GI Joe Set – Naestor

In 2019 Greg Brown and Cotswold Collectibles created Naestor.

He created a green figure, (head and hands) with red flocked hair. He had an outfit and a chest piece made.

My job was to create his gear.

For some time now, I was hoping to find a use for my Arctic Blaster, a weapon I created as an intense heat ray used to melt through ice walls, for Arctic adventures.

The weapon was pretty cool, but the handles were weak. They couldn’t really be printed any stronger. So I had to redesign it just a tad to fit a screw along the shaft to the body. It worked well.

But of course for this set I had to make a black and green version:

Since it is a fairly heavy piece of plastic, I knew I couldn’t just let a 12″ figure hold it, the arms would fall. So I created a neck strap which solved that problem.

The weapon was intended to be held by the gut, with two hands, the body then being able to brace the kickback from a heavy energy beam.

I used the GI Joe Collector’s Club figure of Darkon as a test subject. (Don’t worry, he’s ok.)

But we wanted something to make it stand out.

JET BOOTS!

Who wouldn’t want Jet Boots!?!?

So I set out to make small jets that clip onto tall boots. Simple, really.

And that was Naestor.

And if anyone tries to convince you the name Naestor contains my name backwards… well that’s just silly…

GI Joe – New Set – Catastrophe In The Gulf

The second boxed set Greg Brown put together for Cotswold Collectibles this year was another set that nicely pays homage to original GI Joe Adventure Team sets РCatastrophe in the Gulf.

Based around a very nice Hammerhead Shark, Greg also sourced some great new Scuba gear, and a working motor!

My part was to create an Undersea Sled which could fit the motor, and a Rebreather Oxygen System with Mask.

Undersea Sled

But first things first. I had to get started on the showpiece – the Undersea Sled.

First, a rough sketch to get our heads in the same space.

Yep. This is how I start. With rough concepts that I don’t really elaborate on on paper. At least not always. The concept is a quick sketch to get an idea across. By that time, my mind already has the idea much more solid, and in full 3D. Sometimes I take time to draw them out more carefully and even add color, on paper, before starting. Not this time.

I wanted to start with a familiar base, something that looked like mine, so I used the main body of my Helijet Pack. The body was actually quite conducive to the Sea Sled design, with some alterations.

First, I wanted a water-jet system that could be used for propulsion, and not look dumb.

My first thought was a set of boot jets I had created previously.

I incorporated those boot jets into the design of the Undersea Sled, enlarging and scaling them appropriately, until they fit the design.

Here is a screenshot I sent Greg of the model early on:

This 3D model is actually a little later in the process. I had already updated the arms.

But the early prints came out pretty well:

A sharp-eyed person may notice I’m using pink. I often use seldom-used colors to prototype, so I don’t waste the good stuff.

Then came prints in real colors.


Note that at this time, I thought a curved arm might work, but I opted against it, as it didn’t fit with my other designs, such as the Flight Pack, which uses a similar body, but has some vital angular parts.

Some images of the prototype as it was being developed:

I chose a blue that closely matched the Scuba Suit Greg had made.

Rebreather Tank And Mask

Once Greg liked what he saw, I started on the Rebreather. I had concepted out something like a futuristic SCUBA tank, with twin tanks, held at the bottom only, fitted to the body and strapped into place, with hoses to a mask.

Which I modeled up and sent Greg a screenshot:

First print:

Greg saw the prototype and thought it looked too much like the Rocketeer’s Jet Pack, and I have to say… I agreed. It hadn’t struck me before, but on looking at it in that light, I could see the problem.

And Greg had a bit of an idea of what he wanted for it, and soon enough, my sketches were looking more like what he had in mind.

So I switched gears completely, and went with a more modernistic, less future-retro approach.

I added a very obvious tank at the bottom, which gives it a functional feel, while also being completely recognizable as a SCUBA tank, which would feed a hose into the body, then two hoses would feed into the mask.

Mask

We settled on this, and then I began working on the hoses and mask.

