Willy Yonkers has a secret. It's 4 feet tall, 3-legged, and took 8 months to complete.
He's been toiling away in the GeekLabs workroom most of this year on a personal project. At first we thought it was the usual--casting Han Solo in carbonite, modelling an Enterprise Pizza Cutter, or painting a miniature HAL in fine detail.
But no, it was even more awesome, and we've been sworn to secrecy this whole time.
So it is with great pride we present ThinkGeek's very own life-size Portal turret, complete with guns and a laser eye, fabricated with love at ThinkGeek HQ by GeekLabs' own Willy Yonkers.
Witness the behind-the-scenes birth of a turret:
See its full evolution in our turret Flickr album.
Last year I spent a lot of time studying the proportions & geometry of the Portal turret for several projects we're working on with Valve. It can be a big challenge to convert objects from videogames into reality as they're designed to exist only in a digital world where objects can overlap, disappear, and don't need to be structurally sound or contain real internal components. I built a CAD model which demonstrated a mechanism to make the turret's wings extend and pivot but actually building them robustly enough to work in the real world would have been too expensive and painstaking for any product we would sell.
I really underestimated the scope of such a project, but a lot of the delay came from making some poor decisions early in the build. I created the model by layering fiberglass over a sculpted foam core, just like a surfboard, but to make efficient use of materials, I laid up miss-matched scraps of fiberglass cloth instead of whole sheets. This lead to a very lengthy smoothing out phase and lots of weak bubble areas. I also held myself to some unreasonably high standards after looking at the process photos of other amazing prop builders online like Voplin and Kronos props.
So by now you might be wondering how you can get your hands on this puppy. The answer is an unequivocal OMG did you eat conversion gel 'cause you must be CRAZY! The turret is not for sale; it will stay here at our Fairfax, Virginia HQ to guard us--or kill us, whichever comes first.
And we might be in danger sooner than later; Willy plans to implant this turret with the guts from one of our Plush Turrets. The upgrade would make this life-size turret very chatty, though it would haven't real guns. After seeing Willy's handiwork on this model we're afraid to push our luck, though.
We love you, Willy! Don't go GLaDOS on us!