Wednesday, January 30, 2013
You know what they say: when life hands you lemons...
...make lemon grenades!!
To those completely lost right now: yes, it's another Portal thing. Click here for the game tirade that (kind of) explains it.
This is one of my longest delayed tutorials, since I actually made my first grenade nearly three months ago, just after Halloween. The hold-up was finding the proper display, which I had to order, and then re-order, and then get a plaque for, and then re-order another plaque, and now FINALLY I get to share it with you guys!
Now, you might be tempted to think I just stuck a plastic grenade top on a fake lemon - and you would be *almost* correct. In fact, my lemon has a fun special feature. Observe:
This mod is actually quite simple, and shouldn't cost you more than $10 in materials. (Not including the display case.) Keep reading to see how!
First, you're going to need a toy grenade. I found mine at the Spirit Halloween store last Halloween for $2.99:
Your other key ingredient is the fake lemon. Wal-Mart has the best fake lemons I've ever seen; they're weighted in the middle and textured so realistically I half expected juice to squirt out when I started cutting.
I believe these cost $1.99 each.
Disassemble the grenade by removing all the tiny screws (but don't lose them!), and slide out the switch mechanism and small speaker:
Using a slim utility blade, start cutting a square hole into the top of your lemon, pausing every now and then to check the fit:
Keep checking the fit for your battery box; you want it to slide in perfectly, like so:
There's a concrete weight in the center of these lemons, so your blade might hit it as you're cutting down. Fortunately I found there was still enough room for the battery box to fit, though.
Ok, now on to the grenade top:
Snip off the top of the grenade with pliers. I did one side at a time, and found the plastic was easily bent and snipped. Try to keep those prong bits all the same length, if you can. Use a metal file to smooth out the sharp corners and any jagged edges.
My grenade was Army Green, so next I taped off the gunmetal sections and spray-painted the rest matte black, including the grenade handle:
Now comes the tricky part: putting it all together.
So what holds the plastic grenade topper in place? Pins, like these:
You'll need to drill tiny holes in the "prongs" of your grenade head for the pins to fit through. Enter your trusty Dremel:
Here John's drilling the first hole, but I later took over and can assure you: it's not hard. The plastic is easy to punch through, so the only tricky part is making sure you angle your drill bit so the pins will be guided down into the lemon at a roughly 45 degree angle.
To show you how this is all going to fit together, here I'm holding one half of the grenade topper in place, with the speaker and wires tucked underneath:
I don't have a process pic for this next step, because it took too many hands for me to spare one for a photo, but it's just a matter of holding the grenade topper in place, wires and speaker nicely tucked underneath, and inserting the pins through the topper's prongs into the lemon. (Get a second person to help you.) Because the pins will all be inserted at an angle, there's no way the top can be pulled off without removing them. Trust me, I carry my grenade around by the head all the time; it's very secure.
Oh, and my pins were a little too long - they kept hitting the concrete center of the lemon - so I had John snip off the ends a bit. You may need to do the same.
Once you've got the grenade top secured to the lemon, it's time to DECORATE. (Woot!)
I printed the Aperture logo on plain paper, and then used a craft knife to cut it out for a stencil.
Using a stencil on a bumpy rounded lemon isn't the easiest thing to do, but it WAS easier than I expected. I used an adhesive putty to stick the paper down on 2 sides, and then held each panel down with my fingers as a pounced acrylic paint on with a stiff brush.
Tada! I also found and printed the little yellow Flammable symbol, which I laminated with packing tape and then glued in place on the top.
I wasn't happy with the plastic pin that came with the toy grenade, so I replaced it with a stainless steel cotter pin (find them at the hardware store for cheap) and a keychain ring. That's completely optional, though.
The display is made to hold a softball (I found it on ebay for just under $20 with shipping), and I got the idea from this lemon grenade, which has a soundboard installed in the display base instead of the lemon. That one has the grenade displayed horizontally, though, which I just couldn't get to look right for mine. There's a hole in the base, so to fit the plexiglass top on you have to twist the grenade at a slight angle. After weeks of fooling around with trying to modify the base I had a EUREKA moment and realized I could just display the lemon vertically. Problem solved!
I thought an official sounding plaque would be a fun touch, so we ordered this one from our local trophy shop for about $8. The patent number actually DOES have significance: it's an obscure number found in Portal 2 - and if you already knew that, you get about 267 million geek points. (Can't stand the mystery? Then look for it here in the game's ending credits.)
So that's my lemon grenade!
I hope you guys enjoyed the tutorial, because now here's the best part: I made two lemon grenades, just so I could give one away here on the blog!
The give-away has ended, and the winner is Elizabeth of The Elizabeth Archive! Congrats, Elizabeth, and please e-mail me your mailing address!
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