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TK-JR: Astyanax's Foamtrooper Kids Armor Project

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Sorry it took me so long to post this next step, but I wanted to finish the armor before the Vincent's birthday so he could "troop" at his party, and I was able to do it! Over the next few days I'll be posting the rest of the steps I went through to finish this up. The verdict? People were really impressed and I'm very happy with the result, but Vincent's range of motion was a bit limited. Like a real trooper. ;) It's all about the lower legs. But he was happy and it was a success. 

 

Let's move on.

 

16. LOWER LEGS

 







(these are model's left/right)

 

lowerleg0a.jpglowerleg0b.jpglowerleg0c.jpglowerleg0d.jpglowerleg0e.jpglowerleg0f.jpg

 

The lower legs had a surprisingly large number of pieces, and they turned out to be probably THE most important piece of armor in terms of sizing. If the lower legs are too long, walking becomes very difficult. Better to go too short!

 

Similar to how the thighs were constructed, I taped the inner and outer printouts together and traced and cut them out of the thin foam. I used the strips pattern to cut and trace the strips. I then white glued it all together. Here is the right lower leg as properly laid out:

 

lowerleg1.jpg

 

The lower leg armor is the only extremity armor that does not slip onto the child. It closes using velcro in the back. Do note that the upper cover strip comes short on one side, so as to allow for the overlap when you close the armor around the leg.

 

For the right leg, I did the same with the main armor piece, but I did NOT glue on the cover strips just yet. The knee plate needed to be done first.

 

Next, I traced and cut out the knee plate parts. Notice that it's done as separate "wings" around the center plate. I did this for two reasons: so that it would roll more easily, and so that there would be a clearly defined seam, giving it that "diamond" shape.

 

lowerleg2.jpg

 

This is all done in thin foam. I glued these parts together as three completed pieces:

 

lowerleg3.jpg

 

When the knee plate parts had dried (not before), I assembled and white glued all the strips and knee plate parts onto the lower leg armor, like this:

 

lowerleg4.jpg

 

Here is a behind view of this part, so you can see how the knee plate overlap looked from inside the armor:

 

lowerleg5.jpg

 

Next, I heat-formed the armor pieces around a rolling pin to make them easier to work with. When this happened, the corners of the knee plate "wings" came loose, so I used hot glue to secure them. This resulted in a far more pronounced seam between those three parts! 

 

Then, I attached white stick-on velcro to the non-cover-stripped back seam, using three pieces of 2" velcro, cut down the middle to make them thinner. Notice that I left the backing on until I was ready to fully seal the piece. It helped them stay lined up.

 

lowerleg6.jpg

 

Now you can see my seam problem. It's not much of a problem unless you're picky, but I had that new paintable caulk handy (see caulking edits in posts #2 and #13 above), and sealed the seams. 

 

Before...

 

lowerleg7.jpg

 

After...

 

lowerleg8.jpg

 

It's not the best caulking job, but the paint was very forgiving later.

 

Next, I applied the usual finishes (stood them up, closed, on wine bottles!), and it was done!

 

lowerleg9.jpg

 

Tomorrow or the next day I will try to post the belt.

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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FATHER OF THE YEAR AWARD HERE!!!

 

#subscribed because I gotta see this to the finish line!!!   :peace:

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17. BELT

 



 

belt0a.jpg      belt0b.jpg

 

This is a long one. The belt was a welcome change of pace from all the armor, and it can obviously be done at any stage in this project. I found myself working on armor pieces, belt, and helmet all at the same time, because there is lots of waiting for white glue to dry.

 

I need to point out here that I made a huge mistake in this process that did not come to light until after my son was wearing the armor for awhile: the straps that hold the drop boxes and holster onto the belt will tear very easily. The solution to this is to coat the straps with white glue and paint them BEFORE gluing them to the belt! The pictures show those straps on too early, so for anyone who's following along, please read carefully! :) Or, you can use cloth straps instead. :) Hot glue sticks really well to all these materials.

 

So as you can see from the pattern, the belt plate is in two pieces, so I printed, cut, and taped them together to form a longer strip. The ammo boxes are two layers each of thick foam, and I used the same process as the back plate to produce some nice thick cubes. The rest of the parts are made out of the thin foam. Here's everything cut out and laid out for gluing. The layers are glued together using white glue.

 

belt1.jpg

 

I cut extra rectangles for the ammo boxes, so I could pick the ones that layer together most cleanly.

 

Just like for the back plate, I cut strips for the sides of the ammo boxes out of card stock. Each ammo box is 1" wide by 2-1/2" high, so that means each ammo box needed two 12mm x 2-1/2" strips and two 12mm x 1" strips. Here's a bunch of them cut out:

 

belt2.jpg

 

I white glued them to the sides of each ammo box cube.

 

belt3.jpg

 

(I should point out here that if you find a nylon/poly belt material that is anything other than 2" in width, you will need to adjust this whole pattern! My belt plate is a half inch wider than the belt itself, by design.)

 

Again, like the back plate, I wrapped white electrical tape around the cubes about two times. Because I went with two layers of thick foam and not three, I had a bunch of excess tape around all the sides. I made sure that the edge of the tape lines up nicely with the topside of each ammo box, and that the excess was at the underside. Then, on the underside, I pushed it down and pinched the corners.

 

belt4.jpg

 

I cut off the excess on the corners using a brand new x-acto blade. It slices through just like butter!

 

belt5.jpg

 

belt6.jpg

 

I then hot glued the completed ammo boxes onto the belt strip, using my printout as a guide.

 

belt7.jpg

 

On to the drop boxes. I am not providing a pattern here for them, because it's not necessary. I just cut two layers of thick foam for each drop box, at 4" x 2-1/4" in size. I white glued the two layers together and used the very same card stock strips and electrical tape method as for the ammo boxes. There are no differences at all. The card stock strips are 4" x 12mm for each long side, and 2-1/4" x 12mm for each short side.

 

In the case of the drop boxes, it was also necessary to cover the undersides, since they kind of hang freely, so I used three overlapped strips of white electrical tape to cover them.

 

belt8.jpg

 

I used the x-acto knife to trim the excess.

 

belt9.jpg

 

All straps for this belt are 3" long by 1/2" wide. You can see here that I went ahead and hot glued them on. That was a mistake. I should have coated them with white glue and painted them BEFORE attaching them to the drop boxes. Or fashioned cloth straps. A piece of sew-on white loop velcro, hot glued on, probably would have been better. But anyway, you can see here how it looks:

 

belt10.jpg

 

After white gluing together the belt buttons and attaching them to the belt plate, this is what I had so far:

 

belt11.jpg

 

For the belt itself, I found some nice polypro belting material at Jo-Ann at 2" thick. I bought about six feet so I had extra to play with. I think it was about $4-$5 per yard.

 

belt12.jpg

 

After measuring my son, I cut the poly to about 29". I gave myself 2-3 extra inches from my initial measurement, because this belt will be adjustable via velcro. I used a lighter to quickly cauterize the frayed edges where I cut. Works like a charm!

 

Next, I cut two strips of 4" white sew-on loop velcro and two 2" strips of white sew-on hook velcro, and hot glued them on.

 

belt13.jpg

 

Sorry for the blurry pic. Here's a close-up:

 

belt14.jpg

 

The hot glue holds like a champ. The idea here is that the belt is adjustable by overlapping the hook side wherever I need to, over the loop side. Remember to flip the belt when doing the opposite side!

 

For the holster, I went with black thin foam. I printed the holster pattern full-size and removed the part with an "X" on it. It's okay if the printer cuts off a little bit, just go off the edge when cutting it out. The holster was designed to fit an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of paper perfectly. I traced this out onto the black foam and cut it out. Then, I wrapped the left side over to the right side in the direction of the arrow in the pattern and hot glued the seam on the right, lining the edges up carefully.

 

(Please note, this holster is too small to hold pretty much anything. It's proportionally kid-sized and is just for looks.)

 

Once again, I made the mistake of attaching the two 1/2" x 3" straps before they were coated and painted. Don't make that mistake! Consider the leftover black elastic from the shoulder bells or hot glue some black loop velcro!

 

The long strip down the middle is 1/2" x 10" long. I used scissors freehand to give it the pointed tip, and used hot glue by eye to attach it to the holster. This is what it looked like:

 

belt15.jpg

 

Finishing time! For the belt, I did the usual finishing of white glue, white gloss enamel, and clear glaze. For the holster, I purchased black Flexi-Dip and black satin enamel.

 

belt16.jpg

 

Once everything was dry, I attached it all to the poly belt using hot glue.

 

belt17.jpg

 

Here's a semi-closeup:

 

belt18.jpg

 

Note that the belt plate is a little wider than the belt. This is intentional. As it turns out, the holster did wrap around to the back a little, but it's not as far back as you might think, as you'll see in finished pictures later.

 

I know I've said it four times, but if you're following me, be sure to treat the drop box and holster straps like individual entities, and don't hot glue them on their parent parts until they are reinforced or finished!

 

I'll start posting the helmet build hopefully tomorrow. It's the biggie. Enjoy!

 

(I have updated the materials list to include the black stuff and electrical tape.)

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax
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My Son is 19 and in the Army, or else I would totally do this for him.  Great job.

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So awesome! Curious, on the armor pieces, after the mutiple coats of glue and plastidip, white & clear glaze, what's the rigidity of the armor pieces. My daughter is dying for a trooper suit and I was considering pepakura with a fiber glass finish...but your project has my curiosity peaked. I tried a pep helmet and it killed me, ended up getting her a helmet from Walt ;)

Edited by johnnys

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It's not very rigid, but holds its shape pretty well. Somewhat flexible, but not as flexible as the foam was. It is subject to cracking if you're too hard on it, like trying to squash an armor piece. It also has kind of a hard surface now, so it looks very plastic. Also, try to spray in humidity that is below 50%. That seemed to make a big difference in how shiny the final glaze sheen came out.

 

You'll get better rigidity and protection from the fiberglass, but on the other hand, probably sacrifice flexibility. This thing does not cause armor bite. :)

 

My son has worn it for 20+ minutes on three occasions now, and as long as he walks slowly and doesn't try to play hard in it, he's fine. But it will not be nearly as durable as fiberglass. You might consider a test piece? A bicep is quick and easy to do.

 

Hope that helps!

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax
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18. HELMET (Step 1)

 

Bucket time! This part turned out to be a much bigger project than I expected. I tried lots of things, ruined a helmet, started over, tried more, and ended up with something pretty nice. I’ll spare you the grief of it all and skip the mistakes. ;)

 

To make this flow better I decided to break this up into three posts.

 


Step 2: Adding curvature to the back and smoothing out the details.

Step 3: Finishing.

 

Step 2 can be skipped; it all depends on how much work you want to put into it. For me, this was my first experience with Bondo, so nothing in Step 2 should be beyond anyone. I have zero experience in sculpting or bonding with these materials, but you'll get a much better helmet if you consider it. Let’s dive in!

 

As mentioned before, I purchased the following:

helmet0.jpg

 


Child’s Space Helmet - $6.50 from Amazon

 

The mask is unusually wide, and the helmet is unusually narrow and small. This worked to my advantage, because the hard shape of the helmet forced the mask to narrow a bit, and cutting out the chin section of the helmet (see below) allowed it to relax and widen a little. My son has a large head for his age, so I needed at least a little wiggle room in there. This combination worked perfectly.

 

The brow ridge, teeth, hovi tips, traps, and chin are painted on. The tears and tube stripes are lame stickers. I'm discarding all of that so I can paint the whole thing the same white as the armor. New stickers will be printed on clear address labels in Step 3.

 

Looking inside the half mask, you can see that there’s a black mesh covering the eyes. This will be perfect for the teeth holes!

 

helmet3.jpg

 

There are also two round holes in the front two teeth, and there is a larger hole above the chin.

 

I removed all the stickers and cleaned up the residue (there wasn't much). I did not save the stickers, as I have a better solution for details later, so throw those things out! :)

 

I then removed all the internal pieces from the mask and carefully removed the visor from the helmet, resulting in these parts:

 

helmet4.jpg

 

While I’d like to say the visor material was useful for the eyes, it wasn’t. The green is just too light and pale and thick. Hard to work with.

 

Next, I cut the chin off the helmet using my dremel. You can use an x-acto blade here if you’re careful, but the plastic really wants to crack. I overdid it and had to buy another helmet. Good thing they're cheap!

 

helmet6.jpg

 

The brow ridge of the mask comes out from the mask, so this provided a good cutting line for taking off the top of the mask. I cut along the line where the ridge rejoins the dome at the top (above the painted strip), using scissors. I also carefully cut out the teeth using a fresh x-acto blade. The technique here was to poke a tooth in its corner, and lightly use a sawing motion in the direction I wanted to go. Don’t go too far! Once I cut one edge of the tooth, I came at it from the other end. Be gentle and saw.

 

helmet7.jpg

 

Then, I cut an elliptical piece of leftover plastic from the dome of the mask, and super-glued it over the chin hole.

 

helmet8.jpg

 

I had to hold it firmly on the mask a couple minutes while the superglue cured, because the plastic piece will need to curve a little in order to lay down on the hole evenly. You can see here that the hole is nicely covered:

 

helmet9.jpg

 

It was time to do some test fitting. I realized that the brow ridge of the mask pretty nicely butts up against the top line of the visor ridge on the helmet, leaving some small gaps. Not too bad. Only problem was that the helmet’s visor opening didn’t go far enough to the left and right, so out came the dremel again. You can see below the section that was trimmed back from the dotted line:

 

helmet10.jpg

 

It was pretty easy to see where to cut, because the frame of the helmet's visor opening was drooping down, covering the mask's eyes during test fitting.

 

After this, I spent over a week trying to figure out how to attach the mask to the helmet. GLUE DOES NOT WORK! I tried super glue, hot glue, silicone, E6000, none of it worked, because the mask is constantly trying to pull away from the helmet, and you can’t really clamp it well without risking damaging the mask. I finally came to realize I would have to bolt the mask onto the helmet. I did a test fitting with some sharp wood screws.

 

Because the helmet is very hard plastic, a pilot hole was necessary to be drilled first, and then the screw held it nicely. After LOTS of test positioning, I screwed it in on one side, and then pulled it over really firmly to the other side, marking where I would need to put my other pilot hole. It’s not 100% perfectly matched on both sides, but I came pretty close. The helmet is not perfectly symmetrical, but it does the job. (How about that! Asymmetry!)

 

I want to stress here that if you're following along, you will need to pull that mask ridiculously tight along the brow before screwing in the other side. If you do not, some gaps may form along the top of the brow because helmet is so narrow. I encountered this and had to correct it later with glue (see below), but if you get this pulled tight now, it makes life easier later.

 

helmet11.jpg

 

Here’s a closeup of one of the sides. Notice that I cut a notch out of the brow ridge. This was to fit the plastic circles that will comprise the ears. Don’t follow my picture exactly, as every ear circle will be different, and I did not cut this notch until my ear circles were ready. It even turned out to be necessary to notch my brow ridges a little differently on each side. Notice also that I smashed the mask’s circle edges down and tightly as I could. I plan to cover these circles with circles of my own, and need as much clearance as possible.

 

helmet12.jpg

 

For the ear circles, I went shopping at my local dollar store for cheap storage bowls, and settled on these:

 

helmet13.jpg

 

It’s a good thing I had extra, because this plastic wants to crack. First thing I did was to sand off the lettering and logos on the bottom.

 

helmet14.jpg

 

Then I cut the bottoms off, about 3/16â€, giving me this:

 

helmet15.jpg

 

How deep to cut the bowl depends on its size. I cut very shallow, did a test fit, then cut deeper, test fit, and so on. Every situation will be different. I chose my bowl size by making sure to get one large enough to cover the helmet's old rivets.

 

A couple pro tips on the process for this. Before cutting, I marked a line all the way around. I was able to draw this evenly by holding a Sharpie marker in one position, propped up on something just a bit, and holding the bowl up against it, rotating the bowl slowly, letting the bowl do the marking, and not moving the Sharpie at all.

 

Secondly, for cutting, these bowls are brittle and want to split down the middle. So I used scissors and made a spiral cut from the outside, working my way closer and close in a circular cut, till coming into contact with my line at a VERY shallow angle. I lost two bowls before I got a clue! Dremel is no good here; the cheap plastic melts too easily. At least for my bowls.

 

It was time to bolt on the mask. I picked up the following screws, washers, nuts, and lock (split) washers from Home Depot:

 

helmet16.jpg

 

These are #8-32 threads, and the screws are 3/8" in length. I really wanted shorter screws, but it’s a good thing I couldn’t find any. I needed that full 3/8†length just to get it on the helmet! Going with 1/2" would have been too long, as my son would have felt the screws, so I would have needed to cut the tips of the screws off. Not easy inside a helmet. Nope, 3/8" was perfect.

