I remember when I first started collecting EM games and found the Buy Bonds conversion of the Chicken Sam Ray-O-Lite game on Marvin3m Being a WWII buff and an arcade nut, I wanted that game so badly but thought I would never have one of those. Not only would I never have one, it was unlikely I would ever see one.
This game was a wartime conversion of the Chicken Sam light gun game. During WWII game production was halted and all manufacturing was changed over to war production. Gaming companies were still allowed to make conversion kits so many companies offered conversions like this one. This game, and any of the war conversions, are very rare and very collectable. That is a problem if you want one and don't have one. The people who have these rare games generally don't respond well when I asked to scan their artwork or copy their figure either. These games also do not appear on the open market very often. They are very valuable and in high-end collector's collections. That means when one is available, it is rarely sold but is instead traded for another very rare game in a quiet deal between collectors. These never show up on eBay as a full game.
As my collection grew I found myself with two Chicken Sam cabinets that I had restored. With the ability to create conversion kits I realized why couldn't I make any conversion I wanted? There was no reason I couldn't My sculpting skills are not that great so I hired a sculptor to make the head for my Buy Bonds, Hitler figure. Then I made the body. I really had to make the body myself to make sure it had the lenses in the correct place and that it was the right size to fit over the figure skeleton.
The purpose of this page is to show you how to make your own Ray-O-Lite figures. I plan to make a number of conversion kits and figures. This gives me several games so I can convert my cabinet into a new game every week if I want.
Some of the castings will be offered to the public but I will only make a few.
Here is how I did it.
First, I thought I would take an existing doll and make a look-alike figure. I bought these old Laurel and Hardy dolls because Laurel looked like he could be turned into a Hitler figure easily and he was the right size. I later decided I wanted something closer to the original and not a look-alike. That is when I found a sculptor to sculpt the head for me.
I took a cardboard tube 3" in diameter and cut off 6.5 inches. I then cut slits into it 1.5" deep and pressed them down to form shoulders. I put glue over them and used a piece of cardboard to hold it down. The masking tape is only to hold everything in place until the glue dries. It was removed before applying the clay.
Here is my body and my cast head. I drilled a hole and used a block to hold the head to the body. I later had to change to a washer instead of the shown wood strip. The wood was too thick and hit the phototube. I also had to add a 1/4 inch wood spacer on top of the cardboard to lift the head to a more natural position.
I glued some drywall mesh to the surface which gives the clay something to hold to. The clay will not stick to the cardboard itself. Some rubber bands held the mesh in place until the glue dried. I used the mesh that shapes drywall but you could use any type of mesh or screen. It should be very close to the cardboard otherwise it may stick out when it is covered with clay.
Here is the head attached(without the spacer I later added)
I covered the cardboard with Super Sculptey clay. This is a synthetic clay that will never harden when exposed to air but when baked at 275 F degrees it will harden.
My sculpting tools
I rolled the body on a flat surface to round and smooth it. I then made each element and attached it. Once it was in place I could shape it until it looked right.
When I had everything in place I smoothed the open areas as much as I could. Don't depend on doing it later with sandpaper. You can sand some but it is easier to smooth it out now.
Here is Hitler baking in the oven. There was just something creepy about this so I had to photograph it.
Placing him on a foil covered baking sheet was not a good idea, it burned him some. I should have put him on wood.
I did some final cleaning and smoothed out the lens holes with a rotary tool. I picked this tool up from Harbor Freight for $7 on sale with a kit of accessory ends. For $7 you cant go wrong. You could use a dremmel but I prefer the slower speed of this tool which gives more control and it is not as loud.
Once everything was smoothed and shaped I painted him with tan primer.
I then used various shades of brown paint and a sponge painting technique until I had him a color I liked. The sponge also made the figure look aged by varying the colors in the coat.
You can see the color here a little better.
I used a mix of model paints(enamel) and acrylic paints plus magic markers to make outlines and give sharp edges to some lines. The swastika was impossible to freehand. I found a web image and printed it out to the right size, then cut it with a utility knife and used the white part as a template. I outlined it on his arm with a silver pen, painted the circle using an ivory color(to look aged), then when that was dry, outlined the swastika with a black fine point sharpie. I then painted in the outline with model paints.
I freehanded his maltese cross but I should have tried something different. I may still purchase a model airplane with the correct size cross transfer and put that over what I drew.
Here is my almost completed hitler. I used an extra head as a test subject for my paints. I wanted to make sure the paint color and effect looked right before putting it on the final figure. I used a metallic red for his nose and facial rosarieness. I was not planning to use a metallic and bought it by accident but when I tried it, it looked really good.
I used a combination of brush and cotton balls to blend in the colors. It took several tries. You have to do something like this in layers. Don't expect to paint his nose and be done with it. Put one coat on, soften it, then another then another.
When I finished painting him I sprayed him with clear polyurethane. Acrylic paint is not durable and must have some protection. Also by spraying him with clear, I could keep him as he was and if I painted anything else and did not like it, I could more easily remove it if it was painted on top of the clear coat.
Here is my final figure. I used some wood stain to give him an aged look and I used my fake-natural sponge to remove the excess stain. This gave a blotchy effect that really makes him look old.
The final figure
For the lenses, use two child's magnifying glass lenses. Cut off the plastic handle and smooth by filing.
If you have any gaps or anything that needs to be fixed on the baked clay or on the cast plastic head, you can use white model putty(available in the airplane section of any hobby shop in a tube) to fill the gaps and make any fixes. You can also use this model putty to fill in gaps around the lenses. Use the putty before painting and it will blend easily. Simply wood glue will dry clear and hold the lenses in place too.
I used some white putty on my generic legs to give them a lip like boots.
I also made copies of my Lil Hitler using my Alumalite casting materials. You can see the first casting and the insert I used to make the cavity along with the original figure in the background. The purple packages contain the magnifying glasses I used for lenses.
And a look up the skirt. The cavity was made from the same large tubing for the sculpted figures and was 2 inches long, I then added 4 inches of paper towel core and taped it up to prevent leaks. This piece becomes a permanent part of the figure once it is cast. I then drilled holes and it slides over the metal skeleton easily and there is plenty of room for the 923 photo tube. I did have to drill the lenses holes out with a 1" spade bit too. On my next project I may scuplt around one of these instead of the full size tube. It would give me more room to trim into the chest. For this figure and one's like it, the barrel chest works fine but for some figures it may stick out too much.
Here is the painted figure with legs
And a side shot
If you would like one of these figures, see ClassicArcadeGrafix.com There are a limited number available.
I then had to find an artist to redraw the background. I can do some nice photoshop work but it takes so much time and tries my patience too. It was better to find an artist willing to work on it. I went through three before I found a competent artist. Too many people know 'something' about illustrator or photoshop and think they are artists when they are really beginner hacks.
This was the first artists attempt. I hired an artist in the Philippines who actually had a portfolio and other work they at least claimed they had done. I really have to look at this and ask what was he thinking? I sent photos and clearly explained what I wanted with the dimensions but he only drew what was shown and left the rest blank? It makes you wonder how some people's minds work. Well that is what you get for $20. The second artist was not much better. Finally I hired an artist who did real work for animation and Hollywood, and he produced this:
It is not a perfect match but it is close. Copying something like this, even from a quality photo, is extremely difficult. I tried touching up the second artist's work and it was very time consuming and extremely difficult. The above artwork came out pretty well and I will use it in my conversion.