Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bioshock Cosplay–2012 Edition


Wait?  What does that title mean?  2012 is this year.  I said earlier that I wouldn’t be doing a Bioshock costume this year.  I said that we had our list of costumes for Dragon*Con set:
--Twilight Sparkle
--Luna’s Royal Guard
--Our Dark Jedi for the group cosplay

I also said I try to make project plans and fail miserably at keeping them.

So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I am pleased to announce that Subject Delta will be making a triumphant return to Dragon*Con 2012!

But why?  What changed my mind?

The short answer to that is Shelby and Sara.

Here’s the longer, more interesting version (or you can skip to the pictures of the helmet being built).

Everyone remember this picture from Dragon*Con at the Aquarium last year?
Subject Delta and Little Sister

Well, that’s Shelby standing next to me.  Shelby has an older sister, Sara.  Both have a Big Sister, Emily.

Back in May, Emily contacted me asking if I was planning to bring Subject Delta back to Dragon*Con.  I told her that before she had contacted me, I had no plans on bringing Delta back, but, after reading her notes and learning about how much fun Shelby had just standing next to me in the costume (I was getting sick that night, remember), how much it meant to her to see me last year, AND that this year Sara was going to come in an Eleanor Lamb costume, really what choice did I have?  Disappoint and break the hearts of two little girls, or figure out a way to bring Delta back?  Seriously, Emily should have just asked me to go kick a puppy Winking smile

Now Delta 1.0 had issues.  The scale got completely out of control.  I looked like you were playing Bioshock in Big Head Mode.  The drill was heavier than I wanted and too big.  I had wires running all over my and in the Atlanta heat, that was a hazard.  The jumpsuit was supposed to be a tall, but was a regular, so we had Delta in short pants at times.  I couldn’t just pack him back up and take him back.  I needed to rebuild him.  Make him lighter, more accurate, easier to manage by myself.  I have the technology.  Do I have the ability?  I hope so.

When I told Emily that I would not only bring Delta back, I would build a brand new just for Shelby and Sara, I got the following Thank You video

Dragon*Con is going to be in so much trouble with the three of us running around.  I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep up with them, though.


Subject Delta 2.0

For the new build of Delta, I decided I would try to follow a similar build method that “The other Delta at Dragon*Con” used.  2 Story Props was at D*C 2011 with an amazing Delta costume.  We never bumped into each other, and to be honest, I’m really glad.  I saw their build log just before Dragon*Con and I was so impressed with their build, I nearly decided not to take mine.  Obviously, I was talked out of that decision, and I’m glad now.

2 Story Props used a Pepakura file to make a papercraft version of the helmet.  I managed to get the file, and tried it myself.

Pep DeltaPep Delta cutout

Pep Delta Assembled

Here you can see the assembled version resting on my dress form.  This is where I started to go wrong.  In hindsight, I should have covered the dress form in a couple of trash bags, and mounted the helmet onto it for stability.  It had been so long since I’ve worked with Pepakura, I had forgotten how unstable large pieces can be.

The next step was to seal the seams with fiberglass resin.  This I know how to do.  The reason is to help lock the seams in place for step 3, a process I have never done, and likely shouldn't have used this project as a learning experience, given my short timeline.

Pep Delta SeamsSeams all sealed

Step 3 – Fiberglass.  I have worked with fiberglass resin since I started this prop making thing, but never with the actual fiberglass material.  According to most Pepakura builders, the fiberglass is applied to the inside of the build so it doesn’t collapse in on itself.  So away we go.

          Pep Delta Fiberglass 1                           Pep Delta Fiberglass 2

This is where it all went wrong.  I didn’t have the helmet supported properly.  As I applied fiberglass, the helmet twisted and warped, and the fiberglass froze it that way.  I tried to cut it back apart and straighten it out, but I realized that I could either spend the next few days or weeks trying to fix it, or just scrap it and start fresh with a more comfortable, but slightly less accurate process.  Subject Delta 2.0 was scrapped.

Subject Delta 3.0

Alright, more complicated professional methods don’t work well for Redneck Geeks.  Time to go back to what I know: cardboard and hot glue!

To help me keep the scale, and for an easier time wearing it, I started with a hard hat for a base.  I never realized how cheap hard hats were.  $6 or less at Lowes or Home Depot and you’ve got a good base for any kind of helmet.

I made a quick pattern from heavy paper for the chest plate portion, then measured the distance from my shoulders to the rim of the hard hat, and began making a cardboard skeleton.

Delta SkeletonDelta’s Cardboard Frame

The next step, which you can see a piece of in the above picture, was to skin the frame with paper.  This would give me a nice consistent surface for future layers.

Delta Skinned
Delta Skinned and Ready for the Next Phase

From Delta 2.0, I really liked what I learned with the fiberglass.  It was rigid, solid and light.  Delta 3.0 would be getting a nice fiberglass shell applied to the outside of the paper and cardboard.
Delta Supplies
My Supplies

Not pictured above was my respirator.  If you are going to work with fiberglass, wear a respirator.  I’ve worked with the resin for some time and the smell doesn’t bother me now, but the amount of resin you use when working with the actual fiberglass material is much higher than normal.  I learned this from Delta 2.0.

Delta Fiberglass Raw 1      Delta Fiberglass Raw 2
Layers 1 and 2 of Fiberglass

After the fiberglass had cured overnight, it was sanded down and then ready for the Bondo.  For those wondering about weight, at this point, the whole thing weighed hardly anything.  I was actually looking forward to the Bondo adding some weight to it.


Bondo, Lotsa Bondo

The top can is the typical size can of Bondo you see everywhere.  The bottom can is the 3 pound can I got from Pepboys.  I killed both cans on this build.


Delta Bondo Raw
Raw Bondo Coat 1

We had great weather up to the day I wanted to Bondo, then it started raining.  Applying Bondo in the basement worked, but the household was not happy with the smell.

Delta Bondo Sanded
Coat 1 Sanded

I applied a second light coat to get everything as even and smooth as I could and then applied the first primer coat of paint to help me see where more body work was needed.  Primer is really good for this.  As you can see, the sanded surface has a lot of different colors and shades to it.  By applying primer, you make everything one even color and then you can see just how bad or how many uneven areas you still have.

Delta Primed 1  Delta Primed 2  Delta Primed 3
Delta 3.0 Primed

A little more body work, and some more fresh primer and he was done.

Delta Final Prime 1  Delta Final Prime 2  Delta Final Prime 3Delta Final Prime 4
Final Primed Delta 3.0

There’s still a lot of work to be done.  Lights, glass, camera lens, rivets, dive weight, handles, tanks, and the drill, but for 9 days worth of work, I am really happy with this build.  It’s not perfect, but neither am I and perfect is not my goal.  This will be a great successor to Delta 1.0.

Oh, and for those that are still reading and curious about the weight, the helmet above is tipping the scale at around 8.5 pounds.  Not bad considering that Delta 1.0 was around 10+ pounds when done.