Level 1-6: Customize Helmet

20 Aug

We’re down to the nitty-gritties! So they say. Last week’s epic progress had me motivated and I was determined to steam-roll our work this weekend. As we set up to work on Saturday I said to Daniel, “I want to have Subject Delta finished up to the point of painting and I want to have Eleanor’s helmet and harness built by Sunday.” And at one point during the work session Daniel said, “I like your drive today Mrs. Gilbert.” I was ready for some major progress. Can you remember a time when you made a list of things to do and severely underestimated how long it would take you to do something? I know I sure can, because that’s exactly what happened this week.

I’ve heard lots of people over the past few weeks talking about the painstaking work cosplay is, how the details can be truly time-consuming and it wasn’t until we set to work on the foam details and the rivets that I fully understood what they meant. We started with the details on Subject Delta’s camera unit. The shape of the helmet as it blends into the camera is just plain awkward and it took us a little while to figure out how to get a template. Here comes some of that Gilbert ingenuity I hope you’ve come to expect. Daniel grabbed some tin foil and rolled into a wire-thin piece which he then bent along the curve of the helmet.Foil Wire on Helmet He then took that wire shape and traced it onto some 5mm craft foam and we cut out a first try.Tracing the Foil

The first try was still off, leaving pretty large gaps between the foam and the actual helmet so Daniel made a few adjustments, looking from the helmet to our new sketches and trying to fill in the gaps. It worked out really nicely!

Camera Detail On

Remember how I told you last week to avoid using scissors on the thick foam? You should still avoid cutting with scissors but you can still shape with them! Daniel had achieved that lovely curve along the edge of the styrofoam by rubbing the styrofoam together and we hated to waste it so Daniel did a little trimming and somehow the cosplay gods smiled on us and the foam perfectly curves into the camera.

camera detail complete

You might be wondering about that blue strip running on either side of the camera lens. If we take another look at our reference photo you’ll see the carved out lines that run down the front of the helmet and sweep around to the back of the helmet. Since we don’t actually have the means to carve something out of the helmet, we decided to make some raised strips which we will paint a darker color. We’re gonna try to trick you! But this was the first of our tedious tasks. I needed to cut 1/8″ strips out of the 2mm foam and we didn’t actually have a ruler that was long enough to span the whole length of the sheet of foam. That’s right kids, I was marking with a pencil along the length of the foam 1/8″ at regular intervals. I had to cut 6 strips. And then we discovered that the thin foam was drawing the eye to the height of the helmet as it split the plain between the lights and the porthole. We thought that if we used thicker strips, it might help to make the helmet look more squat. Of course this meant that I needed to cut 1/4″ strips out of the foam. And today was the day that Daniel’s beloved Elmer’s Glue All failed. The adhesive element seemed to have given out because we had diluted it with water for the  papier-mâché, so we resorted to hot glue, which worked well enough but now we had those annoying hot glue strings that feel like spider webs when they’re stuck to your fingers. I’m also going to add that we’re doing all of this work sitting on our hard wood floor.

After 3 hours of work, we had the foam strips attached and the foam details attached to the camera unit.

Next, the rivets. We decided to go with Cap Nuts that we picked up at Home Depot. The package we bought had 50 pieces which we thought would be enough, but sadly, I only counted for the rivets running down the front of the seam. I didn’t count the rivets that run along the entire length of the harness. But our drive hadn’t faltered yet and we wanted to go until we couldn’t go anymore! Here’s our process:

Step One: Line up our guide piece and place the rivet on the helmet.

rivets measuringWe put some of those 1/8″ strips to use and cut a guide for ourselves. We wanted to make sure that the rivets were the same distance apart. Daniel held onto the rivet with some needle nose pliers and I unfocused and re-focused my eyes to make sure that they were the same distance from the foam lining as the previous rivets. I would give Daniel direction like, a fraction closer to me, no closer to you and he would try to make the minute changes. This proved difficult due to the slick Shellac shell; the rivets kept sliding around. I would then mark one edge with a pen so that Daniel would know where to place the rivet after we’d applied glue.

Step 2: Apply the hot glue.

rivet glue

Daniel held the rivet and I filled it with hot glue.

Step 3: Place the rivet.

rivet set glueWe did this for 4 hours. I repeat; 4 hours of sitting on the hard wood floor staring at tiny rivets. We finished up a 6 hour work day and we hadn’t completed the rivets on Subject Delta’s Helmet but we still felt accomplished, sore and extremely tired. We had worked very hard and stayed very focused and we were still ready and raring to work the next day, after a well-earned night’s sleep of course.

Is there more to share? Of course! But one thing we don’t want to share with you is builder’s fatigue. Would you believe that the first draft of this post was over 1600 words? Neither could we! Which is why we trimmed it down just a touch.

The next post will finish up our marathon weekend and possibly bring even more awesomeness in picture form.

Check back next week for the Bioshocking conclusion of Level 1 – Subject Delta’s Helmet!


2 Responses to “Level 1-6: Customize Helmet”


  1. Level 1-6: Save Customization? | Co-Op Campaign - August 27, 2013

    […] them; back breaking, eye twitching detail. Daniel ran by Home Depot the next day, after our 6 hour rivet-fest, and picked up another set of cap nuts and we got back to work. This time we took a standing break […]

  2. Level 3-1: Acquire and Assemble Weapon | Co-Op Campaign - November 12, 2013

    […] cutting a rather impressive pile of 1 1/2″ wide by 3″ long foam strips. I then used my trusty strip-of-foil-method to figure out the exact shape of the curve on the cone and cut a handy-dandy template. The template […]

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