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Sea_Marshall: WTF ESB TK build

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Greetings Troopers 


I'm Chuck with the Golden Gate Garrison of California and am back with another build, this time for a Walt's Trooper Factory Empire Strikes Back Stormtrooper (WTF ESB TK). It's been slow progress over the holidays but am hoping to put some time in and motivate myself with a work in progress thread. I really appreciate the support, tips, and insight for these costume builds, so thank you in advance for following along and chiming in where you think it would be most helpful. I believe I have everything in hand minus the belting material and E-11 blaster (optional). I'm on the lookout for a quality trooping E-11 as I progress through this build.  


Big Brown Box Day! A lot of the armor was rough trimmed but others were trimmed down to the return edges in some cases. 



I found some time to lay out the TK and trim back a lot of the rougher areas using a score-and-snap method, but also dug out the dremel and shears for a few parts. 



I happened upon a new dremel and belt sander for this project and found a few hours to trim back the rough cuts even better. The curved end of the belt sander was perfect for a lot of the curves in the kit. I revisited the edges with 220 grit sand paper and smoothed everything out as well as detailed a lot of the corners where I couldn't get sanding tools in. 




Now that I've made it to the point where I can fit things, now I'm really looking at the return edges and have decided I need to revisit a number of parts to trim it back even further, to none at all. I've popped into this thread for tips and tricks. 



I'll be getting more time on the edges this weekend and that should square me up for proper sizing! More to come. 







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Looks like you have things well in hand and doing your research, good luck with the build

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Really nice job on the trimming, Chuck, and I'm sure that belt sander saved you a ton of time!  Looks like you took the right amount off of everything to start with, and the Dremel will be perfect for the detail trimming (wrist openings and such). 

Keep up the great work, and keep those photos coming!




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dropping off a few image collages: cover strip creation and return edge clean up


Walt's Trooper Factory provided about 16 edges of abs strips.  It looks like they were the hard edges from the sheets used to stamp the kit, so I measured out lengths and made the cuts using a box cutter and a yardstick clamped to a table edge so I could score-and-snap the strips. Success. I picked the numbers in the middle of the recommendations: 16, 21, 25mm respectively. Once I have the armor fitted, I'll revisit these strips to cut them the proper lengths. 




I revisited the return edges on the armor and trimmed back a number of pieces: gauntlets, bicep scoops, shoulders, bottoms of shins, and tops of thighs. In the photos you can see the comparison of return edges, some in progress, others side-by-side. 




Think I'm ready to start sizing parts!


I wanted to do an ESB TK, which I intend to do, but a buddy of mine wants to do ANH. Looking at the differences in appearance it seems the helmet, hand plates and belt/holster setup will need some spare parts to pull off the swap. Not too bad.


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Coming along nicely, Chuck!  You won't be disappointed that you removed all those return edges.  Trust me.  Do you have your boots yet?  The reason I ask is that it makes it MUCH easier to size the calves if you have them to wear when sizing.  Otherwise, you may measure them too loose (or tight) which will throw off the connections in the back.


Keep those photos rolling in!  :jc_doublethumbup:

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Thanks for all the comments everyone. Really appreciated. 


I did some cuts to bring the armor down to size for blue tape fitting. I was fairly intimidated by this process and after having stumbled through it, it wasn't so bad. I have a jump suit from Trooper Bay on hand and used it for part fitting, but didn't do a whole mock up yet.





I've taken a look at how the cover strips are going to align and I feel good on most of the armor, however, thighs have caused me grief in the past. When I trimmed the thighs, I left all of the excess that came with the raw cut on the fronts and back knowing I'd need every millimeter, and yes, it's a snug fit as is. My question is this: The raised ridge (marked in red) and the cover strip (yellow)... is it a problem that the red and yellow lines are not closer together? The tops and bottoms align proper, but the examples I've seen has that ridge and the cover strips closer together. Any insight on this is helpful. I need the extra space. 




I think the armor worked out well? Everything slips on comfortably and moves proper. Good call on the boots @justjoseph63 . I do have them and I will totally size my shins with the boots on. Thank you for that pro tip. With my shins (and arm items) I was able to close the ridge-to-cover-strip spacing to give it the proper look. If expanding that ridge/cover strip spacing is a fair play, I'd probably do the same to the shins to free up some space. 


