This is the story of how I built a real life (well, baby life) Millennium Falcon for my nephew along with a Chewbacca Teddy (bigger than him!) and a Han Solo costume for the Carnival.
Step 1: Aren't You a Little Short for a Stormtrooper?
When my nephew was born, I decided every month I would pick one photo from that month and make an illustration with it. I made illustrations of him riding a T-Rex the month we took him to the Natural History Museum, movie posters of superhero movies, placed him in videogames like Mortal Kombat and a lot more weird and funny ideas. The month he was 11 was December 2015, so IT HAD TO BE STAR WARS! and I made the illustration you can see here. I'm sure you would like to see this movie, isn't it? Well, lets see what Lucasfilm comes with in 2018 with the announced Han Solo "Solo" movie ;-)
My nephew was going to be 1 year old in January and one month later was the Carnival in Tenerife, so I decided that month instead of an illustration I would make the real thing. I would make a Han Solo costume for him! oh, wait! and a companion Chewbacca Teddy! and, what the hell! why not make the complete set including Millennium Falcon?
So, apart from the illustration I did, my inspiration for the project was this illustration of Calvin & Hobbes. I decided I would build the Millennium Falcon in a baby tricycle. The chosen material was rubber foam. I thought about other materials but it had to be very light and survive the carnival and rubber foam was flexible and light and the glue used would bound the pieces together as if they were one.
Step 2: the Plans You Refer to Will Soon Be Back in Our Hands
So the first step was to design the Falcon with the measures that would fit the tricycle. I took photos of the tricycle from top, side, front and back using the zoom of my camera and the farthest distance possible to minimize the distortion of perspective. Then searched for the Millennium Falcon blueprints in internet in order to overlap them on the tricycle photos to get the measures I needed. Not surprisingly, there are several blueprints of the Falcon that don't match between them so I finally decided to use the pictures from the paint guide of the Fine Molds 1:72 scale Millennium Falcon and create the blueprints from it.
Step 3: Commander, Tear This Ship Apart!
Once I has the correct measures for my Falcon, I divided the design in pieces. At the place where I ordered the rubber foam, there were certain limitation with what they could do so I designed my pieces having this is mind. Basically you can order a profile cut of a piece of any thickness you want but the can't make cuts that are not perpendicular to the surface of the piece. So things like the cockpit or the docking bays that are truncated cones can't be ordered so in this cases I ordered cylinders and then I would have to form the cones by hand.
I needed to provide them with cutting templates for the pieces so I composed all of them in a 1.2 x 2.2 m canvas and printed it in banner fabric in a plotter. Banner fabric is not easy to deform, it is vinyl coated and it does not tear apart.
I cut all the templates, each one with an indication of the thickness of the piece (I also grouped them by colours) and took them to the rubber foam factory.
Step 4: The Force Binds the Galaxy Together (but a Little of Glue Helps)
Back in home with all the pieces I made a fast composition with them. Things looked good. Notice I didn't create the central part with the blaster turrets because this part was going to be replaced with the tricycle seat.
I finished some pieces by hand using scissors, specifically the cockpit, the two side docking bays and the cuts of the neck that leads to the cockpit. I also had to bezel the upper and lower jaws. I didn't ordered them like the pier pieces (the hexagonal features that lead to the docking ports) because they don't have a constant width. I also cut a tiny piece for the center of the antenna and two pieces for the sides between the jaws and the saucer that can be seen in the last picture.
I then glued all the pieces together using contact glue (the glue used for shoe repair and carpeting). You have to aply it using a palette knife on both surfaces and wait a couple of minutes before joining the pieces. Don't apply any pressure because then the glue will soak the foam and deform it. Just join the pieces and they will bind as one.
Step 5: She May Not Look Like Much, But She's Got It Where It Counts, Kid
I then removed the seat and the handlebar from the tricycle and fitted the Falcon on it. I measured the foam I needed to cut in order to accommodate the seat in and made a hole to fit the handlebar.
I cut some circles of window mesh and glued them on the circles over the engines. You can add surface details at your will but I decided to make the rest with the paint job.
Then I spray painted the Falcon all with grey and also the seat and handlebar. Using white and black acrylic paint I painted all the panels and details of the surface. I also used the paint very diluted to enhance the borders in white and the recesses in black. I used a red marker for some of the panels.
