Archive for the ‘model’ Category

Drab Future toy production

Posted: September 16, 2013 in model, prop, robot, Uncategorized

I’m proud to announce that the new Drab future toys are available through the Zerofriends web store and I can’t wait to see what everyone does with theirs.
A detailed breakdown of the process of long road, from prototypes to molds/casting/assembly and painting can be seen over on

UntitledLetting the second batch of resin toys cure #drabfutureUntitledCast two of each toy as well as parts for 2 gynoid dolls #drabfuture

via Drab Future toy production.


In Drab Future, The Von Neuman Moderators are the eyes and hands of the network. These agents exist to gather information and track resources, in order to expand the network and build more of them selves. While I could see that the power armored version could be a costume, I realized this character wouldn’t be able to be a person in a suit. Once the armor has been stripped away we need to be able to see their inhumanity.

Its long been a dream of mine to have a real, working, robot. I know a working autonomous bVon Neuman Moderator Animatronic Robot pt1iped with an AI is far out of my depth, but I want one that can be programmed to act in movies, run my booth at conventions, talk to people and hand out flyers. Even something like the animatronic band at Chuck E Cheese.

I have begun these videos as a behind the scenes for some of the construction. As usual I’m relying on as many found and prefab parts as I can to achieve the mechanical production look and move as quickly through the construction as I can. I’ve started with the Wowee toys Elvis Alive, which I was lucky enough to find on Ebay when a warehouse was liquidating their stock. For the body I’m starting with a posable mannequin which is similar in design to the wooden artist pose figures. This was given to me by a friend who was working in an art supply store. It had some minor damage and the store was cleaning out their storage and intended to throw it away. Truly a lucky score, I’ve never seen any others before or since. I’ve often thought about making molds from it to replicate more of them.

I’ve been planning on using the Wowee toys Elvis somewhat unmodified, at least electronically, because its really a great system. It uses a cartridge that contains songs and animation files. There is even a group of very clever folks doing some very cool hacks using them. I figured if I could avoid any major changes I wouldn’t need to teach myself arduino and robotic programming (yet) and follow along with this;

I even attempted to recruit someone to help me etch a custom circuit board part to make my own cartridge, unfortunately it never panned out. Basically this part is a xD media adapter to custom cartridge, which allows this ‘toy’ robot to play back animation files and mp3s.

This thread has a lot of detail about it, as well as included a diagram of the board I’d need to create;

Continued in part 2…


Posted: March 15, 2012 in model, prop
Tags: , ,

Texture plays a big role in the world of ‘Drab Future’. I’ve been paying special attention to making everything gritty and dirty. Weathering surfaces, so that nothing feels new and clean.

The work-in-progress power glove gauntlets for John Henry’s costume.

I wrote a long post about the process of weathering rust over on my personal blog;
via RUST.

Much of Drab future will take place on board the KRAWLR, so I knew I’d need a good interior set, so early on I started transforming my studio into it.

I looked a lot at the genre and some of the amazing production design work done and gathered reference/inspiration, as well as submarines, space ships, inspiration “set” blog

I even went on a field trip to see one of the last WW2 battleships, the USS Iowa

I knew a few things I needed a few scenes; workshop, OP room, hallway, control room… and I had to find a way to work in a limited space, part by part, and using any thing I had on hand.

The first step was to start moving unrelated items away and create the walls I had, I knew I needed textured panels and a basecoat, so after a trip to the hardware store I added peg board panels and started covering everything with a dark grey. I figured this would work well for shining a light through to create a sense of depth.


Slowly it spread to the whole room…


As the KRAWLR is a scrap collector, It makes sense that the whole thing would contain bins of parts, so I gathered a rack of milk crates and enough robot parts to fill them, along with many of my sculpting supplies and materials


The peg board also gives me a good way of storing props 🙂


I found a bunch of sheets of plastic grid from a remodeling office building, which provided a good texture for the ceiling, after I hit it with a bit of paint for weathering.


And this hanging lamp was donated by my friend Webster Colcord who’s wife worked for a lighting company

I extended some supports to add ceiling panels across the room, and hung sump tubing.

I mounted a partly disassembled fan into some packing foam on the ceiling for a vent. The best part it, it still works!

(Print available at Unethical Productions)
The Gynoid was the first part of this world I envisioned. Inspired by the opening sequences of ‘Hardware’ and ‘Battle angel’. I knew this would be the story of a salvaged fembot, found in the wasteland, and repaired.

I knew she had to have a sense of beauty, of sex appeal, but not seem quite human.I looked all around at reference, at Japanese Ball-joint dolls, like super Dollfie and handmade ones, I looked to surrealist Hans Bellmer, to anime style and 80s horror, fashion and fetish. I even trolled through the forums of RealDoll owners, looking to the way they store and even fabricate their own versions.

South of Market, Apr 7, 2009

I began her construction with a PVC armature. Planned out all the joints with 90 degree angles and i strung it together with elastic string like tent poles. This gave me a rigid body but was still able to hinge via the rotation along the angle joints.

South of Market, Apr 20, 2009

Then I blocked it out; attached pink insulation foam blocks to the armature.

Van Ness, May 31, 2009

I applied cans of ‘Great stuff’ spray foam to fill gaps. I really love this stuff, its tricky and drippy, but once you get the hang of it it can be like 3D spraypaint.

