Reach Commando Concept

Hey 405th! It's been several years since I've been an active member, but I've got something I've been working on.

I'd like to present the progress on my Commando Helmet!
Warning: This is likely to be a long post, mostly text with a few sprinkled images, about my experience and thoughts so far.

I used the Commando Concept pep file by Satchmo III. The Commando UA/FC-I[2] is my all-time favorite and I was super excited to build one. There are so many great pep files out there but I settled on the concept variation because it was relatively simple and has (in my opinion) the perfect aesthetic.

Quick shoutout to Ruze789, BLACKULA727, and PerniciousDuke for their amazing work on Commando helmets and inspiring me to finally make my own!

I apologize for not having many or the best quality pictures but I hope you enjoy what I have so far!

This is after the pep stage. I sized the file appx. 10% smaller than default. Standard process for pepping (print -> cut -> assemble). I spent an afternoon cutting, and by the end of it I had rubbed enough skin off of the outside of my thumb to cause temporary nerve damage and leave a scar. My thumb felt numb for weeks. I spent the next morning scoring the lines for folds. I want to say I used a sharp corner of plastic to indent the paper but this has been a work in progress for almost a year so I can't quite remember. I pulled an all-nighter to assemble. I was staying up preparing myself for working night shift so it worked out. Aleene's Tacky Glue works pretty well for holding the pieces together.

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Side Note: I DO NOT recommend using 65 lb cardstock for pepping. I used it because it's what was available at the store. This stuff feels slightly more firm than regular printer paper and warps slightly while pepping. I had to use hot glue and tongue depressors to hold a few areas in the right position for the resin process.

No pictures really from the resin process but I'm sure most of you can imagine the above images in an aged yellow color :p

Next was lining the inside with fiberglass mat. My first attempt was to spray the mat pieces with adhesive spray, line the inside of the helmet, then coat with resin. Didn't work for me. The mat pieces bubbled up and wouldn't adhere to the helmet so I tore it out. On the second attempt, I cut pieces of the mat, mixed about a cup of resin, then dipped the pieces in and lined the inside of the helmet. Rinse and repeat until fully coated. This was much more successful, although a few areas slightly bubbled. No big deal. This was a great learning experience for me.
After the fiberglass cured, I slushed a coat of rondo on top for added strength and to make a smoother inside surface. In case the fiberglass splintered or came apart for some reason, I didn't want to breathe it in.

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The outside of the helmet didn't change much during this stage as all of the work was inside. Pictured is only one coat of rondo; I added a second coat to the bottom third of the inside. I ran out of resin at this point and I didn't want to go buy more because I'd be left with a mostly full can probably for years. That stuff is pungent. There are still a few strands of fiberglass sticking out to trim.

Finally, a fit test!

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I feel like it fits pretty well for the most part. It may be slightly small, what do you guys think??
I didn't have it positioned quite right in the front picture. My beard sticks out of the bottom a little too much, but less so when the helmet is "properly angled". I'll have to find some scrap foam for padding the inside to make it sit on my head just right.

Well, that's the end for now! Within the next few days, I will probably cut out the visor before applying bondo to the outside, similar to what PerniciousDuke did with his. I hope to update soon with more progress!

Thanks for looking,
Baron
 

Sean Anwalt

RCO
405th Regiment Officer
That pep job is really clean, man. Good job! Looks like you got everything pretty well covered. It's a good thing your helmet didin't warp; I've had some issues with that myself.

When you get the padding and stuff in, I'd be interested to see how you go about it.
 

PerniciousDuke

RXO & BCO
405th Regiment Officer
Community Staff
I agree it looks great! I dont see the warping you mentioned.

Sorry to hear about your thumb! Cutting out pep pages can be grueling. I now wear rubber gloves when I cut out the pages. The cutting mat is so abrasive. But, the upside is i now use the mat to sharpen all my blades. :D

Don't worry about the beard. Mine shows too. I think your helmet is the right size. You will just want some baklava to eat and then a balaclava to hide all the crumbs.
 
Hey thanks for the comments guys!

I've pepped before, several years ago, but this turned out really well. It definitely helps to take your time and to score the folds and flaps for crisp and clean edges.

The slight warping is a difficult to see in the pictures, but if you look at the pepped piece, the area at the rear of the brim where the squarish projection is is slightly tilted. The distance between the sides of the visor also came out too narrow so I built a support to push that out and it held through the resin process.

It's all fixed now and I'm looking forward to slapping some Bondo on the outside!

The side view of the helmet really helps convince me that I picked a good scale.

Hey PerniciousDuke, did you fill in your brim? I'm thinking of squirting a little bit of expanding foam in just so it's not hollow.
 

PerniciousDuke

RXO & BCO
405th Regiment Officer
Community Staff
My brim is solid resin, not on purpose. While fiberglassing I didn't realize that all the resin was pooling into the brim where I was holding it. It got so hot I almost dropped it. Weighs a ton, but it's a nice place to hold the helmet. If you do expanding foam just make sure there is no chance that the foam expands so much that it bulges the walls out.
 

Sean Anwalt

RCO
405th Regiment Officer
I would suggest not using expanding foam forthe reason PerniciousDuke mentioned. Even though it's already glassed there's still the possibility it might push the edges a bit.

I let a bunch of rondo setup into the brim in my helmet. Haven't had a single problem with it ever.
 
Thanks for the advice fellas. I may just suck it up and go buy more resin to mix up more rondo.

The inside of my brim has less fiberglass than I would have liked but I did slush it with rondo pretty good that first time. I would imagine that adding bondo to the outside of the brim might strengthen it enough to withstand expanding foam. I may experiment and report back...

Does anyone have an opinion on rondo-ing the outside then finalizing with bondo vs just shaping with bondo??
 

Sean Anwalt

RCO
405th Regiment Officer
Rondo is a little harder to shape than regular bondo. It also runs more because it's more liquid than bondo. But it is possible. I myself would stick to bondo, but whatever
 

Satchmo III

Well-Known Member
I'm thrilled you're making the commando concept helmet and am glad you like it. Looking forward to seeing you complete it.

I think your scaling looks pretty good. I see the slight warping of the assembled paper in your first photo but it looks like your hot glue and tongue depressor method worked well to straighten things out when you solidified the piece.

I would think rondo slush (you said it was a pretty decent coating) on the inside of the brim will be structurally sufficient and I probably would just smooth the outside with bondo. If you're wanting to beef it up some more, perhaps you do another interior coat (I'd want to avoid the potential mess with slush on the outside). Good luck with your next steps.
 

PerniciousDuke

RXO & BCO
405th Regiment Officer
Community Staff
Here's the deal. To get the polygon faces to become nice curves you either have to do a lot of layers of bondo...or file down the high points. When you file down the high points you'll break through to the paper, which will still be rather fibrous. You now have to go through and put super glue on all the exposed paper so you can sand the fiber smooth. Otherwise you'll be fighting the fibers while applying bondo.

That's the "normal" way of doing it. Tried and true. Commander Palmer started rondoing the outside. So I tried it and I love it. Mainly because I can file down those high spots and then rondo instead of doing the super glue (which always burned my eyes. ) since the rondo has resin, the resin will soak into the newly exposed paper.

For rondo on the outside: Mix heavier on the bondo 60 - 40 or 70 - 30. Apply quickly with a paint brush you never want to see again. Focus on making sure everything is coated, it will auto level itself so don't worry about an even coat. It will want to settle in low places so be on the lookout for pooling. Just brush the rondo out of the nooks often. Keep brushing for the 10 minutes of set time and you'll be fine.

From here you can sand or dremel spots you want to fix before bondo and I find it is just a better starting point to bondo from here. Instead of 3 layers of bondo you now should only have to do two.
 
Slight progress has been made! I used the rotary sander Dremel to eliminate stray spikes and bumps from the inside of my helmet. After watching some tutorial videos and reading more on the forums, I have started sanding down some of the outside polygons before rondo/bondo. I took the sanding attachment off of my Dremel,slapped on an 80 grit pad, and went to town hand-sanding. After gumming up that pad, I switched to some 220 grit, and used the actual Dremel to see how that would work. I think I'll go today and buy more 80 and 110 grit pads a continue to smooth a little more.

I think I'm going to rondo the outside. I'll also add a second coat to the other 2/3 of the inside as well. Hopefully significant progress will be made on that front this weekend!
 
UPDATE TIME!!!

Since I last posted, I've finished the second coat of rondo on the inside of the helmet. I was able to slush a bunch into the brim so it's almost all solid; no need for expanding foam!

I took my Dremel sander and sanded down a lot of the sharp edges that didn't belong then brushed a coat of rondo.

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Not bad looking! After that cured, I sanded the unnecessary sharp edges some more and brushed a second coat of rondo.

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I'm super pleased with how this worked out. You may be able to see where I stippled a paintbrush in and around the small crevices and edges in an effort to make sanding these small, tight areas easier; I regret doing this. It's a real pain to sand down and it didn't really move much excess rondo from these areas. Overall, this stage had the helmet looking pretty good!

These next images are the start of the sanding process. I started with 80 grit and went back and hit it with 120 grit. Bonus Props: Several months ago I crafted an M6C/SOCOM using Andrew DFT's guide and free-handed Emile's kukri.

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Currently (no images yet) the helmet is 99% sanded and ready for some bondo in a couple of the back areas and under the visor. That area looks a little wonky to me. I also used a 1/16" Dremel cutting bit to remove the visor. I would like to vacuum-form one to fit.

Comments and critiques are welcome!
 
Another update!

So I'm done shaping and sanding and I'm ready to paint. I'm going for a giraffe pattern here:

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Kidding! It's just spot putty. After several applications and sandings, I'm pretty happy with how it is. It's not perfect; there is still a little unevenness and a few dings I can't seem to work out (I'm going to chalk it up to "battle damage" and call it done). Now I'm about ready to paint, as soon as the weather permits.

I need some advice here: I thought I should do a quick pass with 220 grit and some bits of Bondo show through the primer. Should I continue on to paint? Should I re-prime?

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Until next time!
 

PerniciousDuke

RXO & BCO
405th Regiment Officer
Community Staff
That is looking awesome BaronVonReicher !

I'm glad the rondo worked out. It really looks like you did well with it. Never would have guessed a first time.

Happy building my friend.
 

reiseman

Member
I personally would prime those areas. Some colors might show a bit lighter in those spots, than the darker primer. If you are going to do some weathering, then don't worry about it. If it shows different after paint, maybe it was nicked by a plasma bolt...Great looking helmet, your pep base looked perfect.
 
Paint time!

After another round of sanding with 220 grit and 320, I gave my helmet another coat of primer, then a base coat of metallic gray.

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Not bad, right?! I put a little bit of Vaseline on the dings and scratches to show through the next coats.

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I hit it with matte camouflage paints because the green was closest to what I wanted. The pictures make it look a little lighter (almost white?) than it really is; I hope to make it a little darker with a weathering blackwash and a semi-gloss topcoat. I tried to cover the black areas with old newspaper and painter's tape but the cool weather made the tape unstick so I accidentally sprayed some green where it shouldn't be. I'll go back and fix it in a few days when I'm sure the paint is fully dry.

Next up is the touch-up and weathering process, then I will finish it up with padding and a visor.
 
Small update...

Been slowly working on painting but getting close to being ready to clear coat, weather, and clear coat again

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I want to do a distressed stripe on the cheeks, like in the concept art:

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I suppose I should spread a little bit of toothpaste so that the green underneath will show through, does anyone have a better idea?
Now that I think about it, I'd like to distress the blue stripes up top too but I don't know how to go about that short of repainting the green and doing the toothpaste method. Does anyone know how I can strip a little bit off of the top layer without damaging the green underneath?
 

Satchmo III

Well-Known Member
You could try taping off the area you don't want painted and then use a foam paintbrush to lighting dab on the stripe. I haven't tried this myself but it could work.

If you have the opportunity it might be good to etch into the helmet some of the detail shown on the concept drawing (or just some that you think would look appropriate). Your helmet looks good now but having some of this detail and paneling edge work would make it pop and look a touch more realistic. Just something to consider. Your rotary tool would work very well for this and since you rondo'd the exterior of the helmet I'd think you'd have some good surface material to dig into.
 
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