Thursday, October 27, 2011

Final Build-A-HQ related post for a while...

The title says it all.  This will be my last post related to my Build-A-HQ project for the foreseeable future.  If you have been here at all for the last month or so, you are aware that I used the plans from Vexar Designs to build my own diorama of a lobby/security desk and tactical operations center for 1/18th scale action figures.  I made some mistakes, but overall things went pretty well.  I learned a lot and ended up with a pretty cool little dio.  But now my problem is, where do I put the thing?

The finished model is 22 inches by 8 inches by 6 and a 3/8ths or so inches.  I put a base of foam board under the styrene floor itself to protect it from scratches and wear and tear.  I can't just put it in a gap on my self between various action figures on a shelf.  Its too big.  I need some real space to place this thing.  Hmm.  The good news is that I have plenty of book shelves in my little basement Man Lair where I built this model.  The bad news is that those book shelves are mostly full of books.

But but but!  Not all the shelves are packed.  I noticed that there was some space on the lower shelf of by bookcase next to the computer where I store the boxes for video games.  Plus there were boxes of games I am not playing again any time soon.  Games like World of Warcraft; I had the box for WoW, The Burning Crusade expansion and the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  I haven't played WoW in about a year, and I have no plans on doing so in future.  Goodbye, WoW stuff.  That's 3 inches of shelf space liberated.  I also realized that if I turned the boxes for Medieval II Total War, Rome Total War Gold, The Orange Box, Star Wars: Best of the PC, and Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces of Corruption on their side, it saves a bit more space.  Like 2 more inches. We are on a roll here!

I figured where I wanted to put the model.  I have another book shelf near the computer where I have already started moving books off of it to make space for toys. On the top of that bookshelf I have my modern Millennium Falcon, and a Star Wars walker from the new trilogy..  On the shelf below the space I are taking books from I have totally dedicated to displaying my little urban commando team.  The team is made up of War Machine, Cable, Duke & Ripcord in their Delta 6 Accelerator suits, Black Widow, a figure from the Target "Bravo Team" line, both of my GI Joe Cycle Armor figures, a Batman Begins batmobile driven by Deadpool, and my custom Coyote.  I have my Vamp Mk II sitting on my printer and a GI Joe Steel Crusher APV there as well.  It seemed to be a good place to put the diorama, and there weren't that many books on the top shelf.    Going though books you haven't read in a while is fun.  I haven't read all of the books I have down here, but between my wife and I, we have read about 95% of them.  Nearly all of the books we haven't read we inherited from her grandfather when he died a few years ago.  The man was a dedicated bibliophile and he had a bunch of things I haven't read but should: The Rise And Fall of the Third Reich, Crisis Of the Old Order, Profiles In Courage, stuff like that.  One day I'll get around to them.

Not all the books from the top shelf fit in the freed up space on the other book shelf, but as I said, there are plenty of book shelves in the Man Lair.  I got about half of the books to fit in the newly opened up space and found homes for the other books on other shelves.  Finally, I have a suitable home for the Build-A-HQ dio that does not include it sitting on the David's Workshop project bench. 

You can't really tell from the picture here, but I have Mainframe and Helix turned facing each other in the Dio. Mainframe figured he was too much of a tech nut for a lady to ever be interested in him, but Helix doesn't seem to find him unattractive at all.  She's impressed with his skill, and under his tough shell, his sensitivity.  Who knows where their relationship will take them.  Cover Girl on the other hand isn't the least bit interested in Pit Commando.  Strictly professional on that side of the TOC.

Ok- now on to the clipper project.  Until next time.

David D.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We done, baby. We done.

Well, its official.  The Build-A-HQ project has been built. This morning, I cemented the last video panel in, just above its one inch styrene conduit, waited 30 minutes, and called it complete.   Here are the photos.