My first issue was that a small part that should hold some detail (the Mask) could be printed with the FDM printers I use for most of my toys, but I felt for this one, I should use my new Resin printer, the Anycubic Photon.

Printing things for the Photon is a bit harder, and can fail easier, so I’m not all that eager to make whole large parts with it (with some exceptions) but for smaller things, I thought it was time to give it a try.

I modeled them so the paracord I would use as hoses would fit into the sides, and epoxy into place nicely.

But the real quiz was – how the heck am I supposed to attach this to the head?

I didn’t want to add yet another piece of elastic, given that the Goggles had their own, which fitted onto the SCUBA hood.

So I thought – why not put the SCUBA hood to good use?

I figured if I made tabs that would fit along the cheeks of a head, inside the hood, it would hold rather nicely.

Really, the last thing to do was the hoses and elastic attachment which was a bit complicated, since I didn’t want an elastic for the Rebreather, and a different one for the Sea Sled.

I decided to loop them together. This way, you could use one, or the other, individually – or both as a single strap.

The last thing was how to hose it all together.

Blue paracord fits into the tank, connecting it to the body. Then two hoses go to the mask.

And after adding one of my very popular wrist Cuff Communicator/Controllers, with new sticker of a sea wreck, we called it done.

GI Joe – New Set – Polar Bear Attack

I make 3D printed toys for Cotswold Collectibles. For several years, Greg Brown and I worked on a nice series of toys for collectors to use with their 12″ action figures.

Greg has always wanted these adventure sets to include their own box and art. The original owner of Cotswold was very good to me, very supportive, but was a bit reluctant to make boxes and art for the sets.

This year Greg took over ownership of Cotswold Collectibles and has now put out two boxed Elite Brigade Adventure Sets.

The first is Polar Bear Attack.

Using a Safari Ltd Polar Bear, Greg put together a figure with a great snow adventure outfit, with backpack, cover, satchel, snowshoes, boots, hat, etc.

My part was to repurpose the Tranquilizing Zooka I created for my own Save The Endangered Pygmy Rhino set that I entered into the Dallas GI Joe Convention.

Cotswold has sold a few versions of this bazooka over the years, with ammo darts. I even created a special insert for a large cloth backpack, and for a satchel, to contain some of the darts.

I was to make a white version of it, and use it in an Arctic Adventure scenario.

Also for this set, I created a tracking collar, with white elastic, you can fit around the Polar Bear’s neck.

 

ATV RACCS Cargo Trailer

The Idea

During my summer vacation in Newfoundland this July I began sketching an idea for a trailer for the Halo Warthog. The sketches tried to use the contours of the body, which I would mold as side shells for an interior main cargo body, with wheels and an arm to attach to the Warthog.

While I was sitting around a very lovely rental cottage in Twillingate one evening…

…Greg Brown (Cotswold Collectibles) texted me and asked me if it would be possible to create and print a trailer for the GI Joe Adventure Team Vehicle (ATV).

I texted him back letting him know I was already designing one for the Warthog, so I was already thinking about it.

I got to work.

The GI Joe ATV

The GI Joe Adventure Team Vehicle (ATV) is a highly prized possession among Joe collectors. Many collectors have multiples. Originally, the ATV was sold in one of the most iconic GI Joe Adventure Team sets of all time – “Secret of the Mummy’s Tomb”.

This versatile six-wheeled vehicle came with a winch to haul up a newly-uncovered mummy. But it was far cleverer than that. Remove the winch, and you could put cargo rails into four slots in the body of the ATV. Those slots would later be re-used in a new version of the vehicle, now with tank tracks, called “The Trouble Shooter”. Now, a large electronic radio (with talking technology) would take up those four slots.

Could make it RACCS Compatible too…

One of the most versatile toys I have created was a collaboration between Greg and me. He wanted a platform that could fit over the cargo bay of the ATV/Trouble Shooter, which would fit into those four slots and hold various adventure equipment.

I wasn’t sure how that would work since my printers can’t print an object big enough to span that space. However, soon enough, I came up with a grid system on a two-part platform that snapped together for easy storage. Pegs on each side would snap perfectly and snugly into those four slots.

