Operation Barbatos: Form 3

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Nearly done building – it really starts to come together and look like an actual suit when the legs enter the picture. A good amount of parts have also already been plasti-dipped and primed, which means we just have to work on fitment and painting as the next major steps.

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We tried wood glue last time with the back of the helmet but the seams are still pretty gnarly, even after some grinding with the belt sander.

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I wanted to use vinyl to wrap the seams at first to get a slightly smoother finish by just covering up the seams, but we went cheap and tried packing tape instead.

It ended up peeling up when we tried to seal it with the heat gun so we moved onto duct tape next.

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The duct tape had better grip than the packing tape, but also peeled a bit at the edges. At this point I was basically just throwing on whatever we had in hopes that it would end up piling up thick enough to cover the seams.

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Duct tape, a layer of contact cement just because, primer, and then a thin coat of wood glue over the entire thing, which will then be sanded down.

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By the final coat of primer, it actually looked (kind of) presentable. Better than what it was before, but nowhere near perfect. It’s still just the back of the head though, so we couldn’t quite be damned to go any further and left it at that.

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Any brush that touches the contact cement basically commits brush suicide. We picked up a pack of three for dirt-cheap at the dollar store because we knew they’d be expendable, though a container with a brush attached to the cap would solve all our problems and drastically improve our quality of life.

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These things quickly become more “applicator” than “brush”, since they can’t exactly be cleaned under water and we don’t have (or know) anything that could thin the cement.

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I had a set of better brushes that were specifically relegated to wood glue duty though, since that stuff is neither toxic nor brush killing.

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We usually go for around 10 hours per day because we start at around 3pm and go until past midnight, but lately sunny sunny California decided it was time to hand out heat strokes to anyone insane enough to even walk outside during midday.

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As a result our work days have shortened a bit, but we should still be very much on track for Anime Expo. I thought we could do this without having to work back-to-back every single day, but it looks like we should just barely be on time if we continue at our current pace.

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Partner’s been screwing with and putting together the arms for the longest time.

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Helmet is basically all done, save for some LED shenanigans we’ll eventually get to with the eyes. Primed and ready for paint.

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Got through our first giant roll of foam, had to resupply. As much as this stuff is, we might still need one more later on.

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With the upper body just about done, it was time to move onto the waist and work downwards from there. My partner had most of the dimensions already drawn in SketchUp, but some of his designs weren’t quite faithful to the actual Barbatos design, so I had to make tweaks as I went.

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Starting to put together the awkwardly shaped and very large center crotch piece.

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While I worked on that, my comrade was still screwing with the arms – this time with some chemicals so toxic he had to take it outside.

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One of our other buddies left us with a whole set of Bondo materials – basically resin fiberglass stuff that can be mixed to create putty and fill in unwanted seams.

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Apparently due to the multiple-face construction of the arms, there were more than a few seams that were too large and too deep to be filled with wood glue alone.

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As such, my partner tried the stuff out for a while – apparently it’s horribly toxic – the facemask he’s wearing actually doesn’t help against fumes, but the slight feeling of security counts for something.

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End result turned out decent, I think – a lot of the seams were sanded and filled, so it looks a lot more like a whole complete part now.

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Our buddy also provided us with a much-needed and very helpful power tool – an actual dremel. My partner’s been talking about one to create bevels for the longest time.

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Plenty of interchangeable heads to suit our needs. It seems like such a useful tool for just about anything – cutting, sanding, beveling, you name it.

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This was one of the cool tricks I saw on Evil Ted’s Channel with a dremel – one of the heads had a bit of a hollow face, so you could make these cool accents on any armor. Barbatos actually doesn’t really have anything of the sort though – there were circular details on the back of the head so I decided to just try it there for shits ‘n giggles. They ended up uneven but after it’s all painted away in a dark gunmetal-gray it shouldn’t be noticeable.

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The dremel is mainly useful for allowing us to get parts like this. Cutting even, consistent bevels can be difficult at times (though I actually prefer to do it with a scissor).

