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Old 31-12-2009, 09:56 PM   #1
Designasaurus
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Default Another Mattel Eagle Retrofit

Hi Guys,

Here's another one of my recent Eagle projects. Please let me know what you think esecially if you have suggestions for improving the next one.

As some of you know I'm a toy designer and collector so my interests swing more towards play value and the 'cool' factor rather than historical accuracy. With that in mind I like to 'restore' my Mattel Eagles in a way that keeps the look and feel or the original toy but still offers some visual and structural improvements. Somewhere in the near future I'm going to start adding lights and sounds to my eagle projects.

Here are some images from the recent build...


This Eagle is typical of how the toys usually look when they come to me. This one is yellowed from exposure to UV light. The previous owner also had a house fire so there is a lot of soot and smoke damage that will need to be removed.



Here is the cleaned and gutted main fuselage at the beginning of restoration. You can see the holes where the old interior columns used to attach to the roof and floor of the passanger pod. I've also started adding little detail bits here and there


Here are all of the repaired, rebuilt, and/or newly cast pieces layed out and ready for detailing




These interior components are cast from an orgional weapons rack and a couple of instrument towers I mastered using styrene and various Playmobile bits. After cleaning and painting these will be pressure-fit into the passanger pod.
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Old 31-12-2009, 10:03 PM   #2
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Default More images from the build


I created a new engine bell using a small showerhead, the interior components from a garden sprinkler, and an empy battery casing. I then made rubber molds which I use to cast replacement engines for my Eagles. Sure, it's not as accurate or as sexy as the alluminum engine bells that are out there but I like models that have a bit of a story behind them.



In keeping with my plumbing theme I like to use toilet floor-bolt covers as replacement VTOL thrusters. They are almost exactly the same size and shape as the orgional part.



This replacement airlock cover is made from a few bits of styrene, the lid from a film container, and an old Lego satalite dish. Just by luck the interior lip of the dish fits exacly over the lip of the existing airlock opening.

More to come...
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Old 01-01-2010, 12:59 AM   #3
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Ah, the best toy ever!!

I had one, circa 1975. Don't know what happened to it.

Hmmmm.......actually........
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Old 01-01-2010, 03:58 AM   #4
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I like the step-by-step process you're sharing with us here. Not only are these restored Eagles cool, the process of getting them restored is cool, too. Thanks!
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Old 01-01-2010, 06:09 PM   #5
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Here are some images of the changes to the command module...


I've always hated the little round sticker on the side of the command module so with this build I started adding 3D sensor dishes made from little plastic disks. The wells for the disks are made from the bottoms of plastic test tubes!



These 'test tubes' are actually for keeping rose/flower stems wet in an arrangement. The diameter is just right for the sensor dishes



As with the rest of the command module I've added a 3D sensor well to the top hatch using floral test tubes.




Here you can see that I've trimmed off the extra 'test tube' bits leaving behind a little concave well. After a bit of putty and sanding it will look like it's always been there.



It turns out that the little bowls from my wife's contact lens packages are exactly the right size and shape to make new sensor dishes. I cut them out and add a thumb tack in the center. When painted and set into wells on the side and top of the command module the effect is quite good.

And yes, I know they are usually refered to as attitude thrusters but to me they've always looked more like sensor dishes. Besides, wouldn't the thrusters on the sides of the landing pods be sufficient for attitude adjustments?

Last edited by Designasaurus; 01-01-2010 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 02-01-2010, 04:31 AM   #6
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More pictures, more pictures... very cool stuff.
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Old 02-01-2010, 08:11 AM   #7
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This is a nice restoration project, how did you remove all the yellowing/soot/smoke damage? Very clean & white.

Looking forward to more updates.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:00 AM   #8
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Hi Guys,

Thanks for the comments so far.

CR: You caught me! The Eagle hanging in the corner is different that the one I've just rebuilt. Both were eaqually dirty however the one in the picture has far more yellowing.

Typically, I take the disassembled parts into the tub (my workshop sink is too short) and scrub them with a combination of liquid dish soap and baking soda. This removes all dirt, grit, and grease allowing paints and glues to adhear nicely. I also use a commercial cream hand cleaner with a srub brush on some of the filthier toys. This gets everything off and also removes a lot of the yellowing but it's a bit of a goopy process.

Here are a few more images of the build partion of the project. Tomorrow I'll upload pictures of the finished toy. (It looks beautiful, I'm going to have a hard letting it go.)



Whenever I master a new part I make a set of cardboard patterns for each component. Here are my rough patterns for the replica seats. Later on I'll scan in the rough drawings and reproduce them as more accurate vector art for use on future projects.



It takes forever to build these little chairs but the end result is very satisfying!



I used bits from a Kinder Surprise toy, a small thread spool, and some styrene to create a fully functioning crane. It holds a couple feet of string and winds and pivots smoothly.



The new crane is very close in design to the orgional part. The one improvement is that the string is guided through tubes instead of between posts so it never slips off of the arm.



At this point all the resin and styrene components have been roughed-in, primed, and fitted to the ship. I've also cut and trimmed a new eva foam floor mat.



I know, I know. It's not even remotly accurate but adding the few extra styrene tubes gives the propulsion module the illusion of being a little more realistic. (The showerhead engine bells help the ship go faster!)



The new crew...Unfinished Astronauts on the Workbench
I love these little 2" Fisher-Price figures from 1980. They're a cross between Space 1999 and 2001. I'd love to find a simmilarly sized figure in plain clothing which could be repainted to look like regular Alphans.



Adding labels to interior components:
One of these days I'm going to get some water-slide decals made but for now printed paper and double-sided tape will have to do.


