Winter is coming, which means school’s wrapping up with finals papers and life-ending exams, which in turn means we had to skip last week’s build session. This week’s will also be short since we only had a day to work instead of our usual two, but thankfully our deadline has been graciously extended to the end of the year (it was originally around late November/early December) so we have plenty of time now to make sure no corners are cut during the build.
Remember I mentioned last time that we had color matched every Lycra suit for the troopers/rangers except for the gold? The gold paint finally came in, and this stuff was not cheap. Probably the most expensive aerosol can we’ve ever bought, but after much debate and tinkering we concluded that a candy gold would be the closest match to the shimmery shiny gold of the Lycra.
The can calls for a base coat of silver before we spray the actual gold, so that’s done on our Epsilon test piece.
While spraying the silver we actually found that it looks a lot smoother and nicer when painted over an Epsilon’d surface (the half-circle above is coated with Epsilon, the sword blade next to it is bare foam with Plasti-Dip).
The sword, being so large and bendy because it’s just foam, is also developing some unsightly cracks because paint doesn’t like to bend and flex. This is a common issue we’ve dealt with before, but it’s a bit more pressing when it’s on such a large exposed piece like the sword blade. Thankfully, we have plenty of Epsilon leftover, so that should be a solid fix for this issue.
First coat of that expensive candy gold on our test piece was…not encouraging, to say the least. This is considerably more piss-yellow than the gold sample photos we looked at for this paint. Thankfully, there is yet hope, since the can recommends 2-4 coats to build up the color, so I’m not completely distraught at the first coat just yet.
Second coat looks…better? It’s taking on a more golden look, especially under light, but it’s still not quite what we were promised.
Upon finally comparing to the actual Lycra suit though…it’s not even remotely close. This is very awkward, and very despairing.
There is a contingency. Another close match to the Lycra gold was a shade that I had worked with plenty before – the Testors Gloss Metallic Gold that I use for most of the gold on my model kits. The irony comes when a can of this stuff is like $2.
Paired with a little glitter blast, and it actually comes really close. It’s still not 100%, since the Lycra fabric is very unique in how it reflects light, but with a bit more spray combo-ing I think we can get there.
Masking a few more body parts so they can be hit with some gray.
The main chest unit was not fun to mask.
Subtle touches of gray break the white up really well.
I noticed the back unit wasn’t holding itself up very well – the bottom bit was just foam with no reinforcement, so it kept flaring out on its own.
Cardboard reinforcement plate fixed that right up.
The chest needed gray trim on the white, along with silver for the vents around the circle.
And with all the masking tape peeled back, it looks very nearly like the original computer render. There’s still a bit of masking left for the abs that need a splash of black, though.
And of course, the helmets – still a primary focus right now. I mentioned last time that their base shape had been ironed out, and that this time we’d focus on making sure they ended up looking uniform.
First up for reconditioning is this ugly child here. Some bad patterning led to a very long-faced caved-in sides look, but that’s okay – I’m a doctor.
To fix the issue, I had the option of cutting the height of the helmet down (making it more squat) or making it wider. Obviously, I’d like to oversize these rather than undersize them for their wearers, so I decided to go with the latter option.
It’s going to be the classic strip-in-the-middle technique, though this time the strip will taper to a point, so it won’t affect the faceplate’s proportions and width up front, while still widening the rear significantly to improve the overall shape.
I also cut some triangles out the bottom sides – bringing those edges together will make the helmet rounder and more tucked at the bottom, which should fix the long-face issue.
While I was working on the helmet shapes, my partner continued grinding away at the finish. His new revolutionary medical practice involves sandpaper that’s hot-glued onto a polishing wheel (I don’t believe this man has ever been to medical school).
For the record, I think he said something about the polishing wheel being too much high power man, so it’s back to the good ‘ol sanding block.
Test fitting some of the head garnish that’s going to be glued on.
It’s really looking super now.
The helmet on the left is the formerly narrow-faced one from earlier that I performed surgery on. Looks a lot more in-line with the others now.
Because when we run out of primer we use…pink paint?! My partner was just really impatient and wanted to see some color on these things finally – of course this isn’t the actual paint coat – it’ll just be sanded away as he continues working the surface.
It’s an endless process of sand, primer/paint, note imperfections, repeat.
And because we ran out of spot putty, we had to go out and get some new all-purpose putty. I’m always very averse to working with bondo things, since it’s not the most healthy substance and I hate sanding/resculpting, but I guess my partner doesn’t mind the work, so he prefers this stuff.
I’m not even exaggerating when I talk about how much time he spends sanding and re-puttying things. His side of the garage is basically coated in a thin film of Bondo dust.
Pretty sure that’s some unhealthy stuff.
On the bright side, thanks to him putting in the legwork, quite a few of the helmets are nearly 95% done for their surface finish.
In a huge twist of irony though, that work quickly got put on hold because we decided to try Plasti-Dip as a primer/filler for the helmet surfaces. We’ve worked with this stuff plenty before, but not in such extreme weather conditions – it must’ve been 55 degrees outside when we tried this.
Not pretty. And Plasti-Dip isn’t even really sandable, so our best bet was to spray more of it on and eventually try to peel it all off, since Plasti-Dip was designed to be removable. This will teach us to spray paint after nightfall in winter.
Looks like the doctor has another patient in need of medical assistance.
Thankfully this one won’t require being cut in half with strip insertions – some modifications to where the sides come together should be enough to fix its shape somewhat.
This is that same helmet after the sides were brought in a bit. Looks much more proper now.
Peeling the Plasti-Dip disaster is working…but it’s still a huge waste of time and could’ve been avoided altogether if we had simply heeded common wisdom that paint doesn’t like to function below a certain temperature threshold.
Pink trooper helm hit with another coat of Epsilon.
Sword blade is also receiving a coat, to stiffen it up and avoid the paint cracking issues I mentioned earlier.
And finally, I went ahead and finished up what should be the last of the suit fitting by constructing the elastic holders that will function to keep the arm armors on the wearer.
A simple system we’ve been using for years now – a platform made out of taped-together cardboard is inserted into the arm, with an elastic band attached to it that will stretch and hold itself around the arm when it’s inserted.
Same is done for the biceps. Now we just have to hope that our client isn’t too buff, lest the elastic be too tight a fit – we’ll have to drop a few hints for him to skip arm day for his next few gym sessions.
Read on the rest of the build: