We’re on seven build logs now, and this isn’t even the last chapter. I can’t tell if this suit is just taking the longest out of anything we’ve ever built (probably) or we’re just documenting more of it (unlikely). Regardless, the actual Titan suit is just about 100% done now – the only things left are finishing up the ranger/trooper helmets and weapons, but that’s a long bridge to cross.
This is what happens when we skip a week of building. This was once a perfectly fine plastic mason jar – leaving it with contact cement inside wasn’t the brightest idea we’ve ever had.
The thing was double insulated! There was an inner jar , and the cement melted right through that and began to deform the outer shell. This is why we should only be using glass jars with metal caps.
The helmets are all at varying stages of completeness. Some of them are nearly ready for their final coats of paint, while others are barely touched.
This fella is still suffering from some serious flat-head-sides syndrome. Surgery is required once again.
The upper arch of the sides of the head are pulling inwards to each other rather than bulging out as they should, so to bring them back out a slit was cut and a foam banana inserted.
Then the entire section was smoothed out with a dremel – the shape is much more appropriately round now.
Acrylic hand paint is being used to fill in some detail areas on the suit, like the inserts on the lower legs and skirts.
Finally printing the proper graphic for the chest. Since glossy premium photo paper failed us last time, plain ‘ol white photo paper will have to suffice for this.
But we weren’t just going to keep the chest open with a piece of printer paper inside – that’s lame. Thankfully we had some anti-lame material – paper-thin clear acrylic sheets that will be used for the helmet visors.
Being crazy thin, it’s able to bend very easily and doesn’t have to be melted to work in our suit.
Getting it in the chest circle was still a challenge – especially trying to figure out how I would be able to glue it in without glue marks showing. I ended up cutting a slit on the inside of the circle and shoving the arcylic in the gap, with dabs of hot glue to hold it in place. It’s nothing as fancy as say Quanta’s light-up clear green chest, but it adds a nice depth to the area.
With all the helmets sporting at least one coat of Epsilon/Bondo, they were now rigid enough to split in halves.
I cut the first helmet open with an exacto the traditional way because it only had one thin layer of Epsilon on top, but some of the others have layers upon layers of Bondo putty, so those won’t yield to a simple knife.
That awkward moment when you take the ultimate weapon – the dremel – to the fiberglass helmets and it, too, yields.
I’ve never seen a cutting wheel split like this, but I suppose this is better than having it shatter send bits and pieces towards my partner’s eyes.
Clean cuts with the dremel.
Now we can finally fit a head inside.
Bondo death. We weren’t really supposed to rely on Bondo for these helmets, since the Epsilon was really supposed to be the key player in getting a smooth finish, but we quickly found out this stuff was just better – dries faster, fills in easier, doesn’t run.
The workshop is an absolute dusty mess because before we knew it, we were engrossed in puttying, sanding, and re-putting the helmets endlessly in pursuit of that perfect finish. My partner must’ve spent over 24 hours combined just going back and forth on these things trying to get them smooth.
We’re running into major roadblocks thanks to uneven surfaces and sanding though – in some areas we’re burning through all the Epsilon and Bondo to raw foam (which is basically nuclear disaster – we than have to re-Bondo the entire area and try again) and even worse, no matter how much filling and sanding we do, certain areas (like the facemask) will still crack and break because of course they do.
On the bright side, the sunken-head helm from earlier that received surgery is now looking much more chipper.
While my buddy worked at endlessly sanding the helms, I broke out the chameleon tint film we bought that are meant to be used on the suit’s trim pieces.
We thought they would be a nice addition for the head sensors and small areas like the forearms.
The film is still more clear than anything else though, so just straight putting it in the hollow head sensors wouldn’t do – you’d see all the ugliness underneath. My solution was to glue a piece of white paper inside the opening first, with a piece of chameleon-covered acrylic going on top.
This stuff is neat-looking, and was really meant for people to wrap their car headlights with. Unlike the one-way green film we worked with before in the past, this stuff has an adhesive backing, so it goes onto the clear acrylic sheets easily.
Stuffing it in the helmet visor just for kicks. The actual visor will be a dark black tint.
It looks clear for the most part – my partner’s lifeless eyes are on full display – but when the light hits it just right we get a cool neon band effect.
Adding some more Epsilon.
This is the problem with building in wintertime, and especially this year since southern California decided to make up for the last three years of warm winters with one big slew of ice. It’s getting down to 50 degrees here in the early evenings – that’s extremely detrimental to the chemicals we work with. Disaster already struck last time with the Plasti-Dip – but we didn’t think it would also claim the Epsilon.
Well, now we know this is what happens when you try to apply Epsilon in cold weather – it webs up and refuses to stay smooth and consistent. It’s going to harden and we’re going to have to deal with this texture later.
Even the primer isn’t immune – it’s behaving much runnier than before.
This is what a properly primed helm should look like. This is one of our closest to being finished, and it’s smoother and cleaner than just about anything else we’ve ever built – but that’s necessary since it’s a ranger helm and doesn’t have any of the Gundam helmet kibble to help hide its blemishes.
Moving onto some black 25% vinyl tint now for the main helmet’s visor.
Same principle as the chameleon film – just applied over the paper-thin acrylic, but as it turns out a single layer of 25% is way too light – we need it to be dark enough to hide the wearer’s face behind it after all.
So the solution was to layer the film – I tried two layers and while it’s pretty dark, you can still make out a face underneath when the light’s hitting it directly.
I also messed the application up here – one big crease I couldn’t get out, so I’ll be redoing the whole thing with three layers this time to make it ever so slightly darker.
Perfection. I’m applying the stuff as you would a screen protector – lay the film down and push it forward with a squeegee to make sure we don’t get any unsightly creases or bubbles, and voila.
There we go. Just dark enough to hide the wearer’s face, but enough to see out of (it’s like wearing sunglasses). I’m actually very proud of how clear visibility is through the helm, given that it’s a completely homemade visor setup, instead of any sort of pre-tinted piece. Suit head done!
Adding the chameleon tint to the little openings on the forearms. I took inspiration from the Wing Gundam EW’s forearm design.
Remember that shield that we started way back when and never continued? I’ve been tasked with finishing it up.
We’ve found that hot glue doesn’t take super well to PVC pipe, or at least not as well as it does to foam and cardboard, since the PVC surface is so smooth. We could rough it up with sandpaper to get some grip, but I opted to try for some new glue – JB Weld Clear Epoxy. This stuff is rated to withstand up to 4000 PSI, so it should be more than enough for our needs.
Slathered around the PVC joints that make up the shield’s transforming mechanism for safety. This two-part epoxy is advertised to set in a mere five minutes and cure in an hour. In our experience, the working time is significantly longer than that, and it takes at least a few hours for it to stop being tacky, but once it dries overnight, the stuff is indestructible.
I think we went through an entire canister of all-purpose putty, so now there’s some spot putty.
Shield wings will be backed with cardboard for rigidity.
One PVC fitting is attached to each wing, which will then swivel on the piece of cut pipe attached to the back of the shield.
Something like this.
The JB Clear Weld worked like a charm, so when I asked for more, my partner accidentally got me some of the old fashioned JB Kwik at the store.
This stuff is significantly harder to mix (it doesn’t come in a convenient double syringe and it’s hard as hell to squeeze the stuff out of the tubes) and it doesn’t seem to hold up as well as the Clear Weld.
Starting to flesh out the face of the shield.
I went with a raised bezel look – it’s really just a hop, skip, and jump away from the Hylian shield now.
I really wanted to add something to the middle body of the shield – some designs, and emblem, what have you – but at the end of the day it was hard to figure out what would look good and work with what our customer has in mind.
So we took the safe play and left it blank – it doesn’t look bad though, I think. Cluttering the middle up could have consequences if the rest of the suit design language is relatively simple in comparison.
Plasti-Dipping the wings and head.