 

After drilling small holes through the ear circles, I removed one screw only from the helmet, drilled a larger bolt hole where the screw hole was, and put it all on in this order from the inside:

 

1. screw

2. lock washer

3. helmet

4. mask

5. ear circle

6. flat washer

7. nut

 

The nut was the last thing on the outside. Believe it or not, it was very difficult to get all this on such a short screw, so take your time. This is what resulted:

 

helmet17.jpg

 

See why that notch in the brow ridge is so necessary? Be sure to cut off too little at a time with the x-acto knife. I cut a little too much my first time, and ended up having more to fill with Bondo later.

 

I repeated for the other side.

 

At this point, I realized that attaching the mask in this way caused a left and right gap 2" long along the top of the brow ridge where the mask comes into contact with the helmet. I was able to correct this using E6000 glue (silicone works as well). I glued one side at a time, using two small spring clamps THROUGH THE EYE of the mask, one from the inside of the helmet and one from the outside. The nature of this kind of glue allowed me to make corrections and adjustments (and to wipe up excess). I applied the glue from inside the helmet, attaching one clamp closer to the outside of the eye first. Then, I repeated the process toward the middle of the mask.

 

I'm so sorry I do not have a picture of this part, but here's a poor Photoshop attempt to illustrate:

 

helmet5.jpg

 

I don't remember which clamp was on the inside and which on the outside, so if you need to close up these gaps, do what works best for you.

 

This has to dry overnight. Even after gluing, the gap won't be 100% closed, but it will definitely be close enough, and you can choose to fill more with Bondo or caulk later if you want. This gap can be minimized significantly if you pulled the mask back far enough on the sides along the brow when you originally bolted it on. My bolting locations are not necessarily ideal; maybe I should have tried a couple bolt holes farther back on the helmet.

 

For the rank bumps on the ears, I cut two rectangles from thin foam at 5/8†x 1â€, and two of the same size from thick foam. The little strips are about 1/2†x 1/8â€. In the center of each piece of the thick foam I punched a hole about 1/4†or so in diameter. This is to fit over the nut on the outside. I recommend going a little too large for the hole, so it will lay down on the ear better.

 

helmet18.jpg

 

I white glued them together, layering the thin foam onto the thick foam, and then the strips. The easy way to apply the strips is to cover the thin foam layer completely with a thin layer of white glue, then put the strips on. Then I moved them around until they looked right.

 

helmet19.jpg

 

Okay, that’s it for Step 1. If you’re following along and want to keep things simple, you can silicone or E6000 the ear blocks onto the circles now, and skip ahead to Step 3. You’ll have a perfectly serviceable helmet. If you’re as nuts as I am and want to push the envelope a little and/or fill some gaps, keep the ear blocks off and move on to the next step. As you’ll see, it makes for a much better bucket.

 

I’ll post it tomorrow or Sunday.

 

Thanks for reading, and thanks again everyone for the kind words and cheerleading. :)

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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Your son is the luckiest kid on earth... 

 

Are you going to paint the brow black or do anything to make it "thicker"? 

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Yep, I repainted the brow. That will be in Step 3. I had to get a little creative with it because the gluing turned it into an "angry frown", and I ended up painting it possibly a little thinner than I should have. But it came out well, as you'll see. :)

 

Thank you!

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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19. HELMET (Step 2)

 

After putting everything together and having a test fitting, I came to the conclusion that the back of the helmet rides up a little too high in the back, and that there are some gaps in the front brow and ears that can be filled prior to painting. To say nothing of the harsh transition of mask to helmet at the ears. I decided to take things to a next level.

 

The first thing I did was to slope the bottom sides, so that the tube I put around the back will line up with the mask's tubes. So I took a Sharpie and sketched a couple cutting lines:

 

helmet20.jpg

 

helmet21.jpg

 

I made the cuts using my dremel. You could use blades, but be careful of cracking. The helmet really wants to do that! I didn't feel the need to be perfect about this, because the back tube will cover it.

 

helmet22.jpg

 

What tube? Previous kids' helmet makers had used a styrofoam floral ring. I tried that, but it is too rigid, and its perfect roundness stretched the mask really wide, making it very strange to look at when my son wore it. It also pushed the mask right onto his nose. Instead, I picked up a roll of this soft pipe insulation tubing at Home Depot:

 

helmet23.jpg

This tubing is very soft, very porous and bendy. You can get it with a pre-cut slit down the side or without. Either way, I needed a slit just like that. Six feet cost less than three bucks.

 

After cutting a short length and test fitting, I set about to attaching the tube to the helmet. The slit goes around the base of the helmet, and gets jammed in behind the mask tubes. I used hot glue to attach it, only gluing a couple inches at a time.

 

helmet24.jpg

 

When I was finished, this is what it looked like:

 

helmet25.jpg

 

Look at that beautiful asymmetry. ;)

 

helmet26.jpg

 

For the gap between the tube and mask, I jammed in there a piece of scrap tube material.

 

helmet27.jpg

 

I went through many trials and errors before deciding on the proper process here, so some of my pictures may seem a little out of order. But the structure of the helmet is done. It was now time to fill some gaps and prep it all for finishing.

 

First thing was to think about the porous insulation tube. After failed Bondo adhesion, I ended up painting it with four thick coats of white glue. This helped the tube bcome more rigid.

 

helmet28.jpg

 

When this had dried, it was time to break out the Bondo!

 

I had never used Bondo, but I knew I didn't want to deal with the two-part stuff. I wanted something I could squeeze out of a tube, so I went with Bondo Glazing & Spot Putty #907. There are tradeoffs here, I learned later, because this stuff does have a tendency to crack. But sanding the cracks tends to make most of them go away, and you can always add another layer to cover them. This Bondo worked fine for me.

 

helmet29.jpg

 

Looking below, you can see I smeared tons of Bondo all over the tube, in the space where tube transitions to helmet, around the brow trim to fill and cover the remaining gaps, around the ear circles, and in all the places where mask and helmet meet. I wore nitrile gloves and laid it on thick. This stuff sands so very, very easily, like butter, so lay it on thick and sand lightly!

 

helmet30.jpg

 

I ended up probably going through about three rounds of Bondo, laying it on thick, waiting to dry, sanding nice and smooth, and repeating. I learned not to sand too aggressively, or you can get right down to the plastic layer, and you want to try to avoid that. Smoothing transitions to the helmet, like where the back tube smoothes up to the helmet or around the brow is going to be tricky, so I switched to a finer grit sandpaper, like 150 or so. Especially watch the tube, where the sandpaper rips up the glue layer. The Bondo turns light pink where it's sanded, so this really helps find the pits and divots. Again, do not worry about cracks; either sand them out or lay on another layer of Bondo. Just keep repeating the process until it looks right. This is really pretty easy, just take it slow.

 

At this point I glued on the ear blocks, using E6000. Silicone works too.

 

Then, I painted three more coats of white glue all over the bondo'ed pieces and ear blocks, just to seal it all up and protect it a little more. Here's what it looked like after all that:

 

helmet31.jpg

 

helmet32.jpg

 

This is a close-up of the ear area. Pay no attention to the fact that it's all white (I painted before I should have), look at the blending. It may all look a little messy, but I assure you, this is all acceptable. The cracks can be filled with more Bondo, or they can be cleaned up in the last step: caulk.

 

helmet33.jpg

 

For caulking, I went back to the Dynaflex 230, and smoothed it in (just a little, don't overdo it) with a finger wearing nitrile gloves. This kind of caulk does pick up fingerprints and it skins up pretty fast. I don't have a picture, but I did some smoothing of the brow ridge area, cracks in the ear circles, blending points between mask and helmet, and finally around the ear blocks to smooth their transition.

 

This picture below shows how it all looked after a few coats of paint, but I wanted to post it here to show the transitions. It's not even close to perfect, but once it's all painted and detailed and you're not six inches away, it looks really good.

 

helmet34.jpg

 

Time for finishing! I'll try to post that tomorrow.

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax
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20. HELMET (Step 3)

 



 

helmet40a.jpghelmet40b.jpg

Time for fun stuff!

 

First off, I finished the entire bucket with the usual finishing, but no white glue. Just Plastidip, gloss enamel and glaze. I wanted to get good coverage, so I also sprayed the underside bits of the bucket by turning it upside down and supporting it with wood blocks and a piece of parchment paper. This held the bucket stable so I could get the chin and underside of the tube really well.

 

The spray pattern for each paint was 3 coats underside 10 minutes apart, wait 10 minutes, then flip the bucket over and spray 3 coats topside 10 minutes apart. Then, switch to enamel, repeat, switch to glaze, and repeat. The parchment really helped the bucket not stick to anything whie I painted, although I did go through a few pieces.