Finally I printed the aim radars and glued them in the rear-view mirrors of the handlebar.
Millennium Falcon is ready! now let's find a pilot to take us to Alderaan!
Step 6: I'm Han Solo, Captain of the Millennium Falcon
I remember making Star Wars costumes and scale models in the eighties was a pain in the ass because all you had was the VHS tapes of the movies and some cinema magazines. In the nineties things got a little better with comics and role playing guides but not too much. Nowadays it is very easy to find lots of information and detail pictures in the Internet.
Here are some of the reference pictures I used to make the costume. Obviously I had to scale down everything to the size of the baby, including the blaster! (But I finally didn't make it, just the holder)
Step 7: Who's Scruffy-looking?
A particularly difficult piece was the vest. It is a very complicated vest full of accordion pockets and I had to make the sewing pattern myself. Fortunately I didn't have to sew it. I let this task to a professional. It ended up being a little (a lot!) bigger than intended but he will have Han Solo vest for years! :-D
You can print the patterns at the size you need. they are valid from a baby to an adult.
I already a pair of trousers of the correct fabric and colour but they needed the red Corellian blood stripes. I made them painting black lines with textile markers on a red ribbon.
Finding a vest for a 1 year old toddler was almost impossible. I finally found a girls shirt of the correct colour with brackets on the back of the neck and a print of a fairy on the front. So I turned it backwards. The vest would cover the print so it didn't matter and I removed the brackets in order to create the open neck in Han Solo's Vest.
Tall boots for a one year old toddler are also something very rare to find so I bought a pair of shoes and made cylinders of faux leather fixed to the shoes with brackets and closed with Velcro.
The belt was also hand made with dark brown faux leather, brackets, a hole puncher and I even was lucky enough to find a double buckle!
The holster belt was made with a clearer shade of brown faux leather and lots of glue. At first I used Superglue but it was not a good idea because the bind is rigid and it breaks with tension so I had to glue everything again using the contact glue. The holster bucket pieces were cut from the flat side of a plastic shampoo bottle, spray painted in metallic and then covered with satin varnish to avoid paint chipping away.
The various kobolds in the holster were created with spare pieces I had hanging around and glued in the holster pockets.
Step 8: Chewbacca Here Is First Mate on a Ship That Might Suit Us
Our Millennium Falcon wouldn't be complete without a hairy first mate so I made a full size (baby size) Chewbacca out of rubber foam and furry fabric.
From a block of foam and using scissors I sculpted the head. Then with textile markers I painted the face and the inside of the mouth. I sculpted the teeth with two components putty, all in one piece for the upper side and another piece for the lower side and glued them rooted in a slit in the rubber foam. I also made the tongue from a piece of flat foam. The eyes were two round white buttons painted with the textile markers. I put varnish on the nose to achieve that dog skin appearance.
Than I covered all the head gluing pieces of furry fabric and painting it darker with the textile markers at some places.
I intended to use a wig for the long hair but it proved to be a bad idea so I discarded it. As a result, Chewie has the hair hanging from his head and beard a little shorter than usual. Would I have known this in advance, I would have made a thick neck in rubber foam so the fur covered this neck giving the impression of long hair and a better look.
The body was made with sheets of rubber foam rolled to create cylinders. A big cylinder for the torso, thinner cylinders for the arms and forearms (important to make the arm in two pieces to create the elbow joint), joining all together with rubber foam strips and covering everything in furry fabric.
The feet were also sculpted in blocks of foam and painted with textile markers. I made the legs too short influenced by the Calvin and Hobbes illustration but they turned out a little weird looking so I will probably remake them longer for the next carnival.
The hands were made with kitchen gloves filled with bits of rubber foam and painted black. then the back of the hands were covered with furry fabric. I was searching for black gloves but I couldn't find them. Since the paint is chipping away, I will also remake them using black gloves this time so I will not need to pain them.
The bandoleer was made with the same faux leather I used for Han Solo's holster. The canisters were made with blocks of rubber foam spray painted in silver. they don't look perfect but they are not harmful for the baby because they are soft. For the bag I used an old leather bag my sister had hanging around. I removed the bag belt and attached it to Chewie's bandoleer.