In anticipation for the opening of Galaxy’s Edge, Star Wars fans have been coming up with a fun new way to interact with the land. They’ve been kitbashing (taking bits and pieces out of model kits and layer them onto an item to turn it into something else) and turning phone cases into Star Wars Datapads and I knew from the second I saw one, I wanted to make one myself.
I started by ordering a heavy duty cell phone case that had a bigger surface area surrounding the phone so I had more places to glue stuff. A lot of people use pieces (also called greebles/greeblies/nurnies) from WWII tank models and the like, but since I was making this specifically to fit in the Star Wars universe, I decided to get the Bandai X-Wing Starfighter kit. Once everything finally arrived (thank you Amazon Prime!) I fortunately had all the tools I needed to get started, but if you want to make one of your own, here’s what I’d recommend to make your own personal Datapad.
To build the case
• Phone case
• Model kit (kits), though not necessary. Legos, bits from your junk drawer, etc. totally work, too!
• Glue (I used Krazy glue, but I know a lot of people recommend contact cement for models)
• Mini needle nose pliers*
• Mini flat nose pliers*
• Mini side-Cutting Pliers*
• *Note, I got all of these in a jewelry making kit ages ago. You can get them pretty cheap at your local craft store and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve used them! Worth the money.
• Small shallow solid box/container
• Eye protection (little plastic pieces will fly everywhere! Trust me on this, protect your eyes)
• Emery board/sand paper
To paint the case
• Paper towels
• Masking tape
Once I had all that assembled, I opened up the kit and just started pulling out pieces/bits and bobs/greeblies/nurnies(pick your word) that I liked or seemed interesting. This is where that small box/container will be your friend as those pieces are small and like to migrate. Also, while a lot of the greeblies were fairly easy to pull off the frame by hand, there were times those pliers were my friends.
Let the fun/frustration begin! This is where you can really get creative arranging and rearranging all the pieces around your phone case/soon to be datapad. There are no rules for this so have at it! Some people just pick stuff they like, glue it wherever seems interesting, and go from there, and they look great. I wanted mine to look more functional (you could see where things plugged in/connected to each other) so my challenge was to use pieces from the kit to make that happen, which is both fun, and frustrating. As many pieces as there are in the kit, I found myself wishing I’d bought another kit for something else just to have more bits and bobs to choose from. Keep in mind, the frame work the greeblies come in can be used, too, so don’t be in a hurry to throw any of those plastic pieces out. You never know what might work!
After finally finding an arrangement that worked, I glued all the pieces down to the phone case and let it dry.
Once all the glue was set, it was time to paint. This is where the gloves come in because if you’re anything like me, you will end up with several layers of paint all over your fingers and hands, so I highly recommend gloves, especially if spray painting.
I was indecisive as to what color I wanted it to be at first. I started by painting it all black, thinking I would add silver highlights and stuff. I ultimately decided I wanted it to look more like metal, and repainted it in a metallic silver. I liked how the details popped more, but I also felt it needed a few more greeblies to balance it out. After the silver paint dried, I glued a few more pieces down, let the glue dry, and then went over those new pieces with more silver paint.
I wanted mine to look aged and worn, kind of like something you’d find on the Millennium Falcon, that has a lot of wear, tear, and grime, so the next steps were to age it. There’s a lot of great videos and blogs out there on how to weather/age things, but the basics of it are this: paint it on, wipe it off. Repeat. I used a water base paint so that I could water it down and create a wash effect, but I found it looked best when I used a brush to just paint on a color, and then use a sponge, paper towel, cloth, q-tip, etc. to wipe it off (sometimes all of the above depending on how much paint you put on/want to take off)
First pass at ageing was with black paint and a black wash (black paint diluted with water).
Second pass with rust colored paint and wash.
Last step was to add little details. I used some red, white, and blue paints and toothpicks to add just a tiny little bit of color to certain pieces to make it look like buttons, lenses or wiring. I have a feeling I might add more detailing in the future when I come back from seeing Galaxy’s Edge, but for now I’m happy with this.
Let it all dry (and letting everything dry is the HARDEST part for me), insert phone, and…you have yourself your very own datapad!
I’m super happy with how this came out and had a ton of fun making it. It’s a lot easier than it looks, just messy 😉 Have you kitbashed a phone case into a datapad? Got any tips or questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments. Good luck on your kitbashing, and may the Force be with you!