Animu,  Life

Operation NT-D: Episode 2


T-minus four days until the big show. And my partner and I have barely reached the halfway point with our armor. We thought we were crunching last year, but this is a whole new level or taking things at the eleventh hour. Thankfully I was able to devote a little more time for this session, so more things could be accomplished.


So my partner has been hounding me to do my job lately; when we first started on this project it was agreed that the backpack would be my sole responsibility; that entire unit was under my direct supervision. I was to design it, build it, paint it, make it work.


Given that our time is highly limited, I had to build the thing at my house on my own. My comrade gave me the measurements for the area on his back; I was to somehow magically make a backpack that resembles that of the Unicorn Gundam’s on my own.


I had a rough time getting started; I drew out schematics for myself but at first I couldn’t even make sense of how the base pieces were supposed to be oriented; I ended up taking half an hour to figure out that I had my own backpack facing vertically when it was supposed to be horizontal.


I just gotta say – if you take a look at the Unicorn’s actual backpack, it’s some crazy shit. It rivals the Turn X in terms of insane angular geometrical convolution. I’m proud to say that I managed to figure out all the crazy angles and work with the numerous random shapes on the backpack without needing any actual trigonometry skills though. I mention this because last year my comrade legitimately used sins and tangents and whatnot to figure out his measurements. I more or less winged all of mine and it ended up all right.


After some trial and error, starting to tape shape. Using duct tape to hold it in place for the moment before it’s actually put together with glue.


While cutting foam boards is extraordinarily easy (it’s actually kind of fun – the part of this whole project that I dread the most is painting; drawing and cutting out pieces is the most enjoyable), I still needed to touch up my tool of choice. A nice sharp X-ACTO knife works wonders.


Coming along even further, with the thruster flaps generally in place. That trapezoid-looking shape that’s disconnected from the backpack is actually going to be scrapped – I accidentally made it too short so I have to redo the entire thing. This happens a lot through the course of this project, which is why we use duct tape first before gluing anything down. (See Episode 0 for more details)


Duct tape removed, everything glued down. As I was redoing the trapezoid piece, I decided to open up the bottom of the actual box area, to allow for more storage room. The reason why the top half of the backpack is open and empty is because like last year, it’s going to be open-able and capable of small storage.


Sealed up with some more detail parts added. As I was building this, I realized how ham I was going on it. I haven’t seen any Unicorn Gundam cosplay sport particularly detailed backpacks, since they mostly focus on other, more defined areas of the suit. Given that this is my sole charge on the project though, I decided to give my all on it.


Test fitting storage capacity. That water bottle goes all the way down to the extended trapezoid piece, and it can fit four more bottles next to it, totaling for five in a row in there. There will be room above them to store food or other necessities as well.


Paid my comrade a visit early the next morning after I had gotten that far with my backpack; woke up at an ungodly 6AM on a summer break morning to hustle my ass over there to help him.


The other night I went out to Wal Mart and got myself a variable-temperature hot glue gun just for this project. Of course, it’ll come in handy for other projects too, but it was just about the only realistic way we were going to put this one together.


What he’s gotten of the rear skirt armor. It looks good, and we’re using silver-painted plastic cups as the thrusters for the suit. Yeah it’s kind of cheap, but I like to think of it as more pragmatic and innovative.


A whole mess of loose parts; my comrade cut out the parts and taped them together first since he didn’t have access to hot glue. We weren’t supposed to attach anything until all the psyco-frame pieces had been completely painted, but that didn’t exactly work out in perfect sequence…


My first task of the morning upon arrival was to arm myself with the hot glue gun and secure the torso together. Shown above is half of it glued and the other half still sporting the results of my partner’s duct tape frenzy.


Taking everything apart with the tape and putting it all back together with hot glue wasn’t the most enjoyable task. It worked out well in the end though, and the results showed. The entire unit was extremely flimsy when I first touched it, being only loosely held together by a mess of tape, but the hot glue really welded things together solidly.


When I hot glue, I hot glue. Like, it has to look like a literal mound of goop for it to pass as sturdy. Given my nightmareish experience with a previous project and hot glue, I don’t settle for anything less than overkill now. As a result of this habit though, I’ve been burning through the massive stockpile of glue ammo pretty quickly. We had 24 sticks to begin with and I think we’re down to eight now…


The backplate of the torso, similar in design to last year’s. It will be held on in the same fashion, through velcro straps on the sides and shoulders.


Partner cutting some velcro. This time around we’re using the big industrial strength velcro with the self-adhesive on the back. After last year’s disaster with the velcro coming apart at the ‘con, we’ve learned our lesson. This stuff doesn’t come off once it sticks on.


While all the velcro we’ve gotten has had the self-adhesive, in rare cases we’ll also use the hot glue to attach them. I’m relieved to say with confidence that we won’t be facing the same issues as last year with this set-up.


A janky-looking tonfa unit for the forearms. My partner build this solely on his own. I can see the general shape of the tonfa in there, but in person it looks very unrefined and messy. Only so much one can do with such a convoluted design I suppose.


It almost reminds me of pla plate. This is how he makes the pieces before gluing them together.


A thigh armor, complete with labels to tell orientation and psyco-frame slots cut out. As with last year, we are suspending these via my comrade’s belt.


He actually went through the effort of drawing one-inch grid lines on one of the foam boards…I can’t even imagine how tedious that must’ve been.


So many little parts that look like scraps that are somehow actually useful in building the leg units.


Made some progress on my backpack while I was there, it’s finally taking on the general Unicorn backpack shape.


Opening success! Don’t ask how I plan to have it actually lock when it closes, because I haven’t thought that far. But hey, I actually managed to make an opening mechanism work inside such an insanely complex backpack design. Good job, self.


Side skirt shown and old arm unit that looks pretty messed up. I wanted to make the side skirts 3D instead of leaving them a boring flat, but there’s only so much I can do in such little time.


The front and back torso units together, and a look at the velcro attachment inside. So far it looks like it’ll hold, though we can never be sure of the foam itself…


Torso totally glued together. Looking good so far.


Pseudo-test fit of the backpack. Seems like it’ll work, though attaching it to the backplate of the armor will be a challenge.


Last year it was my garage that got thrashed whenever we would work on this project. Now it’s my partner’s turn, though I don’t think the mess bothers him that much…


The feet and legs are totally in my partner’s charge; he’s responsible for coming up with the dimensions, fittings, etc. I wasn’t involved in it at all, though all I knew is that the Unicorn has some pretty crazy legs. My comrade didn’t exactly make it totally screen accurate, but what he did works. The 3D calves were a serious pain in the arse to glue together though.


For the feet, we’re actually taking the classic cosplay approach of wooden blocks to walk on for elevation. We had a friend of ours who knows how to work wood make these for us. As far as I can tell my comrade is already pretty good in walking in them. How well he’ll fare with these on while fully suited up is a different matter that remains to be seen…


Had some help arrive late in the evening. This time it isn’t just my partner and I working on the armor; we got all our friends involved in doing some of the smaller stuff. Many thanks to them, as they were actually quite helpful.


Work table with a lot of the uncompleted parts, including collapsed shoulders and unsecured front skirts.


Some schematics for what appears to be the waist areas and skirts.


Hard at work, occasionally hardly working…


So I have to point this out – remember the Krylon Glitter Blast that I introduced in Episode 0 and doted on for being awesome? Yeah, it’s not actually that awesome once you get past the first can. Besides being stupidly expensive (around $8 a pop), the cans and paint are both wildly unreliable with incredible variation in results, and run out extraordinarily fast.


I don’t think I can express enough displeasure with this paint. It’ll come out thick one moment, clear air the next. As I understand it, a can exploded on my partner, and sometimes the nozzle will jam and it won’t stop spraying. The worst part is that it runs out after barely two pieces. And the stores are all limited in stock on them; we literally think we brought every single ones in our town. Unreliable spray paint overall…


Before I left for the night, I made a final breakthrough for the backpack – I figured that the circular pieces in the upper middle areas of the backpack could be made out of something easier than foam…which is when I thought, hey the cups we were using for the thrusters work just fine. Taking a sharp exacto knife to the plastic, it’s easy to get through.


All in all it was a fairly productive session – now that I’m finally back and able to help my comrade, we’re getting somewhere. But only time will tell if it’s too little, too late. We only have three days until the ‘con, we’ll need some divine intervention to save us from this…

Read on the rest of the build:

Episode 0

Episode 1

Episode 3

Episode 4



    • James Pierce

      Thanks, I’m glad you dig it! Ah, this is just an annual hobby for my buddy and I; admittedly we’re not that good at it yet, but practice makes perfect! I’m glad we could be an inspiration!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: