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Custom Playmobil -NASA Orion Capsule

Splash Down!

My son and I were excited to hear about the new NASA Orion capsule. This is the vehicle our astronauts will be using in a few years to return safely from trips to Mars and the Moon! I recently picked up the Playmobil Rescue Raft (5545) from Toys R Us. I decided to mod it to look like the new capsule. Check out my pics below, including a link to download a set of decals to make your own Orion capsule!


actual module

Here is the image that inspired the photo above. When the capsule splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, large balloons instantly inflate to keep the capsule upright and buoyant so that they can safely retrieve the astronauts onboard. I picked up a six pack of orange pingpong balls to stick on top for the water scenes.

Astronaut tests out the capsule

Though the Orion capsule is cone shaped (much like the Apollo capsule, but larger, and designed for multiple trips) the shape of the playmobil rescue raft was pretty similar, and featured closing hatches so you can fit people inside. I liked that the toy was designed to float in your tub or pool, so I didn’t have to do too much to get it buoyant. (I had to google the spelling, so I’m using it a bunch).

orion_03

I measured the different panels for the decals, then spray painted the top black. I added clear packing tape to my decal sheet before cutting them out, offering some water protection for the water photos. The Orion is covered in black heat resistant tiles that prevent the astronauts from baking alive. Its the same type of tiles that were underneath the Orbiter space shuttle. I added appropriate NASA, USA, and ORION logos. Ed note: I had a version that had quite a bit more detail, but when emulating the playmobil design aesthetic, you need to streamline. Plus it looked really crowded at this scale. Here is the decal sheet. Print it out on uncut sticker sheets, or use light glue to affix to the rescue raft.

Orion dispatches it's chutes

Before the Orion hits the water and deploys its orange balloons, it uses three striped parachutes to slow down on re-entry. I scoured eBay trying to find appropriate toy parachutes. It’s crazy how hard it is to find something so specific when you need it. Anyway, these were part of a model rocket toy, and I bought three of them. I tied them to the top hitch on the capsule (very convenient… thanks Playmobil!) and my son and I started launching it from the fourth floor of a parking garage. For those keeping track, this is where we tested out Greg the first playmobil parachutist. I really wanted to use the opportunity to teach my son about the space travel process, but also have a bit of fun.

Orion burns on re-entry

Now I’m just having fun in the studio. I used a red plastic filter on a remote flash to get the red haze on the underside, then photoshopped in the Earth and the orange bubble. It’s funny, I’m showing these images in reverse order. It should be this one first, re-entry, then the parachutes, then the splashdown. Either way, we’ve had a lot of fun with this set, and we can’t wait to explore the universe along with NASA over the next few years.

Ingredients
Want to make your own? You can do it real cheap and easy. I did all the heavy lifting.

I hot glued the pingpong balls together in a cluster of four, and then used orange play-doh to keep them in place during the shoot. I didn’t want them permanently added to the model.

We met astronaut Chris Hadfield

My son met Commander Chris Hadfield
Check out NASA’s Orion capsule and plans for Mars and beyond.

Udpate!: @NASA_Orion, the official Twitter feed of the Orion program, tweeted about this posting!


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