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Sha Sha's WTF ANH Stunt Build [Complete]

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Hi all,

 

I wasn't originally going to do a build thread, but since WTF is still a relatively new maker, I noticed there aren't many WTF build threads. Also, I'm only 5' 3" so thought it wouldn't hurt to start another thread about fitting armor to small troopers, although this is not going to come close to Cricket's, Diana's, and Fragarock's threads. Also, unlike other build threads, I'm actually already finished with my kit (submitted photos last night), and I didn't take nearly as many photos as other people do so I probably won't go into a ton of detail about some aspects of the build, but hopefully there will be enough information that people find it useful.

 

I had been thinking about joining the 501st for a while, but what finally made me pull the trigger was having a son with severe medical issues due to a congenital brain cyst, and spending 6 months out of his first year essentially living in the PICU with him. Knowing that I could bring smiles to the faces of kids like him and the other families we met while we were there was really powerful motivation. (He is 3 now and doing great.)

 

Index

Biceps and Forearms

Torso Fit

Torso Strapping

Thighs and Shins

Sniper Knee, Ammo Pack, and Calf Closures

Thermal Detonator

Belt and Drop Boxes

Shoulder Bells and Shoulder Bridges

Thigh Strapping and First Suit Up

Helmet

Helmet Interior

Armor Bin

501st Submission and EIB Submission

 

Basics

After doing some research, I decided to order from Walt's Trooper Factory for a few reasons. 1) I would be able to get my kit fairly quickly 2) The price was about middle of the road (not as low as Anovos, not as high as RS) 3) I'd heard that it was a good kit for smaller people. I knew that he made a kid's TK so I asked him if that'd  be an option for  me and he said the kids kit would be so small, but that he offered shortened thigh pieces for the adult TK. So I made my order with him at the end of April. Walt was a bit backed up after Celebration this year, so he told me up front the wait was going to be around 6-8 weeks.

 

Hereare the supplies I used in no particular order:

 

Neck seal first from Darman, then SoulArt because my Darman I gave a too-small measurement

8 oz Holster by Darman

Belt from Rob Kittell

Boots from TK Boots

Hyperfirm B-Grade E11 (I also have a Doopydoo's kit + Bulldog scope that has been on hold)

Undersuit top from Eastbay Sports, bottom from no-name Amazon brand

Tandy Line 24 snaps and snap setter

Dritz #10 nickel sew-in snaps

1" black elastic for strapping

3" black elastic for thigh strapping

3/4" white elastic for drop boxes

2" white elastic for shoulder straps

1/8" white elastic for holding down shoulder bridges

1" black nylon webbing for snap plates & belt

Plastic quick release buckles for thigh garter belt

E6000

Utility knife (box cutter)

Xacto knife

Lexan scissors (curved + straight)

Metal ruler

1/2" x 1/8" rare earth magnets

Soldering iron for making holes for snap plates

Hobby iron for rebuilding return edges

Testors paint + paint brushes

Helmet stencils from Trooperbay

1/8" pop rivets + washers to fit

rivet gun

Split rivets from justjoseph

 

(I actually ended up buying a decent amount of supplies I never used: tin snips, 2" elastic, 2" webbing, zap-a-gap, china pencil, and probably more stuff I'm forgetting.)

 

Around 7 weeks after ordering, a massive cardboard box appeared on my doorstep! Unfortunately I didn't take pics of everything laid out, but WTF's kits come with all the white plastic, white PVC tube for the thermal detonator, brow trim and S-shaped neck seal, green plastic for the lenses, tube strip decals, mesh for the hovi tips, hovi tips cast in black resin, and helmet hardware (screws, pop rivets; I didn't end up using either). Of the plastic, in addition to everything needed for a regular stunt TK, it includes the diamond knee plate and the 3-button ab button plate for a sandy, and TONS of cover strip and shim plastic. Finally, most of the time Walt's kits ship with 2 sets of ears, but I only received one. Edit: also forgot to add that Walt's kits come with a one-piece kidney/butt so you'll have to split them.

 

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When I began trimming, I tried both the Lexan scissors and score & snap and much preferred the score & snap method, even for curved cuts. The Lexan scissors I found unwieldy to use; perhaps it would have been easier on a kit that had thinner plastic. I probably did about 90% of my trimming using score & snap. My one pieces of advice for score and snap is to score many times with very light presses rather than trying to get a good score in only one or two passes. All of my screw ups (knife wandering off the line, knife slipping, etc) were from me pressing too hard and trying to move too fast. 

Edited by shashachu
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Biceps and Forearms

Like most people, I decided to start with the biceps and forearms because those tend to be the easiest parts of the kit, but they ended up being some of the most challenging because of how much I had to reduce them in size. Since I'm so short, I was really worried about having Popeye arms so I really wanted to make sure the arm pieces were fit well to me. The recommended way of assembling both the bicep and the forearm pieces is to assemble the front, then trim off the rear to get it down to the size you need. However, I found that trimming only from the back side left me with a really lopsided shape, especially with the forearms, where the swoop cut out from the inner elbow edge was totally lopsided if I only trimmed from the rear, so for most of the bicep and forearm pieces, I trimmed from both the front and rear.

 

The problem this caused was that the WTF kit (I believe ATA is the same way) has ridges on both the front *and* rear of the biceps and forearms. This wouldn't necessarily be an issue, but in order to make that flat ridge, the pieces flare out slightly, as seen in this picture:

 

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Depending on where you trim along the bicep, you can basically be left with a bell curve shape on both parts which won't meet up well. This is what happened with me.

 

For example, here is how I sized one of the forearms:

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After trimming I'm left with something that fits well:

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But as you can see the edges meet up in a V shape rather than a flat edge:

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While I did use a heat gun to try to turn the flared edge into more of a curve, my solution was basically to brute force it and clamp the heck out of them:

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This left the pieces in a somewhat oval shape:

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Which I remedied with a hot water bath and also using the heat gun:

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As an aside, I know that most new armor builders are warned away from using the heat gun, but I found it to be an indispensable part of my build, especially for a smaller person. I found that the tip in Zel's thread of heating the armor just to the point where the 'spring' starts to go was incredibly useful. I tended to do most of my heat bending with the gun set to around 450F.

 

Here's how the arms fit on me:

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After gathering some feedback from this photo, I decided to trim off the first notch of both forearms. While I like the look of the long forearms, it prevented me from really being able to bend my arms in a useful way. 

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Looks like you have done your research, looking good so far, keep up the great work

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Torso Fit

This was a part of the kit that I was worried about because I knew it was crucial to get the fit right, and I knew that it was kind of like a big puzzle where trimming one piece would affect the placement of the other pieces. I was also worried about having to do things like rebuild big return edges like Cricket, Diana, and Fragarock all did with their chest pieces. Also, I have mild scoliosis so my right shoulder is visibly lower than my left, and my right hip sits higher than my left. I didn't want to be a crooked trooper.

 

After trimming, I started out just taping things together with blue tape to get an idea of where I'd need to adjust.

 

Looks ok in the front...

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Uh oh, what's going on in the back???

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There was a pretty large overlap of the kidney and back plates:

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This photo shows just how far off the back plate is when I made it not overlap the kidney:

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I knew I couldn't or at least didn't want to trim the back piece, but it occurred to me that where it sits on my body depends highly on the curve of the shoulder tabs. I know that most people complain about how severe the curve on the Anovos back plate is, but that's essentially what I wanted to recreated. Additionally, I could bend them unevenly so that my lower right shoulder wouldn't cause the whole back plate to be crooked. So I brought out the trusty heat gun and did just that.

 

Before:

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After:

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It doesn't really show in the photo, but the right tab is bent down lower than the left. Hopefully you can also tell that I heat bent the sides in to make it wrap around my body better. I did the same with the chest.

 

This improved the situation:

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In this photo you can really see the effect of my right hip being higher than the left. The bottom of the kidney is sitting on my hip bone on both sides:

BumRRJ4jyHpSGAP6zBXb3vbVX7WIr2O1Dl6chCRw

 

You'll also notice the blue tape between the ab and cod which is there because I did what most of us shorties have to do, and cut the cod. Here is a view of the back side once I strapped it so you can see how much length it took off:

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While things were improving, I was still left with a pretty significant overlap between the back and kidney:

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So I trimmed the kidney (from the bottom). This dropped the kidney lower so that the back and kidney didn't overlap, but this also put the top of the kidney and ab out of alignment, so I had to trim top of the ab to match. Fortunately the bottom edge of the kidney is hidden by the belt and the top of the ab is hidden by the chest, so no rebuilding of return edges was necessary. I also trimmed the edge of the butt to align to the edge of the kidney, and use the heat gut to greatly increased the curve both on the sides and the bottom. 

