GI Joe Jetpack V2.0 – The Evolution of the Cotswold Heli-Pack


My latest project for Cotswold Collectibles is one they have been after me to do for a while now, ever since I showed it to Greg Brown at the Dallas GI Joe Convention.

(Cross-eye stereo pic)

But I was very concerned that certain aspects of the design were fine for me, knowing what I know about it, but I was very hesitant to sell it to others due to extreme fragility in more than one aspect of the design.


Breakable Design


The harness, which is a hard pipe harness that hinges down over a body and clips into place using two swing-arms and c-clamp clasps, is very clever, and works perfectly. But unless you are very careful, it can break incredibly easily.


Then the clips that hold the engine housings onto the body are also relatively breakable. It might take some force, but they could break because they were printed vertically.

When you print a thin cylinder on a layered 3D printer, the layers fuse, but those layers are never as strong as a single layer is. A cylinder printed upright will snap like a twig very easily. The same cylinder printed sideways will be very hard to snap but will also not be very round.


It’s a trade-off. I created the first jetpack to look good, and not be terribly strong.


How To Fix It So I Could Sell It

How could I change the jetpack to make it so that I could confidently sell them without worrying someone would easily break it?



First, I harkened back to the Backpack Drone Carrier which I designed a couple of years ago. It held my aerial drone, and was a solar charging base as well as a launch pad for it. This used a harness made from elastic straps, and 3D printed connectors and strap adjusters. When I designed that, I wanted nothing to do with sewing. A complicated elastic harness might mean sewing strap bits together. I came up with a way that does the whole thing with one continuous length of elastic strapping with no sewing at all. Just heat-fusing the ends so they don’t fray.


The jetpack was in itself an homage to, and a continuation of, the backpack GI Joe Action Pack sets of the past, especially the Turbo Copter. Those used straps as harnesses, either flexible plastic or elastic, clipped to a chest piece with metal clips.

Since that worked rather well, I thought I might be able to get away with that for the jetpack. So when I began work to completely redesign the jetpack, I had this new harness in mind from the beginning.

I created holes in the body that the strap would go into. I also designed it to screw together with 3 simple screws, but those screws would also clamp the elastic in place. I used a sawtooth strip on both the cushion seat and the front of the body piece to sandwich the elastic tightly, and it would not slip. Screws then go through the elastic to hold it in place on the body. Where the elastic folds in half, it fits into the chest harness piece and is clamped in place again by two screws.

PIC OF INTERIOR SHOWING TOOTH STRIPS AND HOLES FOR STRAPS – apologies. I still don’t have this pic!

The ends of the elastic are then fed into the strap adjusters and strap clips which fit nicely into the chest piece for an adjustable – and practically unbreakable – harness that I could now be confident could be sold to collectors without fear.


Engine Housing Clips

The original design printed the rotating engine arms upright, which makes for a perfectly smooth cylinder for easy rotation. However, that meant the clips that held the engine housings in place could be broken if enough force was applied. The layers could snap, breaking the clips.

So the solution was easy. Print the arms upright as usual, but make the clips separate pieces printed sideways. Sideways, the layers are both flexible and very strong. It would be practically impossible to break these new clips. They would get glued into the arms for a solid hold, and again, this makes the design much harder to break.


Complete Redesign


My original jetpack was bulky and clunky and not terribly smooth. This was fine for a prototype or proof of concept, and it served me well. But again, not something I thought was aesthetically pleasing enough to sell. So I came up with a new concept which was much smoother in overall design, a bit smaller, and would have smaller engines, and would fit into the Adventure Team Vehicle without the racks I had designed, (though a quick redesign of the racks made those useful again anyway.)


I began with tessellated cubes and used lattice deformers to warp the shapes into something cool and resembled my concept.

I soon had this ready:


I was able to take the functioning part of the thumbwheel and arms directly from the old model without much alteration, except to make them a bit smaller.

I redesigned the engine housings just a bit to allow for the hub and spokes to work better. Those were incredibly hard to assemble as they were, and were not feasible as originally designed.

I was going to print the struts (spokes) flat in order to make a stronger central hub overall, but I didn’t want to lose the smoothness. So I deepened the slots the struts fitted into on the hub, and then created sliding slots for the assembled struts into the housings so they could slide into place, rather than be snapped into place awkwardly and with some danger of ruining the parts.


Why The Hub Bub?

Why the hub at all, you say?


The engine housings themselves were designed to mimic the Dyson concept: air being pushed into the housing, and then pushed out through a ring around it, using an aerodynamic shell to funnel the air into a stable column. This, exaggerated to jet power, would provide enough lift for a human. It does not require that hub or struts.

The hub is there so when you remove the housings for storage or carrying, those can clip to the body. They are completely non-functional, though I did put a jet intake vent on it for looks.



Problems With The Thumbwheel

The thumbwheel provided an issue. Originally designed to snap together very tightly, and not easily comp apart (so you could pull the engine housings off without fear of pulling out the rotator arms) this new version was giving me difficulties in assembly which involved a clamp to push the arms onto square posts on the thumbwheel.

However, I found that the thumbwheel bent during assembly and the arms would never snap fully onto the posts.


I knew why. The post that goes “through” the thumbwheel actually was not a solid post. It was a shell and a part of the thumbwheel. So when you pushed hard on both posts, the thumbwheel itself collapsed a bit and the clamping process could not get the arms fully onto the wheel.

I could fix this by printing the thumbwheel with denser support, but I think there’s a better solution: Design the post solid, and make it exactly the same size as a hole in the thumbwheel. The 3D printer would see these as two solid walls and not make a solid of them, but print them almost as if they were two parts. This would mean clamping the arms onto the posts would be easier because the post would be solid, and not just look solid. It should work.


Sellable Product

With these changes made, tested, iterated on and approved, I was able to start printing.

One of the other original reasons I was a bit hesitant was that this thing took a long time to print. Scaling it down a bit helps, and having two printers certainly helps. And having a fairly nice lead time before they would be needed helps. I believe printing 30 of these won’t be too bad. It may take more than a month, but would be worth the time.

I’m eager to get these into the hands of collectors and gauge their reactions. I anticipate a quick sell-out of the first run.



I sent the jetpack, along with a dark green ATV rack-mount for it, (along with some color swatches I printed along with my own designed carabiner) to Greg for approval. The upper brass liked it apparently, but liked the rack mount so much they wanted to offer it up at the same time as an optional companion piece. So now I have to print some of these as well.


Luckily there are only three individual parts, each have to be printed twice, and the pins four times each, in order to make one working rack. The two main parts are symmetrical so they work on both sides of the vehicle cargo bay, but with one part’s leg reversed. It’s quite a clever design if I do say so myself. The same legs work on either side of the tilted bay, but each one angled upward and the platforms snap to the legs.



Of course the finished rack will not be in green, it will be in black to complement the ATV and the jetpack.


It Ain’t Always Easy

I was once intereviewed by an Afinia PR person. We chat on occasion and she loves it when I show her my latest 3D printed thing. She once asked me how often I get failed prints. I replied “Almost never.”

And that’s true. Sure, it happens sometimes. I’ll wake up, check the printer and find a huge hairball, but that is remarkably rare. Just a shade more often, I may get a print that has somehow caught on the print head and forced the print bed to skip, causing an offset.

The most frequent issue (and this happens more than I’d like, but still fairly rarely) is stress cracking. This is when the layers don’t fuse as strongly. I get it on some filaments even at my highest heat setting.

So it was frustrating to find out that when I had printed about a dozen of the body fronts for this project, a closer inspection showed me that I only had 3 good prints. Sigh. And it seems to happen mostly on my H480. Less so on my H479. The H480 just had its print head replaced a few months ago. You’d think it wouldn’t lose heat.

Anyway, it’s all part of the 3D printing process, and I’m just glad it’s a rare event.

ADDENDUM: On stress cracking. Yes, I sometimes get some depending on heat, but the frustration I was experiencing printing these jetpacks, I now realize, had to do with me buying a batch of old, outdated filament. I bought a 3 pack of yellow Afinia Premium ABS filament from a third party vendor on Amazon. It was when I was using that that I had so many jetpack bodies with stress cracks. I should have known there was a problem. These reels did not come in boxes, but in their mylar sleeves, which were scuffed up and buckled badly like these reels had been sitting in someone’s warehouse for a loooong time. I then ordered some fresh ABS from Afinia and did not experience that stress cracking.

I felt I should clear that up.


Final Words

Cotswold released the catalog, and here it is.



I created 30 jetpacks and 25 ATV racks, my thinking was about half the people who buy the jetpack would have a vintage ATV in their collection, so I figured 15. We kept getting orders, so Greg Brown at Cotswold kept upping the order until we got to 25, almost a 1:1 ratio.

Not bad.

We are currently working on future projects! Keep your eye on this space.

UPDATE: I created a blueprint and instruction sheet for the Heli-Pack:



New Board Game Concept – Space Junk

SPACE JUNK – A Boardgame – by Sean Huxter


Am I stupid? I’m exposing my new board game concept long before I have a working prototype. Won’t someone steal it?

I kept my first game concept, SP’LUNK, very tight to the chest until I had it tested enough to declare it ready. Still don’t know what to do with it. I am not up to Kickstarter-publishing it. I may begin submitting it to game companies.

No. First, this idea is not new. It’s not the first Space Salvage game. Check out Salvage Team, and even Firefly.

But what I want to do with this game is make a fairly fast, easy family game that can be played in an evening, even a couple of games, and not frustrate people, not make people do math, or think too hard about add-ons, statistics, and other stuff.

Like Ticket to Ride, it will be fairly simple, and fun.


I came up with the concept after 3D printing a model of the Rocinante for a friend of mine. It is a model freely available from Thingiverse, but it’s so low poly that it’s a bit embarrassing.

But it had this strange feel to me like it was a board game piece, enlarged. Low detail, bulky, solid, could easily be used (if shrunk down) as a board game piece.

Then I thought about The Expanse (the show the Rocinante is from) and the idea of space salvage came to me immediately. Not only would the game take place in the asteroid belt, it would consist of players who are “belters”, people who live in the belt and get by on space salvage.

Themes of Firefly come to mind as well of course, but Firefly is more about skullduggery. “I aim to misbehave.”

The idea is to crew a salvage ship in the belt and survive. Find and bring in salvage, lost cargo pods, lost fuel pods, and also a vital commodity in space – water, in the form if ice crystals.

The Board

The board will be made up of small hexagonal spaces, hopefully made up of a fairly large sheet of fabric, to take up a nice table top space. Lots of room to move.

