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fragarock's TK foam build for even shorter people.....kids

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Hi Fellow Troopers,


Well, after fulfilling my dream of becoming a Stormtrooper, I decided to take on a small side project. My six year old son Archie has been digging my armor and with Halloween a few months away he informed my that he also wanted to be a Stormtrooper. Two seconds after he announced this, my three year old daughter shouted out that she too wanted to be a pink Stormtrooper. She quickly changed her mind saying she'd rather be a pink Darth Vader because "it would be so cute". Yes it would Daisy....yes it would....but that's for another time. So it's time to get back to the workshop, dig out the build supplies, find new products online and order more stuff in brown boxes. 


I looked at several examples of kid builds and realized that EVA foam would be the best option to use. It's lightweight, flexible, and seems to be easily cut and glued together. I guess I'll see when I get to that point.

For now, I'm starting with the helmet.


I went to the trusty and highly praised Walt's Trooper Factory (WTF) for a child sized TK helmet. Walt got back to me immediately with the price and I placed the order. He let me know that delivery was about 6 weeks out from the time of the order. So, I was pleasantly surprised when the BBB showed up the next week. Nice huh?


Here's what you get in the box. I'm hosting these images on imgur and trying this for the first time...hopefully you can see the pics.

It's similar to my RS lid with a front and back piece, (2) sets of ears, a lens, brow and neck trim, rivets, ear bolts/nuts, cast hovi-tips and blue stripe decals. The ABS is sturdy with a thin spot only on the underside of the vocoder which was the same thin spot on my RS lid. 


Since I now know how these go together, this helmet build should be quick. 



Here are some shots of the back lid. It has pretty well defined trim lines...unlike the RS lid.





Here's the front. Duh...of course it's the front. Why am I explaining this to you guys...you know what a TK lid looks like!







The WTF lid is not quite as crisp/clean as my RS lid in the background but that's okay because it's scaled down about 60%-70% of a full size and still looks good. It's really great that WTF makes these kits for kids....brilliant really.


That's it for now. I'm into the painting phase of the lid but for tonight I'll stop here as it's getting late and I need some sleep. 


Hope everyone enjoys this build and I hope that it proves useful for anyone else thinking about tackling a kid size TK costume. Stay tuned for the next update!

Edited by fragarock
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Awesome! Can't wait until my kids are old enough to have their own kits. :) And re EVA foam, if you haven't already, sign up for The RPF, where you can see a bunch of EVA foam builds. Also, Punished Props has a book called Foamsmith all about making foam armor.

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Thanks for the heads up on the Foamsworks books. I ordered it, should be very useful.

The RPF site is where I saw most of the foam builds, that's such a great site too.

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk

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Since the trim lines are well defined on this kit it was easy to follow them for the rough trimming. I started with the back of the lid. Then I used my tape to set a straight line across the brow. Basically I lined up the cut line with the bottom of the front traps.



This gave me a pretty straight line across. I just needed to trim a smidge off to get to the actual pencil line. I did this with my Dremel grinding drum...my favorite tool.





Trimming the front piece is straightforward. You can see the trim line which is quite obvious.



After trimming the front piece I did some test fits and used the trusty magnets to hold the piece together. This helmet is very symmetrical so it was easy to align the center of the brow with the center of the face piece. My RS one was much more difficult to center. You'll see I left a bit of a gap to allow the insertion of the brow trim later one. I suggest placing the brow trim on while setting these pieces into position, that way you know exactly how far above the eye holes the brow should go.




To trim the eyes, start by drilling a series of holes around the perimeter..kinda like connect-the-dots. I used a 1/8" drillbit in my dremel. Don't get too close to the outside of the eye opening. Always leave material there so you can fine tune the cut later.




To connect-the-dots I used a pointy grinding bit. Where a respirator and eye protection. You don't want this stuff in your lungs.






This leaves you with pretty rough eye holes. I then switched back to my cylindrical grinding drum to carve our a nicer shape. Then sanded the edges down with 400 grit sandpaper.






Time to cut out the teeth. Again used a drill bit to out a few holes in each tooth area. But then carved out the remaining plastic with my files. This photo below shows the rough cuts before I made the holes rectangular with the files.






I keep my RS lid nearby for reference.




Once the teeth were cut out and sanded it was time to fasten the front and back together. I realigned the pieces and held them in place with magnets.




Once I was happy with the placement I drilled a 1/8" hole on each side of the back piece for the pop rivet. I took the roughly cut out ears and placed them in their approximate location and marked a hole where the center of the round ear piece would fall. Do this for each side.




Then drill thru both pieces. Make sure to hold them tightly together while you drill.




Then get out your pop rivet gun and go to work. WTF includes pop rivets with the kit. I have about 4 million of them left over from my TK build so I used some of those. Note that there's a second pop rivet that goes on each side, farther down, usually near the neck line. I left mine unattached while I trimmed the ears. This would make it easier for me to get in and trim with scissors material off the side of the lid if it was in the way of the ear pieces.




Next it was time to tackle the ears. This is the most cumbersome part of the build and most time consuming. If you've already built a TK helmet you know what I'm talking about.

Here are the raw pieces. In this image the one on the right is actually the left ear. You can tell because the lower part of the piece swoops backwards when placed on the helmet.



Start of by doing a very rough trim. Leaving lots of material around the ears. You'll trim much of this off as you go but better to trim more later then over trim now and be hosed. Luckily if you do mess this up, WTF includes a spare set. The pencil lines are where my next trim lines will be to.




Here's the left ear cut just a bit shy of my pencil lines.




Here's my grinding drum that I use for almost all fine trimming work. It precisely chews thru ABS, even the thick sections and really works well for getting into the curves of the ear pieces.

Now, there was at least an hour of work fitting and trimming this ear to follow the contours of the helmet. I won't go into detail. If you want the nitty gritty details please refer to my RS armor build or there are many other builds out there and videos. 




After trimming to fit, I find there's usually a gap where the two parts of the lid don't quite get squeezed together enough, even with the pop rivets. So I usually notch the top of the ear piece and grind off more material on the part that sits over the back of the lid. You'll also note the ear bolt holes are now drilled with a 1/8" bit. The kit has indentations to locate these holes.




The right ear is the same process.



Once I was happy with the ear fit it was time to put the second rivet into the helmet. Some people put this down by the neck line but I keep mine up a bit so it won't conflict with the bolt that attaches the bottom of the ear to the helmet.




Next place the ears in position and drill thru into the helmet for the bolts.




Here you see the hardware provide with the kit. The top of each ear get (2) shorter bots. The bottom of each ear gets (1) longer one. On the inside of the helmet place a washer before putting on the nut. You also see my countersink that I use to set the screws deeper into the plastic.



Here, the top bolt is countersunk while the bottom one isn't. I recommend this for a cleaner look.



Here they are placed.



At this point I haven't installed the lower bolts. I don't do that until I'm certain I've got the neck hole cut out to its final size...or at least close to the final size.



That's all for tonight.

Long live the Empire!

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Nice job on those ears, Frank! :)  

Maybe it's the angle of the pics, but the faceplate looks positioned a little 'flat' to me.  Like it's too smushed in there.  Here's a comparison pic so you can see what I'm talking about:



If you're able to bring the faceplate out a bit, it will allow for some extra room in there for your kiddo's noggin. :)  Just a suggestion, of course!  

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Hey Troopers,


Figured I'd give you an update on the progress here. I'm trying to work on this a bit every day...as well as other projects...so that I get this done for him by October 31st. The helmet will be for his birthday in a few weeks.


The next part to work on was the lens. A light green tinted lens is provided with the kit and I wanted to do a traditional and simple install, mounting it to the ear screws that poke thru into the helmet. But I ran into a problem. The length was too short to reach the screws. Doh!  Luckily I had just received a replacement lens for my TK (same one you ordered Christine :)). This is a giant welding shield so I had plenty of material to cut off and use to make extensions onto the kids TK lens. 


Below you can see that I E6000'd a couple pieces on each end and let it dry overnight. The next night I marked out the holes, used an 1/8" drill bit and the install was done. Really simple. I left the inner protective plastic on for now. I'll remove it once the build is done.










Here are the hovi-mic tips. The are solid pieces and have the bolt embedded into the back. Just need some paint. Here's what I used.







Once installed, I took some sandpaper and roughed up the ends to give that distressed look and expos the white just like my TK helmet has.

I also dry brushed a bit of silver paint over the screen area to make it look a bit more like a real screen. I did this after the photo.




Next post will be painting but I'm off to go help with dinner. 

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I'll keep this post brief, just wanna show the painting of the bucket. Same process as a full size helmet.

I started off with the gray in the traps and the tears. Previously I had painted the teeth.






Then did the vocoder. Drew a pencil line around the vocoder and painted within the lines.




Use a small brush to paint the black trim lines.







I bought some pin striping tape to mask off the traps and tears. I thought this would work great, it's flexible and goes down easy. Unfortunately it bled a lot. Either it's not meant for plastic or it's just a crappy pin striping tape.