Greg wanted the new trailer to be able to slot the RACCS platform into it.

I did him one better.

The Plans

I began sketching, and while these are very rudimentary sketches, I shot them and sent them to Greg who seems to have no problem understanding what I’m trying to get across, though my drawing skills are not on display here. They are very rough sketches to flesh out the ideas:

This one shows my original concept as two halves, with the RACCS attached by separate tabs. The cargo section would fit into a frame, with curved springs for the wheels, and a metal axle between the wheels, riding under the body.

I changed a lot of that, to make it much simpler. I didn’t have to cut a metal axle, the plastic is strong enough to handle being a thick axle. And to avoid screwing or gluing the hub-cap into place I split the axle and made a wedge of the cap. Push the wedge into the splits until they snap and those wheels ain’t goin’ anywhere. And they spin nicely.

Below is a sketch of how I envisioned the built-in RACCS platform working. And it works exactly like this, and works great.

RACCS On Board

I incorporated the RACCS platform directly into the design of the trailer. And in a very clever way.


(RACCS closed and ready for action!)

Tabs in the side of the cargo body would fit into slots on the sides of slightly altered RACCS platform halves (otherwise identical to the original system) and it would allow the RACCS to slide into place over the cargo bay – and when not in use, slide out, angle downward, and store in the sides of the cargo bay itself. The tabs were square, and just fit into the slots. But at the end, those slim slots become a circle, and allow the platform to hinge upward, and then slot down the same tabs.


(RACCS out)


(RACCS up)


(RACCS stowed into the side.)

There are even slots in the floors for the connector pins on each side of the platform (which snap them together) to fit into.

Here’s where some serendipity comes into play:

As always I sent Greg a nearly complete prototype, and he discovered that the RACCS platform halves are fully functional when split open and pulled out to the sides. A completely unintentional bonus!

The RACCS Platform is optional. It can be removed simply by loosening the screws holding the body halves together, and re-tightening them.

Other Features

Other features I included are a folding leg which allows you to remove the trailer and have it stand upright as a mobile work station. Without this fold-down leg, the trailer would tilt forward and be useless.

Another: Notice in the original ATV there is a tab at the back with a brass eyelet. Clearly this is intended to tow cargo, but to my knowledge, HASBRO never used this feature.

This allows my Cargo Trailer to be towed, obviously.

So I added an identical tab to the back of my trailer. While the photo above shows it without the brass eyelet, I managed to find some perfect brass eyelets that fit like a glove into the tab, and acts identically to the original.

The upshot is you can daisy-chain these trailers as many as you like.

I took a photo of prototypes in a train:

The funky psychedelic one at the rear is an early print. I almost always print in colors I have a lot of but don’t use a lot. No need to waste the final colors on a prototype meant to test fit and function.

Sold As A Kit

Due to the size of this toy, I knew shipping a number of them to Cotswold Warehouse would be trouble, so Greg and I opted to offer this up as a kit. So I had to make it easy to assemble.

My printer’s maximum print capacity is not large enough to print the body as a single piece. So I had to cut it into four corners and make puzzle pieces out of them so they could snap together nicely.

If I was assembling it myself, I might just glue the parts together. Since Super Glue bonds to ABS so strongly it’s almost impossible to break, that would have worked fine.

But if people were going to assemble it, I wanted it to be as easy as possible.

So it’s designed to go together with screws, and as efficiently as I could engineer.

I also designed the body to be symmetrical. The wheels can fit into any slot on the sides, and the tow arm and rear hitch can fit into either end. This meant symmetrical screw holes too.

Two screws hold the sides together, and two each hold the tow arm and rear hitch, which has the dual purpose of attaching those pieces, and joining the two halves of the body.

A single screw connects the leg latch to the body. There are two screws to keep the axle assemblies on.

I used a metal nail, with the tip cut down, as a hitch peg, for strength.

I was able to use the Huxter Labs logo for the first time! I put them on the hub-caps and the tow arm.

Based on the AT Logo, I turned the A and T into an H which has a sort of L on the upper left.

Packaging

Normally when I ship my toys to Cotswold Collectibles, I use zip-lock bags and bubble-wrap, and pack them into large boxes. For this toy, sold as a kit, I would have to do something new.

I bought a bulk order of 4x6x6″ boxes to sell products on my ETSY store. These, it turns out, were perfect for packing this kit into. I worked out a fit system that allowed me to put a body corner in, put an axle on that, cover it with another body corner, repeat, then put the RACCS platform halves between them, the wheels on the side, and the rest of the parts in a zip-lock bag (including the screws and tow bolt) and they fit perfectly.

I printed instructions to fold into the package, and I printed a label for the box.

I used yellow duct-tape (AT Yellow) as my signature box seal.

My first fully packaged toy!

 

 

Cotswold Catalog – Spacey!

This catalog features three of my latest designs, mostly space-themed.

On the left is a metal box I found at Lowe’s, to which I added a harness and antennae, as well as other details. This is my Mobile Communications Pack.

On the right is the Extravehicular Mobility Unit 10. This is a full outfit, and my part is the space helmet and chest mount, belt and belt-mounted oxygen scrubber which eliminates the need for bulky oxygen packs. And a wrist controller.

In back is my new Wing Pack, known as SWIFT (Swing Wing Individual Flying Transport), which features a swing-wing action and stowable joystick controller.

GI Joe Hi-Tech Communications Pack – Adapting a Found Object

The Find

This year at Lowe’s hardware, the diamond plate cargo gift card box is no longer available. It was replaced with a metal box made to look a bit like their miniature tool chests.

Of course my brain went immediately to “Astronaut’s Oxygen Pack”. And that it certainly can be. But I went in a way that really could be used for various purposes, so I will call it my Hi-Tech Communications Pack.

Luckily I had a reel of ABS plastic filament for my 3D printers that closely matched the cobalt blue of the Lowe’s box. I started immediately to think of how to adapt it. First, I needed to cover the bottom, which is recessed, and contains the UPC code and other information.

Then I had to cover the Lowe’s logo on front. No problem.

Then I knew I would need antennae. So I modeled and printed a mount on top for two antennae.

And of course it needed a harness. I had produced a harness for my Action Pack Heli-Jet, which works nicely for most cases, but the front chest clasp was too complicated.

While designing a new flight pack for Joe (A Wing Pack coming soon!) I adapted the chest clasp to be far simpler to construct, and much less bulky, while still allowing a cover plate for a logo of some kind.

Using a single length of .9mm elastic I created a front piece that allowed me to thread it through in two directions, then into an upper frame piece, down the backpack, and into a lower frame piece, then on to the body where there are standard strap adjusters and two clasps which fit nicely into the front piece by friction and holds very strongly.

I am comfortable saying that this is my new harness design and most of my future backpacks, be they flight packs or simple backpacks, will use this new clasp, and not the bulky old one which had to be screwed together to work. (This cap snaps on nicely, and can even be removed, as the simple clasp frame is not too ugly by itself.)

The Final Product

Here it is, my Hi-Tech Communications Pack posed on my Club Exclusive Super-Articulated 12″ Super Joe that they produced last year.

GI Joe Atomic Man Cargo Box – Adapting a Found Object

The Find

Last year at Lowe’s hardware store I found a metal box sold as a gift card holder. It was in the form of a miniature diamond-plate pickup truck cargo box.

Needless to say I find it hard to shop anywhere without seeing every object that comes into my sight in a 1:6 scale filter, to see what I could make of it. This was a no-brainer.

I bought a few, took them home and began to think how I could best use them.

Since the new GI Joe Club Exclusive Mike Power Atomic Man had just recently arrived at my door, I figured how better to use this than to make it Mike Power’s personal equipment box.

It is a great fit for the GI Joe Adventure Team Vehicle or Trouble Shooter, too.

And around that time the Mattell Halo Warthog was making its rounds on Amazon at sell-out prices and a bunch of us collectors were getting them, and I’m no exception. I bought two green, and painted them (one in AT Yellow and the other in a bright AT Red) and then they came out later with a red version, so I have one of those too.

