Building wings

Back at work on the animatronic wing project. Right now I’m making the patterns for the wing molds. This involves laminating layers of plywood together and then bending them to the proper shape using a form. The wings are incredibly difficult to make as they need to be not only very light weight but also strong, rigid and translucent.


And so it begins…

I needed a mandrel to use as a form for shaping the Hellboy egg shell. I found a wood egg at a local craft store for $2. The length is about right but unfortunately the diameter is way off. I also don’t know if the film version had a round or flat bottom since it’s very hard to tell by watching the film. I’m guessing there were a couple of versions of the small egg in the film. The open version that you see standing on its own was able to rotate on the box top in the film (during the sequence when Nuada is assembling it) so I’m thinking the bottom had a flat area where it was attached to the table/rotating mechanism- it looks like it does when you get a very brief side view of it in the film. The egg that Nuada is holding in his hand is first the small version (closed) when he takes it out of his pocket, then switches to the large version during the opening sequence and then switches back to the small version (opened) when he removes the elemental bean- all of these appear to have a round bottom but I can’t be 100% sure due to the angles at which it is seen.


In order to make this wood egg work I coated it with a layer of ApoxieSculpt and then turned it on a lathe. I printed out a line drawing of an egg that appeared to be the correct shape and then used that to cut out a template. While turning the egg shape on the lathe I could then use this template to check the shape of the egg. The turned egg is approximately 3 7/8″ tall and 2 7/8″ diameter.

The egg mandrel has to be slightly smaller than actual size due to the thickness of the brass sheet used- I’m starting off with material around .030″ thick but I can run it through a rolling mill if I need to reduce the thickness slightly. Once I anneal it I’ll hammer form it over the egg mandrel and then trim each panel to the required shape. Believe it or not that’s actually the easy part. The tough part of the fabrication is all of the pivot points required as they really can’t have any slop in them if it is to close correctly. I’m still finalizing all of the mechanics but I think I have the assembly sequence and how all of the parts have to fit together mostly figured out.


Hellboy Elemental Egg

With the Stargate helmet finished and the animatronic wings well under way I’ve been thinking about making the Elemental Egg from Hellboy II: The Golden Army. This is a project I’ve wanted to tackle for quite a while and after giving it a fair bit of thought I think I have a good idea as to how to make it.

For the film I believe two eggs were constructed; the first actual size (I’m guessing approximately 4″ long with a 3″ diameter, maybe even a bit smaller?) and a second that was quite large that was used for the sequence where the egg opens up to reveal the elemental bean- I’m guessing that it was either animatronic or cable control.

What I want to make is an actual size egg that opens up- an animatronic egg display piece. I plan to do this by having the egg mounted to a base and having servos open the upper section and the lower section of the egg. The servos will be hidden in a box underneath the egg. The lower section is pretty tricky as there are 24 individual plates that open outward and they open at different rates. I would also like to make the bean glow during the animation sequence. At this point I think I have the majority of the mechanics figured out and I plan to construct the egg shell by forming brass sheet over a mandrel. I imagine one of the hardest things to accomplish will be having the plates close properly- it will require very precise fitting and manufacturing of the mechanics.

This is going to be a tough project!

A couple of screen caps-



Ok, NOW it’s done…

As it turns out I wasn’t  quite done. After getting everything together I realized the head needed to move up and back, which meant I had to machine a new neck pivot and then adjust the control rod length. Here’s the new neck pivot assembly.

The really fun part was the caps for the fan mechanisms- once I hollowed them out they didn’t fit- doh! I thought I took really careful measurements but close wasn’t close enough so I had to make new linkage parts so I could get the caps to fit properly. I also had to add the the little brass sliding tabs that cover the open gap as the fans rotate- just like on the original movie helmets.

Now the caps fit properly. They’re held in place with magnets and a round socket that fits over the fan mech pivot retaining collar so they can be easily removed if any repairs should ever need to be done.


Stargate Horus is done!

Got both of the fan mechanisms installed yesterday- really tricky to get them aligned properly. I also changed the way the head shell mounts to the head mechanism. I’ll shoot a build video this weekend that shows all of the movements and how it all works. After that it’s time for this bird to leave the nest and travel to its new home and get a proper paint job.


New Project- Asuna cosplay wings

I’ve been wanting to make a set of animatronic wings for some time so when I was asked to make these I pretty much jumped at the chance. This is a pretty challenging project for a couple of reasons. First, wings put a pretty big strain on servo motors so you need really powerful /durable servos and you need to make the wings very light weight. Second, there’s no room to mount any hardware! You can’t put the servos, batteries and controller board under the clothes and the mechanics are fairly complex as all four wings need to move up and down and flap forward and back. Everything has to fit behind the costumer’s back. You also need a hidden harness to support the wings. The trick with this project is not only to get everything to work properly but to make it look right. While there’s absolutely no way to make it look exactly like the pictures below I do believe it’s possible to get close enough and maintain the look of the character while still getting those awesome wings to move properly.

Stay tuned!