Saturday, December 31, 2016

Space Wolf: a New Twist on my Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine Costumes

A few years back, I made a bit of a splash in certain corners of the internet when I made a handful of Space Marine costumes based on the Dark Angels Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes.  I've always been a big fan of the Warhammer 40K universe and the Dark Angels have a very striking, gloomy, look and feel that offered up a lot of interesting opportunities for custom details.

They were pretty cool, but there's also 999 other chapters of Space Marines to choose from.  So the next challenge was to make another set of armor from my molds and dress it up in the iconography of a completely different chapter.

The result: a Space Wolf!

While the Dark Angels tend to look like they're covered in relics handed down from the Catholic church, Space Wolves are the aesthetic descendants of Vikings.  Their Codex offers up a rich tapestry of bits and pieces to add to the standard armor and I'm really happy with the finished project:
Space Wolf Finished Step

For more details on this build,

I've promised myself that every time I make another one of these guys I would make some improvements along the way.  The first thing I did was rebuild the helmet to make the proportions better and lay up a a fiberglass mold to make the notoriously flimsy shoulder pauldrons out of tougher stuff.

This time around, the part that seems most in need of improvement is the chest.  Vacforming some of the very deep parts meant that the first few marines I made had some pretty thin pieces and were prone to tearing along the bottom edge of the chest.  This will not do.

So I pulled the three forming bucks for the chest out of the big pile of forming bucks and spliced them back together with superglue, fiberglass, and Bondo:
Fine Filling Begins

Then I filled and sanded and painted and sanded and polished the whole thing until it was as perfectly, glassy smooth as I could get it:

Then I handed it off to my friend Eric who does professional fiberglass work so he could do a better job of making the molds than I would.  Here's the moldmaking in progress:
Chest Mold in Progress 02

The mold was laid up in three separate parts (front, back, and top) allowing it to pop off of the part easily after layup.  Here's the completed mold once it was cleaned up:
Completed Torso Mold

And here's the first lightweight fiberglass copy:
First Pull Right Side

How lightweight?  So lightweight in fact, that I can lift it with my little finger:
Lightweight as can be

So that's an improvement.

The other part of these guys that's always bothered me was the hands.  I originally had tried to make them as a bunch of separately cast parts that I could rearrange in various poses each time I assembled a different suit.  Each knuckle of each finger was a separate piece and the end result ended up just being heavy and unnatural looking.  So clearly it was time for new and improved hands.

I started by taking one of the cast palms from my other Space Marines and sculpting on new fingers:
Hand Sculpts Smoothed Out

The plan for the Space Wolf was to build him a giant hammer or axe that would require a two-handed grip.  So the right hand is set up to be cast around a piece of pipe.

Once I was happy with the sculpt, it was time to begin making molds:
Print Coat for New Hand Sculpts

After a quick print coat on the deepest detail areas, the hands were mounted by the wrist holes and layered over with ever more silicone rubber:
Left Hand Jacket MOld

Right Hand Jacket Mold

Here's my friend Jason prepping one of the hands for a mother mold:
Starting Mothermolds

The mothermolds were two-part shells made of fiberglass:
Left Hand Mothermold Finished

Once the glass had cured, they were trimmed and drilled and fitted with bolts:
Right Hand Mold Completed

After rotocasting a few layers of resin inside each mold, they were filled with rigid urethane foam for a tiny bit of added strength and a minimum of added weight:
Hand Casts Filled With Foam

The new one-piece hands are much much lighter and at least as durable:
Big Big Knife

With the hand molds made, I could no longer postpone pulling out all of the vacforming bucks:
SM Forms Pulled Out and Dusted Off

Then we started cooking plastic and making armor: SM Forming Workshop Mess

I suppose I have a pretty good sized workshop, but it starts to become very small when I put one of these guys together:
Legs Stacked

In keeping with the Space Wolf theme, the vent nozzles on the backpack needed to be custom sculpted:
SW Pack Vent Sculpt in Progress

I was pretty happy with the end result:
Space Wolf Pack Vent Sculpt Completed 2

Molding it presented a few minor challenges:
Vent Prepped for Molding

But as usual, I was able to overcome:
Thickening the Jacket Mold for Pack Vent

Here's Jason putting the finishing touches on the mothermold:
Wolf Pack Vent Mothermold Complete

Once the mothermold was removed, it was a simple thing to demold the original sculpt:
Pulling Vent Mold

Here's the first two cast parts:


Mounting them onto the pack itself was pretty quick work:
Vents Fitted to Pack

The next thing to tinker with was the wolfskin cloak:
Chest Shoulders and Helmet Stacked Up

The entire thing was made from a single piece of faux fur I picked up at a local shop in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury neighborhood:
Pelt Cloak Beginning

I also sculpted a wolf-head knife pommel:
Space Wolf Knife Pommel Sculpt

The clay sculpt was then boxed up for molding:
Pommel Boxed for Molding

The mold itself was a simple block mold in silicone rubber.