 

I had to trim the shoulder tabs of both the chest and back pieces since they had significant overlap:

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I decided about 1 1/2" of gap between the chest and back shoulder tabs looked good. I sort of eyeballed the positioning.

 

Finally, I took another cue from Zel and trimmed the kidney so that there's a slight taper at the waist.

Edited by shashachu

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Torso Strapping

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use snaps for strapping (brackets seemed fussy to get right and required having return edges everywhere) and after research, I decided to use nylon for the snap plates instead of ABS both because they seem easier to make, and because I liked the idea that the nylon would have an easier time curving to the shape of the armor. I also decided to just go with single snaps since the Line 24 snaps seem super solid; we will see if this turns out to be a mistake.

 

Making snap plates has been covered in detail in other build threads, so I won't go too deeply into it. I cut each snap plate 1 1/2" long out of 1" nylon, and used a soldering iron to make a hole. The male snaps go in the plate, and the female snaps go in the elastic strap. I folded over the ends of the elastic for strength, and in a couple high stress areas (cod to butt, right ab to kidney), I added a small square of abs with a hole drilled in it inbetween the layers of elastic. The snap plates were affixed with E6000.

 

I did have a really hard time in the beginning with the female snaps; I kept bending the posts and having to start over. While I never got great at it, I did find that holding the snap setter very low down so that your thumb and finger are gripping both the snap and the snap setter helps keep everything aligned while you hammer. And PSA if you find your snap setter completely not working, make sure you're using the right size setter. The post should roll down nicely. Here is the cod to ab and back to kidney strapping:

 

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I was not particularly precise about the strapping if we're being completely honest. I'd basically tape the armor on myself, use a pencil to mark the overlap, take everything off, re-align them based on the lines I drew, then use a ruler to measure the distance between snap plates.

 

The torso has a couple places that use split rivets: on the cod, and on the left side of the ab and kidney. I was nervous about using the split rivets because it made it very high cost to change the strapping out, and I had already re-made some of my regular straps multiple times because they weren't quite the right length. But then I happened upon Ukswrath's AM 1.0 build thread where he demonstrates a method to place a split rivet inside of a snap. After confirming with him that doing that was both approvable and durable, I decided that's the approach I would take.

 

The one thing you need to be really careful of is not to leave the split rivets too long; if you do, they will prevent the snap from snapping properly, and if you think getting a regular split rivet out is hard, try getting a split rivet with trimmed legs inside of a snap out. (Hint: it involved a lot of swearing.)

 

Here are my trimmed split rivets:

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Here is it installed in the cod:

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And in the kidney and ab:

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You'll notice that I glued another pieces of ABS for some added strength since I knew that area would be under high stress.

 

After some deliberation, I decided to connect the ab and kidney with nylon instead of elastic because I knew it was important for EIB and Centurion to have little/no gap between the ab and kidney:

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The brilliant part of the split-rivet-inside-of-snap method is that it looks great from the outside, but you get the benefit of being able to easily change out the strapping.

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I didn't take any pictures of the process, but I also added the white elastic to connect the back and chest. I did opt for double snaps in this case because I'd heard the chest/back snap connection is prone to popping out:

 

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After getting most of the strapping done, I felt like everything finally 'clicked' into place:

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I have a relatively long torso for my height, and maybe it's also due to the proportions of the WTF kit, but I felt quite lucky to get away with pretty minimal trimming of the torso pieces compared to other shorter troopers.

 

That's all for tonight!

Edited by shashachu

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GREAT work so far, Sha Sha!  You have done a spectacular job showing that armor who's the boss, LOL.   I'm sure it was just temporary for the photos, but be sure that the top of the ABS belt slightly overlaps the bottom of the ab button panel.  Here is a screen cap from ANH that shows it:

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If you need more split rivets just let me know and I'll get em' to you no charge.

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5 hours ago, justjoseph63 said:

GREAT work so far, Sha Sha!  You have done a spectacular job showing that armor who's the boss, LOL.   I'm sure it was just temporary for the photos, but be sure that the top of the ABS belt slightly overlaps the bottom of the ab button panel.

