Red vs. Blue Character "Felix" EVA foam build (completed Oct '14)

JayLuvLL

New Member
This is a rewrite of my original build log on Roosterteeth.com, which is available here: http://roosterteeth.com/members/journal/entry.php?id=3273701

Due to the 405th.com limit of 25 images per post, this will be posted in multiple parts, as I migrate all the pictures across.

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I have been cosplaying for a few years now, first as Cloud Strife from FFVII: Advent Children, then as a future concept on Assassins Creed, and earlier this year as Deathstroke from the TV Series Arrow. I have always admired and wanted to do a Spartan suit, but at the time it seemed above my level. At that stage, I could only find tutorials and walkthroughs on the Pepakura method, and I tried it for a bit -but the sizing was wrong, it wouldn't stay together - I gave up after about a week, and threw the parts away.

I was inspired to go ahead and do it by Danielle, a fellow cosplayer and Roo-Teether at Sydney Supanova 2014, in early June. She had made a full Halo 4 Master Chief costume from EVA foam, which looked incredible, just…amazing. I resolved then, to try the Spartan suit again - this time, from foam.

But which character? Well, Season 12 had just started, and Felix was new, he was badass, he was a good guy – and the episode where he throws the knife and then just says “I am ****ing AWESOME”..?

SOLD.

Initial Failures

I did a quick Google search, and found some reference images, and set to work in my mind. The upper pieces like the helmet and chest were a bit daunting to look at, so I thought I would start at the bottom, with the feet. I had some steel-cap boots from Masters that I had left over from Deathstroke, so I would build the boots around them.

I started by heading down to my local foam and rubber store, and checking out some of the foam they had there. I ended up getting some thin, blue foam (which, in hindsight, is the WRONG foam to use for detailing – I’ll explain why later). I had some leftover lengths of thicker black foam from my Assassin’s Creed costume, so I used the small pieces I had to make up a single boot.

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I made the black pieces just from guestimating the size/proportion, based on the pictures (also wrong – don’t worry, I’m getting to it!) I felt pretty good about it, so I also made some arm pieces, and started the shin pieces.

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I also ordered some Plasti-Dip spray, which was apparently the stuff that was the best for using to seal foam armour. I coated the pieces in a decently thick coat of Plasti-Dip, and left it overnight. Next morning, it looked….WRONG. It was all bubbled, wonky, just really bad quality.

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This disheartened me a fair bit, so I went back to examining YouTube, 405th.com and asking anywhere I could find. After a few nights researching, I came up with my lessons learnt.

1. Wrong Foam. I had been using 3mm black foam, which, apparently, wasn’t EVA foam.
2. Wrong detailing foam. The blue foam I had gotten was really soft, like pool foam or the side of a trampoline. It had no resistance to Plasti-Dip, and was also “open cell foam” – meaning it bled air underneath the Plasti-Dip, making it bubble and lumpy.
3. Foam needs to be treated and sealed first. Plasti-Dip will not stick straight on to foam – the foam needs to be sealed first, to give a firm surface to stick to.

After the hard lessons learned, it was time for a new method.

The Right Stuff

The first step in the new method was the proper foam. I bought a four pack of grey 5mm EVA foam floor mats, like giant jigsaw pieces. Clark Rubber is much more expensive than Bunnings for getting EVA foam, but for some reason, the Bunnings here in Canberra only sold EVA foam with giant holes in it – not solid. So, I paid much more extra, but got the stuff I need. I also invested in a good Bosch glue gun, as I knew by now that my $5 one wasn’t going to cut it. I also got some 2mm craft foam from Riot Art and Craft, for detailing. Then, I sought out some better reference images.


Using YouTubeDownloader, I downloaded local copies of Red vs Blue Season 12 Eps 1 – 5 in 1080p, which I then played in VLC and used the ScreenCap function to pull very large-scale stills of Felix. It became apparent that the “Machinima" model and the “VFX” model were quite different close up – the Machinima model was the one in normal, head-bobbing conversations, rendered in Halo 4 – but the VFX model was the one rendered for non-standard visual effects and motions, like martial arts, the knife throwing or throwing the caught grenade back to Tucker.