Busy night in the TOC.
First a shot of the Tactical Operations Center itself.   I played around with a few different figures, but Cover Girl, Pit Commando, (aka Red Shirt), Helix, and Mainframe just looked the best staffing the workstations themselves.  I put Mainframe's computer next to him on the back wall desk, and General Hawk's briefcase computer next to Cover Girl. They are nice accessories and fit in well here.  I've got Sargent Stone briefing General Hawk in the front.  The graphics Vexar Designs made to go with their Build a HQ design are fantastic. I purchased both clear and white project paper to print the graphics on, and my advice for anyone else trying this is to print your decals out on the white paper, and trim the white edges off.  The clear paper, especially when it is being placed on dark styrene, ends up looking too dark and the stickers become hard to see.  The white paper keeps the ink fresh and bright regardless of what color styrene you put the decal on.  If you have to use clear sticker project paper, use it for graphics that are going to go on white styrene surfaces.

Snake Eyes is glad to be home.
Next up we have the lobby; Scarlet and Snake Eyes are back from who knows where.  Ripcord is clearly happy to see Scarlet back, and Duke keeps an eye on the feeds from the security cameras around the base.  Oh yeah- one thing I still may do is build a little Cisco IP phone for Duke to have at the reception/security desk so he can keep in touch with the rest of the base.  Back before I started grad school, I worked at an IT company and we all had IP phones on our desks. They looked pretty cool.  They were also completely redundant, because when you have IP phone systems, you can actually answer your phone using your computer itself.  We all had wireless headsets anyway, so we didn't need a phone handset or a deskset.  There was a little app we had installed on our laptops to place calls choice voice mail, etc, and any calls themselves placed using this app would be routed via Bluetooth to our headsets, which we were always suppose to have in our ears.  But people are just used to having phones on their desks.  I think having an IP phone at the security/reception desk would just be a nice touch, and as soon as I can find an image I can turn into a decal, I am making Duke his own little deskset phone, which is technically unnecessary, but something I think will look cool and useful on his desk.

Stg. Stone updates General Hawk on global ops status
Ok, here are Stone and Hawk.  Check out the beauty and detail in Vexar's decal images. In this picture you have a world map with different hotspots in red, a satellite image at the Pit Commando's left workstation (lower right side of the image), a sound wave analysis of Destro's voice and a work screen at Helix's workstation (lower left side of the image) and a keypad just to the right of Hawk on the right middle section of the image.  Vexar spent some time putting these things together.  I printed them up at highest quality on my HP deskjet printer, and they look crisp and near lifelike, as if they could plausibly be the kinds of screens one would see on computers performing the various tasks in a tactical operations center.

Scarlet checks in.
At my old job, the company I worked for was global and dealt with some security related services.  In one of our buildings, we had a TOC with a window between it and the lobby so potential clients could walk past and be impressed with our sophistication.  I never worked in that room, but I knew people who did.  They said it was actually a pain in the ass to work in there because while they always had the newest hardware, that also meant they were also always fixing bugs in the new machines and that everything in there felt like it was for show instead of actually being useful for the business.  Which I'm guessing was probably close to the truth.  

In the next image I've got going here (just above this paragraph) is the lobby from the right side.  You can't see Duke's keyboard or mouse (yeah, I cemented the mouse to the desk- it isn't going anywhere, and I decided it was a wireless mouse, so I didn't have to make any kind of cord between it and some part of the desk.) You can see the Exit, keypad and security screens decals here.  I think we kind of have a love triangle going on here between Scarlet, Ripcord and Snake Eyes.  Sorry Rip, I've got my money on SE.  He's got the strong silent type thing *down*.  Nothing personal, but that is what Scarlet is into and I don't think anyone can compete in that arena with Snake Eyes.

Helix, Mainframe, Cover girl and Red Shirt process their feeds.
Ok- Next image is of the TOC from the left side  Yes, the first thing I will always see here is the fact that the right most screen of Cover Girl's workstation is about 1/16th of an inch lower than her other computers.  I could try to pull the screen off and re-cement it, but the desk itself is *extremely* fragile, and comes disconnected from the rest of the dio if you look at it too hard, much less try to pull a piece of cemented styrene off of it.  I have thought about redoing that screen many times, but the fear of having to fix who knows what else keeps me from doing it.  I'll just have to live with the results, even if it gives me the heebie jeebies. I think Mainframe and Helix would make a good team together.  Helix strikes me as a kind of computer wizkid, and Mainframe looks ever the tech guru, like the kind of guy who writes COBOL code in his sleep, whereas she is more a Ruby on Rails kind of girl.  Yes, I don't think you'd ever seen developers or engineers working a TOC in real life, but its a flavor thing.  More than techie, I am going for a non-combat look in the TOC, and there aren't many non-combat looking figures in the GI JOE universe.  Beggars can't be choosers.

Never a dull moment.
Here it is- the entire thing on one overhead shot.  I don't know if I mentioned it before, but all the chairs swivel. None of them can turn a full 360 because the back of the chair bumps up against the desk, but none of the chair backs will hit each other in this dio, so I can have my TOC staffers turn to each other for a conversation or have Cover Girl or Mainframe twist to check out the computers next to them on the desk.  Everyone could turn toward the back of the room if they needed to give General Hawk their full attention.  Duke, in his security desk seat, can spin there too.  It gives a little action feature capacity to what is otherwise a cool but utterly frozen in time diorama.

Well, that is it for this project.  I'm thrilled with how it went, and I hope you like the results.  I do have some plans for a next project- Dr. Mindbender is going to get a robotics lab from Cobra Commander and work on the next generation of cobra food soldier there.  Before I work on that project, I may work on the long neglected Clipper custom.  I should give that one some time.  It has been sitting on the edge of my workstation for a long time now.  ::sigh:: that means I'm going to have to brush paint again.  We'll see how that goes.

Until next time,

David D.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Work stations done!

Ok- getting close to the finish line here on the Build-A-HQ project.  I have finished the work stations in the Tactical Operations Center, which is three computer screens at four locations, each screen made up of three rather tiny pieces of styrene and cut just so to match each other, and to fit little computer screen decals.  Each station also has a little white keyboard with keyboard decal on top as well.  Doing the computer screen step was actually one of the most tedious steps of the entire project so far, and for what felt like the least amount of work, but once everything was glued in, none of that mattered.  Everything looked absolutely amazing. Check it out for yourselves.  

I took these pictures as soon as I was done cementing the screens and keyboards in place.  If you think they look good like this, you should see what they look like with actual little action figures at each station.  They look *sweet*.  Since the last set of pictures I posted on the project, I have redone the stickers for the map display on the back wall of the TOC, the Exit sign above the lobby door, the fire alarm by the reception desk, the "No unauthorized personal beyond this point" sign at the reception desk, and the keypads by the lobby door and in the TOC itself.  The last set of stickers had been too small; when I figured out how to print everything out at the correct size (see the "sticker update" post about this) I decided to pull the old ones and redo it them.  The correct sized stickers look much, much better than the small ones. 

There are a few things I still plan on doing.  I have at least two more monitors I am going to post on the common wall between the lobby and the TOC, on the TOC side of things that will have visual data for the TOC.  Those are not up yet.  And in the time between when I took these pictures and wrote this post, I have done some touch up work with a paintbrush and some paint to fix some cement stains on various surfaces of the model.  The stains my have been too small to see in these pictures, but I'd really like to get everything looking good before I finish this bad boy and put him up on the shelf full of figures.  I didn't want to have any steps left undone that I will spend the next few years noticing and thinking 'Jeez that looks like crap' so I went ahead to did the touch up work.  As I sit here typing, the paint is drying and leaving very little indication that it was ever there, so that's cool. I was worried it would really stand out from the white and black styrene, but nope- its all good. 

What else is there to say?  I'm not sure how much longer it is going to take to finish this bad boy.  Maybe another hour (knock on wood) at most. I've painted up a white styrene dowel in grey to match the walls of the TOC to look like conduit that will run between the table and the two new monitors that will go in there. I haven't cut the styrene for the monitors, but I have plenty of scrap that will be the correct size and have the decals that will be the images themselves all ready to go.

