This project started when I found my old Star Trek TOS playmates figures. I gave them to my eight year old son who had become a fan of the old show. He began building simple cardboard play pieces. Inspired by the clean wooden design of some of his other toys I set out to design and create a modular play set that he could use to assemble various rooms aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. I wanted a set that could break down and store easily. I tried to use scrap materials where I could. The bridge was the biggest challenge so I started there.
- Pine 2x4
- Pine 2x6
- 1/2 inch MDF
- 1/8 inch PVC sheet
- Flexstone texture spray
- Filler putty
- SEM High Build Primer
- Apoxie Sculpt
- RTV silicone
- Model Cast Urethane resin
- Behr Latex Paint
- Photoprint paper
- Polyacrylic spray
After doing research I found some existing blue prints of the bridge. I scaled everything to match the size of the figures. I came to realize that the playmates figures are not exactly human proportion. A friend who is a toy nut informed me that the Playmates figures are in the proportion of children. Makes sense for toys I guess. So I had to make some adjustments while keeping as accurate as possible.
I began by breaking the angles of the control consoles into three basic profile shapes. I then ripped the profiles on the table saw. This gave me the stock to build the consoles with.
Making the deck floor started with slotting a strip of 1/2 MDF plywood and cutting the “pie” pieces. Getting these angles right was critical. The slots would be used for registration of the different pieces. Eventually I filled the slots with inserts and filler to make smaller registration key slots.
Using the floor pieces as guides for the angles I cut and stacked the shapes to make the console perimeter. This proved to be very difficult because the upper consoles pitch forward. I found the easiest way to get everything in alignment was to glue the three layers together and trim the final angle on the table saw. On the bottom of each section I attached tabs for registration in the floor slots.
Then I created the captain’s chair, and command console. These were basic wood construction. I cut block sizes and ripped thing pieces to make the seat parts. Everything was held together with a screw so it could swivel.
I then made the elevator and view screen. The viewscreen was built with interchangeable screen panels. I printed different images and glued them to the different wood inserts. I left a few blank so my son could create his own viewscreen images.
Everything seems to be lined up. Ready for finishing.
I did a pass on everything with filler. Then used Fleckstone on the floor. The original set was carpet so it gave it a nice texture when painted over.
I then used pieces of plastic1/8th inch PVC sheet to make the removable rails. They registered into the key slots in the deck which held them in place. I used spray paint for the black supports and red rails
Everything then got a coating of SEM high build primer. The parts we then sanded and recoated to try to minimize some of the grain.
I used styrene to make a crew chair. I added padding to the captains chair and crew chairs with Apoxie putty. The bridge has multiple stations so I needed a lot of chairs so I poured a silicone mold of the master crew chair .
I then cast multiples from urethane resin. I then painted the blue area and added printed details to the back. Everything then got a clear coat to lock it all in.
With all of the parts sanded and primered they were ready for base colors. The details were going to be printed graphics so the painting required a minimum of masking.
Once everything was dry it was then time for a test assembly by an eager client.
After doing research, fortunately there was quite a bit out there, I then laid out graphics in Photoshop. This took a lot longer than I thought it would. I printed them on photo paper. I found that the gloss paper held the color the best when clear coated.
I cut the detail pieces out from the prints and glued them onto the painted forms. Thats when the whole thing really came together. After some testing I found that Elmers white glue secured the best and didn’t alter the print. Finally I sprayed the parts with clear Polyacylic to seal the piece. I used gloss to give it toy like finish.
Then we assembled the pieces. Using the slots, the pieces all dropped into place.
Once it was all assembled it really looked like the bridge. The little fudges I made to accommodate the weird figure proportions were hardly noticeable.
The modular nature lead my son to almost immediately create a multi-deck configuration.
Once played with the set could be easily broken down and stored.
He has already asked how soon he will get the rest of the ship.