Getting back to the chest, after I'd trimmed out the neck and arm holes in chest armor I couldn't resist the urge to try it on:
Test Fitting Chest

Here's a test-fit with the helmet:
Chest Trimmed and Sanding Begun

Unlike my previous suits with the winged icons on the chest, this was going to have a large gemstone in the same place.  The gem was the easy part:
Gem Prototype Nearly Finished

That was a simple block of tooling foam, rough shaped on the belt sander and coated with a high gloss finish.  Then I pulled a mold off of it and cast copies in clear resin with a bit of red transparent pigment.  It took a few tries to get a color that I liked:
Gem Casting Process Improvement

Using the demolded prototype gem, I moved on to mocking up the rest of the chest trim:
Chest Template in Progress

The trim details were cut out of foam PVC sheets (often called "Sintra") and heated up until they could be reshaped to conform to the curve of the chest:
Raised Chest Trim Added

Once those were bonded to the fiberglass chest, I added some more details around the neck:
Chest and Helmet

These were sections of PVC cut to various lengths and fixed into place:
Helmet Scuffed Closeup

I built up a bit of bulk around the hose rings with some body filler, the I cut out a piece of mirrored acrylic sheet to act as the beginning of a setting for the gemstone in the middle of the chest.
Gemstone Backing Installed

Once the gemstone was glued in place, it was masked off and everything got a coat of primer:
Pack Fitted to Back

The mirror backing really helped to bring the gemstone to life:
Gemstone Closeup

The last little detail for the chest was the tiny wolf skull at the throat:
Throat Skull

This was sculpted in epoxy putty and re-tooled a bit after it had hardened.

A little bit of paint and things were really starting to take shape.  Here's my epically bearded friend Don trying on the chest and shoulders:
Bearded Test Fit 1

Bearded Test Fit 2

The belt was another interesting detail.  I started with a new set of vacformed belt pieces to retrofit onto the same belt/pelvis parts I made for the Dark Angels:
Vacforming Belt Parts

Then a resin cast replica of a Grey Wolf skull (which you can buy here: LINK) and built up a few details behind it:
Diaper Assembly Begins

Once these parts (and the rest of the suit) got their base paintjobs, it was time to start picking out details and adding all of the icons:
Painting Shoulder Pads

There was also the occasional test-fittings and jackassery:
Brian in Wolf Diaper

Once the weathering began, things started to turn awesome:
Chest First Weathering Pass

Before Buffing

Weathering Helmet 1

Helmet Weathered

It was also starting to take up a lot of space:
Weathering in Progress

But once all of the weathering had dried, it was time to try the whole thing on:
Test Fitting Portrait

Since I wanted it to look as big and imposing as possible, I had Loki try it on (he's about 6'2" tall in these pics):
Dressing the Wolf

Space Wolf Finished Step

Not too shabby:

Sooner or later, I'm sure I'll end up building yet another Space Marine.  I can't seem to leave that universe well enough alone.  For now, you can see a lot more behind-the-scenes photos from this build (as well as a few more finished photos) in this Flickr album: LINK

Stay tuned for more insane projects in the days, weeks, and months to come...


  1. An entertaining and informative read as always. I really enjoy looking through the backgrounds of your pictures trying to figure out what else you are working on. I like that damaged Iron Man helmet (or is it an Ultron head?) in the first picture of the wolf head backpack vent.

    1. There's a bunch of helmets in that shot. You might mean the disassembled "Godkiller" helmet sculpt on the right ( or the Sith Stalker helmet on the left (

      Always a lot going on in the background.

  2. I was just on your instructables page. Do you still take commissions? And is you do, would space marine armour be available? Me and my friend are trying to get some Blood Angels suits for a convention next year.

  3. I was just on your instructables page with the dark angel suit, and I where you had put a comment saying you do commissions. Do you still, and if so, would it be possible to order a Blood Angels suit?

  4. i really like your work..if you are look for a good challenge try a Chaos Marine, can go really intricate if you wanted