What is it about 3D printed action figures that is so enticing? Perhaps it’s the custom aspects that can be designed on a one-to-one basis, or perhaps the craftsmanship and design skills that are required to create these articulated miniature figurines. Whatever it is, we have been seeing more and more 3D printed articulated action figures pop up around the internet in the past few months. The latest may just be the greatest of them all. It is called CATASTRONAUT and it is designed by a man named Wayne Doz.
Doz is an art director and illustrator, currently working for a company called beyond in London.
“I’m always keen to keep trying new things becuase you dont know where it will lead to,” Doz tells 3DPrint.com. “For example, I once experimented with infographics and created a Harry Potter graphic. Recently the head of creative at Pottermore.com saw it and invited me to create some official Harry Potter infographics, which you can see on the blog.”
Doz’s latest challenge to himself was to 3D model and then print his first complete model. He wanted to fabricate something with movable parts, something that he could share with others. That something ended up being the articulated figurine which he calls CATASTRONAUT. CATASTRONAUT is unlike other action figures though, as the character is depicted after he has experienced his ultimate demise.
“The back story of the piece is that there was this fable[d] heroic space adventurer, Captain Jonah,” Doz explains to us. “He was the greatest hero there had ever been. But no-one really knew how he died. He was lost is space somewhere, never to be seen again, so this model shows how he met his unfortunate demise! The model (when on the base) is an astronaut floating above a spaceship hatchway, attached via an air-hose. However, his visor is smashed, and his air hose is trapped between the airlock doors he’s floating above. Inside his helmet, we can see that he’s long dead… and now just a skeleton. This led to the perfect title: CATASTRONAUT!”
As you can tell, Doz isn’t just a great designer, but he has quite the imagination as well, an imagination that led to the design of CATASTRONAUT.
To start off modeling the figure, Doz used Autodesk 123D, a free program that he says is easy to use. He began by using primitive shapes, and then combining, subtracting, warping, and merging these shapes in order to ultimately create his model. He estimates that about 98% of CATASTRONAUT was designed using this method. He then used Sculptris to smooth and texture the skull.
Doz didn’t have a 3D printer himself, when he first began this design, so he used 3D Hubs in order to find someone located near him to 3D print his model for him. At first he printed a solid white test print of just the astronaut, but then realized that he made it too large, and his design didn’t allow for the joints to move correctly.
“After that, I figured I should really get my own printer,” Doz tells us. “I knew this was going to be a trial and error process, so it was just more cost and time-effective to get a machine. I went low budget, but found a great machine from a local UK company, that imports the Createbot mini from China. For the money its a fantastic machine.”
This allowed Doz to experiment and iterate upon his original design so that he could get his model to a point where he was completely happy. The final model was completely printed on his own 3D printer with the exception of the clear “broken visor” which he had printed again via 3D Hubs, using an SLA-based printer with clear resin. The final step was adding tiny holes in the model to allow for the addition of electric lighting, which illuminates the inside of the helmet, the control panel, and the port hole window. To do this, he simply used pre-wired lights and a battery pack that he found on eBay. He has now made the 3D design files available for anyone to download and 3D print themselves on Thingiverse.
Here are some more details of the design:
- Designed to print in high resolution with support
- Design for a minimum 150mm x 150mm print area
- The component parts push together to build the figure
- Features basic moving joints
- Can be made in 4 colors (he suggests using Black, Silver, White, and Clear)
- Can also work in one color
- Figure can stand alone (Display Stand is optional)
- Holes built-in for addition of atmospheric mini electric lighting (not included)
- Air-hose pieces can be configured in many ways for different display