Friday, May 29, 2015

Making a Phase II ARC Trooper from a Skygunbro Clone Trooper Kit

A while back I picked up a few kits from Skygunbro's Custom Creature Shop.  Here's what they looked like when they showed up:
SGB Helmets Awaiting Progress

I've already explained how I converted one of them into a "realistic" movie-style version of Captain Rex's helmet from the Clone Wars animated series.  You can read about that little project here: LINK

Since I was on a roll with Star Wars stuff and I needed something frivolous to distract me from my actual paid projects with fast-approaching deadlines, I went ahead and converted the next one into a Phase II ARC (Advanced Recon Commando) Trooper helmet.  

Here's the finished result:
ARC Trooper Hammer Finished Right Angle 2
For step-by-step description of the conversion process, and a lot more photos, read on...

Once again, I started with helmets that looked like so:
SGB Helmets on Bench

Just like the Captain Rex helmet, the first step was to reshape the right ear in preparation for fitting a rangefinder.  I started by taking a belt sander to the details on that side:
Ear Detail Ground Off

Then I taped over the resulting hole:

Ear Hole Masked

And poured some casting resin in to form a new skin with a flat outer surface:

Resin Poured in Ear
Once the resin had cured, I pulled off the tape and had a nice flat surface to work with:
Ear Hole Filled

Since the ARC Troopers have a decidedly different shape the the chin area of the helmet, I also gave that part some love on the belt sander:
ARC Trooper Chin Cut Out

Once I'd gotten rid of all of the soft-edged, curvy parts of the chin, I started building up the straight, pointy new chin with Bondo:
Test Fit With New Chin

I also did some filler work along the mold seam and the right ear:
ARC Trooper Helmet Profile

After a couple of rounds of filling and shaping, the new pointy chin was just about right:
ARC Chin in Progress

One of the parts I liked most about the Phase II ARC Troopers is that they retained the Phase I mohawk with the big tailfin.  In order to duplicate that look, I started by cutting off the existing mohawk:
Mohawk Removed

Then I made a profile template by tracing the outline of one of my many Phase I clone helmets so I could cut out a copy in 3/4" MDF and a couple of slightly bigger copies in 1/8" foamed PVC board:
Tailfin Parts Cut Out

Just like the Phase I troopers, the tail fin would be fitted with a little red light.  So I drilled out a hole in the back of the fin:
Tailfin Drilled for Light

With that done, I sandwiched the MDF between the two PVC sheet pieces and mounted it to the top of the helmet:
Tailfin Attached

After a bit more glue and filler work, I gave it a coat of primer to see how it looked:
ARC Trooper Front Left

Not bad:
ARC Trooper Front Right

The forehead end of the mohawk still needed a bit of smoothing:
 ARC Trooper in Primer

Once that was done, the whole thing got a coat of Duplicolor Chrome spraypaint:
ARC Trooper Chrome Front

ARC Trooper Chrome Side

Just like I did with the Captain Rex helmet, I used mustard to mask off some areas where I wanted visible scratches in the paint then sprayed on a coat of gloss white:
ARC Trooper Base White Side

For a while I couldn't make up my mind about exactly which paint scheme I wanted to go with.  There are only a handful of ARC troopers in the entire Star Wars universe that are important enough to even get a name, but I couldn't quite decide which one I'd want.  After a lot of deliberation, I settled on a somewhat obscure character named "Hammer." He shows up briefly in the Clone Wars series and has a unique set of distinguishing markings in gray and two shades of red.

With a plan in mind, I masked off most of the helmet to spray the areas that needed to be grey:
ARC Trooper Hammer Helmet Masked for Grey

Before I sprayed on the gray paint, I added a bit more mustard masking so there would be parts where the grey markings would be chipped off to show the white base coat.  Then I sprayed it:
ARC Trooper Hammer Helmet Gray Sprayed

Next, I re-masked the whole thing leaving only the areas that had red markings exposed.  Then I added more mustard again:
ARC Trooper Helmet Masked for Red Parts

Then the red spray:
ARC Trooper Helmet Masked and Sprayed Red

Here it is after I'd peeled off the masking tape and paper:
ARC Trooper Hammer Helmet Masking Removed Front

Not bad:
ARC Trooper Hammer Helmet Masking Removed Side

After scrubbing off the mustard blisters, it looked like so:
ARC Trooper Hammer Helmet Chipped Front

