Jump to content

Toothdoc's Armor Master v4.5 Helmet Build (Rookie Trooper))

Recommended Posts

Hello, Troopers and fellow wanna be (rookies)!

This thread will detail my first ever build on any TK armor that will eventually be my initial submission for a TK number and 501st approval.  I've decided on the Empire Strikes Back (ESB) variant TK because its my favorite of the three OT movies and the research I've done has led me to believe that the ESB stormtrooper is a better choice for a first TK build.


My first efforts will be on the helmet.  I want to get my feet wet with this aspect first and see how it goes prior to a full armor build.  I am a pretty experienced scale R/C aircraft builder/flier and have competed at the national qualifier level.  I have been modeling since I was in grade school and am also a practicing dentist of over 20 years.  I am very comfortable working with my hands and with all types of instruments/tools and enjoy the detail work requirements.


I've ordered a TK helmet kit from Dave Conklin at Dave's Darkside Depot at the recommendation of several new friends on Facebook and my own decision based on many hours here at FISD (with some SUPER people), the videos on YouTube from RS Propmasters, Ritchie Stormtrooper, Eric Dyck (to name just a few) and several others.  My intentions are to achieve a centurion level build and engage in trooping in my local costuming community.  I've never done anything quite like this or historical reenactment before and look forward to learning a lot along the way.  I fully understand that when I put on this incredible armor, I WILL BECOME AN INSTANT CELEBRITY and get the good with the bad in all aspects and what that may bring.


The current TK helmet version I received from Dave's Darkside Depot was a v4.5 kit.  My intentions are to be photo heavy in this documentation and submit my successes AND failures fairly.  After all, its in both that we all become better at our craft.  I will be using my iPhone X and XII for my photography.  I understand that some pics may look a bit distorted, but is convenient for me to document this way and I'm sure the viewers will "get the picture" of my communications.


One last thing before we get into this, I encourage any and all "more experienced" troopers to be critical and constructively provide your advice and insights.  Your mentorship has already been so invaluable in this process. 


I've started an initial thread on what came in the box.  I'll post a link to those pics HERE.

Edited by Toothdoc
Add Link
Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking forward to seeing the progress, a bit of info you may find useful.

Gallery section is here for ESB, you may want to also check out the ANH gallery as all the armor would be similar 



Link to post
Share on other sites

So the first thing I saw from what others had done that I liked was mount the eye lenses separately so they are essentially replaceable, like sunglass lenses.


I did a lot on this mod so it was easier to do before the face and the back were bolted together and I had to work down in a hole.  I got a couple of index cards and held them over each eye opening in the front part of the face.  I used a pencil and traced each eye opening on the card stock.  I then just eyeballed an approximate outer periphery about 4mm wider than the tracing.  This would be a minimum of extra margin on the final lenses.






Then I made a similar thickness sample lens from clear plastic sheet material.  The clear works better to work out all the bugs and see better before you just jump into using the green stuff.  I just cut out the paper templates and put them on the sheet plastic and used an ultra fine sharpie to make the lens, allowing for the tab areas in the areas shown below.  These tab locations are the most important areas as they pull the lens down semi-flush with the pre-trimmed eye area.  I've seen several others use four, five and even six different tab sites.  I found them to be just unnecessary overkill.  






Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen several ways and mechanisms on how to do this, this is just my spin on pretty much the same thing.  I thought about using T-Nuts, but the ones I had on hand from my model aircraft hardware stash were too short for my liking.  I went to my local ACE Hardware store and got six brass threaded inserts, instead.  I glued these in the proper locations to pull down the lens for proper fit.






This JB Weld Plastic bonder is a two-part epoxy type adhesive.  Incredibly strong, fairly thick and viscous and tends to stay where you put it without too much slump.  I DID have to hold my inserts in place to maintain their alignment for the corresponding screws.  It takes about 15 minutes to set, then I added some additional to the brass insert area to just make sure it was well glued and pleasing to my eye.  You can see that I placed some vinyl tape in the areas I thought I would install the inserts, prior to my helmet painting.  Good idea to have a nice clean surface to adhere to if you can.



Link to post
Share on other sites

I decided on using some 6-32 sized nylon bolts to hold my lenses in place.  These I had to cut to length to fit and make sure they didn't bottom out on the threaded inserts.  




Once all the JB Weld Plastic Epoxy had set, I used my clear lenses and installed them fully as if they were the final green ones.  I wanted to ensure I didn't have any further lens tweaks prior to cutting my final lenses.  I duplicated my clear ones by simply tracing them out on the provided green material and was able to come up with TWO complete sets of lenses!  Great!  Now I have a duplicate set if one gets scratched or whatever.






