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HOW to: assembling ATA ABS helmet #1

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I had the distinct pleasure of assembling the first ATA ABS lid. This is just how I do it, it's not the way everyone does it, it might not be screen accurate assembly to 1976 standards, I use unorthodox tools - but who cares! Get over it. Build, troop and enjoy. smile.gif


The pulls are nice. Plastic is slightly off white, not as beige as AM, very similar to TM.



This is ATA ABS #1 smile.gif



The face pull is VERY sharp. The sharpest I have seen, and I have built a lot of lids now.






Plastic is pulled with a clear sticker coating to prevent scratches / damage. Simply peel this off.

Update: Helmets made after November 2011 may or may not have the clear film.




I mark about 1.25" above the eyes, and use a plastic strip to draw a line. I also mark the cap back edge for the ear area (will be covered by the ears)





Punch or drill a hole at the intersection to prevent the plastic from tearing



Trim off the excess



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I had the distinct pleasure of assembling the first ATA ABS lid. This is just how I do it, it's not the way everyone does it, it might not be screen accurate assembly to 1976 standards, I use unortho

Completed ATA ABS helmet #1 as delivered to it's new owner. I hope this is a helpful guide for those building a helmet, it just takes some extra time and care and you can build an awesome helmet too.

Trim the back edge and neck openings   Overall trimming complete, sand the edges if you want to remove any burrs / flash   Mark the eye openings with a pencil, follow the indentations

Trim the back edge and neck openings






Overall trimming complete, sand the edges if you want to remove any burrs / flash



Mark the eye openings with a pencil, follow the indentations




I cut the eyes out with a Dremel wheel. For me it's faster and I am confident in my Dremel skills that I don't screw up. If you want to score and snap, go for it.



Sand the openings smooth



I Dremel the backside of the teeth. Leave some of the material for depth.




Clean it up with a hobby blade



File to shape if required



I like the long "Twinkie" shaped teeth (straight sides and round ends)



At this point, I wash the face and cap back with detergent and water / dry to remove any plastic bits, dust and release agents from the molding / forming process.


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Joining the face to the cap and back. I like to do it with the brow trim on, just be sure it's the exact height I want. I use small clamps to hold it in position. On this lid, the brow is raised up, but not curved like the "Move along" trooper. More canon look.


For alignment, I place the end of the lens openings just a little in front of the temples.



Drill the ear rivet holes



I always install a washer inside to back the rivet. Rivet both sides.



Now you can "hinge" the face up for down to adjust the brow height if you like.





Or higher...?



I liked it slightly higher, so I clamp the halves together, and drill the holes for the bottom rivets (which are hidden under the ears). This is a good point to check and make sure that the lower edge of the back doesn't need to be trimmed further, and that the ear will actually cover this rivet without blocking where the lower ear screw will go. You can choose to roughly trim your ears to test this first. I've built enough of these that I know where to drill, so I just drill the hole and rivet it shut.



I draw pencil marks along the ear indentations as a GUIDE. Do not cut along these yet! I usually trim up to 1/4" away from the pencil marks along the cheek tube area, but the round part, I trim right up to the pencil line.



First test alignment. Obviously, it needs more trimming but this is to demonstrate where to cut.



Getting better. I usually rough trim the front and back of the ear, then do a second pass on the front and the back, then concentrate on getting the front right, and then finish the back of the ear. One tip is to install the upper bolt through the lid for consistent alignment during test fittings. I simply use pencil marks.







Keep adjusting the ear until you have it fitting how you like. I use a Dremel sanding drum to make adjustments quickly, but I still usually take about 35 mins per ear for fitment. I like to drill the holes in the ear before the helmet.

I countersink the holes slightly so that the bolts sit a little deeper.




I will line up the ear and drill the upper hole, then bolt the ear in and drill the second hole (stunt) and bolt it up TIGHT, then drill the lower neck opening hole. This will make it fit more flush. Repeat for both ears.







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Polishing. You can polish the lid if you like. The ABS is already shinier than HIPS, but it can shine more! I like to polish it with the lid assembled, so that the majority of the helmet is shiny, but the recesses are slightly less shiny. It's a cheap optical illusion that actually adds depth to a helmet.


I polished the left side only in these pics to demonstrate. I use Meguiars cut polish to smooth out the helmet. You can also wet sand it and use Novus.


Unpolished side



Polished side (notice how sharp the highlights are)





I use a pencil and mark the areas where I will be hand painting the details. Use reference pictures from screen used helmets as a guide.





First coat using Testors modelmasters semigloss black. Everything will need 2 coats to be opaque.

For the vocoder I use a round tip brush.



First coat on the other details. I do the black first, and then "cut in" the grey. Don't worry about what the black looks like, as it will be covered.

I do all the black for all the parts in 1 pass, so as to not waste paint or time cleaning brushes. I use a flat brush for most of these parts.






Second coat of black makes it a lot more opaque. I let each coat dry overnight before top coating.



First coat of grey on top of black



Painting other areas grey. Concentrate on getting the black outline to be a consistent thickness



First coat on teeth, I'll clean it up on the second pass



Wait overnight before the next and final coat of grey


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Teeth fully painted with 2 coats



Other details complete (ear rank missing as it was added last)




He looks like Mr. No Stripes! :)




For the tube stripes, I hand cut decals from sign vinyl. You can use a brush for painting the stripes, but I like to use an airbrush.

Remove the ears, and apply the template in the correct location (stripes should be approx. 1/4" away from the valley)



I mask the area with masking tape. I also taped paper in place to avoid overspray on the lid



I usually do about 3 coats or passes with the airbrush (I am using Testors French blue in a Iwata HP-B airbrush)



After the paint has dried slightly, I peel the template away (I don't wait for it to cure fully because I do not want any puckered edges in the paint)



Finished Left side



Right side



To paint the vents, I cut some more templates from sign vinyl. I hand drew them for an organic look, and cut them out. Then airbrushed them with black. You could also simply run masking tape above and below the vents and brush paint them, but since I have the airbrush out it was just easier to do this at the same time.





For the duct lines, I simply use a round tip brush with black paint to paint the lines in.



To paint the mic tips, I sand them slightly and wash them in detergent to remove any mold release. I simply stick them face down on some masking tape and paint them black.



After they are dry, I sand the edges of the tips slightly to make them look a little more "worn" and add the mesh (run some CA glue on the inside edge and press the tips in. Some people like to use a round tool to make it look like they are pressed from the inside.



Installed mic tips



For the lens, I cut a notch out for the nose area. The bolts passing through the ears will hold the lens in place. I simply drill alignment holes for them in the lens.



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Completed ATA ABS helmet #1 as delivered to it's new owner. I hope this is a helpful guide for those building a helmet, it just takes some extra time and care and you can build an awesome helmet too. :)










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Thanks, glad you guys like it! Hope the tutorial was helpful.


The ATA ABS is really nice, I was quite jealous building this one knowing it wasn't going to be mine to keep! But I will get one to build for myself in the future, I have plenty of other things to keep me busy for now. :)

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Hi Panda,


before i forget, how big is the hole at the intersection? i am puzzled as to what size seems adequate.




Not too sure what you mean? The rivets under the ears are just 1/8" rivets.

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Sweet tutorial bro! You use alot of techniques i use...i like the black before the grey idea...smart! When the post office finally finds my box...ill be looking forward to building my kit...i got 2 helmets with mine so i can switch from ESB to ANH =) The ATA helmet looks fantastic..great job Terrell, and great Job puttin her together Panda!

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