Here is a cheap, quick, and flexible way to make a creative, space-themed playspace/bedroom for your child.
Your rear shields are nearly fried as you dodge laser blasts, skidding your rogue ship into the bay of this backwater space station.
Han proceeded to take out the last of the Empire's guard ships with the Millennium Falcon's lower quadcannon, while Chewie was stabilizing the damage from the skirmish and amping the jamming signal to redline. In an instant, the Falcon's new jamming array silenced .75 light-years worth of communication signals, obliterating all digital evidence for this melee.
Han thought, "She never could have done that without some serious generosity from the Rebel military fleet - without it we'd have had Imperial warships down our necks in minutes. I can't believe the perks I get by joining up with the Good Guys!"
You feel Han's voice vibrate the headset, "You're all clear, Kid! Let's extract "Her Highness" and get outta here before we get company!" He remembered the Death Star. Obi-Wan wasn't here to help them this time, and even though you know the Emperor is dead, feel an unease in the Force, knowing that the battle of freedom from the Empire has only just begun.
Step 1: Find Your Furniture
I had initially planned to build something like the Blast-Off Bed from scratch, or to adapt a thrift-store bedroom set to our needs.
Option 1: Check out local thrift stores and craigslist to find modifiable furniture.
Option 2: Build the bed from used pallets, recycled wood, or whatever you need from your local hardware store
Option 2: Buy something as sustainably made as you can find for what you can afford.
Whatever you get, have fun and be creative when designing the "shipification" process. We ended up picking out an IKEA-like futuristic looking set made in Canada (relatively local).
Step 2: Paint Your Room, I Mean Space Station
Pick one wall or section of the room to be Outer Space, choose a fun, dark blue for your space background color, and make it look like space! 2-3 coats of a preferably "Low VOC" paint, followed by however you want to do "space". You'll be putting on a trim border later and some degree of sloppy painting will be covered up, so you can go fairly quickly.
This is an opportunity for an awesome star/galaxy/space fight mural/diorama/scene of some sort if you have the time and the patience. I went for simple, quick, and accurate, so rather than haphazardly slapping glow-in-the-dark stick-on plastic stars on the wall, I used the Audubon Guide to the Night Sky and tried to copy the section of Earth's night sky that framed the Orion constellation behind the bed. This gave me Orion, Sirius Major and Minor, Taurus, Area, and the Pleides for starters and ended up looking pretty good in less than an hour.
I used this hour to relax, sipping on a beer while extrapolating star positions on the wall. I remembered how much fun these projects end up being, not only to my Son, but to me as well.
To make it more 3D, I used this project as an excuse to get a snap-together Millennium Falcon model which I hung with an upholstery tack and some fishing line to make it look like it was swooping through the background. As an added value, we also used this as a project with the neighbor kids, so everybody got to have a bit of fun.
For the remainder of the walls and ceiling we used a light blue-gray, trying keep the room bright and evoke the inside of a friendly naval ship.
Trim and Finish:
To push the illusion of a docking bay, paint 1/2" x 1.5" trim with something metallic or a contrasting black/military color, and frame your the wall of your space, we found a great metallic grey at the local big-box store. This can also be used on furniture, windowframes, doorframes, beams, etc. for a ship-like effect.
We got decently matching, cordless (for safety) black-out shades (Bali brand) for the windows to keep nap-time sufficiently dark.
Step 3: Decorate Your Space Station
One of my first comics was the Marvel Comic Official Star Wars Movie Adaptation that my Dad brought home. He also got us an original Macintosh in 1984 - so glad my Father was a little bit of a Geek! An inexpensive frame from Michaels worked great for the oversized comic book.
I found a high-resolution version of the Millenium Falcon blueprints online and had it printed in large format and laminated at the local Kinko's for about $12
There are a number of vinyl wall applications that can add to your effects, such as star-themed portals on etsy.com.
Step 4: Assemble Your Rocket Ship!
To make the bed into a rocket ship, I bought 3 used VW bus hubcaps from GoWesty for rocket engines and screwed them to the back of the bed. A USB computer joystick at the foot of the bed made an instant control panel, and we had a spaceship!
I still plan to build a nosecone shaped shelf/toybox for the front of the bed and mount some buttons and a yoke to make it more of an experience. You could easily build some wing-like shelves and if I win the ShopBot, I'll be sure to post plans for CNC routed Death Star, X-Wing and Millennium Falcon headboards!
Step 5: Blast Off!
Lighting your spaceship is another opportunity for creativity and fun, anywhere from reclaimed lights to an entire arduino-powered futuristic console!
Again, I went for simple and quick, so I extended and soldered the 3 positive leads together, the 3 negative leads, and each leg of the momentary switch. I then ran a length of old thermostat wire to a $4 momentary push-button switch.
I spray-painted the bottom of an old plastic food container, silver and the lid black. A hole was drilled in the center of the bottom for the switch, and a small hole on the side to feed the wire through.
I purchased a 4.5V wall adapter from Radio-Shack and wired this to the power leads so I didn't have to keep replacing batteries.
Now, every button press either turns the rockets on to a new color or turns it off! Blast-off!!
Step 6: The Spaceport Is Finished!
Even at 2.5, Orion loves his rocket bed!
After a month or so, I thought that he had pulled off most of the stars in reach of his bed and yanked the wiring off of the right rocket booster. However, it turned out that the booster was damaged fighting the Evil Emperor Zurg and the paucity of stars in that region of space was just a black hole he was escaping. ;)
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