Masterpiece Prowl: How I Build - by Jarrod

Discussion in 'Radicons Customs' started by Jarrod, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Update, 6/27 page 23


    I've gotten numerous requests on how I go about building stuff, what tools I use, where to get stuff, etc. So, I figure this is the perfect opportunity to showcase that all.

    With that said, expect this to be a VERY picture heavy thread, with, hopefully, plenty of text too. I hope this thread will answer some questions, but at the same time give some tips to beginners and old-timers alike. Let's begin :) 


    This first post will cover what I'll be using for Prowl:

    The kits I'm using:

    AMT's 1/25 Datsun 280ZX Turbo:
    I could choose between a Tamiya 1/24 Tamiya 280ZX, or the above mentioned kit. Tamiya's kits are of exceptional quality, and it was in my preferred 1/24 scale....but it was the wrong model car. There are some minor differenced between the non-Turbo and Turbo, most notably the hood vents. In the end I felt the proper model car was more important than the ever so slight difference in scale and the slightly lower quality of kit.
    [​IMG]

    Bandai's Master Grade G3 Gundam Ver 2:
    I'm using this kit for numerous reasons. Foremost is probably the nearly fully articulated hands! But there's lots of Gundam kits with those, however this kit (and the RX-78-2, by default) has such fantastic, generic, blocky arms and upper legs. They transition easily into Transformer limbs with just the proper outer details added. This kit is also very sturdy, nearly all the joints use ABS on ABS plastic versus polycaps(*See later) for stronger joints that won't sag over time.
    [​IMG]

    My Tools (all listed from left to right):
    [​IMG]
    Tamiya Modeler's Knife:Blades are sharper (and cheaper!) than X-acto brand
    Tamiya Side Cutter: Great for small pieces of styrene, and of course model parts from their sprues.
    Rulers: Metric and US, plus the right angle is VERY useful.

    [​IMG]
    Pin Vise with drill bits.
    X-acto Razor saws in various sizes, included sized to fit a knife handle

    [​IMG]
    Blade style Line scribe: Great for straight lines, or over/around edges
    Bare Metal Brand Line Scribe: Carves a ridge-less channel
    Pick style Line Scribe: Great for curves or coners
    One of my various files

    [​IMG]
    Wire Cutters/Craft Clippers: Great for cutting metal wire, thick plastic, etc
    Fine-tip Gundam Marker: Perfect for marking styrene!
    Scissors: Cuts styrene easier than you'd think.
    And up top, various styles of specialty knife blades.


    Styrene:
    I use (nearly exclusively) Evergreen brand styrene, mostly just because is convenient and cheap! I mostly used various thickness's of sheets, strips and tubes. However there's textured sheets out there too, usually meant to resemble various roofing, building, siding, and even sidewalk patterns. Alot of those work great for mechanical detailing too:) 
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Polycaps (or Poly-unit, or poly-joints, or just plain old "joints")
    Whatever you want to call them, this is what I get asked about the most. These are mostly found in Gundam (and such) kits, and are the softer, rubber-like parts used to create the smooth, resiliant joint rotations. I use Kotobukiya's Poly Unit parts, which you can buy from HLJ, here: Kotobukiya Poly Unit . I feel Koto's poly's are very tough and hold a position much better than the typical Bandai Polycap.
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    The first thing I do when starting a project like this, is draw a rough (and I do mean ROUGH) 1/1 scale sketch of the car and robot modes. Basicly this just lets me measure to make sure the parts I want to fit into the car will fit. I already know how big I want to robot mode, so I just want to make sure it will fold into the car body.


    Next, time to start dismantling the car. To do this, I start with my Bare Metal scriber. It will carve out a thin line, and works on curves easily. It'll take a number of passed, but will eventually cut right through the plastic. I use this method when I can't access a point with my saw...or if the cut is curved.
    [​IMG]

    After most of the door is free, I'll use my knife, or small saw to get the smaller areas
    [​IMG]

    And the door fully cut out. The edges can be rough(especially where the saw is used), so I clean them up with my knife and/or sandpaper.
    [​IMG]

    I've used the Gundam Marker to mark where I'll make the rest of the cuts. Then using the same method above, plus my razor saws, cut the rest of car apart.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I've assembled what I'll be using from the Gundam. The arms will mostly likely be using in their entirety....probably not the shoulders tho. Most of the waist will be used, as well as the upper legs and knee blocks. The lower legs, feet, and abdomen will mostly likely not be used at all, but are just place holders for now.
    [​IMG]

    And lastly for today, a VERY early look at robot mode :D 
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    More for today!