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Scrap foam pile. We throw away a lot of the small, cut-up bits that most likely wouldn’t be of any further use, but scrap with a fair bit of surface area is kept just in case.

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Hope the neighbors don’t throw a fit. Plasti-dipped some parts on the ground outside without the foresight of using a table or platform like a box. We’ve gotten better though.

P1180355The Plasti Dip is used to seal the porous surface of the foam which preps it for paint. The primer is really just because I had a spare can of Automotive Primer lying around that’s too thick to use for ‘pla, but it actually turned out to be helpful for sealing a hard “shell” over the plasti-dip and of course doing what primer does – helping the actual paint adhere well.

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After constructing the general staggered frame of the front crotch piece, all that was left was to fill in the sides. Decided tracing it onto a paper template first would make my life easier.

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Glued together. I’m proud of how accurate it actually turned out – I honestly probably didn’t even have to add the staggered detail for the long slope going down between the legs, but went the extra mile and strove for accuracy anyway.

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Carved the panel line on the read triangle piece with exacto first.

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Apply a little heat and magic happens.

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Next were the front skirts, which actually gave me no small amount of trouble during assembly.

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Maybe it was because it was really late in the night by the time I started working on these, but none of my measurements matched up. I’d measure and draw the parts out on the foam, but once they were cut out, nothing actually added up.

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I’m pretty sure at some point I decided to screw it and just forcibly assembled whatever I had, even if it meant stretching and bending the foam beyond its healthy limit.

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The two sides aren’t actually even, but at that hour I really couldn’t care less.

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Throwing the upper front skirt together by literally gluing pieces of foam on and cutting them until they fit the gaps.

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Chest drowning in some wood glue, because Bondo is a little too toxic for continuous use.

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Looks like the hour got to my partner as well. Those are supposed to be the rear skirts. While the sides are reasonably accurate, I’m honestly not sure what he was trying to accomplish with the center piece. It’s the least accurate part of the suit by far, though we’ll probably go back and re-make it.

P1180308I decided to take charge of the lower legs. We knew these would be some of the more complex pieces of the suit, but like the shoulders, had a clear design in my head for how to build it.

P1180309My partner had already drawn the whole thing up in SketchUp beforehand, but I went ahead and adjusted the design to be a bit more accurate to the original suit design. He had simplified it quite a bit.

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After cutting out four pieces to make up the body of the side of the legs, they had to be attached by a single plate that formed the front. To do this I’d be cementing a flat edge of cut foam to the textured side, which usually isn’t ideal because the textured side will leave seams. Thankfully, our dremel turned out to be the ideal tool to grind down all the textured edges so it would be a smooth fit with the rest.

P1180313The side pieces actually ended up looking a bit too flared and large when test fitted against my partner’s leg, so some precise trimming had to be done. Above is the before and after, with the left side displaying the bit that was shaved.

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Cut simple strips that were then cemented to curved pieces fitted to the front of the legs to create the raised kneepads.

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Had to do the same thing as before where I dremeled the edges to get a smooth fit. It’s honestly a huge pain in the ass (I usually throw it over to my partner and make him do it because he’s the dremel master) and ends up in a big gross mess because all the grinded down foam ends up on your arm, hand, face, and body.

P1180318The knee strips were deliberately cut long so I could figure out where to trim them after fitting everything together. There’s a crease running down the knee on the actual suit, which is why I made it out of two strips joined at the center. I could’ve also done it by heat-bending a single piece of foam down the center, but that wouldn’t have given as defined of a shape.

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While I hammered out the legs my partner as usual was working on his own thing.

P1180319Backpack is fairly simple – divided up into three blocs with their own crazy angles going on.

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My comrade was responsible for these on his own; he got the shapes down pretty well – I sure as hell wouldn’t want to deal with the angle-filling at the tips.

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We started with one table, graduated up to four. It’s always important to have a solid workspace when tackling a project as large as this – the downside is that my garage is no longer usable for the duration of this adventure for parking cars.

