28 May 2017

TARDIS 1/12 scale model

I've wanted a TARDIS since I first started watching Doctor Who in the late '70s during Tom Baker's run which I watched on TVOntario on Saturday nights (with a repeat on the following Thursday which I also tried to catch). My mother didn't try to prevent me from watching the show but she didn't really like it –not because of the scary monsters, but because she was worried The Doctor would trip over his long scarf! This caused her much anxiety and me much amusement.

Anyway, Doctor Who merchandise was pretty scant in Canada, so getting some kind of toy or model TARDIS (or sonic screwdriver or overly long scarf) was beyond me for most of my life...but the show was enough and I enjoyed much of it.

A night's work.

I'd used cereal boxes for my study models of the Bata HQ in Toronto and an a-frame restaurant prior to this project, but, in researching architectural modeling materials, I was introduced to chip board, a sturdy cardboard-like material (similar to mat board, which is typically used when framing pictures). This stuff is great to work with and is cut easily with a utility knife (just make sure the blade's sharp...and use many light cuts (along a metal ruler) instead of a few heavy cuts). Regular white glue would suffice, but I used wood glue for a stronger bond.

Familiar...but sloppy.

After literally hours of searching online, I finally found some plans for a police box and divided the measurements by 12 to scale it down to a manageable size (but it might be fun to try to build a full-sized one!). Some of my measurements were off (the roof angle needs to be shallower, the four sign boxes need to be slightly taller, and the wall/door insets need to be slimmer and more rectangular). I was translating imperial to metric, fractions to decimals, estimating much of it, just to figure it out and get a handle on building these forms...but that's what study models are for. Now that I know which measurements to correct (I'll take a trip to Logopolis for some block transfer computations just to be sure), I can build a better-looking one next time in balsa wood. Eventually...

Ghostly, but better.

One side of the chip board was white, but the back and the edges are a tan cardboard colour, so I decided to use some white gesso to cover this up and unify the overall look. A pleasant surprise was that the gesso served as a gap-filler so it helped with just more than the colour.

The lamp cover was made from card stock-like paper from a flyer and the lamp itself is a few pieces of clear plastic from a package. I used a black Sharpie to line the windows and mark up the front panel details. The St. John Ambulance badge is simply blue pen.

Painted and Shopped.

I really like the look of a white TARDIS, especially after the gesso tidied everything up, making it look like a proper architectural model, but I was eager to see this in its proper blue, so I got out some acrylics and got to work. I started with a dark coat of navy blue and then two coats of cyan, allowing some of the dark to show through in the corners and shadowy areas here and there, adding a nice texture.

I was also eager to see what it looked like with windows and signage in place, so I Photoshopped those elements onto the model, planning to add printed details later.

Lamp parts.

Using leftover parts from the food truck model kit (which I transformed into the Small Pond Arts Puppet Wagon) and the Romulan Bird of Prey, I'll be adding a working lamp to this study model (and probably transferring it to the new balsa wood version whenever that gets built). Pictured above is one of the LEDs which is part of the lighting system I'm installing in the Romulan ship, but my TARDIS light will be the same, only flashing.

Printed details.

After getting colour prints of the window and signage details I carefully cut them out...but then realized I didn't have any glue handy where I was...so I rummaged and found some Gorilla Glue. Good stuff, but not for paper (note the discolouration) and it doesn't dry clear. I was impatient and should have waited until I could get my hand on some white glue. I can still fix this with a minor paint touch-ups and applying my spare cut-outs. The "Police Box"graphics need to be longer and the boxes themselves need to be a smidgen taller.

Spare details added.

Above is the TARDIS with four new window cutouts, as well as a new phone box label and St. John Ambulance badge...it looks good out in the sunshine at Small Pond Arts, checking out the new silo banner.

All in all, this was a very fun and quick project in where I learned a lot about building with chip board, which I think is a great material, especially for my future study models.

Some disassembly required.

After looking at this "study model" for about two years (I signed and dated the bottom of the box: "May 7 + 8, 2017") I started growing attached to the way it looked and started to reconsider building this again –but with wood. This chipboard version suits me just fine; after decades of wanting one, I finally have a TARDIS that I built myself.

This meant I no longer had to reserve that flashing LED I'd bought to install in my wooden version. I managed to poke a hole in the top (then through a few more layers of chipboard) then I cut out the bottom so I could install the wires and battery.

Got it on the first try!

The hole going through the top had to be very small so as to not let the narrow bottom of the lamp fall in, but large enough to thread the wires from the LED into the main body of the TARDIS. Yep: I got the two thin wires through on my first try, but I realized I had to pull them out again to strip a bit more insulation off the ends for easier connections to the wires from the switch and power supply (I forgot to order them pre-wired). I had to try three times to get them back in again.

Then I realized that, while my hand could fit inside the box, I couldn't move it around much and I couldn't see inside, anyway, so trying to attach the four wires was getting very frustrating...

A very important loop.

So I came up with an idea: make a loop at the end of the wires for the switch and power supply, then, using tweezers, twist the LED wires into the loops. And it worked. I probably should be soldering my connections, but twisting the wires and wrapping them in electrical tape seems to be working well, so far.
A short video of the light in action.

I don't have a sound chip installed; the TARDIS sound effect is playing via YouTube.

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