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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.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Quick and Dirty Cosplay Build: NCR Ranger from Fallout New Vegas

I try to avoid letting my 3D printers sit idle.  By my reasoning, there's all kinds of things on my wish list that I'd like to print and I'd hate to find myself waiting on the machines.  Instead, whenever they're not working on a custom project for a client, they're building me a backlog of hobby projects that I can smooth out and finish at a later date.

Usually it's not a serious distraction, but sometimes I get excited about something and it gets in my way.  The latest, this set of parts modeled by Sentinel Props:

Fallout: New Vegas NCR Ranger digital models

I found these models on Thingiverse while I was doing some late night websurfing.  You can download them for yourself here: LINK  

While I've loved Fallout stuff for years, I've never played New Vegas.  But living in California, it seemed fitting that I should at least have a New California Republic Ranger helmet mixed in with the rest of my collection.  So, armed with this model and some down time on my machines, I set to printing parts.

In no time at all, I had me a helmet:  NCR Ranger Elite Riot Gear Helmet

The reason the gas mask details are a different color at this stage is that I printed them separately on my Elegoo Mars MSLA printer.  I really love that little machine.  You can get one here: LINK.

After just a bit of sanding and filler work, it was looking pretty good:
Test Fitting

Test Fitting 2

While I was tinkering with the helmet, I figured I was on a roll and I might as well go ahead and print the shoulder armor as well:

The helmet model had some inaccuracies, but the most noticeable missing detail was these raised parts on the back.  I cut the shapes in 1/16" styrene sheet and glued them into place:
Elite Ranger Helmet Rear Detail Additions

After a tiny bit of sanding, I laid some spot putty in place to help blend the edges:
Elite Ranger Helmet Rear Details Smoothing

Once that dried I did a bit of sanding and priming.  Then it all got a coat of matte aluminum spraypaint:
Elite Ranger Helmet Base Silver

When the base metallic layer had dried, I masked off some "scratches" with liquid latex, then gave it all a base coat of Rustoleum "Eden" satin spraypaint:
Elite Ranger Helmet First Green

When that had dried, I used more liquid latex to mask off slightly more scratches:
Elite Ranger Helmet First Green Masked

Once that had dried, the helmet got a coat of "Oregano" satin spraypaint:
Elite Ranger Helmet Final Green

When that was good and dry, I peeled off the masked latex areas:
Peeling Back Battle Damage

The shoulders got the same treatment:
Elite Ranger Shoulders Base Silver

Elite Ranger Shoulders Final Green

With the spray painting and scratching done, the star stencil was sponge painted onto the left side of the helmet:

Star Stenciled Onto Helmet

and the whole thing was given a liberal coating of blackwash:
Blackwashed NCR Ranger Helmet and Shoulder Armor

"But wait," you say, "how did you get the eyes to light up like that?"

Well I'm glad you asked, Mister Segue. Here's how...


Before I could make the gas mask lens light up, I had to make the gas mask lens.  In this case, I used a piece of 1/4" acrylic that was cut to the rough shape, heated in a toaster oven until it was floppy and soft, then clamped it in place and allowed it to cool:
Elite Ranger Helmet Eye Lens Install 1

Then I took the clear acrylic lens and gouged a bunch of scratches around the edges on the inner face with a Dremel and some coarse sandpaper:
Scratches Done

Then I wired up an array of ultra-bright red LEDs and glued them into notches on the edge of the acrylic:
Lighting Wired for Eyes

When the LEDs are powered up, they edge-light the scratches in the acrylic and give it the just right glow:
Lighting Mask Inside

Here's the look from the outside:
Lighting Mask Outside


When it came time to make the chest armor, I figured there was no reason to reinvent the wheel.  Looking around the interwebs, it looks like lots of other cosplayers online have made theirs in foam.  While I don't tend to do too much foam fabrication, I figured there was no reason I couldn't do the same.

