Step 5 – Ball Joint Head
Ironhide deserves more than just a swivel joint for neck articulation. He’s a bot you can look up to, but that doesn’t mean he should be always looking down.
But do you have the balls to joint his head?
So, it’s been almost a month since I got my Ironhide and modded him. Soon thereafter I posted pictures and promised on tformers.com that a guide would be forthcoming. One long job search later and here it is. Other people have also come up with the mod in the mean time. (DJCharters from tfw2005.com who also did the screw mod, and Geekee1 of seibertron.com)
Better late than never, I suppose.
Geekee1’s guide is actually featured on seibertron today. It’s well put together and nicely thought out.
Still, their mods don’t fix the Ironhide posture problem. Geekee1’s pictures all show Ironhide with his feet positions behind his hips instead of above them. (For my commentary on that, see yesterday’s post.) And the floating crotch problem is even worse after it.
Alright, so lets get down to the nitty gritty!
First, we must obtain a suitable ball joint, and that includes the socket itself.
Being a cheap resourceful modder, the first place I look for parts is my junk pile of broken or otherwise mutilated bots. I didn’t find anything there, so my next stop on the ‘I don’t want to have to buy something’ express was the ‘For Sale but Not Likely to Sell’ pile.
Often confused for the ‘For Sale’ pile by rookies, this is where the dregs end up. Oh, they’re fine enough, I guess. And maybe someday someone would want them and buy them off of me, but theirs is a precarious position- like being on death row with only a mild chance for pardon.
It was there that I found Energon Rodimus, who’s best contributions are an interesting alt mode and a decent pair of pants. A decent, pair of pants…
His is pretty much the same size as Ironhide’s, and it’s on a ball joint.
Even better, when I unscrewed the halves of his head, I found the socket was a separate piece!
Score! That makes this mod so much easier.
Be mindful of that picture. That part with the slot in it is what I’m going to refer to as the top section of that piece. It’s what’s going to get oriented towards the top of Ironhide’s head.
Here’s another angle of that piece, showing the bottom view.
Notice the bottom has a wider, more rounded hole than the other side? The other one is more of a slot, to help keep the ball from coming out of the socket, whereas the bottom is wider to allow the ball to (with a little effort) snap in and out of the joint.
If you don’t put the bigger hole on the bottom, you’ll never get Ironhide’s head on the joint once it’s assembled.
Just remember that the slot is on top and the round hole is on the bottom.
heh heh. “The slot’s on top.”
If you’ve been following along, you should be skilled enough at carving to tackle this next part. It’s harder, but only because the piece is so small. If you have trouble keeping it held steady, leave it attached to the ball joint on Energon Rodimus.
Before I start describing things, here’s a picture.
Compare that with the pictures above and you’ll see that all you really need to do is level off the rounded edges. I also took more off the top than is shown in that picture, but not by much.
Just shave off thin pieces and you’ll be fine.
Before you get started, though, read the rest of this post. You should probably always do that, but especially so today. That’s because the carving for the socket and the head are both approximations. There is no, “Cut at point A until you come to point B.”
I’ll show you the pictures of how I did it, but you’re going to have to fiddle with it.
Next, unscrew Ironhide’s head.
Do you see how his light piping is protected by a barrier of plastic when the head is jointed together?
Lets keep it that way. Any carving you do will not go past that plastic barrier. In fact, that’s what the socket is going to sit up against inside his head.
Now we just have to widen the hole so the socket can fit.
Compare that picture with the first one. Just take your blade of choice and carve away until the hole is wide enough to fit the socket.
It looks rough, and it is. This part of his head won’t be visible once we glue the socket into place.
As you carve, be sure to frequently check how well the socket fits inside the head. It should be decently snug, but again, a little rough is okay. We’re going to glue it into place so a snug fit isn’t that important.
When fit together, you’ll want this new ‘neck’ piece to be as short as possible, so you don’t run into clearance issues when transforming.
That’s how mine ended up, but if you can get it a tiny bit shorter it’ll be even better.
Once you’ve got everything the way you want it, put a thin layer of your favorite plastic adhesive (Plastic Weld is supposed to be awesome, but I just used KrazyGlue because it’s what I had on hand.) on both the socket and the inside of the head, and then attach.
Be sure not to clog up the eye holes.
Hold the pieces tightly together for a bit, and when you’re sure the grip is holding it’s own, put the light piping back in and use the screw to secure it. Then let it sit for a day or so, just to be sure everything is good and bonded.
While that’s going on, you can deal with attaching the ball joint itself.
First, we need to get rid of that swivel joint that Ironhide’s head was sitting on.
The section to be removed is colored dark teal in that picture. I took a pair of sharp meat shears and chopped off most of it, then shaved down the rough pieces that remained.
Now, we need a proper ball joint. One that fits a good way to attach it, and is appropriately colored. Energon Rodimus has one that’s bright orange, and would draw too much attention. If a match can’t be found for color, it should at least be a darker shade so it can blend into the shadows.
Off to the aforementioned junk pile I went, and among the mutilated remains of Cybertron Swerve was the answer- his shoulder joint!
It’s a bit darker than that picture shows, being a deep purpley red. Not Galvatron purple or anything. More like ‘fruitsnack red.’
Now, there are a few different methods you can use to go about this.
First, the one I didn’t do more appropriate method.
After carving off the flat base of the ball joint, you’re left with just the ball and the peg itself. Kind of a lollipop look.
Next, if you have access to a small enough drill, you can make a hole under where we want Ironhide’s head to go. There should be plenty of space for you to drill, but only go deep enough for the ball joint to anchor itself while still having room for the head.
If you don’t have a drill, a little more cutting is needed, so wait until the head is bonded enough to support popping the ball joint in and out of the socket. The reason for this is that the peg is too long as is, and needs to be shortened.
You’ll have to play around with it a bit to get the length right, so just be careful and take your time.
I know this step of the guide has been pretty, inexact, but if you trust in yourself and take it easy on the way, it’s worth it.
That being said, here’s another “you’ll have to play around with it” part.
Find the exact spot that you want the head to sit, and glue the post onto it.
You heard me. (Or is that ‘read me’?)
I just coated both pieces with krazy glue and attached it. It involved several minutes of tightly holding the post to the piece, and applying more glue to both in order to add extra strength to the bond.
Yes, it’s a cut corner. The drill method should work much better.
No, it’s not weak. I let it set for a few days and the joint is sturdy and still not loose.
But you know what what? If it ever does come loose, I have another joint (from Swerve’s other hip) and I might just have a drill by then.
Here’s a picture of my finished ball joint, sans the head.
If you’re having trouble finding the right length to cut the peg, use that picture as a guide.
My Ironhide now has a human stature and his head has a greater range of motion than just looking down and side to side.
He still transforms perfectly, and the only change I had to make for that process was to turn his head sideways when folding up his chest. And even that won’t be needed if you make his neck a little shorter than I did on mine.
Well, that’s it for today. Don’t expect posts this long all the time, as I usually try to keep them around 500 words. As a reward for slogging through all this text, expect something special tomorrow for the last day of Ironhide Week!