Introduction: How to Make Lifesize BuzzLightyear Wings

This project was created as part of a class exercise in a High school Engineering class. For this project groups were tasked with choosing a prop from their favorite movie and reconstructing it with the skills we had learned throughout the year: wood working, power tools, and electronics. In accordance with this our group decided on building the Buzz Light Year wings from the famous Disney movie series Toy Story. In this movie series the character Buzz Light Year has a jetpack like structure with wings that contract into the backpack; however our group decided that the wings in our project should remain fixed due to aesthetic and manufacturing difficulties. Considering the things that we wanted to do with the project we decided on utilizing foam board, a fairly strong, but easy to work with material. Overall we decided to design Buzz Light Year wings that would remain fixed

Step 1: Tools & Materials


  • Sanding Block
  • X-ACTO knife
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Soldering Iron
  • Rabbet Jointer
  • Paint brushes
  • Scissors
  • Wire Cuters
  • Helping Hands
  • Hot wire Cutter


  • Foam Board
  • Hot Glue
  • 1 x Arduino Uno
  • 6 x 5mm Red LEDs
  • Paint in various different colors (Red, Black, White)
  • Electrical Tape
  • Solder
  • Masking Tape
  • Velcro Tape
  • Wire
  • Polystyrene

Step 2: Planning (Project Sketch, Designing a General Circuit)

Project sketch:

For this step we started with the general idea of what we wanted to do, in our case the Buzz Light year wings, and designing a morphological chart. In this morphological we listed different attributes of what we might want to change such as color patterns, size, led placements, and folding mechanisms. For our project we decided on 30 in. long wings that are 6 in. tall at their smallest point and 12 in. tall at the highest point. We also decided that we wanted the main LEDs on the backpack, a more black and red color pattern. For the backpack we decided on a 12 in. high and 10 in. wide design, but this would change over the course of the project.

General Circuit: (Explain how we planned out our circuit)

It is always a good idea to plan out your circuit before starting to build and making sure that everything is working before you alter the component, and that the circuit actually works the way that you have designed it. For this you can either utilize an online software or plan it out by hand. It is especially important to test such things as code for an arduino, which we utilized in our project, to make sure that everything works flawlessly. Thus we designed a circuit using an arduino and 6 5mm LEDs set in parallel. The LEDs would be set into the backpack and the tip of the wings and would blink consantl.

Step 3: Designing and Building the Wings

Cuting and Sanding the Wings:

For the wings we utilized 20 in. x 30 in. foam board and divided it so that we ended up with all the parts that we would need to construct the wing. For this we divided the board into three zones: the two outer parts of the wing, and a smaller section that would be used to to create a small incline in the wing. The wings were 30 in. long and 12 in. high decreasing to a height of 6 in. After cutting the wings with an X-ACTO knife and a steel cork-back ruler we aligned them and clamped them so that we could sand them equally.

Joining and Painting the Wings:

Using a rabbet joint tool designed for foam board we cut the foam board according to the instructions, making sure that we checked the directions that the blade would travel in, and put the wing together using hot glue. After putting the wings together with hot glue we used masking tape to tape off the sections that we wanted to paint in order to obtain a nice clean and straight edge. While painting make sure to utilize multiple coats of paint so that you obtain a nice, even and vibrant sread of color. After painting the section you can now remove the masking tape and you should be left with a straigh edge (minor touch ups might be necessary)

Step 4: Creating the Main Body

Cutting and Sanding the Main Body:

For the main body we decided on using polystyrene layered in between foam board. We first drew our design onto a 18in. by 14in piece of foam board and then taped a second one to the first one. Utilizing a scroll saw we then cut out the general shape of the body and touched it up with a fine sanding paper. Afterwards we cut the polystyrene with a hot wire cutter tracing the shape of the foam board. In order to sandwich the polystyrene in between the foam board we utilized plastic cement. After all the individual pieces were joined together we again sanded everything to get nice clean edges.

Joining the Wings:

Before we joined the wings we installed the circuit for the wings, this will be covered in the next step. In order to join the wings to the main body we first had to cut the edges of the wings in order to ensure an optimal fit; for this we used a scroll saw. After cutting the wings to fit the body we used hot glue to join the body and the wings.

Painting the Body:

In order to paint the body we had to first install the electric circuit, but this will be covered in the next step. After installing the circuit we again used tape to define our edges before painting, however since we were rushing at this part of the project our edges turned out to be non defined. If we had had more time at this point of the project we would have made touch ups.

Step 5: Installing the Circuit


To install the Circuit for the wings we simply soldered the wires to LEDs making sure to tape our connections as so that they couldn't touch to short the circuit. To install it in the wings we simply put the wires through the hollow part of wing and hot glued it to the tip of the wings.

Main Body:

To install the LEDs in the Main Body we marked where the LEDs should go (2in apart from each other and 1in down from the point where the bottom fins start). We then drilled a hole all the way through the body using a 13/64 in. bit and then countersunk the whole with a larger bit. This was done so that the leads from the LEDs wouldn't touch each other and short the circuit. We connected all the positive leads from the LEDs on the back of the Main body and then connected them to a 1k ohm resistor which was plugged into the Arduino. We then connected all the negative leads of the LEDs and plugged them into the gnd port of the Arduino. We soldering your connections be sure to wear safety googles, to not breath in the harmful smoke, follow general machine safety, and remember solder is composed of lead a harmful and poisonous metal. After we made the connections we taped the wires onto the back of the main body using electrical tape so that they wouldn't dangle, and wouldn't contaminate the wires. In order to make sure that that the battery would be both accessible and hidden we mounted both it and the arduino onto the main body using velcro and finally covered it up with a little construction of foam board which can be easily taken off and put back on. The code that we used for the Arduino was the simple LED blinking code that comes with the IED and can easily be found online here