Build Number 300 is in the bag! That’s number 300 across all brands. At first, I was thinking I was going to do Piececool’s Black Dragon, since I’ve done Dragons for milestones before, but then I realized, I can do my third attempt at Artoo for the third-hundredth build. Kinda like I did the gold Bumblebee as my 200th Metal Earth build. This is the same classic silver model, though, not one of the colored ones. And yes, I did say third attempt.
Why am I building him a third time? Well, the first time was way back at the beginning of my obsession, and was unfortunately a knock-off I got before I learned to filter to North America only on eBay when purchasing Metal Earth. I don’t remember much about this build, except that it was ridiculously hard to get the center/front leg attached. Fast-Forward a year or two, and I got two R2-D2 models, and built them side by side with my daughter. And thought I had caught an instructional mistake and swapped the parts for the ankles from side to side, because they seemed to be angled the wrong way. My daughter did the same. Then we got near the end, and I realized the mistake… unfortunately, due to twisted tabs, disassembly was not an option. So we opted for saying they were modified version with Artoo in the process of stepping up onto a higher platform. Also, I looked back at the first attempt… and guess what I did there that made it so hard to secure that middle/front leg? Yeah. At least I’m consistent?
So, here we are at 300, and I can gladly report that the third time was indeed a charm! That’s one more Artoo to add to my sizable collection. Only 2 more to go! If you haven’t figured it out, I’m rather fond of Artoo. Well, of droids in general. C-3PO aside, Lucasfilm has made an art of taking things that seem too static to emote very well, and making them absolutely emotional in appearance. And it all started with this guy. And thanks to Metal Earth, he looks pretty darn sharp in the classic silver version.
Once again, I enjoyed building this guy (even more, without the giant facepalm moment). He’s not a super challenging droid to build, but I wouldn’t suggest him as a first model, either. Though I would put him in the upper beginner area. You’ll want to get a taste of curved metal before you try your hand at Artoo, and you’ll come out a stronger handler of curves on the other side. And given the size of Artoo’s dome, it’s a pretty good one to do your first dome with. And, given what I’ve said, I’m not going to give you a play by play on this model, so much as highlight some possible challenges or pitfalls, and possible strategies.
But before that, I’m going to point out a small little customization that you can easily make on this model. I did it with my last Artoo build, and did it again here. At the bottom center of both the front and back of his body, there are parts that look to almost have a fan-blade feature to them. In the more detailed versions of Artoo, these “blades” form a curved dome-like shape. So after attaching these parts to the body, I pressed the centerpoint outward (from the inside) to create a bit of a curve. I also did this with the similar parts that are in the top-center of each side-leg. I tried to capture a good angle in the photos above, but was not as successful as I’d have liked. It’s easier to see in the 360 video, though.
I’ll start with the obvious challenge, that giant dome. Domes can be a challenge with metal models, because metal doesn’t like to bend two ways at once. And I’ve advised before that you can get your hands on a set of dome shaping tools from AnimateOrange’s etsy page, as well as fondant-shaping balls or even some marbles, for shaping domes. But you can also shape them by hand, which is actually what I did with this build. I used a AA battery to round each opposite pair of “petals,” then gently tilted them back a little to get access to do the next pair (4 pairs in all). This gave me the basic curvature, and I was able start to close up the dome. Then I went around and tightened up the curve as needed to complete the dome shape. I also used a blunted hobby knife (don’t want to stab myself) inserted into the slots (located around the edge) to angle the slots over slightly to make inserting the tabs from the outside-in a little easier. You can do this with tweezers or pliers, but you risk closing the slot a little, which makes it a tight fit for the tab. After securing all the tabs around the edge, I fiddled a little more with the curves, trying to get the seams to line up, then worked around the edge with the AA battery again, this time using it to curve the end of each petal a little, but cross-wise this time. This helps make the base of the dome more circular.
The other big curving challenge is found in the two body panels, which need a little special care to avoid creasing at the weak points. I started out by using a C battery to get the curve started, but it did crease a little where the cutouts are, as well as long vertical etch lines. I then pinched those creases flat with pliers (tweezers will work, too), then went back and applied more curving to the areas between the weak points with a AA battery. Then back to the C battery, back to the AA, etc, … until I was satisfied.
Moving on to pitfalls, watch out for those little inset panels that you attach to the back of the cutouts in the body (and also in the top section of the legs). You are going to have to fight your usual instinct and remember to fold the flaps in with the etching on the inside of the box you are making. I goofed that up on one of the flaps because I wasn’t being careful. Luckily, by unfolding it slowly, in small increments, I was able to reverse that fold and get it folded the right way without breaking it. Yay!
And then there’s what I like to call the Ankle Joints. Do not swap them, no matter if it seems like they are tilting the wrong direction. Artoo’s position is like a tripod, with both side-legs to the back, so they are supposed to be that way. Just trust me. I know it well!
And I think that about covers the major risks, pitfalls and challenges with this build. Due to my obsession with getting the curvatures just right, this build took me almost 2.5 hours. Below is the standard silent (and boring) build videos, for reference. Does anyone actually use these? See if you can find the same build done by AnimateOrange if you want quality videos!