicely.


I even printed very very tiny Alpha Moonbase badges for the winch barrel caps.

I glued the Nuclear Waste containers down using Elmer’s white glue, so they would be easily removable.


NOTE: For anyone who buys these models from me at my shop (Fourth D) on Shapeways, you may want to print the decal sheet I created. The two links below are to PDF files you can print.



You can print them on white waterslide paper either in laser or inkjet (make sure you have the right paper and follow instructions that come with the paper) or you can print them on simple white paper and use simple glue if you like. The decal sheet has both the Konami and Dinky scaled decals. Also, the instructions for the decals (for waterslide) are available here.


Komani Eagle Pods – VIP Pod

In “Breakaway”, Space 1999’s first episode, the moon’s nuclear waste storage facilities are proving unstable, and an investigation begins to determine why. At one point, Commissioner Simmonds flies to Moonbase Alpha to oversee operations. He travels in a VIP pod attached to an Eagle:


As you can see it is a standard Passenger Pod with distinctive orange side panels and door.

So this should be a fairly easy job, now that I already had my own Passenger Pod already completed.

I wanted to print it in its native colors, since I do have orange filament. I cut away the side detail on the passenger pod, separating it out into its own thin strip, and leaving a space on the main body to snap it in place when it was printed in its own color.

Here, you can see it in progress:


The door panel was the biggest problem. At these tiny scales, printing can be quite iffy. The orange panel had to be fairly thin, and I would have to print it flat. In these photos, due to the semi-translucent nature of the plastic, it’s hard to see the details, but they’re there.

The door panel was going to be a problem. I wanted to make sure the orange door was its own color, and so I had two choices. I could print the orange panel with a hole for the door space, and then indent the door, and print an orange door insert.

I chose instead to print the whole side strip and indent the white door space, extruding the orange door out a bit. Then the white part of the doorway would become its own piece and snap over the door.



At this tiny detail, flat, filled surfaces sometimes get left somewhat open by my printer. It’s a problem for making small text letters or any filled areas that have a very small surface area. But I soldiered on.

And here is the final result, showing first the underside, and second loaded in an Eagle, with the other pods I created:



Oh. Right. Behind it is my Pallet pod, which is used to transport containers of radioactive waste.

What I have not done yet is print water slide decals for the containers, which should have a radioactive warning sign and a text sign on them. That’s coming.

I won’t do a page on the Pallet pod because it’s really just the Winch pod with the winch removed, and cylinders added.

Sigma 6 – The Unproduced Sets

I have lauded the Sigma 6 line in several posts now. I showed the three Adventure Team sets: Pyramid of Peril, Terror of the Swamp and Danger in the Jungle.

But in doing some web searching concerning the Sigma 6 Adventure Team sets, I stumbled across a concept sketch that caught my eye:


Clearly this showed an Adventure Team Sigma 6 set that had not hit the market. And it made complete sense since it was another homage to the original Adventure Team sets.

It was never released, but some searching did turn up this image, seemingly shot for the cover of the set:


It has the same styling of the three released set photo images.

Pyramid of Peril was an analogue to Secret of the Mummy’s Tomb (with a little Indiana Jones thrown in).

Terror of the Swamp was clearly an homage to Mouth of Doom, and other sets featuring an alligator.

Danger of the Jungle is an homage to the White Tiger Hunt set.

And clearly, the unreleased gorilla set was to be reminiscent of Capture of the Pygmy Gorilla.

But then when you look at the centerfold map in the book that comes with the Sigma 6 Adventure Team sets, you can clearly see six red dots on the map. Three of them coincide with the three released sets.


A fourth clearly depicts a gorilla (Ituri Forest, central Africa).

So then there are two other red dots. One depicts a scorpion (Atacama Desert, South America), and one a shark (Great Barrier Reef, Australia). (Sharks were often used in vintage Adventure Team sets.) Clearly the Sigma 6 line was an homage to the original AT line. Except for the scorpion. There was never a scorpion. There were giant spiders, though.

Were these two to be made into sets as well?

Armed with this knowledge I did some Google searching and came up with this concept sketch, clearly done by the same people who did the gorilla concept. Clearly this was to be the Atacama Desert Scorpion set:


And armed with this knowledge, I found out that this set was to feature Dusty. In fact, this is a picture of a prototype of the set, again, never released:


And here is the scorpion (not on his back):


You can search and find more images, including castings of the individual pieces of the set. There was some nice gear intended to go with this set, including a somewhat oversized Leatherman pocket pliers set, with swing-out blades at the bases that most people would love to have for 1:6 figures.

And I also saw this concept, clearly intended to be the Great Barrier Reef Shark set:


And lest people think that all of this concept work and prototype work was in vain, note that in 2010, the GI Joe Collector’s Club released what I think is their finest Convention Set ever: Escape from Spy Island:


Observe the shark.


What does this mean?

It means the shark was actually tooled, even if not ever produced, because the GI Joe Collectors’ Club could not have afforded to have had it tooled in a factory, but it could easily use the molds Hasbro had access to. So the mold was finished.

This leads me to wonder, (if they still exist) could the GI Joe Club create a convention set that uses the scorpion or the gorilla? Another Pygmy Gorilla wouldn’t be too crazy, but something new and unique like the Scorpion might do quite nicely.