This is it – eight whole build logs later, I promise we’re done. Fini. For our normal armors for Anime Expo, we build almost every single day of the week for three/four weeks straight to churn out a Gundam. For this commission, it took strictly weekends for two and a half months. Winter has proven to be more challenging than summer, but we made those hurtles and here we are.
We left off last time with the helmets almost being ready for their color coat. This is most of them – there’s still one more that’s being finished up on the sander, but these are ready for their white base coat.
We had originally tried to scribe the visor bezel so we could know where to paint them, but in the end it got filled up with Bondo and Epsilon, so now we basically have to mask them back in freehand.
I used the width of the masking tape itself to determine how large the bezel should be, so with the visors being consistent across all the helms, the white bezel should end up looking uniform as well.
Now to mask the mouth and head trim.
Taking the masking tape off is a delicate process – if we’re not careful we could end up lifting paint, since this white paint isn’t the best in quality (it’ll all be clear coated later, but for now, we have to deal with this).
Masked and ready for silver.
We’re still riding on that same can of silver that we used on the sword – with any luck it’ll last all the helmets too.
First helm done with all its colors on – it’s actually really cool to see it finally take on its final form after staring at the plain gray shells for so long.
Unfortunately the silver paint looks to be a bit sensitive and doesn’t like to hide surface imperfections well. Cue some more Bondo to smooth the mouth out.
Those paint chips and lifts I mentioned earlier – we’re fixing them up with some good ‘ol fashioned acrylic brush paint. You can still see the crater if you really get up close, but from any normal viewing distance it’s undetectable.
Beige trooper is really having some issues with those gnarly face cracks. Hopefully acrylic will fill them in nicely.
Applying JB Weld to the PVC shaft that will insert into the sword blade. Because the last thing we want is for our client to be swinging this thing around and for the blade to fly off and impale a set worker.
Extra reinforcement with hot glue.
Testing the grip with the assembled sword and the suit glove – sufficient room! Hopefully nobody ever got any ideas for a double-handed grip – though the suit probably won’t have enough articulation to reach the handle with both arms anyway.
A plain black PVC pipe didn’t feel like a sword handle though, so we went out and got some lux materials for use on the weapon hilts – tennis racket grip tape.
Looks much more sword-y now doesn’t it? It’s actually also surprisingly practical – we didn’t think such thin grip tape would actually help much with real handling, but it really feels quite nice once put together.
Adding it to the shield handle too because everyone needs to be able to grip their weapons.
Sword and shield is our preferred choice for monster-fighting.
Laying on the blue. The shade is lighter than true blue, and should pair with saturated colors on the team like red and pink really well.
Speaking of which, red and pink are officially completely done with paint, as they’ve now been gloss coated.
We went over them with four to five coats each to make sure the finish is deep and durable.
Blue’s been painted, so now it needs to be masked for silver.
The gold ended up being interesting – we got about an 85-90% match with the Testors gold alone during our color matching procedure before, but to really squeeze out that last bit of flaky shimmery gold that the Lycra suit had, I decided to make the most out of that expensive Kustom Canz candy gold.
The play was to spray the first coat of Testors Gloss Metallic Gold, followed by a light mist of the Kustom Canz Candy Gold, and then another coat of the Testors on top, so it ends up being mostly the Testors shade with a hint of the candy gold flake, which should match the Lycra nearly to a T.
Last two finished up.
We can now finally join the helmets back together into wholes. Our approach is four velcro tabs per unit, which will hold and clamp themselves over the wearer’s head.
The helmet visors will be done with the same technique used for the suit helm – three layers of automotive tint film laid over a thin clear acrylic sheet.
Glued in – we were afraid at first that the visors would have to form a concave shape instead of just bending as a curve, but thankfully it worked out.
Fini. It actually looks very Ranger-y, which means we achieved our desired effect.
The visors will look much more see-through obviously when they’re held up to light without backing, but with a head inside they should be well-tinted.
The big thick seam down all the sides of the helmets kind of triggers me, but this is how most Ranger helms are designed to go on anyway, so there’s little helping it unless we designed a more expensive and complicated latch system.
Shield eagle head eyes painted red with acrylic.
And finally, tying up loose ends by adding the finishing touches to the sword hilt – we designed the white circle guard piece to emulate the look of the main chest logo, so of course we have to actually fit the printed logo in there.
It’s just printer paper underneath to make the rings, but the piece of clear acrylic that goes over it along with the raised bevel makes it look a lot more premium, methinks.
Trooper lineup, completely finished. Looking forward to seeing these paired with the lycra suits when our customer puts the project together.
Completed transforming eagle shield.
So now that everything’s done done, it was time for one last suit-up, captured on video for this occasion so we could send the “tutorial” to our customer as a guide for when they put the armor on themselves.
The armor itself has been sitting in the garage untouched for a few weeks at this point, since we finished it a while ago – the last few logs have been focused on churning the helms out.
Everything still fits like a champ though.
Now, keep in mind that I’m wearing this suit (I’m 6’1) and it’s built for a buffer dude than me who’s around 5’8.
That’s why there’s that awkward waist gap and some bits of the proportions that may seem off – I’m just wearing it for demonstration purposes here.
The helmet also doesn’t fit my head all the way (my head is huge), hence why it looks like the lower quarter of my face is sticking out (because it is).
Having some fun with it, seeing how much we can get it to move around. To confess, it looks a bit strange just standing around because of the very thin and slender legs compared to the thick and bulky top, but once you spread them and get some action poses going, it looks much more natural.
This is really my first time going around in full armor, boosted on four inch platforms and lacking my usual mobility as a normal human being, so the experience is fresh.
It’s very awkward trying to do things I thought I could do, but just not being able to because armor gets in the way.
The sword turned out to be a nicely sized weapon that looks extra cool paired with the shield, but we’re pretty sure the shield won’t actually be used with the mech, since it was painted gold to match the gold trooper’s look.
Testing out the all-terrain feature. I almost fell at first since the shoe platforms are thinner than I’d like, but it only took a few minutes to get used to it and find my way around without a keeper.
De-suiting. My biceps were too small to hold that section of armor up anyway – our client should be much buffer than I am.
And of course, last step is to pack it all up and get ready to send it off to Alabama. We do our best with packing, but their survivability really depends on UPS/FedEx not being dicks and putting a 200lbs TV on top of our boxes.
Shipping four large boxes (one of which was large enough for my partner to crawl inside) isn’t cheap by any means, and of course our customer was made aware of this when we first started building, but the pill is still hard to swallow.
We’re very much looking forward to seeing the video/trailer that our customer is planning to put together with this suit and the helms, and if publicity there goes well, we could even end up doing this again quite soon (but summer is off limits – we still have a personal Gundam we need to build for AX 2018).
Read on the rest of the build: