Last-minute idea, successful.

Like I promised at the beginning, this blog is going to be about more than just cars, and here is the first example.

I am a big fan of the game Minecraft, a retro-styled open world game. Among the enemies is a creature called a “creeper“. It is essentially an ambulatory shrub that sneaks up behind you, hisses & explodes(killing you if you don’t react fast enough). The game is particularly popular among geeks, who would also be in large attendance at the Arisia science fiction convention in Boston this past weekend. Well this past Friday at 8:30 in the morning I decided I wanted to build a creeper to bring to the convention, that afternoon. What followed was a frantic couple of hours of searching for images online and trying to figure out the proportions of the creeper.

This image was incredibly helpful, and allowed me to have a reference for relative sizes of the various pieces. I ended up settling on 1.5″ per color pixel, this gave the creeper an overall size of 3′ 3″, which was a decent compromise between size & portability.

Next I went parts shopping. I made a list of local sign shops, but ended up scoring at the first one. The owner of Cornerstone Signs was incredibly helpful and generous, He sold me a bunch of Chloroplast and chunks of various shades of green vinyl.

I’ve worked with Chloroplast before, it is a corrugated plastic often used for those disposable “Make money from home” or “We buy gold” signs that crop up in medians and at the end of exit ramps(if I’d had more time I’d have just grabbed those and re-purposed them).  It is strong & durable but easy to cut and bend(as long as you are doing straight bends). I measured and cut the various pieces, & shot them with krylon fusion green. As soon as the pieces were dry to the touch they and all our other costumes & props were loaded in the car and we drove up to Boston.

Once in our hotel room at Arisia, I unpacked and got to work with assembly. I’d also picked up a cheap $30 R/C car, and cut the truck body off it. All the bends were scored with a closed utility knife and a pile of zip-ties were employed to put everything together. Halfway through I realized I’d left two of the panels for his head at home, fortunately I had brought the leftover chloroplast, so I was able to piece together enough for the two panels, and use some of the vinyl to cover them. It wasn’t a very good match, but was close enough for what I needed.


Next up was the R/C base, I hadn’t had time to design or plan anything so I was simply winging it. As it turned out the Starbucks cups that came with the complementary coffee were just the right size. Another couple zip ties and a bit more tweaking and it was assembled. Next came cutting a pile of 1.5″ x 1.5″ stickers & sticking them all over the creeper. All total it took about 6 hours of work to put it together from idea to its first outing.

Driving it around the lobby it was quickly apparent that the little R/C car was hopelessly outmatched by the weight of the creeper, & the battery would last for about one lap of the (large) hotel lobby. but those laps were long enough to get all sorts of positive reactions, and once the battery was dead I left it parked near the escalators where even more people were snapping pictures.

By the end of the weekend I’d burned out the motor on the R/C car, but proved that the idea was a good one. Version two will have a more correct paint job(lighter green), a beefier R/C chassis, and a sound system to allow it to hiss like the real creepers. Hopefully with more than few hours to work on it I can make it even better.

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