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    Tested Tours America's Test Kitchen!

    All this week, we're at America's Test Kitchen! To kick off our visit, Christopher Kimball gives us a tour of their food laboratories, where a small army of test cooks experiment with recipes all day long. We learn about the Test Kitchen's approach to doing everything in-house, from producing their TV show and publishing Cooks Illustrated. Stay tuned for more from this awesome trip!

    Sideshow Collectibles' R2-ME2 Custom Droid Project

    What happens when you give 90 artists the same blank Star Wars toy and tell them to make it their own? That's what Sideshow Collectibles did with their R2-ME2 project, which produced these amazing custom toy modifications based off of a sixth-scale R2-D2 astromech. We get up close with these beautiful pieces that take inspiration from every corner of pop culture.

    In Brief: Brad Bird and George Lucas Interviewed at Tribeca

    The Tribeca Film Festival just wrapped up over the weekend, and we're beginning to see video clips and excerpts from the Directors Series of interviews held there. First off, Stephen Colbert interviewed George Lucas about his career and approach to filmmaking, including Lucas' affinity for experimental films (of which Star Wars was one). Brad Bird, whose second live-action film Tomorrowland comes out this summer, discussed animation and his on-hiatus 1906 project. And True Detective season one director Cary Fukunaga talked about projects for Netflix and why he's adapting Stephen King's It. For Bay Area residents, this year's San Francisco International Film Festival just kicked off with a tribute to Guillermo Del Toro, and I hope that clips from that interview will make its way online soon!

    Norman
    The Force Awakens Stormtrooper Armor by Anovos

    We were surprised and delighted to find that Stormtroopers from the new Star Wars film attended Celebration Anaheim in force! Anovos, makers of officially licensed sci-fi costumes and armor, worked with Lucasfilm to equip members of the 501st legion with the new suits. We get up close with these replicas and learn how they differ from both The Force Awakens' filming costumes and the classic trilogy Stormtrooper armor.

    Prop Store's Original Star Wars Props and Costumes

    At Star Wars Celebration, Prop Store had on display some incredible pieces of original props and costumes from the Star Wars films. We chat with Stephen Lane to learn about some of these items, including an original TIE-Fighter pilot's helmet, Leia's ceremonial dress, and hand props. Plus, post a comment below and we'll pick a few people to win auction catalogs!

    Making Miniature Tested Blockhead Figurines

    Editor's note: Bill Doran makes armor, costumes, and space guns as Punished Props, and has written a series of books teaching foam armorsmithing. Bill recently stopped by the Tested office to drop off a few small figures he made, and shares how he made them in this guest article.

    I've had this idea noodling around in the back of my head for quite some time. Since I was going to be swinging by the Tested office this month, I figured it would be a great time to knock out this quick little project: miniature figurines of Will and Norm's blockhead characters.

    I had less than a day to build these guys from scratch, so most of my build decisions were based on whether or not I would have to wait for things to dry or cure. From start to finish, this entire build took less than 8 hours.

    I started by planning out the sizing on all of the figure pieces based on a screen cap from the Tested website. I measured out all of the sides of each piece and prepped my material.

    I ended up going with a high density, urethane tooling foam for this build. I wanted something that was easy to cut and shape, but was banking on not needing to fill, prime, and sand the surface at all, since that would add too much time to the build. This particular foam is so dense that it feels like stone! I got it from a company called 5 Axis a while back. They used to sell their off cuts on eBay.

    In Brief: Anovos' StormTrooper Armor Kit for $350

    This is an unbelievable deal. Anovos, an official Lucasfilm licensee for Stormtrooper helmets and costumes, announced after Celebration that they are offering an Original Trilogy Stormtrooper suit as a kit for $350. That's with the helmet included. This is a departure from the full suits that Anovos also sells for $1200, and the pricing is only valid until May 4th. Afterward, kits go up to $650, and completed ensembles will retail for $1600. The catch is the kit ships at the end of the year. It comes with a completed helmet, holster, belt, body suit, and neck seal, but you'll have to clean-up the plastic pieces and assemble the armor to the arming suit. This sounds like a really great opportunity for a fun project and build, especially if you want to customize your own armor (eg. zombie Stormtroopers). We're definitely on board to build it out. Selling their costumes as kits is something I hope they'll do with their other costumes as well, especially since Anovos also has the rights to make the new Stormtrooper armor from Episode VII.