Haha thank you! My armor and I certainly had words at various points. As for the ab belt, I'll go into this in a later post. The short version is that you are right - I initially placed the belt too low and had to redo the snaps in the belt after some feedback. This is definitely the advantage of doing an actual WIP build thread instead of one after the fact! I love that folks pay attention to the little details.

 

And thank you for the generous offer; I still have many spare split rivets.

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I'd say your doing a killer job ShaSha, but you already did it!:P

Keep up the great work you already did.

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Thighs and Shins

Since I had ordered the shorter thigh pieces from Walt, I was pleased to learn that I didn't actually have to do any trimming for length of the thigh pieces. I even did minimal trimming for length of the shin pieces. For width was a different story; I ended up trimming several inches.

 

I agonized over the fitting of the thigh pieces because I knew I wanted them to taper to avoid 'church bell' thighs, but when I did that for the left thigh, the bottom ridge met up in a bit of an inverted V shape instead of a straight line:

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However, after looking through a lot of build threads and EIB/Centurion applications, I saw other approved folks with similar lines, so I went with it.

 

As before, blue tape is your friend for fittings:

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(You'll notice I'm actually posting these build sections out of chronological order; this is obviously before I finished the torso.)

 

There was a bit of confusion about the proper pairing of the shin pieces for WTF kits. I don't have a photo, but WTF kits come with a pair of longer shin pieces, and a pair of shorter shin pieces. I originally paired them with the longer  pieces  of  the  outside and the shorter  pieces on the insides, but Walt himself said it was the opposite. Christine, Paul and I derailed Rob's build thread to hash it out, but the ultimate conclusion was that the long pieces should pair together to be the right shin, and the shorter pieces should pair to be the left shin. I think it probably doesn't matter either way, because my suspicion based on visual inspection and fit is that both shins are actually left shins.

 

I completely failed to document the assembly of the thighs and shins, so you'll have to read other build threads to get the details about it, but it was a fairly standard assembly: inner cover strips, magnets and clamps, then add the outer cover strips.

 

I had heard that it's best to get the shin pieces aligning before adding any closures, so I did some very extensive heat bending to get that to happen. I had to heat almost the entire shin while 'overcorrecting' the fit; once it cooled it settled into the right place. This was probably an area where hot water would have worked better than the heat gun, but I didn't have a pot large enough. It took several tries, but I was able to get them to align. This is a photo with no closures added:

 

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Just now, shashachu said:

 

I'd say your doing a killer job ShaSha, but you already did it!:P

Keep up the great work you already did.

 

I solemnly swear not to travel back in time and screw up my build. :)

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Sniper Knee, Ammo Pack, and Calf Closures

I was sort of dreading each of these because I didn't have a clear plan for any of them.

 

Starting with the sniper knee, I wasn't entirely sure how much to trim. Looking back, I should have used the shin piece as a guide, but instead I basically eyeballed it. I glued it on then had to rip it off because I realized I had glued it on before gluing on the front cover strip. I also had the same experience as most people did where I basically bullied it into place. Here's the only photo I have of the process, and you'll see that I've forgotten to glue the cover strip on first.

 

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I'm a bit worried that I may have to eventually at minimum re-glue and at worst replace the sniper knee, because I know the sniper knee should ideally follow the line of the top of the shin, and I don't think mine does.

 

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I don't think this will hold up my basic approval, but it may block me from EIB or Centurion. I decided to leave it for now and cross that bridge when I get to it.

 

For the ammo pack, I again basically failed to document the process. I did the trimming, including using a can as a template for the curved lower corners. I drilled the holes for the split rivets, installed them, was proud of myself, then took one look and realized I'd trimmed the ammo pack way too long, and there were huge gaps between the ammo pack and the side of the thigh. Fortunate I was able to salvage it because there was just enough length that I could simply re-trim it to the correct length while still using the same holes in the thigh. Just another reason not to rush through a build.

 

The second time around I did take a couple photos of the split rivets. I found that using increasingly bigger Phillips head screwdriver bits worked best to set the split rivets. Additionally given the tight space in the thigh, I was able to split the rivets by using the side of the head of a hammer.

 

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This is an area where using the screen accurate cap rivets would have probably been easier, but I didn't want to have to buy another tool for a single use in my build.

 

Don't forget to use washers for your split rivets as well. If you buy them from justjoseph, washers are included.

 

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As most people do, I added some E6000 between the ammo pack and the front of the thigh to keep it from dropping down. Finally, to keep it from snagging on my undersuit, I covered the split rivets with an drop of hot glue.

 

Here is the finished ammo pack.

 

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For calf closures, this was another decision I agonized about a bit. I knew that the elastic plus bra hooks was screen accurate, but I was uneasy about drilling holes into the calf. Velcro was simple, but I'd heard that some folks had issues with it popping open, and I didn't like that it didn't have any 'give'. Ultimately I decided to go with Velcro for simplicity, and due to the fact that it was non destructive, so I could switch to the bra hooks later if I wanted. I ended up buying some low profile industrial white Velcro and I'll.jusy have to see how it holds up. If I do have problems with it popping open, I'll try adding an inner cover strip and adding Velcro to that.

 

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Edited by shashachu
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You are well on your way and have done your research.  Keep up the great work. I think you will be able to get to E.I.B. and Centurion. You are prepared. Very inspiring for new builders. 

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I've really enjoyed watching your build progress.  I love your attention to detail.  I hope I have helped a little.  

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Looking Great Sha Sha! Love the progress & mods. :duim:

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Thermal Detonator

I decided to try to make my own TD clips using 1" wide, 1/8" thick aluminum bar that I bought at Home Depot. Keeping with the theme of this build, I didn't take progress photos, but there are a number of tutorials around FISD and the web. I will say that it wasn't as easy as some of the tutorials made it seem; it was difficult to get the curve of the clips tight around the PVC tube, and I ended up breaking my first clip because I bent it too quickly and it broke. But eventually I got something reasonable looking:

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I did end up bending the ends of the clips to be more straight later so they would fit over the belt better.

 

Since the CRL doesn't specify a particular grey for the tube, I just used a few coats of Rustoleum flat grey primer. It looked okay but has already scratched off in a few places. I should have probably used some sort of clear coat after applying the primer.

 

WTF kits thankfully now come with TD end caps that actually slip on easily. For some reason I only got 1 big one, so I heated the other with the heat gun and pressed it onto the pipe to make it fit. The rest of the construction was fairly straightforward, but I decided to make removable end caps so I can use the tube for storage. I figured attaching the end caps with taut elastic would be enough to keep the caps on, and I racked my brain trying to think of ways to rivet elastic on without having the rivets show, but I wasn't able to come up with anything, so I ended up just gluing the elastic on with E6000. After it was dry I glued a small piece of ABS over the elastic to hopefully keep everything in place. We'll have to see if this ends up holding up. I figure if it doesn't I can always just forget it and glue the end caps on.

 

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I originally used incorrect rounded head slot screws because it turns out I didn't actually understand what pan head screws are, but since I won the 'why Centurion?' contest (thanks @justjoseph63!) I got a set of correct pan head screws so I swapped them out. They're painted black using gloss black paint I bought for the helmet. 

 

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You will also probably notice that I drilled the holes for the right clip slightly crooked. I don't think it will matter, but it drives me bonkers every time I look at it.

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Belt and Drop Boxes

I wasn't looking forward to the belt because it seemed really tedious, but I actually had a lot of fun with it. 

 

Since I'd cut the cod and ab, I didn't feel as though I could trust the measurements in Ukswrath's build for the ab/belt snap placement, so I ended up basically eyeballing it. I didn't have the proper type of snaps so I used Tandy Line 24 snaps which are super solid, but really quite hard to snap on, especially once I'm wearing the ab. Here is the belt with the snaps attached. I have the ab buttons taped into place just for reference, and eagle-eye readers will notice that I've actually installed the belt too low. This will come to bite me later.

 

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For the drop boxes, I'd read that the thickness should be around 10mm, so I trimmed both the inner an outer boxes to that size. Again I decided to try to use them for storage, so I glued a bit of nylon webbing at the bottom to act as a hinge, and installed a tab of velcro inside to keep it closed. I tried for a bit to shape a piece of ABS to hold the velcro securely pressed together, but it turns out industrial velcro is pretty solid, so I basically just let them vaguely stick together. It's not somewhere I'd store anything important like my ID or credit cards, but I might put trading cards or something similar inside. Like the TD, I can always just glue them together if it turns out this doesn't hold up. This was also my first time using a rivet gun and pop rivets and I thought it was quite fun.

