AT Commander’s

Flockmaster 2000-P

This started out with a conversation with GIDEFENDER.  He was looking for a way to flock Joe heads that was more efficient than the flashlight-looking railroad grass device (which broke soon after he started using it).  He’d done some research online explaining how the flocking was done and sources for flocking materials, and asked me to give him a hand finding the right high voltage device and wiring it all up.  Since I’d singed my eyebrows a time or two, I figured I’d give it a go.  He’s already built the frame of the “flock box” and needed the “guts” to make it an industrial-grade flocking machine.

Unusually (for me), I made a plan.  Rather than do a lot of trial-and-error with the frame, I decided to jury rig a “proof of concept” device with which to experiment until we knew what we were doing; THEN we could build the final “production model” into his heavy-duty flock box structure.  I decided the way to go was with a Tupperware-like cake carrier.   This would be a PERFECT proof of concept vehicle!

The concept was a device that used a Tupperware lid as a flocking chamber, screwed to a solid base.  Then a hardware store electrode.  To that, I’d add the Negative Ion Generator.    At first, I wasn’t thinking about storing the thing or about portability.  I was just thinking about how to make the device and how it worked.  Refinements came later on.


The center electrode in the pic at right was made in a few steps.  First I went to the lamp department of a local big-box building store (Home Depot or Lowe’s, I forget which), and selected the most perfectly round lamp finial I could.  (A “lamp finial” is the goofy little thing that you screw on top of a lamp shade to keep it on.)  Then I went to the hardware section and found a threaded rod that would fit it.  The threaded rod was maybe 2 feet long or more.  I just cut it off later at the length I wanted and gave the rest to GIDefender who used the rest – one threaded rod was enough for 2 flockers, and we still had some left over.  I picked up two bolts and washers that would fit the threaded rod, so I could screw it into the base.  Next, I went to the irrigation section of a local hardware store and bought some plastic irrigation tubing that would slip (tightly) over the threaded rod, and another length that would slide (tightly) over the first layer of tubing.  Now I had a threaded rod with TWO layers of plastic irrigation tubing as insulators (even though my plan, above right, only called for one).  




The Negative Ion Generator would be an Ebay device, probably from China.  It’d be boxed up for safety, grounded, and would operate off of 12 volts (because it’s less scary to work with than household current).  The generator would connect to the flocking device with alligator clips, for ease of testing.  This was, after all, only a proof of concept device and not really intended to be a durable item that’d last long or be robust in any way.  Note, this is NOT the device I ended up using… the 110 volt AC unit was much better!



When finished, I envisioned the device to look something like this (at right).  When ready for use, it’d resemble a table fan more than anything else.  So long as it worked.    After I started looking around for a Tupperware-like cake carrier (not originally my idea, by the way… someone, somewhere online had used a cake carrier lid and I thought it was a quick/easy solution).  Finally I found a cake carrier lid at Wal-Mart and after handling it, I immediately knew my plan was FAR more complicated than necessary.   It’d be MUCH simpler just to bolt the lid to the base with a nylon bolt and be done with it!






The initial solution was not satisfactory, unfortunately.  I ordered two 12VDC Negative Ion Generators on Ebay  from “bellevue2046” in China.  They were advertised as some goofy kind of “Anion” generator.  I have no Earthly idea why someone from China would think these have anything to do with onions, but no matter – it was just what we were needed.  After they arrived, I took my Tupperware device over to GIDefender’s house for some testing.  We wired it all up with alligator clips and tape to see if it’d work.  It was a failure.  Not a HUGE failure, but it took over 2 minutes to satisfactorily flock a head and there was a lot of fussing to ensure decent coverage.  This device clearly needed a GUY solution – MORE POWER!  So I hooked up the two 12VDC generators in parallel, half expecting something to ignite or melt.  Nope.  It worked great!  The next test head flocked in a lot less time and looked a lot better, too!  We decided to go back online and order a 110V AC negative ion generator (again, from some guy in China) in order to get more power. 

Finally, the 110V AC generators arrived.  We wired one up to my Tupperware flocker on GIDefender’s kitchen table with alligator clips, wire, and exposed danger everywhere, and applied the power.  It worked incredibly well!  This was the solution, no doubt!  Now we had to turn this Tupperware proof of concept device into a real flocker for GIDefender.   He’d already built the box and now we knew what to put in it, the optimum distance between plate and electrode, and exactly what we needed.  We ran to the big-box hardware store and bought he necessary odds and ends, then headed back to GIDefender’s to wire it up.  Soon he was up and running with the device he dubbed the “Flockmaster 2000!”

Now that GIDefender’s flocker was successfully up and running, it was my turn to use the leftover odds and ends to make myself a portable version of the Flockmaster 2000.   Since mine was the “proof of concept” prototype, I figured I’d call it the “Flockmaster 2000-P,” with the P for “prototype” (or perhaps the P was for “portable”).  Either way, I liked the sound of it. 

I liked the Tupperware and decided to use it for my final product, with a little tweaking here and there.  I only envisioned myself doing an occasional noggin or repair; I wasn’t planning to do much flocking, so didn’t need “industrial grade.”  On the other hand, I needed it to be safe and convenient; yes, this fake  Tupperware container was the answer.    It’d carry/store all of the necessary equipment and keep it in one place.  Compact.  Portable.   At left is a pic of the final device after I’d made my modifications.  None of the mods were conceptually necessary and none were a substantial departure from the “proof of concept” device; the changes were more in the nature of refinements to the design than anything.  As shown, it’s complete. 




Inside the container, it holds the flocking materials, glue, the high-voltage negative ion generator (enclosed in the silver colored switch box) and a few other odds and ends.  All that’s needed is some time and some noggins to flock.  [Confession:  ok, I neglected to put in the paintbrushes with which to apply the glue, the wooden dowel head-post, and the sliver of wood I used to rearrange the flocking material on the metal ground plate, but there’s plenty of room for them and I’m too lazy to add them and take another picture just because of those not being in the pic.  You get the idea.]






In the midst of set-up, you can see the yellow Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (you can’t be too safe) as well as the Negative Ion Generator (that’s really fun to say!) and bags of flocking (from Flockit! online) in each of the Joe hair colors as well as a salt’n’pepper grey.  I asked if they had white, but they don’t.  I figured I could mix the white with any other color to make my own blend of salt ‘n’ pepper in the density I wanted, but no such luck.  Hopefully I’ll find a source of white hair somewhere (white would make a cool Race Bannon from Johnny Quest, too!). 






Anyway, to assemble the device for use, I put a ¼ inch hole in the side of the cake lid and a matching hole in the base (I did this early on, when I realized it’d be simpler than the complicated base in my original design).  Through these holes, I put a nylon bolt to secure the lid sideways on the base (indicated by the big red arrow in the pic).






Here’s the Flockmaster 2000-P, all set up and ready to flock.  The lid is attached to the base with the nylon bolt, the negative ground plane is resting in the flocker (it’s not attached, it’s simply bent into place and remains there by friction).  The negative ion generator (in the silver switch box) is attached.  The red (+) wire goes to the flocking chamber’s center electrode (you can see it through the lid) and the black (-) goes to the ground plane (which is a piece of scrap aluminum from the garage – I think it was part of a stereo or radio chassis; I cut a rectangle out of the aluminum figuring it’d come in handy someday).  Near the black wire you can see a piece of red tape; that just takes stress off the wire and serves no other purpose.  On the ground plane is a little pile of green grass.  GIDefender gave me some leftover grass for experimentation so I wouldn’t have to waste the (more expensive) flocking.  In the foreground is the dowel with a noggin attached.  I put the dowel on a bench sander to reduce the diameter to head-post size and it holds the noggin by friction.  At the lower right is a piece of a Kleenex box, a paintbrush, and Elmer’s “Glue-All Max” glue.  This is where I’ll slop the glue on the noggin immediately before turning on the flocker and making him a fuzzhead.   You’ll also notice the wooden sliver I use to rearrange the pile of flocking at the left in the picture – it looks like a wooden ruler (it’s just a little piece of junk wood from my tablesaw’s scrap box).  The generator (silver box) is plugged into the GFCI outlet that is, in turn, plugged into a 3-wire grounded extension cord.  I’ll need to cut a little bit off the neck-post dowel and little wooden fuzz rearranger so they’ll fit in the container, but that’ll only take a second.



It worked great!  Although we’d played with different distances between electrode and ground plane at GIDefender’s house, I’d left the ground plane with him for his Flockmaster 2000… this was a new piece of metal that was a different length, width, thickness, and shape.  But it worked fine!  As you can see on the test head (at right), I wasn’t careful enough with my glue on the beard and it was far thicker than I intended, but it sure worked!!!  This was a 21C noggin with melt marks and paint on the poor guy’s forehead and cheeks.  Not a good head, but a great one for testing purposes.


The next head I did was a CC skinhead Joe.  I was more judicious with the glue and it worked much better.  At this rate,  it ought to be easy and quick to flock Joe heads for real.  This model railroad grass is longer than Joe hair from Flockit! but it, too, worked well for testing.  I confess there’s also a “knack” to getting it on evenly.  Fortunately, it’s easy to pick up.  We learned that touching the noggin dowel to the center electrode REALLY ramps this device into turbo overdrive!  It also makes the hair on your arms and neck stand up, and tends to make flocking fly everywhere, but it worked great!  I’m not sure how SAFE touching the noggin dowel to the center electrode is, but it was fun!




On a whim, I decided to use some Sculpy to make a new green brain for Round 2’s “Dr. Evil.”  I plunked the clay into his brain bucket and made a semblance of a green Sculpey brain.  I cooked it for 15 minutes to harden, then when it cooled, I flocked it.  I never bought into the whole legend of Captain Action, but really like the new Round 2 figures and the Dr Evil.  To me he’s more like a generic space alien than any kind of super-vilian.  And with flocked hair he looks like a really GROOVY space alien!



Next I got out the REAL Joe flocking that I purchased from   The first “real” noggin I tried was a Classic Collection skinhead Joe.    I used a paintbrush to paint on the glue where I wanted the hair to land, and quickly flipped on the FlockMaster 2000-P.  The fuzz on the ground plane cackled and stood up straight, with some jumping immediately onto the center electrode.  Between the electrode and ground plane I slowly moved the CC noggin.    Within seconds the static charge built up and fuzz started leaping like miniature spears onto the glue-covered noggin.  I rotated the head to ensure even coverage.  In less than a minute and a half, the head was fully flocked! 




I thought it came out REALLY well, so decided to try a bearded Joe next.   I scrounged in my junk box and unearthed an old Cotswold Elite “Jake” head with a 5 o’clock shadow.  This one’s ”shadow” only covered one side of his face (manufacturing error), so I couldn’t use it anyway.  [Incidentally, Cots replaced the head for free and told me to keep the defective one; nice folks at Cots, and I like doing business with them.]  I painted the area I wanted to flock, so there wouldn’t be any flesh color showing anywhere, and after it dried, I painted on the glue where I wanted the flocking to go.  Then into the FlockMaster 2000-P it went.  This one took longer than the beardless CC Joe, as I had more angles to cover.  It also took longer, I believe, because I didn’t remove the head and put it on the wooden neck-post like I’d done with the CC Joe head.   The plastic body really picked up static, and this one made flocking blast everywhere.  I had flocking on my hands, forearms, all over the floor.  It was a good thing my wife wasn’t home for this one, or she’d have become a whirling tornado!  Next time I’ll remove the head and put it on the wooden dowel neck post.  Anyway, it seemed the side closest to the ground plane got the best coverage, so I had to roll the noggin around and angle it so it’d get the flocking quickly onto all of the contours of chin, under the jaw line, etc, as well as the noggin itself.  For this pic at left, I stepped out onto the back patio, in an effort to avoid the yellowish tint in my photos caused by my kitchen’s fluorescent lights.  It came out really well, I think.  Plus it let me resurrect a formerly useless head and turn it into a groovy new member of the Adventure Team.  Give the guy brown trousers, a short-sleeved camo shirt, machete, French canteen, British #5 rifle, and Viola!  He’s become the Elite Brigade’s Liaison Officer to the Adventure Team!    


(note, on the Flock-it! Site, you’ll need to search for “gi joe” to find it, or use my direct link above.)
Home Depot or Lowe’s for wiring supplies, threaded rod, lamp finial.
Hardware store for irrigation pipe/tubing.
Wal-Mart for cake carrier.
Negative Ion Generator:  They’re available online, but I found Ebay was my best bet.
Heads:   for a variety of heads (other than vintage, ME, TC, 40th, CC, etc) try Cotswold at:  ($2.99.  $8.99 already flocked!)

IMPORTANT NOTE: This uses high voltage and is not UL listed. It is a dangerous device. If you build one you may die. Do not build a device like this. I am not responsible for any injury, loss, or damage that may occur from your potential attempt to construct a device such as this. Do so at your own risk, after ensuring that your will and insurance policies are all in order. DON'T BUILD ONE!!!

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