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Rebecca's First Build Ever - ESB TK

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A year ago, at the opening year of a local con, I happened upon the 501st Legion booth.  I knew vaguely what it was, but had never really given it much thought beyond that.  I picked up a brochure, half on a whim, half just curiosity.  I later saw Boba Fett having an in-depth conversation with Batman, and thought "This is why I love cons."  I was too shy to actually approach anyone in 501st costume (Boba, TIE Pilot, pretty sure at least one TK), but it started something.  A year and countless hours of research later... here we are.  


Kit: AM 2.0

Gloves: Nomex (I used these rubber chemical gloves for Centurion)

Boots: TK Boots

Under Suit: Eastbay compression top, and random brand yoga/compression pants

Neckseal: Trooperbay

Belt: TKittell

Blaster: Hyperfirm by Slave5

Holster: Darman (8oz)

Random tools: Wen Dremel with flex shaft, #1 series X-Actos, curved scissors, lots and lots of clamps in various sizes from Harbor Freight, E6000 glue, Empire metal ruler, rare earth magnets, lots of blue tape.  


Since I've never built really anything before, I was utterly terrified for a long time.  I finally reached a point where reading and research had gotten me as far as it was going to, and it was time to just start building.  Luckily I've had great help from my local squad members, and after that initial cut, it wasn't so bad.  Even the helmet didn't seem like such a daunting challenge.  The CRL seemed to make more and more sense by the time my kit arrived, I could positively identify all the pieces.  


This set is actually a couple of weeks worth of work, since I chose the busiest time of my life to start this whole process, between working full time, going back to school (out of town) twice a week, and buying a house (first house, whoo!).  Slow and steady, it seems, lately.  My goal is to finish my December 17th.  I'd love to not only be able to troop the premiere (our squad will be at a local theater, of course), but also have that potentially be my first troop?  I'm trying not to put too much pressure on that, just in case, I don't want to rush, but a timeline incentive is nice.  


Eventually, I plan to go Centurion.  I'm doing as much as I can to that spec now, and will modify a few things (hand guards/gloves, etc)., later.  


Obligatory brown box shot (yes, it's already been opened, I couldn't wait);




Kit all laid out, where it would stay for a few days, until we were going to have company and my mom wanted her living room back (I was staying there while I was having my house painted and new floors put in, among other things):




I started with my forearms.  Unfortunately I wasn't thinking and didn't take pictures of the process, but I ended up trimming roughly a 1/4'' off each side.  Here they are laid out trimmed, hard to tell the difference, but they we huge on me at first.  I have long, narrow hands, small wrists, and long, narrow arms.  




Return edge removed:




Post Centurion edit:

Here's the fully removed return edge:




Next, the biceps:





Marked for trimming, might need to be trimmed a little more, but I'm pretty close.  Again, I took off about 1/4''.  I really should work on at least SOME muscle... the downsides of an office job.  




I found this was a far superior way to make a straight line score (not my strong suit, straight lines)- clamping my ruler onto the piece, then clamping it all onto my craft board (from a local hardware store for about $8).  And I thought I wasn't going to need that old microwave cart anymore!  Hence why it's in the garage in the first place.  It's actually been a perfect work station.  I used my X-Acto to score it, and keep scoring it until I could bend and snap.






I was very impressed with the #1 X-Acto.  And I got a three pack for $10 on Amazon, so not a bad price.  My box cutters were just sliding across the slick ABS and doing very little, but the X-Acto, while it did dull after the four bicep pieces, is still functioning well enough to keep using it for another few pieces.  


Biceps all finished:




Some random bits to trim:


Shim tabs on the butt plate and abs (shaded removed):






Excess length on chest tabs:




Now to trim the excess length off the cod and butt.


I ended up trimming it in the middle of those two lines on the cod, seems just about right.  I might take a little more later, but for now it's a good start:






Same with the butt plate (shaded removed):




And now, hand guards!


As other threads have noticed, these suckers are gigantic.  At first I thought it was just my hands (long (8''), but narrow and halfway feminine), but then one of the guys in my squad compared them to his hands (which are not small), and they were even too big for him.  






After reading through other treads and holding them on my own hands, I decided on trimming 3/4''.  It seems just about perfect.  






Left: Original

Right: Trimmed




Much better!


And then I got both brave and ready for something different... and so, I made the first mark on the helmet.  


Alas, poor Yorick...




I opted for 8 teeth, rather than 6, because I like the look of more teeth.  Here's the rough cut (to be filed later).  I ended up using my X-Acto because the head of my dremel attachment came off and I was having issues putting it back together (sometimes I get a mental block on things, I'm sure once I come back to it it will be a piece of cake to put it back together).  






And speaking of cake, I have Grandpa's birthday cake to frost for tonight, so that's all for now.  

Edited by sharkbait

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Looking good! Keep up the steady progress! Do not hesitate to hit me or Zuko up if you hit a speed bump. Looking really good so far. See you at Zappcon!

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Another ESB for the ranks! Awesome. Keep up the great work and just remember to not rush if uncertain. Soon you'll be trooping with the rest of us plastic space men and women!

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Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated... 


I've been steadily working and building (and taking pictures for the most part) but just haven't been able to post updates.  Most of the time it came down to either work on the armor, or post; well, the former obviously won out. 


So, here's what I've been up to:


Under suit: I always have issues with my pants and long-sleeves riding up, so for my under suit (Eastbay compression top and pants), I used an old motorcycle trick, and added ¼’’ black elastic stirrups to each pant leg and sleeve.  Worked just like I’d hoped.  The sleeves were actually long enough that they don’t end to ride up much, but this will definitely keep them from doing so, and the pants did want to migrate upwards after walking, so this will keep those in place, too. 


Inner strips glued onto forearms and biceps, and then glued fully closed.










Original shoulder bridge v. rough trimmed shoulder bridge.  Some sanding later and the shoulder bridges were done. 




I trimmed return edges until the cows came home, it seemed like.  I put a crack in the top of a shin doing so.  I went ahead and removed the entire return edge on the bottom of the shin and both ends of the thighs.  Fit wise, this felt much better, looks, you really don’t see it much.


Next I worked on the shins, following the AM Shin Tutorial religiously, labeled them carefully, and fitted them.  When I glued the inner strips to the front.  One side looked like it wasn't sitting, right, and had too much flex.  I tested it, and sure enough, CRACK.  I made some ABS paste and fixed both cracks.  Then I glued the cover strips to the front and back.  












My canvas belt is from TKittell.  I trimmed the edges, added the 45 degree angle, punched holes, and riveted the plastic to the canvas, and added buttons.  I did elastic loops to attach my drop boxes.  To bend the belt (and thigh ammo pack), I used this tutorial by Pandatrooper.  Worked perfectly!




The blaster is a Hyperfirm by Slavefive, and the holster is a 8 oz by Darman.  


I taped and painted the ab buttons:






I also painted the side rivets white:




My kit came with green bubble lenses and a thin flat green sheet.  I’m picky and I wanted smoke.  Long story short, after looking all over town for a welding screen or lenses that weren’t grade 12s, I found out Cycle Gear’s in house brand BiLT has cheap shields to go with their cheap motorcycle helmets.  So, $17 later, I had a dark smoke shield to cut new lenses out of (and it was big enough I can get at least one more set out of it, or, if I screwed up, I’d have more material to work with).  I used the green bubbles as templates (perfect shape). 




Dremel work and four cutting blades (one eaten through, one rolled of the table and shattered, one got ¼ of the way in and shattered, and one made it just barely to the end) and some sanding later, I have new lenses! 


I got the teeth cut out to satisfaction and used Sabyre's technique of Play Doh to mask them off before spray painting the inside of the helmet black.  I roughed up the inside a bit with sandpaper (in hindsight I could have used my finer grain, but ultimately most of it will be covered with helmet pads and/or too dark to really be seen anyway, so it didn't really matter).  I used Rustoleum 2x, and I think it worked great, about two coats at it was evenly covered, with minimal over spray.   I also went with Gloss because I favor the gloss look.  (Also, Play Doh smells like childhood). 






I would also recommend covering not just the edges like I did but about 1'' - 2'' farther in as well, helps with over spray and wind.  But it wasn't anything some mineral spirits didn't take care of.  And when working with mineral spirits, note where your hands end up, because you’ll end up smudging liquid-y paint all. freaking. over. the. place.  And not understand why for an embarrassing amount of time. 


Helmet inside looks good!  Might it be time to assemble? 


On one side, the pre-dimpled holes were dead on.  The other… just the slightest bit crooked.  Enough to drive me nuts.  After much back and forth, the helmet went in time out for a few weeks while I worked on other stuff.  Then, it came back out, and much was accomplished.  I re-drilled a few holes, sanded, cried, added a screw under the ears to pull the helmet pieces together.  It's still not quite there, but it's close.  




I taped off and painted the ear bars, and added the last decals.  










I also ordered hovi tips from ukswrath, with the speaker/audio system, and they arrived Christmas Eve.  First Christmas gift of the year! :)  I played with them Christmas morning and am very happy thus far. (I did the iComm, amp, omni mike, and ptt cable, which I may or may not use).  I added velcro and have a mess of wires to put in there.  A garrison member is making me a fan system, so I'll have that shortly, and will install then.  




I went to a local military supply store and picked up some helmet padding, exactly the type I was after and for only $22, too.




For the snap plates, I went with four singles to connect the butt and kidney, two for the shoulder connections, one for each shoulder bell, three for the right side connection of kidney to abs.  




My giant brown box with my 50 gallon Stanley storage container arrived.  I am apparently part cat so the first thing I did after I pulled it out was sit in the box.  




TD tube measured and trimmed.  Exactly 7.5’’ long, with end caps.  I’m not sure how I managed that.  I measured again and glued on the plate.  I ordered clips from ukswrath and all was complete.  






For the thighs, I used Lady In White’s tutorial, and make a V cut instead of a straight cut, to taper them just a bit at the bottom.  I'm on a time crunch, because I really want to troop our next event, the Girl Scout G.I.R.L. Expo, which is next Saturday.  (I had originally hoped to troop the TFA premier, but it was pretty obvious that wasn't going to happen, and I considered trying for yesterday's event, Star Wars Night with the Fresno Monsters, but I wasn't quite there, either).  I was a Girl Scout for seven years (sold cookies for six), and I think it's fitting.  So, in effort to finish on time, I had already glued the front inner strips.  Since I've been letting the glue cure for 48 hours, I don't have the luxury of gluing piece by piece with two days each and only six days to finish.  I glued the fronts together, the front cover strips, the back inner strips and the back cover strips.  So far... so good.  




Test fitting the thighs.  Ignore the fact that the sniper plate is on the wrong side, I was in a hurry and not paying attention since I was focused on the thighs.  


So, checklist of what’s left:

Fix ears

Finish installing helmet electronics (tie up cords, basically)

Install fans and 12v batteries

Trim and attach thigh pack


Looks like I'm gonna make it!

Edited by sharkbait
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Glad to see your still at it. Because of all the work I did on my thighs I never re-did the inner cover strips, also I've read multiple posts where some claim it's not necessary. As someone who hasn't trooped officially yet though, the biggest thing they have helped me with so far is making it easier to do the outer cover strips.<br><br>

Hope you hit your goal.

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Glad to see your still at it. Because of all the work I did on my thighs I never re-did the inner cover strips, also I've read multiple posts where some claim it's not necessary. As someone who hasn't trooped officially yet though, the biggest thing they have helped me with so far is making it easier to do the outer cover strips.<br><br>

Hope you hit your goal.


I tried to skip the inner strip once, early on, on I think either a bicep or a forearm, and it was a disaster.  I ended up cleaning off the glue and doing it one piece at at time.  I needed the hold of the inner strips.  I had also attempted to glue the forearms in one go- inner strips to both halves and on both sides, also did not happen.  I think the reason the thighs worked is more practice, for sure, but mainly I didn't have to reshape the thigh pieces for a round fit, like I did the forearms (well, one of them anyway), so there was less resistance and the clamps and magnets were able to hold better.  Motivation I'm sure also played a factor.  

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Keep up the great work! That is one BIG tote shipping box!

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