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GI Joe Space Program

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  • GI Joe Space Program

    I like making stuff with sheet plastic, like a German tank, a six wheeled jeep, and all sorts of little stuff as well. I've been after a source of BIG sheet plastic for a looooong time!

    Why? For my GI Joe rocketship, of course!

    This will really jump-start the GiJoe Space Program.

    I plan to build a GI Joe rocket ship this winter.
    I've had a vague plan bouncing around in my noggin for several years.

    I've already got uniforms for the crew that GIDefender sent my way several years ago... Captain Action uniforms to which I added black Cots space helmets. I'm going for that Flash Gordon sort of classic age of science fiction vibe. If the Captain action jumpsuits don't cut the mustard for some reason, I've been squaring away several goldenrod GI Joe jumpsuits.

    The club "black and white" GI Joe actually looked a lot more blue to me. So he'll be the alien crewmen, perhaps from Antares. The club also had a timeless collection fuzz head with a streak of white in his hair. He will make a cool Commander. Dr Evil came with replaceable brains. I flocked one of them with green, so he'll be a cool alien crew member, or enemy... not sure which.

    I've got a groovy nosecone. I think it was supposed to be a reflector for a big Warehouse or Barn light fixture. 22" in diameter. That is what drove the diameter of my rocket ship. Fortunately, that's wide enough In diameter to hold an ATV in the cargo bay. It will extend out through the cargo bay doors on the telescopic crane (drawer slider) and use a cable system to lower It to the ground (a little hand crank, like the winch on the ATV uses). The height of the rocket ship is driven by the ceiling height in my Joe room.

    It'll have one main rocket engine sticking out of the bottom. The exterior part will be easy -- I'll probably use a flower pot turned upside down and painted black for that. Once it's inset into the base of the rocket, nobody will be able to tell what it really is anyway.

    The decks have been cut out of 1/2" plywood for a few years now. Yes, it is possible - and easy - to cut big circles out on a table saw.

    It will have four decks, a command deck, a quarters deck, a cargo bay, and the engineering section.

    I'd been debating whether to use sheet aluminum or sheet plastic for the skin of the rocket. That decision just got made! I like styrene. It's easy to work with. And no sharp edges to deal with, like aluminum would create.

    Once I get the skin, frame, fins, and decks in place, I can figure out all of the details in the rocket ship.

    I still need to work out:
    - removable fin mechanism for ease of transport. I'm thinking I will use twist stud arrangements like they use in Ikea furniture.
    - interior electronics (SFX boards or Raspberry Pi, not sure yet) plus LED lighting. Everything will run off 12 volt battery or 12v "wall wart." I already have a sound effects board that will let me play any .wav sound effect that I save. It has 10 or 12 memory slots for each separate noise, activated by a different switch for each sound. This will probably be the easiest.
    - I need to figure out a main video screen. The main video screen for the command Deck needs to be able to selectively display the visual effects like deep space travel, orbit around the planet, a nebula, and stuff like that. I might be able to repurpose an old cell phone or iPad for that. Or a small raspberry pi Bluetooth screen.
    - actual deck configuration for each of the four levels. I have a rough idea, but stuff always changes once you start execution, and unexpected ideas always arise.
    - engine room details (lava lamp for a warp drive, maybe? A Tesla lamp, maybe? Dunno yet. Something that corresponds to the thrust provided by the rockets, so I'll have the be able to turn up the intensity.
    - and a bunch of other things!

    Yup, this will keep me busy all winter! My grandson isn't even a year old yet, so I can even take a few YEARS to finish this if I want to.

    Now I need to go watch some old Fireball XL5 episodes for inspiration...

    - ATC

  • #2

    I can't wait to see this coming together.
    Years ago, there was a guy on youtube who built a big launchable rocket, with the Joe Mercury capsule and a vintage Joe.
    If I remember correctly, he fabbed some chutes out of surplus parachute material, and had cameras onboard.
    I'll see if I can find it.

    Here it is:

    Last edited by camojoe; 09-07-2022, 01:25 AM.


    • #3

      Mine won't launch. It's more of a playhouse sort of deal. Like a big adventure team headquarters with fins and a rocket engine.
      - ATC


      • #4

        Start it NOW! I want to see this. Sounds really awesome. camojoe, thanks for links.
        The Joe Collecting "Geek".
        Visit my online art store for some cool art prints:
        Also follow me on Twitch for some video game goodness at:
        Want to see my collection? Check out my Instagram:
        Want to see my new art? Check out:


        • #5

          Figuring out how to run all the wiring will be a challenge.
          And bracing each deck.
          Not sure whether to go minimalist like star trek, or to go BIG and leave beams all over with holes in 'em like a 1930s version of a space ship.
          Will have to be sure it can stand on its own without fins, too, for ease of assembly.
          And a way to seal off hatches from level to level, in case of an air pressure leak or some other emergency.
          This will give me MONTHS of thinkin' fun!
          - ATC


          • #6

            Last night I graphed out what functions need to have sound effects, what functions need to have light effects as well as sound effects, and how to arrange switches so they could function from each deck of the rocket as well as by a "kid console" hidden behind a fin. I solved a couple of structural plan issues, too. Next I need to talk to my son-in-law who is a techno-boy; I expect he'll have some good ideas how to get different pre-programmed videos to pop up on the main display screen on demand. I suspect he will recommend a Raspberry Pi solution, in which case the GI Joe space program will have to contract out for that functionality... because son in law can do in an hour what would take me two months. Fortunately, he will work for pie and coffee.
            Next is building the structural support for the fins and deck. After that I'll add the skin. From that point forward, this will be fun!
            - ATC


            • #7

              I work for pie and coffee too! But I don't know beans about wiring or electronics!


              • #8

                I've got each 22" diameter deck cut out, using furniture grade plywood. I'm using regular grade plywood for the vertical supports that will run between each deck. The vertical supports will also be the attachment points for the skin of the rocket and the removable fins.

                After I get the frame built, I'll put the skin on it. I have lots of thinking to do before then, though. Need to decide whether I want to put an elevator in like lost in space, or just a good old-fashioned ladder and hatches like the 1950s space age science fiction movies. Just using a ladder between to the decks will be a whole lot quicker to build, and will give it more of a classic vibe.

                I spent some time today coming up with fin designs and attachment mechanisms. I think I've got them figured out, now I've just got to execute.

                After that will come cutting of the main hatch, and the cargo bay door. Both will need reinforcement for the hinges and some kind of latch arrangement. Maybe I can find a source for some big wheels, like a submarine hatch has.

                Still working out the effects for the warp drive. It needs to look cool, but also be easy for a kid to operate.

                I'll post some pics when I get something pic-worthy. :-)
                - ATC


                • #9

                  I made some strides forward today in the GI Joe Space Program.
                  Finished cutting out the decks and added the vertical spars to which the fins and skin will be attached.
                  It's difficult trying to make "modeler grade" stuff with "carpenter grade" tools and resources, but I did my best.
                  I made a command deck, quarters deck, cargo deck, and engineering deck.
                  The cargo deck can be used to transport an ATV or left empty to turn it into a personnel carrier, or even a medical bay to respond to planetary pandemics or some such thing. It could also be DV quarters if they are transporting an alien dignitary. I liked the idea of having an empty deck that could be fiddled with later one.

                  Here's a pic of the progress so far, without the skin, fins, or nosecone:
                  Click image for larger version

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                  The U-shaped cutout in each deck is the access for each deck. There will be a ladder attached to the skin of the rocket so they can travel between decks. Heck, without artificial gravity, they could FLOAT and not need to use the ladder! The bottom deck will have a door-like hatch and little ladder to get to the ground. I'm also planning to put a 1-person transporter in there (in the Golden Age of science fiction, we can't expect them to have a HUGE transporter room like the Enterprise). Still mulling over ideas for a "warp drive." Not sure if I want to make it a warp 3 or warp 5 rather than capable of Star Trek speeds. Or maybe I'll just add a "jump drive" to avoid the "warp" thing entirely. Separate electronics, or an integrated Raspberry Pi? Or just toss the electronics entirely and be happy with just some lights. I dunno yet. Fun!
                  - ATC


                  • #10

                    Made another small step forward. As I figured out what went where, I realized I'd need reinforcement somewhere for the cargo bay doors. So I added it today. Using a dremel, I inset a vertical pillar that will support the hinges for the cargo bay door. I wasn't sure if I wanted the door to slide or just hinge open. I decided to use a hinge because that was more retro and it would be a LOT less hassle getting a sliding round door to operate well. It needs to be kid-friendly rather than an adult collector thing.
                    Here's a pic of the vertical hinge support in the cargo bay.
                    Had to be sure it was offset enough to let us get the ATV out.
                    ATV will come out on a telescopic arm, and be lowered with a windlass/crank.
                    I haven't decided whether to make it kid-powered or electric.
                    No rush figuring that part out.
                    Click image for larger version

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                    I need to do the same thing for the main hatch in the engineering deck.
                    Then I'll be ready to turn my attention to the skin.
                    After I get the skin on the frame, and hatches installed, I'll work on the fins
                    Then the nosecone. At that point, it'll start LOOKING like a rocketship.
                    After that will come the hard part... the interior!
                    This is going to take all winter.
                    At least.
                    - ATC


                    • #11

                      Looking great ATC! I look forward to the progress as it goes along.


                      • #12

                        This is just great. Consider putting some of the stuff in other orientations so some Joes are upside down or on their backs.

                        Disposable bottles and other food packaging could provide a lot of nice realistic textured shapes once painted matte colors. Piping and wires, too. Maybe some aluminum foil covered bulges for that Apollo lander feel.

                        I've been thinking of doing a wall mounted spacecraft/playset thing for my 1:18 Micromen for years - hats off to you for actually making it happen.


                        • #13

                          looking good so far. Keep it up.
                          The Joe Collecting "Geek".
                          Visit my online art store for some cool art prints:
                          Also follow me on Twitch for some video game goodness at:
                          Want to see my collection? Check out my Instagram:
                          Want to see my new art? Check out:


                          • #14

                            Work on the Joe Space Program is very slow.
                            It's at the bottom of the priority list around here, it seems.

                            I finished up access hatch work and did a mock-up of fin designs.
                            It'll have 3 fins, one on each vertical rib. The rear fin will be a slightly different shape... thinner... so it'll nestle in the corner of a room better.
                            Attached is a pic of the fin shape I liked the best; it's the cardboard template I'll use to cut the fins out.
                            Nothing sharp or pointy that'd hurt kids falling on it.
                            I'll attach the fins with "knock down" furniture fasteners (3 per fin), so I can remove the fins for transport.
                            Originally this was to be taller and actually stand up on high the fins like a 1950s retro rocketship, but my lovely bride reminded me that grandkids would probably try to climb it, so I made it lower for more stability and grounded the frame... also made the fins a little wider for stability. Next I need to cut the fins out of 5/8 plywood and shape them, then add the attachment points.

                            The skin is all cut out and ready to go. it's a huge piece of white sheet plastic.
                            I need to sand and paint the ribs/deck before adding the skin.
                            Waiting for a nice day outside for that work, because sanding is messy.

                            I found a nose cone; it is actually a light reflector for a warehouse ceiling light.
                            But it was the right diameter and is made of a really THICK plastic. Not sure... it might even be pyrex or something.
                            Looked like it'd work, so I picked it up. I actually got two, so if I try slicing this one in half and it breaks, I'll have a backup.
                            Got both "nosecones" for $10, so they were kind of a deal.

                            After I get the structure finished, the HARD part will start: the interior. It will HAVE to have sound effects and lighting, but not sure whether to do it old school or use a little Raspberry Pi SFX controller. Might just use a Raspberry Pi for the main screen on the bridge and run the REST of the lights on old-fashioned switches. But I can work on the interior and SFX details as time permits better than working on the BIG parts (sanding, painting, skinning it, etc). The kid I'm building it for just turned ONE, so I have some time! :-)

                            I still need to figure out some kind of a ladder. There are hatches in each floor, so all I need is the ladder. I thought about drawer pulls attached directly to the skin, but the cost of that idea was astronomical. A ladder with wooden sides and wooden rungs wouldn't look right. Maybe sides of aluminum "L" bracket and rungs made of small-diameter bolts with acorn nuts to hold them in? Dunno. Will hafta ruminate, cogitate, and contemplate.

                            Anyway, pic below. I stood up some sheet cardboard behind the rocketship to hide my messy Joe room shelves.

                            - ATC
                            Click image for larger version

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                            • #15

                              You could use the other light shade as a rocket cone on the bottom.


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