Friday, January 28, 2011

Intermittently Dashed Hopes

My plan to start this project in January is meeting with some serious roadblocks. First, I was sourcing High Impact Poly Styrene online - the shipping price was more than half the material cost. I asked a local business where they get their supply and called their referenced "emergency supplier" company - They don't have HIPS in stock at their local location, but can ship it to me for the low, low cost of... half the material cost.

I think I'm going to end up calling the sign store back to see what he can do for me. He offered to allow me to make an order through his regular supplier, delivered, I imagine, whenever he gets his own supplies.

Let's not even talk about resin pieces. All these details will cost me about $500, and who knows when I'll see them. The two guys who make resin body details are swamped with real life and other orders. There's a guy on eBay who makes a good chunk of these, some at half the price of the other guys, but he's not club-sanctioned, so it's a crap shoot to go with his stuff. Plus, I just added the parts up and I'd be saving a whopping $20 max. Who knows what shipping would be like since he's in the UK.

Then there's the skins. I figured I'd just order them pre-scored so I don't have to worry about screwing up one of the most visible parts. Well, again, real life has struck a supplier and these have been completely unavailable EVER SINCE I STARTED ASKING ABOUT THEM. I've politely asked every couple weeks if they have time to make them yet. I usually don't get a reply, but I saw that person send a message out to the R2 Builder's forum saying they'll take orders in a week or two.

Right now I'm taking note from C-3P0: We're doomed!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Friends Everywhere, Changing Hats

Friends Everywhere
Sometime last week I decided to make a call to a local sign shop. I had read on the Astromech forums about people getting High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) from places that make signs - often obtaining the scrap or otherwise trashed plastic. I made a call to Fast Signs in Colonie and, luckily for me, made contact with the owner of the business.

I was rather bold just outright asking him about his plastics suppliers but then explained all about how I'm part of the 501st Legion and am building a droid for charity work. I also let him know that I'm looking for somewhere local that I can just pick up a few 4' x 8' sheets of 1/4 inch and maybe a sheet or two of other thicknesses. He was very warm after that and gave me names and numbers of local suppliers of HIPS. He also said that if I happen to hit a dead end with his leads that he can arrange for me to purchase the sheets through his supplier in Rhode Island.

Changing Hats

Since the beginning of this project, I've researched everything with the intention of constructing only R5-D4. In my quest for accuracy I've noted that most people seem content with the notion that R5-D4 and R2-D2 share the same body except for 5 panels and the two utility arms - these are red on R5, while the panels are white and the arms are blue on R2. There is one other difference, and no other fan-made R5 I've seen seems to have it: one other panel has a recessed detail. You can see the outline of the panel plainly in the screen shot below.

R2 (left) and R5 (right) have different details on this one front panel just above the "coin slots".
Is this much of a concern? No, not really - though I will make sure I recreate R5 faithfully and fabricate this panel accurately.

The point of this section, and its title, is that I will be making a handful of replacement pieces allowing R5-D4 to become R2-D2. I've already paid for a styrene R2 dome kit that will be fabricated in March. Some day I'll probably make 2 full bodies but for now I am fine with making a convertible droid.

This styrene R2 head is the second piece of a droid I have purchased to date. I plan on getting the styrene in the next week as well as placing the order for the skins.