Last modified: Friday, August 17, 2001 7:54 AM



Okay, let me preface this by saying that this has been, and continues to be a low-energy project. I've been busy with work computerstuff (which has actually been interesting enough for me to have spent many days of free time on), and there have been a thousand and one other things to do-- yardwork, pondwork, aquariumwork, TV shows, DVDs and videos to watch, strange-looking peppers to eat, games to play... Hell, I even owned a Playstation2 for 24 hours. And now I'm getting hyped for our big Cancun vacation. There have been plenty of excuses for not working on any customizing projects. That's where the real problem has been: I just don't feel like there's anything I must make. There are plenty of things that I could or should make, but I'm fairly content with what I've made so far.

So this is a "furniture" project, loosely inspired by having played the PC game "Heavy Metal: FAKK 2" in full cheat mode. It doesn't have anything to do with the game, but it put me in that general FAKK2 frame of mind-- the future mode, with sleaze and big weapons (That's why I say it's not really finished yet). The FAKK2 comic and video have a sex doll robot, which was one of the first things I thought of when I saw 21C's Jacqueline doll naked. And somewhere in there I thought about the old comic book series, "Magnus, Robot Fighter". The text above seems somewhat Blade Runner-ish though (or like any cheap ripoff of that classic). Lots of confused and conflicting ideas, and throw in the fact that I've already made my token sinister female bot, the Maria 2K robot. Did I leave anything out? Oh yeah, Jacqueline!

I didn't have any great plans for the Jackie figure, so it wasn't too heartbreaking to Dremel grind the first hole in her torso. A running joke and guiding principle during the Dremelling was: "If articulation seams don't matter on a clothed figure, think of how much money 21C could have saved by shaving their plastic costs!" For all the holes I drilled, no part of the function and structure was ever in jeopardy. I intentionally ground out the entire mid torso section and replaced it with the wasp waist for looks.

This was almost entirely an exercise in Dremel sculpting. Some parts are quite tricky to get clean; it requires picking the appropriate bit for what you're trying to accomplish. This is in consideration of the type and characteristics of the plastic you're operating on, too. I don't have a low RPM control on my Dremel, and that probably would have been the ticket for really controlling what you're doing. Otherwise, you have to do it through your choice of bits-- the size, taper, whether they cut, grind or polish -- and control the plastic melting friction through your technique. The rotational direction of the bit determines where melted plastic builds up, and it's not always possible to approach a cut from the best direction or angle. Some of this flash is easy to clean up, some of it isn't. The arms and legs require a different approach since they're made of a different type of plastic (PVC, I think). That stuff's miserable-- it gets ragged when grinded or polished at high speed. Some of it can be buffed out, but it takes a very light touch. Although this was a very simple, slacker-ish project, the Dremeling sessions were pretty intense. I could feel the phantom vibrations in my hand a full day after an extended session.

There were/are a couple other ideas that I tossed around to hold my interest: Filling the head and body cavities with some robotic or organic looking stuff; putting a fake skin over it; plating the body parts. I chose not to plate the body parts because it would have been extremely difficult (and boring) to separate the figure into all its parts and plate them. More importantly, it's doubtful that the articulation would still work since plating would change the clearances and friction characteristics of those parts. Besides, does it really make sense that futuristic robot frames would be built from shiny metal? Sorry Arnuld, I know it looks cool, but... Why not flesh-colored composites? Makes my job easier too.

The skin covering idea seemed cool at first, but I soon realized that it would defeat the purpose of all that grinding work and make it look like a not-right version of one of my hard bodied gals. Duh! So the latex mask was torn ragged and I made a cursory top torso section so I could rip it strategically. Uhhhh... ugh... ugly. A dorky idea IMO, and it's kind of like a article of clothing that I'd never display on the figure. So most likely, the pictures above are the only time they'll be seen.

Instead, I'll probably focus on the body furnishings. The pics so far show some initial experiments with hot glue and Saran wrap. This lets you create little milky balls and bundle strands. It can be colored and have stuff embedded in it too. There's all sorts of groovy things that one can do with added-on weaponry. The distinctive Jackie hand may have to go away, and I'm still hoping to steal that head-spike look of "Lamprey" from "Battle Planets". But that's all for later...


07/29/01- The head has been a lot of fun to work on, and continues to evolve. The original concept was a Terminator-derived skeleton-like thing, with the gimmick of it being a hollow receptacle for some sort of cybernetic brain. The eyes were going to be camera lens-ish mechanisms, mounted in the sockets. I thought I'd show how smart I was and avoid the classic LED as eyeball convention-- eyes are light receptors, not emitters, right? (well, I guess they could be both, like radar...) Then I thought of the mask idea, and fortunately the placement of the eyes and chin happened to roughly match a latex mask I pulled from my Liz Taylor mold (I just grabbed a mold from the heap-- it looked like it might be female, but I didn't know for sure until I pulled the casting). I used the bead eyeballs because they were quick, and I wasn't in the mood to do the head's innards at that time. That's roughly when I got on the fake skin jag, and after travelling that path, I'm back to the head again. (For whatever it's worth, there's an extra untorn facemask casting with eyeholes cut out, but it has a casting flaw on the chin.)