 

helmet41.jpg

 

Next, I carefully masked off the ear blocks and teeth using Frog Tape. This is just like blue painters tape, but it's thinner, leaves a sharper line, sticks better, and pulls off less material when you remove it.

 

helmet42.jpg

 

I brush painted the ear blocks and teeth using the same Testors gray as I used for the thermal detonator and ab buttons. There's still plenty left over. I only let the paint dry 10-15 minutes, and then pulled the tape off. I did not paint the black line around the ear blocks, but a Sharpie marker does the trick very nicely after it has dried 4-6 hours.

 

At this point that I had to address a brow ridge problem. Because of the way it was fitted and glued, the center of the brow ridge was coming down a little too far in the front, creating a little bit of a "V" pattern, like the trooper has an angry look. Most people won't care, but I figured I could mostly obscure this with paint.

 

If you look at the masking below, I compensated for the "V" by using the Frog tape to form a new line, cutting somewhat up into the dome above.

 

helmet43.jpg

 

Then I brush painted Testors black paint across the line. When I pulled up the tape, I saw one or two minor gaps that I fixed with the paint freehand. Here's the result:

 

helmet44.jpg

 

Using the paint to correct for this was actually really effective. It's hard to tell in the pictures, but in real life it works perfectly. In retrospect, I should have painted a much thicker line, but this is fine for now. If you're following along, you can minimize the difference between brow shape and paint by making the line 50% or so thicker.

 

For decals, I picked up a pack of these Avery Easy Peel Shipping Labels #18863. They are "clear" address labels that you can print on using a computer printer. In reality, they're a touch more "frosted white" than clear, but that works just fine for my needs. AND THEY STICK REALLY WELL!!!

 

helmet45.jpg

 

Using the decal template, I printed the page onto a sheet of address labels, and used an x-acto knife and scissors to cut them out. x-acto for straight lines, scissors for curves and rounded corners. Then, I carefully applied them to the bucket. Everything was easy to position except for the rear traps, so I took my time with them. These stickers do not want to come up once they've been stuck and pressed down really well. Also, watch for smearing ink. Even dry ink wants to smear off after awhile. I fixed that with a clear coat later.

 

helmet46.jpg

 

helmet47.jpg

 

After this, I applied 3 more coats of clear glaze to protect the paint and decals.

 

For the eyes, I had to break out one thing I already have that may be tricky for others to justify buying: my laminator. I purchased some green cellophane from Michaels (Jo-Ann and floral shops have it too).

 

Using the eyes template, I cut three layers of cellophane for each eye. Here's a trick on how to do that: I took a large piece of cellophane, and folded it in half three times so I had eight layers. Then I took a printout of one of the eyes and placed it on top, with a sheet of blank paper on the bottom. It's a paper sandwich with 8 layers of cellophane inside. Then, using sharp scissors, I cut out the eye pattern. Voila, 8 eye pieces! Just flip over some of them to get the opposite eye.

 

After some testing of darkness versus being able to see in low light, I settled with three layers of cellophane per eye. Carefully layering them inside my laminator, I ran it through.

 

helmet48.jpg

 

After doing this twice and cutting them out large enough to have a nice clear plastic clearance around them, my eyes were done.

 

helmet49.jpg

 

Don't have a laminator? My next thought would be a few layers of clear packing tape, stuck sticky side to sticky side, and a green marker. :)

 

Now that I had eyes, I considered the mesh for the teeth.

 

helmet50.jpg

 

This mesh has some hot glue stains on it from cheap manufacturing, so I cut it into three pieces and hot glued it on the inside around the teeth space. I even used some dabs of hot glue between teeth.

 

For the eyes, I also hot glued them over the eye holes. This was a little tricky, because I really had to get in there. I made it work by just starting with a corner and letting it cool. Then I glued the rest in one go. I had to hold it in while the glue cooled. Blowing on it helped. There will be residue glue that leaks through to the front, so I had most success pulling the residue off before it gets 100% cool. In one or two cases where I was too slow, carefully picking at it with an x-acto knife helped.

 

helmet51.jpg

 

And here is the finished bucket!

 

helmet52.jpg

 

You might notice a little bit of a "grainy" effect in the final finish. I believe this is because I was spraying in pretty high humidity. But I was out of time and it still looks just fine in real life. If you have the time and location for it, try only to spray in humidity below 50%.

