3D Printing Malcolm Reynolds’ Pistol from Firefly

(Looking for the STL files? Jump to the bottom of the post for the direct download link.)

I have been enjoying my new 3D printer, but I grew bored of printing 3D models I downloaded from the Internet. So I decided to create my own!

3D printed prop of Malcolm Reynolds' pistol from Firefly (Moses Brother Self-Defense Engine). Click to view full-size image.
3D printed prop of Malcolm Reynolds’ pistol from Firefly (Moses Brother Self-Defense Engine). Click to view full-size image.

Luckily, Bill Doran from the YouTube channel “Punished Props” recently released a video that shows how to make Malcolm Reynolds’ pistol from the TV series Firefly. And he graciously gave away the 2D template files to his viewers and encouraged us to make our own version.

So I decided that this was an excellent opportunity to create my own 3D models and try out Fusion 360 for the first time. I installed Fusion 360 a few months ago, but I haven’t had a reason to use it yet. Watch the video below to see how I made it!

And if you want to print your own version, you can download my STL files. If you make your own version, post a comment here or on my YouTube video so I can see how it looks!


YouTube – 3 Tips for the Prusa i3 MK2

I decided to try something completely new recently: I created a YouTube channel! So far, I have a few videos showing my new foray into the maker movement. My latest video, which was just released, gives tips for anyone new to 3D printing or with a new Prusa i3 MK2.

I recently received my new Prusa 3D printer, which is the first 3D printer I have ever owned! With my history with 3D modeling, animation, and electronics, I thought this was a great next step. And it has been a lot of fun!

But the first few days with my new 3D printer were a bit troublesome, because I ran into some basic problems that were caused by a lack of knowledge. So I wanted to share some of what I learned, in the hopes that it saves other people time and frustration with their 3D printers.

Continue reading “YouTube – 3 Tips for the Prusa i3 MK2”

Dragon Ball Super on Toonami!

Dragon Ball Super, the new series in the Dragon Ball universe, has been airing in Japan for over a year and a half. American fans have been waiting for Funimation to finish the English dubbed version. Now, the wait is over!

Funimation and Toonami have announced that new episodes of Dragon Ball Super will air starting January 7, 2017. According to Crunchyroll, Toonami will air the first 26 episodes (there are at least 50 more). You should pay attention to the airtime: 8pm and 11:30pm EST (I assume the second time is a repeat airing, but I do not have confirmation yet).

The midnight timeslot on Toonami, which is currently Dragon Ball Z Kai and the Cell Saga, will air some additional new Dragon Ball Z content: Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters. These episodes are the “Kai” version of the Majin Buu Saga. I am torn if I want to watch these episodes; I haven’t seen the Kai version of the Buu Saga, but I was disappointed when I originally watched the full version of it.

While you wait these final few weeks before the episodes start to air, watch the sneak peak from Funimation!

Iron Giant Lego Set


There is a proposal for a new Lego set for The Iron Giant, which already has over 5000 supporters. If it gets enough supporters and is approved by Lego, you could buy a Lego set that includes:

  • Iron Giant, with changeable eyes, weaponry, and an attachable S chest plate
  • Hogarth Hughes, with the Iron Giant’s bolt
  • Annie Hughes, with a coffee pot
  • Kent Mansley, with a fedora
  • Dean McCoppin, with a coffee cup

The entire set consists of approximately 2023 pieces. Who wouldn’t want their very own giant robot? Add your support today!

Live-Action Full Metal Alchemist

Another anime is turning into a live-action movie! This time it’s “Full Metal Alchemist”, a very popular manga series and one of my favorite anime series (I am referring to “Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood”, don’t waste your time with the original “Full Metal Alchemist”).

The first teaser was just released and the movie is scheduled to be released in Japan sometime in January. Take a look!

Ghost in the Shell Trailer

Marketing has officially started for the live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson. Check out  the first official trailer:

Some of the scenes look ripped straight from the original anime movie, but there are definitely some new story elements that were not present in any of the anime. It will be interesting to see how much of the story stays true to the original.

