Not long after Halloween 2007, I was sitting around with a group of friends and having a drink when the question came up, "what should we do for Halloween next year?"
Of all the ideas that came up, the one that struck a chord with me was the idea of building a suit of Halo armor, making a mold, casting a few copies, painting them different colors, and going out dressed as the characters from Red vs. Blue.
Fast forward three years, two ships, and one war and who knows how much money and I finally managed to get it done.
Here's a picture of the whole crowd together:
More about the build process and other craziness after the jump. It's pretty heavy on the pictures though, so if you're on a dailup connection you should go grab something to drink after you click below.
If you're only now just joining my blog and you really want all of the details of the entire build process, here's a link to all of my HALO posts in reverse chronological order: http://protagonist4hire.blogspot.com/search/label/HALO
The short version is that I used a program called "pepakura" to print out papercraft versions of the various parts to the armor that looked about like so:
Then I spent weeks in painstaking smoothing and detailing until they looked like so:
Once that was done, I made a silicone rubber mold and rotocast a copy out of urethane resin.
Repeating this process with all of the other pieces over the next three years, I finally managed to put together raw castings of most of the parts I needed to build the entire cast of Red vs. Blue. Then it was time to invite all of the folks who would be wearing these outfits over to the workshop so we could start cranking out armor:
The rest of these pictures are pretty scattered, but I figured they're all worth posting.
Here's a shot of Matt cutting out amber-tinted acrylic to be vacformed into faceshields:
I made two different sizes of torso armor. Here's Don sanding down one of the smaller backplates:
The rest of the armor parts were all one-size-fits-most. For some of the bigger guys, a few parts took a bit more work. Here's Don and Daniel fitting thigh armor:
With all of the work going on, there was also frequent goofiness. When we'd made everyone's boots, everyone had to try them on. Here's Jen and Trevor showing off some sci-fi footwear:
Here's the rest of the boots lined up. The were built around a pair of cheap Ugg boot knock-offs, which is why some of them have those goofy legwarmers attached:
Here I am showing someone how to clean up the mold flashing around the boot soles:
With most of the castings hanging on the fence outside the workshop, this is as uncluttered as the show would get:
Early on in the mass casting process the mold for the shin armor failed catastrophically. Here's a shot of me and Matt smoothing out the mothermold for the new shin mold:
As we started to muster enough castings, Matt and Chris set about cleaning up and assembling all of the arm parts. Here's Chris in the middle of the pile:
While Chris was grinding out all of the wrist holes in the gauntlets, my dog Bain kept him company:
To frustrate Chris, everyone else was making more gauntlet castings while he was finishing them out:
Here's another shot of Matt and Chris assembling and cleaning arm bits. This process would continue until less than a week before Halloween:
Here's Don and I pouring the final pair of boots:
Daniel trying on his boots and shins:
Meanwhile, I was steadily casting the foam undersuit parts non-stop for weeks:
Whenever we had made all of the castings, and the sanding and grinding was finished, I finally took a break for a moment:
The first step towards getting everything painted was cleaning out all of the dust and trash in the shop. Chris showed up to help me out with that:
Then we put screws every foot or so along the length of the rafters, tied lengths of string with hooks to them, and suspended all of the castings:
It was hard to get a picture to demonstrate the scale of the project, but we tried:
Some of the parts didn't really lend themselves to being hung from the overhead. Those were the ones that took up what precious little horizontal space I had:
I'd figured that the absolute latest time I could get away with spraying primer was the Wednesday before Halloween. I had hoped to have it all knocked out that day, but some of it didn't get finished until Thursday afternoon.
Here's a shot of me starting the priming using an HVLP gun and an automotive-grade epoxy primer:
The trickiest part was making sure I got all of the nooks and crannies in the torso armor:
By comparison, the thighs were simple:
After a long day's work, all of the parts were primed:
The main advantage to using an epoxy primer was that I could spray on the color coat after only two hours. The main problem was that we'd have to rearrange things so that all of the parts could dry somewhere without touching each other and still leaving the bench open so I could spray on the base colors. We managed and here's a shot of me spraying parts of the first suit:
With all of the delays stacking up, I didn't start spraying the different colors until 9:30 on Thursday night. Rushing it as fast as I could, I still worked all night and didn't manage to finish the last one until almost 6:30 on Friday morning.
I crashed before I had a chance to take any pictures, but here's what the technicolor armor workshop looked like on Friday:
When they were done with work for the day, some of the guys showed up and started helping out with the weathering and detailing:
Here I am drybrushing some battle damage and wear marks on the helmets:
This is Daniel adding some damage to his shin armor:
Here's the Grif chest plate with some wear and tear added:
Once the scuff marks were done, we set about adding the black details:
The final step for the helmets was the installation of lights, cooling fans, and some padding. Here's Jen strutting around in her shiny new helmet:
The lights were luxeon LEDs and reflectors harvested from a metric butt-ton of flashlights:
And here's the whole cast painted up:
The boots too:
Once the paint was dried, there was a moment for levity involving an infant:
Then it was time to start strapping all of the pieces together:
After spending a small fortune worth of nylon web straps, buckles, and pop rivets, it was time to start getting people into their suits:
Some of them still needed a bit of adjustment even into the final hours of the afternoon on Halloween:
Still, at some point we had to just call everything good enough and get everyone put together:
The first guy we managed to dress was Noah (Caboose). The process was apparently exhausting:
The next one was Chris (Simmons 2.0) who managed to look good in the whole rig despite his hat:
While we were working to dress everyone, Noah decided to unhook most of his gear:
Since his hands were ungloved, I had Noah help strap on a few of my hard to reach parts:
The dressing process was a bit difficult, but the final result was more than worth it:
Here's a shot of me out in town:
Here's a shot of some of us screwing around in front of the local museum (which has a Vietnam War exhibit on display inside):
Here's a bunch of us stopping for a drink:
We managed to get a few pics of the whole cast all lined up together, but the lighting was terrible:
Still my favorite shot of the evening was when some guy was proseletyzing on the street corner and Noah offered to hold his sign for him so he could preach straight from his bible:
Sooner or later I'll get everybody together for a photoshoot with a real photographer.
Until then, stay tuned...