I decided that I like the bead eyeballs. And I decided to make some eyelids for them, so now the goal is to create my version of the highly desirable "custom expression mechanism" (har, har). Yah, Thunderbirds are Go, huh? This stuff really isn't rocket science; it does require an understanding of how a door hinge works though. The control rods for the eyelids (they're not independent) and jaw are just wire levers inside the head, and I haven't figured out how I'm gonna bring them out so that the back head panel doesn't have to be removed. That may be the rocket science part. She might get a tongue too, since she was supposed to be a former pleasurebot.

I de-skullified the facial features because that's such an obvious Terminator rip; besides, it's fun to see where farting around leads ya. I realize that this does make her into a less realistic android. In order to make her look more animatronic, I'd have needed to put holes and faux plate lines to simulate a plausible means of actuating facial muscles under a skin. But this is my fantasy, and I wanted her to look at least partially human; somewhere between Soryama's "liquid metal" gals and a Disneyland Abe Lincoln animatron. So what you get is a homely, cheap plastic Galbot.

(Galbot's other battle-damaged mask. What would be the point of hiding all that groovy robot stuff?)


08/05/01- Yeah, it's a crummy update, but that's the kind you get when there isn't much to show! I'm trying to find the natural "groove" for Galbot, and it doesn't seem to be in the direction of welded on weapons and armaments. Instead, she seems destined for a "Just-A-Bot" role, with a slightly retro look. A C3PO-ish type. I've since completely redone the eye mechanics but I'm still not entirely satisfied-- It doesn't look any different, so big deal, huh? The rods at the base of the skull control the eyelid positioning. She's now got "ears" and a back skull cover, which is held in place by a centering pin through the top. But the main thing here is her "brain".

This was a little bit of a dilemma-- organic or a mechanical panel? The organic brain floating in a glass jar is an old staple of sci-fi design. The fiber optic studded panel with engraved detail (like Star Trek's Data) was another possibility. Neither seemed very exciting to me and I really wanted to do something different. So I came up with a hybrid idea: A bunch of tiny wire coils, packed randomly like worms, suspended within the rounded brain jar. This creates complex mechanical detail, with a somewhat organic look.

Chasing concepts like that is a lot of fun. I'll never forget the first time I saw Alien, and was totally blown away by the depiction of the destroyed android (among other things)-- all that milky organic stuff! A project like this practically invites you to explore oddball design stuff like that.

08/17/01- These are a few detail embellishments that I made before I went on vacation. They're probably not very noticible, so I'll point them out. The hands were "robotized" by grinding out the accordian pleating and the finger segments. Shallow depressions were made at the knuckles for fitting beads, which are wired from the topside. The long wrist section was cut for fitting with the "Sideshow Toy" articulation. Fortunately, the hand is molded with an air pocket in the center-- a styrene rod was glued to the hinged section (Superglue bonds styrene to PVC very well.), and the hand section needed only a little bit of extra drilling to accommodate the rod. Here, the properties of soft PVC work to your advantage: The material doesn't bind the rod too tightly (avoiding excess stress on the glued part)-- just well enough to make a smooth-functioning joint-- but the friction between styrene and PVC hold the parts together relatively securely. I chose to keep Jacqueline's opened palm pose even though it's not very functional-- it's an unusual pose and seems to go with the robot thing.

At the elbow and knee joints I added little metal "pistons". These are simple mechanisms: A wound guitar string was soldered to a pin and fitted inside a spring drive belt segment, also soldered to a pin. Metal tubing would have worked as well, but the spring belt had that neat coil detail. The waist was also detailed with pistons, although they aren't as functional-- I didn't put ball joints in the ends. (A ball of solder would probably do the trick.)

Before moving on to this stuff, I had the somewhat difficult job of matching the head to the color and texture of the plastic. The coloration is fairly close, although it required much more orange and red than my usual skin tints. It's not a color that I wanted to make a bunch of, so the palette mixing was particularly vulnerable to the one-shot nature of trial and error, eyeballed mixing. You just need enough paint to cover the whole area at one time. Subsequent attempts to match probably won't, and slight mismatches are especially noticible when they're right next to each other. That's not as big a deal when the parts are separated by distances.

Matching the plastic sheen is fairly easy (although I didn't really finish the job), since flat acrylic paint will naturally develop a sheen if handled: Maintaining a matte finish is the hard part if you handle your work a lot. Polishing with a Q-Tip speeds up the process though.

Totally off the subject: Cancún is AWESOME. It's pure torture to come back to the same old routines when you miss the daily steaks, drinks, sun & surf... I could live that way (if only I could afford it)!