Okay, yes it looks like a sea turtle with an eagle head – we acknowledge that. But there’s only so many ways you can mash a bird and a shield together, and at some point you’re going to have to choose which form you can prioritize more.
Shield mode looks dope though – like an actual shield, how novel.
Our customer wanted the shield to be primarily gold (perhaps it’s going to be a weapon/accessory for the gold trooper rather than the actual mecha suit?) so we decided to break that up with some silver first.
Masking the silver parts for the gold.
Flying golden turtle shield!
As much as we meme about this being a turtle though, we can’t actually stand it – something had to be done to make it more bird-y.
Adding “feathers” really made all the difference. We both think it actually looks much more bird-y now, even though it’s really a small change.
First helmet painted in its white base coat – if this turns out well, color coat should go right over it.
The madman is at it again with the DA polisher. The helmet hell really never ends.
Results are encouraging though.
I mentioned earlier that we screwed up by applying Epsilon on the sword during cold weather, which really borked the texture and made it a nightmare to sand it all off so it could be smooth again.
This is all Epsilon dust that came off the sword as I attempted to bring it back to a smooth surface, and this is after I had already cleaned up the primary chunks. Right about to snort the stuff.
All my effort in sanding the affected Epsilon side was for naught though – as I kept going at it with 60 grit, the Epsilon eventually caved and began flaking off – large chunks at a time.
Eventually it got to the point where the Epsilon was so thin that it could just be peeled off, almost as though it were harder Plasti-Dip. For reference, this isn’t supposed to happen – the Epsilon should have glue-like bonding properties that keep it to the foam, but I suppose the cold weather borked it in more than one way.
Since one side was already coming off, we decided to just peel it all off and re-Epsilon the whole thing, properly this time when it wasn’t 50 degrees outside.
Slow and steady progress – at some point my partner had to take a break so he marked each helmet with what they still needed – like ‘Bondo?’
PVC pipe inserted for the transforming bird’s neck.
The weight of that new neck pipe is now actually too heavy for the PVC joint to hold up on its own, so we had to add a little velcro tab helper to keep it up when extended in bird mode.
Now, this is what the shield looks like from behind when it’s all folded up – neat, isn’t it? The only quandary we have now is that there’s really no way to hold it from back here when you want to wield it like a normal shield.
Solution: shove a PVC pipe through it. Multiple cardboard brackets were made to help support the pipe in standing up straight, then a nice healthy coat of the JB Weld Clear was applied to make sure it supported itself when held by this joint.
And just on a whim, I decided to go ahead and make a lower jaw for our eagle head – really fleshes it out, I think. Unfortunately, it won’t have a hinge to swivel, but it’s better to have a fixed jaw there than none at all, I think.
Sword re-Epsilon’d and primed. Looks a lot smoother now.
Painted chrome silver. It definitely looks worlds better than when we just painted the silver on top of the bendy and flimsy Plasti-Dipped sword, but it still obviously isn’t a polished metal blade.
Finally getting to the hands/gloves. Same procedure as all the suits we’ve built in years previous – hot glue armor onto existing gloves, though this time neither my partner nor I were willing to take the L by wearing the gloves themselves and applying the hot glued pieces onto the gloves with our hands inside, so we got around that by filling the gloves with rice to give them shape.
This ended up backfiring ever so slightly when it turns out the hot glue was so hot it bled through the gloves and melted some rice together onto the insides.
We suspect it’s because the fabric this time was particularly thin, and even after removing most of the rice from the insides (mostly via dremel) the inner texture was still hard and coarse.
Solution to make it more comfortable to wear: thicken the gloves. By double layering them. You laugh, but it works.
Robot hands. The entire thing will be painted oil-rubbed bronze (gunmetal) for a mechanical look.
So, now that all the loose ends on the main suit have been tied up, only the helmets remain to be finished. We’re close there too – all of the constant puttying/sanding/repeat has seemed to pay off, so these things should look nice and vibrant once some color hits them.
Read on the rest of the build: