Posted: November 11, 2010 in Batcave customs

"I must become the bat"

It has been a dream of mine ever since the animated Batman cartoon (BTAS) aired in 1994 to make a diorama of the animated Batcave.  Here it is!  I’ve been taking pictures of it under construction since day 1. 

The Batcave measures 4 x 4 foot square, is fully wired with illumination, and the outside will look like a WayneCorp shipping crate.  The hinged doors will open up into a scale model of the Batcave that will host the animated figure line, vehicles, contraptions, standard batcave trophies, and more. 

Non-batfans that have entered into my workshop don’t get it.  They’ve just scratched their heads and christened it as a doll house for boys…all I can say is, if they’d had doll houses like this when I was a kid, I’d have worn a dress!

As promised, here is a station by station tour of the Batcave.  If it’s your first time here, pan down to the bottom for a play by play of the Batcave’s development. 

Here’s the bathook veiw from above…

DUST...the Batcave's arch enemy


SUSPENDED LIKE BATS ….The Bat Jet and Bat Plane…erm…I guess one is faster…


VROOM…VROOM!     The custom Batcycle with attached helmet (batman obeys the law kids!), and the sports coup Batmobile…where’s Robin when you need a carwash?



ALFRED, YOU'VE REMODELED THE CAVE... The Batcomputer. It's where the magic happens...and the drinking of herbal tea...and crime fighting, yeah crime fighting too. Anyways, the back lighting is to give the luminous effect that evokes the cool vibe in the cave. I was pretty pleased with it. Once again, thanks to Iron Cow Productions for the computer screen download for the top part of the display.


ALFRED, HE’S BACK AGAIN…The story of the Dinosaur…Glad you asked.  Years ago, when Dick Grayson was having to forego athletics, Alfred suggested that Batman start getting him some trophies as a sort of compensation.  As Grayson was intensely athletic, he would have won all the events.  Batman decided if it was worth getting him trophies, he’d make them worthwhile.  Their next night out, they faced a mechanical dinosaur, and when Robin kicked it’s metal can, Batman hauled it back to the cave in order to surprise Dick.  Kinda cool…and now you know.


The giant Penny is also a Bat-staple for any cave. Believe it or not, the cave wouldn't be right if it didn't have these two trophies. It came from a robbery attempt by Two-face on the Gotham mint. Special thanks to Matt Cauley at Iron Cow Productions for the awesome print-out of the coin.A penny for his thoughts

NICE RACK...The next bit is the armory. Batman has to train, and hone his skills. In addition, he's got to train Batgirl and Robin and uses a host of weapons to keep them on their toes. Here is the arsenal at a glance.

POWER DRILL ... ARRR! ARRRRR! In addition to weapon storage, Bruce also needs a place to repair his equipment, make modifications, or upgrade his gadgets. It keeps Joker asking "where does he get those toys". Here is a drill with a utility belt on the table for modification. If you look closely in the left of the photo, you'll see the a lead safe with the rock of Kryptonite that Superman gave Bats "just in case" he needed to be taken down. Of course, Bruce was all to happy to oblige.

THE DARK KNIGHT...LITERALLY. The suit of armor is a tip of the hat to the Elseworlds series which was the coolest thing in Gotham when I was a spud.


OLD WOUNDS... Batman has never been known for his touchy feely side, but occasionally he lets it show that he’s not so hard-nosed as he appears. After falling out with Dick Grayson, Batman simply displayed the costume in a case in the Batcave. I know that it’s Jason Todd’s originally, but like Back to the Future’s Marty McFly in the Prom scene, he kinda never happened in the animated universe, so you’re just gonna have to control yourself from geeking out on me. The other day I figured out how to float the mask part of the costume, so that’s probably going to be on it’s way soon. Anyways, here is the costume that Batman displays to show he’s not hurt at all by Dick’s leaving the team…ahem...


AQUABATICS... The batboat, hydrobat, aqua-bat...who knows what to call it. I don't care. I just think it's one of the coolest parts of the Batcave in general. I love water effects, and this allows Batman to get into the sewer system and Gotham harbor. You can read more about the making of it in my earlier post detailing my failed attempts at getting the cartoon water effect. At least for now, this is my favorite bit of the cave.


This picture sucks...

MY PRECIOUS...Pretty soon after Batman started collecting trophies they seemed to be more about what he wanted to collect, rather than for Dick. I tried to stick to the animated line for my trophies, but I bent the rules on one item. I'm sure you'll spot it. As for the Freeze head, it's a bit pre-emptive, but Bruce does actually have the head in a case in the Batman Beyond continuum. My favorite trophy ever, so I had to include it, even if it's slightly off the continuim. If you don't like it, then like Bruce said to Clark after giving him a glowing green butt-kicking, "get outta my cave"...


BEATS A LITTLE GOLD MAN ON A STUMP... Trophies are here's another shot...check out the target in the background complete with discharged batarangs.


OOOOF!!!! Before I steal into the shadows, let me tell you about the batarang target practice station. These three goons with batarangs were my first idea about making the cave. I wanted this to go with some gymnastic stations, punching bags, and dojo-style equipment in order to simulate the training that takes place in the cave. I thought it’d be cool to show the training area, but it got booted out instead for the Armory. My first idea...and the last executed.


I can't tell you what this Batmobile did for me, but this was it...I got my figures, stuck in a glass case, and then bought this bad boy.  This is the peice that got me thinking with my little display... "wouldn't it be cool if somebody made a Batcave to put it in?"  Well, nobody least not one that I could get my hands on.  So I made it.  This little peice of plastic cost me over 600 dollars in the end... even though I bought it for 20.  Go figure.

BEST BATMOBILE EVAH!!!! I can't tell you what this Batmobile did for me, but this was it...I got my figures, stuck them in a glass case. That was fine, until I bought this bad boy. This is the peice that got me thinking with my little display, "wouldn't it be cool if somebody made a huge Batcave to put it in?" Well, nobody least not one that I could get my hands on. So I made one. Years later, this little peice of plastic cost me over 600 dollars in the end... even though I bought it for 20. Go figure.


Well, that’s me giving something back.  Check the older posts to see me build it step by step.  If you’re going to build one and you need some advice, email me.  I’d be happy to get you started…heck, I could tell you how to build it better than I did.  Hindsight and all that…

 A special thanks to Casimir, and Matt Cauley for their advice and inspiration over the years.  To Bob Kane, what can I say?  You live on dude.  To my fellow Bat-fans out there, it was cool to be a part of the obsession that like Bruce, has gripped us since we were young.

Fight the good fight…Keep the faith…




Posted: November 10, 2010 in Batcave customs

Get outta my Cave...

Okay, another tip to my hero Matt over at Iron Cow Productions… but Batman is ready to take on the night!

Alfred, you've remodeled the cave...

I built this one for me…not to keep, but to build.  I’ve always wanted to do it…but it was way to ambitious.  Now that it’s done, I’ve got a chapter in my life that I can now close the book on.  Of course, the Fortress of solitude, or an Arkham might be nice.  We’ll see…I’ve always fancied building the Penguin Lounge.  But that’s how I roll, as soon as I’m done with one project, my mind races to find another.  I’m a bit of an adrenaline, accomplishment junkie.  I have to be honest, finishing this thing is like running a marathon…you hit “the wall” part way through and you don’t feel like working on it anymore.  It may look really cool, but there are over 100 hours into this thing, and about 90 of them weren’t much fun.  The whole time that you’re building it, feeding off your own brain and what you KNOW it’s going to look like. 

Chicks dig the car...

When it was finished, I finally got the “wow” factor from the skeptics.  The guy who was photographing said that he needed to take about 5 minutes just to take it all in.  I’ll be posting detailed sections of the finished product.  Starting at the bottom left, there is the Bat-boat or Hydro-Bat ready to hit Gotham Harbor, or Gotham sewers.  I almost included a Sewer rocket subway, but ran out of room (hard to believe that’s possible in a 4×4 foot Batcave, huh?).  Moving up is what I call the Armory.  It is where Bats stores all of his weapons for sparring, and tinkers on the Utility belt and makes weapons modifications or upgrades his gear.  The next platform up is the Robin case, and finally, the Batcomputer is on the top level as in all Batcave renderings.  Moving from left to right across the cave is the elevator with a platform door (tribute to Tim Burton), and the infamous Dinosaur and giant Penny.  On the ledge are the Sports coup Batmobile, the cadilac Batmobile, and the Batcycle custom, complete with attached helmet (Batman obeys the law kids!). 

Suspended overhead are the Batplane and Batjet.  What’s the difference?  One is from BTAS and the other from TNBA.  The bottom line is that I wanted a Batcopter, but didn’t have one…I know it’s cheesy, but hey, it could have been the whirly-Bat!  I didn’t shuck that much corn… 

Looking down on (my) creation

Down below are caverns where Batman houses things he doesn’t want anybody to get at…so he’s got his Bat-safes (I invented a word).  You can’t make it out in the photo, but the three Joker Goons are targets that actually have Batarangs sticking out of them. That was my first idea about making the cave.  I wanted this to go with some gymnastic stations, punching bags, and dojo-style equipment.  I thought it’d be cool to show the training area, but it got booted out instead for the Armory.  In hindsight, it’s not to late to put all that stuff in the caverns and move the safe…hmmm (stream of consciousness)…

Bats don't swim

As you can see, this is a never-ending project.  I could just keep improving it and remaking it.  Even now, I’ve got stuff on the side that fell onto the cutting room floor.  I will be building a Batman Beyond cave in future, but I’ll need to recover from this one for a while.  I think I lost about 1 million brain cells from fume inhalation.  As I showcase the various areas of the cave, it may change slightly from these photos.  The cave, like the Dark Knight himself, has evolved over the years…so I still have a few days.

Mine's biggerer

I’ll be posting this bad-boy on Ebay to sell in the next week.  Although it will be tough to say goodbye, as stated, I just wanted to build the sucker…Plus, I’m moving continents, and this thing will be a bear to transport.  My studio is in the UK at the present, so I won’t be able to transport it to the States, unless somebody is willing to freight it with Virgin airlines.  Otherwise, it’s going to be Pick-up only for UK residents.  Come January, I’ll be relocating the studio to Southern California, and be able to do some real damage.  Citizens beware!

My hopes is that some fanatical collector out there will see it, want it, and be tempted to buy it.  It’s going to have a low reserve, because I just need to offload it…it wasn’t about money for me.  After all, why does Batman do what he does?  For money?  Or for vengeance…yeah, vengeance…


Posted: November 10, 2010 in Batcave Walls

It doesn't hurt...

Okay, that was a throw back to the eighties…those of you phonetically struggling with the “do” at the end of that should know that it’s a play on words for a music video featuring a character named Waldo.  Classic stuff…but I’m not here to reminisce about the eighties.  I’m here to tell you that the walls are now painted.  Maybe now you get my joke… Nevermind.

First off, the weather was getting friggin cold with a blustery North Wind coming in (apparently from the North) so my workshop was colder than Freeze’s safehouse.  So, I started modeling a little in warmer climes.  The model that I was most excited about was the Robin case.  Batman has never been known for his touchy feely side, but occasionally, he lets it show that he’s not such a hard-nose as he appears.  After falling out with Dick Grayson, Batman simply displayed the costume in a case in the Batcave.  I know that it’s Jason Todd’s originally, but like Back to the Future’s Marty McFly in the Prom scene, he kinda never happened in the animated universe, so you’re just gonna have to control yourself from geeking out on me.  The other day I figured out how to float the mask part of the costume, so that’s probably going to be on it’s way soon.  Anyways, here is the costume that Batman displays to show he’s not hurt at all by Dick’s leaving the team…

The walls were a bit of a time sucker.  Wait, what am I talking about?  I just built a 4×4 foot Batcave…the whole thing is a time sucker.  There were some parts that took longer than others.  In all the walls took longer than anything else.  Not just constructing them, but painting them.  In particular the edgest had to be sealed with glue for the or else, in the case of the sheet-rock, they would crumble; or in the case of the foam board, the paint would simply absorb into the foam.  Either way, the edges had to be sealed with glue.  Again, Nigel obliged me with slave labor doing the bits that sucked to do.  Perhaps that’s what really happened between Bruce and Dick, but all I know is that it’s not time to put Nigel’s paint brush in an illuminated case just yet.  He seemed to like it…but maybe that’s what Batman thought. 

Eat your heart out Smurf-town!

I’m displaying a before and after picture.  Keep in mind that there is no illusionary manipulation going on in these like the diet photos.  These photos demonstrate the cartoon effect that we were going for.  In doing these, we were using both the BTAS and TNBA as a template.  In the end, I think it was modeled more on the BTAS cave mixed in with some TNBA elements (like the Robin case).


Posted: November 4, 2010 in Batcomputer

Master Dick size comparison

The next thing to do was the bat computer.  This is cockpit central for the world’s greatest detective.  He manages to have the coolest supercomputer without becoming a computer nerd.  Must be all the rib-cracking he does.  I heard if you crack peoples ribs and break their bones, it makes you instantly cool. 

The base is made out of foam card with a wood block at the base to keep it upright; because it’s tall, it’s also got a high center of gravity.  Therefore, this needed to be remedied with a heavy base.  The glowing effect of the computer is achieved by parking it right next to my spotlight and letting the light shine through the perspex plastic and printed image attached to it.

The bare bones


Without stating the obvious, the card had to be glued and taped.  With the right glue, this is a snap.  It might as well be a model kit. 

Getting there...

Lastly it was painted black for the desired effect.  I’m pretty happy with it so far.  Still have the control panel to go and the chair is already sorted.  Lastly, the side panels were filled with images from the cartoon, and in this case, I rounded it off with some of my favorite villains. 

Funnily enough, my Toyota parked outside reflected in the computer.  Either that’s what happened, or I’m under Batcave surveilance.  Funny…I had a feeling I was being watched.


Posted: October 21, 2010 in Batboat and Moat

Chicks dig the boat...

Okay, this is the part I was most excited about.  For some reason all things water get me sweaty wet.  I dig on the Batboat.  Call it hydrobat, batfoil, whatever… no Batcave is complete without underwater access to the Gotham Sewers and Gotham Harbor.  Therefore, my Batcave needed some water effects.

All your base are belong to us!

Water effects are pretty tricky.  I wanted a cartoon look.  I had done modeling before that required water effects.  In those cases I used resin.  In this case, I tried using clear plastic plexi and airbrushed the desired water effect.  The color matt would be green.  It would graduate from the centre and gradiate outwards going to darker and darker shades to give the pool the desired appearance of depth.  Great idea…it just didn’t work.

Third failed attempt...

 The problem was that it might have looked really cool for a movie diorama,     but it was too realistic looking.  It just lost the cartoon look I was  going for.  As Edison found, when you’re making stuff, sometimes the best thing that happens in your lab is a “happy accident”.  Kinda like Clayfaces transformation.  You see, I had three attempts that I was unhappy with.  This led to my having to scrub the plexi clean 3 times to start over.  In the process, the plexi went from a clear finish to a brushed effect.  At first, I wasn’t happy about this (it’s expensive stuff), but in the end as I was out running in the clear sea air, I had an epiphany… I won’t lift the cowl on this one, but the idea paid off.  All things work together for the good, and it worked overtime!

floaties, sir?

Here is the result. 

Now the Batboat has a dock.  Of course, it’s not finished yet, as the rocks will need to be added.  I’ll be done with those this week.

Batboat emerging...

Stay tuned (same bat-website) for the developement of the Batcave starting with the infamous Batcomputer.  Now that I’ve started putting the power tools away, the Batcave has come into it’s next Batwave of developement.  The modeling tools are now ready for action.  This is where some knuckle-cracking fun starts…


Posted: September 28, 2010 in Batcave customs

Casimir's Cool Converted Cave

It’d probably be a good time to take my cowl off to a few of the guys out there who have inspired me.  I’ve already mentioned Matt Cauley over at Iron Cow Productions.  The guy is a legend.  Casimir is also the closest thing to Deity in the custom’s world and he happens to have a soft spot for play-sets.  That’s about all we have in common…next to him, I am unworthy.  I’m not even the Robin to his Batman. 

He has done amazing things over at Inanimate Objects.  Check them out!

There are many incarnations of the Batcave, and this one is based on an old version of the animated Wayne Manor playset.  All in all, I would have been happy just to have one of these babies.  It showcases the figures quite nicely, and you don’t need to house it in a wharehouse!

Matt Cauley’s Batcave also deserves a spotlight on this site.  He opened my eyes to the world of dioramas.  Here is a glimpse of what he hath wrought with his plastic-moulding mightiness.

This made me want to be a better man...

Next time, I’ll be looking at the evolution of the Batcave… stay tuned, same Bat time, same Bat channel.


Posted: September 9, 2010 in Batcave customs

Faith is envisioning the unrealized

Sneak peak…

Up to this point, I’d spent in between 30-40 hours on this bad boy.  It may not look it, but there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears going into it up till now.  After all of this time, I’d still not gotten to the modeling bit yet…and believe me, that’s the fun part.

One evening, at the end of one of my shifts in the cave, I decided to get out some of the vehicles and trophy cases together with some bits that I’d scavenged from the Mattel set.  I needed some encouragement after looking at wood, plastic, and foamboard for so long.

You don’t start a project liket his unless you’ve got some vision to begin with, but this gave me my second wind.  It suddenly made other people want to start helping as well.  My trusty side-kick Nigel came into the game back in the wall furnishing inning of the game, so we’ve decided to stick together.  You just can’t beat a dynamic duo!


Posted: September 9, 2010 in Batcave customs

Admiring the view

Toy Cannibalism…it’s a serious matter.  If you, or someone you know is engaged in the abusing of toys, please call our hotline.

Thanks to Mattel putting out a lame version of the Batcave for The Batman cartoon, I was able to scavenge a few parts for my project.  First, I used the platform to attach to the two upper levels that will attach to a ladder for Batman to get up and down.  What’s that you say?  Batman doesn’t need ladders because he has a Bat-grapple?  Well, Alfred isn’t exactly a spring chicken now, is he?  Besides, in the BTNAS xb0x game, there were ladders in the Batcave (bless the Chinese).

I bought some plumbers pipe from the local hardware store for the elevator.  They only sold it in 10 foot lengths, so let’s just say that the bushes on the side of my workshop got an extra Christmas prezzie. 

The Robin case is really a Star Wars action figure case with the bottom taken off.  Thanks to Matt over at Iron Cow, I’ve got an idea of how to mount the Robin suit.

The writing on the walls

Lastly, I pillaged Toys-R-Us for the goofiest looking dinosaur I could find for the standard-issue Batcave Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Next, I’ll need a penny…but one thing at a time.  For now, I was very impressed with my dinosaur.  Not only is he perfect to scale, he’s a very simple sculpt.  Once he’s tarted up a bit with paint, he’ll be ready to make any Batman happy.

I know it’s a bad picture, but if you’re wondering where my plans came from, they are both on paper, and written on the walls, floors, and platforms of the cave.  Sometimes, it’s just easier that way.


Posted: September 9, 2010 in Batcave Walls

Masonry est Macho!

Now that my wires and electric routes were in place, the next step was to texture the walls.  I felt like Two-face on this one.  On the one hand, it had to be strong and sturdy so I used dry-wall (sheet rock to the Brits).  On the other hand,  using dry-wall added considerably to the weight.  Therefore, I needed to use some foam board as well.  Rather than flipping a coin with one side scratched out to settle the matter, I decided to take the sane middle road of compromise and use both.  Being a dual-personalitied murderous psychopath is highly over-rated.

I have the Batman Animated book that serves as a tribute to the Animated series.  It also served as a template for me.  I literally copied the exact texture of the paintings of the batcave rock surfaces line by line, crack by crack.  I wanted it to look like the batcave.  Although Matt Cauley over at Iron Cow did an amazing job of making a Batcave diorama (lite), I didn’t want to do it out of paper.  Although I have to say, if anyone could do it out of pape card and make it look amazing, it’s Matt.  He’s a personal hero of mine.

Iron Cow's fantastic diorama

In order to provide depth, this meant drilling back props at times for the dry wall, or the foam-board to stick out a bit.  You’ll notice the steps going up to Wayne manor up top, that meant that a false wall had to be built.

In addition, the exit to the batcave was also going to need to provide some depth.  Therefore, I decided that the really big peices needed to be dry-wall, and the smaller ones foam-board…are you bored?


Posted: September 9, 2010 in Batcave lighting

Let there be light!

The first thing that you’ll notice by looking at this picture is that I spent a day putting lighting in.  It took me 8 hours to rig all of it up.  I have to be honest, it wasn’t the funnest part of the project by a long-shot, but it was very satisfying when I was done. 

My brain tends to work in blocks, neatly filing everything into it’s little compartment.  Dad had OCD when he died, so it must be something for me to look forward to.  In reality, walking away from the project with jobs unfinished can be hard, so it was gratifying to have the lighting done after 8 hours of working out circuits, routes, and conceptual functionality.

The first light to the bottom right is for the underlighting of the glass that will serve as the entrance to the Gotham sewers.  Of course the Batboat will be housed there and will rest on a plastic sheeting that will be uplit to give an underwater lit effect. 

Moving up to the next platform on your left, is the underlighting for the Robin case, which houses the suit of Dick Grayson (remember this Batcave is based on the TNBA and BTAS continuity – the cartoon bypassed Jason Todd). 

Finally, the third platform will house the Batcomputer.  I will need the computer to have a luminous green effect like on the cartoon.  This will take some doing, and the computer will have to be completely scratch built.

Not a problem…


The top of the cave has a spotlight shining down on the rotating disc housing the Batmobile in the center of the diorama. 

There are also lights to illumine the Batcycles and contraptions

underneath the back deck on the right.