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I make toys for kids who don't want to grow up. I'm on the lookout for new projects. If you're interested in commissioning me to build something ridiculous, shoot me an email.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Major Vonreg: a Quick Cosplay Build that Took Years to Finish

A while back I was working on my girlfriend's Captain Phasma costume and decided I'd like to have something appropriate to wear alongside her.  Since we'd probably be going around without another person to act as handler, it was important to make sure that I'd be able to use my hands and be more mobile in order to help her with any issues she might have in her very movement restricting outfit.  It would also be good to have pockets.

Somewhere along the way I settled on this guy:

This is Baron Elrik Vonreg, a First Order TIE Fighter Pilot during the era of the New Republic with the rank of Major.  He was a regular character in the animated series "the Resistance."  In the show he reported to Captain Phasma.  Apparently the rank structure of the First Order is very different from what I'm used to in the US military.

At a glance, he looks like a somewhat modified version of the standard First Order TIE pilot with a different helmet and chest box.  I'd made a lot of TIE pilots, so this should be a piece of cake.  I'd just need a new red flight suit and I'd be off to the races.

As is usually the case, shortly after a shiny new character appears on screen for the first time, the Star Wars costuming crowd swings into action.  Dissecting every detail of the costume and poring over every shot from every imaginable angle, it's only a matter of time before someone starts offering casts of the helmet and armor parts.  

So in no time at all, I'd ordered a tailored red flight suit from Gio at crowprops.com and a raw cast helmet from the very talented Jsin Dieron, of Jsinprops.com. Shortly after the helmet arrived, I had it trimmed and prepped for paint:

VonReg Helmet Progress 00

About that same time, I got the digital models for the remaining custom parts from my friend Danny Chen.  The chest box and belt boxes were printed pretty quickly:
Chest Box and Belt Boxes

Then I commenced to goofing around.  As I do:
Printed Chest Box 2

With the helmet trimmed, the least I could do is give it a coat of primer:
VonReg Helmet Progress 01

Then paint it red:
VonReg Helmet Progress 02
Major Vonreg's outfit has three different shades of red (if you don't count the red glowing buttons on his back).  The red pictured above turns out to be none of them.  This was a red I had left over from the Makey Robot build that was way too orange to match the logo he was based on.  It was also way too orange for Major Vonreg.  One of these years I'll find a use for this red.

In any case, that's as far as I got with this project before it was sidelined by some other more important project.

That was in 2019.

Then this project was sat on the backburner waiting for a reason for me to finish it. Since then, the character died in the series, the world took a two year break from doing cool stuff, and I've been busy with every manner of other thing. 

Fast forward to 2022.  We were gearing up to go to Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim.  The convention had been postponed for two consecutive years due to the COVID19 pandemic and I was really excited to go out and play dress-up again.  To prevent myself from getting carried away and making everything stressful for no good reason, I had resolved that I wouldn't build anything new for this convention.  I could get away with just dusting off finished things and make the trip nothing but fun and easy. 

I failed to keep that particular promise to myself.  The compromise I reached was, rather than building anything new, I would just finish some of the works in progress that were tucked away in and around the shop.  So I pulled out the old First Order TIE Pilot molds, laid up a fiberglass chest, back, and shoulders, and got to work modifying them to work as Major Vonreg's armor.  Step one was grafting the chest box onto the chest:
Final push

There was also a raised section on the back:
Final push

Just to gauge proportions, I went ahead and set the shoulders in place:
Final push
So far so good:
Final push

Once I'd smoothed out the border area around the chest box, I gave it all a couple of coats of red filler primer:
Vonreg Chest

The results, with a tiny bit of cleanup the parts were ready for paint:
Chest Armor Mods Complete 

The only modification the shoulders needed was these raised triangular details around the top edge.  I sculpted them on with Bondo.  Then smoothed them out and gave them a coat of filler primer as well:   Shoulder Armor Mods Complete

The forearms were a pair of my standard First Order TIE Pilot forearms with the top edge trimmed down and a pair of triangular details added on the backside of the wrist end:
Vonreg Forearm Mods Sculpted

The shins and knees were basically just 3D printed parts that I smoothed out and used as-is:
Vonreg Shins and Knee Printed

Once everything was sanded and primed, I laid out all of the parts that would be painted the darkest shade of red:
Final push

They came out pretty great:
Vonreg Small Dark Red Bits

You'd never guess that the chest was a kludged together collection of three different materials:
Final push

Once that red was dry, I went ahead and sprayed the lighter red:
Final push

The lighter red parts were basically just the helmet the top of the shoulders for some reason:
Final push

Why the production decided this section of the armor should be a brighter red, I have no idea:
Final push

The last thing I had to do was put the circle decals on the shoulders and strap everything together:
Vonreg Dark Red Bits Painted

Of course, at this stage we were getting close to time to rush off to the convention.  So I didn't get any slick photos of that stage of the process:
Final push

What I did get was a few glorious photos of our arrival at the convention center:
SWCC 2022 Phasma and Vonreg Arrive

As usual, Doctor Girlfriend looks a lot better than I do.  But that didn't stop me from having fun with all of the photo op sets they had scattered around the convention center:
SWCC 2022 Vonreg in the Cockpit

SWCC 2022 Vonreg Phasma

SWCC 2022 Vonreg Phasma Conference

Some were much less serious than others:
SWCC 2022 Vonreg in TIE Fighter

I also found at least one person dressed as a similarly obscure but still recognizable character:
SWCC 2022 Vonreg and Sidon Ithano

It was nice to meet some very lovely fans:
SWCC 2022 Vonreg with Bespin Leia

SWCC 2022 Calvin Mondragon

Including the guy who made my helmet kit:
SWCC 2022 Jsin Meeting Vonreg

Jsin himself:
SWCC 2022 Shawn and Jsin

In the end a good time was had by all:
SWCC 2022 First Order Leaders

The total build time for this costume was about two weeks.  There just happened to be a three year pause in between those two weeks.  I hate when that happens.

Now I just need a nudge to get back to work on the rest of my First Order costumes.  Somewhere in my storage bin is a nearly complete First Order Stormtrooper, Captain Cardinal, Commander Pyre, and a pair of Flametroopers.  It's only a matter of time.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Making the Rest of the Costume for the Mandalorian Armorsmith

Back in what seems like forever ago, I made the helmet for the Armorer as seen in the first season of "the Mandalorian:"


Read about that build here: LINK

Since I can't just leave well enough alone and I have a thing for strong, capable women, I had to build the rest of her ensemble.  Here's the end result:

SWCC 2022 Armorer and Reference

To see how it was made, read on...

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Updated Captain Phasma Build

 Years ago I made my first replica of the Captain Phasma helmet from Star Wars Episode VII: the Force Awakens.  It came out pretty good given the reference images that were available at the time and it managed to get around quite a bit.  Here's a winning shot of one of my Phasma helmets being worn at the world premiere of Episode VII:

Ingrid Moon as Phasma at Premiere

I was very proud of the build, but since then she's been in two movies and I've been able to get images of the helmet from all kinds of different angles.  It turns out I got a few details a little wrong.  Then one day I was perusing Do3D.com, the same outfit that modeled the helmet for me originally and noticed that they'd updated the model since then.  Since the 3D printers were idle at the time, I figured I might as well go ahead and update my Phasma build.

So here's the updated 3D model rendered next to the 3D model I used for the original build:Phasma Model Update

In short order I'd printed a new prototype.  Here's the new printed prototype (right) next to a cast from my original mold (left):
New Master Progress

The print was pretty good, but there were a few things I decided to tweak by hand.  Most notably, the noseplate didn't fit quite right and made the width of the "frown" a little too big.  The "teardrop" details in the cheek area also needed some adjustment.  Fortunately, I don't mind doing a bit of Bondo work:

I used a noseplate casting from my original build and after a bit of trimming and re-shaping, I was much happier with it:
Phasma Schnozzplate Remaster Progress

With a bit of sanding and filling, it got a coat of grey primer:
Phasma Remaster Grey Primer Round One

And just like that, it was ready for a gloss coat in preparation for molding:
Phasma Remaster Gloss Coat 1

Phasma Remaster Gloss Coat 2

The mold was a pretty straightforward matrix mold with a tin-cure silicone jacket and a fiberglass mothermold.  I've covered the making of this kind of thing many times, so I feel silly going through the step by step once again.  Long story short: the mold worked and I made a few copies:
Phasma Brigade Coming Along

That's about the same time I'd stacked up a bunch of shiny things that needed to be shinier, so it was an easy thing to slip the helmet into the spray booth for chrome:
Chrome Progress

I'm really starting to feel pretty good about my shiny finishes lately.  In this case, I painted the helmet with a gloss black single stage urethane automotive paint.  Once that had cured, I gave the whole thing a coat of Alumaluster from Imperial Surface Technology.  This stuff is phenomenal:
Phasma Helmet Chroming Progress

Since I was on a roll, I went ahead and painted three:
Phasma Helmets Chroming Progress<
The recessed area of the face was painted with a couple of coats of satin black and the snoot plate was glued in place.  Then the eye lenses were installed, a bit of foam padding was wedged into place, and it was good to go.

Then it was time to dust off all of the other parts and pieces and get them re-rigged:
Phasma Leg Progress

This time around I decided to go with the Episode 8 version.  This meant more practical hand and finger armor as well as a more comfortable version of the ankles:
Phasma Lower Leg Assembly

I also decided to finally spring for a set of fabric gaskets for the knees, elbows, shoulders and neckseal:
Phasma Rigging Progress

These pieces were made by Geeky Pink's Phantastic Gaskets.  The quality and craftsmanship were great and I can't recommend them enough.  Everything was made to size and built with all the necessary velcro to make rigging up the armor a breeze.  Smiles all around:
Chest and arms rigged

With Star Wars Celebration: Anaheim coming up fast, I had to do some triage.  I managed to finish every part of the build that would need smelly chemical processes or power tools and pack everything in a bin.  The rest we could do in a hotel room.

Most of the remaining work was just a matter of sewing the velcro onto the cape and attaching matching pads inside the neck of the armor to keep everything in place.  This was all done with time to spare so we could wander around at the convention and show it off.  Here's the Lady Shawnon wearing the complete ensemble and holding a key reference:
SWCC 2022 Phasma and the Reference

Seriously, that's her under all that: 
SWCC 2022 Phasma Suited Up

I suppose I could've made the helmet a bit smaller (in light of her tiny, child-sized cranium), but I happen to have molded the chest and arm parts for this costume in a larger size to fit bigger folks too, so I think this scale was a good compromise.  And really it looks pretty good:
SWCC 2022 Phasma and Vonreg Arrive
That guy in the Major Vonreg costume is me.  Because I'll be damned if I'm going to keep making awesome costumes for my girlfriend and never get to dress up myself.

Plus, it was nice to be in theme when we ran into other First Order leadership cosplayers:
SWCC 2022 First Order Leaders

Still, the shiny chrome lady was much more interesting to look at:
SWCC 2022 Phasma and the Probe Droid

Here's a shot of her out in the afternoon sun in all her gleaming glory:
SWCC 2022 Phasma in Sunlight

I was pretty proud of the finish, right up until I spotted this chromed Fett helmet at the EFX booth.  Clearly I've got some more polishing to do:
SWCC 2022  Chrome Comparison

Still we had a lot of fun at the show.  Especially when we ran across other folks taking their costumes a lot less seriously:
SWCC 2022 Phasma Scolds a Trooper

SWCC 2022 148

SWCC 2022 Phasma and Pink Shorts Boom Mic Operators

So that was all kinds of fun.  Now I just need to coat the cape fabric to give it the proper patchy shiny sheen, assemble and paint her blaster, and set up a proper photoshoot to get some good showcase photos.

Stay tuned...