 

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For the ABS belt itself, I used Bill Hag's measurements:

 

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I used a soldering iron to make the holes in the canvas belt since the punch that I bought didn't seem to work, or maybe I just didn't know how to use it. I also realized after the fact that I'd trimmed the 45-degree corners such that the width of the tapered ends of the ABS belt didn't match the width of the canvas belt, so I ended up trimming a hair off the ends, but I don't think it looks off. Otherwise, the assembly of the belt was pretty straightforward - pop rivets to attach the ABS belt to the canvas belt, and a loop of elastic around the canvas belt for the drop boxes. I did end up gluing the drop box elastic in place to keep them aligned with the ends of the belt.

 

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One issue I ran into that may affect other smaller troopers is that my belt is so small (I ordered the 36" size) that one of my holster Chicago screws ended up on the velcro of the belt, so when I am wearing the belt, one of the holster tabs is actually under where the belt overlaps. There wasn't really much I could do about it given the recommended holster placement:

 

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A little while later when I tried all the body armor on for the first time, I posted a few pics in the A Little Short for a Trooper Facebook group, and Cricket pointed out that my belt was sitting too low:

 

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I did my best to try to force it over the bottom edge of the ab buttons, but the snaps held it too tightly in place, and it was impossible. I'd have to disassemble the belt. I wanted to be sure that I put the new snaps in exactly the right place, so I colored the edge of male snaps on the ab plate with marker, positioned the belt where I wanted it, and pressed down on the snaps so that they left a faint marker circle on the canvas, indicating where the new snap placement should be. If the new snaps were sufficiently far away I could have left the old snaps in, but they were close enough to the old snaps that I had to remove the old ones.

 

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So it was with a not insignificant amount of sadness that I drilled out the snaps and the end rivets. Drilling out the rivets was necessary because I needed to be able to hammer in the snaps, and having the canvas and ABS belt riveted together would have made that impossible.

 

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Having to pry off the button covers gave me the opportunity to fix the button covers to sit flat. The pop rivets were just tall enough that the button covers were a little wonky, which annoyed me. So I used a large drill bit to make a small divot in the underside of the cover to give the rivet just enough room that the button covers would sit flat:

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With the snaps in the new position, the belt position was much better:

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Just today when I was trying on the torso armor to make some adjustments, I was trying to snap the belt on when the rivet pulled through the canvas belt! So it was yet another round of belt disassembly. This time I cut small pieces of ABS to put under the head of the rivet to hopefully keep it from pulling through:

 

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Here is a view of the entire assembled belt (prior to this latest disassembly/reassembly):

 

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Edited by shashachu
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Perfect alignment on that belt, Sha Sha!  I know it was a pain in the butt (plate), but the extra effort was well worth it.  Also, GREAT job on that ABS belt trimming!  Lots of folks leave a bit too much on the top and bottom, but you nailed it.

We lost a LOT of awesome build threads here because of the Photobucket fiasco, and I am glad to see we have one that goes into so much detail.  Keep up the fantastic work!!  :salute:

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Shoulder Bells and Shoulder Bridges

For the shoulder bell trimming, I went off of Cricket's build and trimmed 12" from the bottom of the spine for length, and 5" from the edge of the spine for width. I didn't document it, but I closely followed Ukswrath's build for doing the strapping (black elastic + #10 sew-in snaps), but I attached the elastic to the shoulder bell with a snap/snap plate instead of gluing so that I have the option of easily swapping out shoulder bells. For positioning, I basically freehanded it by taking several photos from the front and the back until both the gap in the front and back was minimal, marked that position with some blue tape, and sewed the female snap in place.

 

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The shoulder bridges that come with the WTF kit come flat, so after trimming, I had to heat bend them. At the point I was pretty comfortable with the heat gun, but most people use a hot water bath. After bending, it was just a matter of gluing them in place. The one thing to be aware of while positioning the shoulder bridges is to check their positioning from both the front and the back before gluing - smaller/shorter troopers might have problems with the backs of the shoulder bridges touching the top of the O/II back piece.

 

I don't currently have any reinforcement on the shoulder bridges, so we'll have to see how they hold up; I know many people have had issues with them cracking or outright snapping in half.

 

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(Note that I didn't do a very good job bending the left shoulder bridge; this was pointed out in my EIB application as something to correct.)

 

I considered using the bicep hook method to keep the biceps in place, but it seemed difficult to get right, so I did the simple thing and attached the biceps to the shoulder bells with elastic and snaps:

 

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After the shoulder bridges were in place, I could finally see the entire torso together:

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(This photo was taken before correcting the belt position.)

Edited by shashachu
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Thigh Strapping and First Suit Up

Before I actually had my kit, I had grand plans of hand sewing an elaborate suspender system to hold up the abs and thighs. After actually getting everything together, I decided to do the simple thing and sew a single belt with 1" nylon webbing and a plastic buckle:

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The thigh positioning was something I knew might take a few troops to dial in, so I wanted something adjustable. I used 3" elastic, and attached the armor end with two snaps, and the other end I looped around the belt and secured with velcro that's specifically meant for fabric:

 

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I imagine I'll ultimately just sew the elastic in place once I'm sure the positioning is right. I originally only had the thigh strapping in the front, but before my first troop, I noticed the back of my right thigh tended to sit a little low, so I added elastic in the back and looped it around the belt in the same fashion. (No pictures, unfortunately.)

 

The thigh strapping was the last piece I needed before doing my first full suit up. Everyone here can probably relate to the excitement I felt seeing everything come together:

 

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There were a few small issues here and there, but overall I was extremely happy with how everything was coming together.

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Helmet

 

I know a lot of people start with the helmet, but I deliberately left it last because I was scared of screwing it up. It's by far the most iconic piece of the armor, so I wanted to be sure I felt comfortable enough working with plastic to feel like I could do it right. I watched Walt's helmet assembly video more than once, and found Pandatrooper's ATA helmet build to be invaluable. Finally, it was time to start.

 

Many people use a Dremel for helmet trimming, but based on my past experiences using a Dremel, I wasn't going to let a Dremel anywhere near my helmet. I started off trimming the eyes by drilling a series of holes, and then using both an X-acto and utility knife to connect the holes:

 

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You'll notice these cuts are very far from the edge of the eye, because I figured I could always cut off more, but I didn't want to over trim. Bit by bit I hand trimmed the eyes, filed, and sanded until I was happy with the shape:

 

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I used a very similar technique with the teeth by drilling a hole or two in each space, and hand trimming out the rest. I had a hard time with under trimming the teeth, but I found that once I started focusing on shaping the teeth themselves instead of focusing on trimming out the space between them, it became much clearer how much to trim.

 

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After doing the basic trimming, I used magnets to start to position the two pieces together:

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Of course I couldn't resist trying on the helmet at this point:

 

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(The front-facing camera on my phone really distorts the helmet.)

 

Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of the rest of the assembly, but I just followed Pandatrooper's ATA build. I also want to say that it is possible to screw up the helmet assembly A LOT and still things will turn out okay, so hopefully that eases the minds of other new builders. For those who are curious, I drilled the hole for the ear rivet in completely the wrong place which made it overlap where the ear screws needed to be, so I had to drill out the rivet, re-drill holes, reposition the ears, and re-rivet it back together.

 

The ear trimming was somewhat difficult, but the good thing is that they can be pretty wonky, and you can just claim screen accuracy.

 

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Helmet Paint

 

For any paint that needed a black outline, I used Pandatrooper's method of laying down the black first, and then painting the grey on top of it. While I never tried painting the outlines any other way, this worked out really well for me, and I'm a terrible painter. Although WTF kits come with tube strip decals, I knew I wanted them hand painted, so I ordered a helmet decal set from Trooperbay. It worked out great except when I tried to lay a decal on grey paint that wasn't quite dry. As is true for all aspects of armor assembly, it never pays to be impatient.

 

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Helmet Details

 

WTF kits come with Hovi tips cast in black, so I painted the insides white. They also come with hovi tip mesh, and I shaped them over a chapstick tube to get the proper shape before securing them with E6000. The hovi tips have screws embedded in them, but one of mine was pretty off-kilter, so it took some work to get the hovi tips positioned correctly.

 

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WTF kits also come with S-trim and brow trim. Currently neither are held on with any glue; the brow trim is held on by the pressure from the helmet rivets + screws, and the S-trim is held on with friction. So far no issues. I prefer a lower brow, so I positioned it accordingly.

 

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Edited by shashachu

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