By Generation: ROTF Ravage - Fully Articulated Tail tutorial

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by Matt Booker, Aug 3, 2009.

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  1. Matt Booker

    Matt Booker Fantasy Adventure Author

    Sep 3, 2008
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    Want to give your Ravage a tail with upwards of 18 points of articulation? Then read on and see how to do it.

    I wanted to contribute to the Radicons here at TFW, so this guide is a down and dirty step by step on how to do the mod. If you're up for a laugh, feel free to check out the full humored version over at or click the link in my signature.


    So we all know the main reason to get Ravage, but once obtained there are some things about him that could be improved. One could be the lack of head articulation, but I’m honestly too enamored with the nom-nom gimmick to care. Another could be the so called ‘lack of alt-mode,’ but that doesn’t bother me. He’s Ravage, and that’s all he needs to be.

    So what did bother me about him?

    His tail.

    In the movie he moved so fluid and predatory, but the toy has only a few points of articulation, including a swivel joint so nerfed by safety laws that it falls off in a stiff breeze.

    But really, a stiff tail isn't anything new. It wouldn't be very cost effective for HasTak to put a joint at each section, so it's up to us to fix it.

    Like all my guides, this mod was the result of something on the toy that really bothered me. It's not something I'd done before, so I just thought about the best way that would probably work and tried it out.

    So if you've never done anything like this before, neither had I! All my guides are written from a beginner standpoint, and honestly this isn't as hard as it may look.

    Step 1, Obtain Ravage

    You’re going to need at least one Ravage. If you only have one, this mod will give you a slightly shorter tail. If you have two, you can have the same length tail, or a little longer one. I used two Ravages so mine has a longer tail than it was before and has a total of 18 points of articulation (19 if you count the barb on the tip.)

    Don’t like the idea of getting a second Ravage? Don’t worry! First of all, the tail is only about three segments shorter, so it’s not bad. Even with a shorter tail, he’s leaps and bounds better than he was.

    Also, you can do the tail mod with one Ravage and then add parts from a second one later! It’s designed to be highly adaptable. You can have as short or as long a tail as you want.

    Step 2, Unscrew Rear

    We need to split apart Ravage's hind end, so to expose the screw holes we've got to spread his legs out of the way.


    Yes, this is the clean version of the guide. You must just have a dirty mind. :p 

    Anyway, fold his hips down as if you're going to put him into alt mode, then remove the two screws from the right side of his back end. Carefuly seperate the pieces, and you should easily be able to remove the tail.


    Step 3, Unjunk Trunk

    Set the tail aside and put the two halves back together. You don't have to screw them in just yet, but we're going to cut a chunk away to allow the tail a bit more room to move.

    I've seen it recommended to cut a rather large v section out of the back end of his butt, including some of the spikes. Such a modification may have been needed with an unmodded tail, but with this guide your Ravage will only need a small adjustment to that area.





    You see what happened? There’s a rectangle that’s been neatly cut out. Most of the cut was on the left section, with a little on the right. The end of the rectangle goes just under the base of the spike, and the hole is wide enough for the tail to swivel up more.

    Put the halves back together with the tail attached to test it. If you go by that as a guide, you shouldn’t need to do too many adjustments.

    Step 4, Bob Tail

    Next you need to cut each usable section of the tail apart from the others. A usable section is just the ordinary parts, not the bits with joints already.

    I used a pair of flush cutters for this. The blades if used by themselves will not just cut the plastic, though. They’re designed to cut on the bottom and lift the excess up and away from the cut on the other side. If you press the flat edges (the bottom part of the blades) against the flat back part of each section, cut, and then cut around the remaining, it’s going to actually leave it with an angled piece on the other part of the section.


    The red part of that picture represents the cutters and how you'll orient them. The flat part of the blades is the right side of triangle, and the two sections in the picture have the thin spikes facing up with the wide flat sections at the bottom. Put the flat part of the blades up against that flat part on the bottom, and as you cut the left section of the tail is going to be swiveled up by the blades. A couple more cuts and you'll be done with that section. Repeat for each of the regular sections.

    Now, why is it that we don’t care about the way the cutters push the other piece away? Well, since we’ve got the flat edge up against the flat part of the cutter, that’s going to stay fine and the other part is going to come off as angled, almost rounded in places. That’s good for Ravage, because it gives his tail joints room to move!

    So what happens with all the non-standard tail pieces?

    In the middle of the tail, you'll find a section that looks like the following picture.


    You’ll notice on the far left there’s a section colored pink. The part that it is attached to is a standard part except for the pink area, so chop that part off an use it as a standard piece for the new tail.

    Next is the two piece section with the hinge joint. It’s colored red to indicate you can chop it off and throw it away.

    To the right of that is a two piece swivel joint that consists of a usable standard piece with a plug on the tip and a mostly hollow piece that forms the bulk of the swivel joint. Cut off the plug from the standard piece and then cut away the mostly hollow piece. You can throw both the plug and the hollow piece away.

    After that the only non-standard parts left are the base of the tail and the tip, but for now we're just going to separate them from the standard sections and put them aside for later.


    (The tip of the tail has an extra section that needs cut off, similar to the piece in the previous picture. Just cut off the pink area and separate the piece as usual.)


    For illustrative purposes, that picture shows the tail base still attached to Ravage.

    What you should have left are several regular pieces and two specialized pieces (one with a ball joint where the barbed tip is attached, and one with a pin that forms the base of the tail.)

    Step 5, Obtain Twist Tie

    Depending on how long your tail is going to be, you’ll need a twist tie that’s about 1.5 times longer. I added five pieces from a second Ravage’s tail (three to replace the ones removed in the last step, and two to make it a little longer). Even with that length, Ravage comes packaged with two twist ties that are just long enough to use.

    I had thought of a few different methods to get his tail to wag, but short of adding balljoints or bubblegum, using a wire seemed the most practical.

    The main problem with a wire is that eventually it could break. Now, a twist tie adds the durability of a plastic coating, and the tail itself won't allow for completely sharp bends, so breakage isn't much of an issue.

    But it's still there, hanging over the mod like a sword of Damocles, scaring off potential first time modders under threat of 'all that work and it could break!'

    But fear not, fellow forum goers, twist ties are plentiful (just ask Unicron) and the mod is designed so the twist tie is easily replaceable.

    So, go get a twist tie. Make sure it's sturdy one, as sometimes HasTak adds a few that have thinner plastic. Most twist ties should be fine, though, and easily able to support the weight of the tail.

    Step 6, Why Radicons should own a pin vise.

    I'm pretty practical, with a 'whatever is laying around' kind of attitude towards tools used in mods. Most of my carving is done with just a razor blade, not even using the box cutter case because that cost extra. I don't even own a Dremel.

    But a pin vise? That's very useful and much cheaper (and more precise) than a power drill.

    So if you don't have one, go get one.

    That being said, I didn't have one when I did the mod. I used a drill bit with a hex base that was big enough to grip.

    As for the bit itself, you'll want to use a 1/16th, which just so happens to be the size of (or just a bit bigger than) a twist tie.

    Drill right down the middle of the rounded section.

    If this part scares you, keep in mind that if you’re a little off it’s okay. You heard me. I didn’t get it exactly in the middle each time, and any section that’s a little off to the side won’t be noticeable amidst all the awesome of a fully articulated tail. Honest!

    And if jealous friends do meticulously find a flaw, tell them, "it’s realistically styled with asymmetrical details." That’ll learn em!


    Notice how I drilled from the back of the tail piece. It’s much easier to get started with the hole and align the bit when you go from the flat back of the tail section. You’ll want try for a hole in the center of the round part on the back that comes out through the tip on the front. If you’ve used a 1/16th drill bit you’ll have a somewhat snug fit when it comes time to assemble the tail.

    Do that for all the regular pieces, leaving the specialized ones for the next step.

    Step 7, Unbob Tail

    The bulk of the tail is easy enough to assemble, and is just sliding the pieces onto the twist tie. The tricky part is attaching the tail to the specialized pieces in such a way that it doesn't fall apart but is easily replaced.

    As the solution to that problem is tied to the specialized tail sections, lets deal with those now.

    The tip of the tail is a modified design of the basic tail piece that we’ve been using, and we don’t want to damage the ball joint for the barbed piece. Thankfully there is enough plastic below the ball joint to carefully make a hole just underneath it.

    Here’s a picture of how to drill through the piece. (The barbed tip has been removed to reduce clutter while the piece is getting drilled.)


    After that, run the wire through the hole and do the same with all the standard tail pieces.

    Here's a couple of pictures to illustrate how this should be set up.


    I’ve colored the wire green and the tail pieces are colored blue to differentiate them from the barbed section.


    Make sure all the pieces are tight against each other. Here's where you can see the slight distortion of the clippers helps the pieces move around each other without gaps.

    Drilling through the base of the tail is similar to what we did with the tip, but instead of avoiding a ball joint, this time we’re going to avoid hitting the pin.


    Pay attention to the angle, as it starts out like usual but angles down to come out below the piece with the pin.

    Once you’re done with that, thread the wire through the base piece, make sure the pieces are all nice and tight against each other, and then put Ravage back together.


    Now that you've got him back together, we need to secure the wire and cut off the excess. This is the part that makes the twist tie so easy to replace.

    There are a couple of ways to do this, one more pretty and one more practical.

    The easy way.

    This is the method I used, and I recommend it.

    The tip of the tail is easy enough to do. Just take the wire and do a bit of an extreme 90 degree bend in it. You’ll want it snug against the flat underside piece. You don’t have to be too exact here, just make it tight.


    For the tail base, I opted to wrap the wire completely around the base’s flat protrusion (not the spike on the top, but the flat section on the bottom). The reason for this is that the base supports the weight of the tail, and if it is unsecured the tail can actually rotate on its own. Securing the tail completely fixes this so there’s not even an inkling of it.


    Don’t worry, the wires aren’t very noticeable. They stand out more in these pictures because they’ve been edited to do that. You’ll hardly notice it in person!


    The Pretty Way

    So what if you want Ravage not to have any exposed wire, but want the wire to still be replaceable?

    There is a way, but it requires more work. No pictures of this, since I didn’t end up doing it, but if you can do the previous steps of the mod then this should be easy enough to understand.

    Glue a piece of scrap plastic to each tip of the wire. You can use the bits from the scrap tail pieces if you want, and just trim them down to a good size. With just a small piece of plastic on there (and a tight hold with the glue), you’ll have a tail that’s still nice and tight (the plastic pieces will keep the tips of the wire from going further back into the holes) without any gray wire kibble. For the base of the tail, you’re going to have to notch the plastic piece so it fits up against something or the tail might still have the rotational issue (solved in the above steps by how you secure the wire to the base of the tail.)

    But really, if you go the easier way the ‘wire kibble’ is not something very noticeable in person, given the distraction of the uber poseable tail.


    I hope you liked the mod and the guide. I'm not used to posting here in the Radicons section, and still feel a bit out of place among the complicated mods and great repaints, but I wanted to share this with you all.

    I like to be helpful, so if you have any questions feel free to ask.

    It's a little fix that makes a big improvement!

    [When asked what size cutters used, Matt Booker responds:]

    I'm not sure what size they are. They're in the craft department of about every Walmart I've been to, though. They're pretty small, and I think they're used in jewelry making.

    The blades themselves are each about a half inch long.

    The main thing to remember is to use flush cutters, so you get a flat side and a warped side when you cut.

    ~Matt Booker

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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2009
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