How to Make: Interstellar TARS and CASE Action Figures


These are my friends, TARS and CASE. This is how I made them.

Stuff you need to make TARS (x2 to also make CASE):

  • Four 1" x 1" x 8" balsa wood blocks -- These are the finished dimensions of each of TARS' four limbs, but this exact size is not readily available, so you need to construct it by (i) sawing down 1" x 1" x 12" blocks or (ii) gluing together two 1" x 1" x 4" blocks. I did the former, but the sawing left imperfect edges, so depending on your level of anal-retentiveness, you may want to do the latter, as the no-cut edges would be cleaner. If you elect to saw down 12" blocks, you'll also need a small saw and sandpaper.
  • Six ~0.5" diameter round magnets -- The magic to make TARS' joints movable.
  • Silver iridescent paint -- To make TARS silver and shiny.
  • Mod Podge (Gloss) -- To make TARS extra shiny.
  • Black acrylic paint -- For TARS' screens.
  • Clear acrylic gloss -- To make TARS' screens extra super shiny.
  • Paintbrush set -- For painting TARS.
  • Gold metallic gel pen -- For marking TARS' name.
  • Super glue -- For gluing TARS' magnet joints in place (and if you elect to glue 4" blocks together).
  • Sharp pencil -- For marking TARS' lines. Mechanical pencils are good for ensuring sharpness. If the pencil is too dull, TARS' lines may be too blunt. And TARS is a sharp dude.
  • Utility blade -- For carving and refining TARS' lines.
  • Scissors -- For carving out the grooves to hold the magnet joints.
  • Ruler -- For measuring things. As rulers do.

Here's my stuff:

Measure, pencil, carve, etc.

Yeah, btch! MAGNETS!

Robot gets a paint job.

Embryonic TARS is risen.

Recommended soundtrack for robot-making: Taylor Swift and Bach Cello Suites.

Branded! <insert Dr. Brand joke>

Getting his space legs.

Look ma! Just like the one on the internet!

Covering up more of the naked bits.

Test block helpful to practice not fcking up.

Posing for pictures.

Oh hey, high-five.

Now he's just showing off.

Pro-tip: water-based acrylic paints are your friend; oil-based paints are assholes.

TARS gets a friend.

Future's so bright... well, it's just really bright.

Parental side project: hand-drawing robot cards for 妈妈 (MAMA) and 爸爸 (BABA).

It looks less janky when it's done.

See what I mean.

MAMA gets a mate.

Completed parental robot cards.

Robot-maker's work space.

Mod Podge! Your milky-white-but-don't-worry-dries-clear friend.

Dismembered TARS, waiting to be... membered.

Ditto for CASE.

Say hello to my little friends!!

They insisted on being shot from below.

Gold heat-shielding, for INTERSTELLAR travel. See what I did there.

Put a bow on it, we're ready for launch!

Do not go gentle into that good night...

Just hangin' out, playin' tunes... raging, raging against the dying of the light.

Personalities sold separately.