I wouldn’t normally dedicate an entire build log/post to just a helmet build, but this is going to be part of me trying to make up for no Gundam cosplay log these past two years (in 2019 because we didn’t have time to log anything, in 2020 because Anime Expo was cancelled just like the rest of the world).
This project is actually a commission request from a customer, for just a Deathscythe Hell Custom head/helmet.
I’d like to give a shout-out to 2018 me for having the foresight to keep the original base helmet templates I always have to re-draw every year when I build a new head.
Everything builds off of this.
Unlike previous years where we used garage floor mat foam from Pep Boys, my partner actually started sourcing proper cosplay foam that’s flat on both sides and not riddled with pock-marks out of the box. What a luxury this is.
It’s a lot easier for me to build a replica of something when I have that something in my hands to reference with my own two eyes. Thankfully a friend had a MG Deathscythe Hell Custom laying around that they hadn’t build in years, so I requested to borrow the kit and build only the head to use as reference.
To flare the forehead portion out a bit more I cut into the middle strip and inserted a curved trapezoid-looking shape.
The bottom of the base helmet is trimmed and the cheek guards are mocked up with cardboard before we commit to foam pieces. At this stage it’s really just eyeballing everything and hoping the proportions will line up properly later.
Sides and rear of the head coming in. The rear top curved section was actually very difficult to get right, since it had to bend upwards at the rear middle. The curve of the base helmet also wasn’t perfectly round, but we managed to mostly work through that with some creative foam bending and some hardcore hot glue welds.
Mohawk coming in, base shapes took a while to figure out with cardboard mockups. The crest of the top of the head is steeper than the shape of the model kit, so I had to compensate slightly by taking some length out of the front piece to make room for the forehead crest that will go on later.
Faceplate drawn and cut out – this was a particularly difficult piece to get right because of how the bottom curved inwards at the chin. I ended up only getting it right by making it oversized during the start and slowly cutting bits out of the sides until it looked right.
Starting to finally look like what it’s supposed to look like.
Back of the head was filled in by literally taping a piece of foam to the framework I built earlier and tracing the inside line. The edges are beveled so they cement up with minimal seams, though I also went in with the Dremel to smooth it all down and make it mostly seamless.
Started running into space constraints with the forehead crest. It really should be longer than what I have room for here. I ended up extending the length so it wouldn’t look funny, but it dug a bit into the space for the forehead sensor.
Figuring out the shape for the v-fin wasn’t particularly difficult, but making it 3D and filling in all the angles was probably the most tedious part of this project. I think I spent over 5 hours cobbling it all together, mostly because almost every edge needed to be beveled for the foam to mate properly.
First time putting together a removable v-fin system – this is only being done for this helmet for shipping purposes. Because of how ridiculously large and wide the v-fin is when it’s complete, I’d need to pack the helmet in a box bigger than a microwave, and most of that would be empty wasted space below the v-fin.
My original solution was to just magnetize the actual fins to the forehead crest as separate pieces, but I found out very quickly that the magnets I had laying around wouldn’t be strong enough to support the foam on their own.
So we improvise, adapt, overcome. The wooden dowels are actually the paintbrush handles from the brushes I was using to apply my contact cement. They happened to be a good size to provide enough support to keep the fins pegged in, while the magnets would provide some pulling force to keep them from falling out.
Deathscythe’s iconic red cheek fins are cut out as separate pieces and will be painted apart from the rest of the helmet. Masking those things after gluing them in would be hell.
Getting to some more details with the “vents” on the back of the head.
Last bit of detail with the vulcan pods.
Adding some 3D to the facemask with the under-eye pieces which are canted upwards thanks to a beveled cut.
Hitting paint. All non-black parts of the head will be plasti-dipped white first as a primer coat.
The main portion of the head itself I dipped in flat black, and opted to just keep it like that without black paint on top of it. The reasoning here is that Plasti-dip bends with the foam if the foam bends, versus painted parts that would crack if bent.
The head vulcans themselves I’m making out of some 1/4″ cut PVC piping.
As usual, we’re going with reflective colored sunglasses for the eye lenses.
These aren’t as green as I’d like them to be, but they were the best I could find at this time with retailers being so limited locally. They appear more of a teal/blue under most light, but it’ll color-shift into a vibrant green at the right angle.
Ready for final assembly.
I’m proud of myself for having the foresight to actually color-separate parts here for painting. I’m normally not that big-brained because my impatience for seeing the full helmet assembled together before paint outweighs my adversity for having an awful time masking parts for paint.
Something that made me very sad to find after paint: a lot of my really well-sealed seams popped open. I’m not sure exactly what caused this, since contact cement really should have a pretty solid hold on anything it’s applied to, but I’m putting money on the recent California heat failing my work, as I left the parts outside to paint-dry.
Some areas still look really good, as shown here.
But then along the same line, we get disasters like this.
I went back in with contact cement and re-sealed as much as I could, but I could tell right away the tension from the foam was already pulling the edges apart right after I re-cemented them. My best option was to just re-seal as much as I could and fill the gaps with flat black paint to make it less conspicuous.
Forehead sensors are done with some soft transparent acrylic sheets I had laying around that I sprayed clear green. There were probably lots of ways I could’ve done these pieces (including not making them transparent), but I opted to go with the most model-accurate look, since I was basing this head entirely off the MG model after all.
Figuring out a way to glue in clear pieces cleanly has always been a challenge (and if you look back, I don’t think we’ve ever done it particularly cleanly). My solution this time was actually to cut the sensor piece out with a tab at the bottom that would slot into a slit in the helmet, then gently contact-cement the top to hold it in place.
Complete. You can tell what Gundam it’s supposed to be, right? Right?!
My version somehow looks a lot more chiseled, be that for better or worse.
I should mention now the customer didn’t even request for the helmet to be wearable – they just wanted it as a display piece. But we build cosplay, so naturally it’s built to have a head fit inside if need be.
The removable v-fins don’t look awkward with giant gaps once they’re assembled, and I even went out of my way to paint the faceplate light charcoal gray to stay accurate to the model kit’s coloring instead of leaving it white. Overall happy with the result – my first helmet built from not-garage-foam!