The last phase is at hand; Anime Expo is technically already in session but I’m lagging a bit so here’s the last episode of our armor-crafting adventure this year. We barely scraped together and only did our first actual full-final fitting at the Expo on Day 1.
Feet were constructed around 6lb wood blocks, both of which were nailed to the inside of my comrade’s shoes. We lifted the soles first to get the nails in there, then added some E6000 beneath the shoes for added security. There shouldn’t be an issue with the shoes coming off, hopefully.
While we did grab some matte paint at first, we went ahead and switched it out at the last minute for some semi-gloss/gloss paints instead, as I had mentioned the questionable durability of flat paints versus the sturdier gloss variety.
Because my comrade has a thing for matte suits/Gundams though, we still grabbed some Krylon flat spray to spray as a final coat, which will hopefully also add to the durability and limit Expo battle damage.
Also got the PVC into the entire Funnel assembly in the meantime. Had to cut holes through each funnel where the pipe would pass through, then do my best to secure the pipe inside the funnels where there quite frankly wasn’t much to secure it to.
This entire assembly is built on top of the PVC pipe frame we showed previously, which is strapped directly to my comrade’s chest via some buckles and straps. Therefore, this entire backpack is technically just for show; it isn’t actually attached to the pipes underneath in any way and acts more as a hollow shell.
Race-car-like straps that are connected to the pipe frame assembly and looped through the back plate. We’re actually connecting them to my buddy’s back in an X-shape though, not the traditional backpack-style strap setup.
One early issue we found whilst working with the PVC pipe and funnel assembly was the (expected) effect of the funnels to cause the pipe to turn within their connecting sockets, therefore rotating down and not keeping their proper positions suspended in the air. To fix this, we needed a solid way to keep the pipes from moving in their connectors. Enter some deathly toxic PVC Pipe Cement – apparently this stuff basically melts the pipes together – the pipes would crack and snap before the connection actually became loose.
Our first attempt working with it though…ended up nothing short of hilariously disastrous. Trying to figure out how to open the completely metal top of the cans was one thing (we had never worked with those crazy devices before) but spilling half the primer while trying is a whole different story. Thankfully I wasn’t actually directly involved in this; it was my two buddies at the end of the garage who fumbled.
Seriously, you could grate cheese on those things. He assures me that the smell tends to linger something awful though.
Finally got our shit together outside. Apparently these cans basically smell like death incarnate; my comrade actually started hacking and coughing his lungs out when working with them so I wasn’t about to try validating his claim.
We secured all the potential moving pieces of the pipe assembly, and found that they were absolutely solid. The process is actually two-step; a purple PVC Pipe Primer must be applied first and the actual cement applied on top of it for the connection to work. Everything has to be applied while it’s all wet apparently, so it wasn’t a traditional put-primer-down-wait-for-it-to-dry-and-then-cement deal.
Success! It’s still extremely nerve-wracking seeing the thing bounce whenever he walks around, but even all of our upper body strength (which is probably less in torque than the weight of the funnels alone) couldn’t turn those pipes after they had been cemented.
The Mod Podge was supposed to hide most of the gnarly duct tape-to-cardboard textures, but just from the first coat of paint I’m not seeing encouraging results. I should reserve all my judgements until the final layer has been put down though.
He’s gotta lace those shoes, then we can put another minor plate in for the feet to cover it a bit more. One issue I had with the Unicorn armor last year was how ostentatious and conspicuous my buddy’s shoes were within the armor. Hoping to remedy that and hide them better this year.
Oh my god he’s so kawaii. *fangirl squeal*
Mod Podging this whole assembly wasn’t the most time-efficient thing to do; we had to podge one side, wait for it to dry, podge it again as a second coat, then flip, rinse, and repeat for the second side.
The duct tape texture showing through the paint makes me really sad. It feels like we haven’t really advanced from first year despite our best efforts to do so, but I guess we’ll compare the final products at completion to really measure progress.
Backpack is mostly black with half a yellow drum. There are actually two bits that are supposed to be white back there too, but we simply didn’t have the time to worry about absolute accuracy. Had to cut our losses when we were working into around 4AM on the day of the Expo.
The left forearm wasn’t fun. The beam saber we ended up sticking inside (that isn’t actually removable, sadly) was made out of a small PVC pipe wrapped in cardboard for thickness. The constant repainting for all the separate color bits was just a bit of a hassle; notice how messy the yellow bit is shown above. We had to wait for that to dry and go over it in black to achieve the desired clean lines.
Traced out the rear skirt blocks in Extra Large red Sharpie, then painted them in red. Messed up once with the smaller box, had to compensate and enlarge.
That single lone funnel, sitting idly on the garage floor waiting to join its brothers. It’ll be cut up a bit and added to the rest of the assembly with Velcro. The idea is for this one to be easily removable from the rest while still being there so we can have easy access to the PVC pipes to pull them off by hand.
Facemask comparisons from the first year to now. I like to think we’ve gotten somewhere.
Mostly for Rule of Cool, we added magnets to the inside of the helmet and facemask for ease of removal. Velcro worked just as well before on our first suit, but magnets are magical.
Backpack just about complete. It looks damn good I think; the cardboard texture beneath the black paint is certainly an eyesore, but that’s only really noticeable in the light or if you look really close. From a distance or at first glance, it’s pretty awesome.
As I mentioned above, we worked well into the night and only got about an hour’s worth of sleep before the big day. We’re cutting it close as always, but if everything went right for once, we shouldn’t have an issue suiting up for the first time at the ‘Con.
Read on the rest of the build: