While there are plenty of popular video games series that continue to produce sequels and spinoffs, only a handful of them have fan bases as devoted as the Legend of Zelda series. The series boasts multi-generational fans that have been playing the games for thirty years, having been introduced to them as children and in turn introducing them to their own children. If you include ports and remakes, the Zelda series consists of twenty-seven games released on every Nintendo console and gaming device ever made and has sold over seventy million copies worldwide. In fact, the Legend of Zelda is so prolific that it actually holds several Guinness World Records, one for being the longest-running action-adventure series and another for being the first game to have a battery-powered save feature.
We’ve written about plenty of 3D printed video game projects, but some of the most popular projects were those based on the Legend of Zelda. Basically, the Zelda series has a lot of loyal fans, so loyal that they are even turning the old games into artwork for their walls. When gamers Mark Josef and his friend and business partner Bill Chapman were looking for a project to test Mark’s new Printrbot Metal Plus they looked to their mutual love of the Legend of Zelda series and its extensive catalog of games for inspiration. The pair decided to design and 3D print custom sized mounting brackets that would both store and display all of the Zelda games that Mark had accumulated over the years. They would then mount the games inside shadowboxes with Zelda artwork backgrounds.
“The central idea for this project is: we have games that we spent forever playing, that are sitting in boxes in our basements because we can’t really do anything with them anymore. My Nintendo is long since broken. But we still love these games, and so we wanted a classy way to show off our gaming treasures. And even just as objects, the old cartridges are really neat, especially the gold Zelda ones,” Mark told me via email.
The design process took Mark and Bill about a month in total. They started by creating cardboard mockups before they moved on to designing the 3D printable prototypes in Tinkercad. They attempted to build a design capable of being adjusted to hold different sizes of cartridges but decided to design individual mounts for each game type. Once they had their first round of designs, each of them 3D printed several different mounts, Mark on his Printrbot and Bill on his Makerbot Replicator 2.
Mark and Bill worked through several different variations of each design, rapidly refining them as they went. Because the mounting brackets were made of relatively small parts, if they found that a component didn’t work they could quickly adjust the 3D model and 3D print replacements in a matter of minutes. The CD mounts in particular gave Mark and Bill a lot of trouble, mainly because they wanted something that would hold the disc stable and hide the screw that would hold the mount in place. That isn’t easy to do when there is a large hole in the center of the disc right at the point you would typically be screwing it in place. But they eventually settled on designs that worked for both the CDs and the game catridges.
“The biggest issue was keeping the mounts rigid. Our initial versions sagged quite a bit, but we didn’t want to just throw plastic at it. We settled on narrow beam against the cartridges, and a second beam perpendicular to that. (Like a T shape). And that’s worked pretty well. We also wanted to keep the mount as invisible as possible, but still be easily printable. Working on that, we made a model which isolated the part of the mount that the cartridges sit on, and iterated rapidly. (Print, test, adjust the design, reprint until we were happy with it),” Mark continued.
The final game mounting brackets were 3D printed using standard PLA filament from Hatchbox, a filament company that primarily sells their materials through Amazon. All of the parts for the largest of the mounting brackets took about an hour depending on which printer was being used, the MakerBot being the faster of the two. Once the pair had settled on the right shadow boxes and reproduced the artwork all that was left to do was assemble the display boxes and mount them on Mark’s wall.
The final display is a great tribute to one of the best video game series of all time, and after submitting pictures of their project to Reddit the response was overwhelmingly positive, with the post quickly soaring to the top of the front page. So many Redditors asked about the possibility of buying brackets from them that Mark and Bill are now considering manufacturing their mounts and selling them, possibly even launching a Kickstarter campaign. In the meantime, for their next project Mark is helping Bill create a slightly smaller wall display for his Super Mario Bros NES games.
Make sure that you check out the response to Mark and Bill’s project in the original thread on Reddit here. And you can see more detailed pictures of all of the Zelda shadowboxes, including credits for the wonderful background art that they used here.
What are your thoughts on this incredible tribute wall? Discuss in the Zelda 3D Printed Tribute forum thread on 3DPB.com.