    I wanted the upper legs to collapse into the lower legs like the G1 toy. It'll give much needed height in robot mode, but a compact car mode.

    First thing I need to do, saw off the lower leg, leaving just enough to build a sliding block from.
    [​IMG]

    Then I measure how wide I want the lower leg to be, and mark it on some 1mm styrene. I use my ruler as a guide and score (just a shallow cut) the styrene with my knife. Then I grab the styrene on both sides of the cut, bend it, and its snaps at the score line.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I measure how long the lower leg needs to be when fully collasped, and cut the previous strip to this length.
    [​IMG]

    Four pieces are cut in total, but I only glue three together for now...gotta leave it accessible to put the upper leg in :) 
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    In order to keep the legs secure, I want some kind of "clicking" joint that will hold the leg into positions. I've selected some rectangular Polycap leftovers from some Gundam kit. These have perfect little extensions on them, and have enough "give" to slide between positions.
    [​IMG]

    Now I need to built a secure "block" around them, and leave the little nubs out. So I cut a small rectangle of stryene.
    [​IMG]

    Then I measure out where the nub will stick out. I use my drill to start to open up the slot, then finish cutting it out with my knife.
    [​IMG]

    After that, I just continue to add panels to the block until its solid. Often I just glue mostly-measured piece of styene on, then cut it to the final shape.
    [​IMG]

    And the finished block. I've sanded it smooth, getting rid of any bits that could catch inside the leg.
    [​IMG]

    Now, using a special blade that is flat on the top/tip, I cut a groove into the inside wall of the leg. This will be the groove that the polycap clicks into. I repeat the process on the extra panel as well.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    After that, its just a matter of gluing the fourth panel on. The leg now collapses with a solid, locking "click" in both positions. More details, etc will be added later.
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Thanks everyone!


    Your's sounds really cool too, can't wait to see it!

    He'll be right around Seeker height...maybe a head shorter.

    As for the skectches....see the first thumbnail in the first post? That's it! Like I said, very rough....and although the upper part is obscured, its just some rectangle's drawn in to estimate how much room the legs and waist will take up in car mode.
     
  5. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Got a good chunk of work done yesterday!

    I've built up the second lower leg, identical to the first. I've temporarily glued the two rear car halve together so I can gauge where the legs will, and how I'll need to attach the feet.
    [​IMG]

    After a few ideas that didn't pan out, I finally decided on a working idea of how to attach the feet, while still retaining a decent range of articulation.

    I'm using the Gundam's foot and ankle parts. The ankle is a stiff, unhindered ball joint, and the foot features a great "toe" articulation piece I'm going to repurpose. I've cut the ball off and cut away some extra of the foot.
    [​IMG]

    Now, I'm going to attach the toe part of the foot to the rear of car. There are four pegs on the bottom of the foot part, so I measure out and drill four holes into the car piece.
    [​IMG]

    Then I glue the pegs into the holes. The old toe articulation joint will now become the transformation joint, while the ball joint will provide the same ankle articulation.
    [​IMG]

    To attach the ball to the leg, I'm going to embed it into a piece of styrene. This will add better stability than simply gluing it on. I start by drilling a hole in some styrene with the largest bit I have. Then I use my round file to open the hole more, and when that's still not enough, switch to my wider half-round file and spin it in the hole until it is the correct size.
    [​IMG]

    After that, the ball is simply glued into the hole.
    [​IMG]

    The styrene is cut mostly to shape (leaving a bit extra just in case), glued to the lower leg, and then I pop the foot piece on.
    [​IMG]

    Here's a better shot of both feet attached, and after trimming the excess styrene
    [​IMG]

    And with some of the other car parts set on.
    [​IMG]

    Finally, the legs transformed. The tire is simply set in.
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Glad I could help :) 

    Yep, there will definitely be an interior....altho I'm thinking now that its gonna be about as much as MP Rodimus.

    I actually found PERFECT lightbars on ebay! While LEDS would be cool, I don't think I'll have any room left for wires and batteries.

    Actually, I've considered that already, and made the legs just narrow enough to fit the wheels in, and build a wheel well. The tires won't stick out, but they will be just flush with the outer wall.
     
  7. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Well, the feet were already all connected to the leg by the ball joint.


    So, finally got some more time to work on this guy. Next thing to work on was attaching the doors to the front of the car.

    First thing to do, glue the outer door piece to the interior piece. Then cut that interior piece down, cut some room for the hinge, and drill a hole for the peg that will hold the door on.
    [​IMG]

    Here's what I'm using for the door hinge, its the Gundam's inner shoulder frame. It's an ABS joint so its strong and durable plastic. I cut it down to pretty much just the swinging joint.
    [​IMG]

    I glue two styrene strips to the hinge, the beginnings of the track the door will slide out on. The grey 3mm rod is used to make sure the styrene is the right distance apart.
    [​IMG]

    Continuing to shape the track. I add a thin layer of styrene to either side of the track and cut it down to shape. This helps further hold all the individual parts together.
    [​IMG]

    And the near finished hinge part. I'll do a bit more sanding so it properly fits the inside contours of the door.
    [​IMG]

    The hinge attached to the door. The grey peg is the same rod I used earlier for measuring.
    [​IMG]

    All that's left is to attach the hinge to the rest of the front end.
    [​IMG]



    I jumped back to the legs for a minute, to add some securing pegs to the feet.

    To make sure I line everything up right, I temporarily glue the foot halves together with some small drops of glue.
    [​IMG]

    I start with two pieces of styrene tube, on that snugly fits into the other. A thin piece of styrene is glued to the thinner rod so that it is flush with the thicker one.
    [​IMG]

    Then I carefully glue the peg and tube to the combined feet, making sure not to leg any glue touch the spot where the tubes meet. This peg and tube will be covered by the bumper later.
    [​IMG]

    I add a second, smaller peg assembly to the inside top of the feet.
    [​IMG]


    Now that the feet are secure, and the doors are added, I can properly judge the distance, and determine how to combine up the upper and lower body segments.

    I bought these Kotobukiya "Mechanical Arms" since I thought they looked like they could be useful. They're ABS plastic, and have a nice solid feel. They have a peg on one end, and a hole on the other and peg together firmly.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I've attached one set to the inside of the hood area. This pair will be stationary. You can see I've also begun to add some styrene to the inner walls and such to strengthen the front end. This is mostly because when I cut the fenders out for transformation there will be very little, if any, original model kit plastic holding the front and rear of the front end together.
    [​IMG]


    ....And unfortunately right here is where my camera batteries died, so I couldn't document everything as I kept working(...but I'll make sure to when I build the second Prowl)

    So, jumping ahead to the Mechanical arms added in, and the car is beginning to take shape[​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    You'll notice the ankle blocks look completely different now too
    [​IMG]

    I wasn't totally satisfied with the previous version. The legs sat WAY too low in car mode, and in robot mode, there wasn't enough of a "toe" as I wanted, the feet sat too far back.

    So, using the existing ball joint, I built a new block around the socket piece. The socket can actually slide back and forth in this block, allowing a further forward sitting foot, and a MUCH leaner car mode.
    [​IMG]

    And now, the robot mode is starting to take shape as well. That's all for today, hopefully Prowl will have some arms tomorrow:) 
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Thanks! There's definitely alot of trail and error, but I often only show the successes, lol.

    I bet!

    Yep, pretty much all the outer surfaces of the Gundam kit will be significantly altered or replaced. For the thighs, I think I'm gonna end up having to build all new outer panels(those light grey thigh panels actually just slide right off, revealing the mechanical frame underneath)

    Here's the arms:
    Mechanical Arm

    On a side note, I've also received some of Hobby Base/Yellow Sub's new Perfect Part Collection joints. These are all made of hard plastic, and come in ball and socket joints, and the standard cylinder type. The ball joints come in clear and grey, and the "Hexa Pipe" as they're called come in clear.

    And damn! I think Kotobukiya may be a thing of the past for me! These joints are amazingly snug and smooth. Seriously the best thing I've ever tried, and even better, since they're actually plastic, they can be glued and painted. They're more expensive, but totally worth it. The Roll Swing Joints are pretty awesome too. Order these things!

