This is what I'm currently working on: The 1/20 Fully Scratch-Built RMX-00X Raptor X Hybrid. RMX stands for Rapid Maneuver Transformable, and I'm committed to finish this in the next two months or until June.
I was suppose to start this project last December, but that month was rather rough on me, that I couldn't really work on anything. This has been a difficult one to conceptualize. I was supposed to SB someone else's design, but Alex (the ToyCollector/Innokitz) and I agreed it would be best if it was mine own.
The main idea is a rather agile scout/recon/sniper mech, and the idea developed as Alex and I were chatting about it last December. I decided to make it a transformable hybrid mech. The transformation will be a very simple fold-up, with the legs swinging forward and the arms backward. The lower arms will have melee blades that become wings during flight.
In flight mode, the Raptor will resemble a Vic Viper, an idea that solidified when I saw this at GreatToysOnline:
And this is the original Vic Viper.
While these are my rough references for the Mech Mode.
The shape of things to come?
Not necessarily. These are 15mm X 70mm HIPS slabs of 1.0mm and 2.0mm thicknesses which are later sandwiched together to form two solid blocks 6mm thick.
This will give me enough material to carve and sculpt the thigh framework of the Raptor. A piece of 5mm round beam is cemented on one end of each solid block and will serve articulation points. Two 11mm long blocks with similar articulation points were also made and will serve as the framework for the lower legs. Thinner 3.0mm blocks were also made as intermediaries for the thighs and calves because;
true to its name, the legs of the Raptor are like that of a velociraptor. This in turn folds onto itself, "swings" forward and rotates 90 degrees at its length, and becomes the knard in flight mode, which will resemble a Vic Viper. The "calf" will have reversible thrusters for hovering in mech mode and small fins that act as wings during flight.
I used the Dragon Ronin as height guide for the Raptor. The height of the "kit" in mech mode at 1/20 scale is 12 inches (almost 30cm), and the pilot would be at 4 inches (a little over 10cm).
After the initial design considerations, I had a harder time still how to incorporate the pistons to the overall leg design. I decided to reference the OYW RX78-2's legs' mobility. It's straighforward enough, pistons on the front of the thigh adjoined to the pistons of the lover leg via the knee. There are pistons on the shin and lower calf. I'll be 1-upping it by putting pistons at the front and back of the thighs, shins and calves, and those lower pistons "should" support the weight during posing. The shin pistons will also support the feet of the Raptor.
I made 3mm thick slabs by sandwiching 3 pieces 1mm each. The tricky thing about HIPS is, the 0.5 is brittle, the 1.0 is soft, and the 1.5 and 2.0 are so hard, they're not really ideal for use as intermediaries for the tubes when it comes to shaving it down to size. The hard HIPS are too brittle and due to their more pronounced directionality, they crack when filed to less than 1mm thickness with a tube inserted.
These at least are soft and pliable enough for the tubes to fit in snugly without giving way even when it's down to 0.5mm. I also have to make sure I have enough leeway when reaming the hole that it's just enough to fit the tube snugly that it holds even without cement. If it's loose, I'd have to do it over again, and in this case, it takes me at least a full hour to continue working because the individual slabs warp and buckle when they are still curing.
When done right, I get a nice, smooth and even edge. I've capped this with another 1.0mm slab and smoothed it as well, following the base shape. The cap holds and strengthens the entire structure together and prevents the primary from cracking.
Tedious work, this is a working pair of piston sleeve and shaft. I have to make 3 more pairs, and a few more for the arms and other sections. This should look good even without the armor, like a bare T800 shell.
I made the piston shafts about 10~20% longer than the sleeves so I have enough leeway later on.
The pistons actually took a bit of time for me to figure out how to do without them having to look "forced" into the build. Like I mentioned before, this hybrid would have an exposed frame, and less outer armor, regardless I have to be mindful of how complex I make it.
Once I figured out how to articulate the piston connections it became a little easier. I had no foresight when I made these, so I had to do a workaround by carving slits onto the structure for maximum hold.
On these slits, I attach 3mm thick slabs cut in a way that it creates a tongue join with the piston structure.
Again, making the joins snug allow them to hold even without cement, making the joins strong in the process.
I then attached a peg that would serve as the swivel joint for the knee structure.
For the main leg structures, I decided to bevel the edges to give them better form. I used this method of beveling with sword blades, but works on squared and angled edges as well. I start off by marking a distance (2mm, in this case) from each edge I intend to bevel,
and using the edge of my 3/4" width steel ruler (a longer and wider ruler may work as well, but the smaller one is easier to handle, of course), I scrape of as much material as I can up to the designated lines on each side. I used to file bevels before, but this method is way faster because the ruler can scrape off more material evenly.
For the sloping bevel, I simply used a blunt knife (this blade has been with me for the last two years or so, and I've never found a reason to replace it) to nick as little material as I can based on the bevel's slope.
I then filed the surfaces even, leaving enough leeway for smooth sanding later on. You can see a significant improvement in form.
For the thigh pistons, I opted for smaller diameter pipes. Having them right beside one another and creating a support structure for them was a bit trickier than the calf pistons (I simply drilled two holes in the latter case). Here, I drilled one hole first, and used one of the pipes as a distance guide for the other hole. I then enlarged each of the holes just enough for them to meet, and then inserted the two pipes together. Again, a snug fit is essential, because the pipes I am using are not made with PS plastic and do not melt with the cement.
In this case, I created support structure for both ends of the piston assembly to make it sturdy.
After filing the ends to shape, I added a peg on the top support structure that will serve as the swivel joint.
For the shaft assembly, I simply "dovetailed" the two ends to a horizontal peg and cemented them together. The shaft portion's swivel joint will connect to the front knee assembly.
For the thigh pistons' "cheek" swivel structure, I cut a 3/4 strip of 1.0mm HIPS, made a random shape based on the holes I drilled on the main thigh, and used that shape as the template for the others. (I find it easier in this case to use rectangular slabs Instead of making the exact shape right away, mainly because I'm estimating the size and shapes rather than making actual measurements). I cemented another strip to the first shape at an angle, to achieve a stairstep,
Then glued the entire group all at once on a huge piece of HIPS to "save" on material. The final thickness of each "cheek" is 3mm, with the outer lip that will hold the pistons' swivel at 2mm. The cheeks connect to the thigh via pegs, and would later be held in place by the interlocking thigh armor.
Swivel Test: You can see where the pegs are positioned via color differences on the plastic. The calf pistons' shaft swivels are simpler and would be hidden by armor.
I'll be working on the Leg Armor, then foot and the hip structures next.