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toybiz

My first ESB TK build (MTK)

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Hi everyone and first let me thank TK-3942 for steering me initially to FISD to get my start. I was like most others, started looking on eBay, Amazon and Google. I was tempted to purchase my first armor set on eBay, Rubies, or Star Fortress :huh:

 

TK-3942 simply said to do my research here which eventually lead me to my armor consideration. A set of TM would have been my first choice, however getting authorization to spend the Imperial Credits from the Empire Financial Administration was not going to happen. While not on the vetted list, I choose MTK. This armor has received some good feedback, a few members were able to build theirs to Centurion levels.

 

Plus I had to factor how often I would wear the armor (hopefully more than a few times a year) to justify the additional expense of the TM.

 

This tread is actually post build, as I am about 95% completed but took some photos of areas of the build that I thought would be of value to others. Since I finally had some free time from the approx. 100+ hours I already spent I wanted to get started on the tread.

 

For those of you getting started, yes it is tempting to give into desire and become impatient. But it is so true to do your research, learn from those who went before you and the mistakes (some costly) from those who couldn't wait.

 

I come from the automotive industry and there are countless stories of people buying a car that turned out to be a money pit because they didn't do their research. It is the same in any hobby. ;)

 

OK enough about my "why" and onto the "what" of my build.

 

It has been said many times that after a while you will start to recognize the subtle differences between armors and from which movie. I choose to follow the ESB TK build mainly because it was my favorite of the movies and plus there aren't as many ESB builds. Just to be different but not too different.

 

I asked once and was flamed for asking about fitment from one maker to another but I still feel while any armor can be made to fit, there are still enough differences that should/need to be taken into PERSONAL consideration when choosing the maker. Reason? If all armor can net the same results then why is there so many discussions about the differences between them? Similar is not same. :)

 

With that said here are some basic info about me so hopefully it could give anyone considering MTK how it would look if you choose to build a set.

 

Height: 5' 8" / 174 cm

Weight: 165 lbs / 75 kg

Inseam: 30" / 76 cm (pants length)

Arms: 32" / 81 cm (top of shoulder to finger tips)

Waist: 34" / 86 cm

Chest: 39" / 99 cm

Neck: 15.5" / 39 cm

Hat size: 7

Shoe size: 8.5

 

It would be a good idea to do some build research here and buy ahead of time some of the building tools to supplement what you many not already have. Here is what I needed:

 

Scissors - something to cut plastic but small enough to turn corners (more on this later)

Your choice of adhesive - I bought both CA (super glue) and E6000

Packs of fresh cutting blades - if you already own a box cutter get some fresh new blades, this will make your life easier

Exacto knives - I bought fresh blades for the small one and an separate medium sized one just in case

Cutting gloves - I found out these could be optional if you are confident with working around sharp tools and cutting

Metal ruler - good for drawing straight lines and a cutting guide, I chose an 12" one

Drill - to make holes for snaps and helmet rivets. I already owned one

Rivet gun - with only 4 rivets needed, I went to Harbor Freight to pick an inexpensive one.

Clamps - can't say enough about this. All sizes and shapes would be helpful. Just when you think you have enough, get some more.

Rare earth magnets - these come in different sizes, shapes and pull strength. I choose round ones 1/2"h x 3/4"w from Amazon

Masking tape - the blue or green stuff works great and don't leave much residue.

Sandpaper - a variety of grit would be helpful. 220,440,800,1200 wet/dry type recommended

Snaps - I got Dritz heavy duty size 24. They come in packs of 7 so I bought 6 packs.

Dritz snap pliers - for 5/8" size or 24 above. This is optional as some snap packs come with an anvil and punch to install snaps with a hammer.

 

Optional but I either owned or purchased:

 

Rotary cutting tool - Dremel type with various sanding drums

Hobby iron - to make some return edges

Bucket - to hold boiling water to reshape some parts of the armor (more on this later)

 

Important to allow yourself a well lighted work area. I did mine on the kitchen table but if you are going to produce some ABS dust, I would advise to move that part of the build outside or in the garage away from food prep area. With that, let's see what happens next.

 

It took about 3 weeks from the time I inquired about MTK armor and the day this came shipped to my office. Exciting moment for myself and the other Star Wars geeks that I work with. Once I got it home, I took the obligatory brown box photo and then started to wonder where to start? Stay tuned for more. :duim:

 

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Edited by toybiz
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Just can't beat a big brown box photo, looking forward to seeing more :D

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Nice - can't wait to see how this progresses. :duim:

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Thank you Glen, Steve, and Paul. Many thanks for all that you three contribute here. I have seen so much of your contributions for the rank and file. Sometimes the info is painful to hear and a difficult pill for some to swallow but it gets the job done right? :jc_doublethumbup:

 

Well onto the next steps. I didn't have plans to make this a full step-by-step tutorial, as there are plenty of those. If my posts seem to jump ahead, no need to repeat every step. Just remember If I could find and learn from the early trail blazers, so can everyone else! ;)

 

After carefully cutting open the box, this was waiting inside.

 

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Now since this is my first set of armor, I wasn't sure what to expect, but looking at some of the other builds, there are makers that ship the kit wrapped in foam sheets. I thought that was how mine would but then again, nothing was broken. Although there were some handling wear from parts rubbing against each other everything was in order. I guess rub marks make for character, but if perfect shiny is your thing, get ready for some polishing. :mellow:

 

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As you can see, the MTK is fairly complete. Even the basic helmet hardware, like washers, screws and rivets are included. Depending on your theme, the proper decals are included saving you some time but you will still need to pick up paint for the frown and ears.

 

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Autographed by Mike himself

 

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Obligatory armor laid out on the ground shot. The TK helmet piggy bank from Disneyland is watching over the parts and providing inspiration. :duim:

Edited by toybiz
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Well, got to start somewhere, so I choose to start by penciling the cut lines on the bicep and forearms as there was no harm in that right?

 

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First cut away! ^_^ The forearm wrist openings don't have return edges so easy to start here. Just used the Exacto to score and snap. It left a slightly ragged edge but nothing some sanding couldn't fix.

 

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Time to the first cut? Two hours per the TK wrist watch. :laugh1:

 

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The first scissor cut surface wasn't very smooth as I found out using a pair of Fiskars plastic scissors. After some further research, it found out I would have had better results using a pair of Lexan scissors. So if you don't have a pair...GET ONE! They come in both curved and straight variety. Expect about $10-$30. I bought mine from eBay. A lot less sanding if you use some of these Lexan scissors.

dyn2517_1.jpg

Edited by toybiz
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Next, trimming some of the accessory parts. Shoulder straps, Knee pack, Belt, and Ab buttons

 

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This should cover the 1 1/2" wide white shoulder elastic straps nicely.

 

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The MTK TD end caps were a bit shallow. With quite a bit of flaring at the base of the end caps forced to cut fairly high on the cap to get a straight side.

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20 mm seemed to be the standard TD end cap width, in order to have a flat side end cap, I had to trim it down to 15 mm. Would this prevent me from any approval above basic 501st?

 

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Same with the drop boxes. They were flared quite a bit as you can see here. To get a decent straight side I had to cut above the flare.

 

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This left me with about 18 mm width on the drop boxes. I read on one recent Expert application that there isn't a standard on the drop box thickness as there were some movie set ones fairly slim.

 

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Edited by toybiz

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Thanks Joey for the support! :D

 

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Not much to report here. Some rough trimming of the shoulder bells. My final trim left about 3-5mm of return edge on the bottoms of the bells.

 

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Next the rough trim of the shins top and bottom.

 

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Plenty of sanding and trimming was needed after the initial fitting. This is a very individual part of any armor build as everyone is built different. I left about 3-6mm return edge on the tops of the shins. Next post I will cover some of the reshaping I did with the biceps. :lol: 
 

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After following some recent MTK builds, I noticed there was a common recommendation for every build.

 

1) The left bicep looked larger than the right.

2) The right forearm looked larger than the left.

 

So with that in mind, I set out a plan to even things up before moving further. This took me about 6 hours over a course of 3 days not including overnight drying of E6000 gluing since I used a backing strip on every butt joint. I was fortunate enough to score a 32"x48", 1mm sheet of white polyethylene that I used for every backing strip and snap plate.

 

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Note the left bicep appears much wider than the right. In reality the shape of the left is oval and the right is round shape. This gives the illusion from the front that the left bicep is wider. MTK (Mike) if you read this, please consider reshaping the left bicep so this modification could be avoided for future MTK builds.

 

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I used 15mm cover strips and built/glued the side visible from the outside on the left bicep before moving onto the next step.

 

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I measured my biceps and found at my local Home Depot that a 3 inch PVC drain coupler was close in outside diameter, so picked one up for a couple of bucks.

 

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I wrapped left bicep around the PVC coupler with some rubber bands and some nylon string. Not too tight, not too loose so as not to wrinkle the armor while it was relaxing in the bucket of boiling water.

 

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Getting ready for its hot tube bath. I let it soak for about 15 minutes or until cool enough that I could put my hand in the water. ABS will only stay pliable at boiling temps and starts to harden not too long after the water had a chance to cool.

 

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What a difference a bath makes. Now all I needed to do was to a final fitting of the left bicep before removing the ridge and butt joining the inside seam.

 

Not much to report on the right forearm, I just removed the inside butt join ridge and fitted the right forearm until it was closer in size to the left. :duim:

Edited by toybiz
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I have also read that some people had challenges with the knee ammo pack, so I thought why not use the 3 inch PVC coupler to reshape the knee pack?

 

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The clamps were an almost a perfect fit in between each block. So I simply wrapped the pack around the coupler and secured it with a clamp on every flat spot between the blocks before the hot water bath.

 

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After about 15 minutes soaking, this was the final outcome. I had access to a heat gun but found that it was too easy to stretch or warp the armor if you are not careful, plus soaking the parts is fairly passive method for a great outcome. :jc_doublethumbup:  Double win!

Edited by toybiz
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Now onto the ammo belt. I have read many builds and most don't document if they curved the ammo belt. Personally I think the ABS is thin enough to not make much of a difference, but I thought it couldn't hurt and it would hopefully sit a bit more closer to the curve of the ab plate.

 

Again, I had access to a heat gun but I invested in a hobby heat sealing iron and figured why not try using it to reshape the ammo belt? :0Lighten:

 

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I just set the heat to about 2 and a half and let the iron warm up the armor while moving it around and round on the flat spots between the ammo blocks and pulled back in on the far end of the ammo belt. This gave the ammo belt a gentle curve and it did not bend at the corners like some have experienced using a heat gun unless you followed Panda Trooper's wonderful paint stick method. :duim:

 

I thought this netted a similar outcome without the need for paint sticks.

 

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What do you all think? :)

Edited by toybiz
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Not a  whole lot to report on building the helmet. There are so many threads on the subject. The only thing I did differently was use magnets and a pair of long nose ratcheting clamp pliers to hold the sides in/down to get a better seating of the cap / back to the face before drilling the side rivet holes.

 

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I wanted a low brow for my ESB and read some builds where the brow changed once the side rivets finally went in, that was probably the cap / back shifted up once the tension was removed this is why I used the long nose clamps and then added a side rivet just on the center/top of the helmet "tubes" where it connected to the face. 

 

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There low brow ready for action. The teeth were more or less where I wanted them. The final teeth were cleaned up slightly but not that noticeable on the final because of the black frown kind of blends with the teeth vents. Whereas ANH grey actually contrasts with the frown vents. :D

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After trimming the eyes and teeth, I decided to paint the inside semi-gloss black using Krylon Fusion for plastic paint. Like so many others, the black interior just adds a bit more realism, not accuracy mind you, but when was the last time anyone saw a white interior in a motorcycle helmet?

 

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Tried to mask off the MTK sticker logo but didn't do that great of a job at it.

 

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Used Testors paint. Semi-gloss black, #138 Grey on the helmet/ab buttons and French Blue Testors Masters paint for the ab buttons.

 

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I have used Quik Steel / epoxy putty on many automotive repairs and saw that some builders put cotton cloth soaked with CA glue or plastic body filter (Bondo) on the area right behind the mic tip mounts, so thought that Quik Steel would be a great alternative.

 

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Just cut off about 1/2" worth and kneaded it together then spread it out behind the mic tip mounts to reinforce this area. It cures in less than an hour to a rock hard surface the can be sanded, drilled, and even tapped.

 

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Here are the mic tips mounted through the Quik Steel using a rubber fender washer, metal fender washer, and faucet washer seal for a neat finished appearance.

 

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Tooth cut out and painted with semi-gloss black. This angle doesn't quite show it but the end of the frown goes slightly further to a sharp point.

 

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Trimmed, fitted, sanded and painted the ears, mounted the lens, painted the vocorder and frown then added the decals. It's true that the ears take a long time. Mine took about 4 hours to fit them.

Edited by toybiz
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Coming along great Adam. I used the hot water trick on my calves. Might have to do it to the biceps too.

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Thank you Ian, only the left bicep needs to be reshaped. Highly recommended for any MTK builders out there. If you don't have a PVC coupler, I'm sure a softball bat or glass jar would work just as well. Plus if you use a softball bat you have the added benefit of a handle and dont have to put your hands in the water! :)

Edited by toybiz

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Well onto the Ab and Kidney connection. After taping and trying and taping and trying the Ab and Kidney several times, then getting my son to help make some marks on the sides, I found I had about 1 1/2" overlap on the sides.

 

First I thought do like most builds and find the relative center, draw my line and cut away. Then I read some recommendations that having some overlap is OK, in case I decide to go to town on stack of bacon or too many holiday dinners, to have some "growing" room is a good idea. After looking at Meander's ATA build ( http://www.whitearmor.net/forum/topic/19692-meanders-tk-build-ata ) it gave me an idea of how I was going to approach this. I understood his reason for the locking plates so the sides of the Ab or Kidney did not pop out. Looking at some screen captures, I realize the popping out sides is screen accurate, but then again those costumes are not subject to up close scrutiny that ours can in public, so the following is what I came up with.

 

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This is where I decided to commit my left side Ab and Kidney split. It may not be apparent, but the Kidney is overlapped by the Ab here as I left the extra Kidney side material and trimmed it slightly as to fit behind the Ab.

 

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I made a snap plate and secured it with split rivets and E6000 to the Ab.

 

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The Kidney elastic straps were secured with the split rivets. You can see the extra side material that I left to sit inside the Ab with the overlap.

 

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This is the view from the outside of the left side Kidney. The pencil line is where the Ab overlaps to. The cut outs is about where the male snaps line up to.

 

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This is kind of how the right Ab and Kidney overlap comes together.

 

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Close up of the right Ab with the overlap tabs that I cut out.

 

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Added a "bridge" over the tabs that fit in between the extra side shims. This is what holds in the right side overlap.

 

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View of the slots from the front. You can see where the Ab overlap slides into. I allowed some vertical space so the Ab and Kidney could slide up/down and in/out.

 

Followed by the view of the Kidney plate. I have since added a total of 3 elastic straps for both left and right sides.

 

SAM_3054.JPG

Edited by toybiz
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Here is the belt. The drop boxes are fitted to line up with the edge of the belt and the last ammo box edge. It doesn't look like it from this angle dangling on the floor.

 

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The arms are strapped connecting the forearms too. I found that the forearms kept falling and pinching when moving. Figured the 2" elastic from the bicep to the forearms may provide some pinch protection by locking in a consistent space between them so the inside edge of the forearms will actually cross over inside tops of the biceps when bending.

 

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Thanks Germain for the persistance on everyone's build on this very important detail of the build. I am now an advocate for strapping the forearms to the biceps. :jc_doublethumbup:

Edited by toybiz

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The shins still needed some fitting so I taped and measured then walked around. Waited to the next day, taped and measured then walked around before I made my marks.

 

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I decided to go with velcro over the strap and hooks for reason of ease of putting on / off. However if I simply put the velcro on half of the cover strip and the other side on the overlap, it would have about 3/16" worth of gap due to the thickness of the industrial velcro.

 

So I added a 1 1/2" wide backing strip where about 1/2 inch (12mm) wide strip of scratchy (hook) part of the velcro was attached facing towards the opening. The fuzzy side is attached to the opposite inside of the shin and about an inch (25mm) wide. This allowed a bit more adjustablity when closing and the close gap to be slightly thinner. The 25mm cover strip is shown here clamped and just there to cover the joint.

 

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Edited by toybiz

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OK, here was my first complete fitting. I still have some areas that need some tweeking like the right shoulder bell and the thighs need some adjusting but I was able to climb my stairs. However, I wouldn't do it without hand rails. I couldn't see a thing coming back down wearing the helmet! :smiley-sw013:

 

Sitting? Forget about it. Reclining maybe, but then getting back up? Yeah right.... If the Rebels wanted to defeat the Empire, just knock over the TKs and you would be at a tactical advantage for sure! :laugh1:

 

I'm sure there is room for improvement but I guess I need to add more photos for everyone to take a closer look. So stay tuned for those once I get my photographer buddy to give me a hand.

 

A very big thank you to all the others that gone before me, your documentation of your journey was invaluable and gave me insight into the future. Those of your who think you cannot, give yourself a chance to learn and try. My build started in the beginning of January and I am still tweeking today. Almost 3 months.

Remember, every journey begins with a step  :Stormtrooper_walk_south: ... and being here on FISD is your first. You CAN and will DO it!

 

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Hi Adam!  Excellent build and great tips!  Thanks for all the positive reinforcements!  I can only hope my armor comes close to your first complete fitting.  I've been soaking up build tips for months and copy and paste pictures of anything I like into folders for each part.  I love your "ab tabs" for keeping the ab and kidney in alignment - I might have to steal that for my build.  I work on one or two pieces at a time - it's slow, but so far I'm happy with the results.  One step at a time.  Thanks for posting!!!

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Great first complete fitting! Your arms strapping is winner! 

 

And except from this right shoulder bell there's not that much to improve  :). The belt could sit higher on the abdominal plate. Its top should be right under the lower ab buttons, or slightly covering them.

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Edited by The5thHorseman
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Thank you Germain for your constructive insights, compliments on the arms is all you my friend. I have followed your crusade on "arm gap" for some time.:)

 

You are welcome usaeatt2. If you need any close up pics of anything let me know.

 

I should have my full photo shoot up next week. Still need to get my 501st approval.

 

Got to get through WonderCon this weekend though :)

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