    Search Results: Perfect Parts Collection

    Thanks! I always love seeing a nice in depth WIP as well, I think the final product is actually more impressive when I can go back and watch the artist put it all together.
     
  9. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Time to add some arms!

    I'll attach the wheels to the shoulders first. They're just pegged on for now, but I might go back and make them roll later. I start by drilling a whole into the back of the shoulder, then glue in a piece of styrene rod. The rod just happened to be the exact right size for the wheel, so I just popped it on.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I've decided I am going to use the Gundam shoulder assembly, and so will use the original mounting peg as well. However, I've cut it down to a flat surface as seen.
    [​IMG]

    Using some various styrene strips, I've built a mounting arm for the...er arm. This piece will connect to the inner fender.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And heres a view of it glued it.
    [​IMG]

    Time to cut the fender out. I've popped the arm back off of the shoulder peg to make it easier. Then I just used my saw to cut on the lines seen.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    To allow the fender to rotate up, I'll be using Hobby Base's Hexa Joints(basicly just plastic versions of the cylinder type polycaps), since they can be glued to plastic. For extra sturdy mounting, a hole is drilled in the fender for the joint's peg.
    [​IMG]

    Here's the set of Joints I'll be using on the front of the fender. They rotate around a 2mm rod cut from the joint's sprue.
    [​IMG]

    And here's they are in a test fit underneath the fender.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    A larger cylinder (3mm hole) is attached in the same manner to the back half.
    [​IMG]

    3mm rod is set into the rear of the shoulder block, and this is the whole thing before it's glued in.
    [​IMG]

    Test fitting and rotating before being glued in, then it's pulled back out and finally glued in.
    [​IMG]

    Pop the arms back on, and there you go!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Here they are in robot mode
    [​IMG]

    With Alt Prowl head set on. Next up, actually attaching the head!
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  10. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Well, the Datsun kit costs anywhere from $15-$40 on ebay, and you can find the Gundam kit for about $50 on various online sites. The joint units will run you $4-$5 a set, plus shipping from Japan or China usually, and I might use about $5 worth of styrene.

    Glad I could be help. Not any new progress no, just getting the other two build up right now.

    Yeah, they're fantastic. And yep, totally using the sprue here too:) 
     
  11. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Woo, and update! Well, kinda....little bit of back-peddling I guess.

    Anyway, here's how the ankle joints were built:

    I glue some strip styrene together in a rectangle around the Gundam's original ankle polycap. Then I measure and cut the lengths and finish it off.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Using my half-round file, I file some concave indents into either end.
    [​IMG]

    Then I glued this rectangle to some styrene to fill in the bottom.
    [​IMG]

    After the lower plate is trimmed, I set the polycap in and glue two pieces of styrene on top. These will hold the polycap in, and still allow it to slide back and forth.
    [​IMG]

    Here it is, with all the trimming and sanding down. I've also beveled the front edge for rotation.
    [​IMG]

    I'll be using the brackets from Hobby Base's Roll Swing Joint for the transformation joint.
    [​IMG]

    For the rotation/attachment peg, I just cut a piece of the sprue
    [​IMG]

    A hole is drilled into the front of the block, and the peg is glued in.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The bracket's are attached. You can see that on one side a portion has been cut out to allow room for the aligning peg on the foot/rear shell piece.
    [​IMG]

    The brackets are glued to the car shell, and popped onto the ball joint.
    [​IMG]

    And lastly, the reason (or at least the main reason) this update has been so delayed...triple Prowls :) 
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Woo, finally got time to work on these guys again!

    It's time to attach the head. I'm using one of the ball joints from the Roll Swing Joint part of the sprue for the stalk. The ball fits in the Prowl head perfectly.
    [​IMG]

    I'm building the neck plate of two strips of styrene, give it some definition, and then drill a hole in the center.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The neck plate is slid onto the ball joint, and then cylinder joint is slid on as well.
    [​IMG]

    To build the swing arm for the head, I take some more styrene strips, drill some holes, and add two more roll joints.
    [​IMG]

    The whole assembly is then attached to the body.
    [​IMG]

    A panel is cut out of the hood for the head to fit through.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    In order for the head to fit in car mode, parts of the lower back need to be cut off.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Now back to the hood, the cut off panel needs to be hinged to fold away. I'll build a hinge using styrene tube and some thin brass rod.
    [​IMG]

