Star Wars Toy Collector Uses Maker Space to Restore Lost Parts
March 17, 2021 — Like any devoted Star Wars fan, John Watson babies his vintage toy collection.
When he finds one that needs replacement parts, he could go online and spend money to buy vintage parts, or parts recreated by someone else. But Watson doesn’t shy away from a good deal. He has restored several toys for pennies on the dollar using the 3D printer at the Library’s Maker Space, housed at The Edge in the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library.
He has a vintage Kenner Star Wars Y-wing vehicle, but many of the small pieces have been lost over time. He needs eight “struts” for the Y-wing.
Going online, he says, “You could pay $30 bucks apiece for original vintage struts. I could do that, but it would cut into my budget significantly for other toys. I would much rather have more toys!
“At the Maker Space, I can go in and do those for $1 apiece,” he says. He recently started the project by finding the 3D file for the struts online, downloading it to the 3D printer and watching the print begin. There’s an investment of time – each strut takes several hours; the staff allows him to pick it up later. There’s no charge for using the equipment, just a fee for the filament used in the printing.
Watson has printed other things: two purple translucent hands for a transformer figure, Ultra Magnus, and the character’s gun. He made 20 tiny clips that hold together a GI Joe vehicle, the USS Flagg – the largest playset ever made, at 7.5 feet long, he says. He priced original clips on the market for $6-$7, or all 20 for $25. Instead, he used the 3D printer and made 20 clips for 30 cents each.
The 3D printer made Watson is a Maker Space fan. “Everything is there. You have to bring in your own files, but it’s all internet-based, so even if you didn’t have the file, or you saved it to a thumb drive, you could hop online and grab them. The first time I went I had never used a 3D printer before. The staff was great in showing me how to use the machinery and being available if I had questions.”
Not to be outdone at home, John’s wife Stacey used the 3D printer to create a purple dragon steam release valve for her 10-quart Instant Pot. Her cost: $11. Now the steam spews out of the dragon’s mouth.
“This is something completely unique,” Watson says. “No one has anything like it, and she’s super happy with it.”
The Maker Space also features video transfer equipment to convert and save slides and 35mm film negatives, VHS and DVD movies to a USB drive or SD card, which the user provides. There is no additional cost. The center also has soldering stations, a laser engraver for signs, and a vinyl cutter for iron-on transfers for T-shirts, bags or signs.
Make an appointment to tour or use the grant-funded Maker Space by calling the Edge at 417-837-5011.