clmayfield Making my HiC

Discussion in 'Han Solo in Carbonite' started by clmayfield, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. clmayfield

    clmayfield Member

    Well, I finally have time to document my making of the HiC now that I have the Thanksgiving break. I have been working on this for a couple of months. For this first post, I am going to talk about the vendors that I used. Then I will talk about the process I used. I haven't done a great job of documenting, but I did OK.

    1. HiC Box - zenix (HiC boxes for sale)
    2. Han - full front mold in rubber by Stormrider (For Sale - Stormrider - Iconic run - ESB ROTJ EE3 / Sidearm / Holsters)
    3. Volvo Panels - BigTurc (the RPF)
    4. Greeblies - zenix and BigTurc (HiC boxes for sale and the RPF)
    5. End Cavities - Blue Realm Studios (HIC Top/Bottom Slab Cavities)
    6. Electronics - Fettronics (Products - Fettronics Star Wars Boba Fett Mando Mandolorian Costume Custom Light Boards)
    7. Decals - Trooper Bay and Custom Made ( | Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics Apparel, Accessories, Collectibles and Costuming Supplies)

    Minwax Sanding Sealer
    Painter's Touch Gloss Dark Grey
    Testor Buffing Metalizer Gunmetal Spray Paint (1455)
    Valspar Brilliant Silver Spray Paint

    TiteBond III Ultimate Wood Glue (for box assembly)
    Liquid Nails LN-201 (for attaching end cavities to box)
    Liquid Nails LN-700 (for attaching rubber to wood... I would recommend contact cement instead)
    CYA Glue (for attaching greeblies to panels)

    From what I have seen, the vast majority of people who have embarked on making the HiC make the ROTJ version because it is a known quantity with tons of detailed photos from a living, breathing example. I have an ESB Fett and I like the ESB Carbonite version, so I am going it the hard way and trying to emulate a screen accurate (as possible) ESB box. This means I am going to have to take liberties because the ESB box doesn't seem consistent. Different panels are in different positions in the movie. And there are two Hero Panels and no Hero Panel 2. Also, importantly, I feel there is a lot more contrast between the Box and the HiC itself.

    More later...
  2. clmayfield

    clmayfield Member

    Before I get started, I should note the tools needed for this project. To build a really stellar HiC, good woodworking tools are essential. These include:
    Clamps (for all of the gluing). I needed a lot of these. By the end of the project, I had 8.
    Hobby horses. I ended up with 2.
    Circular Saw (for supports and cutting out backing if you choose)
    Jigsaw (I needed this for the side panel pocket backers... otherwise, I could have done without)
    Router... this was more necessary than I thought. I bought it to round the edges of the Box, but I quickly found that I needed it to install the end cavities and it would have been helpful in mounting the HiC front backing to the box frame
    Sanders... I bought both a Random Orbital Sander and an Orbital Sander (for fine work). These aren't necessary, but save a bunch of time.
    Oscillator... this was not necessary, however, it helped in trimming the foam behind my HiC front
    Dremel. Not needed for the woodwork, but definitely needed for work on the panels.
    Drill / electric screwdriver

    You can get away without using all of these tools, but many of them make life so much easier. I was really surprised at how versatile the router was.

    So let me get started talking about getting started. The Zenix CNC cut MDF Box was key. I don't know how I would have completed the project any other way. But you need to know some things about working with MDF first. MDF soaks up moisture, so it absolutely must be sealed, especially the end parts. If not sealed properly, the ends can suck up moisture and swell. I knew this, sealed up everything properly, and still had problems because I had the box outside during a rain and the tarp ended up not keeping the rain out. The results were predictable. Obviously, try to keep this thing indoors until it is fully sealed, and then continue to keep it indoors afterwards. Even changes in humidity will cause MDF to change dimensions slightly... enough to make it pull away from plastic, rubber, or bondo! Be forewarned!

    I started by putting zenix's kit together with glue and clamps only. My plan was to use 1/4" MDF as the HiC front backer. I laid down my HiC 4 edges down on 4 sheets of MDF and drew an outline. I then cut those out, glued the carbonite front frame in, and laid the MDF down for gluing as seen here:

    In hindsight, I should have put the frame together and used the router to hollow out the underside of the front frame. Later on, I had to add 1/4" birch plywood as a filler over the MDF. This adds strength but also adds weight. In hindsight, I probably would have also used birch plywood instead of MDF as the backer. It is lighter and harder, with less flex, which is important when mounting something that you want to keep rigid.
  3. clmayfield

    clmayfield Member

    One of the big differences you see in attention to detail is the pockets for the Volvo Panels. The pockets are shallower towards the top of the panel and deeper towards the bottom. The sides are at an angle, but the pockets are supposed to be at a 90 degree angle. I wanted to recreate that angle, but with the width of the MDF used, I would have to actually build an insert.

    The second post on this thread shows what the proper process should be:
    Rebel Legion :: View topic - MC Han in Carbonite project

    I opted for the lazy man's approach, which is to cut out the pocket as seen here:

    You only have to match the top countour of the pocket, but you make it longer. Then you glue and clamp the bottom side to the interior of the frame. The angle isn't quite right, but it gives that dimensionality without all of the additional work as can be seen here:

    I then used Bondo on the inside of the box to fill in any gaps between the pocket backing I had created and the side frame. That worked well enough. This is a nice little detail that gets overlooked in a lot of builds... and for good reason. It is a lot of extra work.
  4. clmayfield

    clmayfield Member

    Installing the end cavities was quite a lot of work. I ordered my cavities from Blue Realm Studios. Others have used Tupperware and containers from the Container Store. In the end, I wanted something that was drop in. It was quite expensive for what I got, but Blue Realm were the guys with the mold, so I used them. I should note that in the screen shots from ESB, there are obvious greeblies on the top and bottom of the HiC. Less obvious is what these greeblies were. The details is fuzzy as the shots are far off. For now, I elected to use the pockets from the known version of the HiC in storage. Some day, I might add some vents or rockets, which are featured on a lot of HiC's out there.

    The first step is to fit the cavities into the end caps and trace the edges of the cavities. Then you take a router and route out the outside edges of the holes for the cavities. I did this free-hand. It doesn't have to look nice as you will end up filling the area with Bondo or some other filler anyway. You can see what it looks like with the pockets installed here:

    I glued the pockets in using Liquid Nails LN-201. This is an expensive adhesive... and I needed a whole bunch of tubes, but this is absolutely the best adhesive I know of for attaching ABS to wood. Contact cement would have been cheaper and might have worked as well. Once I glued the pockets in, I clamped a 2X4 over the pockets to hold them in flush so that the glue could cure. I also got the Good Stuff expanding foam and really coated the inside of the pockets for support. When I was done, the pockets were in there solid and would not move. You want to do this before you add Bondo over the surface because the Good Stuff can distort the pockets and cause the Bondo to crack (Big Turc had this problem).

    I then caked Bondo over the surface...

    I then sanded down the Bondo using a random orbital sander. In hindsight, I sanded down too much. While the surface was flush, the layer of Bondo was too thin. The plastic is soft and the wood and bondo are hard surfaces, so changes in moiture will cause the MDF to expand and separate the plastic from the wood. This matters less if the layer of Bondo is thick enough to conceal any movement.
  5. intwenothor

    intwenothor Active Member

    How many michell knobs are on this build?
    I may have some you can have.
  6. clmayfield

    clmayfield Member

    Are those the knurled knobs on the Hero Panel? I need two. That would be awesome! I don't think the second hero panel has them.
  7. clmayfield

    clmayfield Member

    In addition to coating the ends with Bondo, I also put Bondo over all of the seams and sanded down. Again, in hindsight, I probably sanded down too much because when I was done, though you couldn't feel the seams. When I painted over the final product, you could still see the seams if you looked closely.

