Mass Effect 1/6 EDI robot head-shot


04/28/17- EDI, the Normandy SR2 spaceship's artificial intelligence, appears in Mass Effect 2 as a blue holographic sphere with a female voice. Even though she has some great lines of dialog, a blue orb on a stick wouldn't be a very interesting doll project. In Mass Effect 3, she appears in humanoid form after commandeering the body of a "synthetic infiltration unit"-- which just happens to be a female robot with a hot bod and skin-tight... uh... skin? Now that's a worthy project!

But what's a "synthetic infiltration unit"? Is it an inorganic mechanism like a robot, or a mix of mechanisms and organic tissue, or something else? Between that and AIs, VIs, and Mass Effect 3's "Destroy" ending, there are a zillion questions that I pondered while wondering how to proceed. Although this stuff is fantasy, when you make things based on it, it's helpful to understand the ground rules so you can extrapolate.

Extrapolate? I didn't think I could make a Mass Effect 3-faithful EDI doll because of her seamless torso, which would require a soft rubber torso, which wouldn't accept a durable paint job. Even if I were able to pull it off, that would lock her in the ME3 framework. She'd be posed with the other Mass Effect dolls I've made, many of which are extrapolations and don't fit ME3 either.

The best bet was to look beyond, to a post-ME3 world: Specifically, the "Destroy" ending, which shows the possibility of Shepard having survived. Notably, it doesn't show us the Geth being destroyed by the Crucible (...and if ya don't see the body...). Maybe the Catalyst was lying or didn't know what the Crucible would do? Since the ending is intentionally enigmatic, we can pretty much believe anything we want, except that which we were specifically shown. Yeah, the Reapers crashed and burned. The husks crashed. The Citadel and Mass Effect Relays suffered damage. Yep, EDI died-- her name appears on the Memorial wall. (Little known fact: Before she died, she was backed up on 100,000 miles of 8-bit ASCII punch tape from the Normandy's TWX machine.)

Rebooting post-ME3 into a "Dark Ages" galaxy gives a rationale to reconstruct a robot with salvaged bits of the EDI avatar, dialing the tech back to something more relate-able-- like a good old-fashioned mechanical torso. It looks sort of like EDI, but it either is or isn't sentient, depending on what you want to believe. With dolls, you can't depict software, so the AI issue is moot.

Obviously, it's not necessary to go through these gyrations just to make a doll. If I were building a frozen-in-time shrine to the Mass Effect trilogy, I'd probably just buy 150mm 3D-printed statues. But it's more fun to make stuff, especially when that creates worlds where the story hasn't already been told.

The Project

1/6th scale custom Mass Effect EDI; early design comparison with other custom fembot figures/dolls

05/15/17- Not much to write about. This is a very simple project: It's a modified Kumik headsculpt and a Play Toy Kumiklone body minus most of the flexible torso rubber. The headsculpt was straight-forward, since I was trying to make it look like EDI: I considered doing the head without the hair because it looked more robotic, but I wanted to emphasize the Mass Effect tie-in.

Most of my time was spent searching for ideas to dress up the torso to make it look more robot-like without impeding the articulation. I looked at the EDI concept art, cyborg artwork, and my own projects (Real Doll 2020 & Maria 2K Robot) for ideas. Eventually, I conceded that the stripped Play Toy figure looked pretty robotic.

A big plus of this is that the doll/figure armature is designed to work using conventional real-world materials. Digital designs and artwork only have to look like they might work. For example, the digital EDI's arms look and bend like a human's, which would be hard to do with rigid materials. Cosplayers realize this and use a latex suit with the details and seams painted on.

I dressed the torso with some mesh (an idea borrowed from the movie, Ex Machina)... it's kinda cheesy (but was qwik & ez). I wanted to do more-- but what? Sometimes simplicity is a good thing: It's much more rugged and poseable... but I feel like I should be cutting openings and filling them with wires and tubing.

Oh well. There's plenty of the obvious stuff left to do, like "robotize" her hands and make her hinges look less like stock doll hinges...

Mass Effect EDI, custom 1/6th scale doll-- early teaser shot of full figure

EDI Mass Effect 1/6 custom doll/figure, with painted mechanical detail and decals

05/24/17- I vacillate between wanting to make a more game-accurate EDI, and the reasons for not doing so. On one hand, I like the game's sexualized look, but recognize that the digital model is little more than a naked female with robot-ish paint job. I could go in that direction with putty (and sacrifice some articulation). On the other hand, the stripped Kumiklone armature offers a different direction that actually looks more robotic and is very articulated. (To be honest, I would have never thought to make doll-boobs so modest and mechanical-looking.) Since this would be a post-ME3 reconstruction of EDI, I could let the armature's construction lead the design, using a mix of both impulses.

Pics of the game-default EDI show detailing that appears to be mechanical, like wiring and tubing in gaps between plates. The hip area has patterns of rectangular detail underneath strips of a transparent material that follow the contours around to the backside. In close-up, it's obvious that they're not 3D, probably because they're 2D skin maps covering the 3D model. That's pretty much the approach that the Cosplay costumes and some cheap toys take with stickers and decals, and an approach that I wanted to try, because it's easier to paint the detail than construct it (especially on flexible materials).

The downside is that painted-on details aren't dimensional. The painted-on details are actually more faithful to the game's digital model, but a physical model reacts to real lighting without digital processing so the "cheat" is much more obvious. For comparison, the elbow detail is constructed detail-- the wiring detail produces real shadows.

I did try to detail the torso/abdomen with a layer of super-fine wire (from a gutted guitar pickup coil), shaped like abdomen musculature. It seemed like a cool idea, but in practice, it looked crappy. Undo.

I've made some peace with the flexible material that covers the Kumiklone torso-- yes, it can be painted, but the paint coat isn't as durable: I cut out and used sections that weren't subjected to a lot of flexing. The hip "briefs" are mainly to cover the huge gap between the legs and the hips, and the neck/shoulder section is mainly to cover the neck. Even though the naked neck looked more robotic, I felt like I'd have to construct piston/servo/wiring detail over it, which would restrict articulation. Much simpler to cover it, and imply that the mechanisms were under the covering.

06/03/17- Decorated more like EDI, with the weird high-heels (similar to the Turian's).

custom 1/6-scale  doll/figure: EDI robot from Mass Effect posed with ThreeZero's Legion figure. Full shot, showing additional detail and high-heels.

custom 1/6th scale EDI fembot doll/figure from Mass Effect, mid-shot with arms folded