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Thread: My BIG MOTU project

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    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    My BIG MOTU project

    I thought I'd start this thread to share the stuff I've been doing over the last couple of years. I've had a great time building a big diorama table on which to place my MOTU playsets... all of which have been customised in some way. I've made terrain, painted stuff, made a bone bridge, a Snake Mountain base and a moat for Castle Grayskull. I've also added LEDs to the playsets and generally have gone 'all out' where I could to add to my collection room (which doubles as my home office).

    To start things off I'd like to show off what I've done to Castle Grayskull. I never had it as a kid but always wanted it. I ended up with three two years ago. Here's what I did with two of them. I took very few WIP photos as I was doing stuff so I've mocked up the process I took to illustrate the steps I took.

    I’d seen some custom Castle Grayskulls with a duplicate of the ‘back panel’ which creates a third 'wing'. Instead of just having a duplicate of the back panel, I thought of this way to create a tall tower on the new wing.



    I started by cutting away the turrets shown below on one of the castles with a hacksaw... (yes it took aaaages)



    I then joined the two turrets together using Milliput to form a new tall turret


    I then attached this new turret to the space I cut away on the back panel



    ...and voila! Castle Grayskull now has a new tall tower wing



    I then had the idea that the new tall tower would be perfect to somehow include a ‘Spirit of Castle Grayskull’ action feature so I came up with this plan:


    I wanted the action feature to be ‘old school’ as if it were something Mattel would have done in 1983 if they’d had the budget.
    ...so when you turn the winch, the chain runs through the three pulleys, raises the pole through holes in the two floors, hoisting the skull out the top of the tower


    I used small right angle brackets screwed onto the inside of the tower to seat the floors. One of the harder jobs was to get the right shape for each floor based to fit the contours of the inside if the tower. I used playdough to make a quick mold to get a rough shape then sliced a cross section out of it to trace onto the floor material. There was a bit of trial and error for this bit.


    I made the winch out of lego but cut off any bits that made it look overly ‘lego-like’ then painted it to look like brushed metal. the chain is from a necklace I got for 50c at an op shop (thrift store). i made a wood texture for the floors and printed out stickers.


    The anchor point is lego too with a ring screw. I got the pulleys cheap off ebay.


    Partway through the build I decided that the skull should have light up eyes so I figured out a design that would illuminate small LED lights in the eye sockets of the skull when the pole was at full height. I also worked out that I could put a light at the bottom of the pole too which would light up at the same time as the eye lights

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    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    ...so the underside of the bottom floor has a battery pack with two copper contacts sticking out of it. the bottom of the pole has a cross bar with copper contacts at the end. Wires travel up to the top (the skull eyes) and down to a light at the base.



    I attached a plastic faceted crystal which makes the green light refract. I also designed green stone floor stickers for all the floors and the floor edges.



    The ‘spirit’s’ eyes glow green when raised to full extension. Finally, I coated the skull with glow in the dark paint


    I've also painted all the thatched roofs and 'cast iron' details on the castle.... aswell as all the rocks at the base... they're all now coloured to look like grey rocks.

  3. #3
    Evil Sorcerer & Commander Zargon's Avatar
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    AWESOME!
    Top MOTUC wants: Sagitar, Great Black Wizard, Skeletor's Skeleton Warriors, Odiphus, Illumina w/Sleetah, Lady Slither, Tuvar & Baddrah 2-pack, "new" characters as designed by Axor (Axel)

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    master of accessories facet's Avatar
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    This looks incredible

  5. #5
    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    Thanks guys.

    The next thing I wanted to do was add Chronos and Chaos. I only recently saw them in the DC story line and thought they'd make a great addition to the castle.



    So I found some flat plastic ruby looking gems on ebay and wired a couple of red LEDs behind them in the Castle's eye sockets.




    The wires run down to a switch at the side of the Jaw bridge door. When the door opens, the castle's door lever activates the switch, turning on the lights and making the 'Chronos and Chaos' glow.













    I also painted the Castle's teeth and door



    ...and the whole thing sits on a circular platform which rotates on a lazy susan bearing so you can turn the whole castle 360 degrees. On top of the circle is an eliptical platforn which can be moved back and forth horizontally... so when the castle is turned all the way round it can be pulled closer to you so you can reach everything. I'll go into that more when I do a post on the diorama table.

  6. #6
    Heroic Warrior

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    This is crazy amazing!!!
    I would of loved this CG as a kid. Lights are a huge selling point for me.

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    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    Thanks Oz-Scott, I agree... a bit of light-up action is cool... so I went a bit crazy on things that light up. I liked it when I saw the little 'secret' room in the MOTUC CG which has the orb behind the door in the 'head' bit of the castle... so I added something a bit similar to mine. I added an extra floor with an orb.



    I got the orb holder from a wedding cake shop. It's a spacer for wedding cake tiers. I painted it with metallic grey paint and drilled a hole through the middle. I wired up a colour change LED which shares wiring with the eyes of the castle so when the door opens, this gets lit up too and cycles through all the colours.



    The orb itself is just a small semi-opaque bouncy ball which lets the light shine through it.

    The only thing left to do (but not essential) is to hide all the wiring somehow... probably by covering it all with Milliput and painting it. It's not too obvious though so I may not even bother.

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    Master of Mix & Match Charlie Brown's Avatar
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    that's truly awesome: excellent work!

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    Heroic Warrior Lich Leech's Avatar
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    Holy cow, great work!

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    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lich Leech View Post
    Holy cow, great work!
    Thanks! glad you guys like it. When i get the time I'll share all the assets i've made (floor/turrett stickers etc)... i'm so flat out with work... it'd be nice to get paid for pimping up MOTU stuff huh?

  11. #11
    Heroic Warrior Tyke's Avatar
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    UNBELIEVABLE! This is one of the best vintage custom Castle I've ever seen. What passion, man. LOVE IT.
    All of my VINTAGE MOTU customs are here:
    https://www.facebook.com/tyke.smyers...9003959&type=3

    All of my VINTAGE MOTU "CONCEPT" customs are here:
    https://www.facebook.com/tyke.smyers...9003959&type=3

  12. #12
    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyke View Post
    UNBELIEVABLE! This is one of the best vintage custom Castle I've ever seen. What passion, man. LOVE IT.
    Thanks Tyke! It's been a really enjoyable way to spend my down time . Here are some shots I attempted of the GITD bits. Of course Scareglow had to be in shot too. I reckon it's so cool that Scareglow's glow is so super strong for a 30 year old figure.







  13. #13
    Clown Prince of Darkness Benedict Judas Hel's Avatar
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    That's very cool, jj! Good work! The only thing missing is a smoke machine to cover Castle Grayskull in a mysterious fog.

    Can't wait to see what you can do with Snake Mountain!
    "Wheresoever on earth he dwells, man is prey to two weaknesses: the need to pray and the need to love."-Marquis de Sade

    "It is not by reasoning or by our understanding that we have received our religion; it is by external authority and command."-Michel De Montaigne

    Heretical Vintage Purist and Non-Fan Extraordinaire!

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    Life is good Dice's Avatar
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    Wow!!!

    This looks awesome!!
    White knights of the internet only see flowers or dragons. Nothing in between.

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    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    I wanted the floors to have a stone texture... and of course green so I traced the floors, scanned it and made the textured in illustrator.

    I wanted to add an easter egg somewhere so I recreated the shields that can be seen on page 18 of the He Man and the Power Sword mini comic.







    I made a third floor for the new section. I covered over the elevator hole with cardboard and stuck n the new art.



    I placed a monster pit scan onto the stones of the lower floor and made turret floors out of the wood texture.



    I made a texture for all the edges of the floors too



    I painted the edges of the floors 'greyskull green' then applied the stickers of the top.



    I printed the A4 size stickers onto sticker paper at my local office supplies store for cheap.

    I'd like to share it with you so here's a link to my high rez artwork PDF for those of you who'd like to try a bit of DIY floor remodelling yourselves:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/fbwjegifjj...ckers.pdf?dl=0

    Give it a go!
    Last edited by jjhuehn; July 8, 2017 at 10:49am.