 

Also, the bucket does still come up a little too high in the back, but it works really fine for our purposes. Vincent says that it's a little tight, and hurts to put on and take off unless he has the balaclava (snags the hair), so I recommend using the balaclava to make the helmet easy to wear and to obscure any skin in the back. Vincent has a large head for his age, so other children might find it easier without the balaclava.

 

In retrospect, if I had a little more time, I might consider buying TWO space helmets, and using the bottom 1"-2" of one as a shim for the other, to bring down the back more. But this would require angling the mask a little differently when it's attached, which could then mean a big job with the dremel on the visor opening. Nope, I'm good. :)

 

So this is all the work. The armor is done. I will post one more section in the next day or so, where I show the fully finished suit on Vincent in different views, as well as share a few thoughts about wearing this armor.

 

Thanks,

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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21. ALL DONE

 

So, ready to see it all?

 

 

done01.jpg done02.jpg done03.jpg

 

Vincent was very happy with his armor. We got pretty fast at putting it all on. This is the order or assembly I settled on after a few attempts:

 

1. black shirt and pants.

2. white socks

3. thighs

4. shoes

5. lower legs

6. balaclava

7. torso and back as one step*

8. shoulder straps

9. shoulder bells

10. biceps

11. forearms

12. gloves

13. helmet

 

* I keep the three front pieces connected at all times, and the three back pieces connected at all times. I attach these both halves to each other on one side (as seen here), and then wrap it all around him, securing on the other side.

 

done04a1.jpg done04.jpg done06.jpg

 

Mobility is pretty good, but it would have been better if I has shortened the lower legs just a little.

 

done07.jpg done08.jpg done09.jpg

 

And here he is with his happy dad... :)

 

done10.jpg done11.jpg done12.jpg

 

A word about storage. I got a large clear rubbermaid storage bin, and keep all the pieces in there. The pieces will deform a little over time if you allow them to be store long term in a "smashed" state. This is especially true of the shoulder bells. I stand the arm pieces on their ends in the bin for this reason. I keep the two 3-piece torso parts intact for quick assembly, and store them in the bin so that they're "spooning" each other, helping to hold their shape. I also try to avoid letting the armor sit in a hot car for long periods, because this could cause the foam to get soft. I think my hard shell finishes will help prevent this, but it's not worth the risk!

 

The perfectionist in me says I should have painted those shoe soles black. Think I'll make Centurion one day? ;) Ironic that my son suddenly knows a lot more about what it feels like to be trooping in armor than I do.

 

Again, thank you to all who have contributed questions and support through this project. It was a great deal of fun, taught me some new skills, and made me VERY familiar with TK armor, especially with how it should fit on a person's body. Ready to build my own!

 

I would absolutely love if anyone of you who uses these patterns in your own projects, please post a pic or two of how it worked out for you, any mods you made, etc., in this thread here. I will be monitoring this thread closely for quite awhile, so feel free to post any questions here rather than PM me.

 

Thanks!

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax
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Very cool, I like how it all turned out! I definitely want to do this for my son when he gets older.

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That is awesome work Bill, your boy must be so excited and proud of you to pull off such a great set of armour.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Excellent job!!! I'll be making a few of these for my niece and nephews. Thanks so much for posting this!

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Templates saved and printed and will be starting my build soon! Having a squadmate 3D print an E11 for me as well. My son is only 3 but is very excited to move from his TK pajamas to the foam armor. Thanks for the awesome build thread and of course, we will post some pics here!  

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Absolutely loving this...so much that I'm already through with the arms for daughter #1's suit.<br><br>

Question on the glue process: it is insanely painstaking. Have you tried any spray on glues, other lacquers on not using glue at all? I figured going straight to FlexiDip would be easier, or swap the glue with modpodge, and only 1 coat.<br><br>

Anyone else try a different variant on painting?

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Good questions, you might try going straight to Flexi-Dip. The challenge, though, is that the foam is going to want to soak up anything you spray on it. Maybe with sufficient coats of Flexi-Dip it will work? I'm not sure. You've got to close up those pores somehow. Maybe a quick once-over with a heat gun to make it shiny, and then go to Flexi-Dip? I think that would be worth a try.

 

Either way, I like the extra smoothing the glue accomplished as well.

 

Glad you've started on the suit. Hope you post pictures when you're done!

 

Bill

Edited by Astyanax

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