Operation Meteor: Part 4

The suit is finally living up to its namesake – Wing has wings! But of course, this build isn’t done giving us issues – the wings may be up, but they don’t like being down. In retrospect now, it’s a really good thing we decided to get a head start on this year’s suit – we’ve had to rebuild more parts and navigate around more roadblocks during production than ever before.

So, we left off last time with the grim task of rebuilding the entire torso ahead of us – needless to say, my buddy wasn’t thrilled about it, but needs must.

The new chest has about three inches of height cut out of it compared to the first version – it looks much more squat now, but still correctly proportional to the original suit design. The first chest looks distractedly stretched in comparison now.

The all-important test with the skirts and legs to check fitment – it finally looks proper. The awkward thing is that the “waist” of the mobile suit has now been moved up to my partner’s belly button area, rather than having a 1:1 match with where the waist of the suit is the wearer’s actual waist.

Chest orb bezel built from multiple trapezoidal foam pieces.

Speaking of the chest orb, we’ve been hunting in the background for a suitable template to heat-form our center clear piece over – recall that we used a glass bulb last year to make Quanta’s chest piece, but that unfortunately shattered so we have to find something else this year.

Enter this random glass ball wrapped in…something, that I picked up for the cheap at our local Marshalls. The tag marked it as “cat glass,” or something thereabouts, so we assume it was meant to be a cat toy. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter though – it’s a cheap piece of perfectly-sized round glass that we can use as a template for our heat-forming acrylic shenanigans.

Confirmed excellent fit in the chest cavity. For those wondering, we don’t just shove this glass piece in the chest and paint it green because glass is heavy and dangerous if it breaks. We also don’t have a way to cut just the top of the glass ball, so if we were to use it we’d have to shove the entire thing in the chest, and that’s a bad time.

So, just like last year with Quanta, we’ll be heating a piece of clear acrylic over the ball.

It takes a few passes with the heat gun to really push the acrylic down over the glass ball to form the shape, but in the end we got what we were looking for. Much cleaner than last year’s attempts.

Marked and cut out with the dremel. Thankfully we only need one of these this year for the chest; having to do multiple for the limbs last time was a nightmare.

Arm units strapped with elastic as usual.

Adding buckles to the torso unit so the front and rear halves will clamp over my partner’s body.

The shoulders will be fixed on the chest unit as usual, and we had the idea to attach them to the rear half at first – that idea was quickly scrapped when we realized that the shoulders weren’t wide enough to reach the front of the chest, and strapping them to the back could potentially invite fitment issues with the wings later.

Attached to the front instead now.

Full-suit test fit again to see how the revised chest works with everything else. Thankfully, we’re no longer getting fitment issues with the long front skirts and high lower legs. Unfortunately, said skirts now look a tad too wide.

The side skirts are also uncharacteristically gigantic, so those will need to be trimmed some too.

Taken down.

Marginal bits taken out of the front skirts. Narrowing them along the edges means I’ll have to seal up the designs I scribed at the top.

Since the entire torso has been pushed up away from the wearer’s waist, the skirts naturally have to follow and get boosted too. We didn’t think that would be an issue with the belt mount, but after some tests with the way we normally attach the skirts at the belt, it turns out they just don’t sit flush enough with the bottom of the abdominal section.

So for the first time, instead of attaching the skirts to the belt, they’ll be dangled off the torso unit via nylon straps.

This guarantees that the skirts will always look proper with the torso, while still being suspended and allowing for leg movement upwards. The upper body is basically one giant single piece now – almost half of our usual suit-up will be done by just throwing this on.

The belt will still be useful though – as always, we’ll be suspending the thighs from it.

During our last test suit-up we found the arm claws to be too long and large. They got in the way of the shoulders when moving, so they’ve been split and moved closer towards the wrist, in a fashion that follows the HG Wing design more closely than the MG.

Foam spacers built out to “push” the actuator wing motor further away from the wearer’s body, so the wings won’t be so close to the torso unit.

Aluminum back-plate marked and cut for our straps.

The principle here with our x-strap backpack is the same as every other year before, this, with the key difference being a metal backpack frame instead of our usual PVC pipes. The metal and motor combo is denser and heavier than what we normally run, so it’s more strain on the wearer’s chest.

Wings up while mounted.

With the backpack’s position more or less put together, we can finally start hashing out the actual wings themselves.

Building out templates first with cardboard and plastic sheeting.

Translating all the pieces to foam.

So, of course we’re building on a budget, which means we’re using textured foam, really meant as garage flooring. We aren’t balling enough to go out and buy nice double sided flat foam, since this stuff is so much cheaper from our local Pep Boys. This translates to some difficulty in building large panel pieces that need to be relatively thin and flat, like the wings.

We don’t like doing this, but it’s possible when we have to. Each section of the wing is cut out with a mirrored piece, so they’re contact cemented and sandwiched together with the textured sides facing in, allowing us to get flat-sided parts. The edges can look nasty sometimes, but it isn’t something some dremel work won’t be able to clean up.

Doing this for particularly large segments of foam is no fun.

The wings on the Wing are segmented into two distinct moving sections per binder – there’s the large main wing that’s yellow and white on the suit, and there’s a smaller sub-wing that moves separately. To get the illusion of parts separation going on, we decided to have the small red sub-wing mounted on a small dowel, so it could rotate and “separate” from the main wing when the actuator brings the entire assembly up.

Something like this. The one wing bit is the sub-wing, hanging straight down because it’s attached to a dowel inside the assembly.

Running into a slight hiccup with our metal rails and the actuator. Turns out the sloppy cuts aren’t going to work out after all.

 

Thankfully we can just turn the rails around and use the other side for a second attempt.

Drilled a line of holes, cut them with the dremel, and filed smooth for a much cleaner rail opening than before.

Comparison of the first attempts to what we have now. This should successfully avoid any catching and binding problems with the washers and nuts.

Mounted back up to much success.

The wings were built proportionally on their own; we scaled it close to how it should be against the rest of the body, but we figured we wouldn’t have to squish or compromise on any of the part lengths and overall look because they can stand alone as their own units.

Sub-wing sections being detailed.

A better look at what the final wing split between the sub-wing and main wing will look like when everything goes up.

Given that the rest of the suit and the wings have already taken shape, it was finally time to move onto the weapons. Neither of Wing’s primary armaments look like a cakewalk to build.

I decided to approach the shield by dividing it into its bottom half (which bends to reveal the beam saber) and the wider top half. The whole thing curves all the way around, so to get close to that effect I decided to cut valleys in the underside and bend the entire piece along those areas, to get the “body line” that ran across the model kit’s shield.

Detail bits being cut out.

Front half cut out. Sizing everything was tricky – I think proportionally it’s supposed to be a little larger than this, but we have to make compromises if we’ll ever have any hope of lugging this around the Expo and making it wield-able by my partner in the suit.

Cardboard bracing glued into the underside to help the shield maintain its shape.

Add in the rest of the details and voila. Unfortunately it doesn’t actually bend in half and reveal a beam saber – we determined there would be no way for my partner to actually have the articulation to reach over and grab the saber if it did that anyway, so it would have been a pointless venture.

Partner building out the backpack cover that will eventually hide the actuator and all our wing gizmos.

The actual wings are being mounted to the metal bars via epoxy.

And finally, a test suit-up complete with the wings at last.

Not the most successful first attempt. Remember how I talked about how the wings were sized independently for the most part? We didn’t think we’d have to squish them and work them around human Gundam proportions as we do all the other parts of the suit, but it turns out that might be necessary after all. As they are, they look great in size, but the ends are just a bit too long.

The width and length makes it look like a cape. The wing tips should only really reach around the ankles too, so having them so low they drag on the ground right now is a definite no-go.

They look pretty good once up though. I do think the angle could be a little more aggressive, since right now they don’t go up far enough for my tastes.

Come around to the side and some issues rear their ugly heads. The sheer length and size of the wings are causing them to flex forward – my partner would have to almost fall backwards to get them to sweep back instead.

The issue is mainly caused by the big foam parts not having enough rigidity on their own to stay flat, though a bit of the metal bars are bending forward too.

Sending them up and down a few times also revealed that part of the assembly was incorrectly assembled with one nut too many, causing the actuator arm to twist and pull some metal. Nothing that can’t be fixed – thankfully we caught it early before any potential permanent damage.

Looks really funny just holding a shield, with no weapon in the right hand.

Shortening the arm claws also now helps mitigate collision against the bottom of the shoulders significantly, but we’re at a crossroads again because the swivel system in the claws is too loose, and constantly flipping too far forward. Without articulated claws though, we run the risk of having them too far back and colliding with the shoulders again when the arms go up.

So, there are quite a few problems with the suit configuration as it stands right now – but that’s why we do these test suit-ups, so we can catch these issues and fix them now instead of at the day of the ‘con. The wings will be the gnarliest issue to correct, as it likely involves some serious cutting down of their current size and design, a most unfortunate situation given that their current proportions are exactly as they should be, reflected from the model kits.

 

Read on the rest of the build here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 5

Part 6

Leave a Comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s