A few years ago when Day of the Moon aired, there were two items from that show that took my fancy in terms of, ‘Yeah, I want one of those.’
The first was the large scale model of the Lunar Lander that Rory inadvertently broke and the second was the implant device that the Doctor used to inject the Nano Recorders into his companions’ palms.
Here’s the device in question.
You should know me by now, I just love gadgets and those in particular that the Doctor owns. This one just ticks all the boxes.
It’s a shame really as you hardly get to see it. Again it’s one of those blink and you miss it props. But I like it and thought it’d be a great candidate for a build. I had a hunch that one day, Character Options would release of toy of this – and they did. Yaay!
Often when you hear (or read) people talking about the Nano Recorder, they always refer to the gun prop as that device, but it’s not – the Nano Recorder is the little chip, not the gun. Anyway…
Above, Character Options’ toy version of the prop – again referred to as a Nano Recorder. Tut.
It lights up, has a firing action and you can record yourself a little message on it, which is nice. Not that we saw any of this on screen, but it looked cool and had a fair amount of play value if you’re a kid and like that sort of thing.
I bought one thinking that it’d be a great stand in for the real thing and on the surface, you could leave it as it is and no one would probably bat an eyelid.
Me being me, I just had to tinker with it to drag it away from the toy look and make it resemble something more akin to what we fleetingly saw on the telly.
I have a prop rating system and this would become a “C Prop.”
A* – Screen used prop.
A – A prop pulled from the original moulds or built from the exact same parts that were used to make the screen used prop. Either way, they’d be identical to A* – but they wouldn’t be screen used.
B – A replica built entirely from scratch, but fabricated to a degree that you’d not know that it was done so, ie – not using original parts or the original moulds.
C - A replica built that is as close as it needs to be, but without giving the game away that it’s not a 100% perfect match. These types of props are what I’d call “Shelf Fillers” as these wouldn’t be the main attraction, but they do help to bulk out a display.
Over all, I’d say that the toy was the correct size to the screen used prop… which is a great starting point!
Holding it in my hand and comparing it to the shots of Matt Smith grasping it, it looked pretty good. Further reference investigation hinted that they toy could actually be pretty much spot on, the only issue with it was that it was lacking some details and looked very much like a toy… pretty much because it is a toy!
The first task was to take the toy apart and strip it down to remove all the internals. Luckily I had a second that I could keep as a reference copy to see how things went back together, just in case that I forgot.
I chopped up the handle as on the television prop, that has a series of full thickness cut outs that are bored right through the grip, but the toy didn’t, it was just a clutch of indented mouldings that were painted black to hint at this.
It was at this stage in the proceedings that I realised that Character Options could have actually retained this detail in their toy too and kept the batteries to power the electronic functions. So why didn’t they then? Probably because they didn’t have me around to show them how to do this. ;)
Once the grip handle had been fleshed out, it was time to get the filler out.
You can see here that I’ve just slathered the filler inside the grip (Christ that was a fiddly job!) and also added some to the main body on the circular section. Up there on this side was a button to activate the recording system and just like the speaker holes and copyright notices on the other side, this wasn’t on the prop so I waved them good bye.
I’ve reshaped the trigger because the toy one was far too small and too rounded off. Come on folks, we have to think of the kiddies’ safety or we won’t get that CE kite mark!
You’ll note that I’ve also added a white plate in styrene. To do this, I had to cut off the moulded on nut and bolt because, a) it was missing this plate and b) the nut and bolts were positioned too high up.
Don’t have a lathe? No, me neither!
The business end of the toy is far too rounded and bulbous looking. It should have a chamfer, then a rounded off edge as we get to the exit hole. I don’t know what the technical term for this is.
I don’t recommend that you do this as it’s a bit Heath Robinson, but I stuck the piece onto a metal tube, inserted that into the chuck of my cordless drill, then with one hand operating the drill, the other was used to shape the end using a file and a scalpel blade.
Like I said, don’t try this at home, folks as it’s not the safest of things to do. Do as I say, not as I do as I tell my kids.
Here we are coming towards the home stretch with a side by side comparison of what I’m doing against my unaltered reference copy toy.
You can see that I’ve built a new back end from scratch, using the drill method to turn a lip on the leading edge of that piece.
At this stage in the game, I could finally glue and screw both halves of the gun together.
Screw holes were filled, as was the join in the grip, but I elected not to gap fill the seams around the gun halves as in the real world, this wouldn’t be done anyway.
I did gap the “test tube” holder seam though because that needed to be done. For some reason, Character Options decided to make this section in parts – which again they really didn’t need to do.
I’ve also added all the nuts and bolts in the correct position and correct orientation, plus I placed in a small strip of styrene to the barrel where this detail was missing on the toy.
Build-wise, that is pretty much it. Now it was on to painting.
Oh yeah, one last shot of the business end. The opening was doubled in size to make it more accurate.
I should also note at this point that I elected not to include any of the lights or the sound function. I could have kept it, but seeing as the original prop did nothing whatsoever on screen – not even light up, so on that score I thought that it was best to omit this feature for the sake of accuracy and my good chum Exterminator agreed on this issue too, during one of our peer review sessions.
The TV prop didn’t do any of this fancy stuff, so why should ours?
Because I was using standard sellotape (sticky tape) I had to get this thing painted quickly before the adhesive started to leave residue deposits on the clear plastic parts – the longer that you leave it on, the greater the risk of this happening.
Thankfully, the day of painting was very warm and everything was dry within a matter of minutes.
You may ask why I didn’t just use masking tape for this. Simple reason really; masking tape (or painters tape) is pretty poor really and nine times out of ten, you’ll always get a bit of seepage with paint ending up exactly where you didn’t want it – sellotape doesn’t allow that to happen, but it does come with its own risks, as I previously mentioned.
Have balls of steel? Then go ahead and use this method, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.
The silver coat.
As soon as this stage was done, I knew that I’d have to weather the crap out of this as silver spray paint never looks right to me.
The fact of the matter was that the original prop was painted silver anyway, but then it was weathered in black and then on top of that, highlights were added with more silver paint, but applied with a brush. Up close that looks a little weird to my eye, but I thought, ‘Oh what the hell – just do it!’
So I did.
The fully completed gun.
I couldn’t take any weathering process pictures because it was a quick and concentrated effort that included lots of washes and blending – and besides, I was too busy doing all this to pick up the camera!
The final detail to be added was the spring behind the trigger. This could only be stuck in situ once the weathering was done and I really think that it finishes it off quite nicely.
This doesn’t look too bad at all, I don’t think you’d ever notice that I’ve done anything to this, unless I pointed it out… which makes me now wonder why I bothered to do all this in the first place.
Oh well, what’s done is done.
Trying to get “in hand” shots of it isn’t as easy as it at first seems.
Yeah, this shot doesn’t look ungainly in the slightest… and that cut on my middle finger. How did that get there? I just looked down and there it was… I didn’t notice ‘cos I’m ‘ard, me. Grrr!
Okay then, for a quick and dirty conversion job that I only tinkered with here and there, this took very slightly longer than I’d planned.
The process was a lot like playing a game of chess really as I had to plan several stages ahead of what I was currently working on – and allow for that while doing an earlier stage in the build. In fact a lot of time was endured in waiting for things to set, dry, cure or become available, but over all, I’m quite happy with the end result actually – which is a first for me.
I had been planning on doing this for a couple of years now, but it was only recently that I got the gumption to finally pull my finger out and actually do it. I had in fact started to work on this prior to making that Time Ring prop a couple of weeks ago, but it got delayed because I was stranded while I waited on some things to turn up. Well, now I’ve got them and here we are!
Hope you like it.