    Then build it up more using more bits of styrene.
    [​IMG]

    And the hinge is glued on (and yes, Prowl did change color again :) 
    [​IMG]

    Now its time to hinge to the hood to open. Luckily the kit already came with a hinge, but it was kinda frail, so I reinforced with some styrene.
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    ...and back to black

    I've taped the windshield to the roof/frame for now.
    [​IMG]

    The dashboard is trimmed down to fit into the car. It'll be attached to the front of the windshield frame.
    [​IMG]

    I've cut a thin strip of styrene and curved it. This is then glued to the frame, but not to the clear windshield.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The dashboard is then glued to the styrene strip.
    [​IMG]

    The roof hinges are built from more styrene strips and polyrod....
    [​IMG]

    ...and then glued to the roof and chasis.
    [​IMG]

    And here's the current car mode
    [​IMG]

    But I didn't like the how far back the roof sat in robot mode, and I wanted it to collapse closer to the body.
    So, I decided to turn the existing hinge bars into sliders. In order to cut a channel into the strip, first I drill multiple holes. Then I use my knife to cut finish cutting the channel open. Then I screw a screw into another piece of styrene. The screw acts as the sliding pin, and the new piece of styrene will be glued to the chasis.
    [​IMG]

    Once reattached, the roof can now slide closer into the body. It's only a centimeter or so, but it make a bid difference and fills in noticeable gap.
    [​IMG]

    And that's it for today. But here some final pics....the rear wheels are attached, just sitting under the car...

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Um...really however much I need :)  For Prowl, I'll probably use half a package of the three different sizes of strips I'm using, and maybe a sheet each of 1mm and .8mm.

    Awesome, glad I can help!

    Didn't do much work today, but I attached 1 set of rear windows. I started by gluing the rear window frames to the window. Then cut window in half and cut off the side quarter panels.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I built a pair of small hinges with some more strips and rolling joints.
    [​IMG]

    A small peg is added to the window frame and the front of the leg. The joint is then attached to both.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And both windows attached.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    For transformation, the windows rotate and lay up against the legs.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  15. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Nearly as tall as the Seekers. His head's about up to MP10s shoulders. Ill shoot some comparisons later tonite
     
  16. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Comparisons as promised....bot mode shot is a little dark, but you get the idea :) 

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  17. wan_de_real

    wan_de_real Transformizer

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    youre one of the best resheller around...always enjoy to see ur stuff...(no offend) but this one a little bit lanky...if the upper leg is shorter i think it look more ok in proportion....but i know the transformation is fit and yo already do the best..keep it up the good works
     
  18. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    Thanks! And nope, no offense taken at all. Prowl is indeed a bit on the tall and thin side...for now. I'm hoping that when I build up the waist and abdomen it'll balance things out.
     
  19. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

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    And another update today, this time working on building up the feet.

    First thing I need to do is build a frame that will cradle the leg in car mode. To start, I use a little cutting and sanding until I get the right curve I need for the inside of the rear fender.
    [​IMG]

    Now, I need to copy this piece. So I lightly glue it (two little drops) to some more styrene. Then I cut out a second piece using the first as a guide, then split them back apart with my knife. Simple and effective way of getting two identical parts.
    [​IMG]

    Next, glue that piece inside the fender.[​IMG]

    Then glue another sheet to that piece. Then cut to shape.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Another piece is glue on the front to form a wall from the fender and the styrene frame.
    [​IMG]

    Continuing to build the frame, a piece is glue to the bottom, and then side, completing the open top box.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I've also decided I didn't like the first version of the rear window hinge I made. It was just a bit too big and chunky for where it was, and the plastic joint pieces were actually too tight. So, I rebuilt them using poly joints and rod. These new hinges are smoother and smaller. I also made them a bit longer for better robot mode positioning.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Now to attach the rear wheels.
    I've drilled a hole into some styrene strip, and will use the styrene tube as the wheel mounting peg.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Then just glue that piece to the leg frame.
    [​IMG]
     

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  20. Jarrod

    Jarrod Semi-retired Builder

    Joined:
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    And some shots of today's progress in car mode.....

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    ....and robot mode. The new feet really add alot to robot mode, I like the angle the feet sit at now with the tires on.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Thats all for today!
     

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