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  1. Member Since
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    2
    Apr 14, 2014, 9:03 PM - Boba Fett Helm build by Darkwing #1

    Hi Everyone,

    I've been registered on TDH for some time now but have not had much time to post anything. Most of my spare time has been spent on trying to build a helmet, not talk about it, but I think maybe it's time I put something up about what I have done so far.

    My goal is to produce an ESB Boba Fett helmet, simply because I prefer the colour scheme to the other variants (all other factors aside). I am aiming to get it as accurate as possible for putting on display.

    I will state at this point, for what it's worth, that I live in Victoria, Australia, so materials that I may refer to will be those readily available here. Also, if I have glossed over anything that someone needs/wants clarified please let me know. I am trying not to prattle on too much, where its not required.

    Template.
    I started off by making both a Wizard of Flight and RalFal paper templates (a big thank-you to both of you gentlemen for these, both are amazing works) and chose in the end to go with the WoF base (just personal preference). I printed this on 200 gsm card and then glued this onto pasteboard using a glue-stick for added rigidity (not knowing how solid a base I would need when I put fibre-glass on it later).
    For the most part this seemed to work well, except for the dome which was a bit of a mongrel to stick/glue together 'cause it was so thick.
    The flat cheek sections I did by doubling up on the pasteboard to guarantee they would remain flat (which they didn't).
    The upper cheek sections were a pain, until I was able to get my head around how they had to curve to fit into place (I spent a lot of time looking at photos until that clicked).
    Lastly, between the dome and the brow I used 3mm foam board to fill up the gap, I think that this may be a bit much, but after having tried an extra layer of pasteboard it looked too small.
    I know some people have used plastic sheet to form the basis for their construction, I would probably recommend trying the plastic if you can get it for a reasonable price, it will save you from a lot of the issues I faced further into my build. But the cardboard is cheap.

    Putting it together.
    Initially I secured everything in place with common household masking tape until I was sure that I had everything right, then I used hot-glue to fix things permanently. I also used rubber bands to hold the curved parts in place over the inner-skeleton until they had set. This worked really well as I was able to re-melt the glue and adjust anything I wasn't happy with. The only down side is that the masking tape really makes a mess of the paper surface when it comes off.
    After that I pencilled in a few of the details of the helmet, the 'Kill Marks' and the dent, which I am not too sure I got in the right place. I couldn't find any specific info on where that should be located, i.e. x degrees from the centre-line of the helm to the left and y degrees up from the brow-line. If anyone knows for sure it would be nice to see how accurately I 'guestimated' it.

    Pasteboard construction after hot-glue. Brow-line has been held in place with rubber band until fully set.
    Attachment 76007

    Dome section fit pretty well but I have lots of edges that are going to cause me no end of grief later on...
    Attachment 76006

    Details pencilled in for dent and kill-marks prior to cutting out the dent.
    Attachment 76005


    Fibre-glassing.
    The next step was to begin with the fibre-glassing (FG). Preparation with a capital 'P' is the word here, I didn't : (. It ended up being an absolute flamin' mess, and gloves didn't help. All I can suggest here for anyone about to try this for the first time is that you pre-cut all your pieces of fibre-glass and plan how you will fit them into your helm. It will get very, very sticky and the smell is quite potent, make sure you have a mask and are in the open as much as possible.

    Apparently there are a couple of different methods available for fibre-glassing (some less toxic than others), good luck with that, outside of specialty suppliers all I could find was the 'Diggers' kit available at most hardware stores, which while it worked okay. I can't vouch for it's long-term durability or if it will warp over time. You will find two options here for the fibre-glass material Mat or Cloth... go Mat! The cloth is supposed to be stronger, but is way messier to work with and will not bend well to fix into sharp corners or recesses. And yes, given I have seen seen both options within the forums here... Use the fibre-glass cloth on the inside of the helmet, NOT the outside!

    Two layers of FG, 1st layer FG mat, 2nd layer FG cloth.
    Excess material has been trimmed with a rotary tool.
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    You can see here where the initial layer of fibre-glass mat would not bend into the sharp corners.
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    Detail of dent. You can also see a 'funny' raised section on the back of the dome. It looks odd here but looks bang-on from the side for the shape of the dome. I will need to do some serious filling in on either side of this to get the rear half of the dome to look right.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    So, where did I go wrong?
    The brow-ridge: I used 3mm foam board here to buff out the brow from the dome. 1. its too thick, 2. it tends to melt when exposed to epoxy leaving holes that have to be filled with more epoxy, etc.
    Raw cardboard vs. resin impregnated: something which I did not do, but would try if I had this to do over again. Once the fibre-glass has cured after a couple of days, I would recommend mixing up another batch of the resin and painting that over the outer surface of the helmet. Do not put any cloth on the outside, just the resin. The idea is to get it to soak into the paper (like it would the FG cloth or mat) and make it rock hard. You will know when this has happened because the cardboard will turn a greyish colour when dry. Why? Because when you are sanding your helm later on and you get down to the paper edges they will burr & tear and be a complete pain to fix! I have spent weeks trying to fix this and I still have rough bits in the surface that wont sand smooth. Grrr!

    You can see in the picture below, just around the right-side eye slit where the resin has soaked in, these areas were much easier to sand smooth than the other paper areas.
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    I will leave that for now and post the next part of the build shortly.

    If anyone out there has any suggestions or tips on dealing with the issues I have faced I would love to hear it, feedback is always good.
    I am however well into the epoxy/bog/car body filler and sanding stage so will be posting that part shortly.

    DW.
  2. Member Since
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    2
    Apr 14, 2014, 11:12 PM - Re: Boba Fett Helm build by Darkwing #2

    Part 2 of my build… bringing everything up to date.


    Epoxy bog/car body filler
    Well, isn’t this fun! Its smelly, sticky and you get all of 5-10 minutes working time before it goes all lumpy! Yep, I’m lovin’ it NOT! Oh and when you sand it back the dust is just crazy fine and gets in everywhere!


    For those interested, I used ‘Septone’ car body filler for this available from just about any hardware or Auto store in Australia. Get the ‘light’ version it will be more than durable enough and avoid the glass-reinforced version unless you want to end up with biceps like Schwarzenegger after trying to sand it back.


    You can see here, how the bog goes lumpy near the dent when it starts curing after about 5-10 minutes.
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    A couple of layers of bog and some sanding as the dome starts to smooth out… but this is just the beginning of my nightmare! You can see where I have sanded back to the paper on the dome and the joins where the paper has gone burred/fluffy. There are other areas like this on the cheeks that also show this. I wish I had painted resin into the cardboard to make it easier to work with.

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    …and more, on the flat ear sections, the paper is starting to de-laminate from itself. This is going to take a lot of work to fix.

    A lot more work later and a few coats of undercoat/primer later.
    The primer really shows up all the flaws in your work. All the little spiky bits are exposed paper that wont sand smooth.
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    Yet more sanding, and bog, and undercoat and the paper keeps getting worse as I sand more and more of it back, ‘I’m getting a bad feeling about this!’
    In some places I am sanding all the way back to the fibre-glass, you can see where the light comes through.
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    I now try soaking 'white glue' into the exposed paper to try and make it easier to sand… it doesn’t work. The glue goes kind of rubbery when sanded and ends up 'pilling' like a jumper for want of a better description.
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    Many, many, many, many more layers of bog, detail putty and undercoat later…
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    The dome is looking a lot better but there are still small ridges and what appear to be hairline 'cracks' in the bog where the underlying joins in the cardboard are. I don't know if this will be visible when painted properly so I will keep working on trying to get it smooth.

    Where am I now?
    What I have done to get past the paper problem is layer on more bog and try and avoid sanding back too far. I will say that the best tools I have found for sanding are 'sanding sponges'! They come in several different grits from 80 to about 220 grit, and because they flex, they tend to minimise any flat spots on the dome. They can get clogged up and need to be scraped clean regularly. An orbital sander is also great for rough smoothing the bog down, before trying to get a nice finish by hand.


    I have also sanded down the flat sides where the ear-pieces will go so they are now flush with the brow ridge, I had previously raised them up a few mm (I don’t know why) and I have added a fair bit of bulk to the rear cowl of the helmet (again the ear pieces were too ‘high’. This has resulted in the curve of the rear cowl appearing to be rather flat.


    I still have to fix up the ‘cut-outs’ at the bottom-rear of the ear pieces (I will make the ear pieces to go on them first so I can get it to look right) and a few other details and finish smoothing down the imperfections in the dome.

    So far the above progress has taken me about three months of work, on odd weekends and days off here and there.

    Where to now?

    I have decided that the helmet is too heavy to wear (yes, I know it was going to be for display only, but I now want to leave my options open… ), so I am going to finish working on detailing this helmet (the arrows above the front brow, getting the dent more accurate and creating a score line in the rear cowl to cut out the vent) and then have a good look at the shape to see if I am completely happy with it.

    Then I intend to make a mould of the helmet and cast off a copy to finish off properly (my wife also wants me to make a Jango Fett helmet to match, so rather than going through all of the above again...).
    I have read what I can find online about this but there seems to be a few different options. I am leaning towards a silicone detail cast surrounded by a plaster supporting mould.

    The cast will probably be made from a ‘gel-coat’ with fibre-glass reinforcing. Again there are lots of different materials/formulas to use and I have a lot more investigating to do before I progress any further.

    If anyone out there has gone down this path and can make some recommendations on products or formulas to use available in Australia I would be glad to hear from you, even if it is only products to steer clear of. This stuff is way to expensive to go through trial and error.

    That's all for now.

    DW
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