Hey all, apologies for the lack of updates on this thread... where does the time go? I admittedly have had a bunch going on lately (which I'll post a bit about here - again, my threads are less of a 'how-to' and more of a diary of my journey, and often includes a bit of life updates as well for those curious...) but I have also made some progress that I haven't shared just yet. Hang on, it's a doozy.
Sooooo what's that ol' Rascal been up to?
Frankly, I've been super burnt out, took some time off, and am easing back into things. I was fortunate enough to be part of a pretty cool project over the summer and ended up working on (building or rebuilding) like a half dozen suits in a very short timeline, and by the end of it, didn't even want to look at armor again for a while! haha More on that... later maybe.
Next up, let's do a workspace update - I finally took the time to do a little garage/workshop remodel, so I could stop building armor in the living room of our one-bedroom. This little overhaul included doing some restoration work on an old metal workbench and vice that was left to me by my late grandfather. The workbench was cleaned up, repainted inside and out, got a new laminate top, a very cool oversize architect style light, second movable clamp light for detail projects, new hand press for snaps/punches, a power strip, cutting surface, drawer organizers, and an old monitor I had laying around (with VGA-to-USB-C connector, so my phone can run an Android desktop environment on it - great for displaying reference materials, how-to videos, etc). The old Columbia vice was also disassembled, cleaned, sanded/filed, and repainted somewhere near its former glory. I was also fortunate enough to receive a couple of new tools as wedding presents, including a very nice Milwaukee drill from @Ninety-Nine and a cordless rotary tool. I also got some pretty awesome Wall Control pegboard for behind the bench, to hold many of my tools (and a row of blasters). Finally, I updated my little patch collection wall in the space above it - featuring some fun FISD, IOC, and Southern California Garrison/Orange County Squad patches (my personal units). A brighter, directional main garage light also replaced the bare low-watt bulb. Pretty happy with how it all came out, but I still have a good deal of organizing to do and will likely add some more bins/organizers to the side. I added a lot of links in case anyone wants to know where this stuff came from - I'd recommend any of it!
And after (still a work in progress):
Speaking of wedding presents, I took a good deal of time out this summer to help plan things out, and well... get MARRIED! My wife (and Jawa, DZ-71490) and I had a beautiful, small ceremony in August at a resort overlooking the beach and it was a phenomenal day. @Dsposato0 was kind enough to help MC and represent the FISD
Crazy enough, a few weeks after the wedding (bringing us to the last couple weeks), and she ended up spending a long weekend in the hospital with a burst appendix and recovering, so armor again went on the backburner while I took care of her. She's doing much better though and work continues!
I also was PET-scanned again this summer and continue to be in remission from cancer, so that's cool too. Butttt I also ended up taking a fin to the back of the head while out surfing in May and needed 20 internal sutures and 17 staples to hold my head shut, so that wasn't fun and prevented me from wearing a bucket for about 6 weeks (Hall of Meat - a pic of the wound for those with a strong stomach). It healed up well but again, set me back. We've forsure had ENOUGH medical issues to deal with lately.
I have a build for @JHowe102 and a new Shadowtrooper recruit I'm currently still working on (but nearing completion), then once those are out the door, it will be back to focusing on the FOTK, then on an Anovos ANH build to replace my original ANH-S suit that has seen some battle... I was able to be patient in my search and came across a deal I couldn't say no to. I won't be doing a build thread persay (why, when @ukswrath has it fully covered?) but will likely do a little 'tips and tricks' thread, showing some of the techniques and tools I use throughout my build, and maybe it'll help someone (or me with your comments!). Still a bit backed up in the (MESSY) workshop though.
Okay, so where's the FOTK at?!
So let's start with a little spoiler for future projects (since I SWEAR I'm done for a while after closing all of these open projects out... adding some little troopers will be the focus!)... I bought more armor haha I found someone selling JUST the pieces needed to upgrade from TFA to TLJ, also from @jimmiroquai , and painted, 'ready to wear'. I saw the Facebook Marketplace post right around when the new Black Series TLJ buckets started shipping, so it felt like fate. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson about BS conversions, orrr about buying secondhand armor, but nope - I had these parts shipped from the UK and was pretty disappointed in the paint preparation and overall quality. You can literally see where a piece of masking tape was left and just painted over... the chest pills were hacked pretty haphazardly... and there was both topical damage (scratches/gouges) and casting imperfections that were never addressed originally - NOT up to my high standards. It'll be a full sand and repaint too.
The other downside of this new set of armor is there was a LOT of velcro epoxied into it that was very difficult to remove. One upside is that it has not had additional resin added to the interior, so it is significantly lighter than my other chest/yoke. I'll likely add some resin, but NOT as much as the other suit, which will likely get sanded back a bit. I'll actually probably use the new chest/back/shoulders (not the cod/TD) for the TFA that I'm likely to wear more often, and the heavier stuff for TLJ.
Another pretty big update is that I have been working with Sheev's Emporium a bit and snagged one of the first of their new full soft good kits (gaskets, neckseal, and rigging) for FOTK's and the stitched ribbing is probably the best I've ever seen. Looks like a very well designed kit and I'll be excited to take delivery this week hopefully (will post an update). I also have shiny shorts coming from @Soulart/Geeky Pink's, and already have Trooperbay gloves and Imperial Boots chukkas in hand, so that should be all my soft goods accounted for.
I also snagged a rubber F-11D since I decided to sell the 3D printed one I have instead of trying to sand the myriad of print lines out. The gentleman who cast it was both former Praetorian and Ano...ther company, and apparently there is some controversy as to the ownership of his mold over on Faceballs, soooo that was a whole thing. But it's a solid, good looking rubber blaster and was a fair price, so whatever. I'll get around to painting it up as well and will likely use it as my trooping blaster, but won't try to add electronics to it.
Okay, but where's the actual armor at?!
The armor still has a long way to go, and I've had several minor (that feel like major) setbacks, and much like my ROTK, I can tell that several steps in the process are very linear and need to happen before I can move on to the next. The first and most daunting is adding the additional resin to the new pieces. For many months (freakin' pandemic Etsy hobbyists) resin has been very difficult to come by, and I am FAR from an expert in it, so I was really trying to buy the same stuff I used on my ROTK that worked well, but it has been out of stock (and the can I had went bad... resin has a short shelf life and I should have known that). I finally was able to find what I believe is a comparable product in stock at a reasonable price, so that's up next.
Happening somewhat in parallel has been general paint prep. I started with the new chest and back/yoke, and well, this isn't even as many priming/sanding passes as I've done total, but here's a few shots.
I've definitely learned since doing my ROTK and need to be a bit less of a perfectionist, and to "follow the rules" when painting - stuff like to allow for proper dry times, don't try to paint at night or when it's cold/humid, mask and manage for overspray, etc... always lessons being learned the hard way, but it's coming along.
Another big lesson I learned is that my ROTK... is too shiny. The screen used suits are maybe a semi-gloss at best, but definitely don't have a thick layer of high gloss clear like mine. While it does look great, the time and money I spent to get it that way... really just wasn't worth it. What I DO like about the paint is how hard and scuff resistant it is, which I attribute to the 2K paint. I think for this one, instead of a Rustoleum white base with 2K clear on top, I'm going to try just USC's 2K Gloss White on top of white primer and call it a day. This should in theory be MUCH easier to repaint in the event of damage... which has already happened to my ROTK and now that I have to think about repairing it, I wish I had done differently (live and learn).
I haven't had major issues with using THIN layers of Dynatron filler (which is similar to Bondo glazing putty) but I was recommended USC Garage's Flexible Glaze, which is a 2 component filler. I'll SAND the old paint, make any structural/deep REPAIRS with Apoxie Sculpt or marine epoxy, then a thin layer of filler/GLAZE on top, then PRIME with light colored filler primer, then white sandable primer moving forward (scratches/chips on the ROTK revealed the dark colored primer, which wasn't ideal), and then TOPCOAT with the 2K gloss white. I'll be doing the inside with satin white, as the flat I used last time tends to scuff and transfer color more. I'll probably be purchasing one of those decent sized paint booths that are like a popup camping tent since I made a huge mess in my garage last time, even after hanging plastic sheets.
Anyways, I think that's it for now... LONG overdue, but hopefully updates will be coming more frequently now and I'd like to have this thing approved by the end of the year. My brothers in the SoCal Garrison (including @equuspolo, @Surfintrooper, and @yo_its_nino) totally inspired me with this photoshoot over the weekend, and it is too cool not to share! Photo by @KC Grim who may be joining the FO ranks soon as well! LONG LIVE THE FIRST ORDER!