So, I simply took my gray paint and painted over the bleed areas. Also went pack in on the trim lines in the traps and tears with the gray to reduce the thickness of the original black lines I had put in as they looked a bit too thick.




After the bleed-thru mess I went back to trusty painters tape. The kit comes with a tube decal but I wanted to have the blue painted vents like my full size lid. I know there are a lot of blue stripes on these sides but with the helmet proportions being a bit different than a full size one, I took some liberties.






Here's the nearly complete helmet. I just need to install the neck S-trim but I'm waiting for my son to try it on before I cut it down to size. Overall this took about 6 hours to trim and assemble with another 5 hours to paint/touchup.







After doing my last troop at the Detroit Tigers baseball game, which ended late at night, I realized it was really hard to see thru the green lens. Since my son will use this costume on Halloween I figured it would be a good idea to give him a clear lens rather than the green one for night time. A while back I ordered clear safety lens material (face shield) and cut it out using the same hole pattern that I'd already done for his green lens. Here are a few pics. 


Oh, I also primed the inside of his helmet black since you'll be able to clearly see into it with this new lens. If he ever troops with me during the day I can easily switch back to the green lens.







Next....the EVA foam build begins!

Sha Sha, see the book in the background? Really great resource, thanks for the recommendation. I bought the other Foamsmith Weapons book too. 

Edited by fragarock
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Well it's another evening. Wife is asleep, kids are in bed, must be time for an update.


This is the start of the foam armor part of the build. I know WTF makes a great set of kid armor but I wanted to try to make my sons' armor from foam due to cost and I kinda wanted to learn how to do it. Plus it seemed like it would be fun.


I found several kid builds on the RPF, FISD and MEPD web sites. These all used EVA foam. Some were simple while others really tried to nail down the details of the original TK. I'll try to get the details and proportions as close as possible...well within reason.


So let's start. if anyone has done something similar or really knows how to work with this foam please chime in. Any advice is appreciated.



EVA foam, white. Ordered from various web sites. The first pieces I ordered were off-white which is OK as the whole thing will be painted at the end.

2mm sheets (trim pieces)

6mm roll & sheets (main armor)

10mm sheets (larger detail pieces)

Roll of pattern making fabric



Straight edge ruler

Fabric tape measure

Utility knife with extra blades

X-acto knife with extra blades

Snap-off type utility knife 



Contact cement

Omni-stick glue

Paint brushes

Painters tape

Respirator for organic compound vapors



Foamsmith book volume I & II



Here are the tools I started with. You'll need lots of extra knife blades. Using very sharp blades is critical for proper cuts and the foam dulls the blades quicker than you think it should.

There are various methods to glue the foam together but the best is contact cement. This produces an irreversible bond and after 15 minute setup time, the pieces can be instantly attached. Note that this stuff is highly flammable and can injure you if you breathe too much of it. Use outside and with a respirator that filters organic vapors. It can be applied with a brush and the brush can be reused a few times so just buy a bunch of cheap ones.




This book was recommend to me so I bought it and the companion book which deals with making weapons. It's incredibly useful and explains assembly methods and finishing including attachments and electronics.




I started of with something small, hand guards. I ordered small kid costume gloves on line. The hand guards will be made from the 2mm sheets. I took my pattern fabric and traced out the shape, copying the proportions and design from my RS gloves.




Start off by cutting (3) identical sized pieces of foam. I show (4) here but you only need (3). You'll stack these to create the raised pattern on the hand guard.




Here you see the different patterns you need to cut and how they stack atop each other. I show the left and right guards in the photo below.




Here they are stacked prior to gluing.



When gluing these down you need to coat both surface that will be in contact. The glue needs to set up for 15 minutes before you attach the pieces. You may have to trace out the profile of the piece above onto the piece below so you know where to apply the glue. You only have one chance to align these because as soon as the touch they are stuck forever. Once glued, you can trim off any material around the edges that didn't align properly.




Here are the glued pieces. These will be E6000'd down to the gloves after I paint the hand guards.



Next I tackled the forearms. Here I made a pattern around my sons' arm. This took some trial and error. Basically I fit it tight to his arm, then laid this piece down over a new piece of pattern material to create the final pattern. You'll need to increase the width of the pattern, adding extra material for the thickness of the foam and any clearance between the skin and armor. I planned for the typical 1/2" of space inside the armor which translates into an extra 1/2" on the left and right sides of the pattern. Then I added another 6mm on each end for the foam thickness. You don't need to add any extra to the top and bottom edges.





Here's the pattern and the foam piece cut from 6mm sheet. Note there's a taper to the sides, this will create a tapered shape that is narrower at the wrist end. I made the piece so the glued seam would be hidden under the raised dimpled ridge. 




Below you see the forearm piece after gluing with contact cement. Also shown are cover strips made from 2mm sheet and the raised notches made from 6mm sheet that I cut down to about 4mm thick. When gluing the main armor together start at one end, touching the pieces together then move slowly down the seam connecting the two sides together.








Here's the piece with all the trim glued on. Note that on these thinner pieces I didn't use the contact cement. I didn't want to deal with the fumes as my respirator hasn't arrived yet. So I used the Omni-stick which is very similar to E6000 and has minimal fumes. I doesn't set up as fast, somewhere around 5 - 10 minutes. Repeat this process but with a mirrored pattern for the left forearm.






For the bicep I took measurements of my sons arm and added in the extra material. Then I sketched what I thought the shape would need to look like to mimic the curves of the TK bicep.



Here's the pattern I ended up with after making a test piece from foam. and adjusting the shape slightly.







Here's my TK bicep for reference. Again I want to mimic the cover strips and other raised details.




I cut the cover strips from the 2mm sheet and the thicker side band from the 6mm sheet, cutting it down to be about 4mm thick.






Here are the forearm and bicep relative to each other. Eventually these will be connected with an elastic strap.






Next will be shoulder bells. See you in a couple days!

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I decided to skip shoulders and dive into the torso, specifically the chest and back. I figure these will be the trickier parts to get right so I might as well start on them now. Why put off until tomorrow what you can get done today, right? Plus my office had a ransom-ware attack so the I.T. guys are rebuilding our servers which got me out of the office a little early today so I figured I'd get started.


Keep in mind I'm figuring some of this out as I go. It may be easier for me to make a mannequin of my son, but right now I'm working with a technique I'm comfortable with, drawing. So I took a few measurements of my son, torso height, waist and chest size, shoulder breadth, sternum location, etc. I then laid these key dimensions out on my pattern fabric. 




I took some more pattern paper fabric and did a rough tracing of my TK chest piece. The idea here was to get the proportions pretty close and then to identify key reference points in the design that I could use to make the kid version of the chest. For example, on me, my sternum is right behind the "V" notch in the chest. I also identified where the side swoops start and stop in relation to the arm pits, how the raised chest area is laid out, and how the piece folds around the wearer.




Once I had this 2D translation of my TK chest I took out my tracing paper (an Architect is required to keep this nearby at all times), laid it over the sketch I did of my sons torso and drew out a scaled-down version of my chest piece. Because I'm doing this over a rough drawing, I made the sides and shoulder bridges longer than they may actually end up....just in case my drawing is off a bit. I'll try the final fabric pattern on him tomorrow and adjust it as needed. The small size torso compared to my full size one (well, I'm nearly kid sized too) is cute. My wife is watching this process and comments how adorable this thing will be. "Adorbs" as she says.




Once the sketch was good, I translated it back to the pattern fabric.



I also drew out the back piece, looking at it's size and proportions relative to the chest of my TK kit.




Here are the patterns cut out and ready for test fitting on the kid.




Of course no build is complete without an injury. I inadvertently stabbed myself with an X-acto. Good thing there are plenty of SW kid Band-Aids in the house for such an emergency.




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Looks awesome! You should test this on some scrap, but I *think* if you go over the pieces with a heat gun it will harden up the foam a bit. But be aware that it will also shrink he foam slightly, so some details might open up. (the foamsmith book does this deliberately to create detail in armor.)

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Where I left off last, I had cut out some patterns for the front and back chest pieces. I had to wait a bit for delivery of my foam rolls. I bought 4mm, 6mm, and 10mm rolls as wells as some 12mm floor mats.







I laid the patterns down, and traced them out on 6mm foam. To be safe, I gave myself some extra material at the shoulder bridges and at the sides of the chest.






I then heat-formed the chest to give it some curve.




To make the raised chest detail, I used the thicker 12mm floor mat material. I wanted this to taper and blend into the chest the way my TK does. to do this I'd need a piece that was thick enough for met to cut to a taper.




To transfer the pattern to the foam I did a connect-the-dot method. You could also press the pencil into the foam as it's soft enough to make a line impression.






Once I had the shape cut out I took my flexible Japanese saw and cut thru the piece at an angle to make a taper. A band or skill saw would really have come in handy.





Then I trimmed the other edges with an Xacto knife, holding the knife at a 45 degree angle while I cut.




Then I decided to recess this into the chest piece. I started by cutting a straight line around the perimeter of the piece which I traced onto the chest. Then I trimmed away material from the edges, again with the Xacto. To remove the material in the middle I used a rotary sanding bit on my Dremel.







After test fitting I took this outside and applied contact cement. Note that I finally got my new respirator for organic solvents which makes a huge difference. Don't work without one of these.








Next on the list was to start the OII detail on the back. I started by cutting strips which will form the perimeter of the raised rectangular panel. I cut these so that each side would have a 45 degree bevel. I used 10mm foam for these and glued them down to a 6mm piece of foam cut to the rectangular shape.






To make the gear shape I cut out a donut shape on the 10mm foam. I used an Xacto but a better way is to punch circular shapes thru your foam using metal pipes. You can get these at most hardware stores and this method produces a much cleaner hole. I'll have to get some eventually.




I had some scrap 6mm strips which had previously been cut with a beveled edge. I thought this might produce a neater gear tooth shape so I cut some sections out and glued them around the donut.





Here's the finished back OII panel. There's still some finish work to do, like smoothing out the cuts and filling in joint gaps. But I'll do that later, once I have all the pieces built.




Next step was to attach the back to the chest. I bought 3" white elastic and cut (2) 1 1/2" wide strips. This is similar to the connection on a real TK suit.




These straps get hot-glued into place, permanently attached to the back piece. Prior to gluing, score the foam with an knife, not too deep. Then heat it with a heat gun. I set mine at 450 degrees F. A few seconds will do, and cause the score lines to open up allowing glue to flow in and form a better bond.




Here's a shot after I glued the straps to the back piece. I then tried this on my son and determined the gap I'd need between the front and back bridges.




To make the front connection I used the elastic along with some white industrial Velcro. Velcro was the way to go as it would allow him to remove this relatively easy, at least compared to snaps. 

Various threads I've been reading over on the RPF and Evil Ted's site say the Velcro doesn't glue all that well to EVA foam. So I glued a piece of white elastic to the chest bridges, the glued the Velcro to that elastic The corresponding Velcro piece is then glued to the elastic coming off the back piece. I also used the heat gun to bend the shoulder bridges into position a bit. 


Side straps are also added to connect the bottom of these pieces together. Here I used black elastic and temporaily stuck white Velcro on as my black hasn't arrived yet.




Shoulder bridges are pretty simple. They are made from 2mm foam with 6mm for the ridges. These were contact cemented into place. Simple but applying the cement to these small pieces was tedious.




I used contact cement to attach them to the chest then heat formed a curve into them. I may need some more heat bending to get these to sit flatter on the back.







To make the shoulder bells, I wanted to get the shape correct so I tried out a pattern making technique I learned from Evil Ted. I took my shoulder bell and covered it in aluminum foil, smoothing out the ridges as much as possible. Then cover the foil with duct tape. I ran the tape along/aligned with the edges of the bell.




Then I removed the piece from the plastic below, trimming off the excess foil and marking a cut line along the center ridge. 




Once cut in half, lay it flat on some tracing paper to get the shape.




Once I had the shape traced out on paper, I then drew a scaled down version that would become my pattern. The tick marks along the curve are registration marks that will help align this piece with it's mirrored pattern.




Here are the tracings onto foam.






I took these pieces and placed them in a bowl then did some heat gun forming to give them a curve prior to gluing. This helped keep the pieces aligned during the gluing process. Ideally I would have used a bowl with a smaller radius curvature. Maybe my sons bowling ball would have been better.






I then cemented the edges together, attaching them very carefully and slowly as I went along. I started with the top of the bell and worked my way down along the seam, making sure the registration marks were aligned. Because of the tight curve, the outside face of the seam didn't glue as well as i'd hoped so I had to use CA glue on a couple areas that weren't completely sealed.




I wanted the connection to the shoulder bridges to match my TK. And I figured it would need to be stronger than just Velcro so I installed some snaps.




The corresponding snap will again be in a piece of black elastic. I cut down some 1" strips out of my 3" wide roll that was left over from my TK build. Handy to have rolls of this material on hand.




This strap gets hot glued into the shoulder bell. I also added a 1" strap at the bottom of the bell which will wrap around the bicep and hold the two pieces together.




Finally I added the raised ridge on each shoulder bell using 6mm foam to match hat I used on the biceps and forearm ridges.




Here's a rough test assembly of the arms. It seems like the bicep will just be friction held in place on my sons arm. Once I get him into this and walking around a bit, I'll decide if the bicep needs to be strapped to the shoulder bell with some Velcro.




That's all for tonight. Next parts will be the ab piece and the kidney piece. For those parts I'll be mimicking Astyanax's TK-JR build where he wisely split the ab piece into (2) pieces....I think for bathroom break issues.