I've never used abs paste before, but I have a mason jar outside cooking with acetone and scrap. I saw that I could weld plastic, sand and polish it? That's rad. I planned to use this to reinforce the interior of the armor along the cover strip seams. That should weld any loose gaps and really solidify the parts. 


Super excited to get to the snaps. I've got to check my inventory of nylon strapping, but I've got plenty of snaps and a hand setter. 


Edited by Sea_Marshall
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It looks like you have a nice taper on the forearms, but double check that the wrist opening is not too wide.  ;)  I would also remove 100% of the return edges around the wrist (arrow) and in the "hump" area.



b2JQkRe.jpg   Onvgu4M.png?1


The ridges on each side of the seam/where the cover strip will go look a bit wide.  If you can narrow these it would give you a more screen accurate look, but that depends on the size of your thighs.  Troopers come in all shapes and sizes so we allow for things like this.

g76BSvE.png?1    hksVNqx.jpg?1


"I've never used abs paste before, but I have a mason jar outside cooking with acetone and scrap. I saw that I could weld plastic, sand and polish it? That's rad. I planned to use this to reinforce the interior of the armor along the cover strip seams".


I personally don't think you need the ABS paste on the inside.  As long as the interior cover strip is wide enough and you use E-6000 to attach them you should be golden.  Since the calves get opened and closed a lot it puts stress on the front seams.  ABS paste is brittle and not very forgiving, whereas E-6000 stays flexible.

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Thanks for the sharp eye on the gauntlets. I'm going to revisit them soon. 


I've started attaching cover strips to the front facing armor parts keeping in mind the spacing of the strip-to-ridge area and allowing for more to be taken out of the back. I've been using a combo of magnets and clamps for the strips. Clamps at the top and bottom, magnets in between, then shuffling things around to other parts. I did my best to keep the thigh and shin cover strip-ridge ratio consistent. At this point, all the backs of the armor shells are not sealed. 





Something I stumbled upon while reading the CRL was the sniper knee matching the grooves of the shin tops -- this dictates where the shin would align in the front right? -- so I dry-clamped the sniper knee to the spot then put down my cover strip. Unfortunately I had done the right shin first, not having the left shin as a guide to width, so my left shin top is wider (but hidden by the sniper knee). I think it'll be ok once it's all put together. Test fit soon. 


I got the front facing bicep cover strips down and will size the back later. 


On the insides of the thigh and shins, I felt like I needed to add cover strips/reinforcement along the seams. Having to space these items out a bit left gaps (covered by the strips) so I just sandwhiched the parts in cover strips and E-6000. I saw there were reqs to back or fill the gaps of the shell halves, so I'll give that abs paste a go in small areas. I'll have to revisit all the sides once assembled and smooth out some edges. 




While things were setting and gluing for hours, I got to work on the straps to connect the torso parts. I counted 11 joining areas and cut them out. Most should work. I'll need to measure some shorter straps but the bulk of them are done. Here's a few clamped and drying. 





I think I know what I'm doing, but its a first build so I'm prone to loads of mistakes. Fingers crossed that I haven't done anything irreparable so far.  



PS: Where can I find the thermal detonator mounting hardware? That curvy-clippy thing. Any vetted vendors or is it a common place thing?

Edited by Sea_Marshall
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The sniper knee plate ridges need to align with the ridges on the top of the calf.  Know in advance that it will not sit perfectly flush.. below is a detail (first photo) from a WTF build.  Note how the ridges line up on the side but there is a gap under the front (arrow).  This is expected and is perfectly fine.   The ridges will also not be in contact all the way up (second photo).  Again, perfectly normal and acceptable.  It helps a LOT to remove ALL of the return edge on the bottom of the sniper plate before fitting/gluing. ;)


olEwDbK.jpg     dN2REu0.jpg?1


For the TD clips, I suggest going with Tony's (ukswrath).  He includes the correct screws as well, and you can find those here.  

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Thank you much! TD clip in transit. 


Lots of fun going on. Things have picked up speed but now I've got some actual work to do on the kit. I haven't done much for the belt at all. The boxes are still rough cut as I haven't done any research on the build, but I DO have the canvas to make the belt arriving soonish. I've got a weekend to clean up the parts. And the right knee ammo boxes still need cleaning up. The hardware for that is on the way. Think I'm going with split rivet on this one. (implying that I enjoy this build so I'd probably build another) 


The initial snaps have been laid out! The torso dangles with what appears to be proper spacing. 




Other snaps installed were on the thighs to go with the belt rig I finagled. I had this belt handy so I sewed some velcro on 1.5 inch nylon straps and added a pair of snaps. It's kind of adjustable with the extra length in the velcro. I still need to do final fitting so length may change. 




On the topic of non-armor accessories, I've received boots from the fine folks at Imperial Boots. Neck seal and holster also on hand from Trooper Bay, who I enjoy browsing their wares. Dangerous. Interesting thing is it came with the black straps separate from the holster, which I believe is an ANH setup? I'll have to look into how it attaches, but should be an easy fit. 




With the arrival of the rubber gloves, also from Trooper Bay, I was finally able to size my gauntlets proper. huzzah. First piece of armor sealed. Fun fitting note is the hump can be used to fit my thumb through the gauntlet easier. Everything felt snug and the gauntlet opening appeared acceptable, however I neglected to take a photo... I trimmed them a bit from the first fitting images. 




The sniper knee came out exactly how you explained it would.




I need to revisit the edges of all the armor and round out excess areas. I'm sure there's reinforcement I need to back in a number of areas and prep the abs paste for application. I've done a few consistency tests with the paste and I'm feeling confident on application. It'll be a fun learning experience. 




Yay. I think this is in the ball park. Admittedly I'm building in a frenzy because I have a limited amount of free time to get the bulk of the work done. All of the pieces are sealed and stripped on the front facing edges with openings in the back awaiting final measurements before I lock them in. Regarding final measurements, I did an impromptu test fit and had a good laugh at how silly I looked.


It is with great sadness that I must once again resize my thigh armor. Story Time: When the kit showed up, I had the foreknowledge of thighs being my nemesis, so I left as much of the form as possible, and well, I still need like +2 inches. This trigged flash backs to resizing fiberglass thighs for Captain Phasma. It was a scary yet rewarding experience, and now I get to do it again but with abs plastic. This thread emboldened my decision to take it on with gusto: 


Looking forward to doing it, but man, not looking forward to doing it. On the upside, I'm confident my kidney plate and torso is far beyond the required half inch gap, so I'll be able to use this same method in a similar circumstance to close the gap on the sides. And then I get to learn how to polish armor, which I'll probably want to do from time to time anyway. It'll be fun.  



Edited by Sea_Marshall
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So i measured the waist of the WTF TK kit and how I have it trimmed it's a 38 inches on the kidney/torso area. I'm currently a 42, which means 4 inches of adjustments to close the armor gap. Wondering if I can drop the weight or make the mod faster, haha. I've got the thighs to do, so maybe that'll make or break my decision. 


Super excited, things are really coming together now: 

I made my own belt. It was simple enough. I got a 60" strip of white canvas and measured to 7 inches. I folded the fabric almost in half, leaving a 3 inch belt and 1 inch overlap. The overlap was roll hemmed to strengthen the belt. In addition, I cut strips of plastic canvas, doubled them up, then slid them into the belt. 




Here's the belt with the 45 degree cuts to meet the belt and the belt itself being within the plastic belt limitations. At the ends of the boxes you can see where the plastic canvas bolsters the hip area where the holster will sit. Clamped down the canvas and e-6000'd the strip. Shoulder strips went down too. 




I found a few minutes to drill holes in the posterior and ab for male snaps. Quick and easy. I'll probably end up using them. The Han Snap could be used to secure the armor and the cod/posterior would be handy to have a 'boba thong' type thing to keep the back from flying away. Double snapped and setting the posterior/kidney straps. 






I believe this is the last of the sanding finished: boxes, buttons, and button covers. I'm waiting on the TD clip then that'll get done up quick. Hoping to get the buttons painted and done tonight. Once the belt is done setting, I'll add the button covers. Do I need to put in rivets or screws and cover them? I realize it would make the belt sturdier, but I don't know by how much. Thoughts on that?


Fitting is coming up soon then closing all the armor and finalizing edges. Little detailed things now. 


Almost ready to start work on the helmet!



Edited by Sea_Marshall
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I must say I haven't seen a belt glued with the fabric belt for quite some time, most choose to add snaps or rivets for easy removal as well as you have snaps added so it can be locked on to your ab section so it doesn't move. If it was me I'd pull that off before the glue sets and think about adding snaps.