Machinima/Halo 4 Version

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VFX Version

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It's subtle, but you can definitely tell the difference - particularly around the crotch plate, the boots and the shoulders.

With these caps, I decided to attempt the helmet. It came out ok…but given that I used an old Motorcycle visor, the rest of the helmet looked very rounded, and I deemed it a failure. Tossed it, and moved on.

The failed helmet:

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Bonus: the visor, before I cut it to fit:
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Shortly after this, I retrieved some Pepakura unfolds of the armour sets from 405th.com (with some help from Danielle and Jordan on finding the right ones), and loaded them up in Pepakura Designer for close comparison and modelling. The armour set for Felix, from the RVB Wikia page, is:

Helmet: Scout
Chest: Soldier
Shoulders: Venator
Arms: Twin Plated
Legs: XG-89 Narrow
Weapon: Halo 4 DMR, and Halo 4 Sticky Detanator

A useful tool I discovered later on is the ability to measure between two points on a model (in the 2D menu). However, this relies on the model being scaled correctly. I would first measure a reference with my own body (like the width of my head for the helmet, the width of my shoulders for the chest), and increase the scale of the Pepakura model until it matched. With this done, rather than printing out the unfold and tracing it, I just measured a piece in Pep Designer, drew the measurements on to a piece of foam, and cut away.

In terms of tools, I upgraded from a Stanley knife to an Xacto knife from Officeworks, with a load of spare blades from a craft shop, and also invested in a hotknife/wood burning kit from Bunnings. The hot knife is pretty much a soldering iron with an attachment for Xacto knife blades, and is awesome at making clean, long cuts, and making detailed cuts into the middle of pieces.

I also used the back (blunt) edge of the hotknife to “score” or melt fine lines into pieces, to give a much more fine level of detail than sanding or straight out carving it in. This was particularly good for the arms, thighs and armour skill plates.

Given the right tools, it was time to start again.

Method

My tried and true method now for each piece, is as follows:

- Load up the model in Pepakura Designer

- Decide what pieces will be layered, and measure/trace the base pieces onto paper.

- Measure the paper pieces against your own body for scaling, and trace onto the foam.

- Cut out the pieces using a knife. Test against your own body for scaling, and cut or sand back to scale.

- Sand and grind the base pieces, bevel edges, and glue together. Test against body again.

- Trace detailing lines and cut out recesses/cutouts/details.

- Cut and glue thin detailing foam as necessary.

- Optional: glue mounting studs to back of pieces.

Progress

Now that I had a new method, I set to the REAL work.

I re-cut the boot pieces, and fitted them roughly together – looked much more bulky by comparison. Excellent.

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After this, I started on the thighs – the first ones were far too angular, being from two separate pieces glued together.

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I tried again, with one piece wrapped around – much better.

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To add some solidarity, I made some inner-thigh pieces, and glued them at the front, but attached with black elastic at the back, for comfort and some expansion while I walked. Given that I don’t exactly have the smallest thighs, I was concerned over how they could go rubbing against each other – and whether I’d have to walk like a cowboy. Thankfully, they fit pretty well.

Next, I completed the crotch piece, butt plate and the armor skill/shield for the small of the back. I based the crotch on the VFX model, which I ended up changing later.

Not pictured, I made two small plates that go between the thighs and crotch plate. These pieces are both stenciled into the undersuit and are usually attached straight to the thighs, but I made them separate so I could sit down/bend down easier.

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Around this time, I got my SnakePit Studios undersuit in the mail. It was super expensive, but I got it on sale at $380 as opposed to $500, and it was worth ever cent. It looks fantastic, it’s super comfortable and really light and durable.

At the same time, I cut some small plates from the craft foam for gloves, and stuck them on to some old ski gloves I had. The fingertips are capacitive, so they work with touchscreens and smartphones.

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Next, I made up the shoulder pieces. They stuck out quite a lot, but I made them hollow for fitting of lights later. It was actually surprising difficult to figure out how to do the bicep part without it looking too big, bulky or out of place.

