Kitbashing for Newbies: Turn your phone into a datapad

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Kitbashing for Newbies

Kitbashing is the latest craze for folks who are headed to Star Wars Galaxy's Edge, and for good reason! While this has been something that people have done for years in model building communities, it was new to me when I first heard about it last week ahead of Galaxy's Edge opening.

Quite simply, kitbashing is the process of using miscellaneous bits and pieces (Known as “greeblies” in the lingo of kitbashing) to create something entirely new. This is how they turn car parts into spaceships for movie props, and Luke Skywalker's original lightsaber is quite famously built off a Graflax camera part from the 1930s. (Learn more about that little bit of history in this article)

More recently, kitbashing has come into Star Wars circles as people plan their first trips to experience Batuu at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge. The parks are filled with interactive activities that use your phone and the Disney Play app, so you can engage with the world around you. My friend Becca has a great post about kitbashing on her site that is actually what inspired me to try my hand at it.

In an effort to help bring the world of Blackspire Outpost to life, a plain old phone case just isn't going to do! Some people started decorating them to make them look like aged old tech, like you would find in the Star Wars universe. 

But honestly, here's the best part about kitbashing: THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO DO IT! Whatever you do, it's going to be awesome! This post will tell you everything you need to know to get going with your own kitbash.

Kitbashing Supplies

This will list the parts that I used, but you can use anything! You can buy a new model kit to use (Like this X-Wing kit is cool and is sure to have some awesome parts) Fortunately for me, Max had a whole bag of extra pieces laying around, so I was able to use those.

  • Greebles: Any collections of bits and pieces, and you'll want more than you think you need! You want options. I also found a great little $5 lot of “Kitbashing pieces” on eBay, so I bought that too. I went to the thrift store and picked up some stuff in the hopes of taking them apart and getting pieces, but out of a remote, a landline phone and a calculator, I got exactly two little things that I ended up using, so I'll skip that idea next time.
  • A base phone case: I picked up this iPhone 7+ case for me, and this Galaxy S9 case for Jamie's future kitbash project. We actually ordered a different one for Jamie at first, but it turned out to be soft rubber, which isn't going to work for gluing stuff to!
  • Lots of glue: I love Gorilla Glue gel formula for projects like this; it has a nice thick consistency that is so easy to work with, but it dries fast and strong. (I also picked up some Loctite Gel glue recently, and love the shape of the bottle; it really lets you have great control over where the glue goes and how much)
  • Spray primer: This is a crucial step if you want your spray paint to actually stick to the case! I'm not super brand-loyal here, but have been happy with this Rust-oleum Ultra Cover primer.
  • Metallic spray paint: You, of course, can do whatever colors you choose, but I went with a silver base with black overpaint. And unlike primer, I am absolutely brand-loyal here. I love the Krylon Metallic Silver spray paint, and pretty much always have at least one can on hand.
  • Overpaint: I just used a basic black acrylic craft paint for this, easy peasy.

Kitbashing Process

Once I had collected all my supplies, I went through my stash of parts and picked off all the pieces I wanted to possibly use.

One tip that I will share is that once you pick your pieces, go through with nippers, sand paper and a nail file to get rid of all all the little plastic nubs on the edges, and some pieces will benefit from a bit of sanding on the back to flatten it down so you'll get better adhesion to your phone case.

Once you've got a good collection of pieces, it's time to start figuring out your design! This is the fun part.

I tried a number of variations before I settled on one, and even this ended up changing a bit when it came to actually gluing things down. It doesn't look like much, but it'll get there!

Glue everything down, and feel free to make changes as you go, that's the wonder of kitbashing. There are no mistakes! You may want tweezers for placing tinier pieces; I won't tell you how many times I glued the pieces to my finger instead of the phone case. I wouldn't put “gluing skills” on my resume, because I made kind of a mess, but again, that will just add more charm once it's painted.

Do not skip the primer step! This is crucial. It doesn't need a ton of time to dry (if you're impatient like me) and it makes all the difference in your finished project. Get your own Rustoleum Primer here. 

Once the primer is dry, you'll want to spray your base color. I used Krylon Metallic Silver, but it's up to you. Give it a couple of coats, and be sure to get at it from all angles so you cover every exposed bit.

Let it dry for a couple of hours; you really want a good base before you start aging it and adding to it.

I used black craft paint for my overpaint layer, applied with a large brush and wiped off with an old dish towel. I diluted the paint with a little water to make it more of a wash than straight paint, and applied it with a dry brush.

Repeat the black paint until you're happy with your overall look! I could have stopped here, but once I looked at it, I realized that I needed to add a little laser something, as a little tribute to my very own Pew Pew Lasercraft. I took advantage of those four circle bits, and lasercut buttons to fit right in them. I used the Aurebesh font to write my name on the four spots as a subtle nod to Star Wars and that it's mine.

And that's it! Just add your phone and you're done! I can't wait to take this to Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

Have you tried kitbashing? Are you planning to? I'd love to see your projects!

Ready to book your visit to Galaxy's Edge and beyond? GetAwayToday offers the best deals on park tickets and hotels, it's the only way we book our trips. Book your vacation now!

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