Thursday, August 16, 2012

Time To Suit Up – Part 2 – Subject Delta


Subject Delta builds always have a lot of pieces and parts.  Typically just when I think I’m done, I look and see that I have more to do.

Helmet – Check
Drill – Check
Backpack with tanks – No-Check
Suit Patched and Weathered – No-Check
Weight Belt – Are you kidding me!  I completely forgot!  ARGH!

After I got over my fear from the failed Night Guard build, I tackled the backpack and tanks.

The 2011 model had the tanks and pack were bolted directly to the frame inside the helmet.  This added bulk and weight and made traveling with it a pain.  Since the new goals were easier and lighter, I decided to make a real pack that could be bolted directly to the helmet and removed for transport.  Given the helmet is fiberglass and Bondo, it should take the weight, as long as I keep it as low as possible.

Let’s begin with the backpack base.

Yup.  That’s a popcorn bucket lid.  It’s tin.  It’s light.  It’s just about the right size.  All I had to do was add the PVC frame and some lights.

Two of these battery powered LED strips I got on sale at Home Depot will be mounted behind the lid and provide backlighting for the Eve and health tanks.

The other tanks simply needed to be tubes.  If I could store things in them, like water bottles or spare batteries, that would be a plus.  I tried a couple of different methods before settling on:

IMAG0829                                      IMAG0830

Two Folger’s coffee cans glued together.  Light and provide storage.  I used a little fiberglass and Bondo to smooth out some seams and details, but mostly it was glue and paint.

The smaller tank is just a piece of poster board that I soaked in resin and then added a band of fiberglass to reinforce the area where the nozzle would be.

These tanks are on my back.  Very few will actually even see this.  I’m not going to waste a lot of time on these kind of details, unless I was doing this for a contest.  This is for fun.  I’m going to keep it fun.


Results after painting.  I used my same technique from last year in painting these.  Age and rust effects are fun.

Now for the Even and health.  Again, I went through a couple of tests before getting to the final version.  Mainly leak tests.

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Most people use hair gel for the fluid.  I’ve talked to one person that used Gator-Aid in his build (brilliant!), but I’m kind of hung up on corn syrup and food dye.

DSCN0821                          DSCN0822DSCN0823

Now time to mount the backpack.  This I couldn’t get wrong.  I had to plan it out carefully and execute it once.  There's not a lot of weight, but enough to make me a little nervous.  I epoxied a piece of 3/4” MDF to the helmet to make up the hollow in the lid and provide a little more support.  The method I chose for the actual attaching was spring hollow wall anchors and washers.  Works great.

Oh, and I did have to cut the bottom off of the PVC frame so it would all fit in the trunk. I added two PVC couplings so I can attach it and remove it as needed.

I used much hot glue in attaching these things, and they’re holding well.

Backlighting looks too cool.



Now for the suit and weight belt.  The 2011 suit was a bit small.  I ordered a Tall, but got a regular.  The 2012 is a Tall, thank heavens.  Still, I was able to recycle a lot of the bits and details for the 2011 suit to the 2012 suit, like the patches, elbow and knee pads.

One piece I really wanted to upgrade was the Eve tube that runs down Delta’s left arm.  I had it last year, but you couldn’t see it.  Blue tube on blue suit.  It should have glowed, so let’s make the 2012 upgrade glow.

I basically made a foam pad for the tube to rest on, hollowed out the middle, and filled it with LEDs.


Now the belt was going to be easy.  Foam rectangles glued to a belt and weathered with shoe polish.


There was one more piece to add.  Something to the inside shoulders of the suit:
These are two pieces of foam rounded over my shoulders.  I call it the “Notman Device” after my friend Megan Notman.  She was concerned about the weight of the helmet on my shoulders and recommended some sort of frame or padding.  This also helps raise my shoulders and takes some of the weight off my head.  Turns out using a hard hat for the base causes the weight to be transferred right to your head and neck.  Joy.

The final suit turned out really well.  Just needs some weathering.

Weathering by coffee grounds and shoe polish.  It’s subtle, but just what I was after.



All I have to do now is pack it up, travel it to Dragon*Con, and have so much fun wearing it.  If you see me, come up and say “Hi”!

Time To Suit Up – Part 1 – Wonderbolts


One of my costume plans for this year was going to be my interpretation of Princess Luna’s Night guards (a.k.a. Bat Ponies).


I had a lot of the elements built, including the helmet, which I LOVE, but things just kept going wrong with the build.  Paint not drying correctly.  Pieces warping and cracking.  Me knocking the helmet across the room.  The wings just not working no matter what I tried.  It even rained on the last build of the wings that I attempted.  If it could go wrong, it was going wrong.  I lost close to 6 months off and on work and a good 3 months solid work for all these issues, and I was still no where closer to getting it done.

Now lots of people will tell you, I am not good at taking subtle hints, but after it spontaneously rained on the wings, I started to wonder if I wasn’t supposed to do this costume.  I finally decided that I wasn’t and I shelved the whole project.

After that I was kind of frozen in place for a day.  I had messed up every part of the Night Guard.  I had some critical areas on other costumes that I had to get right.  What if I screwed them up like I did the Night Guard.  I could ruin everything.  I eventually sucked it up and moved on.  I even replaced the Night Guard with another costume:

Unnamed Wonderbolt #2
(Well, that’s what I’m calling him  Sounds better than Generic Background Wonderbolt)

This would have to be a fast and cheap build.  Time and budget are almost gone.

First, who/what are the Wonderbolts you ask.  Basically think of them as the MLP version of the Blue Angels, but they are Pegasus ponies.

Wonderbolts_Poster_S1E01     WonderBolts

The materials list was pretty simple:
Blue Jumpsuit
Yellow something for trim and detail
FunFoam/Foam Sheets/Foamies for wings

The yellow something for the trim and details would be provided by Duct Tape brand tape.  They actually make “Fashion colors and prints” of duct tape, and the yellow was actually spot on.

My process was just to lay a strip of tape onto a sheet of plastic and then use an Exacto to cut out the lightning bolt patters.

After that, it was cut it into sections, peel it off the plastic, and place it on the the jumpsuit.


The center or “belly” detail was just multiple strips of tape and then a jagged detail to make the lightning bolt look.  It was really hard to find a good reference of what the actual show look was supposed to be.  It tended to change in each image (stupid low budget show ---- I’m kidding!)


This whole process took less than two hours, and I had a pretty decent costume.

DSCN0033           DSCN0034DSCN0037

The goggles are simple a pair of ArcOne Fly goggles I picked up from Amazon.  They actually fit over my glasses and are a lot of fun.  May just have to wear them around for the heck of it sometime.


Lastly I needed the wings (oh, God, more wings!) and the mark on the hip.

Let’s start with the mark.

Now I had never paid attention to this before, but do you notice there are two different marks?  One is for a male and the other is for a female!  OK, that is a unique attention to detail.


The bolt with the wing is for a male and the lightning bolt itself is for a female.  Who knew?

Craft foam to the rescue!  Using a sheet of yellow and a sheet of white foam, I traced the outlines, cut the shapes and glued them onto the suit.  Now, yes, I could have use foam for all the duct tape details, but that time and budget thing just got in the way.

DSCN0839         DSCN0840

The cool accident here is that the glue didn’t hold well over the pocket seam, so I can still get to my front pockets.

Alright the wings…ugh.  Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.

Drew the shape of the wing, traced, cut and glued.


There are two layers on the front, for stability and a little depth.

Hey for about 3 hours worth of real work, I’m going to have a blast with this one.

Oh and I do have ears
courtesy of Yaya Han

A tail
courtesy of Pandora-onii-chan (actually this was for the Night Guard, but I can’t let it go to waste)

And I have a special surprise that I won’t show off until Dragon*Con.

Don’t forget to like The Real Redneck Geek on Facebook.  I post lots of WIP pictures there all the time.