  16. #16
    Lord of the Patch baronterror's Avatar
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    Great project. I particularly like the tall tower.

    I do not have any electronics knowledge so that aspect is particularly impressive.

    The graphics for the floors are a very nice touch.

  17. #17
    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baronterror View Post
    Great project. I particularly like the tall tower.

    I do not have any electronics knowledge so that aspect is particularly impressive.

    The graphics for the floors are a very nice touch.

    Thanks banonterror. I had very little knowledge of electronics when I started. It's all low battery voltage so not dangerous... apart from many soldering iron burns

  18. #18
    Evil Sorcerer & Commander Zargon's Avatar
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    This just gets better and better....
    Top MOTUC wants: Sagitar, Great Black Wizard, Skeletor's Skeleton Warriors, Odiphus, Illumina w/Sleetah, Lady Slither, Tuvar & Baddrah 2-pack, "new" characters as designed by Axor (Axel)

  19. #19
    Heroic Warrior darkmoon766's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zargon View Post
    This just gets better and better....
    I agree. When you are all done I would love to see a video of all this working, especially the skull rising mechanic.

  20. #20
    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkmoon766 View Post
    I agree. When you are all done I would love to see a video of all this working, especially the skull rising mechanic.

    Thanks darkmoon. I will do a video once I finish this WIP post.

    So next I found myself making a diorama table. The three playsets I had were a bit tricky to keep lying around on the floor. I wanted dedicated space for them.

    I was driving along close to home one day when I saw a long table sitting on the side of the road with a piece of paper saying ‘free’ stuck to it. After a few drives past it over a couple of days it dawned on me that it just might be the perfect size for a table to put our MOTU playsets onto. I hooked up the trailer and went and picked it up. Turns out it was the exact fit for the space i had so I started designing it.

    I wanted it to be a play table... something that kids cold walk up to and access all the cool stuff. The great thing about Snake Mountain and Castle Grayskull is that there’s an inside of the castle and and outside where enemies can approach to attack. So I decided to make turn tables for them to sit on so they could be turned to access both sides. I got lazy susan hinges pretty cheap at the local hardware and I cut the different sized circles out of ply wood.

    I eventually came up with this design.



    Here's the bare table with the start of the terrain.


    The size of the three sided Castle Grayskull meant that it’s turntable needed to hang off the edge of the table
    Problem with Castle Grayskul though was that once you turned the castle around, it was on the other side of the table... too far for kids to reach so i came up with the idea of cutting an extra elipse shape piece to sit within the CG lazy susan The elipse is on small castor wheels which means it can be pushed back or pulled closer so kid lengthed arms can reach the lift and throne etc.




    I ordered some small round castor wheels off the internet to affix to the bottom of the elipse. I then attached the runner track to keep the elipse running in a straight line then stopping at the edge of the turntable




    Here's the elipse pushed to the back position.


    Here's the back side of the little hill I made to put the Slime Pit onto


    ...and this is brought all the way forward




    This is the bottom of the Fright Zone's turntable



    Here are some papier mache action shots!

  21. #21
    Heroic Warrior

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    This goes from strength to strength! And what a great family activity for the little ones!
    Can wait to see the full set up!

  22. #22
    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oz-Scott View Post
    This goes from strength to strength! And what a great family activity for the little ones!
    Can wait to see the full set up!
    Thanks Oz-Scott. yes it's been a project for all ages.

    My next project was to build a Bone Bridge for the diorama that would climb up the hill towards Castle Grayskull’s moat.



    I’d seen a couple of great custom built Bone Bridges on MOTU dioramas on the Google so wanted to give it a go myself. I was partucularly impressed with Ferio’s MOTUC bone bridge so I spent a lot of time checking out his WIP photos from back in 2010 (see his pic below). If you’ve not seen his post I highly recommend checking it out:

    http://www.he-man.org/forums/boards/...7629-The-Abyss



    I chose a scale to suit the vintage castle then started drawing the shapes for the two arches out of Bunnings foam. This craft foam is really easy to work with using a sharp blade. I enlisted help from my kids. It was a great project to get them involved in.


    I wanted the structure to be really robust so I cut each arch in half then put coathanger wire into the core of each of them then glued it back together.


    There was a particular space on the diorama that the Bone Bridge needed to fit to wrap around the Fright Zone turntable so I cut the base and incline accordingly. I then joined on the arches and glued everything in place.


    Once the structure was complete, it was onto covering the whole thing with paper clay. I started out using the super light weight Crayola stuff but realised I’d need too much of it and it was a little pricey so I switched to a regular air drying paper clay which worked just as well albeit a little heavier.


    The next phase of the build was adding all the detail, textures, vines and veins that make the Bone Bridge look so organic and creepy. I used wires covered with hot glue for any vines that needed to stick out from the structure



    Child labour came in handy.


    The whole sculpture was covered in black paint as an undercoat then the lighter colouring was built up over the top.

    Here's the final result. I'm still not sure about the purple colour. It's depicted in the cartoon in a few different colours... blues, purples or greens. I may try matching it more closely to the green of Castle Grayskull.


    This shot shows how I glued the layers of foam together



  23. #23
    Heroic Warrior Thrillhouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjhuehn View Post
    I chose a scale to suit the vintage castle then started drawing the shapes for the two arches out of Bunnings foam. This craft foam is really easy to work with using a sharp blade.
    Bunnings foam???? Hey, You're an Aussie!!!!
    Which foam is it? I've always wanted to do a diorama but never known what to use. I work at Bunnings so any info on the foam would be great, even a barcode number. Were the lazy Susan parts from Bunnings too?

    That table diorama is almost exactly what I've had planned in my head for years. Was thinking of 3 actually: Grayskull and Snake Mountain, Crystal Castle and the Fright Zone with the Slime Pit, and the Eternia Playset on its own. I even pictured turntables and was thinking of some sort of pull-out system for the Eternia Playset to rotate on, as it is too wide to do a full circular table underneath. Seeing your solution for your Grayskull is super helpful.

    Oh, and btw, your diorama; It looks awesome. Can't wait to see more pics.

  24. #24
    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thrillhouse View Post
    Bunnings foam???? Hey, You're an Aussie!!!!
    Which foam is it? I've always wanted to do a diorama but never known what to use. I work at Bunnings so any info on the foam would be great, even a barcode number. Were the lazy Susan parts from Bunnings too?
    Thanks thrillhouse.... yep the lazy susan hinges were from bunnings too. Here's the foam:

    https://www.bunnings.com.au/knauf-in...board_p0811027

    Its super light and sculpts like butter with a craft blade. I used basic white (pva) glue whenever i needed to glue sheets of it together.

    I got all the mdf wood for the tuntables there too... just the cheap stuff. I had to get the small ball castors for the elipse on ebay though... just cheap chinese ones.

    Sent from my SM-G920I using Tapatalk

  25. #25
    Heroic Warrior jjhuehn's Avatar
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    Next up... Snake Mountain stairs and platform!

    My next project was to make the Snake Mountain turntable more interesting. I always loved the look of Snake Mountain and the terrain and backgrounds in the Filmation cartoon. I wanted something that would pay homage to this in some way.



    I decided that some sort of stair case flanked by organic looking spikes would be cool so we started carving something out of the trusty craft foam that would work alongside the Snake Mountain turntable.



    I really didnt do too much pre-planning or measuring with this apart from tracing the negative space between the SM turntable and the Fright Zone turntable which are pretty much right next to one another on the diorama. there was a little trial and error I used a pencil to carve lines down the spikes

    I undercoated the sculpt with black first.



    ...then blue then a final coat of ‘Snake Mountain purple’



    I wanted everything to look really orgnic so i started sculpting a curved staircase into the base that would going up with the top stairs bit.
    We used a pencil to mark out the grooves of the cobble stone effect

    Here’s the start of the stairs leading up to Snake Mountain



    Busy work...



    Painting... gluing... painting.. gluing...

    ...and here's the final result! The turntable still turns 360 degrees and can be stopped to align the top half of the staircase with the bottom half leading down to the table.









    I hope you like it

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