Rurouni Kenshin – Battosai

A few months ago, I learned from Pi Visuals that Rurouni Kenshin is getting a live-action treatment with a limited release in North America. Unfortunately, none of the theaters near me played the first movie, so I still haven’t seen it.

However, the first film is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. And to promote the release, Funimation released a small clip of the movie (about 2 minutes), featuring Kenshin’s backstory as the Battosai. The clip is subtitled although there is very little dialog (but lots of action).  Check it out and enjoy!

My First 3D Printed Object

I have been reading about 3D printing for a while, but I haven’t had a chance to play with the technology yet. So I decided to test the waters by using a third-party 3D printing service, Shapeways, to print an object I created.

Click to view full-size image.
Click to view full-size image.

I decided to make a small 3D version of my site logo, since I already had objects for the buildings. So I fired up LightWave Modeler and set up a single object with the buildings connected by a base. I had to tweak the buildings to make them printer-ready: all pieces must be fully closed, you cannot have stray polygons, all polygons should be tripled, etc. Newer versions of LightWave have a convenient command, “Mesh Repair” (in the “Detail” tab), that will evaluate if the model is ready for 3D printing.

Once I had the completed model, I exported it as an OBJ file and uploaded it to Shapeways. The system automatically checks your model for errors, which takes a few minutes to complete. If you have errors, you can try to fix them using Shapeways tools in the browser or you can upload a replacement object. I had to fix the thickness of the antennae because they were too thin for the material I wanted to use. So I fixed that minor error in LightWave and uploaded the final file. Continue reading “My First 3D Printed Object”

Batman: The Killing Joke – Animated Movie

DC is releasing a new animated Batman movie, Batman: The Killing Joke. It is an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland.


I am excited about this movie because of the talent involved. The movie is co-directed by Bruce Timm, who co-created and produced Batman: The Animated Series.  And it features the voice talents of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, the quintessential Batman and Joker voices.

Parents should be warned, however, that this movie is not appropriate for children. It is rated R by the MPAA and Mark Hamill warns that “it’s really mean and nasty.”

The movie will be released on home video on August 2, but it will also have a limited theatrical release for one day on July 25. You should check to see if it is playing at a theater near you!

3D Character Generation Tools

I recently discovered MakeHuman, an open source tool for creating 3D character models. MakeHuman is a standalone program that allows you to create a character mesh. Then you can tweak the base model using sliders for dozens of features, such as head shape, torso depth, finger length, breast size, and many more.

You can also add clothes and other accessories to your character within the application. In addition to the default clothes (named “Geometries” in the application), you can import community created accessories or even make your own in the 3D modeler of choice. And once you have your character model, there are preset poses you can use if you just want a static pose for a scene. Of course, if you want to rig the model, you can export using the A or T pose. Once you have your final character and pose, you can export the mesh to your choice of format.

A simple male character I created using MakeHuman.
A simple male character I created using MakeHuman (click to view full-size image).

MakeHuman is a useful open source application, but another developer, Manuel Bastioni, has improved on MakeHuman by turning it into a Blender plugin and adding significant improvements to the character generation. Many of the same model sliders are available within the plugin. Additionally, he created presets within each category that you can mix into your existing model. You can still use the preset poses in the plugin, but if you are going to stay in Blender then the character is already rigged for your own custom poses or animation!

But I am most excited about the ability to use different base models. In addition to the standard realistic model, he added some anime-style base models, too. And if you create a character using the anime base model, all of the sliders will still work correctly even though the geometry is different than the realistic models.

Unfortunately, I am not very familiar with Blender. However, by using the Maya interface control settings and reading the beginning of a Blender tutorial, I was able to quickly learn enough to play with ManuelLab and create a very simple anime character (see below). I also created the ultra-simple “tube top” she is wearing in LightWave, to test out how clothes are created and then applied within ManuelLab (mesh created in LightWave and then applied in Blender).

A simple posed character I created using the ManuelLab plugin in Blender.
A simple posed character I created using the ManuelLab plugin in Blender (click to view full-size image).

If you need to quickly create characters and do not want to build your own character meshes, MakeHuman and ManuelLab are great tools to add to your arsenal. Enjoy!