When I got my first 3D printer, my main aim was to make toys for GI Joe figures. As my own obsession with GI Joe involved the Adventure Team, which had all the best gear, I wanted to continue that tradition and make some very cool gear myself, that Hasbro never got to do.
One of the first things I created was a flying surveillance drone.
I wanted it to use technology from the first GI Joe adventure gear I created, my Flight Pack, which uses the Dyson technology for downward thrust. A powerful jet pulls air into the hollow engine bells, forcing air out through a rim inside, causing lift, much as a Dyson fan pushes air outward.
I recreated that basic doughnut shape, added a similar 3-arm central core, with an intake vent.
I wanted legs that the drone could land on. But I didn’t want them just sticking down getting in the way, so I devised a rather clever folding system that splits the arm struts in half along the axis, hinging downward.
It looked fine on paper, and so I started modeling, and with some work, it just worked! I mean it worked exactly as I had envisioned it.
I had a scale in mind, and an idea that I wanted to pay homage to the great Adventure Team Action Packs, which often were backpack gear that broke down into other gear, but could be carried. This was the main idea behind my Flight Pack too.
So I created a backpack platform, with folding lets, a backpack strap, a place for the drone to attach, and further, I even put a solar recharger on it, and used the straps to hold an iPad-type control device.
When Greg Brown from Cotswold Collectibles saw it, he loved the idea, but wanted it to fit into the cloth backpacks they sold.
As a test, I simply scaled the model down and it worked. When you scale a model down in a 3D printer, there should be no issues for a solid piece, but when you fit pieces together, there is a tolerance between pieces that you must maintain, and when you scale down moving parts, those tolerances also scale down, and that could mean they won’t fit at a smaller scale, and some work has to be done to re-establish those same tolerances. But this just worked.
I even scaled it down several more times, to 3/4, and even 2/3 and it still worked. And even 1/2!
As it was meant to be a surveillance drone, I wanted a gimbol-mounted camera on the drone. So I designed a dome-shaped housing with a cylindrical barrel, with camera lens sticking out of it, and this allowed a full hemi-spherical movement, as the housing rotated as well, attached by a single small machine screw.
Cotswold Collectibles, thanks to Greg Brown and Tina Wendeler (whose support I truly appreciated) incorporated my Surveillance Drone in the first set they produced using my designs.
Deluxe Midnite Mission was the result.
I also made a wrist-mounted Control Cuff which would allow Joe to not only control the drone, but to view the drone’s camera output.
This Control Cuff proved very versatile, as we have used it now in many different sets for many different purposes, and it’s probably the best-selling item I make. It’s cheap, and it can be used in literally any adventure scenario a person imagines.
Some images of the set:
I created a blueprint for this drone, to accompany the toy.