Spaceman Spiff comic strip model

May 8, 2009

I started this build a bit ago when I had a very long & slow day coming up at work, so I planned ahead & brought tools & umped off to the hobby shop. The idea is that I want to recreate a Calvin & Hobbes "Spaceman Spiff" comic strip in 3-D!! Basically recreate every box in a Sunday strip as a little shadowbox of the drawing.

I posted some pics earlier on other forums, took a small break form building & now I'm starting up again & I wanted to share the progress with the members here. First up is the comic I've decided to replicate! This was a hard choice as there's so many fun strips, but I did have a couple criteria that needed to be met. Working with the Pegasus "Alpha Centauri UFO" kit which has two ships, the first factor was that the strip shouldn't have more than two closeups of Spiff's ship. Smaller, more distant shots of the ship can easily be scratched. Second was that the scenery shouldn't be too hard with too much detail- this is my first try at this after all! Third was that I didn't mind having aliens in the strip, but nothing too detailed as I'd have to sculpt them.

From about five finalists, I narrowed it down to this one:

I bought some Sculpy in the proper colors to use for Spiff. The white will be used for other items & aliens. I plan on making his mask from styrene sheet.

I have the hulls glued together & the fins in place. The cockpit is in, but some details like the wraparound dash & the steering wheel need to be installed.

In this "before & after" shot, you can see the seat was heavily modified by cutting the height & width down & cutting off some of the "ribs". I added the tubes & topped them off with craft beads that were cut to shape. Some trim pieces still need to be added to the cansiters.

I've also purchased some balsa wood planks from the LHS that are 4'x4"x.25", so the planned depth for the boxes of the model is 4" deep. It's the same width as the ship, so I was thinking that it may be fun to have some things protrude out of the box. It won't be too many things, maybe just the edge of the ship & some edges of the boulders, but it'll add to the 3-D look of it. I've plotted out the dimentions on graph paper (sorry, no image of that just yet to see) & the entire thing will be 16" wide by about 12" tall. A decent display, but not obnoxiously large.
Thanks for the kind words everyone! Since my last post it's been the adventure of putty, sand, repeat. But I got the ship all smooth & looking good! the seat will go in this weekend & I'll start sculpting Spiff as seen in the last panel & start making the box for that one as well.
More is done! First, here's a shot of the layout on graph paper. Using one square per .5", I made the layout for the build. This was more useful than I thought, as it helps me figure out just how big some things should be, like the alien bird & the landscape.

The primer is on & lightly sanded. The wheel was made from a plastic-coated twist tie that keeps the Dutchess' toys trapped in the boxes before I get 'em out. I drilled a hole in the console & CA'd it.

Using Sculpy, I started on Spiff. The arms are wrapped around some more plastic twist tie that goes through the body. I shaped the head without hair, which will be added later. He's not going to have legs, since you'd never be able to see them anyway.

Later today I hope to sculpt his hair & make his mask.
Sorry for the delay in posting, but I've been pretty preoccupied for the past week or so & not really feeling like or having much time to build. I got laid off from work, so I took some time to get stories from work & update my resume. I got a bit of a cushion with the severance, so I'm not too worried.

But I found some time last night to relax & do some cockpit work. First is a shot of the dryfitted parts. Spiff's head, body & seat are all done & the pieces fit well. I still have to make his glasses & plan on making him fingers to wrap around the wheel from Aves.

Keeping in color with the comic's last panel, I'm painting Spiff & the cockpit in a pale purple. The pic isn't a good representation of the actual color. The front of the ship is shot in white so I can mask off the headlights.

I also got yet another idea to... er... spiff up the build. I want the speach bubbles to be more than just flat surfaces. I was thinking that I can make them concave with the words maybe printed out on clear sheet & glued on front. A literal speech bubble. What do ya' think??
make the speech bubbles that would be so awesome. this is so cool i think you may have inspired me to do something similar cause i love comics and models why not join the two!?
MrNatural said:
make the speech bubbles that would be so awesome. this is so cool i think you may have inspired me to do something similar cause i love comics and models why not join the two!?
Hey, I say go for it! There's another Calvin comic or two that I want to do, too. They're the daily black & white ones that I was thinking of keeping in black & white. Might be kinda cool to just make it all in white & let the shadows define the shapes inside.
Got a couple pics for everyone!

The one that everyone's been waiting for, or maybe at least just me. I painted the ship & have clearcoated it. It looks (yes, I'll say it agian) spiffy!!! After I masked off the headlights & cockpit, a rattlecan of Testors bright red provided the color. The white around the cockpit rim will be painted with acrylic to match the body color. I've also cut a hole in the bottom for the mounting post which will attach to the rear of the box.

The box is made from basswood & is secured with wood glue & sewing pins. The halves were clamped & then pinned, glued & clamped together. It measures 10"x4" for the last panel of the strip.

I think I'll mount some felt in the box for an infinity curve look as I don't really want any corners showing. Then I'll make the moon & I'll be all set for this panel!
Spaceman Spiffs' Saucer looks great. Really looking forward towhen you have, Spiff at the controls.

Cool idea.
Thanks, Jmac! The ship is almost done. I just need to shorten the height of the dome.

Another update!! The box is basically done. Since I didn't think the wood would hold the support rods by itself, I decided to reinforce the points with sheet styrene. The sheet on the rear of the box has four holes cut to accomodate the rods for the ship, moon & speech bubble. The sheet strips on the top (that's one with the red stripe) will help support the boxes that will be mounted on top. The wood will have holes to accomodate the other boxes & the sheet will act as a stopper so they won't fall through. Also in the pic you can see the sticky felt I curved around the interior for "space".
I finished a little more. Not much, but it's an important step. The dome was just a hair too tall for the look I wanted, so I measured off .2mm around the bottom of the dome & lined it with painters' tape to protect the rest of the dome. My trusty Dremel a higher speed cut through it nicely.

Here you can see the height difference between an untouched dome & the one I cut. The difference is subtle, but adds to the overall look very nicely.

I've already Future'd the dome & the next step is securing it to the ship, which I'll use Future for. Next is the moon which I think I'll use a small styrofoam ball covered in plaster. The Dutchess did this for a class project & it turned out really cool, so I've been looking for an excuse to try it out.

After that, I just have to figure out how to make a speech bubble & I'm all set, at least with this box!
The ship is done!! Spiff is glued in place, the dome is atached by Future & Spiff is ready to blast off! I think the hardest part was taking this picture- that dome reflects everything!!!

And a close up.

Now I gotta find me some of those styrofoam balls! 8)

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