Approximate location, you will need to adjust to fit you. 















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Looks like you have over trimmed your large Ab plate



Notice the back edge around the ab plate. You could add a piece of ABS plate behind, glue then fill in the seam

 LSuei4K.jpg?1   JViLwBX.jpg?1


Another build with same problem

Below are two which have been glued to a piece of ABS the first the seam filled with ABS paste, the second with blade putty, I presume painted afterwards.






The rest of the pieces, smaller ab plate and button covers need the back return edges sanded off, you want them to lay flat



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Also with your holster:


Your holster will need the black loops added, as they sit over the belt and on your right side, not left like ANH

                                      ESB right side                                                                      ANH left side








Datasheet of differences between the versions


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Thank you for the critical eye. I knew I'd fumble a few things soon enough. I hadn't done super in depth research until I had already crossed a certain threshold of progress, which points to the button thing. Looking into it today I noticed exactly what you mentioned. It's a clever idea to back it with scrap and fake it/rebuild it. I love the Level 3 mindset. 


Here are the buttons I painted by hand, didn't mask anything. I may need to dial the paint back a bit? Raise it further from the base? Or is that itty bitty left over at the bottom the dome okay? It's just acrylic paint so it chips off rather easy, which is also unfortunate. Do folks gloss clear coat these panels to protect the paint?




Hoster: Copy that. It came with the raw straps attached and the black straps were separate, so I'll figure out how to swap them. 


Belt: Ah well. This got me confused going from the CRL to a detailed construction breakdown. I knew there was something behind the button covers and figured it was a permanent attachment, so just went with the glue. bummer. I'll make it work. The ends aren't attached so there's room for the rivets and the belt snaps should be in that gap next to it. I can figure out the center rivet. 




Truth be told, I have a 2nd belt coming in on order (I'd like to swap between ESB and ANH, so I'll get another crack at it.) Snaps on the suit to hold the belt! Wow! That's rad. I had no idea, but it makes sense. I'll see about marking this when I get to fitting. Going from casually seeing the costume to building one has it's learning curves, that's for sure. Thank you again for the guidance. 


While glue was drying I checked a few things off the list: Gloves and various snaps in the E-6000 queue. 


I did 5 inch elastic straps so it has a bit of grab when I put the gloves on. Feels good. 








I set the posterior and Han snap. Not pictured is the Boba thong and snaps being set on the lower cod plate. I'll have to determine the length of the 1 inch nylon tape I'd like to snap in using the existing male snaps. 


I've just received the split rivets and set one to the cod. I'll have to get to the torso/ab area later, but the ammo belt for the right thigh can be set and painted now. 

After tonights E-6000 is done setting I should be able to test fit everything minus an assortment of accessories. Hoping to be in the app process sometime in February then help a buddy build his TK since I've just stumbled through my own build, which is immensely satisfying as far as building Star Wars costumes go. Really appreciate the insight and tips on the build. 

Edited by Sea_Marshall
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Personally I would take a touch off, if you compare with the reference images they stop just short of the base.

 LSuei4K.jpg?1   JViLwBX.jpg?1




Most use humbol paint so it's already glossy, as yours are flat in appearance you could go over with some gloss clear to give them a shine, would also help the acrylic paint from coming off as easily as the clear will give it a little strength.


Oh and just in case you haven't should always try to rough up any areas with sandpaper before applying glue, will give the glue something to grip too :) 


Don't worry many of us made mistakes when we first started, but at least it's only a small modification for the ab plate ;) well small to me :laugh1:

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As Glen pointed out, the large ab button plate will need a rim, but the small plate should have zero return edge and lay flat (same thing with the small button covers).  I would trim it down as seen below, and remember that the paint should not go all the way to the bottom of the actual raised part of the button.


10s2WXy.jpg      ofKGOdg.jpg  rSRQ1c8.jpg


Fantastic job so far, sir.  Keep up the great work! 

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Awesome and thank you for the replies. It's really keeping me motivated and working on things. 


Yes, I rough sand with 100 grit on both sides to help bond things. 


Thanks for the button clarification. I used some colors I had laying around and just now remembered I have a gloss paint I can brush on too. I'll look for a few scraps to cut and fit the back.

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