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  Correcting Dragon's 1:16 Apollo Astronaut figure

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Author Topic:   Correcting Dragon's 1:16 Apollo Astronaut figure
dsenechal
Member

Posts: 409
From:
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 01-05-2014 08:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dsenechal   Click Here to Email dsenechal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As most of you know, the 1/6 scale Dragon Apollo Astronaut is the most realistic posable astronaut figure out there. Having said that, it has many, many shortcomings.

I started a project, several years ago, to make our astronaut somewhat more accurate. It's now complete.

There are very few, if any, parts, pieces, or dimensions that are unchanged from their original configuration. An example of one leg is shown below. This figure can never be perfect, but I think it turned out pretty well. A before/after comparison is included.

As an added benefit, his feet now include fairly strong rare earth magnets so he can be posed and won't tip over — the first two pictures were taken with him hanging from a furnace duct, and then inverted for your viewing pleasure.

Norman.King
Member

Posts: 251
From: Herne Bay, Kent, UK
Registered: Feb 2010

posted 01-06-2014 01:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Norman.King   Click Here to Email Norman.King     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A great conversion, well done.

apolloprojeckt
Member

Posts: 856
From: arnhem netherlands
Registered: Feb 2009

posted 01-06-2014 02:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for apolloprojeckt   Click Here to Email apolloprojeckt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very nice done!

Lightyear69
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Posts: 15
From: Germany
Registered: Oct 2013

posted 01-06-2014 08:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lightyear69   Click Here to Email Lightyear69     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great Job, please more informations and examples.

haveblue
New Member

Posts: 4
From: Bay Area, CA, USA
Registered: Sep 2012

posted 01-06-2014 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for haveblue     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, this is amazing! I have the super-detailing kit, but like how you made the suit and backpack a lot cleaner and less billowy. I especially like what you did with the helmet. Can you please let us know what exactly you did to make everything tighter (especially in the backpack and helmet).

Lightyear69
Member

Posts: 15
From: Germany
Registered: Oct 2013

posted 01-06-2014 04:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lightyear69   Click Here to Email Lightyear69     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by haveblue:
I have the super-detailing kit...
Please Information about the super detailing kit (source, picture).
quote:
Originally posted by dsenechal:
I started a project, several years ago, to make our astronaut somewhat more accurate. It's now complete.
How do you make the helmet, PLSS modifications?

haveblue
New Member

Posts: 4
From: Bay Area, CA, USA
Registered: Sep 2012

posted 01-06-2014 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for haveblue     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I bought the kit a few years ago which included the OPS actuating cable, VHF antenna, the 'apple', wrist notepad, and some printed patches (I didn't buy the LEVA for the helmet).

I thought about stuffing cotton balls into the suit to bulk it up and make it look more pressurized, rather than soft and deflated. It appears dsenechal used clay instead though it looks like he may have made some other modifications to tighten up the suit.

dsenechal
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Posts: 409
From:
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 01-06-2014 06:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dsenechal   Click Here to Email dsenechal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the nice comments. I'm out of town this week, but will attempt to answer your questions this weekend. Be forewarned, though. You'll need to learn how to sew.

Lightyear69
Member

Posts: 15
From: Germany
Registered: Oct 2013

posted 01-07-2014 04:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lightyear69   Click Here to Email Lightyear69     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am very interested in the detail kit, can someone help me, unfortunately, can not find source thank you.

Which Dragon astronaut model is the most detailed and closest to the original? Which is best suited to detail kit?

keymichael1855
Member

Posts: 44
From: Virginia Beach, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 01-07-2014 08:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for keymichael1855   Click Here to Email keymichael1855     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very nice Dave! I'm very impressed by your sewing ability. I've always thought the original version of the astronaut was a bit "off" and I think you've done a great job corrected it. Well done!!!

dsenechal
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Posts: 409
From:
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 01-19-2014 06:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dsenechal   Click Here to Email dsenechal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry for the delay in responding. I had a bit of a mishap that has made it difficult to type, but I now have 9 of 10 fingers working, so I'm pretty much back in business.

Anyway, the overarching key here is to keep in mind that the real suit is not a baggy, puffy snow suit. This is probably the biggest error that I see, in both scale and full size replicas. In reality, when inflated, it is hard, rigid like a basketball, then covered with several thin layers that insulate and protect the "guts" of the suit. Think of it as a fabric covered basketball, rather than a big, saggy marshmallow.

It would be difficult to describe all of the mods that were made to the Dragon astronaut and suit. But here's a list of highlights:

  1. Shorten the thighs of the legs by 3/8", then build up the thighs and calves using epoxy putty. Doing this, and then removing some of the fabric in the suit legs makes the legs look more rigid.

  2. PLSS and OPS. Require considerable sewing. Both should show the shape of the hard surface underneath the fabric. On the OPS model, that large tubular device that is wrapped around the top needs to go, and then all of the snaps and flaps need to be re-sized and sewed to look more accurate. You'll also need to cut in the holes on the front corners and add the pins that were used to hold it in place in the LM. The PLSS also has a fair amount of extra fabric that needs to be cut away and then the fabric re-sewed to fit.

    Also, the PLSS/OPS do not "flop" around when the suit is inflated. They and the suit essentially become a solid unit. So, the PLSS (and also the RCU) need to be firmly affixed to the suit. I used male & female anchors that allow them to be snapped in place.

  3. Helmet. Same general principals as above. Remove the fabric, reduce the size of the LEVA underneath, and also remove the plastic "chin" (the gold visor needs to pivot much lower than the un-modified model allows). Then re-attach the fabric, which must be re-sized and sewed to fit and look correct. When it's all done, you'll need to correct the Velcro closure on the front, and then use a few strategically placed stitches to hold it down and in place.

  4. Hoses. Too thin, too long, and too flexible. Basically, the hoses need to be rebuilt and replaced in their entirety. Diameters, length, and placement can be best determined by looking at EVA photos. These hoses, when pressurized, are quite stiff. To make mine, I used thick copper wire, surrounded by the outer sheath of a round shoe string, and then covered with the suit fabric, correctly sized to fit. The hose fittings will also need to re-done - mis-shapen and too big.

  5. Gloves. Fingers too long. Shortened with exacto & dremel, then repainted using leather/vinyl paint. Gauntlets were also about 1/4" too long, shortened by sewing. The EVA checklist on the model above was built from scratch: plastic, elastic, and several layers of paper with the top layer an actual photocopy of Apollo 12 pages; and finally, extremely thin copper wire, wound in a tight spiral, for the binding.

  6. EVA boots. Wrong shape, toe, and sole pattern. Correcting required making new soles and toes (both left and right), reshaping and also heating the boots to make them "sag", and making new upper snaps (originals too small). You will not need the IVA boots - tucking in the extra length of the suit legs, brought about by shortening the thighs, will take up the extra space.

  7. Hasselblad. Magazine too long, and lens has a very odd shape. Shortened the magazine and made a new lens.

  8. Although you may consider this a bit creepy, before you even get started, you'll want to remove your astronaut's head. It gets in the way and serves no purpose after the LEVA is sewed in place.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no way to make this astronaut figure perfect. However, with the modifications highlighted above, as well as a plethora of revisions and tweaks, he becomes more and more realistic in appearance. If you allow it to happen, you can probably tweak on this forever; since my original post, I have become aware of several other details that will need to be fixed: shoulder pockets, left side of OPS, mechanics of OPS activation handle...

Correcting this 1/6 scale Dragon astronaut has been a multi-year project, all of it trial and error. So if you're planning to correct your own Dragon figure, or even if you're embarking on another A7L suit project, I hope these pictures and descriptions will be of use. If you have any questions, or need any specifics, please do not hesitate to reply or send me an email.

haveblue
New Member

Posts: 4
From: Bay Area, CA, USA
Registered: Sep 2012

posted 01-20-2014 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for haveblue     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, looking back at your pictures after reading your description - I just realized how much work you actually put into it to make it look so good. I didn't even realize you had shortened the legs and modified the feet.

Did you hand-sew everything or did you use a sewing machine? How difficult would you rate the sewing modifications? Also, did you also build up the body and arms with putty to make it look more pressurized?

modelhopper
Member

Posts: 11
From: Herts UK
Registered: Dec 2013

posted 01-20-2014 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for modelhopper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I bought the Dragon "model" when it first came out and was very disappointed with it. It is really only a sort of posh action man (GI Joe) toy and on that basis it is rather good but not a serious figure.

The manikin (like action man) is very much out of proportion to allow for the joints. I actually cut the joint tags down and removed about 7mm-10mm on the torso and each of the arms and legs. The suit is cut to fit the manikin.

After the manikin was in I then stuffed the suit with cotton wool and at least you get a better more realistic shape.

The suit itself is fundamentally the wrong shape and missing the Vee shaped portion on the back where the venting and communication systems arise in part.

I also replaced the bubble helmet with glass (a cut dow lightbulb). The PLSS also needs lengthening also.

Your mods are most impressive and you are so right about illustrating the rigid nature of the suit. How many of the general public 'know' it is a semi-rigid pressure suit under that 'overall'. Some museum displays I have seen don't help in this respect either.

In the end I gave up because of all the inaccuracies and it sits here still covered in a dust bag.

As posh GI Joe (action man) excellent but that is it.

Reading up on all the other Dragon space 'model' crits (their diecast Saturn V which I have has the SM some 15% too long) I have come to the conclusion that one must look on them as good toys, not models for the serious space buff/collector.

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