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Oly assembly more than meets the eye
By PAUL BALCERAK
Fridays pep assembly at Olympic High School was just like any other until a giant robot showed up.
OK, so maybe it wasnt an actual robot, but the 17-foot Optimus Prime replica was able to transform and draw a pretty excited reaction from the crowd in the packed Olympic gym.
I wanted to do something that people would just go nuts over, said Olympic senior and project mastermind Quinn Russell.
Russell, also the executive president of the student body, appeared to get his wish.
It was top-secret for three weeks, Russells friend and fellow senior Max Hall said. All in all, a lot of it came out perfect.
Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots in the 1980s Transformers cartoon and in the 2007 movie of the same name. He transforms from a semi-truck into a humanoid robot to fight the Decepticons, the Autobots arch-rivals.
The replica stood about 9 feet tall in semi-truck form and about 17 feet in robot form, almost to the ceiling of the Olympic gym.
A rope and pulley was attached to the front end of the truck, which rose up to transform into Primes chest. About half a dozen students were required to hoist the piece. The legs of the robot slid out from under the chest piece.
The project started several weeks ago when Russell and his senior classmates were told the January pep assembly would have a video game theme. The senior class skit was to revolve around three video games Sonic the Hedgehog, Mortal Kombat and Transformers.
As soon as I heard Transformers, ... they (classmates) were like, Lets make a Transformer, and I was like, 15 feet, Russell said.
A video of the senior skit, including the transformation, was posted on YouTube on Saturday.
Russell designed the replica electronically in his 3D animation class at Olympic.
Physically putting it together was an entirely different challenge. The project took about three weeks to complete with nearly 20 people working on it intermittently.
At first, we didnt know where to start, Hall said.
Russells father, Chuck, who is a local sign painter, offered guidance and his shop as a place to store the gargantuan prop until it was ready to be debuted at the assembly.
My dad is a kid at heart and I know he loves doing crazy stuff like this, Quinn said.
Chuck Russells sign painting skills also came in handy when it came time to apply the Autobot logo to Primes shoulders.
Its all him, Chuck said, motioning to his son, when asked who did all the heavy lifting on the project.
The Optimus Prime project wasnt Quinns first foray into large prop design. For an assembly last year, he put together a large replica of Luke Skywalkers X-wing fighter from Star Wars that was made out of corrugated plastic.
That prop outstayed its welcome in storage at Olympic and had to be burned, but Quinn would like to think that Prime could be put to better use.
Ideally, the prop would be sold with the profits going to Olympic, he said. Were thinking of selling him on Craigslist as a semi-truck. Comes with standard transformation. Allspark.
He has feelings, too, were not burning him.