It feels like we didn’t get much accomplished during this session because almost all the suit building is done. The body parts (sans the gloves for the hands) are all there, so the focus of this weekend was to start pushing out the accessories and make the entire suit fit on a human body. The smaller details like color breakup, helmet visor, and clear parts will come later.
We should be finishing up the final coats of white for most of the body this time; masking will then have to be done for the areas that will eventually be gray.
We noticed from our last test-fit that the shoulders, which are attached to the rear torso unit, rode too low on actual suit-up. So we cut them off and now need to raise them.
Cardboard added inside the shoulder panels too to stop the foam from flopping around and bending too much.
The logo for the mecha we were sent by our client is a design made up of five rings – each color represents one of the troopers/rangers that would be piloting/controlling the suit.
To get the design in the chest our original plan was to print it on glossy photo paper and insert it in the chest circle, with a piece of clear acrylic leveled over it to give it depth, similar to what we did with Quanta’s chest (except this time with thinner acrylic and no scary heat-bending).
Unfortunately, for whatever reason the glossy photo paper started to turn pink when it was exposed to light, so that wouldn’t fly. The backup then was to do it on regular printer paper, which works fine – the gloss from the photo paper was barely discernible anyway, and I’d rather have the logo on regular paper than have it on glossy pink paper.
This new belt unit is about to get a lot of things attached to it.
First off it needs to be suspended at the shoulders – so there will be some very long straps looping around there.
I’m always worried about the strap-to-foam/cardboard connection being the weakest link in our suits, especially since they’ll always be under load when worn, so I try to go the extra mile with looping the strap with a E6000 and hot glue combo keeping it down.
We also eventually decided to nix the adjustability in the belt itself, so I glued the pull straps on the buckles to keep them stationary. The only reason it would be needed is if it were too small for the client to fit around his waist, but we’re sure we built it large enough. In the event that it’s a snug or tight fit, the foam/cardboard will also bend on its own instead of breaking. The whole reason for this is because when the belt is worn with skirts attached to it, the adjustability system doesn’t like to keep the halves together, making for a flimsy and bendy belt.
The fit is so snug it’s not capable of standing up on its own even with the backskirts attached.
Test fitting with the suspender straps on the belt and the rear torso. Everything is held on the body with adjustable straps, so it ends up being a bit of a mess when adjusting for correct fitment.
The front skirts will be articulated rather than fixed, so they can move out of the way when the wearer moves their leg up.
Accomplished via more straps holding them onto the belt.
Quick test-fit of the belt unit with all the skirts attached and the torso. The gap at the waist is the result of not adjusting the height of the belt unit correctly – but that can of course easily be done.
Skirts and waist are done for now, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to hang off this stuff later.
Partner brought some Bondo to fix some of the more egregious gaps and seams in the torso.
It worked for fixing dents in his car, so it should work for fixing gaps and uneven surfaces on our armor, right? Unfortunately the answer is technically yes, but he messed up by not having hardener for the Bondo, so now we have to wait until next week to really sand this stuff down and get it repainted.
Since I’m working on strapping, my partner will be hashing out the weapon – a super sword, Megazord style. We hadn’t actually put much thought or personal design into this until now – we just kind of assumed we’d be building a carbon copy of the Megazord sword.
And that’s what it started out as, albeit with some very minor modifications on the lower end. It’s still a double-edged spaceship-shaped cleaver.
Working out some ideas for trim.
The sheer size of the sword and remaining accessories (there will be a shield) means that we have to bust out yet another roll of foam. I’m pretty sure this suit takes the record on most foam used.
Building out the other sword half.
Things like this happen when you mush two pieces of foam together, especially if they’re long pieces.
Thankfully heating and bending is our mantra, so with some convincing from a wood block and heat gun, the foam decided to finally return to being straight (no hate for gay swords out there – you’re kickass too).
We can’t have the blade edge just be blunt, because otherwise it’s more of a club than a sword, so both edges are beveled with the dremel all the way down.
Honestly very impressed with how even and consistent the final edges turned out.
The idea now is to stick a thin PVC pipe into the sword body and use the bottom end as the handle. Unfortunately, straight sticking a pipe into the sword doesn’t just directly work – the ends need to be cut down, otherwise it ends up looking like this, with an unnatural bulge in the blade.
Cutting the end of the pipe into a spear.
