Thursday, October 10, 2013

Do You Have It? GUTS!

This is Kerry - I've decided to take over Steph's blog for a post and talk to you about something near and dear to my heart.  No, I'm not talking about Stephanie - I'm talking about good old classic Nickelodeon television.   If you were born in the mid 80s, you were a kid of the 90s and know exactly what I'm talking about.

Growing up, I religiously watched Nickelodeon Guts.  For those who don't know what Guts is - it is American Gladiators for kids…except with Ghostbuster Mike O'Malley hosting, and "Mo" refereeing.  Kids would compete in various events with the finale being the Aggro CragMega Crag, Super Aggro Crag (ok they seriously renamed it enough times).  The Aggro Crag wasn't just any ol' event - it was a treacherous mountain climb (28 feet) with rock avalanches (foam boulders), nuclear flying crystals (glitter), and strobe lights.  The winner of the game got a piece of the "radical rock" and hoisted it above their head in victory knowing they just did something that every 9 year old wanted to do. Come on, who isn't excited?

Several months ago, we hosted a 90s party complete with dressing up in our 90s gear that we dug out from the thrift shop…or had been holding on to since 1998.  We also decked out the house with 90s gear, food, and brought out a Nintendo 64 in full standard definition.  More importantly, we created a DIY, homemade Aggro Crag!

You can buy (or make) foam ones on ebay and other places, but where is the fun in that?  At first, I wanted to go super realistic and cast it in resin.  It didn't get past the WAF - wife approval factor - so I had to come up with plan B.  Plan B consisted of some cheap plastic materials, wood, some cement glue, some lights and an array of tools.  So if you are looking to make your own Aggro Crag, here is how we did it and this is what it looked like at night:

Materials
  • 2 Polystyrene Lighting Panels
  • 1 2x4x8 piece of wood
  • 6ft+ of Electroluminescent Wire (EL wire) - green
  • Cement Glue
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Screws
  • Sharpie
  • Nail Polish Remover
Tools
  • Saw and Dremel if you have one)
  • Exacto/Utility Knife
  • Screwdriver
First thing was to get the right design for the Crag.  Having studied the Crag in my youth my entire life (thank you Nick GAS), this wasn't too hard to do.  Stephanie freehand drew the design on some extra paper we had lying around and then cut it out.  It looked pretty good. The tall end was about 20.5 inches and the small end was about 8.25 inches.  The base was 20.5 inches.


We then traced the design onto the lighting panels using a sharpie.  The panels have 2 sides - one was smooth and the other had cracked texture.  We traced the first one so the cracked texture would be facing out.  So after we traced the first one, we traced it again on another panel.  Don't forget though, if you want the cracked texture on the outside for both sides (I recommend), you'll need to flip over the crag template or flip over the panel.  So now that we've got the patterns, it was time to cut out the Crag.


This was where it got a little bit ugly.  Polystyrene isn't the easiest to work with - it is prone to cracking - and our trip to Lowes didn't prove fruitful in finding some other type of plastic that was both rigid, cuttable, and had a neat texture to it. There were a couple options for cutting the light panels - either a saw or using a utility knife and scoring.  We went with option 2 and scored the plastic along our pattern (useful to use a straight edge to help guide you).  Once scored, you need to carefully split it.  If you put too much pressure, you will probably crack the plastic.  So keep scoring until it comes off fairly easily.  Be patient.  


After the two main side pieces, we cut out the 7 top and side pieces to connect the two main pieces together to create the true 3D look.  Some of this was trial and error to get the pieces to fit - luckily the pieces flexed a little bit.  You can see the pieces in the picture below (obviously taken after the Crag was complete).


So now that the plastic was cut, we needed a base - we made it 22 inches x 6 inches and used wood to give it some weight.  We cut the wood and screwed all the pieces together.  Worried that the plastic wouldn't be stable enough, I used a Dremel to make some grooves in the wood (a saw would probably work too) that the plastic would sit in.  After putting some wood glue over the screws and sanding, we painted the wood black and stuck a GUTS label on it.


At this point, you could just cement or hot glue the pieces together and place it on the base and call it quits.  But I was going for the full on effect.  With the 9 feet of EL wire I bought, the Crag would certainly have a "WOW" factor.  We couldn't find any good glow in the dark spray paint, so we went with the EL Wire (see below).  It actually ended up looking fine without the paint. 


To put the finishing touches, we taped the EL wire to the inside of the Crag and velcroed the EL wire battery pack/switch to the inside of the base.



So this is what the finished product looked like: in the daylight and at night.  Pretty rad, dude!


Will it stand the test of time?  Doubtful.  But at least for a day, I can hoist a piece of the glowing radical rock and fulfill my childhood dream.

Do you have it? GUTS!

Kerry