Customs: Ball joints and ratchets - best sources

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by Orinoco77, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Orinoco77

    Orinoco77 Active Member

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    I’m part way through a custom build and I keep running into situations where it would be good to have a selection of joint parts to play around with, but all I have are the parts that come with the gundam I’m using as a base robot and I need most of those for the general poseability. Where do you guys get parts like that? Ball joints, hinges, swivels, ratchets... what’s the best way to get them? I’ve not found anywhere to buy them on their own, and taking something apart for them could get expensive if I make too many mistakes. I’ve seen people use bionicle parts and bits of Lego. Is that the best way? This is my first foray into custom building and it’s going ok, I just want to get some advice before I blow too much cash on what’s going to be my first and therefore worst effort.

    Thanks for any hints.
     
  2. Snaku

    Snaku Well-Known Member

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    I think the Lego/Bionicle thing is probably the best option if they fit the scale you need. They're an extremely sturdy plastic that can take a lot of abuse and their tolerances are just perfect. I don't know if Bionicles have ratchets but I've seen some ratcheted Lego pieces.

    If you need smaller, you can find a lot of gunpla pieces or kits with lots of ballcap joints of various sizes. It's a softer plastic so it's not as durable as Lego but you mentioned you're already building off a Gundam kit so that might work for you. I like to get them at Hobby Link Japan but you can also find some stuff on Amazon.
     
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  3. Orinoco77

    Orinoco77 Active Member

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    Perfect, thank you. I had a quick look around to see if I could find anyone just selling the sort of parts I'm likely to need, and I came across a shop on Aliexpress called (I kid you not) Big Cabbage. They sell all sorts of individual Lego pieces, in smallish (20-100) bulk lots, so I think that's going to be my supplier of choice when I can't find what I need drifting around charity shops or eBay. I'd post a link, but I haven't posted enough here yet. I got a pack of 100 thin, flattish hinges (they look good for car doors, etc) for less than £5 (probably $7-$8). Being Aliexpress they won't get here for a little while, but at least I know they're coming and they'll work.

    The bot I'm working on is completely custom. I figured I'd feel less bad if it all went wrong if I wasn't trying to recreate anyone in particular. Hopefully I'll make most of the really rookie mistakes here, and then I can move on to better things. He's based off a 1/24 Tamiya model kit for a Honda Jazz (Fit in the US, I believe), and an RGM-79 gundam. Unfortunately my first rookie mistake was scale. It's not easy to visualise these things when you're ordering on Amazon, so the car shell is way bigger than my intended Masterpiece minibot scale, and the gundam is a little small for what I wanted (1/144 scale, should have gone for 1/100). Never mind, those slightly elongated, skinny gundam legs will give the right "minibot leg" aesthetic, and I'll just have to come up with some sort of solution for the arms. I haven't done any model building in a few years, and funnily enough it was your post on your custom Arcee that got me interested in modding/scratch building transformers, so thanks for introducing me to a new hobby too :) 
     
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  4. Snaku

    Snaku Well-Known Member

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    Wow! A 1/144 gundam in a 1/24 scale car? He's going to be a fatty to get all those car parts onto such a small bot frame. I think you'd be hard pressed to even fit it onto a 1/100 scale figure though that would certainly be much more manageable (actually that shouldn't be too far removed from TF Alternator/Binaltech scale I think and those are 1/24 cars). I saw a custom Prowl figure somebody had created back before the MP line really took off (so before MP Prowl was a thing), that was built from a 1/24 scale car model and it came out to almost MP10 height if I remember correctly. MP carbots are somewhere in the vicinity of 1/30 scale with MP Bumblebee (a minibot) even smaller.

    Anyway, hope it goes well and I hope that last paragraph doesn't come across as me trying to discourage you. I tend to go straight for what I see as problems when I look at a project like this because I figure those should be the first thing to be tackled and defeated. I've been told that it sounds negative and that's not what I intend at all: to me the problems are half the fun. I'm honored that my humble and unfinished custom was able to inspire you the same way that another customizer inspired me :) 
     
  5. Orinoco77

    Orinoco77 Active Member

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    Yeah, he’s going to be a chunky fella. I’m basically using MP Bumblebee’s transformation (feet at the front, split in the roof, so the roof becomes both back and chest), so that helps to keep him a little shorter. Best guess he’ll be about MP car height when done, but with a much bigger bot mode. Also helps that the car is on the short side. Much shorter than the fairlady used for Prowl (I read that whole thread, it was pretty awesome).

    I might have to build new arms (or find some), and I might have to do some modelling on the legs to make them wider. Definitely needs wider hips, but that’s actually a good thing as it gives me somewhere I can build in a pivoting bar to swing the legs under the middle for car mode (probably makes no sense when I can’t show you what I mean). I recently discovered polymorph plastic which seems like it will help with mods enormously.
     
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  6. Snaku

    Snaku Well-Known Member

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    Polymorph is that stuff that's like beads that you put in hot water and then you can mold it? Or am I thinking of something else. If that's it, just know that it won't stand up to the elements at all. If you need to move and it's in the back of a warm moving truck (say if you're driving in the summer) there's a very good chance it could deform. I also wouldn't expect it to stand up to any serious strain like if it were holding up a shoulder joint or something. Other than that, I've always been curious to try it but haven't got around to it.
     
  7. Orinoco77

    Orinoco77 Active Member

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    That's the stuff. It's the higher temperature variant, it doesn't start to deform until it hits about 60ºC (140ºF) so it should be ok temperature-wise. I'm not really expecting it to do anything too structural, it's mainly for filling in bits here and there. I've tried some out though, and it's pretty damn solid once it cools. I was surprised. I'll see how it goes, but it's a nice material to work with. Its first job is likely to be weighting the feet down, and giving them some structure.
     
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