I found a great piece of fabric on eBay that fits the bill perfectly!

space-junk-board-large I intend to paint the sheet with astroids and planets, stars and even nebulous cloud, but those are decoration only. They do not affect gameplay. Anything that affects gameplay on the board will be placed on the board during setup and/or play.


The hex grid will be indexed by a two-directional indexing system. Since a hex grid can be indexed in three directions, a random location is hard to find in a hex because the angled rows will not be equal in length. Die-rolling a random location would be impossible.

So I intend to work on a two-dimensional index system. One just follows the hexes across a vertical wall, and the other has to have a zig-zag line, but as long as you know which way to zig-zag, it works exactly like a quad grid.

The Pieces

The pieces will be 3D printed.

The first pieces used will be the Salvage Ships themselves. Currently I will have 6 pieces, each a solid primary or secondary color, with detail, but not overly detailed, each of which will sit atop a black base, itself hexagonal, so it can fit on the board easily.

I concepted out six bulky, utilitarian ships on paper, and colored them solid. Over this past weekend, I modeled four of those, and fitted them atop a base.


The Bull

The Ram

The Rhino

The Elephant (or Mammoth, or Mastadon)

The Gorilla

The Bear


Space Debris

Stuff that is found floating in space is open season for salvage. At this point I have three main salvage resources:

Cargo Pod

This contains mysterious cargo. Value depends on a dice roll, or other factors

Fuel Pod

This will add to your ship’s fuel reserves, randomly rolled.

Ice Crystals

In space, water is a precious resource, worth its weight in … life. So finding water is a huge win.


Crew members will feature in the game. Not quite sure how yet, but I was actually thinking crew decide how far you can go in a single turn, but that may be better done with fuel cells. Perhaps it decides how many tasks you can have at a single time, or each one gives a small bonus to something. There will be a maximum, I’m thinking six being a full complement (but that’s subject to determining what they are for), and with events and tasks, you can lose crew members. You can hire new ones at a space station, or perhaps pick some up at rescue missions, etc.


Mission Cards

Mission cards are dealt at setup. Each player picks 5 cards and must keep 3. (So they can discard 2 missions they find distasteful, too difficult, or too low reward.)

These are kept secret. Only at the end are they revealed, and if you were successful at any, you reap the rewards, which add to your score total. Highest score wins.

Mission cards can be collecting, action or other.


Mission: Collect 7 cargo pods and 7 ice crystals. Reward: 1,000 Credits
Mission: Dock with a space station 12 times
Mission: Thwart 4 tasks from any one player

Task Cards

Task cards are not secret. You reveal them as you get them, and these usually contain simple, fairly immediate things you can do, and the rewards can vary greatly.

But also as the Task Cards are visible to everyone, other players are free to try to thwart the mission. If a player completes someone else’s task first, or prevents him/her from completing it, there is a reward that is usually half of the full reward for the same task.


Task: A derelict ship has been detected at B24, R8. Dock with the ship and move all food supplies to your ship. Reward: 1,000 Credits. Thwart Value: 5,00 Credits.

Task: A passenger ship has sent out a distress signal. Detectors have located the ship at [D20], [D20] Rescue the passengers and crew. Reward, 5,000 Credits. Thwart Value: 2,000 Credits.

Tasks often involve “detecting” things that were not on the board prior to the card being revealed, but ship’s object detectors reveal them. This usually means the card specifies the object to place there, and a roll of two dice locate it (using the grid coordinate system I mentioned earlier.)

So suddenly something is on the board, and players can race to that location and reap the rewards, and others can try to stop them.

Space Stations


Space stations are placed on the board at setup time, and are stationary bases ships can dock at and do business. Business may include selling salvage, refueling, taking on new crew (crew count and loss of such will be a part of gameplay.)


Each ship has a crew. The captain is a given, but the crew (10) is expendable. Crew is kept track of by tokens held by each player. A ship operates best fully crewed. As you lose crew, the ship moves slower, or other disadvantages happen. Crew can only be gained by docking with a space station and spending money to pay them.


The winner is the player with most credits when the game ends.

End conditions come about in several ways.

Any one player achieves all 3 missions, and the game is over, (or that player can hold off on announcing if he’s behind, and can announce it later if he thinks he can win.)

Any player pulls the Game Over card (buried deep in the bottom third of the Task deck.)

I think we need one or two others, but I have not yet thought of those.

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.


rocket-apollo-42-04 rocket-apollo-42-05 rocket-apollo-42-03 rocket-apollo-42-02




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.

rocket-tri-dart-01 rocket-tri-dart-03 rocket-tri-dart-02


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.

rocket-luxury-01 rocket-luxury-03 rocket-luxury-02


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″

rocket-ring-01 rocket-ring-04 rocket-ring-03 rocket-ring-02


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″

rocket-silver-bullet-01 rocket-silver-bullet-02 rocket-silver-bullet-04 rocket-silver-bullet-03


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″

rocket-fathers-day-01 rocket-fathers-day-03 rocket-fathers-day-02




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″

rocket-rocketeer-01 rocket-rocketeer-03 rocket-rocketeer-02




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

rocket-gogo-01 rocket-gogo-02




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″

rocket-hogarth-01 rocket-hogarth-03 rocket-hogarth-02


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″

rocket-jockey-01 rocket-jockey-02 rocket-jockey-03 rocket-jockey-04


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″

rocket-tangerine-racer-01 rocket-tangerine-racer-03 rocket-tangerine-racer-02



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.


Space 1999 Items For Sale


I have made some items for sale on Shapeways that pertain to Space:1999, the TV show.

These include items I’ve blogged about before, mostly during development when the models were printed on my home printer. Those were ok, but the size (especially of the smaller scaled items) meant that my home printer’s integrity was nearing minimum – ie: It was nearing the smallest scale I could print well.

However, Shapeways can print at a higher resolution, and I found the results quite clean and presentable.


Dinky Scaled Eagle Pods

The wonderful Dinky Eagles, produced in the 1970s, are revered by toy collectors and fans of the TV show. They came with one pod each, and Dinky made two versions: one with a passenger pod, and one with a freighter pod. The passenger pod was surprisingly accurate, though the freighter pod looked nothing like the pod used in the TV show. It was fun, however, and had a magnetic winch and four hazardous waste containers. But completely inaccurate.

So I made a pod model that plays the part of two of the alternate pods from the TV show: the pallet pod (which is a flatbed pod suitable for carrying multiple waste containers) and a winch pod (which is used to hoist and store containers in the nuclear waste depots.)


Here is the Dinky-scaled pod, which comes in two pieces: The pod itself, which is a flatbed pallet pod, but with a second part that is the winch.

Here it is as seen in the TV show:


A little paint and you can have a very accurate model. However, since the toy is not weathered, the pod works pretty well completely untouched. (Though it’s advisable to paint the underside legs and engine bells.

Here is the pod alone, without the winch:


I also have available on Shapeways the nuclear waste container. (Originally I modeled this in multiple pieces so I could print it at home in white and black so the black stripes would be clean and perfect. This didn’t translate well to Shapeways. The parts were too tight. So I made a single solid barrel available instead.)

It is hard to see with these photos, but the flatbed is ridged like the original, not smooth. The Shapeways render makes this more obvious:


This is what the pallet pod looked like in the TV show being unloaded by conveyor belt:

You may notice the bars at the top. These do not exist on the real pod model, but for the Dinky to pick it up and drop it, those had to be added. And the mechanism feels great! Fits perfectly!


Here is my home-printed pallet pod with containers, next to the Konami version.



Dinky Scaled Laboratory Pod

This has been in demand. I have had a lot of people in Gerry Anderson or Space:1999 forums request this one. It’s now available on Shapeways. It’s the Laboratory pod, seen here in a highly accurate larger model.Eagle20Lab1

Here it is, printed on my home printers, cut up into appropriate pieces and printed in two colors:


dinky-eagle-lab-pod-02 dinky-eagle-lab-pod-03 dinky-eagle-lab-pod-04


This is Shapeways’ rendering of it:


Booster for Dinky Eagle

A companion piece for Laboratory Pods.


Shapeways-Dinky-Booster-04 Shapeways-Dinky-Booster-01 Shapeways-Dinky-Booster-02

This is the ETSY preview image:



Dinky Scaled Passenger Pod (Replacement)

Sometimes people buy an Eagle incomplete, or they lost their original passenger pod. This is a vairly accurate pod that replaces the original. Fits perfectly, and is a bit more show-accurate than the original.



Here are links to the models, if you are interested:

Dinky-Scaled Pod (acts as either pallet or winch pod)

Dinky-Scaled Winch (sits on the floor of the flatbed pod)

Dinky-Scaled Waste Container (sits on the floor of the flatbed pod)

Dinky-Scaled Laboratory Pod (does not yet have the booster pack on top)

Dinky-Scaled Booster Pack (goes well with Laboratory pod)

Dinky-Scaled Passenger Pod (good for replacement of lost pods)


I also made available decal sheets (which you can print on sticker paper or decal paper) that wrap around the barrels, and looks like this (this is a sub-section. The full sheet includes many more copies of the barrel decal and the Alpha symbol, and also contains the smaller Konami version.


You can download the full sheet as a PDF (very clean vector art) here – Dinky And Konami Eagle Decal Sheet PDF File – and the instructions on how to use them here – Dinky And Konami Decal Instruction Sheet PDF File

Konami Scaled Eagle Pods

I also created Konami-scaled Eagle Pods, which are just over 4cm long. They fit nicely into the Konami Eagle, and do not need extra “stuff” on top of the pod to make it fit like the Dinky did.

Here is a photo of one. I painted the winch barrels grey. You don’t have to.

Winch Podshapeways-konami-eagle-winch-pod-05



And the whole kit, unassembled:


Shapeways rendering for better detail:


Pallet Podshapeways-konami-eagle-winch-pod-04

Here it is unassembled, (shown with decal sheet, not included, but you can download it at the bottom of this section)shapeways-konami-eagle-winch-pod-07

Shapeways rendering (for better detail)


These two pods come as two different models, rather than a single pod, with add-ons. This is only because I made the Dinky version more efficient, and have not had time to convert the Konami pods. But this way, you don’t have to share the pod itself. Get the whole kit for either the Winch or Pallet pods.

Konami Scaled Winch Pod (all parts, including winch barrels and housing, legs, engine cones, unassembled)

Konami Scaled Pallet Pod (all parts, including 8 waste containers, legs, engine cones, unassembled)


You can download the full sheet as a PDF (very clean vector art) here – Dinky And Konami Eagle Decal Sheet PDF File – and the instructions on how to use them here – Dinky And Konami Decal Instruction Sheet PDF File


Moon Buggy

I won’t go into too much detail here, since I don’t have a lot of photos of these, but for now you can find links to my Moon Buggies on Shapeways, and see the few photos I do have.

What you should know, however, is that they come in two separate pieces you must order separately because Shapeways does not offer a convenient way to package projects that require multiple parts:

Moon Buggy for 22″ Round 2/MPC Eagle Model

This version is scaled to the new 22″ Eagle model kit.

Note: This one is far more accurate. I worked with an Amphicat enthusiast to fix some scaling and proportion issues, as well as adding a fair amount of more accurate detail. This one adds ridge detail at the back, the engine vents, engine bumps under the seats, even exhaust ports, more accurate dash, and a lot of other details you would not catch in the smaller ones. I also made the wheels more accurate.

I don’t have the 22″ Eagle, so I can’t show a photo posed next to one, but here are the Shapeways renderings:

shapeways-22-inch-scaled-moon-buggy-body-rendering-01 shapeways-22-inch-scaled-moon-buggy-seats-wheels-rendering-01

22 Inch Scaled Moon Buggy Body – Comes in yellow, so you don’t have to paint it.

22 Inch Scaled Moon Buggy Seats and Wheels – Comes on a single sprue. Simply clip and glue. Comes in black, so you don’t have to paint it.

I recommend going there and using the 360 degree preview (blue box in the image row).

Here are some images of the same model, printed on my own home printer: Even this is pretty darned good, though the Shapeways resolution is higher.

moonbuggy-22-inch-05 moonbuggy-22-inch-08 moonbuggy-22-inch-09 moonbuggy-22-inch-10 moonbuggy-22-inch-03 moonbuggy-22-inch-04 moonbuggy-22-inch-02


Here it is, pictured with two 12″ PE Eagles, alongside the 12″-scaled version.moonbuggy-22-inch-11


Moon Buggy for 12″ AMT/ERTL/Product Enterprise

This version is scaled to go with the 12″ Eagles.


As with the Dinky, it is available in two separate orders from Shapeways:



12″ Scaled Moon Buggy Body – Comes in yellow, so you don’t have to paint it.

12″ Scaled Moon Buggy Seats and Wheels – Comes on a single sprue. Simply clip and glue. Comes in black, so you don’t have to paint it.

Moon Buggy for Dinky

This model is very small, but poses nicely with the Dinky Eagle:


The model comes in two parts:

Dinky Scaled Moon Buggy Body – Comes in yellow, so you don’t have to paint it.

Dinky Scaled Moon Buggy Seats And Wheels – Comes on a single sprue. Simply clip and glue. Comes in black, so you don’t have to paint it.


Stun Gun

I make a 1:6 scale Stun Gun available to fit 12″ Action Figures like this one:


This gun comes in two pieces for convenience:


Easier to paint this way. Also, the guns themselves can be printed in silver. Some painting will be required to add the colored details. I show one here that I left in white, as a proposed Commander’s Special, or VIP Special version.


1:6 Scale Stun Gun Bodies (x4)

1:6 Scale Stun Gun Grips (x4)


Mattell Eagle Mini Stun Gun Replacement

The wonderful 3″ Eagle made by Mattell in the 1970s came with figures and scaled hand-weapons. People often lost these.

This is an awfully small size to print, so detail is a bit less than perfect, but if you want replacements for your lost Mattell Eagles, these aren’t bad.

Mattell Replacement Stun Guns


Launch Pads

The 1970s original Moonbase Alpha model kit was inaccurate in many ways, not least of which was the scale of the landing pads. The problems are described in this blog entry from a while back.


The main issue is that there are only 3 pads. There are 5 surrounding Moonbase Alpha, and for those who want to make a more accurate version, you can purchase a version of the landing pad scaled to these original ones.



I added a tiny bit of detail. The house now has a docking arm.


I made these in two scales – to match the original, oversized landing pads, and I made a version scaled accurately to the rest of the Moonbase model kit parts.


There was a later re-issue of this kit, just a couple of years ago by MPC/Fundimensions that fixes this problem and provides 5 accurately-scaled landing pads. But if you can’t find that, or need extras:

Moonbase Alpha Landing Pad Original Scale – with docking arm

Moonbase Alpha Landing Pad Accurate Scale – with docking arm



Cargo Crates

I modeled these to fit 44″ Eagles. A lot of people scratch-build these, and I figured they might like a set of crates to fit:


44 Inch Scaled Cargo Crates

I scaled these to fit the Product Enterprise and 12″ Eagle Model Kits, but found the detail gets lost so I didn’t bother putting them up on Shapeways.


Happy Valentine’s Day to My Lovely Wife!


As posted here (and I have not posted since, to keep it “live” for a while) I gave Carol a 3D printed gift for our Silver Anniversary. It was a Narwhal 3D printed in sterling silver, on a base of brass.


So for Valentine’s Day I thought I would follow that up with something else she loves – our house. And brooches. She absolutely loves brooches and has a very nice collection. What better, then, than to 3D print her a brooch of my own design based on our house?

First, I opted not to go with silver, because of cost. I thought a brooch might be better priced under $50. In sterling silver, it would have been more than double that. And I’m not discounting it for later. Or even Shapeways’s new material – aluminum, which, due to the printing method, is more expensive than stainless steel, which is what I went with.

