Adventure Team Fan Creates His Own Toys Using 3-D Printing Technology; Produces 1/18th Scale Mobile Support Vehicle & “Mummy’s Tomb” ATV

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David Pruitt’s groundbreaking custom 1:18 scale Mobile Support Vehicle is the first of its type produced by a GIjOE fan using 3-D printing technology. The one-of-a-kind (so far) MSV features a detachable forward cab, removable clear windshield, rolling wheels, hollow trailer, raising rear hatch, retractable control panel, maps and chairs—just like its 1:6 scale predecessor. Outstanding! (Photo: David Pruitt)

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GIjOE fan, collector and customizer, David Pruitt, a pioneer in the use of 3-D printing, poses with some of his recent creations. (Photo: David Pruitt)

“Who needs Hasbro?”

Prior to 2013, such brash talk would have seemed almost sacrilegious coming out of the mouth of a devoted GIjOE fan. But not any longer. As of this month, David Pruitt, a self-professed, longtime fan of the Adventure Team, can back up those challenging words with a hard, physical reality—he makes his OWN custom toys! According to Pruitt:

After growing up with Adventure Team as a kid, I was blown away with the GIjOE Collector’s Club releases of the 3 3/4 Adventurers. Naturally, I had to have some retro vehicles to go with those extremely cool figures, so I decided to build my own!”

Pruitt, a professional design engineer from Jonesboro, Arkansas, has been making headlines all over the internet since revealing his creation of superb 1:18 scale replicas of vintage GIjOE vehicles. Of course, talented individuals around the world have been making their own toys for years, all by hand, without the aid of a Hasbro or Mattel (See: Kampfgruppe Von Abt). So what makes David’s achievements so unique? Let’s take a closer look…

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Pruitt’s 1:18 scale 6×6 ATV works perfectly with his diminutive Adventure Team. (Photo: David Pruitt)

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Using measurements taken from his 1:6 scale MSV, Pruitt produced this early CAD rendering (viewable from all angles) and scaled it down to 1:18 scale, providing the data required by the 3-D printer. (Artwork: David Pruitt)

“Simply AMAZING!”

What makes Pruitt’s custom creations so absolutely extraordinary is not that they were made, but how they were made. By combining his knowledge of 3-D CAD software and the capabilities of 3-D printing (3DP), David has shown fans, collectors and other customizers around the world, that professional-level toy production is now within reach of the “average Joe.” Prices of 3-D printers continue to fall, and 3-D printing services will soon become commonplace at quick-print shops such as Kinkos. This is BIG, folks. Hold on to your pith helmets!

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Pruitt’s CAD drawing of the ATV’s main body is ready for production by a 3-D printer. (Art: David Pruitt)

How Does 3-D Printing Work?

Simply put, 3-dimensional objects can now be produced in a variety of materials (including metals and plastics) based upon the specifications set forth in a 3-D CAD drawing created on a computer. Such technology has been in use by major toy companies and manufacturers for years, primarily to create prototypes of their own products. But recently, “desktop” 3-D printers have come down in price to such a point that home users are beginning to get interested—VERY interested. Pruitt further explains the process this way:

“Today’s 3-D printer moves in x and y directions and prints layer over layer to build up the z part (height). The spooled ABS material feeds into the printing tip similar to a hot-melt glue gun. All in all, it’s a much less technical way of creating a 3-D part than the older, more labor-intensive methods.”

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The various parts of Pruitt’s 1:18 scale MSV were “printed” in gray plastic. Here they are prior to the finishing steps of sanding, painting and final assembly. (Photo: David Pruitt)

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After “printing,” new parts (like this ATV body) can be sanded, primed and painted any color. Hmm…Maybe yellow. What do you guys think? (Photo: David Pruitt)

Why “3DP” is Great News for Joeheads

Imagine being able to design and produce your own spare parts and accessories— on demand—out of solid plastic—without ever touching a sheet of styrene, a jar of resin or a putty knife. Imagine being able to simply hit “PRINT” on your computer’s keyboard and a much-desired part “magically” appears. Such an exciting concept has long been a fantasy for many.

And why not? Who wouldn’t want to replace a missing Crash Crew Truck handrail, broken Sea Sled spear gun or other rare vintage part? We clearly can’t rely on Hasbro. There’s simply not enough profit in it for them to bother.

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After adding some yellow paint, the MSV is starting to look VERY familiar. (Photo: David Pruitt)

What Else Should We Know?

The only real “hang-ups” with 3DP are cost and time. Regardless of  what you’re planning to do with them, these machines can be both expensive and slow. According to Pruitt:

3-D printers range in cost from thousands of dollars to as little as $500 (HERE). As an example, all of the parts for my MSV were printed at one time and took about 17 hours to complete. Materials-wise, 17 cubic inches of ABS spooled extrusion material were used, at a total cost of around $70. The costs and time required depend entirely on what you’re making.”

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Almost done! This closeup of Pruitt’s new 3DP ATV shows it is only lacking some crane rope, a hook and the two little steering pegs. Outstanding work! (Photo: David Pruitt)

New 3-D printing technology reminds many of an early version of the the famous "replicator" devices shown on episodes of Star Trek. Both use a process called "additive manufacturing" (AM) to create 3-dimensional objects, seemingly from thin air! (Photo: Paramount)

New 3-D printing technology reminds many of an early version of the famous “replicator” devices shown on episodes of Star Trek. Both use a process called “additive manufacturing” (AM) to create 3-dimensional objects, seemingly from thin air! (Photo: Paramount)

“This All Seems…Strangely Familiar.”

It should! Remember the “replicators” from TV’s Star Trek? The computerized, almost magical devices that seemed like they could make almost anything out of thin air? Today’s 3-D printing is very similar. Here’s how Wikipedia describes the Star Trek replicator:

“A replicator works by rearranging subatomic particles, which are abundant everywhere in the universe, to form molecules and arrange those molecules to form the object. For example, to create a pork chop, the replicator would first form atoms of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, etc., then arrange them into amino acids, proteins, and cells, and assemble the particles into the form of a pork chop.”

Although it’s unlikely GIjOE fans will be creating pork chops with 3-D printers anytime soon, it’s a sure bet they’ll be following in the footsteps of 3DP pioneers such as Pruitt and making their own spare parts, accessories and vehicles.

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Closeup side view of Pruitt’s MSV. The figures fit perfectly! (Photo: David Pruitt)

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Pruitt’s utilized 3DP to create a prototype of Target’s new all-plastic shopping cart. The same CAD drawings could easily be printed at 1:6 or 1:18 scale. How about a Target store diorama? Maybe a mock-up of a new “Joe Aisle?” (Photo: Target)

More 3DP Intel from David Pruitt

We asked Pruitt to elaborate on his experiences with 3DP. No surprisingly, he uses the versatile technology in his professional life as well. Here’s what he had to say:

“I’m an engineer by trade and my big claim to fame career-wise was co-designing and developing a new all-plastic shopping cart for Target back in 2005-6. After making the parts with a 3-D printer, we glued it all together to make the frame, basket, handle, etc.

Then, we built large plexiglass boxes and hung the assembled parts inside the boxes with wire. Next, we filled the boxes with a clear liquid silicone. After the silicone had set, we took the box sides off and cut everything into two pieces.

Finally, we removed the original cart parts and put the two silicone mold halves back together so as to cast solid urethane parts. Wa-la! A full-scale shopping cart prototype. You can build just about anything you want if you can afford the materials!”

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With each added detail, Pruitt’s amazing 1:18 scale MSV nears completion. (Photo: David Pruitt)

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Yes, the tires roll. Yes, the bubble is clear plastic. YES, THIS TOY IS TERRIFIC! (Photo: David Pruitt)

When asked if he had any future plans for producing his own line of vehicles or products, Pruitt optimistically replied:

I’m working on getting my own printer and thinking about building and painting and selling these. I still have a few steps to go. The coolest aspect of 3-D printing is that you can design and make anything you can think of. Watch out Hasbro! Now we can make ANY toy we want!”

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This closeup of the rear section of the MSV reveals a wealth of added details including decals, maps and a retractable control panel. WOW! (Photo: David Pruitt)

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David later added a rooftop storage rack, spare tires and equipment crate! (Photo: David Pruitt)

“Hey, You. No Cutting in Line!

Potential customers for Pruitt’s amazing creations have already begun queuing up on various online forums. One such eager fan, “GIJOEY,” wrote in on the Hisstank website to say:

“I know this comment is going to sound over the top, but I just cried happy tears to see a toy that I owned in the past come to life again in the scale that I now love. Thank you, David, for making a middle-aged man get excited like he was 10 years old again. I cannot wait to see you do more pieces from this era. You are a true artist!”

Bottom Line: Clearly a leader in the use of 3-D printing by GIjOE collectors, David has proven that fans no longer have to rely on the whims and unpredictable corporate decisions of Hasbro or any other toy company. As “Cobra Blue” so eloquently summed it up over on Hisstank:

“David Pruitt is a pioneer. I predicted in another forum that this was where we were headed with technology, and that sooner or later, this was how we were going to get updated or better versions of RAH vehicles in the future. Someone on this forum said ‘it is still a VERY long way from replacing the volume injection molding.’ Well, if ‘very long way’ means four months, then I guess that prediction is true. I read an article on MakerBot that they have a desktop 3-D Printer which will SCAN an object and then print it. This is exciting!”
Pruitt's MSV is finished and loaded to go on its first mission. Note the last-minute addition of some roof-mounted flood-lights. Good luck, men! Go, JOE! (Photo: David Pruitt)

Pruitt’s MSV is finished and ready for its first mission. Note the last-minute addition of a bank of 4 roof-mounted flood-lights. This Adventure Team is ready for ANYTHING. Go, JOE! (Photo: David Pruitt)

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12 thoughts on “Adventure Team Fan Creates His Own Toys Using 3-D Printing Technology; Produces 1/18th Scale Mobile Support Vehicle & “Mummy’s Tomb” ATV

  1. Tanker says:

    Mike Cherry didn’t need Hasbro. Then he got a cease and desist order from them. All he did was give Jane a chest or some nice flowing hair. Becareful. It is cool and neat and I wish I had the money. But becareful.

  2. kneonknight says:

    First, who in the hell is Mike Cherry? I am honestly asking because I have never, ever heard the name before, and am interested as to why Hasbro would be interested in him.

    Second, the customs depicted are, as far as I know, derivatives of Hasbro designs and no copyright infringement was ever intended. The customizer in question, who is known as LtFalcon on the trenches, has never offered his creations for sale at profit, nor challenged Hasbro for the trademark issues. He made 1:18 scale interpretations of classic/vintage Adventure Team vehicles for his own personal use and gratification, and only when asked offered to provide the specifications for creating them using the same 3D sculpting/printing technology he used to create the originals. He never, EVER, to my certain knowledge offered them for sale, either as authorized reproductions or otherwise. He is a hobbyist that saw a gap, filled it, and offered to show the way to others.

    It’s called customizing. It’s called a hobby. And maybe, if the herp-derp “stair-step until it trenches” suits at Hasbro would pull their craniums from their rectums and actually listen to what collectors want, instead of basing it on useless market surveys, he is the future of collecting G.I. Joe. We all are. They obviously are only worried about their RAH line at the expense of everything else.

    Hasbro has abandoned us, at least as far as vintage style figures and accessories go, and are too busy raping the Adventure Team into some sort of sorry adjunct to their RAH line to care anymore.

    If Lt Falcon could provide me the specs for just one item to be prototyped, like a flare gun, or a first aid kit, and I had the machinery necessary….I would flood the market. I would ship them to every single Joe collector who provided a SASE, free of charge.

    Hasbro has shown that they obviously don’t need us “old school” collectors.

    Maybe we don’t need them either.

    • Wayne Faucher says:

      While I generally agree with Kneon as usual, I come from 20 years of freelancing where I’ve learned (often the hard way) that no one owes me anything. I turn in my work and I get my check. End of relationship. Hasbro gave us product and we purchased it. End of relationship. Yes, it would be NICE if they felt they owed us something for 50 years of loyalty but unfortunately, they don’t. The people who brought us those great products are long gone. I definitely agree there is still plenty of money to be made by Hasbro on a 12 inch line but they just don’t care. Personally, I don’t understand how their product can sit on the shelves a few feet away from Barbie, whose sales strategy seems virtually unchanged in 60 years and not see that. I think they took a beating on the 40th line (which, in my humble opinion was grossly mishandled) and don’t want to get stung again. Too bad they just don’t ask us what we want and make it. There’s a novel idea.

      As far as the above customs are concerned; I wish there were more creative endeavors like this being undertaken out there! Not surprising that Hasbro might feel threatened by a good idea….

      • kneonknight says:

        I understand how my post might be seen as expressing some sense of entitlement, but that really was not my intent. I was a bit cranky (chronic back pain can do that) and under the influence of prescribed painkillers when I made it. In retrospect, I probably should have waited until the next day to post, but what’s done is done.

        Now, I want to say that you have framed the problem precisely-Hasbro dropped the ball on the 40th line, and as a result, we are the ones that will suffer for it in the form of little or no decent 12″ stuff for the foreseeable future. And once again we come back to the razor-and-blades marketing strategy that has worked for Barbie for over half a century, and that worked for G.I. Joe for his entire original run. How are they missing that? When Wal-Mart offered the 40th figures and packages separately, they disappeared from our two local stores overnight. The first sets to go were the Frogman and Marine Dress Blues, naturally. But none of the stock remained a week after they hit the shelves.

        If they had done the 40th line like that to begin with, we might all be proudly displaying Marine Jungle Fighters, Air Police, Mountain Troops and Deep Sea Divers alongside all the other vintage style uniforms and accessories.

        Heck, I would have been happy if they had packaged the 40th Anniversary Joes in the big boxes like the Forward Observer or 4 Services in One from the 60s. One figure and a metric crap-ton of gear, at say $75.00 a pop. I would have gladly have paid that rather than shelling out $35.00 every couple of months to get, a few more pieces to complete a Combat Soldier’s kit and ending up with a bunch of figures I really didn’t need. Modeler’s Loft, who did the 40th Action Man line, did a much better job in this department-the Combat Field Jacket set, for example, included not only the jacket, rifle, bayonet, ammo belt and grenades, but also a helmet with netting and foliage, field pack, canteen and cover, mess kit, and an entrenching tool and cover.

        As for the 50th anniversary, if they do anything, I hope that they have learned from past mistakes and paid attention to what the community is saying. Happy customers are return customers.

        Oh, and would it be too much to ask for them to use the Masterpiece/Timeless head sculpt? Those little, piggy eyes on the 40th Joes kind of creep me out.

    • Silent G says:

      This will give you some backstory on Mike Cherry:

      http://jbwid.com/art12.htm

      • kneonknight says:

        Thank you for that, now that I see some of the work the artist in question has done, I’m pretty sure I have seen other examples elsewhere.

        Now, the overall message I got from the site linked to (and please correct me if I’m wrong) is that the folks in Rhode Island took exception to this man customizing the daylights out of some Hasbro figures and then reselling them? Or was it for simply customizing and displaying them? It seems to me that whatever use the consumer puts those figures to is no business of anyone except the consumer. That aside, it disturbs me to no end, especially the bit about a “Cease and Desist Order”, because that means that any customizer is at risk of legal action if some exec at Hasbro takes exception to how one of their figures is modified or displayed. Am I to assume that if I make a Vietnam diorama with realistic gore using G.I. Joe figures that I can be dragooned through the legal system, simply because Hasbro feels that would be “detrimental” to the toy’s image? If it was the depiction of female breasts that was the issue, then why did Hasbro green-light the body used for the licensed Dreams and Visions figures? There is no other way to describe Mademoiselle Marie and Miss Fear as anything but ‘sexy’, and it is quite obvious that the weather is a bit, shall we say, ‘nippy’ wherever they are. I am guessing that because a certain portion of the anatomy was unpainted, that it was acceptable.

        This also brings into question the status of those who make reproduction replacement parts, or new items in the style of vintage pieces for their own personal use. Are those good people going to be pilloried as well? It really would be a shame for a hobby so many of us love to become a legal minefield that no one is willing to venture into, and for lives to be ruined because someone wanted to make a small scale version of a piece for his own use. At its simplest level, this is the equivalent of Crayola Crayons getting an injunction against you for coloring outside of the lines or painting a blue strawberry.

