Cats' Lair architectural model

Discussion in 'Fan Art & Customs' started by 1F409, May 8, 2020.

  1. 1F409

    1F409 New Member


    I have begun designing a 3-D computer model of Cats' Lair, based on the series' production material. The project is coming together well enough so far, though there are parts where the interior seems a bit hard to cram into the outer shape. I've referenced the floor plans and section view that I found here and on other sites, but I wonder if I might be working with obsolete designs.

    My skill is not in free-form design, so all of the curvy and artistic bits will have to wait. (The closest I've come to that is a reasonably accurate interior for the council room, but then I got tripped up with the sconces.) Much of the scaling of my model comes from specific measurements listed in the production drawings, such as the Lair's height and comparisons of Lion-O standing next to certain doors. What I'm finding out, though, is that the grand scope of some of the illustrations would make a few of the rooms too big for their supposed locations.

    One particular problem I've run into is the sword chamber. I've been going by the drawing that has the pylons along the walls, which, when considering the detail drawing of Lion-O with the doorway, would make the room far taller than the side-view section drawings show. Perhaps I've conflated the sword chamber in the Lair with that on the ship, in which case I should go watch the show again for clarification.

    Another difficulty that is starting to present itself is the upper floor. Whereas the control room has space to extend into the "neck" of the Lair, and the bunk rooms have at least the curve of the "shoulder", the guest rooms toward the rear are going to be flattened practically into non-existence by the slope of the "back" in that area. This was probably just a case of the artist doing quick sketches without thinking much about 3-D viability, though it's possible I'm working from obsolete sources.

    I've seen some other Cats' Lair projects on here, but none seem to be taking the approach of making an all-inclusive design. Advice, clues, or further source material would be appreciated; and I am open to collaboration. For updates on this and my various other projects, visit my Gab account.
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  2. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    I like what you're working with here. Your version of Cats' Lair should no doubt be able to top all other versions of the ThunderCats' main headquarters.
  3. 1F409

    1F409 New Member

    Perhaps it will, but I suspect it will only succeed when I either collaborate with or hire someone more skilled in 3-D sculpture. I'm designing it to be disassembled by floor, too, for those who may want to print it. How tall are the current figures, six inches? If so, that would make the Lair scale to 13'9", and may require me re-thinking how to split it into more manageable pieces.

    I'm also trying to keep some semblance of structural support to the design, in case anybody ever wants to try to build a real version. Whoever drew it up (Starr?) must have had his head in the clouds, but I think with the right engineering it might be possible. The biggest problem I've had, as touched on previously, is that the drawings are a bit vague and don't line up so well. I don't want to deviate from the design, but I may have to a little bit, in order to make it a sound structure.
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  4. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    I have no doubt that you'll succeed on this project, with the right people to help out. I'm no expert on the lair's design, but you've got my full support on it.
  5. Blackwing

    Blackwing Junior Member

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  6. 1F409

    1F409 New Member

    Those, and a few larger versions I've seen elsewhere, are what I've been working from. I hadn't noticed the history of the collection here, though. Might it be possible for the site moderators to facilitate contact with the Taiwanese gentleman who provided them? I'd love to get higher-resolution ones to work from, as well as possibly find new leads.

    My latest post is a section view that shows the positioning of the sword chamber, council room, and central hall. I think I've also settled on a way to divide up the model for ease of both 3-D printing and hands-on viewing. Unless we're expected to believe that peripheral rooms such as Lion-O's bedroom have thirty-foot ceilings, there will have to be extra floors that weren't detailed in the drawings. Going by that assumption is what allowed me to slice the model into neat layers, so that each room and hallway can be exposed by removing the level above it.

    I've managed to fit everything into the curve of the "back", save the top floor, which I have not yet attempted. That part might be easier than I thought, though, as I was mistaken about the constraints: it's not so much a case of the curvature limiting ceiling height as it is the floor space being compressed due to the back wall being so far forward at that level.

    For realism, should the design someday be constructed as an actual building, it will probably be necessary to add at least one elevator to the main structure. Hopping up and down a hundred feet of stairs all day might be fine for a ThunderCat, but not for humans tourists!

    Apart from the issues I've already mentioned, the most difficult part seems to be interpreting the ground-level interior. The floor plans are ambiguous, and the side section plan seems to contradict aspects of even those. It is my understanding that dotted lines in architectural plans indicate something overhead (such as cabinets), so I've been interpreting those on the first/second floor drawing as describing the upper of the two levels. Frankly, there are aspects that would make a lot more sense if it was the other way around, such as the apparent lack of structural support on the lower level. (If there are any architects here who would be willing to discuss the matter in depth, we can set up a conference call via telephone or the Internet.)
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  7. 1F409

    1F409 New Member

    For those who are curious about the details, I have begun to re-build the model from scratch, gauging sizes instead by the ancient Egyptian cubit, palm, and digit. There are a few reasons for this: First, I had already been using twenty inches as the baseline, so the cubit hardly changes the scale. Second, it's pretty obvious that the style of Cat's Lair is reminiscent of Egyptian architecture. Third, the 165-foot height listed in the production material turns out to be roughly one Egyptian rod (100 cubits). It think the circumstantial evidence is sufficient to assume that the show's designers were thinking along those lines.
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  8. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    I'm glad you're not giving up on this project.
  9. 1F409

    1F409 New Member

    A slight update: I noticed only recently that the side-profile drawing on which I was basing my design wasn't accurate in its proportions. The drawing measures precisely the building's 165-foot height, but the 100-foot horizontal rule in the same drawing doesn't accord with the vertical measurement. Increasing the image's width to correct for the skew provides about another five feet of depth to my model. It probably won't be enough to fit all the rooms as they are shown on the floor plans, but it will help.
  10. 1F409

    1F409 New Member

    Though the model is far from complete, I have come to a point where I must start thinking about the scale at which it will be printed, so as to properly design the walls to include space for wiring the lights, doors, etc. Going larger isn't all that difficult; the challenge comes in maintaining enough space within the walls as the model shrinks to, say, the size of a desktop statue.

    1:10 scale: Mattel's "classic scale". Cheetara, listed as being six feet tall, would scale down to 7.2 inches. Cats' Lair, listed as 165 feet tall, would scale to 16.5 feet. Special equipment (ladders, gimbals, etc.) would be needed to fully assemble the Lair. However, a design of this size would likely include access ports to minimize the need for floor-by-floor disassembly. On the bright side, in addition to the extraordinary detail possible, there would be enough room within to drive camera-equipped RC vehicles.

    1:12 scale: The "six inch scale" of many collectible action figures. Cheetara = 6 inches. Cats' Lair = 13.75 feet. Likely still big enough for RC vehicles to explore the interior.

    1:16 scale: Cheetara = 4.5 inches. Cats' Lair ~ 10.3 feet. Ladders alone might suffice for assembly of the Lair. Its doorways would be less than three inches wide, though, risking an Austin-Powers-type situation with RC vehicles.

    1:18 scale: "G.I. Joe scale". Cheetara = 4 inches. Cats' Lair ~ 9.2 feet.

    1:24 scale: Cheetara = 3 inches. Cats' Lair ~ 6.9 feet. The Lair could be assembled by hand.

    1:32 scale: Cheetara ~ 2.2 inches. Cats' Lair ~ 5.2 feet.

    1:64 scale: Cheetara ~ 1.1 inches. Cats' Lair ~ 2.6 feet.

    What do you consider to be the ideal scale for a detailed exterior/interior model of Cats' Lair?
  11. 1F409

    1F409 New Member

    Continuing my thoughts on wiring and the ability to disassemble the model....

    As is shown in the production material, the hallways have a metal-covered duct in the floor, as well as a channel in the ceiling for transmitting light. With a bit of forethought, these can be used for running the necessary wiring, thereby minimizing the need for hollows in the ceilings, floors, and walls throughout the structure.

    Ideally, the rooms will be individual units, able to be constructed, lit, and displayed independently. To accomplish this, I've decided to split the ceiling/floor combination into three distinct layers: 1) the visible ceiling with its integrated lighting, 2) the visible floor upon which the room's walls will stand, and 3) the structural sub-floor, a sort of container or pallet that all of the room units on a given level will plug into. When a room unit is displayed separately, its ceiling and walls should be removable.

    Designing pocket doors is no special task, but preventing them from getting stuck might be. I've already roughed out a wall segment containing the guest room door. Assembly involves sliding the door through the concealed end of the wall until a flexible hook latches behind it. What manner of electronics will be needed to make it slide open or closed on command, I do not yet know. If the materials are smooth enough so the door won't bind in the track, a simple electromagnet might suffice.
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  12. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    Thanks for the update.
  13. 1F409

    1F409 New Member

    I have adjusted the settings on my Gab account, so non-members should now be able to see all of the images.

    The plans I'm working from seem to be production materials, though I don't know which aspects were considered to be finalized. They are hand-drawn sketches, so some inconsistency is to be expected. Where there are two floors drawn over each other, I am operating on the assumption that the dotted lines represent the lower. (Please correct me if I'm mistaken, as that would be a critical change.) Even so, there are important features that seem to be askew, such as the positioning of the spiral staircases and what I interpret to be a lack of structural support in the rooms near ground level.

    So that I do not waste time misinterpreting things and having to re-build yet again, I would appreciate input from others on the forum, describing what they see in the plans. Here is what I perceive the lower layout to be....

    1. The exterior front stairs lead upward to a wide landing on the second level exterior, to the Front Entrance, which itself is set inward a bit and up a few steps, leading to the interior Central Hall.

    2. The Central Hall has a wide pit in the floor (down to a narrower pit on the level beneath), and its ceiling is supported almost exclusively by a series of columns surrounding said wide pit. Directly above the pit, the ceiling depresses, indicating the Council Chamber above. The pair of columns closest to the Front Entrance are larger than and separated a bit from the others, and around those two each winds upward a spiral staircase. Located in alcoves outward of the spiral staircases are corner staircases leading downward. Somewhere near the front of said alcoves, the side view indicates there is machinery for moving the exterior "paws". The only other support comes from the exterior wall following the contour of the line of columns, minus the alcoves.

    3. An unnamed room beneath the Central Hall (perhaps considered to be Central Hall's lower half) contains the narrower pit leading far downward. Adjoining this room, in a semicircle toward the rear, are the Training Room, some steps downward to the basement elevator, an early-labeled Sword Chamber, and a small unnamed room. The innermost walls of these adjunct rooms are basically supporting the columns from the Central Hall above. However, the floor plan and the side view seem to differ on what structural support the front portion of this room provides. If it's not solid, then it probably relies on the columns from the spiral stairs above. The side view does not show the stairs themselves descending to this level, yet it does show machinery that is omitted in the floor plan.

    4. The two staircases coming down from the Central Hall's side alcoves seem to continue downward through the unnamed room (or lower half of the Central Hall), to join with the Basement Corridors on their respective sides. Though both the floor plan and side view indicate this connection in some manner, neither explains much about it or the basement level's layout or accessibility.

    5. The level above the Central Hall is dominated by the Council Chamber, the windowed front wall of which bears a heavy load from the façade above. Based on the drawings, the primary support for this would be the two spiral stair columns in the Central Hall. Some of this weight might be offloaded onto presumed interior walls surrounding the machinery shown in the side view.

    Until the design of the lower levels is clarified, it will be difficult to provide a realistic build for the upper levels of Cats' Lair.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
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  14. Daremonger

    Daremonger Thunderian Legend

    I really appreciate you hanging in there, my friend. The plans you have for your version of the Cats' Lair are well realized.

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