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Hi Troopers,


The wife and kids are off on a vacation up to Quebec City to visit relatives. I had couldn't get away due to too much going on at work. So while they're gone and I have the house to myself and some free time I want to get some more built on this costume. It's time for 60 second abs!


Let me start off my showing some no tools I got. When I first stared off I was going thru lots of Xacto and box cutter blades due to the foam dulling them rapidly. So I got a couple sharpeners and they are great. They make the blades razor sharp again and I've been using the same blades for several days now. The flat and orange one is one I picked up at HD and it's a diamond sharpening tool. Works great on the Xacto. I saw the other one recommended in an Evil Ted video and it's really great too, especially for the box cutter. Both were in the $12 range.






I also picked up some masking paper at HD in their paint section. This roll has been great for laying out patterns.




Last night I took some measurements of my son. Waist circumference, height, inseam, position of the chest piece relative to his waist, etc. I then used these measurements to lay out a shape for what would become the ab. In this image the solid line is the ab piece and the dashed line is the chest piece laid over top so you can see how they will overlap. I made then overlap as that's how the real ones are but also so he can grow a bit and I won't have to remake this section.




I cut out the left half of the pattern and used it to create the foam piece. I used 6mm foam like the other main pieces.




Than I re-traced the chest profile onto the ab. This way I could sketch the detail panels for the ab in relation to the chest piece above.




I started off with the main raised panel on the center of the ab piece. I sketched this out in pencil then made a cleaner drawing on the actual 4mm foam sheet that I'd cut the piece from.



I repeated the process using 4mm sheets for all the other details, using contact cement to glue them down. I'll cut out the buttons tomorrow but I have to hit up the local hardware store for some metal pipe which I'll use to push thru the foam, cutting out the circles like a cookie cutter. this piece took about 3 hours to make. I just realized I forgot to make the raised piece at the bottom. Guess I'll add that tomorrow.





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Made it home from the hardware store with pipes of various sizes to use as cookie cutters to make circle shapes. I used this technique to make the ab buttons. These are from 4mm foam and I used the Omni-stick to glue them down. Using the contact cement with a brush is too hard on these little pieces. They just get stuck to the brush.




Next piece to make is the kidney plate. This is really straightforward. Since I had the ab and chest and back positioned, I knew the bottom of the kidney needed to align with the bottom of the ab and the top of the kidney needed to align with the back plate above. I sketched it out marking the key points including the raised panel and the kidney notches.




Cut this out of 6mm foam. The raised detail in the center is from 4mm foam.



I decided to try a trick I learned from watching Evil Ted videos. Put the contact cement in a squeeze bottle. This makes it much easier to control the placement and you don't have to leave the lid off the can thus minimizing vapors. We'll see in the morning....hopefully the cap doesn't glue itself to the bottle.




After some bending with the heat gun on 450 F, here are what the pieces look like.








Next I made some 1" wide Velcro straps using the same technique mentioned above. Hot glue the Velcro to the elastic strap, then hot glue the straps to the foam.






Here's how the torso is coming along. Pretty well I think. I just need to make the final adjustments to the ab & kidney ends once my son returns and I can try this on him.






Next thing to tackle will be shins...and we all know how much fun those are to assemble. Let's see how hard they are to build out of foam!

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For the past two days I've been landscaping the front and back yard. But I did have some time to work on the armor and get the shins mostly built. I just need to test fit the backs when my son gets home. Before he left, I took measurements of his shins and used these when making my templates.


To get the shape right, I tried the pattern-making technique using duct tape. I covered the piece in foil, making it as form fitting as possible. Then carefully covered with duct tape trying to make it flat and form fitting around the piece.






Once it was covered I made a slice in an inconspicuous spot, along the edge of the front cover strip. Then I flattened out the duct-tape copy and cut it into it component parts.




I took one side and the center piece to make my template. I knew based on my sons measurements that his shin was 8" tall where mine was 16". So I'd have to reduce the template by half...at least in height. So I took a picture with a ruler in the image then brought it into Photoshop where I adjusted the image size until it was scaled to real-world dimensions. Then I reduced it by half and printed it out for my template.







Here are the piece cut from 6mm foam. A couple things to note here. I wanted the shin to have the same flat face the real TK ones do. So when I cut the center piece and each adjoin side piece, I cut the edges at a 45 degree angle so they would meet up nicely. The image below is actually my second attempt. The first on followed the curving line at the back of the shin template, the ball of the calf area but when I did a test fit, it was going to be too complicated to assembly and too much heat bending a weird shape. So I simplified it and made the back cut straight.