This will give the PVC pipe a gradually thinning shape that will look more appropriate when inserted into the foam blade sandwich.
Much more natural.
So, we could’ve just run with what we had of the blade, inserted the PVC pipe, and called it a day, but it just looked off. The wedge shape with a pipe coming out for the handle reminded me more of a lance (à la Transient-style) than a sword, so we set about constructing a unique guard that would unmistakably make it an actual sword.
Drawing out a few concepts. The middle one would be interesting mostly for the guard coming out of the blade edges itself, but we ultimately settled on the third one.
Minor trim piece added to add a bit of detail.
The W-shaped guard has an arduous story behind it – the base shape was fine, but my partner and I disagreed on how best to make it 3D. He wanted to keep it simple and just add rectangular strips to bring it out so the whole thing was one width (it would be constructed the same way the skirts were), while I wanted to join the edges in a style that followed the actual blade of the sword, where it’s thicker in the middle and sloped out at both ends to join flat.
After a 1v1 boxing match where he lost an arm and myself a leg, we decided to settle it with a rock/paper/scissors duel. I won, likely because he only had one arm to play with so he couldn’t counter my double paper barrage.
The circle in between the guard and blade was added just because we thought it looked good, and after looking at it we thought it would be a good idea to actually throw the suit logo (the multi-colored rings) in there to tie the weapon and mecha together. Thankfully our client was on board with that too.
Simple pommel built out, and with it all done like this we almost want to keep it for ourselves or build another just to swing around for fun. For an original design made up on the spot, it feels so cool to wield.
Sizing also appropriate for the mecha that will eventually hold it. Finding a box to shove this in for its trip to Alabama will be an ordeal though.
More painting being done – feet and legs are completely white for now.
Meanwhile, I’m strapping up the rest of the lower body to make sure it eventually becomes wearable. The lower legs will have one adjustable buckle strap that will ensure it sits above the calf.
Mostly. My calves are probably a little larger than our client’s, so there isn’t much room back there to attach the backplate for the legs on. The nice thing here is that the adjustability from the buckle straps means it can get ultra tight around any leg, ensuring stability.
For the backplate, we’ll be going back to our roots – we haven’t used this velcro plate-system in a long time, though it was how we got in and out of our suits during our very first armor build.
The velcro needs to go on the edges of the back of the lower leg, but there isn’t much real estate there to put it on, since the foam edges are so thin.
So we make them just a bit thicker with some foam strips.
The Velcro already has adhesive on its back, and normally I wouldn’t trust the stuff to hold a paperclip up, but in this instance it was surprisingly strong. I still used hot glue to secure it to the foam, but the already-included adhesive certainly wasn’t a detriment.
Velcro to velcro and it seals right up. I mentioned before that we had initially bought off-brand velcro on the cheap on Amazon, but that it held together less than admirably. Thankfully this new stuff is much stronger and should succeed in keeping the plate on the leg even under pressure.
Same deal for the thighs, though these will be a form-fit and won’t require buckles to wrap around; instead they’ll be suspended from the belt unit to stay in place.
Half-circles cut on the inner thighs to allow them to ride higher if need be.
There’s going to be a lot of buckles on this belt unit – suiting up and keeping track of where everything goes will be a bit of a mess.
Straps attached front and rear for the thighs, so they’ll be pulled up by the belt unit, which in turn will keep its position via the suspender straps that go over the wearer’s shoulders. If these straps weren’t here, the thighs would fall down, hit the lower legs, and push those down too during normal walking.
Started on a base for the shield that the suit will eventually also wield, though it’s a bit more complicated than a run-of-the-mill shield – we’ll likely finish it next week.
And finally, a full test-fit using my body, to make sure all the strap and buckle systems work, and everything is capable of lining up correctly.
We’ve found that everything works as intended – albeit barely, because my body is really pushing the tolerances of size due to being larger than the measurements of the intended wearer.
The most finicky area is (of course) the most complicated – the waist/belt unit. It took several minutes of fiddling with the straps to make it look right, since due to the body’s natural shape it seems that the belt will always lean either forwards or backwards. We never had this issue with previous suits because there was no external belt – the skirts and whatnot were always attached to my partner’s actual pants, but we don’t have such a luxury this time. Thankfully it should be possible to mitigate any unsightly gaps with the waist and torso due to this problem by moving the skirts around creatively.
Read on the rest of the build: