The Unofficial Warhammer 40k Costume and Prop Archive
Name: Brother Edward
Materials: Initially made from foamcore and expanding foam. Later moved on to plaster casts and vaccforming. Final version are cast urethane and resin.
"First I made forms of all the armor pieces - then I made rubber molds of everything. After the rubber molds were made we then were able to pour expanding urethane foam into the molds. These will be the actual armor pieces!
After we get all the pieces cast and sanded to fit the wearer we have an industrial sprayer that we will use to spray a layer of plastic onto all the armor pieces so they will have a hard exterior shell. Then the armor will be ready for painting and attaching to a body harness.
We already have tiny video cameras that fit inside the vent atop the helmet. That feeds into a pair of virtual vision glasses inside the helmet that give the wearer as much video input as a 50" tv screen. The cameras have wide angle lenses and they do take some getting used to - but it gives good vision (and hearing too - there's a tiny mic to help pic up sounds outside the helmet and that feeds into an earpiece within the helmet). The adventure cam came with all the wiring and its own power supply (eight AA batteries). We're also wearing throat mics that run down to walkie talkies mounted in our belts. The push to talk button will run down one arm and into a glove so we push to talk and we're voxing to the second suit. The throat mic has an "audio out" that goes to an earpiece which will go into our other ear. So one ear hears outside the suit sounds, the other earpiece is dedicated suit vox. and to cap it all off we have one last feature - the press to "speak" which will be a button in the other glove (or another finger) which sends power to a voice modulator mounted in the mouth of the helmet which amplifies and distorts our voice - so we sound like space marines when we speak through the helmet
It's crazy I know - but we are shooting for gold here and so far we have all the electronics and I think we have a really good shot at making all this work! Wish us luck!
4" Cooling fan in the backpack blowing straight onto the back. Also adding small helmet fans too - lots of stuff crammed into the helmets! We've also been pondering adding a camel back water supply so we could drink even while wearing our helmets but the helmet is already pretty crowded I want to see everything else work before we start adding more.
Okay we have had some problems with the foam - it warps when exposed to moisture in the atmosphere over a period of days. We noticed this when we spotted that all the armor pieces that were almost ready for the spray plastic had warped... we were understandably upset.
After some reflection we came up with a new plan. We wanted to try a brush on resin that is super strong and lightweight. If all went well we would be able to paint this new material (uragel 770) into our rubber molds and come up with essentially "ready for fitting" armor pieces.
Here's a shot of my arm lying inside the vambrace half. The long seams are a tad thin so future casts will have basswood strips laid in place while the resin is still curing making for nice thick edges that will seal together nicely.
The new material (U770) is really quite strong and acceptably lightweight. This will be the new preferred material for all armor pieces - cast in full then trimmed to fit the wearer. No more messy foam!
On the helmet we first smooth the contact edges, then align the two halves perfectly - then we apply some more brush on mold material from the inside over the seam. That bonds solidly to the rest of the helmet and it is now fused together. Bondo to fill in the exterior seam to a smooth finish.
Arms & legs - these pieces were fabricated with a thin bit of wood placed in their side strategically. When we cut the flashing off the arm & leg pieces we will have nice wide surfaces that meet up well when held together. We will then use gorilla glue on the seam and wrap the piece tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight to fully cure. Gorilla glue expands so on these we're more likely to be sanding the seam to smooth, but we'll use bondo wherever filler is needed.
Chest / backpack - here we enter more of a grey zone. Odds are the chest backpiece will have a backpack harness inside it and the actual chest piece will hang somehow from the front (internal hooks/fasteners or something).
The seams are covered by what I refer to as the environmental suit. I'll be wearing a pair of shorts and a tshirt made of the ES material (a dark grey/black fabric that has ridges that look like ridged plastic). The ES material is cotton with some unusual cording which gives it a nice 'ribbed' look. So essentially the power armored fellow will be wearing shorts, and a tshirt inside the armor. So where the armor doesn't cover people will see this fabric. The gaps at the elbows and the knees will also be enclosed with this material. The armor forms themselves will be connected with straps attached probably 2 inches inside the armor piece. We'll put some velcro on the inside about 1 inch inside and this is what the fabric will attach to making a fabric tube between the two armor pieces - the support straps will be inside the fabric tube so nobody sees any unsightly straps, all they see between armor joints is the super cool fabric.
The boots will give a little rise. They are designed such that an actual shoe fits inside them, and the sole of the boot is about an inch thick so that gives the wearer about 1.5 extra inches - although there may be a pinch more - we haven't completely finished a boot yet so not exactly sure how it will go! They will be big honkin boots - but they won't be obvious platforms like in "Battlefield Earth" I promise! Articulation is not a problem. They do have a hinge roughly halfway down the soles, the toe can tilt up and back to slide into the main body of the boot. The soles will be tough rubber about an inch thick custom made for these boots.
Re: Loss of grip - Nope. The insides of the fingers are exposed glove which is a very abrasive rubber - plenty of grip. The fingertips are an exception but we're going to add thin rubber pads there to give added grip.
BREAKTHROUGH!! BIG BIG BREAKTHROUGH!!!
Alright let me explain...
After making soft rubber molds for every part of the power armor (for foam casting) we had three pieces left (chest/boot/backpack) that we cast from existing "shell molds" (all you need to know is they aren't soft rubber and the casts that came out needed oodles of sanding and patching so not good molds).
So. This week we used a new mold making technique to make new "good" shell molds and that goes like this. A rubber "thixotropic" mold material is painted onto the form. That in plain english means "a rubber that is so thick you can paint it onto things and it hardly sags". So you paint this rubber on - then it dries, then you paint a plastic thixotropic over the first only this one sets hard as stone - this makes the "mother mold". So the end product is that you have a soft rubber mold inside of a slightly bigger "mother mold" that is firm enough to hold the wobbly rubber on in shape so you can pour in resin or whatnot and then once it cures you can pull the hard mothermold off, and then peel back the rubber mold and whammo you have your cast. With me so far? Good - you're doing better than most already.... now here's the breakthrough...
It occurs to me today that I already have nice soft rubber molds of most pieces of power armor - and in fact we're finishing nice rubber molds for the infamous last three pieces right now (chest/boot/backpack). When all of a a sudden it hits me like a ten ton weight .... I can paint the "sets hard as stone" thixotropic inside any/all of my power armor forms and have completely smooth and rock hard pieces of armor overnight! We don't have to do foam and THEN spray it with styrospray 1000, we can go straight to hardened armor directly!!!! Moreover it also opens the door to me making hollow Bolters - a VAST improvement over the solid resin path that I was heading down!
Our focus with these suits isn't long public outings. Our main focus will be filming in front of a greenscreen in my garage and there we'll have the ability to take frequent breaks in front of big powerful fans."