      • Wayne Faucher says:

        I’m sorry. Pardon me, but it’s late. Is somebody imposing some kind of litigation on this guy or is he just philosophising? My God, I’ve been doing customs for years and no one cares. Is he mass producing them for sale? I’ve seen LOTS of that going on and again, no one cares. What are the unique circumstances which might garner this kind of attention? I swear, I’d have to mass produce a figure and call it GI Joe in order to get noticed… Like I said, it’s late; maybe I’m not understanding….

        • Deathwing says:

          From what I can remember….It all started at one of the Cons. Maybe the 2001 Kansas City Con. There was a big “crack down” on non-Joe related Booths, and such…So much so 2 dealers were asked to leave due to not having any Joe items and no-Military based figures. Then by noon on Saturday, some of those that were asked to leave on Friday/early Saturday made complaints to the “Powers that Be” about Mike’s figures and how it was to be a family based show. Mike was selling his custom figures, but also had several other Joe items and some Dragon items as well. So he had to “cover-up” the figures and it was more or less a “peep” show behind curtains.

          I believe that this drew Hasbro attention and might have resulted in the Cease and Desist order…but this was also the same time frame within a year or two that Mattel was sending out Cease and Desist orders for people using the Barbie Logo, Hot Wheels logo and a few other logos on buissness cards. Some of which sold new direct from Mattel products…(I had a friend that got the C & D order) and Mattel was sueing for artist that were using Barbies in works of art as well as customs….

          Legally, they don’t really stand a chance, but the corporate companies like to flex their muscles at times……

        • kneonknight says:

          To be quite honest, Wayne, you can create figures and call them “G.I. Joe”, as long as you don’t use any of Hasbro’s Iconic imagery. “G.I. Joe” is a term that is squarely in the public domain due to its long-time use as a catch-phrase for any soldier, sailor, airman or marine serving overseas, even though it was originally a slur for the rear echelon…well, the acronym “REMF” should allow anyone to fill in the blanks.
          Hell, make a pair of Bill Mauldin’s “Joe and Willy” dogfaces, call them G.I. Joes and I defy Hasbro to make one peep about it.

          Easy for me to say, my head won’t be on the chopping block, right?

          But you know what? Those do sound like interesting custom jobs. I don’t think anyone has really done those guys…heck, our own Joe report even had an article on it a few months back.

          http://patchesofpride.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/new-evidence-reveals-g-i-joe-nickname-was-unpopular-with-u-s-troops-during-wwii/

          • Wayne Faucher says:

            Ok, so Mike C was making “adult” customs using Hasbro figures as a starting point and they took issue with that. At least that’s what it sounds like. Hmmm.

            Well, personally, I don’t understand “adult” figures at all. I’m not repelled by them, I just don’t understand them. But Hasbro or any company can do NOTHING to stop an artist from making porn or anything else with their figures unless they can prove it’s disruptive or injurious to their business. And the DISPLAY of those figures would be determined by community standards, not Hasbro.

            Customs being an art form, would fall under freedom of speech, I would think. As far as a notice of C&D is concerned; it’s generally a first salvo in a battle which is only implied. I have no doubt that a company the size of Hasbro or Mattel knows very well where they stand on this issue and would only be hoping the artist can be frightened into compliance.

  3. Michael says:

    You are doing a great job, David. Hasbro pulled the plug on the GIJOE Adventure Team and classic 1964 stuff. They wont be doing it anymore. I was told by the head of product design. Dennis Hindman has been ripping off HASBRO doing repro GIJOE boxes for over 20 years now and no one has told him to stop. They can’t tell you to stop making an item they did not make. You can use ACTION TEAM (the German version of Joe in the 70′s, not owned by Hasbro) instead of Adventure Team. They can’t touch you because you changed the original design more than 20%. Just don’t use “GIJOE” or “Adventure Team” as those names are owned by Hasbro. That’s how James DeSimone got in trouble. He was using the image and name without written permission. When they found out, he was making money, they wanted some action or $$$.

  4. Michael says:

    @ Mike Cherry – The guy is non-deserving of the artist title. He slaps some sculpy on female dolls and enhances their boobs. Big whoop. What Wayne is doing is great! You can sell them to the GIjOE club, then they can mark them up to $300 and sell them as convention sets.

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