    Here is the Bondo before sanding.

    Now one of the things that I have noticed is that people tend to put the inner carbonite layer substantially lower than the outer box. Looking at screen shots from ESB, for instance, here:

    You can see that the "Han Layer" is actually raised a bit, if anything, from the box, but mostly it is about the same level and smoothness and color create the contrast.

    This meant that I had to figure out how to fill in the surface. I mostly used layers of plywood and some Bondo to put a filler layer under the rubber "Full Front HiC" from Sidewinder. This presents its own set of issues because the full front does not precisely fit the frame. Further, the rubber, wood, and Bondo are three separate materials that respond to changes in temperature, humidity, and stress differently. When I was done, it looked pretty good, but after letting it sit for a few days, I started to see some cracks and separation between the layers.

    Here is how it looked after I was first done:

    It looks not so bad. right?

    Well, you can see the cracks appearing after the base layer of paint:

    I tried to blend over those cracks with J&B Plastic Putty:

    ...and after a second layer of paint, it looked better:

  8. clmayfield

    clmayfield Member

    Now, speaking of paint, I did a lot of testing of various paints for the job. When I started, I was dead set on using Alclad magnesium. Once I put it down, I realized it simply was not the right color. I went with Tamiya Gunmetal TS-38, which I thought was a VERY good color, but what bothers me is that after it dried, in sunlight, you could see glittery specs. In the end, Testors gunmetal buffing metallizer was the clear winner. What I liked about both the Tamiya and the Testors was that from different angles, the color looked very different, which is what we see happening in ESB. In good lighting as he is floating down the hall, the carbonite looks almost light grey. However, in other scenes, the carbonite box looks black.

    Another things that I learned about paint is that surface prep is key for metallic effects. You want the layer under the metallic layer to be glossy and smooth polished. I started with multiple layers of Painter's Touch Dark Grey Gloss. All of the layers are there because it needs to be polished down and you don't want to polish all the way down to the wood. You also want the paint to act as a filler. I should first mention that before even laying down the Painter's Touch, I laid down a couple of layers of Minwax Sanding Sealer. As I mentioned earlier, MDF needs to be sealed. I would brush the sealer on, sand down with 400 grit and repeat for 3 layers. Then the Painter's Touch... 5 layers.

    And then I polished down the Painter's Touch with 600 grit, then 1500 grit, then 3000 grit, then 5000 grit. I used a sanding board to keep it as flat as possible. It needs to have a mirror shine before it is ready for the metallic layer. I wet sanded after the 600 grit using vegetable oil as my lubricant. This meant that afterwards, I had to use rubbing alcohol to absorb the oil.

    Also important... the Tamiya and Testors Gunmetal are lacquers. The Painter's Touch is enamel. If you want to put lacquer over an enamel, you have to wait for the enamel to completely "gas out." This takes at least 48 hours, but in reality, probably closer to 4 days. Rather than rely on these times, which may vary, the best way to know if your paint job has gassed out (meaning the solvent has evaporated) is to put your knows on the surface and breath in. If it still smells like paint, it hasn't gassed out completely.

    The metalizing lacquer layer will be very thin, but it will crackle if the enamel layer has not fully gassed out.

    Here is a view after the Testors Buffing Gunmetal layer (I used the spray paint as opposed to the air brush):

    And here is a view after Han has been spray painted with Valspar Brilliant Silver. It is way too bright at this stage, but the weathering process will cut that shine. Note that the Valspar Silver takes an incredibly long time to cure... about 2 - 3 weeks maybe more to gas out completely.

    and see how the different angle and different lighting makes the color of the box change. It looks almost black above. Here, it looks medium grey:
    robotzo likes this.
  9. Major

    Major Active Member

    Looking really good....
    clmayfield likes this.

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