The cargo box fits nicely into the cargo bay of the Warthog.

The Final Product

Of course I wanted to cover up the LOWES logo, and make it Mike’s, so here is the final product:

What’s Next?

This, I should say, is almost finished. I have one other thing I want to do, and that is to put a tool-box-like handle on the top lid.

More on that later…

 

A Christmas Home Invasion – Doctor Who Photostory 2005

Since my adventureteam.com page has finally gone down forever, I am reviving some of my web content and putting it elsewhere. That may take some time. In the mean time, let me re-post “A Christmas Home Invasion”, a short story I published on my page the Christmas after I finished my 8-part epic Doctor Who Photostory, The Second Key (which is still safely viewable).

Huxter Labs Mobile Motion Detector

My most recent new invention for Cotswold Collectibles is something a long time coming. First suggested almost two years ago as a small radar or sensor that fits into the cloth backpack, I began sketching way back then. But no great inspiration came until I found these wind-up motors at Dollar Tree.

Then I got inspired, and began sketching. One feature had to be folding legs of some kind so the unit could sit on the ground, but still fit into the backpack nicely.

A challenge! I’m always up to a challenge!

Here is an early sketch.

You can see that my Mobile Motion Detector really didn’t stray too far from the concept.

Here, you can see it in early stages of development:

Here, you can see I had not yet thought of the idea of making the radar dish snug against the body to fit better into the backpack. Other than that, it is fairly unchanged. The legs, however, are an early prototype too. These had tabs for thumbnails to grab the legs which were recessed flush against the body and hard to pull out otherwise.

Later versions remove the obtrusive tabs and in a stunningly simple update, I simply made them longer so they reach a little above the top deck, which makes pulling them out easier, it makes the legs a bit longer, and it removes any foot that would imply it should be flat on the ground.

Prototype

Unseen here is a telephone handset that originally was planned to snap onto the back, but was later scrapped for impracticality.

And here you can see the early legs also allowed various angles:


(Note the blurred items in back are prototypes I’m not yet ready to reveal, printed in prototype form.)

Final Form

So here is the final backpack Mobile Motion Detector.

In backpack:

Part-way removed, showing the dish snug against the body side:

Fully out, two pieces:

Antenna attached:

Angles:

…in which I get to sit down with Captain Lorca, Flash Gordon and the Green Power Ranger

 

Rhode Island Comic Con is not something I attend regularly. I went a few years back because my friends Tod, Barry and Dave were going to be there, as well as my friend Dean. So I packed myself up and went. It was fun. Got to do some unexpected things.

While there were stars all over the place, mingling with the crowd, and sat behind signing tables, I wasn’t overly interested until I saw Sam Jones sitting next to Gil Gerard, (Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers!) joking to each other, I saw the opportunity to get an autographed photo of the Highwayman. Because while most love Sam Jones for Flash Gordon (as do I), I know him better as my beloved Highwayman, a show that aired in the early 1980s and was cancelled well before its time.

Last year, 2016, I intended to go down to Rhode Island and see my friends again. For those who don’t know, Tod, Barry and Dave are the Regular Joes, and for the last five years have run the Regular Joes Podcast, which is a wonderful podcast about all things geeky. “They’re into movies and toys and TV shows, comics and collecting and superheroes. There’s no end to the useless stuff they know, but don’t call them geeks; they’re just Regular Joes.”

I didn’t get to go. Other things came up, and I couldn’t make it.

The Regular Joes usually set up in the lobby and run their podcast from there after the show, and sometimes they catch stars walking through the lobby and one time got Zabka’d, which means William Zabka wandered by as they were recording, and sat down with them for a lengthy chat.

Not last year. Last year was a bit of a miss, but the show was ok anyway. Still, I was determined not to miss this year.

Cut to 2017, and I am trying to get tickets for me and my daughter to go, but alas, I wanted too long and they were sold out. So I told my daughter I was just going down to meet my friends, which was not likely to prove interesting to her.

I got there around 8:30 and the Joes were just setting up in the lobby.

