There's one sentence that expresses a particular combination of anticipation, terror, and manic delight. After 15 years of costuming, months of research, and more than a few moments wondering what the hell I'm getting into, I can now take part in this shared experience and speak these timeless words:
I just got my first armor kit.
It's a second-hand FNA kit bought from a nearby Legion member. Not the best, and I wouldn't buy from FNA directly, but it's a good place to start, saved me several hundred dollars, and means I have the kit in-hand now instead of waiting until Fall. I don't plan to start the build until after Celebration in April (since I have 7 other costumes to finish before then), but I have questions and more research to do and want to draw on the wisdom of those who've gone before.
As of today, here's where I'm at:
The past several months have been spent collecting and studying these resources, including all 28 pages of ukswrath's build thread.
The FOTK Bible (ukswrath build thread) http://www.whitearmor.net/forum/topic/31877-ukswraths-fotk-build-thread-tk-10116/page-1
FO TK Forum http://www.whitearmor.net/forum/forum/152-the-force-awakens-tfa/
Fem mod http://www.whitearmor.net/forum/topic/18243-howto-modifying-armor-for-women/
More resources http://www.whitearmor.net/forum/tutorials/article/7-bobojuices-tk-resource-thread/
Places to buy http://www.whitearmor.net/forum/tutorials/article/6-ddays-combined-on-going-accessories-listing/
Exhibit photos http://s345.photobucket.com/user/garrettsteele1/library/First%20Order%20Stormtrooper?sort=3&page=1
Phasma build http://www.whitearmor.net/forum/topic/39153-stephonatrons-phasma-build-wip-jimmiroquai/
Super detailed build thread (w/ riot gear) http://www.whitearmor.net/forum/topic/31068-clints-build-thread-tk-61281/page-1
Another super detailed build thread http://www.whitearmor.net/forum/topic/33402-tt8s-tfa/page-1
And another one http://www.whitearmor.net/forum/topic/34984-dynamic1-fo-wip/page-1
And my Flickr album for references and progress pics which is still pretty thin and is mostly references for the Z6 riot gear. https://flic.kr/s/aHskMJhr8b
These are the pieces I have:
Armor Kit (FNA)
Helmet (Anovos standard)
Helmet Fan (12v CPU)
Boots (basic Chelseas - need painting)
Undersuit (multiple pieces for cold and hot weather)
Gloves (White Eagle base - need alteration)
Materials for gaskets / neck seal / balaclava (I'm so glad there are soft pieces to make so I can take a break from the plastic! lol)
Blaster pistol (Nerf - needs mod)
E6000 (I already know I'm going to need more)
plastic welder (ditto)
paint brush cleaner
respirator (I have the disposable kind. Wondering if I need something more intense, or if these will be enough for working in a big garage with doors open and a fan running?)
work gloves (various kinds)
magnets (various sizes/strengths)
large storage tote (for supplies and scraps)
aviation snips (straight and curved. Assuming these will be good for plastic trimming?)
craft knife and utility knife (and extra blades for both)
sandpaper / sanding block
1/4" rasp set
paint brushes (have some, need better ones)
hammer, saw, drill, everything you find in a basic workshop, etc.
rulers, edges, etc.
Here's where a lot of the questions come in:
Pieces I still need:
Helmet audio (With the bucket on, I can hear/be heard just fine, so I'm curious about the need for this? Is it just for the voice effect? To be able to hear in crowds? Is it like an unofficial requirement or just a useful thing to have?)
Aerator (The Anovos bucket has the crappy plastic one that's facing the wrong direction. Is replacing it with aluminum required or just recommended?)
Helmet lenses (Again, I feel like I can see fine, but others have complained about the Anovos lenses being warped or unclear. Worth the upgrade or no?)
black backing cloth (90% sure I have something that's damn close, just need to dig through my 3 totes full of fabric.)
belt pouches (HOW BIG ARE THE GODSDAMN BELT POUCHES? The CRL doesn't say, the sales thread doesn't say, I even saw a thread where someone asked and nobody gave an answer. I just want to know the dimensions! *cries*)
Supplies I still need:
bigger, tougher storage tote (Picking one up tonight. It has wheels!)
velcro, elastic, rivets, etc. (I expect my fastener needs will be slightly different from the guys who write the tutorials, so I want to hold off and see how much I actually need and what I already have that will work.)
paint (I'm seeing recommendations for legacy TKs but not for the FOs. Specific white/black? Recommended brands besides "not Rustoleum"?)
And two more questions:
Is there a recommended order of assembly? At some point, I think I was told to start with the forearms, but I could be wrong. Regardless, I plan to alternate between working on the armor pieces and the other parts (gaskets, blaster, etc.) to keep myself from being overwhelmed.
Where do you keep your power supply (for fans, audio, etc.)? I know that depends greatly on what you're using, but I'm curious to know whether others are putting them in buckets or stashing them somewhere else.
Thankfully, I have a great local community of armor builders and generally good people who've already offered their help, and I'm not above offering bribes of sewing and baked goods. Advice, suggestions, and assurances that it's going to be okay are most appreciated. Thanks!