    Norman 16
    Steve Neisen's Star Wars Studio Scale Ship Replicas

    We meet up with modelmaker Steve Neisen to geek out over his new studio scale replicas of ships, droids, and mechs from Star Wars! Steve has spent years hunting down the original model kit components that the ILM modelshop used for the filming miniatures, and the resulting Y-Wing, Imperial Probe Droid, AT-ST, and Tantive IV Escape Pod look incredible!

    Star Wars Celebration: Meet Roxy the Rancor

    What does it take to build a life-size Rancor from Star Wars? Roxy the Rancor was birthed from lots of meticulous foam sculpting and painting, as we learn from Matt Paisley at Star Wars Celebration. The beast attends conventions and events, raising money for charity. We get up close with Roxy and see her new face revealed!

    A Visit to jAdis' Weird Science Prop Shop

    Science Friday visits jAdis, a prop shop in Santa Monica that caters to the weird science props needs of filmmakers: "The movie prop shop Jadis, in Santa Monica, California, is packed with ancient, long-forgotten technology: an Edison dictaphone, a typewriter-like counting machine and quack medical devices like the 'Hemodimagnometer.' But you might recognize some of these oddities--they've appeared in movies like The Mystery Men, The X-Files, and The Prestige." I'd love to visit this place the next time I'm in Santa Monica!

    Tested Goes to Star Wars Celebration 2015!

    We spent the weekend at Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm's official Star Wars convention. Thousands of Star Wars fans gathered to see new footage from Episode VII revealed and revel in their love for the films--many in fantastic cosplay. Here's some of the coolest stuff we found, including props and costumes from The Force Awakens, Star Wars Battlefront gameplay, and collectibles as far as the eye could see. Check out more photos here!

    Engineering the Ideal Robotic Fish

    From Motherboard: "When NYU's Professor Maurizio Porfiri looks at fish, he sees more than just a bunch of aquatic animals - he sees an animal that could someday replace the rat as the key to better studying and understanding human and animal behaviors in laboratory research. But fish can be unpredictable, which is why Porfiri has dedicated his life's work to building the ultimate robotic fish." Read more about Porfiri's research here.

    Star Wars Celebration 2015: Props, Costumes, Collectibles

    I was at Star Wars Celebration over the weekend in Anaheim, where Lucasfilm debuted footage and information about the next two Star Wars films. It was unlike any fan convention I've attended, in its focused scope and fan fervor--this concentrated a dose of Star Wars is intense, even for Comic-Con veterans. We shot a bunch of videos at the show, which we'll start publishing later this week. In the meantime, here are some photos I took, previewing those videos. My highlights: the Force Awakens props and costumes on display, and Sideshow Collectibles' R2-ME2 art project.

    Inside the Workshop of a Modern Swordmaker

    Gizmodo visited the shop of John Lundemo, a self-taught blacksmith who makes swords under the moniker Odinblades: "Down a stretch of country road in upstate New York there is a shed. The shed itself is nothing spectacular, a whitewash number with years of weather wear and tear. But inside sparks fly, fires breathe, and slabs of steel are fashioned into capable killing machines." Read Giz's story about how swords are made in the accompanying feature.

    Show and Tell: Navy SPH-3 Flight Helmet

    For this week's Show and Tell, Adam shares the latest addition to his helmet collection: an SPH-3 flight helmet. It belonged to Tested viewer David Wratchford, who wore it as a rescue swimmer for the Navy in the 1980s while serving with the "Eightballers" helo squadron. Thanks, David!

    Crafting Felt Creatures with Woolbuddy

    At WonderCon, we meet up with Jackie Huang, an artist who sculpts with felt to create fantastic creatures. Jackie's "Woolbuddies" take the form of everything from adorable owls to giant dragons and even an R2-D2 droid. We learn about the felting process and get a quick demo!