Just Simply WOW!

Yesterday, the Space Shuttle Endeavour (piggy backed on a NASA jet plane) spent it's final hour in flight, before being retired here in Los Angeles, by touring the city overhead.

It zig-zagged across town at an amazingly low altitude, letting everyone in the city, no matter where they were, catch a glimpse of and share in the moment of it's arrival.

I'll never forget seeing it just appear behind a group of trees on the horizon at work. I was caught off guard at how emotional I became seeing it. I'm still riding the high.

Here's a video that my brother Ted took from where he was at the time. Minus several trees, it's almost exactly what I saw.

46 Days 'til Halloween: State of my Preparations Address

Although I haven't posted in a week or so, I'm still working away on the flying saucer and other new props for the display this year. But time for this season's prep has been dramatically cut down.

I just started a full time job for a new daily TV show that premieres October 1st ...

I'll be working steady for a nice long time. So needless to say, I'm really excited and happy about that. Although the hours are long and will leave little time for all I hoped to get done this Halloween, I think if use my free time wisely and burn the midnight oil, I should be able to finish a few new things for the lawn this year.

On a side note, please watch the TV show everyday and make it a hit that airs for years. Seeing the girlfriend smile with a contentment that only a steady paycheck can bring is addictive.

Building a UFO: Part Three

I finished the engines. Making stuff by cobbling together random parts is always fun for me. They're eventually going to get lights, so I drilled holes through the pieces that needed them so I can run electric cords inside.  Here's their anatomy...

I decided to attach them coming out of two of the ringed foam baseball details I added in Part Two. The saucer seemed to have a nice balance that way. I drilled holes in them so I could simply slip the PVC ends in (and also be able to run light cords through from the back).

At this point, I don't think I'm going to add a third engine as last year's attempt had. I like the clean look the ship has now. A large center fin might be cool, but I'm still debating that.

I couldn't help but quickly spray paint the UFO in a classic silver color to get an idea of what the finished prop might look like. Not sure if I like it this bright. Now I'm thinking it should be more of a gun metal grey.

Much more to do. Next in Part Four I'm cleaning up glue blobs and other imperfections. Then adding a lot more smaller details giving the ship some personality and character. I might start the final painting as well if all goes quickly.

Building a UFO - An Ed Wood/Bob Burns Sci-Fi Buzz Moment

After I noted the similarity between the look of my Halloween UFO prop so far and the flying Saucers from Ed Wood's cult classic, Plan 9 from Outer Space, I remembered a fun moment from when I worked on Sci-Fi Buzz on the Sy Fy Channel back in the mid 90's. Thought I'd share.

Legendary Sci-Fi historian and prop collector, Bob Burns, was a regular guest on the show often bringing in a few pieces from his basement museum to talk about. On one episode he brought the original flying saucers from Wood's Plan 9.

Bob's Plan 9 saucer as pictured in the March 2008 issue of Los Angeles Magazine.

Up until that day I believed the myth that they were just cheap, homemade, paper plate created props. But thanks to Bob, I learned that they were actually off-the-shelf Lindberg Model Company Flying Saucer kits available back in Ed Wood's day.

Original model box art

The director wanted to shoot a fun bump shot with Bob teasing the next segment as the saucers flew around his head. With Bob's permission, I carefully hung them with fish line from a broom stick and floated them up and down as he did something funny like trying to swat them away like flies.

Once we cut, Bob turned to me and said

"I think that's the first time they've flown since Ed made the movie." 

Building a UFO: Part Two

Just before I got started rebuilding the old unfinished UFO (see Part One), I stopped and thought, maybe this Halloween project should be one I actually spend money on? Maybe go and get decent materials to make it what I really dream it could be? Then I came to my senses. Where's the fun in that? Not to mention my ever growing hoard of junk to make stuff out of seriously needs to be decreased. So, be warned, I'm REALLY making this one up as I go.

First thing I did was to beef up the saucer a bit. Using double stick foam tape I attached an old dryer hose around the edge. Then glued in place and filled gaps with Liquid Nails.

I might replace this hose with a large foam pipe insulation tube or pool toy noodle.

Once the Liquid Nails set up, I painted the dryer hose to get rid of the reflection and glare so I could see if I filled in the gap between it and the wood enough.

Next I added some larger details to the saucer with plastic rings from old outdoor path lights and foam baseballs cut in half (left over from the prop bats I made for Geeks vs Zombies).

I still liked the cockpit from the first attempt last year (a plastic planter cut down) and kept it. I detailed the edges with some foam pipe insulation tube at the bottom and a thinner fountain pump hose along the top.

Glue blobs will be cleaned up later.
I'm planning to hinge the dome so I can have either an open or closed cockpit.

At this point before I added any more details, I roughly painted the entire saucer so I could get a better sense of it as a whole so far. Without being distracted by it's individual parts and pieces.

No, it won't be pink when finished. It just happened to be
 the first random color I grabbed from my paint stash.

From here (and in Part Three) I'm going to figure out the engines and other details. I don't now if I'll add too much more though, I really like the classic 50's B-movie/Ed Wood simplicity of it right now.

One of Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space flying saucers.
Contrary to popular belief, these were actually store bought plastic models
and not painted paper plates or pie-tins.

59 Days 'til Halloween - Building a UFO: Part One

If you've followed this blog for awhile, you know I've been wanting to place a crashed flying saucer on the roof for years. Believe it or not, I worked it into my evolving Halloween display backstory a long time ago, but more about that down the line. 

Last year, with the help of niece Devin and my brother's girlfriend Leah, we actually started to build it. Unfortunately, during some heavy rains, the fiancee and I discovered our roof was leaking and needed serious repair. Not the best time to place props up there. So I abandoned the UFO project.

This year, with the roof all fixed and still plenty of build time, it's my primary new prop project and have dedicated Labor Day weekend to it's creation.

When we last left off almost 12 months ago, it had a good start with a fun retro-future feel.

Today, having been shoved into a corner and forgotten about, it's looking pretty beat up.

Part two soon (later tonight probably). In the meantime... watch the skies!