“First-Time” G.I. Joe Collector Creates Working 1:6 Scale USCG Helicopter———As His Ceiling Fan!

Holy Rotors, Batman! Imagine "flying" this stunning 1:6 scale USCG HITRON "Fast Attack" Littlebird helicopter INSIDE your home—with just the flip of a switch. For creator/customizer, Tom McMurray, that's now become a daily reality. Lower the rescue diver! Aye-aye! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

Semper Paratus! Imagine “flying” this stunning 1:6 scale USCG HITRON “Fast Attack” Littlebird helicopter INSIDE your home—with just the flip of a switch. For creator-customizer Tom McMurray, that dream is now a daily reality. Lower the Rescue Diver, Joe! Aye-aye, Sir! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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When we first heard that retired US Coast Guardsman and GIjOE “newbie,” Tom McMurray, had converted a beat-up, 1:6 scale 21stC Littlebird into a working, (fully electrified) USCG helicopter CEILING FAN, we knew immediately that fans around the world would want to hear all about it. After contacting McMurray, he graciously agreed to the following exclusive interview and also (very generously) provided us with these exclusive photos and video clips. Enjoy!

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After completing the Littlebird’s custom paint-job and applying decals from Patches of Pride, McMurray begins work on the helo’s custom wiring and lighting. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

Tom McMurray (Photo: Suzanne McMurray)

Tom McMurray (Photo: Suzanne McMurray)

TJR: Congratulations on your superb 1:6 scale custom helicopter, Tom. Could you tell us first—what inspired you to take on such a challenging undertaking?

TM: “I was medically retired out of the U.S. Coast Guard (just shy of 40 years) as a Petty Officer 1st Class Port Security and Small Arms Instructor and wanted a project that would take time and represent my career. I wandered across a Littlebird over on e-bay. It was blue and not in very good condition. But over the following months, I picked up various parts one at a time and pieced it all together.”

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This early test revealed exterior running lights and spotlights working perfectly. Interior lighting would also be added, illuminating the ‘Bird’s instrument panel and cockpit. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: How long did this project take you to complete?

TM: “I started in December of 2013 and finished it in July of this year (2014). I have close to 400 hours altogether put into this project. The hardest part was getting the stripes on the Littlebird to be exactly 67 degrees (as required by the Coast Guard). The painting pattern is correct and was used on an experimental chopper by HITRON for fast attack on “Go-Fast “ (drug-smuggling) boats down in Florida.”

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The longer you look, the more custom details you see! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: After completing the helo’s tricky (and beautiful) paint-job, what did you work on next?

TM: “Well, as you can see, the exterior utilizes a waterslide USCG decal set (found HERE) that I picked up from Patches of Pride (PoP), and the cockpit uses one of their “Complete Cockpit Conversion Kits” (found HERE). I then further modified the instrument cluster and all of the gauges by drilling small holes behind the decals and then giving each gauge its own colored led light, sealed in behind it.”

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Great closeup showing Tom’s disassembled cockpit firewall and the addition of new decals, a fire extinguisher, custom helmet paint, seat cushions, etc. Great improvements! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: That clearly elevated your Littlebird to a higher level. What else did you add?

TM: “If you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see that the pilot has a small laptop mounted on the console, and both of the interior spaces are lit by a red LED for night-vision. I also added all of the required exterior lights, a working high power spotlight and a working FLIR lamp underneath. The ‘float’ is required on any USCG chopper that works off the coasts, so I hand-fabricated that. Also, the .50 cal Barrett on the port side is mounted on a stanchion built into the deck. Finally, I cut all of the windows down halfway except the main hatch, which I mounted in the opened, rescue position.”

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Peek into the finished cockpit and you’ll go GA-GA over all of its details, back-lit gauges, and additional 1:6 scale props such as flight charts and maps. Stunning work, Tom! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: You’ve impressed us enough already, but here’s where your story gets REALLY interesting. Tell us about converting your 1:6 scale USCG Littlebird helicopter—into a ceiling fan.

TM: “To mount it to the ceiling fan, I filled the upper engine compartment with a 2-part epoxy and let it dry around the threaded accessory lamp-post. Then, I took the lamp section off of the bottom of the fan, filled the extra cover with epoxy, attached it to the main fan motor with screws and let the finished project sit supported on top of a 10-ft ladder overnight to cure. My wife, the electrician, the contractor (that had just finished the room) and myself, all had our fingers crossed when I lit-‘er-up. Voila! SHE FLIES!!!! And not a shudder or vibration.”

Holy Rotors, Batman! Imagine "flying" this stunning 1:6 scale USCG HITRON "Fast Attack" Littlebird helicopter INSIDE your home—with just the flip of a switch. For creator/customizer, Tom McMurray, that's now become a daily reality. Lower the rescue diver! Aye-aye! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

The accuracy and realism of Tom’s working ceiling fan helicopter are striking. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

 TJR: Tell us about your interest in GIjOEs and 1:6 scale vehicles. What else have you created?

TM: “Believe it or not, these are the first GIjOEs I have ever owned. Honestly! As you can see, I made a lot of changes, but after 37 years in the Coast Guard, I didn’t need much help. And now, I’m looking for my NEXT project. Thanks for all the parts, decals and help Mark.” —Tom McMurray

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At night, Tom’s “heroic helo” creates a colorfully realistic light show. COOL! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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Tom’s custom-mounted .50 cal Barrett sniper rifle can stop a high-speed boat with one well-placed shot through the engine block. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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Another view of Tom’s USCG Littlebird in action. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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Lowering a Rescue Diver down with Tom’s custom harness and pulley system. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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The realistic lighting on Tom’s custom helo makes for exciting “night-ops” action. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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At rest, you can see that the blades of Tom’s fan were also custom painted to perfectly simulate the rotors of a real USCG HITRON helicopter. Amazing work, Tom. Congratulations! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

Bottom Line: McMurray’s 1:6 scale custom Littlebird helicopter is one of the most impressive we’ve ever seen. His attention to detail and accuracy reflect his many years of experience and service in the Coast Guard, and his inspired conversion of a typically static-display model into a working ceiling fan is truly remarkable. Our sincerest thanks to Tom for his service to our country and for his generous contributions to this article. Enjoy a video of Tom’s helicopter in action:

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19 thoughts on ““First-Time” G.I. Joe Collector Creates Working 1:6 Scale USCG Helicopter———As His Ceiling Fan!

  1. Ed says:

    Talk about the best thing since sliced bread! This is it!! Kudos to Tom for the awesomeness of this project and from one veteran to another, thanks for serving!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Amazing idea! I predict there will be a LOT of imitators.

  3. John Long says:

    Very cool.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Awesome!!

  5. Steve Polzak says:

    That 1/6 USCG Helicopter Tom did with his ceiling fan is smashing. There are not the right words for it. Tom, simply fantastic. A lot of great work you put into it. You should be proud. Thanks for showing us. Anything else you’re going to be doing? I don’t know how you will top the ‘copter. All the best!

  6. Allen Yuen says:

    Awesome job! GO, COAST GUARD!

  7. John Girvan says:

    Great job, Tom! Semper Paratus!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Totally awesome work. Cool.

  9. GIJOEBILL says:

    Outstanding work!! Thanks for your service and dedication, Tom!! Now, I know your wife will get tired of that hanging there and I will be happy to help you out. Just send it to me. Remember: Happy wife = happy life!! I am just here to help. 🙂

  10. mdw612 says:

    OUTSTANDING!!!!! Congrats!!!!

  11. Alexandra says:

    Hey, this is so cool. Would you make them for sale? I’m Interested in buying. Please make them for sale!

  12. Hillary says:

    Hi Tom, I would love to purchase one for my son’s room. Would you please let me know if you’d make one on commission? Thank you!

  13. Don C says:

    Very cool to see my custom made USCG SAR Swimmer hanging from that AWESOME copter! What a neat idea!!

  14. Lonnie davidson says:

    Looking to purchase for sons room.

  15. Satish Mangle says:

    Awesome concept… Like it…
    Hey I am interested in buying.. It is possible???
    Actually we are looking for our son’s room

  16. MAURICIO says:

    Gostaria de saber o valor desse ventilador de helicóptero.

    Translation: I would like to know the value of this helicopter fan.

    • That’s hard to say for sure, but the helicopter sells for about $100+, the decals are about $50, all the lights and custom paint, etc., probably another $150, the figures and other detail items maybe $150. Altogether, you’re looking at about $450-500 in expenses, plus all the time spent putting it together. We’d have to price this beauty at about $800 minimum! 🙂

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