Two sets!  Yeah!







Set into position






Screwed into place for final install




View from the outside




Both secured and finished!



Link to post
Share on other sites

That pretty much covers my eye lenses.  I'd do it this way again when I build another bucket.

Next, which I kinda skipped over is my interior painting.  Decided to just mask it up and go.  I used some vinyl masking tape that I believe they use on auto painting jobs.  I have it for my model aircraft.  I prefer the vinyl tape on tight corners and around the periphery where leakage is most likely to occur.  Then used a bunch of regular masking tape for the rest of the space.  Don't skimp on tape!  Be thorough and don't miss any spots.  Check and re-check everywhere!  Used a gray Krylon primer and then a couple of coats of flat black.  No leaks and no overspray!  Came out perfect!  Kinda looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle to me! Ha!





  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

So on to the helmet (proper) build.  I modified the aspect of where the rubber U-trim piece interacts with the rear part of the helmet.  I had to drill a small hole just down the line angle from where the trap ends towards the back.  Then, I took my small perma-grit files and reshaped the "V" to come back to and include the hole.  The hole is recommended as a stop in this area so as not to create a stress area and induce a crack in the ABS material here.  This allowed me to fully slip my U-trim rubber piece fully back to the rear edge of the trap.  I then trimmed the rubber piece at a slight angle to match the rear line angle of the molded trap.  I know the screen used helmets were all over the place in this detail, but this is most pleasing to my eye and probably how it was most intended.  Of course that point is arguable.


Right side



Left side




These next images show my helmet face and back bolted together.  I used the supplied bolts that Dave Conklin provided in his AM kit.  I knw some of you like "pop" rivets, but I didn't have any and thought I'd just stick to the recipe.  I liked using them.  I've ready were some have commented (A.J.) on how this helmet fits together kind of "wonky".  Man, you ain't kidding!  It takes some real patience in getting this just like you want before you drill your holes.  I just tried to keep the tears and traps lined up properly and used those as a guide for where everything should go.













This photo is the best one I have on hand to evaluate my interproximal tooth trimming.  You would think I would have this part nailed down being a dental professional.  Post your comments, none the less.



Edited by Toothdoc
Add Content
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The next series of photos show a problem I had battling that HUGE ear area gap on the right side of the helmet.  I thought I should have a much better fit similar to what I got with the left side.  So, being the perfectionist, I answered the call to fix it somehow.  I just wanted a better fit before I started on the ears.




I first tried using a hair drier to soften the plastic and work the area down somewhat.  After darn near burning my fingers, I just wasn't getting any resolution to my efforts.  So my next approach to this was to drill another hole just below the top edge of the tube area and try to add another screw to this area pulling the gap a little tighter.  For some reason I grabbed a 4-40 socket head bolt, a couple of washers and a T-nut to do the work.  I got my hole drilled and added the fasteners.  I then thought I'd be smart and put a little dab of blue (removable) LocTite thread locker on the tee nut.  The gap was somewhat smaller and I was pretty smart, or so I thought. I left my work area for a short break and came back and GASPED!  WTF?!?  (except I didn't say Walt's Trooper Factory)  The tiny amount of LocTite I had applied had gotten onto the ABS, softened it somewhat and now the area was CRACKING under the stress of the bolt I had just installed to help close the gap.  YIKES!  I quickly disassembled the helmet and thoroughly cleaned off the LocTite residue with a paper towel and some handy isopropyl alcohol.  DANG!  What had I just done?  The left hole in the photo below was the site I drilled and applied the LocTite on the tee nut.  One cn clearly see the fractured areas.




First, I cleaned (scraped) the area on the interior aspect of the helmet free from paint and down to bare plastic.   I carefully ensured that the cracks were positioned back together and were flat, especially on the outside of the helmet.  I then got a piece of 0.7 oz fiberglass cloth and cut out a patch about 1" x 2" and tried it over the area for effective coverage.




I mixed up a small amount of my trusty JB Weld Plastic Bonder epoxy.




