Zat German's Halo: Reach - Foam Armor Build WIP

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  1. #1

    Zat German's Halo: Reach - Foam Armor Build WIP

    After about a month of being busy with work and personal things as well as doing research into various materials and tools, I finally started my Reach armor build. I really wanted to build a Mark VI suit first but it is much more complicated to build out of foam than Mark V[b]. So I decided to cut my teeth on the Reach armor and then maybe make some Halo 3 stuff.

    My primary build material are EVA foam mats from Harbor Freight. You can also get these mats at Walmart as a Gold's Gym brand and Big Lots. The Walmart and Big Lots versions have diamond plat rather than the houndstooth-like pattern of Harbor Freight's. When on sale, Harbor Freight's mats are the cheapest I have found, with Big Lots being cheaper off sale. You can also get these mats in various colors online but all the sellers I have found so far really gouge you on shipping.


    Here is a shot of the first pieces I cut out. I started out using a hot knife(shown at the bottom of the picture) but after remembering that I have a mini-jigsaw, I started using that exclusively. It works great. It does produce edges that will need more cleanup but it is super fast to cut with. You can see a picture of it in the tools section at the end of the post.


    Here are the patterns I initially cut out from the Pepakura file. I am using lganderson's version since it is the most accurate one available to-date. L3X's would be nice to have but it is still in the process of being unfolded and is not available.


    My assembly progress so far, as of this post today.


    Here is a picture of the underside of the armor. I used the electric knife to cut out these angles but as you can see I cut out way too much. It is okay though, because another layer of foam will cover all of this up. I may try filling it in with some Foam Coat+Bounce, to see how well that works as a gap filler.


    On the top side of the armor, you get all these gaps here where the hot glue did not reach. I do not feel like cleaning off a ton of hot glue, so I am using just enough to join pieces without it squishing through the top, if possible. You can fix these gaps quite easily though thanks to a tip from a friend.


    The tip: Use superglue gel! Just put a little in the gap and squeeze the two parts together for about 30 seconds. After that, the gel will hold the two parts close together. The excess that squeezes out can be wiped off. Wear latex gloves unless you like superglue all over your fingers.


    Same gap after it has been glued with the gel.

    Tools Section

    This part of the post will be kept up-to-date with all of the tools I have used for the build. I figure this may be a useful reference to anyone getting started with foam.

    1. Proxxon Jigsaw: For cutting out patterns
    2. Electric Knife: For making miter cuts
    3. Hot Glue Gun: For gluing parts together
    4. Hair Dryer: For shaping the foam, hands friendlier than heat gun
    5. Superglue Gel: For closing up gaps

  2. #2
    Looking good so far. Its nice to see another foam build, I'm just about to start mine, so this is a great help.

  3. #3
    Looking good love to see how it turns out

  4. #4
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    nice start cant wait to see it all done

  5. #5
    GREATNESS!!! Lovin your work so far brah!

  6. #6
    looking good glad to see the use of superglue to seem the gaps! Now i know where i can add more detail to my armor. thx! Best luck , I cant wait to see more!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo_only_one View Post
    looking good glad to see the use of superglue to seem the gaps! Now i know where i can add more detail to my armor. thx! Best luck , I cant wait to see more!
    I agree!! I'm going to have to try this method because trying to go over the hot glue and trying to smooth it out is a really pain. Where did you get the gel at and do they sell it in larger packages?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by WrathPrime View Post
    I agree!! I'm going to have to try this method because trying to go over the hot glue and trying to smooth it out is a really pain. Where did you get the gel at and do they sell it in larger packages?
    You can get the Loctite superglue gel just about anywhere. I have seen it at Hobby Lobby and Target for sure. It is pretty common stuff. I have not seen it in any larger package but you do not need very much for these seams. It is about $3.50-$4 for one of these bottles. The friend who told me about using superglue gel said he used stuff from the dollar store but he had big problems with the amount of gel he would get per package. I just decided to use a known brand so I could avoid having to go back a bunch of times for more.
    Last edited by Zat German; Nov 10, 2010 at 12:43 PM.

  9. #9
    Wow! Deffinately going to stick around this thread to check up on progress pics!

    -Pony

  10. #10
    Looking Good, Zat! I'm still thinking about how I'm going to approach my build, which will likely be a hybrid of different materials.

  11. #11

    Here are the patterns for the next set of pieces I am doing.


    I got just a little done last night, putting that one piece on and insetting that detail part.


    Close up of the inset. I think I should not have cut the short line but just the two parallel ones, it would have inset just as well and not created another line to clean up later.


    Hmm, something is wrong here. Oops, cut the wrong side! Started moving a little too fast and did not pay attention when cutting the bevel and cut off the wrong side.


    Here is the mistake up close. Thankfully it is easy to just cut the glue with an xacto knife and cut out a new part and glue it in.


    All fixed and ready to be glued.


    You may have noticed that the 3 part piece I just glued together looked like it hinged pretty easily and there are no bevels at the joints. What you can do instead is put a line of glue along the top edge and press the pieces together, so the edges are flush.


    Now when the glue dries, the pieces easily flex in the direction they need to. I think this is better than trying to bevel the visible edge like I have done in spots where the bevel would be hidden underneath.


    Current progress photo. I did not get as much done tonight as I wanted but oh well. I think I may need to cut and re-glue the two pieces in the upper left and right. They are not sloping down as much as they should.

    By the way, I wanted to make a note of using super glue gel to seal the edges: If you look closely at the pictures in this post, you can see I did not seal any edges to make them flush yet. The reason I do not want to do it now is that pieces are not at their final angles yet since other parts need to be attached and the chest is still relatively flat. If I were to glue all the edges flush right now, I would restrict the amount of give the joints would have. I got away with gluing the ones I did in the first update because those parts are "done" and no more parts will cause any flexing on them. For the most part, I think you want to do the super glue sealing after you are finished assembling your whole project.

  12. #12
    Looking Very clean! A lot cleaner then mine! Great Job!

  13. #13
    Great thread, Im picking up a lot of good tips for when i do my chest piece. So far I have the legs done. I will be be def. watching this post

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by sirnaut View Post
    Great thread, Im picking up a lot of good tips for when i do my chest piece. So far I have the legs done. I will be be def. watching this post
    Thanks for posting! I must have missed your thread but I will be watching it now too. I have subscribed to every thread with foam I can find for the same reason as you.

  15. #15
    thanks for posting this, it has helped me start to lay out how I am going to make my foam armor. thank you very much!

  16. #16
    one suggestion i have for you on this great build is if you can afford to get a bandsaw, do so.

    they are the bottom line, best choice, for cutting the foam and well worth using.
    your lines are very clean, as the heat xacto knife rig is a great choice, but

    if you have the cash for a bandsaw, as i said, it's worth every penny.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Kommissar View Post
    one suggestion i have for you on this great build is if you can afford to get a bandsaw, do so.

    they are the bottom line, best choice, for cutting the foam and well worth using.
    your lines are very clean, as the heat xacto knife rig is a great choice, but if you have the cash for a bandsaw, as i said, it's worth every penny.
    I'm considering using my band saw as well but does the foam dull the blade much? I'm guessing it would when you consider it eats through razors...
    Would a scroll saw work the same?
    If so, it might be a little cheaper to go with a scroll saw because I believe you can get a pack of scroll saw blades for around the same price as one band saw blade...correct me if I'm wrong.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Kommissar View Post
    one suggestion i have for you on this great build is if you can afford to get a bandsaw, do so.
    I can afford one but have no where to put/use it. However, if you check out the first post, you can see the mini-jigsaw I am using that works great. It does not produce nice even lines like your picture but rather slight channels that are about the same spacing as the teeth on the blade(not visible after gluing). However, I think this is a good thing because it gives the hot glue more bite into the foam when connecting pieces.

    Ronster: A scroll saw would probably work great as well. Bandsaws and jigsaws work by removing material, not slicing it. I think it would take a lot of cutting to dull a toothed tool versus an xacto blade.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Zat German View Post
    I can afford one but have no where to put/use it. However, if you check out the first post, you can see the mini-jigsaw I am using that works great. It does not produce nice even lines like your picture but rather slight channels that are about the same spacing as the teeth on the blade(not visible after gluing). However, I think this is a good thing because it gives the hot glue more bite into the foam when connecting pieces.

    Ronster: A scroll saw would probably work great as well. Bandsaws and jigsaws work by removing material, not slicing it. I think it would take a lot of cutting to dull a toothed tool versus an xacto blade.
    nice! that worked out well for the gluing as you said then,
    the band saw i got is pretty tiny, i just move it onto my backyard porch whenever i use it, and then stick it back into the shed when i'm done,
    thankfully it's not one of those fixed ones.

  20. #20
    looking quite excellent Zat! for some tips, tape large flat surfaces together from the pep, then cut it our on the foam, and for some angles and such, use a piece for the full length and on the bottom, cut a notch out so you can just bend it together to glue rather than having exposed seams if you get what i mean

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by DETHANIEL View Post
    looking quite excellent Zat! for some tips, tape large flat surfaces together from the pep, then cut it our on the foam, and for some angles and such, use a piece for the full length and on the bottom, cut a notch out so you can just bend it together to glue rather than having exposed seams if you get what i mean
    Thanks. Your build thread looks great!

    I am probably going to start over on this one. It is a bit too big for me and I have learned a lot of new methods and have new tools since the last time I worked on it. My foam layout file in Pepakura actually has a number of parts set up in the fashion you describe. The next time I am going to lay out as much flat stuff as I can and then plot the templates out on our big 36" plotter at work. Right now I am limited to 8.5" x 14", which is still a lot nicer than 8.5" x 11" but still quite limited in what I can do.

  22. #22
    ah, excellent, i really need to make templates, darnit. guess ill just have to build a new chest and go from there.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by DETHANIEL View Post
    ah, excellent, i really need to make templates, darnit. guess ill just have to build a new chest and go from there.
    You could always start with McPrimus' foam peps. I think you used some of the same files.

  24. #24
    kinda there not really, but i mean my detailed work and undersuit parts and such, gonna take a lot of time

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by DETHANIEL View Post
    kinda there not really, but i mean my detailed work and undersuit parts and such, gonna take a lot of time
    Oh, I see. I was kind of confused about why you would be starting over on stuff like your chest when it already looks good!

    I spent a few minutes and re-pepped my foam layout template for a 36"x24" sheet. This is the front and back of the chest, only thing missing is the side parts and the top "turtle neck":


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