In hindsight, they’re probably a bit small, but they fit decently. I initially only had elastic around the back to keep them on, but I ended up having to also put 4 press studs to keep them up. With this combination, they were very solid.

After the progress I had made in learning and redoing pieces, I decided to re-do the arm pieces with the right foam. I didn’t need to make any design revision, just copy the same design.

I initially glued the base piece together into a full tube only at the back, keeping the front separated to expand for my hands to get through. This still ended up being very tight, so I separated it and glued some elastic over the front, so it could expand a bit more, but still stay on.

I also attached a press stud at the join between the back “wing” and the base tube piece, to keep them from sliding off my arms.

At this point, I had a pretty bad setback – I accidentally gave myself a second-degree burn on the inside of my right thumb. This happened when I went to grab the hotknife, and my thumb slipped over the edge of the guard. Out of the game for a few days.

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Part 2 to follow.

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JayLuvLL

New Member
Part 2

Press Studs

Keeping away from the knife for a few days (as well as being on sick leave), I got some press studs from eBay and started to attach them to every piece I had completed thus far.

I cut loads of small fabric squared from some strong nylon/cotton fabric, and glued the “rough” side of the studs into them. I then glued this fabric square to the necessary edges/corners of each piece.

Once this was done, I put on the undersuit, and (in between admiring the beautiful work done by Snakepit…) I marked dots on to the suit where corresponding studs had to go, in order to attach the pieces. Props go to my wonderful fiancée for being willing to do the ones on my butt and back…and for not divorcing me in advance for asking her to :p

Once the dots were marked, it was simply a matter of hammering in the corresponding studs into the suit, with a reinforcing nylon/cotton square in between to ensure the material didn’t damage and had enough strength to hold the pieces up/on.

After an initial try-on, it looked like this:

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Looked like a win! I had misaligned the right calf slightly, but I couldn’t do much to rectify it.

The DMR

On my two sick days, I also figured I would do a small, but important project: the primary weapon.

I had been tossing up between what weapon would fit Felix – just a knife? The sticky detonator? Future cubes? I eventually decided on the DMR, as it is his primary weapon in “machinima��� mode.

Reading up on a few tutorials, I realised I would need some reinforcement. Thankfully, from a past build of Firefly’s Vera, I had some leftover dowel in two sizes to do the barrel.

I began by Googling a few reference images, and finding a B/W schematic on DeviantArt and a few high-res screens from the game. I upscaled the schematic and printed it out over 3 A4 pages, and realised it was too small. So, I enlarged it over 5 pages, and it seemed to fit my hands better. I then cut out the outline and stuck them all together, as well as a reverse, and traced each onto new foam sheets. This left two mirrored foam templates of the DMR body.

After this, I cut up the dowels into sections, and placed them over the middle of the mirrored templates, then traced their outlines into the “inside” sides of each piece and cut them out with the Xacto. This left hollows for the dowel to be glued into, which I then did, and glued the two pieces together. I then began sanding the outline back with the Dremel, leaving a rounded body of the DMR.

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Honestly, the rest of the DMR construction is a blur and I barely remember it, because of two days of pain meds. Vaguely, I remember that the initial rounded body I had was way too thin, so I took the paper templates and traced out additional plates to attach to each side, to bulk up the body.

I planted a coat hanger wire in the middle of the finger guard (the thinnest part, protruding in a circle around the hand hold), to give it some strength.

I also found a good method for doing screw/rivet detailing. I gripped a decently sized screw into some clamps, and used a blowtorch to heat it up will it was glowing. Then, I’d press it into the foam like a brand – it would melt a hole into the foam, in the shape of a screw head.

In any case, I ended up with this at the end of the day.

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After posting these pics to the Halo forums, I was offered a 3D-printed DMR scope – so, of course, I immediately accepted.

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Before the next piece, upon seeing a later e

Next, it was time for a daunting job: The Chest.

I started with the front plate, as it was nice and angular and easy to scale. I mounted a speaker/PA system in the front, for music/voice. DAMN that thing is loud. Luckily there’s a corresponding hole on the front of the actual chest model, so I used that to amplify the noise.

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Part 3 to follow

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JayLuvLL

New Member
Part 3

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Then I worked my way up the shoulders.

I did the two back “jump jet” pieces separately, to get them out of the way.

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I then connected the back pieces together using a single plate, and tried it on.

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I determined that the back was too wide, and cut the middle part out to shorten the distance between the shoulders.

Not a lot of pics until here:

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I made the front flap able to be bent up and lifted, so I could access the speaker while wearing it. The chest attached like motorcycle armour – it’s all one piece, exc ept for the right bottom strap, which attaches using a backpack clip underneath. To put it on, I put my left arm through, lift it up, lower it onto my left shoulder/over my head, and clip the right strap around into place.

I also did some minor detailing on the front and the sides.

Trying on all the pieces, I saw the chest worked pretty well with the rest of the pieces – no intersection or bad clipping.

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Finally starting to feel like a full suit!

The last, and most infuriating bit, was the helmet. I’ve never been happy with the helmet, it never looked right, and was uncomfortable no matter which way I expended/trimmed it. It also pushed right into my nose if I made the front piece out of foam, so this time I used reinforced card stock. It ended up a bit tight around the ears, but otherwise fit ok.

I started again from the ground up, and used the Pepakura model for reference only, rather than printing out out and tracing every single piece.

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(photo bombing fiancee...)
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Some visor material from Icon Props arrived via Etsy, and I cut it to size, put it in and tested.

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With all the major pieces finished, I began the process of finishing and painting.

Painting

In order for EVA foam to be painted, it needs to be finished first. If you paint straight on to EVA, it will crack and peel when it flexes.

I tried Plasti-Dip straight onto EVA foam, and the air pockets in the foam made it show up lumpy and bubbled. Not good.

I then tried coating each piece in PVA glue first, letting it dry, then a coat of Plasti-Dip – perfect! Very fine detail, extremely strong, and flexed very well.

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A final coat with Rustoleum Undercoat+Paint showed a strong, smooth finished that flexed and bent without cracking. I had determined my method, time to go ahead with the paint!

Meanwhile, I had discovered a local alternative to Plati-Dip – called Rustoleum Peelcoat, at Bunnings. I tried it on a few test pieces, it worked identically to Plasti-Dip – winner!

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Part 4 to follow

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JayLuvLL

New Member
Re: Red vs. Blue Character "Felix" EVA foam build (completed Oct '14)

Part 4

Painting

In order for EVA foam to be painted, it needs to be finished first. If you paint straight on to EVA, it will crack and peel when it flexes.

I tried Plasti-Dip straight onto EVA foam, and the air pockets in the foam made it show up lumpy and bubbled. Not good.

I then tried coating each piece in PVA glue first, letting it dry, then a coat of Plasti-Dip – perfect! Very fine detail, extremely strong, and flexed very well.

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A final coat with Rustoleum Undercoat+Paint showed a strong, smooth finished that flexed and bent without cracking. I had determined my method, time to go ahead with the paint!

Meanwhile, I had discovered a local alternative to Plati-Dip – called Rustoleum Peelcoat, at Bunnings. I tried it on a few test pieces, it worked identically to Plasti-Dip – winner!

Back Mounting

While the paint was drying on the lower-body pieces, I tried to find an effective way of mounting my DMR to my back. I looked into slings, clips, even bike wall-mounting hooks…wasn���t satisfied. I wanted MAGNETS.

I considered HDD magnets, but they were too big and not strong enough. I also considered the tiny neodymium magnets you can get from JayCar, but not big enough. Then…I found it. AT my local Military Shop.

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It’s called a Jacket Bracket, used or mountig poiches and radios to clothing. Two extra-strong neodymium magnets, connected by a bracket, and an iron plate to connect them to. Solution: glue the plate onto the DMR, cut two holes for the magnets to stick out of the back piece, and glue the bracket in.

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Result: it’s PERFECT. It was super strong, clipped in VERY securely, was easy to do one-handed, and didn’t detract from the overall look of the armour or DMR. VERY happy.

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More Painting

I was now within a month of PAX – panic time!

I painted all the pieces in Peelcoat, and sprayed with Flat Grey, all over the course of a week. Good results nearly everywhere.

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Part 5 to follow

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PART 5

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I tried the helmet with the visor in. Nearly suffocated from the paint fumes in my excitement.

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I tried masking and painting the shin pieces…cheap masking tape be damned, it bled everywhere.

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Still, I tried it all on (the chest wasn't painted yet, I did that last).

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I bought some DECENT tape, and masked each piece off, painting the orange sections. It STILL bled lots, but not as much. I also did some black sections, and some white decals – all just using masking.

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With nearly the full suit painted in basic grey and orange, and two weeks to go, I moved on to some last-minute extras that I had wanted to do.

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Part 6 to follow

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JayLuvLL

New Member
Re: Red vs. Blue Character "Felix" EVA foam build (completed Oct '14)

Part 6


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Lights

I had no initial idea on how to wire up LEDs, and was considering using Christmas lights – but it was inconceivably expensive. Then I came across LEDWiz (led.linear1.org/led.wiz) and that pretty much designed the circuit for me.

Resistors. SCARY!

I bought some frosted white LEDs off eBay for $5, and picked up 9V batteries, resistors, switches and terminal connectors at JayCar for about $25 in total. I used leftover speaker wire to do the wiring, and my hotknife for it’s true purpose – as a soldering iron.

I also picked up some white Perspex cutoffs from Masters for $5 – I only needed a tiny amount, and they gladly gave me an odd cutoff that was about 70cm square.

I started by connecting two LEDs positive to negative and a resistor to the positive end, making discrete “sets” of LEDs I could glue into armor.

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I then glued these into the holes in the chest piece to start, and wired up the circuit inside the chest. The switch for the front is under the left collarbone “box”, with the back being operated by a switch under the right one.

After the LEDs were in place and the circuit worked, I cut a small rectangle of white Perspex and glued it over the top, to diffuse it slightly.

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I cut holes into the arms (sheer TERROR at ruining all the good work…) and did the same. Finally, I did the back of the head and the shoulders.

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I used all the lights from 7:30am to 6pm, Friday and Saturday of PAX – all on the same charge, still hasn’t run out. I’d call that a win.

"You Call THAT a Knife??"

I really wanted to do a knife, given the RvB Season 12 finale, so I completed it in about 2 hours. I cut out a spare bit of foam into a knife template I found online, sanded it into shape, used the screw branding method (see DMR construction above) and did the paint/detail thing.

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I also attached a small earth magnet to the side, and to my lower thigh. In hindsight, should have done it a bit higher, but it was still reachable.

DMR Finishing

I attached the scope and painted the scope optic of the DMR silvery blue, and coloured the end orange.

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Gloves and Detailing

I got some matching grey paint at Bunnings for touch-ups on the armour, and used that to paint the gloves. I then used a grey fabric marker to add some detail, and an orange fabric paint marker to add highlights.

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I also then used this orange paint marker to highlight some other pieces of armour, like the boots. Lastly, I did some final detailing using black paint, brushed over lightly and rubbed into cracks/corners, to give some definition and shadow.

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Part 7 to follow

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Part 7

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Stencilling

Felix has two complex stencils on his armour – the UNSC Crest (the complex, Halo 4 version) and a “skull” on the top of his helmet.

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I Googled a simplified stencil design of the UNSC crest, and printed it on some sticker paper. After cutting out with the Xacto, I stuck this to the chest, and sponge-painted the symbol in white, with 4 layers. Due to some bleeding, I then finished around the edges with the grey fabric marker. This was 2 days before I left for PAX.

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I didn’t have time to do the skull, as I would have had to trace it by hand (no existing images).

Patches

On the last night, I did up two patches – a 405th patch for the shoulder, and a Rooster Teeth “tramp stamp” patch for the butt plate.

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Final Result

With that, I was finished. 3 and a half months of effort, and after taking two days break from it all, I came back to try it on with fresh eyes:

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Some more detailed pictures of the legs:

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Overall, it takes 10-15 minutes to put the suit on – 20 if you’re chatting to a very interested Sora from Kingdom Hearts 2 in the Exhibition Centre underground carpark at the same time….

It moves very easily, and is VERY light. I could run in it easily (except the boots are a bit bulky), and surprisingly, it’s very cool – I didn’t overheat at all. The only exception was the helmet, which is a bit tight on the ears, but doesn’t fog up….THAT much. It does a little, but I can de-fog it easily. Luckily, the built-in vents on the side provide GREAT ventilation and breathing space.

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.Last Part, Part 8, to follow:

- - - Updated - - -

Final Part, Part 8

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For PAX, I drove down from Canberra, rather than fly – I would have been ALL sorts of arrested if I tried to take it on a plane! I drove in each day from where I was staying, and suited up in the car park. Wore it all day, no issues.

Love this one, from Work in Beta:
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A few other candid and tagged photos:

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Standing in line for 2 hours:
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Walking around:
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Partying with a robot in front of the 3 hour Rooster Teeth line:
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With Jakey232 as Jaun Arc - Miles favourited this pic as a tweet!
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By far the highlights were:

- Meeting Jack and Ray! They were very friendly, and I loved that they were admiring the costume :) and the panel was just…hilarious. Not nearly as awkward as last years panel.

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- Finally meeting up with the 405th Australia guys and gals! The ODSTs armour was really well done, with the variety between them really adding personality and believability to them. James, in his Master Chief suit, was a sight to behold – and the antics he could get away with had so much personality. Loved the photos with them too!

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- The photo shoot with Xbox Australia – such an honour, that the CREATORS of the GAME wanted US! It was so humbling to have every face and camers/phone within 500m trained on us the entire time. 10/10, would PAX again.

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"Hey, what are YOU looking at?!"
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'Hurry UP! I'm due to stab Tucker at 4pm!"
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- all the wonderful and polite people who came up and asked for photos – especially those who recognised me as Felix (and not Master Chief…omg). I was only mistreated once, by a Guf representative who came up and whacked me on the helmet…but I gave him a few choice words on personal space and manners, and he apologised.

- entertaining everyone in the line for Jack and Ray signatures. The speakers helped a lot here!

- just wearing the chest piece on the final day. Sound effects, music and voiceovers made this 10 times more entertaining on the Sunday.

Into the future

All in all, I loved every step of this costume. I learnt so much, it ended up REALLY well, and most of all….i’m happy with nearly every aspect. The helmet I’m not entirely sold on, but it will do for the moment.

In the future, i’m planning to add a few more things, like:

A Bluetooth iPad Nano to the arm piece, so I can wirelessly control my music (and not waste the charge on my phone)

The skull stencil on the helmet

A microphone to the helmet, connected to the loudspeaker. I’ve got plenty of room for it.

A sticky-detonator gun – right-side thigh mounted

Future Cubes (grenades) – magnet mounted onto the back at the bottom

More interchangeable patches: Hanabee, 405th, #TwerkForNelly, #TeamEVE, maybe a Felix quote

Two more lights, in the thighs

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That's it! I've got another post coming in the next week, with the full detailed process on my Halo 4 Sniper RIfle.


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arma358

Active Member
I had to direct a friend of mine to this thread, because of how awesome Felix is in Season 12. She totally digged it. I can only hope that I can achieve the same level of detail that you have.
 

Thranduil

New Member
Holy. Hell. Mad props to you! The amount of detail, and work put into this is astonishing. I started my suit earlier this summer, and can't even get a grasp on how people like you have the potential for such creativity. I realized when I first started making mine, that I got the wrong type of foam(wasn't EVA, just something I picked up from Sears for $20). I'm definitely going to restart this process after more further research and proper investment.

I struggled with making the cuts on the foam with just the regular boxcutter that I use at work. With the tools you listed, I'm going to look into getting the proper equipment you used for such clean cuts. Also, love the people like grapes shirt! Huge RT fan here.

10/10, amazing job!
 
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