After recently reviewing my old 3D model of Boba Fett’s blaster, I discovered quite a few discrepancies in details and dimensions from the actual prop. I was initially concerned with bracket for the stock because, remembering from when I first modeled it, it was not quite right. In fact, the bracket was way off in its appearance. Then as I started working on the bracket and I discovered even more incorrectly dimensioned parts. Therefore, the best course of action was to start over from scratch. I could go over all the problems with the first model but there would be too many to list.
The Blastech EE-3 Carbine rifle prop used by Boba Fett in Return of the Jedi, like the one in The Empire Strikes Back, started with a WWI Era Webley & Scott No. 1 MKI flare pistol. Various found parts were added onto it including a 4×20 riflescope. The ROTJ version of the prop is significantly different from the one in The Empire Strikes Back and most notably in the design of the gun barrel. The prop was much more refined as it was in several close-ups shots.
This version of the prop actually used a resin copy of the Webley flare pistol to make it lightweight for the on-screen performance. My model would reflect an idealized version that retains all the detail that would have been lost during the casting process.
The first thing for me to model was the Webley pistol itself. Because the bracket for the gunstock on the first model stuck out like a sore thumb, I modeled that first. As I was doing that, I realized the reason it looked so wrong before was that I failed to notice the gun barrel angles upward at about 4.5 degrees instead of being parallel with the bracket. Failure to notice the difference in angles skewed all of the measurements I took from the reference photos I found.
Next, I moved on to the grip because it follows the contours of the stock bracket. Before, the grip I modeled had very little contouring and far from accurate. I was going to include the crosshatching on the grip but decided to, once again, omit that detail due to the complexity.
I moved onto the gun receiver and got pretty far into it when I stumbled upon some highly accurate schematic drawings for the Webley. This was a great benefit to me because it eliminated the guesswork in many of the details and dimensions that doomed my first version of the blaster model. There just are not many photos of this flare gun to find on the Internet to provide enough clues for an accurate 3D model. Ideally, you would want to have access to the actual object you are modeling and measure it with calipers but that option is not available to me. I did well enough on the receiver of the gun that I only had to make a few changes for it to match the schematic drawings.
I moved on to the stock itself and modeled it according to the contours in the schematic drawing and I was able to get it done rather quickly. Comparing my work to photos of the actual part, I was pleased with how it looked.
Next, I moved onto the latching mechanism that secures the gun barrel to the receiver once you insert the cartridge into the firing chamber. After that was done, I worked on the barrel and discovered discrepancies in the schematic drawings I had found. When that happened, I had to adjust the dimensions of the receiver and the latching mechanism to make things fit correctly while looking correct. Thankfully, I had enough photos to figure out what was wrong.
Next, I modeled the trigger, trigger guard and the hammer. There are a lot more parts for the pistol than I actually modeled but because they are only inside the pistol and not visible on the outside. The Webley was now pretty much done with exception to the fasteners. I decided to save to fasteners for the end of the modeling.
Now I was able to work on the fun part, which is making it look like the EE-3 from the movie. I started by creating the added details for the gunstock. These parts came from a variety of sources and many times from plastic model kits. George Lucas coined the term “greeblie” to describe these parts and that’s what I refer to them as in the model. These parts were accurate in the first model except for being scaled slightly wrong and not detailed as finely as I would prefer today so I knocked them out fast. One thing I found is that they do not fit flush against the stock so I created fillers to fill in the gaps instead of flattening the sides of the stock. This could be accomplished on an actually prop by filling the gaps with bondo.
Next, I moved onto the barrel of the blaster, which in reality was probably a PVC pipe slid over the Webley barrel. The funny thing is that the Webley barrel doesn’t fit inside a PVC pipe of the apparent sized used. If you want to build this as a physical prop, you will have to cut off most of the Webley barrel to make the PVC pipe fit which would be a tragic thing to do to an authentic antique weapon. Find a reproduction Webley instead. The ridges on the barrel are what really stand out on the prop to me so I wanted them to look right. The ridges are pieces of plastic T-tracks that were probably used in some type of cabinetry. No one knows exactly what they were but their profile is very close to what they were on my model. My previous version of the model only had 12 ridges around the barrel but there were actually 13 on the prop (oops!).
The most crucial part added to the prop was the 4×20 riflescope added to the top of the barrel. This is another part that is in dispute. There are many different manufacturers that created scopes based on the same specifications of the one used in the film. At first glance, second glance and even at third glance, (if there is such a thing) you may not be able to spot the difference. I found a great forum post of the subtleties in the different versions and they person whom wrote the post was able to create the best guess of which was used in the prop. Therefore, that is the one presented in my model. This is the one part I thought I would reuse from the previous model but I am glad I didn’t because it is not as good as I thought it was.
Just a small note on the scope in my first model of the blaster: I somehow got the impression that the knobs on the scope were crosshatched instead of just knurled. They are knurled and I cannot even find evidence of any that were crosshatched on the Internet. It’s just odd that I determined to make them crosshatched when now I cannot find evidence that could possibly suggest that.
Next, I added the greeblies for the sides of firing chamber. These looked awful on the other model but this time around, I took my time and used some modeling techniques I have recently learned to make them look right. I am pleased with the way they look now.
Finally, I modeled all the fasteners and screws for the Webley and the add-on parts. Now that the modeling was complete, I finalized the material colors and their names to be compatible with the simple 3D rendering software I used for the image at the top of this post.
The finished model includes many scenes to show off the details in SketchUp including one scene that shows the Webley & Scott No. 1 MKI flare pistol by itself.
Soon, I plan to make The Empire Strikes Back version of the prop, which thankfully I will not need to model the Webley again.