Last modified: Saturday, December 22, 2001 8:22 AM


I thought it was worthwhile to explain the problem with making my conversion project's arm design match the implied design of Kow Yokoyama's SAFS. That type of problem keeps popping up in other areas, so it serves to explain a general design philosophy. This was written as a response to a suggestion in the Message Board, but here I can embellish it with pictures and revise it more readily.

From Pablolobo:

Jim, one thing to be aware of as the real life never imitates the movies, i.e. the kit for the 1/32 APC from Aliens has no room to allow 1/32 figures to stand in it. Yet in the movie Ripley, 6'1", is actually standing in the vehicle.

What does this mean? Look at the art work for the Fliece and the P.K.A.G. The humans are HUGE in relation to the mechs! This can be evidenced by the size of their heads.

So obviously their arms and shoulders stick out through the holes. We all know that vinyl kits are a pain in the tails, but I think in order to recreate some of this magic you are going to have to break out the X-acto and do some cutting. Hope this helps.

Happy holidays.


It's hard to expound to the extent that I'd like to in the articles-- heck, I digress enough as it is, and I probably have the wordiest Joe website on the 'Net! So maybe this is a good place?

You bring up some good points about the liberties taken with filmmaking. Some stuff just doesn't work out when you model it because the real thing never existed in one place, at one time. That's similar to the issue faced with the SF3D suits-- they exist as artwork and plastic models, so they never really had to have working mechanisms, or an actual human inside, or even an articulated figure inside. (I should point out that an articulated figure isn't the same as an actual human either!)

Nevertheless, this is about articulated figures-- so I'm trying to adapt the suit design to the working parameters of the figure. The focus isn't on being faithful to Kow Yokoyama's designs-- no disrespect intended, but they're not technical drawings. Because they're sci-fi/fantasy, they don't have to follow rules of physical reality. But the figures do have rules they must follow. As someone sez, "I canna change the laws of physics". So guess what gets changed instead?

If the arms are to have the widest range of articulation, the shoulder hinge should be outside the suit's body. If the hinge is inside the body, the amount the arm can move is limited by the size of the hole it's poking through and the distance from the hole to the centerpoint of the hinge. If the distance is long, then the arm can deflect only a little bit-- this would be good for holy cross poses. If we reduce the distance, the arm can deflect farther in all directions. The closest you can get is with the figure's body pressed up against the interior of the suit. At this point the thickness of the suit's wall (and the arm thickness) is what limits the deflection.

This is similar to those figures whose arms can't be posed turned slightly inward-- most can't do it while the arms are held in front, but a few have that problem when the arms are posed straight down. The solution? You shave off a portion of the underarm area (or arm)-- this makes the wall thinner. With a suit of medieval armor, the problem is compounded because you're doing it through TWO exoskeletons (the figure and the armor). Even though the armor is of negligible thickness, the articulation suffers. With the hardsuit, it's much worse. The wall of the hardsuit and arm is extra thick (as it should be). Furthermore, hardsuits aren't strapped on in pieces like armor is-- they're self supporting, more like something that a figure enters. Imagine how difficult it would be to get your arms into a single piece metal shirt that fit tight at the armholes. Articulated figures don't have the flexibility and squishiness that we have either.

If we enlarge the holes, we do get more arm deflection range and can leave more space between the hardsuit interior wall and the figure. However, the further the hinge is set back in the figure and the larger the opening, the more it looks like a swept-wing jet. That wouldn't be very faithful to the design either.

From the looks of the unaltered vinyl suit ("there is another"... as Yoda sez) and where the shoulders are bent, the shoulder hinges appear to be outside the suit body, in a location which would be humanly impossible. Move your Joe's shoulder hinges out about an inch on each side and they'd be close to the right place to wear the suit in that fashion. Sorry... I'm not gonna do that!

As I said, it's makes much more sense (to me) to use a reasonably proportioned figure and make the suit work with the figure. If the suit design needs to be changed to accommodate this, so be it-- the only rules we're breaking are the arbitrary magic rules!