I first took a model I created a year ago based on our new house:


I consolidated the various separate parts into one and began simplifying the model, squashing it into a very thin bas-relief type sculpture, and ended up with this:


First, I printed it on my own Afinia H480 printer to see if it would hold detail and be worth doing at all. It turned out fairly well considering the size and detail:


I had it printed in two different materials as a test. One in stainless steel, and one in nickel, thinking they would both be silver, but one shinier, and perhaps nicer, than the other. I got them back, and to my surprise, one was nearly gold in color. Since the house is grey, I wanted it in silver, so I focused on that one.


The middle one was printed in ABS plastic on my own Afinia H480 printer, as a test. I’m honestly not sure which brooch was which, but one is stainless steel and one polished nickel.

So next I had to design a Valentine’s Day card to put it in. My concept was of a foam-core card with a rectangle cut out, and the brooch fitted into that rectangle tightly. Then a collage of colored paper would be used to form a picture of our garden with the house planted firmly in the middle. I used a magazine and cut out various images to match grass, trees, and used a heart-shaped hole punch to cut out red paper for a small Japanese Maple I planted in the yard, and her beloved blue hydrangeas that line the front of the house.


I put it in a parchment envelope I made simply, and used hand-torn red and pink paper to cut out hearts for both the envelope and the front of the card.

house-brooch-valentine-envelope-01 house-brooch-card-closed-01

The card itself is two pieces of foam-core wrapped in a crimson-red sheet of paper, scored and folded along the seams, so it would open nicely, and that the two cut-outs would hold the pin in place.

The pin, by the way, had no brooch pin attached during printing. That would have proven impossible. So I simply bought jewelry brooch pins from Michael’s Craft Store and used a binary epoxy to attach them to the backs.


And try not to tell Carol I got the wrong year on it! I brought over the 2015 from the Narwhal base, and forgot to change it!!! Grrr.

I then pinned the house brooch to a piece of corrugated cardboard and glued it to the card, holding it firmly in place.



25th Anniversary Gift for Carol – A 3D Printed Silver Narwhal


This is the story of my 25th Anniversary gift to my wife, Carol Hobbs. This is the story of how it came to be, and why.



In the winter of 1978 several whales became trapped under the ice in Hall’s Bay, Newfoundland, on which lies my hometown of Springdale. Several humpbacks and a rare Narwhal. Rare, because they are high arctic whales, and rarely get this far south.

Throughout the winter, locals kept a large hole open so the whales could breathe. In the spring, an ice-breaker came in to the bay close enough to the hole that the whales could escape. Not all of them survived the winter. The belief is that mid-winter, one made a run for it, but Hall’s Bay, while being very deep, is also very long, and one humpback was found dead. The rest, though, we believe survived. They were gone the day after the ice was opened up.

“Springy”, as some of the locals called this young Narwhal, whose tusk was not yet fully formed.

One one particularly nice day, Carol skated out on the perfectly smooth ice, and spent some time with the whales. It was amazing. My friends and I skated out there as well on a different day. Here we were, mere feet from the edge of this twenty-foot-diameter hole, and these whales kept coming up and getting air. The big humpbacks made a show of it, but the little Narwhal would kind of surface quietly, we’d get a glimpse of her, and then she’d dip silently down into the water again.

Carol wrote a poem about the experience, which has been published multiple times, and is one of my favorite poems of her large body of work. The poem was called “Narwhal”.


Hall’s Bay is a china plate.
I skate far out to the breathing hole
where the men chop the ice away.
The echo of auger and axe
grapples the lip of hills.
They are building a lung for whales –
a pair of humpbacks, a narwhal
surfacing through the slush.
The little narwhal lingers,
mottled back steaming.
Its eye oily in the dark cup,
me mirrored in the eye-slick,
the horn spiraling into brittle air.

-Carol Hobbs

On her birthday in 2010, I gave her this installation, which hangs on our wall in our new house, at the base of the stair under a tall window. (Seen here in our apartment previously)


I framed a copy of her poem, with a print of Springy the whale. Under it is a shelf with brass brackets holding about 18 inches of a narwhal horn. Not a real one of course. That would be priceless. This is a casting in dental polymer of a real one, one of a rare few that someone was lucky enough to get a full casting of. (They also make available a 5 foot version.)


The Silver Narwhal

Last year, after our 24th Anniversary, I realized that the next one would be the big 25. Silver. I began thinking almost immediately what to get Carol for our 25th Anniversary that was silver.

At the time I had printed some things at Shapeways, an online 3D printing service. They keep adding materials and services, and at some point they introduced 3D printing in precious metals. They print the item in wax, then use the centuries-old lost-wax casting process in whatever metal you like, including solid gold and platinum.

So this was perfect. I would create a silver narwhal for her.

As time was getting on mid-year and I found myself with little time for 3D modeling and printing, I searched the web for models that would suit. I found a whale model that was very similar to a narwhal (without the horn) and downloaded that.

I found a splash model (as part of something else) and separated out the water splash.

I created the base myself (a simple oval, with an indented bottom, and an inscription.)

I smoothed out the whale, because I thought that in the Shapeways preview software that the facets of the original model would be noticeable in metal, and posed the whale in the water base I had created, using a boolean subtract to remove the bottom of the whale.

Here is a test print I did on my own printer.


The horn is a simple standard toothpick. It works!

I then cut some interior space out (waste of silver) and sent it away to Shapeways for a silver print. I had the option of raw or polished. I felt the whale should be polished, shining as if coming up from the ocean, covered in water.

This wasn’t cheap, and I was nervous at how it would turn out, being my first metal print.

Then it arrived:


In a nice, soft microfiber bag to keep it safe.

And then I opened it:



I couldn’t believe how it turned out. It was perfect!

narwhal-closeup-01 narwhal-closeup-03 narwhal-closeup-04

Emboldened with confidence, I sent for the base to be printed in raw bronze. I opted not to have it polished. Two polished metals in the same piece would be harder to see. The two shiny metals would compete with each other for attention.

I forgot to photograph the base separate, but it turned out very nicely. I was worried because a portion of the wave was suspended above the water, very thin, splashing out past the base itself, and my own printer had issue with that. Shapeways printing, however, did not. It was great.

Here is the base’s bottom, with inscription:


So I used a binary clear epoxy to bind the pieces together:


Then I used my Dremel to carve a spiral into the toothpick, then stained it with the same stain we have on our front porch, which Carol and I put down this summer.

I varnished it, and used binary epoxy to attach the horn.


The Presentation

How best to present this? I thought it should come in a box, like a piece of jewelry, but not have her expect jewelry. A cubic box I found at Michael’s Craft Store would do the trick:


This one has a magnetic clasp, and a deep interior:



So I stained this box in the same stain we have on our back deck, which Charlotte, Carol and I did early in the summer:


And a few coats of semi-gloss satin varnish.narwhal-box-04

But that couldn’t be all. I had to have something inside to hold the piece. Most jewelry boxes have a velvet covered sponge insert. I knew it had to be an insert, and it had to hold the piece firmly in place.

So I used my own 3D printer to create an insert that had a perfect inset for the base: A quick test print for fit:

narwhal-base-test-print-01 narwhal-base-test-print-02

And then I printed the full insert, much thicker.

And then what? I had decided to cover it with some kind of fabric, and I had only to decide what. I found this nice watery blue batique at Michael’s, and cut it to shape and wrapped it around my insert:


I used a spray adhesive, and an elastic to keep it in place while it dried.

Then I used a plastic version of the base and a clamp to push the fabric into the aperture I had cut:


Testing it with the final piece showed it would work perfectly:


But it would still flop around the box, (which would not be good, and might, indeed, break the wooden horn.)

So I 3D printed another part that would fit inside the cover of the box and hold the whale down while the box was closed:


I used an oval cylindrical shape, and then used the actual whale model (in 3D) to cut out a part of it that would ensure it fit down exactly over the whale’s back and clamp it down while the box lid was closed. It could go nowhere:


Used contact cement to glue these inserts firmly into the box. I used a stand-in piece in place of the metal final work, and held the box closed with a clamp while the inserts dried in place:


And this is what it looked like when finished:


But that was not all. I needed a finishing piece: A silver engraved plaque. I went to Things Engraved in our local mall and got the perfect oval silver plate and had engraved on it: “For Carol On Our 25th Anniversary, Love, Sean”


And that’s the complete package.

I gave it to her on our anniversary and she loved it.


Working Winch – For Cotswold Collectibles

Last year I worked on a second project for Cotswold Collectibles. The first one was the smaller aerial drone, which they wanted to fit in their lovely cloth backpack, for a Deluxe Midnight Mission Set.

The second one had to do with retrieving lost treasures from a buried tomb in a set called Descent Into Danger. Here are photos shot for the catalog:


My part of the project involved creating a working winch and hook. So I did some research and saw that modern winches have motors attached, so I opted to create a working winch, with ratchet gear, and the winder (which works by hand) winds what looks like a motor, but is actually a crank.

Greg, my friend at Cotswold, wanted it to mount on top of a table-top camera tripod, which is coincidentally perfect for a GI Joe-scaled winch tripod. It tilts, has extending legs, and screws on using a standard mounting screw.

So I designed the base of the winch to hold a nut that would fit that screw tread, so it could be screwed on tightly.

12459954_10205464997251456_1594099390_n 1931944_10205464996891447_1768960341_n 12483497_10205464997451461_485078390_n 12467892_10205464997171454_787790447_n

The ratchet works by a springed gear stop (in red) which was printed to be flexible. You turn the motor (the blue piece) and the winch cranks upward, and doesn’t go back down unless you press on the red lever, which frees the winch gear.

I confess I was a little surprised how well it all worked.

Drop Canisters – Cotswold Collectibles

My latest project for Cotswold Collectibles: A Drop Canister.

The concept is simple: A canister that can be dropped by parachute into a mission area.

The design was fairly simple too. The canister would be about the size of a soda can. Two handles, one on each side, for easy carrying, and a handle on top of a twist-cap. I designed the cap to twist into a slot and the closure is nice and snug and feels great. The cap is made from two pieces: the main cap and the top.

They are designed (in this case) in Adventure Team colors: Yellow, black, red.

Here are the printed bodies:


Here are the printed caps in two pieces:


And the completed order. I did 30.


Here’s the ad as it appears in the Cotswold Collectibles catalog:


Red Special Retro Ray Gun


Ok, I’m going to confess that I like this one quite a bit.

I started with some small sketches of retro 50s ray guns. When I sketched one in pencil I quite liked, I redrew it in pen, and colored it with colored pens, on graph paper.


