Terminator T-800 Endoskeleton 1:1 Vinyl Project

Intro:  Hi all.  This little website is intended for Terminator fans who might want to start a similar project. In no way this is a "step by step" guide to build yours. The techniques used might not be optimal or recommended. This is my first project of this kind and tough I would share my mistakes and tricks I found while building mine.

Any help, comments or suggestions from you are also welcomed! As a beginner I take all the advises I get! So thx in advance!   

Please also check my INSPIRATIONS section where I found some real fans that made a hell of a job with there T800. 
If mine can look half as good, ill be happy !  Let's start!

Before you begin:
You will need allot of tools and accessories to build a good looking bust.  Check out my list on the left for details.

Notice: Take note that I willingly did not remove my mistakes and errors I have made during construction. It's never to late to change your mind or even scrap part of your project if you think the end result will be improved. You might also learn from my mistakes, with might save you time and money.

Here we go!

Step 1:
Buy the vinyl basic model online (there are 2 different models, make sure to buy the right one!)

Step 2:  Cut away all the pieces and start gluing them together. Be patient, don't rush.
More pieces... T-800     
more pieces

Step 3:  Check the fit of those pieces together.  Here you will most likely need to heat up the vinyl with your hair-dryer and hold it in place with elastics and clamps while it cools. You can also glue it while hot so it will stay in place.  I have a few days of work between Step 1 and Step 2.  A lot of sanding and cutting to have a nice tight fit.

 You might also notice the rings I cut off from scrap pieces. These "eyes holders" I made will help me glue the eyes at an angle so the T800 looks up while the head is looking down (see further pix)

Finally, I removed those rings I made at the start.  Didn't look right, and were rendered useless once I tried the eye holders in (those metal pins with bald bearing).
So they are gone.
I made 2 eye holder so I can glue them looking UP   Left Side   
First complete look...
Right Side

Step 4:  I replaced the big LED eyes with a nice looking Bulb casing that has the look & texture of the real terminator head.  I removed the light-bulb from inside the casing and replaced the with led.  
Note: You will see on step 35 that I later found a way better eye lens, and cheaper.

12V Casing from Radio-Shack   Looking good!

Step 5:  Has many people do, I tough the provided neck was too short. So I decided to create one more vertebra made out of liquid plastic. Not the easiest thing to do. I bough some playdough at the 1$ store, and surrounded the last vertebra provided with the model. Then I split it in four pieces and filled the gaps to make it bigger (upside down). Then I poured my liquid plastic mix in it and let it dry. After many touch-ups, few hours with the dremmel and allllllot of dust, it looked pretty good.  
Mold from existing vetebra  Make the mold bigger  Filled the gap and filled it with Liquid Plastic..  Raw result...  After a few hours of dremel and many touch ups...  A little more sanding and shoot look good!
Step 6: For the metal parts, it was not as easy as I tough  . Here's a trick: Don't make holes with the drill where the metal pistons insert. Instead make "X" cut with you knife. This will help you get a tight fit and hold it firmly in place.  In my kit, I was missing the bottom part... made myself some out of wood on step 28.   (see steps 28 and 29 for the final fitting on skull... not easy)
Sanded and glued them together... after ajustements   Made X cuts in the cavities for tight fit

Step 7:  Now I tested the head on the neck. Not bad.  High enough for me. Don't need a 5th one for my design. I actually did not "Pop" de head on the neck. I placed it on top so this gives me more movement range to make the head look down and also give me a little more hight.

Nice hight...   Looking good....

Step 8: Time to start to base to get measurements right for the pistons and all...  I used old wood pieces...  I made a few ruff cuts witch I stacked together. Then its time to even up all the layer using about every tools I own!  (sander, saw, jig-saw...   tuff.)    The following pix is still a work in progress... but the basic shape is there.  But i'm not looking for perfection, yet, cause I will coat it up with some car bundo and then do the final sanding and touches before paint... 

Stack of an old piece of wood...   other angle...

Step 9: Lets checkout the height with the head on top. Looking good so far.  Now that every thing is in place, I can get my measurements for my neck pistons and hoses.  The right picture shows (thx to photoshop) what I intend to do. 

Basic look...   Ho ya... That's the look I was looking for!   A little bit of Photoshop to have an idea of what I want..

Step 10: A added some accent pieces on the base. Nailed and glued. Need sanding and keep in mind all of this basic ruff shape will be covered with bondoe.
                  Then I carved a groove almost all the way around and sanded ruff edges.... almost ready for bondoe! 
Accent Pieces carved groove Grooved almost all the way around

Step 11: I found my chocks!  Now I need to find a way to connect them both to the base and skull...
              Note: Later in the project I discard those chocks and make my own out of wood. See step 22.

My Chocks!

Step 12: To connect the chocks to the head, I found old guitar jacks that had a great look.  For the bald joint, I used a wooden neck-less beeds. Used a nail to keep it in place.  To hold the metal guitar jack at the top of the chock, I used part of the jack's spring, glue, and filled the void with hot-glue.  
Note: Later in the project I discard the wooden beeds and replace with steel fittings. See step 24.

Bald-Joint Unpainted chocks

Step 13: I modified the base to accept the chocks at an angle.  I also made a hole to pass the future wiring and made a "V" shape at to front, a reminder of the chest plate.
             Note: Later in the project I discard this "V Shape" and make a much better one that looks like the chest plate, Step 14.

Holes Wire hole V-shape Chest Plate
Chocks Back Chocks Side Chocks Front

Step 14: After looking at the base for a few hours... I tough I could do better.  Started thinking that the T800 chest-place would look good.  So I started to fabricate it. , I made a drawing to visualize my goal first.  Then the real thing.

Chest Plate par  ChestPlate - CGI  chest final

Step 15: It's now time to start putting the car doe on. Still missing a few parts (teeth & ear hoses) but I can start putting the doe. There will be allot of sanding involved to better start now.    
Important: The smell of car doe is very strong. Make sure to ventilate the room your working in.

Doe 1  Doe 2

Step 16:  First pix = first coat + sanding .   Second pix = second coat + sanding & hoses holes.   
               Pix 3 & 4 were taken after the 3rd coat. Few fix here and there and I should be almost done. Ill need to add a few details tough.

Sanding 1  sanding 2
3rd Sanding  3rd Sanding -Second pix

Step 17:  Finally got my hoses. They are plumbing pressure hoses.  I removed the knot bolt from the end. To make the joint (90 degree angle) I will use pliable copper tubing.
The hoses aren't cut to length yet, but you got a feel of what it's going to look like: 

Hoses!!  hoses look 1  Look hoses 2  hoses look 3

Step 18:  Got my teeth!  Front and back.  They are looking great!
teeth set!

Step 19:  Just starting to begin hose fittings.  Need to put together a copper hose with a flexible hose.  I had to create my own fitting to bind them together. Took an old pencil, and stuck it into my drill. Then with a file I slowly made the pen thinner until it fit on both the copper hose and flexible hose.  While doing this, my copper hoses were in the freezer with water. The ice in the copper hose will prevent it from collapsing when i'll bend them into shape (hummm pogo's !!!):

homemade tour  homemade tour 2  joint  
freeeezer  90  90 in skull

Step 20:  I took my measurements and cut my hoses to length. I inserted a piece of plumbing soldering stuff to help me give and hold the shape I want. Needs a few adjustments but the big picture is there. Looking good!

hoses cut  hoses cut 2  hoses 3  hoses 4

Step 21:    Eye motion detection circuit proof of concept!  Working good.  Fade out is a little bit too fast, ill need a bigger capacitor.


circuit v2

Step 22:    Remaking my chocks.  Didn't like the way they looked. So I made new ones out of wood.  Pretty basic but looks just like the movie. Needs sanding now.
                      I used different pictures to establish the right dimensions . Drew a sketch of my live size piece.    (to the right is my movie reference)

wooden chocks 1   From

Step 23:    I created a bolt mechanism to screw in the jaw.  I also finally pierced the eyes.

bolt  eyes hole

Step 24:    I'm now preparing the skull to welcome the chocks.  I found an hexagonal shape bold with some kind of universal joint.  First I took the treads and heated them up. Once hot I forced them in place.  Then I secured them with glue.  I will now be able to screw on the chocks now at assembly time.  Needs a little putty on top of chock to get a rounder, thicker look.  (in the steps to come...)

universal 1  treads  
chock assembly 1  chock assembly 2
chock assembly  exemple

Interesting fact:  While doing my researches, I found out that at one point in Terminator 1, last scene, the T800 is missing his chocks...  weird...
  then... no more chocks...  

Step 25:   Teeth out, Teeth in (bottom).  I just started removing built-in teeth and putting in my fake teeth.  Not easy.  I used Magic-Putty for the gums.  Once half-dry I'ill pull the teeth out (don't want those teeth in the way when painting). I'll glue them in last, after paint.

Teeth out  fake teeth  First 4  
4 teeth  Last Teeth and removed teeth
Checking Fit 1  checking fit 2


Step 26:   Top teeth going in!

top teeth bye  Top teeth in 1  all top 1
all top 2

Step 27:   Alignment test for Top and Bottom teeth: OK  (top teeth over the bottom ones)

Top over Bottom

Step 28:  Jaw pistons test.  Added some screws for a better look and a little more mobility. Then made myself some wooden parts that were missing in my kit...  

Jaw pistons 1  Wooden Piston parts  Screw Metal to wood piston parts  
metal to wood #2

Step 29:  Had a real hard time with the jaw pistons. I broke them twice, and glued them crooked 3 times...  but now, I'm good. A little adjustment and should be done!

Jaw done 1  Jaw Done 2

Step 30:  I just made my head holder rig.  I did not want to glue it in place. Wanted to be able to give it some kind of movement for easy adjustments. So I installed a spring and chain to lock it in place with the desired tension.  Working good.  Might remove the screws once the glue is dry on the orange bracket.  (finally I never removed the screws. Stronger that way)

Sping and Bracket Screwed until glue dries  Spring in action
Chain trough neck Stopper in groove Holds up!  

Step 31:  Add a rounded shape to the chock and cut them down to size to fit in the base.

Chock rounded  Chocks fit 1  Chocks fit 2

Step 32:  Calculating location for bolts. Only for the looks.  Adding a hole in the back to put my electronics and I finally found my two shoulder pegs!
              I also add 2 holes to screw the neck to the base.
BOlts  Hole for plug and switch  Pegs

Step 33:  Made my cover with some plastic sheet, made hole for DC power and on/off switch. Bolt it in place.  Next step: Take it apart, sand and paint!!
Cover 1  Cover 2  

Step 34:  Black Glossy paint applied. I applied about 3 to 4 layers of glossy black airbrush paint. Before applying chrome paint, you need a black glossy coat first.  
This step is done and looking good. The base asked for extra work. The wood was absorbing the paint. Should have used a primer, but many coats of paint did the job! I suggest using gloves if possible.

black-gloss-1  black-gloss-2  final black paint

Step 35:  New Eyes in progress.  I decided to scrap the ones on seen on step 4 and use a way better system. I recently visited an amazing website dedicated to the T800 (check out my inspiration section). And on this amazing site, a detail I had never really noticed before. Contrary to most T800 sold on the market, the T800 in the movie has red eyes when lit, but they turn black when disabled. The red light has to come from inside the eye with a clear lens. I found out a neat trick to do this cheap: I used two Glass Marbles. It has that magnifying/lens effect way more realistic than the red plastic covers.

New Eye


Step 36:  Chrome paint applied!  Not easy.  Final result is between chrome and stainless steal. Pretty shiny, but not mirror like.

chrome-skull-1  chrome-skull-2  chocks-chrome-1  
base-chrome-1  eyes-chrome-1

Step 37:  Some black wash applied on all pieces:
wash1  wash 2

Step 38:  Final assembly begins!

wirering  assembly1  assembly2  assembly3
  wires  wires  assembly4

Step 39:  Final results!!!!

final1    final3  final4  final5

final-half finale-half-2

Hi-Resolution Picture:   Click on pix to open a hi-resolution picture of the final product.

Side-View 1 Front-Side-View-1 Front-view-1 Front-View-Zoom-1 
Front-Side-View-2 Front-Top-View-1 Side-View-1 Rear-View-1

To Be Continued:   Here are a few of my next steps:

  • Find some fake teeth
  • Install fake teeth 
  • Coat the base
  • Detail the base
  • Create my motion sensor circuit for the eyes
  • Paint, Paint and more Paint!
  • Touch-up's (few scratches created during assembly)
  • External Motion Sensor Circuit (in progress)

Stay Tuned! 

- SiO