Carved the blocks and spray foam once it cured;
Novato, May 30, 2009

repeated that process until the shape felt close;
South of Market, Jun 15, 2009

I’d also shape the foam by hand a bit as it cured by layering it with foil to prevent it from sticking to my skin. I also considered making her body chrome.

South of Market, Jun 1, 2009

South of Market, Jun 15, 2009

The last stage was using a high density two part liquid foam to fill any remaining gaps and get a really uniform surface.

South of Market, Jun 15, 2009

South of Market, Jun 18, 2009

I chopped up some Furby eye mechanisms and rigged them together
Twin Peaks, Jun 22, 2009

Cut the eyes out of the foam
Twin Peaks, Jun 22, 2009

Twin Peaks, Jun 19, 2009

Twin Peaks, Jun 19, 2009

I created a geared mechanism from lego parts to move the jaw.
Twin Peaks, Jun 22, 2009

I was able to find a pair of wooden artist model hands, which found their way to her at this point.
The next step was to cover over the body with fiberglass, an extremely difficult and time consuming process.
South of Market, Jun 25, 2009

Each part had to be wrapped individually with woven fiberglass cloth, and sealed with resin.
Twin Peaks, Jun 25, 2009

once the parts had been sealed there were the occasional wrinkle, it was too hard to get the cloth completely smooth,
Twin Peaks, Jun 29, 2009

I spent a lot of time sanding the parts smooth again
South of Market, Jun 29, 2009

Until she fit back together
Twin Peaks, Jul 2, 2009

She needed some mechanical detailing, so I added tubing, some brass fittings and the top of a can to be her feul tank
Twin Peaks, Jul 8, 2009

It was tricky but I found a proper wig for her and started dressing her up in real clothing;
Uploaded - 7\129-34

Some black wash of paint, to ‘dirty her up.’ Using thin ink/acryllic like this seeps into the texture and cracks to give her the old porcylin texture I was looking for.;
Uploaded - 8\259-1



Gynoid WIP gallery on Flickr


Posted: October 6, 2011 in model
Tags: , , , , , , ,

an acronym for; Kludge Robotic Autonomous Wrecker and Locational Recycler

KRAWLR test composit

This is John Henry’s home; a mobile workshop, a giant, slow moving, largely automated, tracked vehicle, something like a huge garbage truck.

I wanted to create something realistic and grounded enough to seem like it could exist; to seem functional, but also of a scale to show how large this world is.
nasa crawler
John goes through the waste gathering scrap, so its main role is as a recycler, and not necessarily military applications. I really like the Crawler they use at NASA to move the Shuttle, for example.
Images tagged as inspiration on Tumblr.

These were some of the early sketches, playing around with various ways of loading it and sorting it’s scrap, from arms like a garbage truck to piles of junk chained and heaped to it’s back.

Obviously I wouldn’t be able to create something of this scale this in my back yard, or be able to rent one, so I’ve opted to go for the practical approach and create a model. I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside Fon Davis and pick his brain for ideas and tips about what will work and what won’t, as well as the opportunity to work out of Fonco.

The first concern he told me would be scale, too small a model would never look realistic if for no other reason than the size of a camera’s lens wouldn’t allow me to get low/close enough. 1/24th scale was the starting point he recommended.

I’m more interested in ‘kit-bashing’ this model together rather than making it completely from scratch; it’ll allow for a faster build as well as helping it fit into the aesthetic of this world. Also the steps of construction will be more easily repeatable at different scales by using manufactured scale parts.

The first major decision was on the chassis, an M2a3 Bradley tank. This 1/6 scale model is huge, about 2 feet tall and 3 wide, its like a coffee table! It was produced for by 21st century toys for 12″ GiJoes and I used it in my “drabbercm” stop motion film/installation.

The 1/6 Bradley tank will become the basis for a 1/24th scale KRAWLR, the ‘Biggature’ as I’ve been calling it.

I’m creating a smaller KRAWLR concept model at 1/140th scale, in train speak this is N-scale, from a smaller 1/35 scale base Bradley model.

Started by carving foam for the main shape of the hull and placing it in the Bradley chassis;

I vacuum formed plastic over the foam to create a hollow shell and began gathering parts from model trains and rail roads;

I made a mold and cast up some resin copies of vents from a train engine to make a big engine for the KRAWLR, also made a second vacuum form pull from the hull shape from thicker plastic to make an outer shell;

Added more details and structural parts.

Used tiny rare earth magnets and dollhouse hinges for the outer shell;


One of the trickiest parts was adding the wire rails for the side shells to slide along;


I added the base and pistons from a watch for the main tower uplink and I used etched brass fire escape from a train set to create a platform beside the Com array.

I’ve been planning out certain comp-shots and environments around the model where I could stage a scene and have elements to interact with, the front cabin, the loading bay in the rear, etc.

Added more engine details as well as started the primer/basecoat;


The KRAWLR carries the LOADR on it’s back;

As I go, I’m shooting tests from this model, to see how it works on screen, and where details can be added or changed. Its much easier to make these changes here than it will be on the ‘Biggature’.

KRAWLR (work in progress) – set on Flickr.