Stormtrooper Suit

A suit built from a kit of parts for a fan going to the Worldcon.

If you like it (and it's bound to be in competition with others!) pop by and see me there.

A nice quality finish, but if you're planning on building this yourself, you'll need this article as well as the instructions!

The first step was to get a good colour match for the painting needed on the oxygen tank, and the instructions specified that this should match the decals. The decals are high-gloss p.v.c., so the colour matching was done after several thick coats of acrylic laquer to get the same surface lustre. The best match was Halfords grey primer - the middle panel here.

The oxygen tank itself was of very poor quality, being eliptical in cross section and each half being of different radius and size, making the chrome decal impossible to fit properly - the end pieces pull it somewhat into shape. This is the most likely item to be upgraded by being re-made out of p.v.c. pipe - there's a commercial extrusion by Polypipe at 76.4mm, very close to the 77.2mm used here.

The first real suit part is the helmet, which the instructions say is the toughest - they got that right, at least. Using any kind of adhesive is not going to work, as the stresses would open it up. The suggested fixing method is a pair of small bolts through the ear pieces. This was not sufficient to line up the helmet halves, and the parts also didn't look like they were lining up - more on that below. The halves were bolted together, using 6 plastic tabs as locating lugs and 12 bolts, in addition to the ones in the earpieces. These were drilled on the front piece only, 1cm in from each edge, and 2cm up and down from the top and bottom, and in the middle, respectively.

Now, the top of the front piece was leveled with respect to the top - the most crucial part as this is where the top dome sits. There was about 5mm to grind off to level it.

 

With the top leveled, the back half was matched up to it, leveled in the same way, then the corresponding locator holes were drilled so that the front and back halves would join up square.

This is the end result. This is the smallest circumferance that can be achieved that would accomodate the top dome - and the illustration of why the earpiece bolts on their own would have been insufficient.

Inside the helmet, the aireator pieces are located with bolts - for health and safety reasons these were trimmed down and budded with epoxy.

The earpieces didn't fit the helmet curves and had to be sanded down - note the difference between the back and front profiles.

In fact, none of the earpiece profile fitted - by attaching the earpieces at the top, the gap at the bottom was huge.

The instructions specify drilling through the dimples moulded into the earpieces and lining that up with the dimples cast into the helmet halves. Doing that would result in this error, making the fit of the earpieces even worse.

The solution is to clamp it into place and drill through for the bolts, giving something whic h is as close as possible to a good fit.

The bottom - where the clamp is - is fixed with another 2 bolts per side. Now the helmet is up to 20 bolts - a long way off the 4 specified!

Here are the earpieces bolted down

And here they are with the bolts trimmed, and sealed with gap filling flexible sealer - like silicone, but with a denser white finish of much closer match to the plastic than ordinary silicone.

One day, about half-way through....

The inside of the helmet had to be blacked out to darken it to the maximum, thereby giving the eyepieces the best chance of looking black and menacing.

The outside is masked with tinfoil - cheap, very easy and very effective.

The headband which supports the helmet was supplied in a bag. When opened - it was of unsuitable design. No fixing points for the anchors supplied in another bag, and also a tightening mechanism based on a knurled nut which interfered with the top dome.

The solution is to start again with another safety helmet, from which the webbing harness is removed - the actual helmet is thrown away. New anchors were made to fix the harness. These were clamped into place, with the harness lined up to the centreline of the helmet. Then each anchor is glued into place, and the clamps removed working round the helmet untill it's all glued up. The anchors were made from laminated styrene sheet, with holes drilled to allow hot glue injection to fill the void between the anchor and the helmet.

The end result. It's adjustable, robust and comfortable.

The top was fixed into place with hot glue and the flexible filler to make an invisible join at the back. The masking tape was taken off after the filler had been run into the join.

Lets see how this one compares to other out of the box builds!

I'm hearing U.S. fans are buying voice modulators and helmet fans.

I'm quite happy to make them for them!

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