I scanned this image and created an image plane in my 3D modeling software package. I used that as a horizontal guide.

The one thing I didn’t like was the muzzle, so I left that for last, hoping I would come up with a better idea when I got to it.


One thing I wanted to do, and added a lot of time to modeling, in this one, was to avoid having to use glue of any kind. This required carefully designing each piece to screw or bolt to previous pieces until it was solidly constructed.

That, and I wanted it to be heavy.

Recently, I created WERBLZ, a series of rolly-aliens, which I hope to make available to the general public soon. To bet these WERBLZ to roll, I used a short carriage bolt.


I sheared the rounded head off to use at the bottom of the WERBLZ to make them wobble. That left the bolts as junk, so instead of tossing those, I decided to keep them for weight in various models I wanted to add weight to.

I started with halves of a handle. Since this was a little too large to print on my Afinia H479 and H480 printers, I cut it into two pieces, using a jig-saw method to attach them nice and tightly.


Each half has three screw holes at the top, and three screw holes in the handle itself. Then there were two screw holes to screw the grip panels to.

I needed space to add a trigger, which pulled correctly, and a part for the base of a spring to attach to. This would allow for the trigger to actually work.

Once these elements were placed, the two halves screwed together: (Note I only use two of the three screws to attach the handle halves. No need for the third, but it could be used. I was running short on screws, so I skimped.


Note the notch at the top, near the rear. This is to slide the body of the gun onto the handle frame. First, the central “heat sink” section is slotted into position:


At this point a 6 inch bolt with a hex head is pushed into a space in the heat sink piece. The hex head fits into a hex aperture, while the bolt comfortably (though snugly) fits through the whole piece. The heat sink section acts as a wrench, in a way. I can rotate the barrel on and the bolt will be held in place by the heat sink.


Four screws screw into the front of the heat sink, and drill into the red rear section. Note the square nubs at the front of the heat sink section. These fit into squares in the main barrel so the barrel won’t spin.

The black dial ring slips over the heat sink, and is allowed to freely rotate. This is a ray intensity dial.

I slipped a bolt inside the rear section for weight too.


Next, the main barrel gets its rings:


Each of the rings (left) slips over the main barrel cone very snugly.



The main barrel is complete when all the red rings are in place:


Here I show the bolt section of the carriage bolt I sheared off eariler (to create the WERBLZ), wrapped in Scotch Tape for friction hold, placed into the main barrel section for heft:


Then, three more:


Then the main barrel is slipped over the long bolt. The four holes for bolts also meet up with four square plugs on the heat sink section to prevent the barrel from rotating.


The barrel neck has a slightly smaller cylindrical aperture, with ridges so the bolt can grab on and act like a nut:


Then the muzzle is attached with a single screw:


Four small pegs/holes in the neck/muzzle keep the muzzle from rotating.

Then the focus dial at the back is added:


A single screw holds the dial on:


A red plug covers the screw, but has a small notch so it can be easily removed if needed.

Last, I put one more carriabe bolt in the gap inside the handle frame, for better weight, then the handle grips are screwed onto the handle frame to form the final product:


So there are 9 #4 3/8 screws, one 6″ bolt, and six sheared carriage bolts.


When I was test-fitting and adjusting the model, I printed a version using colors I had that I don’t use much, usually accent colors and highlights, and things that I use for smaller objects. So rather than waste the real colors (which I use a lot and can’t spare as easily) I printed a fully working version (before final adjustments) in a rainbow of colors:


It was a throw-away, but my daughter loved it, and asked for it. So it’s now hers.

Future Plans


I bought some cheap carded laser guns at a dollar store, and they have very loud laser sounds and bright LEDs. I will have to do some wiring and soldering, but with a few changes, I could make this gun electronic.

Problem – The Trigger Sounds Springy

I noticed when I completed the first print that the trigger makes an ugly springy noise like rusty bed springs. I looked at the design again to see if there was anything I could do about it.


You can see the problem. The handle frame has a post for the grips to screw into. It sits amid the handle right where the spring has to be when the trigger is pulled back. The trigger is basically a lever (with the fulcrum right under my thumb.) The end of the lever inside the gun has to hold the spring, which needs an anchor somewhere else inside the frame. There’s lots of room below it, but not when the post is in the way.

The result is that when you pull the trigger, the spring is raked over that post, making a squeaky noise.

So I tried to figure out a way to remove the spring.

In the past I have made a few things that use magnets as springs:

Space 1999 Stun Gun Settings Switch


I used three magnets: One in the trigger switch slider (on the right) and there are two under the KILL and STUN settings.

EMP Grenade Plunger


I used three magnets, one in the plunger, one in the bottom, and one in the base.

So I began to think magnets would be the perfect solution to this problem. I diagrammed out how this would fit into the existing structure. I had to make a few small changes and additions, as well as cut out some gaps for the magnets to fit, but here’s the scheme:

The trigger itself has one magnet, North pole facing upwards.

The handle has a magnet below it to pull the trigger forward. This is also North pole facing upwards for attraction

Then above the trigger a third magnet, South pole up so the two North Poles repel each other as the trigger approaches, for some resistance on the back pull.


A quick test print (in blue and brown) later and here it is:


(Ugly pink tape holding the magnets in place because what really holds them in place is the two halves of the frame screwed together.)

The resulting feel is very nice. No noise, good pull resistance, and retraction.