Friday, January 23, 2015

Clone Wars Mandalorian Costumes Part 2: the Night Owl Helmets

A while back I mentioned that I'll be going to Star Wars Celebration: Anaheim with a group of friends and that my friend Matt talked me into making a bunch of costumes so we can go as Death Watch mercenaries from the Clone Wars animated series.  Since then, we've been on a roll with the Death Watch stuff.  If you didn't see the post about making the helmets, you can read it HERE.

Since our significant others will be going along (as well as a handful of other folks) we have a pressing need to dress the girls in appropriate outfits to fit in with the group.

Here's a finished helmet:
Nite Owl Helmet on Shelf

We've made a few more of them too:
For details about how they were made, read on...

First off, we started with a kid-sized bike helmet just like we did with the Death Watch helmets, only smaller.  Then Matt cut out a template to make a styrene "skirt" around the bottom edge and give the helmet the necessary height:
Night Owl Helmet Face Progress Begins

After adding another layer of styrene, the cheeks were cut out:
Matt with Night Owl Helmet

The upper area of the cheeks was fitted with a piece of styrene:
Night Owl helmet size test

Same goes for the lower area:
Night Owl cheek progress front

At this point, the shape was mostly complete:
Night Owl helmet cheek progress side

To make the ear pieces, I had Lopez Dos Point Oh (my second Carvewright CNC machine) whittle them out of MDF:
Nite Owl Ear Pieces

After a little sanding and a lot of primer, they were just about perfect:
Nite Owl Earpieces Smoothed and Primed

And they fit great:
Nite Owl Earpiece Size Test

With the ear pieces glued on, the next step was to add some Bondo to fair in the edges:
Fairing in the Dome

In short order it was ready for paint and polish:
Size Comparison

Here it is, all shiny and blue:
Nite Owl Helmet Prototype Front

Nite Owl Helmet Prototype Back

After a bit more smoothing and polishing, My friend Mark got to work making the silicone rubber jacket mold:
Nite Owl Helmet Prepping for Mold

Once a few layers of rubber were built up, pre-cast silicone registration keys were added to the surface to help it stay aligned in the mothermold:
Nite Owl Rubber Jacket Done

The last step in the silicone stage was to pour on a thin coat of rubber to smooth the surface of the mold:
Nite Owl Helmet Mold Thickening

Since the rubber is too flexible to keep it's shape without support, I built a fiberglass mothermold.  I started by building up a clay parting wall:
Nite Owl Helmet Parting Line Built

Then laying up fiberglass on one side:
Nite Owl Mothermold 1st Half Laid Up

Once the fiberglass had cured, I removed the clay wall and sprayed the remaining flange with a copious amount of release agent:
Nite Owl Helmet Mothermold Ready for 2nd Half

Then laid up fiberglass on the other side:
Nite Owl Helmet Mothermold 2nd Half

Nite Owl Helmet Mold End

After drilling bolt holes in the flange and trimming the fiberglass fuzz off of the outside edge, I removed the mothermold:
Nite Owl Helmet Mothermold Removed

Since the mold was just a bit too thick to peel off like a glove, I made a serpentine relief cut along the front of the mold:
Nite Owl Helmet Mold Cut
I decided on the front of the mold for the relief cut so that any mold flashing that might have leaked out of the seam would end up in the visor area and get cut out anyway.

Here's the first cast out of the mold:
Nite Owl Helmet 1st Cast

Not bad:
Nite Owl Helmet 1st Cast

Here she is with her T-visor cut out next to her first sister:
First and 2nd Helmet Cast

After priming and spraying on the base color, my girlfriend Shawnon stopped by and I had her try it on:
Shawnon Test Fitting Nite Owl

Here's the first three with the cheeks picked out in Satin Nickel Metallic from Rustoleum:
Nite Owls Base Colors

Once that was done, I cut some 1/8" tinted acrylic and heat formed it to make visors to fit each of the helmets.  A few days later, Matt came by and got to work adding the icons to all of their foreheads:
Forehead Marked 2

Then he drybrushed some black scratches onto all of them:
Matt Begins Weathering

Which made them start to look used:
Black Scratches Start

Then some bright silver scratches were added on top of those:
Silver Scratches

Once the drybrushing had dried, it was time to add a blackwash:
Blachwash Begins

At this point they were looking pretty good:
Paintjobs Finished 1

Erin approved:
Erin Test Fit

The last thing we needed to do at this stage was add rangefinders to all of them.  I started by pulling a casting of the right ear out of the Death Watch helmet mold.  Then took a reject cast of the Nite Owl helmet and sprayed the ear area with some mold release.  Finally, I gooped up the ear casting with a bunch of bondo and stuck it in place on the helmet.  Once it cured, I popped it off and sanded the edges until I was happy with the shape.

The result: a perfectly fitted add-on:
Ear Puck Prototype

Here it is on one of the painted helmets:
Test Fitting Ear Puck

Once I was certain it would fit properly, I went ahead and primed it:
Ear Widget Detailed in Primer

It still fit:
Ear Widget Looking Better

Then Mark built a mold box and mad a silicone block mold:
Molding Nite Owl Ear Widget

Pulling an ear cap and rangefinder out of the molds for the Death Watch guys, we had all of the pieces we'd need:
Raw Cast Ear Parts and Rangefinder

Here they are stacked up on a raw cast of the helmet:
Completed Ear Widget Retrofit

To retrofit the helmets that were already painted, I went ahead and painted up all of the parts:
17 Jan progress 04

Just in case I decide to add a light of some sort to the hole on the earpiece, I went ahead and pre-drilled a hole on the side of the helmets:
Nite Owl Ear Drilled

Then glued the add-on widget right over the ear:
Nite Owl with Ear Widget

I also went ahead and assembled a handful of the rangefinders with aluminum stalks:
Assembling Mando Rangefinders

Here's the first one fitted to a helmet with the cap in place:
Nite Owl Rangefinder Installed

And here's the first three all painted and ready to go:
Helmets in Progress

It fits me pretty well:
Hail Hydra


But soon there will be much more silliness:
Alas Poor Yorick

There are a lot of other parts of this project still coming together.  Right now we're working on armor:
Nite Owl Mockup

And jetpacks:
Jetpack Tanks Capped

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  1. These things rock.
    That's about all I have to say.

  2. This is a gteat site. Im trying to sctatch build myself a set. Great pics.

  3. Could i ask for the circufrance inside a helmet please im trying to scratch build my own helmet and i dont want to mess up.