It's a start:
ARC Trooper Hammer Helmet Chipped Side

After a bit more masking and mustard, I sprayed the darker red portion on the back of the helmet:
Dark Red on the Back

At this point, I decided I really didn't like the square markings on the sides of the dome, so I repainted it white and had my friend Jen cut me out a set of circular stencils on her vinyl cutter:
Masking Started for Last Round of Red Bits

After a bit more masking, it was time for more red paint:
Red Bits Sprayed

Once the red had dried, I started picking out the black details by hand:
Picking Out Black Parts

Here it is before I'd scrubbed off the mustard blisters:
Hammer Helmet Back

Then after I'd painted all of the grey parts on the ear, the frown, and the strip around the back and sides of the head:
ARC Trooper Hammer Base Colors Done

After a bit more tweaking, I broke out the airbrush and added a bit of greasy black and dusty brown weathering.  Then I installed the rangefinder in the right ear:
ARC Trooper Hammer Weathered Angle

It was looking pretty good:
ARC Trooper Hammer Weathered Front

When I added the little black dashes to the aerators I finally remembered that I'd neglected to add the "vocoder" detail to the chin:
Chin Detail Missing

I ended up cobbling it together from a couple of scrap pieces of foamed PVC sheet:
Chin Detail Made

Once I was happy with the shape, I gave it a gratuitous coat of satin black paint:
Chin Detail Painted

As soon as the paint dried, I glued it in place:
Chin Details Finished

The very last thing to do was to install the "tail light" in the back of the fin.  I started by snaking a pair of wires through the hole:
Wire Leads Snaked Through

Then I soldered on an LED and resistor and wrapped them in heat-shrink tubing:
LED Soldered and Shrink Wrapped

Here it is all powered up:

Then I cut out a little rectangle of clear red acrylic and rough sanded it on one side in order to help diffuse the light:
Acrylic Insert

Here it is glued in place:
Tail Light Finished

The power supply was just a 3AAA battery pack taped in place inside the left ear:
Battery Box in Place
The added weight helps offset the weight of the rangefinder and stalk on the right ear.

With the tail light in place and functioning, I was ready to call the whole thing done:
Captain Hammer

Here's a few more photos of it from a variety of angles:
ARC Trooper Hammer Finished Front

ARC Trooper Hammer Finished Left

ARC Trooper Hammer Finished Back

ARC Trooper Hammer Finished Right

ARC Trooper Hammer Finished Left Angle

ARC Trooper Hammer Finished Right Angle 1

Now that the helmet is done, it's been relegated to storage with the rest of the collection:
ARC Trooper Hammer on the Shelf
Sooner or later I'll get to work on these other two helmets:

The white one second from the right will probably be painted up in the purple and grey livery of Mace Windu's 187th Clonetrooper battalion.  That just leaves me to figure out how to modify the one remaining Skygunbro clone kit sitting on the right.  Any suggestions?



  1. Commander Bly has always been a favourite of mine. Can't remember if he makes an appearance in the Clone Wars Series though. Or, even better, ARC Echo. Everyone likes Echo.

    1. I'm not necessarily looking to do Clone Wars characters. I was actually thinking about doing Commander Deviss so I could make the binocular attachment. I'd do Bly, but I already have the 212th Battalion helmet from Master Replicas and I'm trying to make the collection as colorful as possible. I'm also thinking about Commander Fox. Too many to choose from.

      So far I've already got a plain, shiny trooper, 501st trooper, the 212th trooper, Commander Cody, Commander Neyo, an AT-RT Driver, Captain Rex, and ARC Trooper Hammer in my collection of Phase II helmets.

      Eventually I'll also get to work on my Phase I clone helmets too.

    2. After a speedy Google Images, Deviss seems like the way to go. Although I've only now remembered that Commander Gree is a person. And, now I'm remembering the Wolfpack, as well. Curse you, Star Wars, for having so many characters!

  2. Hi, I was wondering if youd be able to make a helmet (ARC) and sell it on? I'd be highly interested in buying one.

  3. This is a masterpiece. Amazing work. I just have a few questions, how do you find these base beige helmet ? Do you buy them or do you make them ? If so, do you first make them on a 3d software and then 3d print them or do you have molds ?
    That's it, sorry for all those questions, but i'm really interested ;)