Custom Robot Toys in Afghanistan
April 22, 2011 9:51 AM   Subscribe

PFC Rupert Valero is a U.S. soldier stationed in Afghanistan who makes amazing custom toy robots out of recycled materials.
posted by MegoSteve (11 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome! I like the little faces applied to otherwise drab plastic containers.
How do your friends in the service feel about your creations and your hobby in general? Have you infected anyone with the bug to collect and create?

Oh yes. Toys are infectious. It has inspired lots of my fellow soldiers and leaders to make their own creations and others to buy online. I’m touched that so many that are not even in our unit, knock on my blanket door wanting to see the ‘workshop.’ Officers and soldiers come in and look around as if I run a museum. Eyes open wide and smiles run across faces. People are inspired, so my job is done.
Again, so awesome. But the blanket door made this seem so much more "backwater" (to pick a term Valero uses).
You've basically been stripped of most the basic customizer tools and tricks of the trade. Do you feel as though this experience has enriched your creativity?

Yes it has. Back home I have power drills, proper lighting, fresh air, etc. here, its backwater and dim lighting. My trusty wife has sent me hobby resources, but I still go back to my Gerber multi-tool and a block of wood I have used ever since I got to Afghanistan. If you look close enough at some pictures, you’ll see that one carved up piece of wood. Less is more, and in this sense, it has made me appricate the building process even more.
The things they carry: love letters, pictures of kids, and hobby resources.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:20 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is wonderful! By sheer coincidence, I'm hosting a school-fundraising "make a robot out of recycled parts" party next month, and this posting has already given me tons of exciting ideas. Thanks very much for posting. People like PFC Valero brighten the world.
posted by dylanjames at 10:21 AM on April 22, 2011

For those of you that may have missed the link at the bottom, here's his Flickr photostream.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:36 AM on April 22, 2011

If you like Valero's robots, chances are you'll like Lockwasher's too (maybe even more!)
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:39 AM on April 22, 2011

So … Rupert Valero was able to build these in a camp, with a bunch of scraps?
posted by gubo at 12:03 PM on April 22, 2011

Not a bunch of scraps - it looks like he generally takes one piece of scrap, sticks a bunch of Lego Bionicle limbs onto it (those feet and arm joints are very recognizable), and then paints 'em.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:13 PM on April 22, 2011

Sorry, that came across as a bit dickish. The end result is still cool, but pieces like this are 85% lego pre-fab.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:14 PM on April 22, 2011

I'm tired of constant reminders, just like this, of how much I suck doing neat stuff.
posted by codswallop at 12:26 PM on April 22, 2011

FatherDagon: I disagree. While it's fair to point out that those arms and legs on the picture you cited were prefab, the way the body is cobbled together and the decoration/weathering/paint application are what give his robots soul and make them much cooler than storebought, not to mention the way he photographs them.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:18 PM on April 22, 2011

FatherDagon: Sorry, that came across as a bit dickish. The end result is still cool, but pieces like this are 85% lego pre-fab.

This is a Bionicle, this is not. They might have the same limbs or even the whole core, but the alterations are what make them original (and damn spiffy).

Then, there are also happy scrap robots, with not a Lego bit in sight, ready to be distributed to local afghan kids.

Also, I really like Toxic Skull and Stumpy, as I call these two.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:29 PM on April 22, 2011

That's great. I wish he were making them at home.
posted by CarlRossi at 5:33 PM on April 22, 2011

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