Operation Meteor: Part 1

Summer’s rolling in, which of course means Anime Expo is too. It feels like we barely got a break from building cosplay armor since we had a little commission project this last winter, but the regularly scheduled show still rolls on as we get to our next Gundam armor – this time from the After Colony era.

We considered doing Wing (the T.V. Version of course, sorry Katoki) even last year when we built the Quanta. Ultimately we decided to do 00 because it was the ten-year anniversary (that was totally glossed over at the actual Expo, mind you), so this year we decided to cash in on the nostalgia and street cred Wing would bring for those of us who grew up watching the first mainstream North American Gundam series on Toonami.

We got started extra early this year – this first build log is actually from early spring, since we learned our lesson last year when we ran out of time building Quanta and barely got a wink of sleep the night before Day 1 of the Expo.

I guess because we started so early this year, we didn’t have as much time to hash out the model digitally. The 2D dimensions are mostly there though, so it’s a good enough reference point to go off of. Our goal for this session was to get the helmet and torso knocked out.

Having a physical model of what we’re trying to build is really the most important bit though. I’ve already done the HGAC Wing Gundam as part as my All Gundam Project, so that’s what we’re using as our primary reference, but I think we’d prefer to use the Master Grade’s details and proportions instead.

Ironically, I recently re-brought the Master Grade kit (I sold my original a while ago) but have yet to build it – so the manual alone will have to do for now as our detail reference.

In addition to our regular poor men’s glue pots, we’re also still using some sauce squeeze bottles for our contact cement, since for whatever reason the cement won’t melt these things and it makes for relatively easy application.

As always, I’m starting off with the head. The wig holder we bought last year is proving to be an excellent investment.

I think for once I’ve finally got the perfect base helmet down. I never save my head templates because they’re always jank one way or another but I’ll actually make an effort to preserve the ones from  this build, so I can just keep making the same perfect helmet bases from now on.

Starting with the Wing’s iconic cheek guards.

Even the head has wings! It’s kind of discouraging seeing how silly it looks right now, but you just gotta push through and have faith that it’ll come together.

This part got a little weird. Wing’s actual head is a little too long compared to how tall it is, so I had to flub the aspect ratio a bit there to get it to work around the base helmet.

For stuff that isn’t already designed in SketchUp, my method of building is usually starting with a large piece of cardboard or paper that matches the general shape of what I’m trying to build, then constantly cutting it down until it’s where I want it. Primitive? Yes. But I know not of another way of life.

It…still looks silly. I think a bulk of the helmet design relies on the v-fin filling in the big blank areas between the cheeks and forehead mohawk.

It took me a while to figure out exactly how to build the cheek vents in without the width of the foam making them look out of place. I ended up beveling both ends for where the pieces join, in order to create a flush fitment.

Test fitting on my partner’s head. It looks like a big issue we’re going to run into is the cheeks being too short, and pointed too far downwards. At this rate it’ll be impossible jam a faceplate in without shaving his physical nose down.

Thankfully foam bends. Triangular slits were cut out of the cheek sections, with foam inserted to act as “spacers” that would give them more length while the rest of it bent upwards.

Mocking up a mask – at least it fits now!

 

I went through several iterations trying to find the perfect size – they constantly ended up being too small, and I had to be careful not to make the chin bit too large, lest it look out of place.

Finally onto something here. The tabs on the sides are just mounting points to attach the mask to the insides of the cheeks.

Finally starting to look encouraging, even without a v-fin.

Speaking of which, the fins themselves had to be constructed from three pieces per side – one “backing” plate, a top, and a bottom section.

Cardboard used as the backing plate for each fin in order to make sure they stay stiff and don’t start bending all over the place.

There it is.

We normally woudn’t be getting to the eyes so quickly – this is usually one of the last steps that we figure out after paint, but in this instance I was enthusiastic – I wanted to see the helmet finished.

The eye bezels also took a lot of fiddling and going back and forth, like the facemask. I had to pull the top of the helmet down and make the final openings a little more narrow to get rid of the goofy look we have here.

Sunglasses lenses for the actual eyes, since it worked so well with Quanta.

Glued in temporarily for now, with some quick hot glue tacks to keep them in place just to see how it’ll all look together. We’ll need to take the lenses and the eye bezels out for painting later.

It fits! And looks Gundam! The small details like the cheek vents and vulcans still need to be filled and added, but at least for now we know my partner can wear it and it doesn’t look totally silly.

While I was working on the head, the rest of our workforce was going at the torso. Drawn up on a piece of cardboard first.

The Wing’s proportions are probably some of the hardest we’ve had to translate into human proportions. Everything on the actual suit is long and slender, which means we have to take certain liberties and squat what we can.

A green orb will eventually be in that chest cavity, just like last year.

The cockpit hatch section went through numerous revisions as we tried to figure out what kind of abdominal unit would look best. It didn’t help that the Master Grade kit and the High Grade kit had very varied designs and takes on the Wing’s chest section, so we ended up attempting to blend the two with what we had.

The chest orb bezel is now looking funny and too oval for our liking.

Something with the cockpit hatch still looked off, so we took out the center panel that was just a rectangle and made it a trapezoid.

Chest vents scored and heated for the most realistic venting.

It fits?

Going into shoulder design now. Lots of trial and error drawing it out, trying to figure out what looked right and what looked too crazy big.

Stayed true to the original design with the staggered insert at the top of the shoulder by hot-gluing the edges of the staggered pieces.

I completely winged (HAHA) this portion of the shoulders, since they existed just fine as 2D drawings but needed a bit of finesse to get it 3D with certain panels slanted further in than others.

Looks like a shoulder. Though most people who’ve seen it say it looks like feet, but we can’t all be cultured mobile suit design experts.

For the circles in the shoulders, I probably could’ve gotten away with just making them standard low cylinders like this, but we can do better.

I haven’t actually tried this method of creating cone-like structures before with foam, but we all need to start somewhere, right?

The idea is basically to cut little triangles out of the circle, spread contact cement inside, and pull the exposed edges together to create a sloped cylinder wall look.

Good enough. Looks a lot better than just leaving them as standard circles, I think.

They’re not the most even and smooth all the way around, and I’m pretty sure some of them are more sloped than others because screw consistency, but for where they’ll be placed I think it’ll work just fine.

Okay, but we can’t actually screw consistency with the designs that will be inside these shoulder pad circles. My solution to keep them all the same is basically to create a template out of paper and trace it on all four.

Building out the rest of the torso as it wraps around the wearer’s body now. We were worried that we would have to squish the vulcan pods on the collar down too much to make room for the helmet to articulate, since those things go up pretty far.

Turns out the helmet isn’t actually that wide, so with just a rough placement of the vulcan pod up there it looks like it should clear just fine.

Staying true to our usual torso clamshell design – back plate built out. It’ll eventually have a backpack with wings strapped to it.

Extra reinforcement for the tabs that go around the torso, because these have historically been points of failure before.

Actual vulcans in. If we have time we’re definitely inserting functional paint pellets inside and tagging other cosplayers in paintball vulcan fights.

Speaking of vulcans though, I actually totally forgot that the head also had a set near the v-fins.

Since I didn’t design the helmet with these vulcans in mind, it’s going to be a bit of a hackjob modification to get them in. I basically started by choosing a point in the temple and drilled a hole with the dremel.

Gradually widen the hole until the vulcan pods fit. Now it finally looks like a proper Wing Gundam head – I knew something felt off earlier – the unit as a whole felt very uncanny valley, like there was just a small piece missing. Now we know.

Two day’s work, and we have most of the upper body already knocked out. At this rate, we should finish most of the main building within a week – but of course the real challenge comes later, when we actually have to do this Gundam’s namesake justice – it can’t be a Wing Gundam without proper wings.

 

Read on the rest of the build here:

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

 

 

 

 

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