I started by mocking up a pattern in paper on a mannequin I had kicking around the shop:
NCR Ranger Armor Patterning

Then the base shape was cut out of 1/2" foam:
NCR Ranger Armor Base Shape

That piece was heated and formed to fit onto the mannequin:
NCR Ranger Armor Base Shape Formed

Then I cut out the raised panels:
NCR Ranger Armor Raised Panels

Those were also heated and formed, then adhered to the base shape using Barge contact cement:
NCR Ranger Armor Glue Drying

Once the glue had dried, I removed the blue masking tape:
NCR Ranger Armor Assembled

With all of the bandoliers, belts, straps, and the duster in place, it looks pretty good.  Even before painting it:

Unable to resist the urge, I had to try it on:
Test Fitting 5

Painting the armor was a matter of spraying on a couple of coats of Plasti-Dip rubberizing paint, then a light coat of Krylon Italian Olive:

Once that had dried, I used the vinyl cutter to make the necessary stencils:
Weeding Stencils

Here I am placing them onto the armor:
Placing Stencils

So far so good:
Stencils Placed

I wanted the stenciled markings to have a distressed look, so rather than spray them to get a nice, even coat, I used a crumpled up paper towel to daub the paint onto the stencils:
Ragging On

The result was appropriately uneven:
Stencils Daubed

Once the stencils were peeled off, things were looking pretty good:
Stencils Removed

Too good in fact.  In order to make it look like a thoroughly abused piece of pre-war police gear that was scavenged in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, I gave it a series of washes with black and various shades of brown:
Weathered Chest Armor

Once that had dried, the whole thing got a couple of coats of clear Plasti-Dip to even out the sheen and hold it all together:

The Soft Parts, Belts, and Pouches:

I don't like to sew.  I'm able to do it and I'm told I'm even pretty good at it, but most of my sewing time consists of me chugging away at a bunch of things I don't have any formal training in while thinking "somewhere out there there's someone who knows how to do this, can do it faster, and might actually enjoy it."  I'd like to hire that person.  So in this case, I went with as many off-the-shelf items as I could find.

Somewhere earlier on in the build, I picked up the duster from DarkMatterProps on Etsy (LINK).  It's an absolutely gorgeous garment with tremendous attention to detail and I couldn't resist the urge to try it on as soon as it arrived:
Duster Test Fit

The other thing I needed was some ammo belts and pouches to finish out the look.
Foam Chest Armor Built

"Wow," you're thinking, "that bandolier with the rounds for the anti-materiel rifle looks pretty amazing.  But you're going to run into problems trying to carry live rounds into some convention."

You're not wrong.  So they're not live rounds.  They're not even dummy rounds.  In fact, they're completely 3D printed on that little Elegoo Mars printer.  It just took a few minutes of cleanup for each piece, then they were ready to paint: Faux Brass

The bullets were painted separately from the casings, then they were just glued together:
Resin Rifle Rounds


But I digress.

I was also working on the Anti-Materiel Rifle.


This was 3D printed:
Anti-Materiel Rifle Raw Print

If you want to print one for yourself, the models were posted by Josh Tenny on Myminifactory.com.  You can download it for yourself here: https://www.myminifactory.com/object/3d-print-fallout-new-vegas-anti-material-rifle-100602

While I could've gotten away with just printing the whole thing and then painting it to look believable, I decided to class it up a bit.  To that end, I made actual wooden furniture for it:
AntiMateriel Rifle Furniture Shaped

Once these pieces were smoothed out, stained, and given a few coats of satin urethane, they were installed on the printed parts:
AntiMateriel Rifle Furniture Glossy

With that done, it was just a matter of adding some weathering and age:
Big Rifle is Big 
Of course, as long as the rifle is, it's tough to get a good snapshot that shows the whole thing while also showing the details.  Here's the action up close:
Detail Closeup

Better, here's a bigger picture showing the whole thing before I'd installed the sling with a small child for scale:
NCR Ranger Anti-Materiel Rifle


Now it was just time to put it all on and find a photographer and a decent backdrop for photos.  Fortunately for me, I'm friends with the immensely talented Hep Svadja, and my father maintains a collection of antique car husks that are just deteriorated enough to look like set dressing for a Fallout movie.  Here's just a few of the results:
NCR Ranger by Hep 001

NCR Ranger by Hep 002

NCR Ranger by Hep 004

One of these days I'll do a bigger shoot and get this guy next to my T-60 Power Armor.  In the meantime, more articles are on the way as I catch up on my ridiculously large backlog of bloggage.

Stay tuned...