Animu,  Cosplay,  Life

Operation Qan[T]: Part 6

I’m a bit late on this one – keen observers will note that this build log is very long delayed. This post will cover the very last day of our Quanta cosplay build, but because we only finished at 7am the morning of Day 1 of Anime Expo, I couldn’t get around to writing this up until now. Nevertheless, I’m not about to omit some of the most crucial parts of the build, so here we have it – the complete chronicle will be wrapped up here, all the way up to the twelfth hour before the Expo begins.

As I started thinking about how the actual sword would be constructed, I found that the blade was actually way too thick compared to the original design. Thankfully it didn’t harm the paint to take a half inch off each edge.

Thinner blade makes it look longer, though unfortunately it’s still a floppy thing.

Recall that last time my partner made the critical mistake of breaking one of our clear green bits clean in half and I chipped some of the paint by using compressed air on it? They’re both basically unfixable mistakes, but the power of an airbrush can make it (slightly) better.

My buddy forgot to construct the white guard that goes inside the right shoulder when he made the upper body unit, so I went ahead and scrapped together one real quick.

With most of the construction done, we could devote more time to getting some extra gimmicks in the suit, like LED lighting. This pack of standard green LED heads were cheaply bought off Amazon.

After some discussion and planning, we deduced that we would just aim to light the chest orb and eyes; trying to light every single clear part on the suit was madness, so we stuck to the important parts.

Unfortunately after some test-fitting, we determined that the LEDs were actually too thick to fit in the helmet, since the eye lenses already press directly up against the wearer’s eye.

We had millimeters to spare, and on all accounts this venture would be impossible due to our space limitations, but my partner insisted on giving it a whack in the most ridiculous way possible: dremeling down the LEDs themselves until they were thin enough to fit in the mask.

He’s a madman. But somehow the diodes inside were undamaged, so the LED still worked perfectly, though now it was less than half its original thickness.

My partner and I were fully prepared to do the wiring and soldering for the LED rigs ourselves, but thankfully we had a few other friends graciously volunteer to do that work for us.

I’ve soldered before, but only small block LEDs into a circuitboard. Usually for wired connections I’ll use crimp connectors, but our other friend here had an entire soldering kit that could be put to good use.

Meanwhile we were getting the last parts painted, and right off the bat we ran into some serious issues. The shield was originally painted white and then masked so we could paint the blue on top. The masking tape on the white paint decided to peel everything from the Plasti Dip up, so we were left with ugly bare foam patches that now have to be filled.

Trying to go at it with just about everything we have left, from Plasti Dip to white primer. It’s taking a while to cover up.

The textures are still mostly there, but at least it’s white now, which is good enough for us when we simply don’t have time left to make it perfect.

Painting the fingers gunmetal.

The absolute madman paints the hand guard while wearing the masked glove. Little surprise that his hands and arms ended up looking like a bad Pollock painting.

Shield bits getting some clear coat, which will hopefully gloss the clear green bits a bit and make them smoother.

Took some gunmetal brush paint to finish the head off. It’s a bit messy now, but will be cleaned up with some white in a bit.

The main torso had some crazy heavy coats of clear, so it came out looking ultra-glossy.

Though we don’t have that much paint to spare to do the same on the rest of the suit. They’re glossy, but not quite thick wet glossy, which is sort of the look we were going for.

Adding in the last details by hand with brush paint.

Meanwhile, our helper friends had successfully wired the lights up. My partner did the planning for the circuits, so hopefully the power and voltage should all check out correctly.

We got some simple and cheap USB power wires; cutting the other end off revealed two wires that we could solder to the LED strip setup.

The USB would then plug into your standard portable power bank, which can be stored in the armor and hopefully have enough juice to power the lights for the entire ‘con.

First test – and it works! Impressively bright.

This first circuit is just for the chest orb – we’ll get to the eyes and the grinded-down LEDs later.

I only have a rudimentary understanding of electrical wiring, so I can’t explain the issues we had in great detail, but apparently the resistors my partner had ordered for the circuit we were running weren’t rated high enough.

They thus were heating up quite a bit, and we’d like to have as little risk of being a fire hazard as possible. Those foam bits were placed over the resistors as a makeshift heat shield, but thankfully it looks like the issue was later resolved by just adding more resistors in a sequence that wouldn’t screw the circuit.

Painting is basically done for the entire suit now, but there are still small things to do to really bring it together.

Most pressing of all was to get the shield bits together so they can in turn be mounted onto the main shield body. But of course, when we went to attach the main upper bits together, they didn’t fit. We had measured this out before and done dry fits – it makes no sense that they don’t come together now.

The only solution now is to take the dremel and cut off edges until it fits.

Proper gap achieved.

Attaching the bits to the main shield body would be precarious – the idea is to use cardboard inserts that would be sandwiched in the bits.

These will then be inserted into the sides of the shield body, but it becomes more complicated when the bits all have to be angled at around 45 degrees.

Even after the cardboard inserts were glued in and set, we still had fitment problems with the bits not lining up.

There wasn’t much we could do now except to try making the less ugly side face up.

All the bits prepped and ready for insertion.

The plan was simple – cut slits in the side of the main shield body and insert the bits with the cardboard slabs at an angle, then drown the area in E6000 adhesive and hot glue until things stopped moving.

Sketchy? Absolutely. But it saves more weight than using our original idea of having a PVC Pipe frame with pipes extending outwards to hold the bits.

Now that the two lower bits are in at an angle, the shield can no longer really sit flat. A raised base built out of scattered boxes is required to hold the thing up.

Mounting the upper bits. The cardboard inserts should reach all the way through the cut-out slit in the shield’s side and contact the inside of the front of the shield as well, making for more contact points for glue.

Three out of four units mounted up. It’s starting to take its proper shape, but we’re still rightfully scared of all those cardboard/foam connections holding up.

Giant white back-plate for the shield mounted. We originally wanted to add detail under there like the second GN Drive and all that jazz, but we simply didn’t have time.

Getting the GN Condensers and their accompanying inserts put in to every area that requires them.

We were debating between the option of having the underside of the condensers painted completely silver (as on the left) or have a black background with silver details (as on the right).

Normally I’d go with the approach on the left for model kits since it makes the green stand out more and be more vibrant, but unfortunately it doesn’t look quite as good on a larger scale cosplay suit, since the splotchy finish on the clear green domes are much more apparent.

Thankfully this process of creating the inserts beneath the condensers was actually made extremely easy because I had a bunch of black cardstock paper lying around. I cut the proper condenser shape out and drew smaller designs within them with the help of a compass.

A silver paint pen is then used to trace over those designs and voila, we get some nearly kit-accurate condenser inserts.

I didn’t add too much detail to most of the condensers in the interest of saving time, but I did want to get some of the iconic suit markings in where I could. The cut-out on the right was my first attempt at writing out Quanta’s designation for the forehead sensor unit, while the version on the right is a more refined version the missus wrote out for me.

The black paper inserts will be hot glued along the edges to the clear green pieces, then inserted into their designated slots.

Glued the earlier LED assembly into the chest dome and it works. It lights up a brilliant green, but we can still see the pinpoint LEDs inside, so we’d like to figure out a way to diffuse the light a bit more evenly if possible.

It looks super cartoony with the LEGO colors and giant green orb, but we  should be able to refine it a bit.

Of course the chest needs to read 00Q, and while I was initially opposed to the tacky look of having light-up letters in the chest as my partner wanted, I decided to give the idea a chance. The letters were written out by my girlfriend, after which I went ahead and cut them out so we could have the outline in the black background.

Opaque scotch tape was used to hold some floating cut-out sections, like the center of the Q.

Throw it into the chest, hot glue it down, and it actually looks pretty sick. There’s a bit of a gap around the edges that I tried to make as even as possible, so there’s still light coming in from around the circle in addition to the letters being lit in the center.

A bit of a hot glue mess back here, but as long as it’s lit now I’m going to attempt to mess with it as little as I can.

Cut a hole in the bottom of the drive cylinder to bring the USB port through, which then plugs into our standard power bank for juice.

A compartment is cut into the cardboard front plate to store the battery pack; because this area is basically the hollow bit behind the cockpit hatch piece, there’s not much room, so our battery barely fits. To turn off the power we simply pull the power pack off the USB.

Our soldering friend was highly concerned about the lights and wiring fitting behind the facemask even with the modified and dremeled LEDs, but he went in like a champ and wired it all up for us anyways.

Unfortunately despite his efforts at the end of the day it looks like the harness just wouldn’t fit inside the mask. I called it from the beginning that the tolerances within the mask were too tight to fit lights, but at least now we can walk away with the knowledge that we actually tried it and confirmed it wouldn’t work.

Getting some of the last bits of detail in, like the black fill-in that needs to be added to the feet units.

We figured the quickest and easiest way to cover these areas up would be to use fabric, rather than using foam or paint.

Came out clean, with extra length up top to hide the otherwise visible portions of the sneakers embedded within the feet.

When our glue gun gives out and refuses to dispense glue anymore at 3am in the morning, so we needed to make a Walmart run during the dead of night to get a new one.

And lastly, while just about everything else on the suit is done, there’s one unit that we haven’t even planned or begun construction on until the very last hour: the sword.

The clear green blade is long, flexy, heavy, and generally unwieldy. Structural stability would naturally be a concern. To mitigate it as much as possible we’re using some PVC pipe as the handle with a cut-out that part of the blade’s base can slot into.

The guards that run up the base of the blade will be responsible for holding parts of the blade steady, so naturally they’ll need to be reinforced with cardboard.

The core sword design isn’t particularly challenging; creating it around the core acrylic blade and PVC pipe hilt is the hard part.

Even with the lower hilt attached, the end of the blade is still just too long. The flex is ridiculous, to the point that it feels like it’s going to snap (future irony: it did).

There are few ways to reinforce the blade without making it look gaudy (adding a metal bar down the middle is the absolute last resort), but thankfully our other friend came through with a not-so-bad option: thick clear acrylic blocks.

These things are super thick and apparently were scraps left over from a custom fishtank. We dremeled some edges down and prepared to line them up on one side of the sword for use as structural support.

That blade is capable of flexing more than I ever could. We contemplated for a bit on running the 45 degree PVC pipe connector so we could recreate Quanta’s unique sword grip, but decided that it would be too impractical, and thus left it off in favor of a more normal standard hilt.

It’s literally 6am in the morning when we’re laying down these first (and last) coats of blue on the sword hilt. Wanna hear a joke? Clear coat.

Absolutely without a doubt the closest we’ve ever cut it, and even now the suit’s technically not finished. We couldn’t iron out all of the sword in time, the underside of the shield is completely detail-less, and it was impossible to crank out the cover detail we wanted for the over-the-shoulder shield arm in time. At the end of the day that arm over the shoulder just had to be left as bare PVC pipe, which while unfortunate, was still thankfully passable.

Still, a suit’s a suit, and while we had less time this year, I think we did well with the amount of ambition we set out with. The Quanta’s quite a bit more complex than Barbatos was last time around, and even though the suit basically started tearing on Day 1 this year, we came through and got it perfectly serviceable for the rest of the Expo.


Read on the rest of the build:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5


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