I then smeared a fair amount on the bare plastic with a popsicle stick and spread it out in a thin manner.  The fiberglass patch went over this and I used my finger, first dipped in the isopropyl alcohol to work the fiberglass cloth into the epoxy and smoothed out the final surface.  I used care not to over use the alcohol, just enough to keep my finger wet and have less sticking to the epoxy.  I let the entire thing dry for about 24 hours before returning to evaluate it.  Upon later inspection, the repair seemed very strong and quite well mended.  My goal was to eliminate any further propagation of the cracks and keep it together.  My efforts seemed to have done a good job.  I used a sharp #11 blade and trimmed the remaining glass cloth from the edge of the plastic.  I touched up the black paint with some Testors flat black and a model brush.  I reassembled the helmet and just didn't worry about placing a bolt back in the same area as before.  I was decided to leave the area alone and just use the right ear to do my best and cover the area.  Something I should have just done all along!  Moral of the story is that these things DON'T FIT TOGETHER VERY WELL and the ears will most likely cover a lot of the crazy gaps well enough.  I don't believe its an AMv4.5 helmet thing, but a TK bucket design thing.  Lesson learned!





Link to post
Share on other sites

After I got my helmet back together I started in on the ears. The ears are challenging and I was determined to get basically NO GAP around them.  I am aware that screen used helmets are far from perfect in this department as well and have Gaps-O-Plenty throughout trooper helmets on screen.  For me its a builder's challenge and pride thing.  Yes, Perfectionism is a disease!  I fiddled and fiddled and fiddled with the ears until they were about as good as they were going to get.  I wish it could be easier process, but it seems to be just a trial and error and fit, mark and grind type of thing.  It just takes time!  Here is how my ears came out.


One word of notation, I decided to actually GLUE MY EARS ON with the Plastruct Styrene and ABS bonder/welder solvent.  I decided to drill and countersink my screw holes first.  Then, the top bolt was cut short and bolted into position as merely a faux screw.  The one below the bumps was left as is and was actually left functional to hold the ears on while gluing.  The lower screw at the base of the ears was actually done very late in the build and completed just before I added my neck (S-trim) strip of rubber trim.  These lower bolts were also left true and are functional on my helmet.  The Plastruct solvent welder is strong stuff and any "little gap" can sometimes be reduced and then the solvent glue applied and held together/clamped until dry.  I brushed on several coats to ensure a good thorough bond 












  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ear and bars painting.  Here I used Testors enamels in gloss gray and the same semi-gloss Testors black that I used on the vocoder and frown.  The screws I painted with about two coats of white primer, let dry overnight and then final coated with Testors gloss white enamel paint.









Link to post
Share on other sites

I ordered some ESB specific decals and Hovi Mic tips from TrooperBay.  They came very quickly and neatly packed.   Last step in the basic helmet build.










I painted the Hovi Mic tips white under the screens and brought the white out to the edges and allow them to dry over night before replacing the screens.  I had to bevel the edges of the resin mic tips with my Dremel and sanding drum so they would sit at the proper orientation within the mic tip recess area.  Then screwed them down with the suppled washers and nuts.  The decals were of a vinyl or plastic type.  I had to apply, lift, apply, lift several times to get them right were I wanted them. I appreciate them being made from a durable substance that allows re-fitting a few times if necessary.  Care still needs to be used as the decal material WILL stretch and deform slightly.




I'll try to get several final photos that are better and less distorted.  Let me know if I can provide any further photos or close-ups of any areas.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow... this turned out awesome, Bryan!  :jc_doublethumbup:   Now that you have a good working knowledge of ABS I guess you know that we are expecting the same level of perfection when you start your armor build, lol.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

AMAZING helmet, Bryan! Your attention to detail on the ear trimming and all the painting really shows! I was about to post a link to CableGuy’s photo-tips but then remembered that Glen had already posted it on your other “In the Box” thread. Since you’re done with your helmet, it may not really be necessary since distortion in other armor part photos isn’t as critical, but you may consider stepping back and using the zoom feature on your phone. This will help capture proper proportions. But as already stated elsewhere, great photo quality, and excellent work thus far! Make the Texas Panhandle proud!

Sent via Imperial Tapatalk Comms

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

These are the final helmet photos I decided to upload that have minimal distortion.  The proportions look better!








I decided on adapting a "Captain" rank scheme because I earned the real rank in my former dental officer days with the USAF.






















I plan on replacing these tips with an UKswrath Electronics package.  Shhh... Don't tell him.




This photo below shows all that is visible from my construction boo boo from the LocTite fiasco.  It is relatively small and isn't really noticeable unless its pointed out or you know what you're looking for.






That's all for now, fellow Troopers!  Thanks to all of my new friends who have supported me here at FISD.  You've all been helpful!


  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...