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Cut out some gaps in the legs for the yellow vent-like pieces. I was actually at a loss first on how to make those.

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After a bit of tinkering though, I decided it would be best to use the piece that I had initially cut out from the leg to create the opening and split that into thirds. Then I could just clone it twice and stagger each section to get the “vent” look.

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They look pretty baller once fitted. I honestly probably didn’t have to go to such lengths with detail on the legs but accuracy is everything, right?

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The two blocs on the ends of the backpack are lookin’ real good, especially with the detail lines my partner scribed.

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Except he screwed up on one of them and scribed just a little too much.

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Center thruster bloc also done up. Lookin’ faithful to the suit.

P1180327He even added the thruster line details from the HG kit.

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About halfway through the legs; both vent bits mounted, though they’re not perfectly even. It triggers me a bit, but I couldn’t be damned to go back and do it all over again.

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Next up is cutting out the kneecap detail panel, which is a less creased bit on the kit that’s actually very slightly raised.

P1180344Lookin’ real good once it’s actually glued in place. I actually screwed up at first and glued one of them upside down and had to pry the hot glue apart – a messy task. Let it be a lesson kids – always double check your piece orientation before gluing anything down.

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We’ll be using a PVC pipe frame again this year for the backpack, even though there won’t be any particularly heavy loads on it unlike last year when we had an entire funnel assembly tacked on.

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While the backpack is fully crafted, we can just cut out some bits of the back to have it fit around the pipes when we tack everything on.

P1180385And of course, PVC pipes heralds the return of PVC cement. The same horribly toxic stuff one of my egghead friends spilled all over his shirt last year when we first tried using it. This stuff basically just ensures the pipes don’t slip ‘n slide in their housings and, exactly as it says on the tin, cements them together.

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Quickly running out of our second sheet of foam, and there’s still quite a bit to be built.

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Drawing out the leg thrusters next.

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Had to take the dremel around all the edges to get it smooth for cementing, just as we did for the legs earlier.

P1180387I finished putting these together and celebrated for a moment – before forgetting that each leg and two thrusters, meaning I had to do the entire thing over again one more time because these are only enough parts for one leg. That means I have to dremel down another four thruster face sides. Not fun.

P1180388The legs are finally taking on their final form though – once these are glued down we just have to fill in the back a little bit and it’s on to plast-dipping.

Funny thing to mention is that the thrusters technically could’ve been more accurate – the v-shaped lines I scored along the sides are raised ever so slightly on the model kit, which means I should’ve staggered the foam, but I totally forgot about that detail as I was building them so they’ve become panel lines now.

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Stumbled upon some (fairly) cheap gloves while shopping around Home Depot.

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Apparently these Gorilla Grip gloves are good for a master grip on just about anything. (We can confirm this claim.) They fit our criteria of being cheap, black/gray, and slim.

P1180337We’ve actually never done armored hands before – only during Year One did we have our friend toss us some of his finger-less gloves as a sort of last-minute afterthought, but this year we’re aiming for a full suit-up.

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My partner is literally building them by hot gluing the foam pieces onto the glove as he’s wearing them. This way the foam will bend as he glues it on and contour to the shape of his hand. The downside is that he gets to burn his hand over 20 times gluing each individual piece on. The things we do for cosplay.

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Checking it out with the arm fitted.

P1180381We’ll be doing two-piece fingers for the hands – just pieces of foam stacked on top of his fingers, one per knuckle to get a nice mechanical look.

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We only realized after he had glued a few fingers down that we should probably cut them, seal them, and paint them first before gluing them onto the glove because we want the glove to remain black. Oops.

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Now we’re just waiting on our other wood-working friend to get us our platform shoes so we can build the feet out of foam around it. In the meantime we’ll be crackin’ down on fitment and paint for the time being, since everything else has been constructed.

Read on the rest of the build:

Form 1

Form 2

Form 4

Form 5

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