My last issue is figuring out which figures are going to staff the TOC. At the moment, I am thinking Mainframe, Helix, Cover Girl, and Pit Commando.  These figures seem to be the most appropriate dressed (save Helix) for TOC work.  What I would really like to have in there would be the figures from the Toys R Us Troop Builder 5 pack, which included Dial Tone, Footloose, Law and Order (without the dog), Zartan, and Repeater. These figures are all in fatigues and would look great in the TOC, but I can't find it for sale anywhere at the moment except on eBay, and the five pack is going for about $45-$50 including S&H there, and I'm going to have to save my pennies for a bit to pick that up.

I need to run pretty quick, so I'll end this post about here. Thanks for keeping up with this project.  It has been so much fun to work on.  I've done my share of screw ups, but I've learned from each mistake and this thing really looks cool.  No mistake thus far has been a project killer; when I cut a section of styrene too small, I can recut it.  When I cut it too big I can sand it down.  When paint gets where I don't want it, I repaint.  This is very forgiving.  Its also a fun in that each step makes the display much cooler, so I never feel like my time or energy was wasted.  I hope you like the pictures.  I think there is a good chance the final product pictures will be up soon.

Until next time,

David D.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sticker update

Hey- I figured out what was wrong with my sticker sizes that I printed out from Vexar Designs.  My printer was fitting the images to page instead of printing them at 100% size.  I was pretty weirded out by the fact the stickers were so much smaller when they came out of my printer and were up in my dio then they seemed to be in the pictures on Vexar's website, so I did a little digging.  It turns out that the print size control is in the page preview option, not the print option itself in firefox/Windows Vista.  When I went to the print option in the file menu and said print without changing the settings in the print preview option, it just fit everything to the page.  Not what I wanted!

At least I have only made 3 of the computer screen before I figured this out.  I think the dio is going to look much better with the full sized computer screens, and with the full sized stickers.

One more thing- I have been wanting to thank the person or persons behind Vexar Designs, and I found him on user name Freedom.  It was great that he took some time to pop into the forum where I have been posting updates on this project.  Freedom, thanks for your comments and thanks for your design. 

That's all I've got for now.

Until next time,

David D.

GI Joe Renegades Wave 1 found at Target!

Carded Renegades Wave 1 in hand.  Woot!

Not a Build A HQ update, but still on the topic of collecting.  I found the GI Joe Renegades first wave of figures at the midway Target yesterday here in St. Paul.  I hadn't seen them anywhere for the last few weeks, including Walmart where it sounds like they have been showing up, according to the regular collecting websites like and  I was worried they were going to pass me by.  But nope, after working out at the gym yesterday morning I ran by Target just to see if anything was in. And lo and behold, the new wave was fresh on the pegs.  I just grabbed one of each, leaving the rest for the next guy or gal.  Its great to have these acquisitions off my 'to buy' list. 

The best part? When I took them up to the register, they were not in the computer.  The cashier asked me if I remembered how much they were, and I said I think they were $7.99 or something like that, but I didn't remember.  I said I could run back and check. 

"No problem" she said.  "They aren't in the computer? I think they are $6.00."  And she winked at me.  So check that out- I found a wave I have been looking all over for, and I got them for 25% off.  Thank you Target.

Until next time,

David D

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chairs made and stickers up!

Peg warmer Duke is now warming the security
desk chair in my soon to be completed GI Joe
Lobby and Tactical Operations Center model.
Well, its been a busy past few days in Lake Woebegone.  Got the chairs made and am starting to work on the computers.  I got some sticker project paper from Office Max nearby, both the clear sticker paper and the white stuff for the decals, and have started putting it all together.  So far, so good.  Its a slow slog, especially with the computers.  Each computer screen is three pieces, and there are going to be a total of 12 computers and four keyboards.  It'll take some time to get all that cut and ready, but its looking good in the mean time.

The chairs were super easy.  I was not sure if I'd be able to bend the styrene well, but all it took was a little exposure to a small flame, as discussed in the project instructions. I used a candle lighter we had in our junk drawer, and I did it outside and with a mask on, because I figure styrene fumes are probably not the best for my health.  Turns out that a few  seconds of flame exposure makes styrene super flexible.  Just to be safe, I marked the parts of the plastic where I wanted things to bend, and put the flame on each face in the zone where I wanted it to bend- front, back, and both sides.  I was not sure if the heat would be conducted through the plastic, and I'd rather not snap good material.  I probably held the plastic just above the tip of the flame for about seven or eight seconds per side for a single round- I didn't need to heat sides again after I cooked them the first time.  It worked so well on the back of the first chair that I kept doing it for the remaining four, and had no problems with any of them.

Chair in place, stickers coming along, and all I really have
left are the computer screens.  I hope to have this thing done
in the next few days.
I printed the decals from page three of the decals website at Vexar Designs (again, thanks very much Vexar).  They printed out a little small. It seems to me that they should be between 50%-100% bigger to be the same size as they look at on the Vexar Designs site pictures, but I'll manage.  If I do this again, I'd try using an image editing program to increase the size of the stickers by 50% and see how that works, but the moment is passed.  Nothing looks really bad, and actually, the stickers make things look much, much cooler, as they always do when it comes to GI Joe related stuff.

I also noticed (learning tip!) that any stickers that are going to end up on black styrene really need to be printed on white paper, because if it is on clear, it vanishes when it is put over the black background.  Made that mistake with the world map on the back war of the Tac Ops center, but it isn't too bad.  There are plenty of decals that will be stuck on white styrene that clear stickers will find a home someplace.

Other big learning point: I was hoping this item would be strong enough to actually handle play like a playset would.  Well, not so much.  The desks themselves are very fragile.  Not the entire structures, but if you put more than a little pressure on the desk surfaces, they pop right off whatever they are glued to.  This styrene set is going to be more of a diorama than a playset, but that's cool. It looks pretty sweet.

I need to get back to cutting black styrene for the computer screens, so I'll end this update here.

Until next time,

David D.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Desks up and How to Cut Styrene.

So far, so good.  Glad the painting stage is over.
Well, the painting adventure is over.  Cotton balls + mineral spirits got rid of the non plastic paint with no problems at all.  The next coat of paint went on and everything looks great.  ::phew:: that's nice.  I was worried the surfaces were going to look like crap forever.  One problem solved. So that was cool.  After the paint situation was resolved, I went on to add the desks, both in the tac ops center in the back and in the lobby.  The desks themselves are made from black styrene, the same stuff used to make everything else. 

Except this stuff is black, not white. 

I have some little piece work left to do: print out the decals from the website on some sticker project paper, and making the chairs and computers.  That will involve a great deal of cutting styrene sheets but I'm not too worried.  During this project, I have become a master at cutting styrene sheets.  I have wanted to do a 'how to cut styrene for beginners' tutorial for a while, and I may as well do one now since I have some time and I'm on the subject.  Here we go.

How to Cut Styrene

You will need: 

1. A  sheet of styrene
2. A pencil
3. A ruler/Straight edge
4. An Xacto knife/Razor/cutting blade of some sort.
5. Sandpaper (if you screw up.)

6. A desk/work bench makes things much easier.

1. Use a ruler to measure out the length of styrene you want on one side of the styrene sheet.  Mark point for length you using a pencil with a little dash mark on the styrene. (this works on white and black styrene.)  So if you have an 21x8 sheet of styrene and want a 6x8 panel, go 6 inches up from one end on the 21 inch side and mark a dash at 6 inches.

2. go to the other side of the sheet, and do the same thing.  So now you should have two dashes, both 6 inches away from the end.

3. Now flip the styrene over so the flat surface that was on top is now on bottom.  Do steps 1 and 2 again on the other side. 

4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 again to make sure you measured correctly from the ends (measure twice, cut once isn't a joke, and it will save you time if you screw up.) 

5. After you confirm (or remark) your dash marks with a pencil, use a straight edge, such as your ruler, to draw a line between the two dash marks.

6. Repeat step 3, which is to say, flip the styrene sheet over, double check your measurements.

7. Now repeat step 5 on the other side of the styrene sheet.  Use your straight edge to draw a line with your pencil to connect the two dash marks.

8. Now take out your knife.  You can use an Xacto knife, a razor, whatever.  I also use the straight edge, and score the styrene along the pencil line you just drew.  On one side of the styrene.  You can use the straight edge to guide your knife, making sure the score is straight.  Repeat this at least three times in one direction.

9. Important Note: you do not need to cut all the way through the styrene.  You just need to score it.  I spent a LONG time on the first few cuts of this project because I carved all the way through the styrene with my xacto knife.  I don't recommend it.  Learn from my mistakes!

10.  Now, score the line in the opposite direction at least 3 times.  If you were going right to left the first time (in step 8), now score the styrene from left to right.

11. Flip over the styrene.  There should be an unscored surface with a pencil mark facing up, and the scored surface should be facing down.  Repeat steps 8-10 on the other side.

12. Now you are done with your knife.  To be safe, first put the xacto cover back on your xacto knife or adjust your razor so it slides back into the tool's handle.  Stage 13 is going to be a little violent, and you do not want sharp objects around where sudden motions take place.

13. For best results, place the styrene on a flat surface, such as a desk or work bench, with the scored line right at the edge of the table or desk and the part you want to break off hanging over the table or desk.  Apply steady pressure to the styrene, with one hand on the part you cut to use in your project and one hand holding the part you want to have left over.  You do not have to do this quickly.  The first few times you try this you may not feel exactly how much pressure you need to place on the styrene to get it to break.  The styrene will bend.  Do not worry, it will snap back straight again when the piece breaks off.

14.  Very suddenly, the styrene will snap apart.  If you scored the styrene well, the line will be a very nice flat line.  If it was less well done, you may need to do some minor sanding to make the break line clean.

The key to this entire process is scoring the styrene well.  If you do good straight cuts, the break lines will be pristine.  Yes, you can just do one side of the styrene, but when I have tried going fast, in my experience it does not goes nearly as well.  Score both sides of the sheet.  The lines are much finer and need zero sanding to get what you want. 

Congrats!  You have cut your styrene!

I'll update this post soon with pictures for the styrene cutting steps.  Until then, enjoy the words.

That's all I have for now.  Until next time.

David D.

Monday, October 3, 2011

additional pics

Detail of the door to the lobby section of the HQ, with some
of the wall sections on the left side of the frame.  Not too
shabby, and very easy to do.  If I can do this, *anyone* can
do this.

For some reason, I didn't post some pics in previous posts on the Build-A-HQ project, but they are pretty good in progress images.  Here is one I thought I would include in the blog I so you can see what the parts looked like during construction.  If you have not worked with styrene before, you would be amazed at how easy it is to work with this stuff.   I still need to do my 'how to cut styrene' post, and I will.  In summary: its easy, and the stuff looks good (as you can see from the pictures) with very little effort.

After all of the frustration I had trying to paint action figures (see the Alex Armstrong story, and there are even more projects I have worked on that were so bad I didn't even make blog entries about them.  That should tell you something.) It was *great* to work on a project that is more or less working out for me.  If you are thinking of trying to put together a little dio for your action figures, I recommend this the Vexar Designs Build-A-HQ project.  Try it out.  Its really easy and it looks great.  You'll be happy with the results.

Until next time,

David D. 

Painting the HQ, or, Another Fine Mess I've Gotten Myself Into

Ok then.  The styrene is all cemented together and looking good.  All I need to do now is paint the thing.  I did exactly what the instructions said: wash everything down first to get rid of dirt or oil or whatever, let dry, and go nuts.

I went nuts, all right.

After spending a bit of time at the local hardware store, I picked Krylon Fusion for Plastic Satin River Rock spray paint.  I wanted to go with a kind of light gray look, because the original GI Joe Headquarters was grey.  Grey seems more like a military base color than BLINDING WHITE STYRENE I had going on here.  So I started painting with the River Rock.

And it looked pink.  Even after 3 good coats applied well after the the previous coat had dried, the BLINDING WHITE STYRENE under the River Rock kept the paint from looking dark at all.  At the end, it was looking kind of like a weak cream color.  Not at all the kind of bad ass look I wanted for my headquarters.  I wanted to find a good grey.  And what luck!  The store had this paint called Grey Metal for plastic.  The cap looked just right.  So I grabbed that and came home.

What we have here is River Rock in front, and Grey Metal in
back.  If the River Rock looked as nice as thisin real life, I probably
would have kept it.  But it was severalshades lighter than it shows up
on camera, and it didn't work at all.  Obviously, Grey Metal wasn't
what I was looking for either.
 Except, I was thinking kind of a gun metal color, and the paint was thinking metal metal color.  The stuff was shiny and not at all what I was looking for.  Maybe in a computer room or if I ever make a robot costume out of cardboard or something, but not want I wanted in my model.  It looked horrible.

I still have that Krylon Fusion for Plastic Grey primer that I have used for a few of my other painting projects.  Sure, it would leave that chalky consistency on top, but the color is exactly what I wanted and I didn't see any good grey paint at the hardware store.  So I went with that for the back, in what the directions call the tac ops center itself.  And it looked great.  Ok.  One room down, one to go.

And here is where the wheels kind of came off the wagon.

See, I couldn't find any white Krylon for plastic at the store, so I just grabbed some white spray paint for wood or metal.  Hey!  It couldn't be *that* bad, right?  After all, the plastic already had a good coat of paint on it.  What could go wrong?

This is why you should never use non plastic spray paint
on plastic surfaces.  Let this be a lesson to all.
The metal/wood white paint looked like shit almost instantly.  As I did my quick spray motions, I watched the stuff curl up into horrible looking spider webs of cracks and fissures.  To make matters worse, I sprayed a few more times over the cracks in the doomed hope that it would fix itself.  No such luck.  I did some looking on the internet, and yeah, non plastic paint should never be used on plastic.  It ends up looking like crap said pretty much every site on the internet.

If only I had checked it out before I started spraying.

So now I had options.  I could: a) accept the fact that the lobby looked like crap, decide this was my first project and give myself a pass.  b) try to fix it, knowing I had no idea of how to fix it.

Because I am optimistic and dumb, I went with option b.

At first I tried sanding the paint off.  Didn't work.  Then I went to the internet and did a google search on "how to I get spray paint off of plastic?"  It turns out there is a fantastic product in England that comes in a spray bottle that can be used to do this, but nope, that stuff isn't for sale in the US.  Which is probably good, because the fumes in my workshop at this point, between the paint and the plastic bonding compound, are pretty intense.
Out out, damned paint!  ...or maybe that should be
off off, damned paint.  eh, whatever.
Some websites recommended trying rubbing alcohol.  I have some rubbing alcohol on one side of my workshop that I use to clean out the contacts of my old NES game cartridges.  I grabbed the Q-tips I use for NES game repair, and started rubbing the rubbing alcohol on the paint with the Q-tips.  I started working on just the desk itself, as I figured that if it damaged the desk, at least I was not screwing up the entire room.  I didn't screw up the desk.

Didn't make much progress getting rid of the paint through, either.

My wife suggested I try using her nail polish remover.  Hmm.  I could give that a shot.  I put some on a rag and rubbed it into the paint.  Again, I tried it on the desk, but on the other side this time.  The nail polish remover worked slightly better than the rubbing alcohol, but not by much.  Then I thought of the mineral spirits.

"Don't use turpentine!" called our forum upon forum of internet discussion boards dealing with the topic of how to get spray paint off of plastic.  I can warp the plastic!

But Curious David was Curious.  And he was learning how not to do things, so he figured, why not try that?  He put some mineral spirits from his work bench on a rag...

...and the paint came off like MOTHERFUCKING MAGIC.


(cue Indiana Jones music) 

So after getting the paint off, he washed all the pieces in the sink and put them on the table to dry over night.  Tomorrow, hopefully they would not be warped and he would be able to spray paint the lobby room with white plastic paint.

Until next time.

Please don't warp over night, styrene.

David D.