I did an initial heat bend over a rolling pin to get the basic curve. Then I did some more extreme bending to get the radius tighter. Basically held it in my hand while heating then squeezed it into shape.






Here you see how the 45 degree cuts make the pieces easier to assembly with clean lines.




Here's the first piece after gluing.



I was in a bit of a rush when making these. I assembled both shins before realizing I forgot to check the radius at the ankle and at the knee against the measurements I took of my son. Turns out I was about 1" short. Doh! So, easy fix here, don't panic as you can simply glue on a filler piece. To get some extra room I cut and glued in a 1.5" filler piece on the back of each shin. Again, cutting 45 degree angles for a nice closure. Once I can fit these on his calve, I'll know if anything needs to be trimmed off this filler piece. For now, it's ok. I'll probably make the closures using Velcro. No magnetic closures this time! The photo below will be the left shin. That way the joint will be tucked inwards and less visible.




Now it's time to trim out this piece. For reference, here's my shin.




I started with the raised top banding. For this I used 4mm foam cut into strips about 15mm wide. To do this, I simply placed the strips over the shin and marked where they should be cut and at what angle. Bevel the connections. I made some reference dots so I would remember which pieces connected during gluing. Here I'm test fitting a piece. 






Here they are after gluing.




Then I added cover strips from 2mm foam. Purely decorative, not functional.




Next came the sniper plate. I sketched out a template for the hexagonal piece. The side pieces took some trial-and-error to get right. The main issue was getting the correct angle between the hexagonal piece and the side pieces where the touch. As you can see, the angles on the side pieces are not the same as the angle on the center piece. Once I had it right, I cut new pieces at the correct angle and length. Bevel those joints.




After gluing the sniper plate together then gluing it down to the shin, I then made some trim pieces out of 2mm foam. I also made the raised bumps on the bottom out of 6mm scraps I had laying around.






That's it for tonight. Thanks for tuning in and I hope this is useful for anyone making a foam costume. I think the belt will be the next piece I make, should have an update in a couple days.

Good night!








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Incredible work, Frank! You have a great eye for detail. Your son is a lucky kid.

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Thanks guys, I'm kinda winging it here with this first foam build. So far it's working out OK.


I didn't get to work on anything yesterday other than shop-vacuuming water out of my basement. We got hit with some freak thunderstorms yesterday evening and got several inches of rain in about a couple hours. Not too serious but did chew up most of my night. luckily nothing was damaged.


So, with the basement dried out it was time to get back to work and start on the belt. I looked at my TK belt and proportionally scaled it down to a size that seemed correct for my sons armor. The main section is 6mm foam, 4mm may have looked more accurate but I wanted it thicker to make it less likely to tear. 




The ammo boxes on my TK are pretty thick, they stick out quite a bit from the face of the belt so to replicate this I used my foam floor mats, doubled up to be about 10mm thick. These were glued using contact cement. I cut the raw pieces bigger than the final size to leave room for trimming and cleaning up edges.




As you can see, once glued the long edges aren't perfectly aligned. That's okay, I just used a very sharp box cutter and cut both long edges down to size to get the correct height for these ammo boxes thingies. 



Here it is after trimming those long edges.



Next I laid out the pieces. The finished boxes would be 2.5" wide so I laid out (6) of them at 3" wide again to give me extra material on the sides as I wanted to cut these at a slight angle which would match my TK belt.




Once they were cut out I marked the belt center and loose laid them out to get the spacing.




Here you can see how I cut the sides of these pieces at an angle.



Next step was to replicate the little plates that cover up the pop rivets on a real TK belt. These were cut from 2mm foam sheets and glued using the Omni-stick as contact cement is too tricky on these small pieces.



After gluing down the buttons, I contact cemented the larger ammo box pieces onto the belt. Note that I marked their positions in pencil so i'd know where to apply the cement.



I probably should have take the time to sand down the waffle pattern that's on the back of these floor mats. But I didn't. So, to fix this I used a bit of filler sealant. Apply a bit along each edge that has gaps and work it into the joint smoothing it out with your finger. You could use a small flat putty tool if you have one. Same method as smoothing out caulk. Get it packed in the joint. Then let is set for a couple minutes to stiffen up. Dip your finger in some water and rub over the joint. This will smooth out the sealant and wipe away the excess. You don't need much water. Also keep a paper towel handy to clean your finger tip.



Here's what I used. Got this tip from Punished Props.




Here's the smoothed out joint. Let it sit for a couple hours to dry. I may try sanding it with fine sandpaper. I figure once I spray prime this, the joint will be barely noticeable.



To make the drop boxes which hang below the belt, I used the 5mm floor mat. This time I sanded the back on my belt sander as this should be smooth on the front and back. There's a learning curve to this which I'm still working out. Too little pressure and nothing happens, too much and you create grooves. I think the trick may be a piece of 2x over the piece while sanding to distribute the pressure evenly. It's also easy for the sander to grab the piece and fling it.




Here's one of them. The square edges look too sharp and need to me rounded off. 



Here's another Evil Ted trick, glue sandpaper to paint sticks. This gives a nice, stiff sanding tool to round down foam corners. I glued 80 grit and 120 grit on opposite sides of this stick.




Then, lightly sanded off the corners. I finished up with some loose 320 grit I had laying around.




The actual belt part will be made from extra 2" white elastic that I have laying around. I have to figure the best way to attach the foam to the belt. E6000 or maybe hot-glue it. The back of the belt will have traditional Velcro to close it. The drop boxes will get hot glued to elastic straps.






Here it is, before final assembly. I still have to prime and paint the foam before gluing it to the elastic.




That's all I have for tonight. Next step may be the thermal detonator. I'm running out of things to work on. Really need the family to get home from vacation so I can test fit all these recently made pieces and do the final adjustments. Looking at this phot, the drop boxes look a little wide, maybe I'll trim them down a bit. What do you think?


Items I still have to make:




Boots...gotta figure that one out...maybe sneakers that get covered in foam to look like boots. ????

Then the painting process.

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Agree that the drop boxes look too big - both width and height but the belt looks great. And for boots maybe just some rain boots? Or you can just search for kids Chelsea boots and see if you can find some for cheap.

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So, let's build a thermal detonator. Kids can play with explosives. Can't they?

For reference, here's my TD





I started thinking, "what would be best for the cylinder shape"? PVC would be great but probably too heavy, this is only foam armor after all. So, the trusty paper towel roll was the winner. Luckily I had one in the kids craft/marker drawer that I'm sure would have ended up as a pirate telescope but now will be transformed in the imperial armory a.k.a. my basement.


I determined the length based on the size of my TD relative to a part of my chest armor then used that as a rough approximation for the scaled down version.





The tube is pretty flimsy and I'm sure my son will be playing with this thing so it needed to be beefed up. I glued some scrap pieces of foam into the tube to give it some rigidity. The foam strips run full length. 




Then I cut 4mm foam to wrap the outside of the tube and used contact cement to glue it on. Don't forget to glue the seam too.






I cut out some circular shapes to cap off the tube ends. 4mm again.

Not the best circle but close enough. Glue these on.



Once the ends were glued I cut some 2mm foam strips which would simulate the end caps. Cement these into place.



More 2mm foam for the control panel plate.



To make the rectangular piece I used some 4mm foam. I marked out some lines and cut half way thru along each line. Then I hit it with the heat gun to open up the seams. It didn't look quite right so I went back and too ok additional 45 degree cuts along each joint. Then another heat gun treatment.








Here's the final TD, minus the clips. To do those I bough aluminum strip metal at the local hardware store. Just need to cut it to length and bend it into shape. Once the TD is painted, I'll attach the clips, probably with the hot glue gun.







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Time for a quick update before bed. I have been working on this costume for the past few weeks, just needed to concentrate on building rather than posting. At this time it's nearly done but I only have a little time tonight for an update.


Last time I had finished the TD construction. Now it's time to finish it up.


I started off by using white Plasti-dip to seal the foam. This is needed otherwise the foam will soak up the paint. So I put a couple coats of this rubbery coating on. The first coat goes on pretty heavy and the second coat is for touching up any spots you missed the first time. Before painting, place the can in warm water for about 10 minutes to help the spray go on smoother.


Once it was coated, I then painted it with Krylon gloss white spray paint for plastic. I put at least 3 coats on. Then I brushed on the gray tube color. From previous TK research this color is Gunship Gray. I had a can laying around from my TK build.




Here's the painted TD, just needs some clips.




For the clips I purchased aluminum strips from the local hardware store. The width seemed about right so they just needed to be cut to length and bent. For cutting I bought tin snips rated to cut 20 gauge metal. Then I bent the shape over in my vice.




I wasn't sure if contact cement would work on a painted surface so I attached these to the TD with the hot glue gun.








For the gloves I used the same technique from my TK to attach the hand guards. I stuffed them with rags to get a rounded shape the used E6000 to glue down the guards, taping them with painters tape to hold them in place until dry.








That's all for tonight. Take care guys and girls. 

Troop On!



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