GI Joe
Sigma Six Dragonhawk Conversion Project

Who hasn't seen the wonderful GI Joe Sigma Six Dragonhawk aircraft - the ducted-fan-driven air drop-ship whose front resembles the Apache helicpoter? It carries a cargo of a cage, drops it on demand, and has sound and lights to boot. It's a highly impressive machine, and is awfully similar (though I'm not sure which was actually conceived of first) the Scorpion from the film Avatar.

When I first saw it I saw the potential immediately to convert it to an Action Pack-like vehicle.

I started with a sketch of what I was intending to create:

Some of the benefits of the original toy will be kept intact - the LED Lights, the sound effects, the rotator wheel that angles the ducted fans, the tail fins.

I started by partially assembling the toy. Do not attach the wings, skis or tail. They will not be needed. Also, don't bother with the nose gun, as we'll be cutting the nose off.

Here's the partially-assembled toy.

We detach the LEDs from their homes and pull the wiring outside, including the magnetic catch box for the drop-cage. We keep them together using an elastic band so they don't hinder construction.

Using a box to catch plastic shavings, I prepare the body and a hacksaw for a rough cut, removing the majority of the nose section.

Before we cut (measure twice - cut once) the yellow line indicates my intended shape. I'm going to cut the sides, but leave a part of the underneath that is already moulded across. It is part of the under housing, and not the hull, so there's no need to actually cut there.

Here, the nose has been removed, and the yellow lines show where I intend to refine the cuts, following some contouring on the toy. Leave the two circular collars - we'll be putting the LEDs in there later.

Here, we show the partly refined cut that follows a contour detail of the ship. The next one is an angle from the fold to the moulded piece underneath that will be the top of our vehicle when done. These cuts will be made with a Dremel tool using a cutting/grinding wheel.

When done, use the Dremel to smooth out the cuts. Remember that working with a Dremel on plastic does more melting than cutting, so just take care to not go too far. A lot of the job is stopping the wheel and removing flash with your fingers, a pair of pliers or a cutting tool. A sharp X-Acto knife or carpet knife will do well to smooth out some cuts too, removing flash in a smooth way.

Now it's on to the tail section for a bit:

I plan to use the existing tail fins to point inward towards the pilot, rather than outward like an aircraft. This will help give the vehicle a set of landing legs as well. I intend to cut a groove into the housing just where the existing grooves are.

This is the first one - note that it cuts right up into the screw hole at the top.

This is the other side. Again, grind the plastic flash off when done.

When the grooves are the right width, the two black plastic tail fins can slide right in with enough friction that we may not even need to glue them into place. (Though we probably will.)

Stage One complete! Note it stands on its own thanks to the configuration of the rear fins. (This is not entirely true. In fact the ship leans back ever-so-slightly. If I had angled the grooves slightly, not quite following the existing grooves, I might have made it balance better... but I'm confident that when a figure is strapped in, it will stand better. I temporarily put the ducted fans in place (upside down) to show what the completed vehicle may look like.

To Be Continued...




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