Well that's it for now. Right now I'm trying to get some good shots of the completed project. Unfortunately, my camera seems to pick-up and accentuate every tiny flaw, even those not easily seen with the naked eye. I messing around with lighting etc. to try to get some close-up shots that resemble the way the ship looks in real life. Wish me luck...

Last edited by Designasaurus; 03-01-2010 at 06:10 AM.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:06 AM   #9
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Default Another note on toy restoration...

I should mention that for some of the newer toys which I've repaired or restored I simply run the parts through the dishwasher inside a little plastic basket. This gets all the dirt and grease off without damaging the surface.

I've always been scared to do this with Eagles since they were made at a time when oil, and therefore plastic, was quite expensive. As a result Mattel used the least expensive grade material. The Eagle seems to be almost exclusively made from styrene. Many other Fisher-Price and mattel toys from the same era have badly yellowed and/or become brittle.
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:33 AM   #10
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Very cool, I wish I would have kept mine as kid.
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Old 03-01-2010, 09:14 AM   #11
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Here's a couple 'brag sheets' showing various images of the completed toy. I still haven't had much success photographing the interior so those images will have to wait. If it's not raining tomorrow I'm going to take the ship outside and try using some natural light/backgrounds.


As you can see, one of the big changes to the exterior of the ship is the creation of totally new pod doors. I wanted something that looked more like the actual ship than the origional Mattel doors do. The 'door' on the door is static but my next Eagle will have doors that slide open!



Here's the second brag sheet showing a larger picture of the Eagle's top. If you look closely you can see a radar dish made from a rubber suction cup. (There's also a couple Monopoly houses and a tiny toy car for good measure!)

...if anyone's interested, this Eagle along with two others will be up for sale in the very near future. I'm also offering castings of doors, legs, thrusters, and various other bits for anyone interested in converting their own Eagles. If I have time (I'm expecting my second child in a couple months) I'm going to make new interior walls that are a little more accurate with rounded corners etc. I was also thinking about adding small backlit panels. These will also be offered as resin/polycarbonate kits. I'll post more details in the appropriate area of this forum.

Cheers!
Paul
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Old 03-01-2010, 11:24 AM   #12
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That is a great job.
I'm well impressed.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/49602360@N00/
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:36 PM   #13
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If only Mattel made em look this good, excellent venture!!
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:40 PM   #14
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Well, done, very sharp looking!
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Old 03-01-2010, 09:57 PM   #15
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Thanks again for the comments guys!

I've got another couple Mattel eagles on the bench (or actually, I should say, hanging above the bench) but I thought I'd take a break and try scratch building a moonbuggy to the same scale. Has anyone tried this? Any suggestions/pointers would be much appreciated.

Cheers!
Paul
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Old 03-01-2010, 11:25 PM   #16
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How do you clean the yellowing on this type of plastic? I tried on mine and got about 40% or so off!
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Old 04-01-2010, 01:52 AM   #17
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Hey Paul, WOW !!!WOW !!! WOW!!! you are increadable. This is the most awesome Mattel eagle I have ever seen.I thought mine were nice but I think you have put me to shame Those outside doors and the interior stuff of coarse are absolutely awesome. I hope you can make lots of sets or whole eagles to sell on e-bay.- every mattel fan should want one,I sure do.You have inspired me to list a few more eagles myself but now I am concentrating on making more mattel style hawks, different ships and a launch pad. Lets talk about audio in the future, I have tried those personal reminders with a larger speaker and the eagle launch sound recorded ,but im sure there must be something better . a few years ago I made a buggy master from a 44 scale and put axles on the bottom to raise it, it really is an awesome scale for the mattel eagle and orange figures. I made a mold but its a little worn out now. I can send you the master if you think you could improve on it I have been selling buggies modified from the old tonkas because they are easy to add headlights too (but the scale is a bit large ) . Keep in touch Im excited about sharing ideas .
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Old 04-01-2010, 02:06 AM   #18
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p.s. im with ya on the bath, My wife has walked in laughing a few times when I was scrubbin down eagles in the tub
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Old 04-01-2010, 06:39 AM   #19
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Mick,
Thanks for the kudos! It means a lot coming from you since I've tried to buy one or two of your Eagles over the years. In fact, frustration over continually being outbid is largely what led me to buy and restore my own. Now, much to my wife's amusement, it's become a bit of a habit. ( I'm scared of starting a 44" studio Eagle for fear of the same thing, only much more expensive!)

RE: Moonbuggies, yup I discovered the Tonka ATV a while back. I have several untouched examples sitting in my workshop. I have a modified one sitting her on my desk all gleaming yellow and waiting for labels and detail painting. (I also have a small BudyL (sp?) folded-metal buggy that's a little larger than a matchbox car. The shape's not quite right but painted-up it looks plausible as an alternate model of the Amphicat.)

I'm totally interested in looking at you old master model!! We could work out some sort of swap or something. I have to come down to Washington some time soon to pick-up another E Bay Eagle.

RE: Sound,
Through my day-job with Mattel/Fisher-Price I have a few vendor contacts that routinely build working electronics for toy prototypes. Basically, I supply sound files, a list of buttons and/or lights, and the type of power supply I'm planning on using and they send back a working chip and speaker/light assembly. The intitial programing etc. can be a little pricey but subsequent assemblies aren't too bad.

Let's keep in touch!
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Old 04-01-2010, 06:49 AM   #20
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Regarding the yellowing:
Washing, scubbing, and very light sanding usually gets most of the yellowing off before the build but really, I always paint the final model. I found an inexpensive spray paint line from Home Depot (for those of you in North America) which works excellent. The semi-gloss paint dries to look almost exactly like a newly minted ABS toy. There's also a crazy amount of colour choices including a 'sand colour' which I'm going to use on the new Eagle interior I'm working on.
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