The leg and hip joints were a challenge. I wanted flexibility, but I was also demanding that the legs flip over the back, then pivot at the hip to face forward so his chest is the car's roof. This involved several types of joints. I developed some very sturdy joints with the straight pin technique, and one also that involved a screw going loosely through one layer, then screwing into another layer tightly thus pinching the layer in between. This worked so well in the thigh joints that I appied it to the main hip pivot joint and that has been working perfectly ever since. I took the design of the hip joint from one of my newest favorite toys, Scourge from Robots in Disguise, basically a repainted G2 Laser Optimus Prime. There is some awesome articulation on the G2 toys, too bad they came out in such a dark time for Transformers. The roof was a special challenge of its own. How do you get a flat plane of plastic to bend two ways at once? I had to layer it, then cut out tiny bits so it could both curl sideways and front to back. With some reinforcement strips of styrene glued (heavily) in place, the roof began to take shape. Often I strapped everything together with tape or rubber bands just to get an idea of how all the parts are shaping up. I wanted a pop-up head for my figure, but it's harder than I thought it would be. I should have planned more and thought ahead. It turned out in the end but there was a lot of sanding involved to have that head pop in there. The head also pivots to look around, but will only go back inside if straight ahead. The head bucket intrudes on the passenger cabin a bit, but not too much so as to look stupid. The head is made up of solid blocks of styrene, and when it came time to put a screw through it, it wouldn't budge. I ended up (don't try this at home, kids) heating up the screw with a solder iron, then screwed it in quickly. This made screw threads in the head so i could remove it and screw on the mounting plate. Weird, huh?
Some shots of the doors and interior coming together. The doors actually tuck inside the front fender when in car mode like the real thing. I hate metal car toys that have hinges that swing way out. very unrealistic but easy and cheap to make. The doors close perfectly and stay shut. Since no moving parts enter the cabin space I wanted it to be as realistic as possible. The grooves in the door were achieved by gently shaving the panel with the back of the X-Acto knife. This produced a nice effect and about 1 million little curls of plastic. The last image is of a 1/64 (Hot Wheels size) Fast & Furious Charger next to a pile of styrene rubble. I got tired of my skanky workspace and cleaned up. I collected all the styrene shavings and scraps (that weren't embedded in my carpet) into a big pile. Much of Redline's detail parts are made from little scrap pieces that were in the right place at the right time.
Once the interior sculpting was almost finished, it was time to consider attaching the roof. I made some ugly temporary front A pillars (I thought they were permanent until they broke off one day and had to be replaced) and sort of "spot welded" the roof on to see how things lined up. Once I got the rear quarter sections in their basic shape I was able to tape the chunks together and see how the wheels looked. Truth is, they looked a bit small. So I invested in a Maisto BMW 1/38 scale Z8 toy car, and it wasn't out of the package 5 minutes before I had snapped a photo and taken it apart for its wheels. They looked perfect so I put the slightly smaller and now ruined Mercedes wheels on the BMW. Doesn't look half bad. The front bumper assembly was several pieces/layers, and the actual bumper is one stick of frame plastic just whittled and sanded to shape. The front bumper helps to keep the two front halves in check and worked out better than I imagined. I was finally able to stand Redline up by himself on May 18th 2003.
The legs needed a lot of work, including detailing and making them thicker and not silly looking. After making the wheel wells, I noticed an air pocket that should probably be filled. I decided to use some Sculpey III to cram in the space for weight. Otherwise I consider this stuff to be almost completely worthless. To make this stuff permanent in a shape you have to bake it. Well, you can't bake the crap if it's surrounded by styrene! So, as with most of Steelskin, this product has been delegated to hole stuffing.
Time to paint the interior! Ok, so usually I fear painting like nobody's business. Painting is the fastest way to screw up 6 months worth of hard work. Things turned out pretty well in this case. I now bring your attention to the crusty brown jar of Testors paint. Why, oh why does the paint do this? Granted it's a few years old but c'mon this is pathetic. I had to add some solvent to the edges and chunks to get enough color to paint the wood grain in the Charger. If the lid isn't falling off, it's permanently glued to the jar somehow so the only hope of getting it off of there is to heat it up over an open flame and hope it expands a tiny bit, or Vice Grip it and hope the glass doesn't crack. But whatever, it's a lousy buck to replace it. I might someday. In all fairness, I have some pretty old bottles of paint that are doing well for their age, so I suppose it's just a few bad seals here and there. I finally glued the roof on permanently after making a few other adjustments. Hooray, it's a whole car!! And coincedentally a robot, too! Time to begin sanding...
After 3 days straight of nothing but sanding (sounds like a lot? I spent at least 3 weeks sanding Steelskin!) I noticed I had rubbed a few holes through the layers of styrene. Here's my magic recipe for styrene bondo: Shave a bit of plastic with the back of the X-acto knife. This will produce very fine curly shavings. Once you have a pile of shavings, add a dob of glue about the same size as the pile. Combine the two quickly into a paste. As I understand it, the glue actually melts the plastic a bit, and that is why styrene makes such a good bond. While it is gooey, apply it to the hole or divot. More is better than not enough. The glue portion not only melts the patch material, but also fuses it to the hole it's filling. After several hours (overnight is best but who can wait that long?) you can lighlty sand the patch down to where you need it to be. The patched area will be a bit darker than normal but will paint well if sanded and primed properly.