With them was their friend (and mine online for more than a decade) Derryl DePriest, who wrote the definitive book on GI Joe Collecting. Which, I might add, I brought with me so he could sign it at long last!

So they began the show, this time talking about how much better it was than last year – the Comic Con in general – and how engaging and delightful the guests were this year – and they highlighted Jason Isaacs (Captain Lorca from the new CBS series: Star Trek: Discovery) as the most fun and engaging chat they had. And while they were praising him up, dammit, the guy just walks by. Earlier in the day, he had said that due to being in the show, and how it is currently running, he couldn’t say much about it, but they did discuss “Star Trek: Discovery” a bit anyway. Now here he is, walking by!

We called him over and he enthusiastically sat down for almost a half-hour in which I sat silent (I was originally supposed to guest on the show) while the Joes and Isaacs dived into the various aspects of the new series, the controversy about fan reaction, theories of what’s coming up and just what’s going on, emphasizing that every person working on the show is a true Trek fan and they discuss “hard and soft canon” in great detail before making any decision.

It was a delightful interview in which Isaacs was – rather candid – about many things. He also got to talk about Harry Potter a bit, and how he has the script upstairs right now for the second season of “The OA”, and he is in it, which is actually breaking news!

Jones went on quite eagerly about all manner of thing including fan theories, and talked about how that Sunday night (it hadn’t aired yet) “shit is going to kick off” which implied that it was going to be a momentous episode.

Now I did mention my daughter earlier. Why? Well, she happens to be a huge Jason Isaacs fan since he was Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, and she loves him in the new “Discovery!” I really felt awful that she missed out on this, but really, who could have predicted????

After he left, (he had gotten up to go, then sat back down for more) Melody Anderson walked by and sat down for a shorter but lovely interview. Anderson played “Dale Arden” to Sam Jones’s “Flash Gordon” and talked about her favorite moment on the set, and also her favorite role, playing Marilyn Monroe in a Movie of the Week. Anderson, I believe, now is a counsellor for drug abuse victims. Good on her! She was delightful to talk to.

She even mentioned that Sam would be coming through the lobby within the next half-hour. True to her prediction, Sam Jones came through not five minutes later. We called him over and he said “I’d love to fellas, but I gotta pee first! Where’s the bathroom!” We pointed. After a few minutes, I had to go myself (honest!) and we met at the door. I went in and when I got back out, he was seated with the Joes, talking away.

He concentrated on the convention scene, and how he has come to see them as a wonderful thing. He used to do 3 a year for a while, but last year he did 42 conventions!

He talked about one particular incident in which a man in his forties, with his wife and two children, saw him in a restaurant and came over and said ‘hi’. After a few words, his wife and kids went to their table, but he hung back and said (paraphrased from my memory) “Sam, I have to tell you, when I was a teenager my father turned abusive, and one day I was in my room and I was going to commit suicide, but I glanced over and saw the ‘Flash Gordon’ VHS and it spoke to me. I put it on, and it saved my life. You gave me value. You gave my life value.”

Sam is not alone in this kind of interaction with fans. For an incredible story, see James Doohan’s (Star Trek’s Scotty) story of a suicidal fan he befriended.

So he sees these things as a venue to engage fans. People who may have saved up the entire year and this was their vacation – this was their one event that they had scrounged for, and he was going to make it worth it for them.

While he was talking, he called over Jason David Frank, the Green Power Ranger. Now while a lot of people are not in the know, the Green Power Ranger has a huge following. 15 million people follow him on Twitter and facebook. He engages a crowd like no other.

Sam called him over, and he took a seat on the couch and the two related their tales of engaging fans at the shows.

While they chatted about the convention scene, I snapped these photos. Poor lighting didn’t make for the best pics, but hey, they’re mine!

These guys gave us well over a half-hour of their time, and as that goes, we were floored.

I’m glad I went this year, and while I went to give the Regular Joes and Derryl (honorary Regular Joe) a copy of my latest GI Joe toy, the Huxter Labs/Cotswold Collectibles Mobile Motion Detector, I got much more in return.