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  1. #1
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    PROJECT: Gundam Strike UMPG 1:12 scale (costume)

    Gundam Strike Freedom UMPG 1:12 scale
    (UMPG = Ultra Mega Perfect Grade! hehe)
    (1:12 scale = to fit my head as a Halloween costume)


    This is a project of mine that started roughly 10 years ago. (But my first attempt, I failed miserably) Had always wanted to do this one right. A dream project if you will. A full WORKING Gundam costume! Very ambitious, I know. Had a lot of things planned with it. Things that are way out of my realm of expertise or know-how, but it won't really stop me from trying. This is an exercise after all, and I'm going to experiment with everything as I go. Fabricating EVERYTHING.. seeing as I can't just go to the store and buy it. I'll definitely learn a few things along the way.

    My bar is high. I won't compromise (much) on the integrity of the design. It'll be both faithful to the design AND be fully mechanically/electronically functional! Maybe you can help me.. and give pointers too.


    A full costume? Hmmm.. maybe not a FULL costume, like from head to toe.. this project most likely won't go that far. Well, maybe it will.. who knows.

    Follow me and see....



    Concept and Design:
    Going through the million iterations of Gundam, I've realized I just want a simple, recognizable Gundam. Not looking for anything fancy.


    Not too simple like the original 70's classic version (on the left)
    Not too complex like the ones that you can't even tell what you're looking at(on the right) Seriously, where does the body stop and the head begin?!?

    Looking for the Goldilocks of the Gundams...

    Pretty much the basic model with a few extra touches to spice things up. Think we have a winner! Strike has the simplicity I want and Freedom has the detail touches. (Minus those crazy wings. Not a fan of those either). Guess, I'll have to customize my own Gundam for this project. That's ok.. part of the fun.

    I'm treating this project as a big .. like really BIG, Gundam model build. With the exception of buying the kit, I would have to scratch build the head first. Going to custom build the parts/details I want later, then paint it... just like a model build... but on a bigger scale! It's going to draw upon every ounce of skill I have. From scratch build fabrication with any material, to wiring and electronics, to rigging, to the finishing process/painting. Keeping in mind this is a wearable costume. So comfort will have to be a primary concern.

    Right out of the starting blocks, I hit my first roadblock. Scale would be a problem with this project. Gundam scales are off-wack! There is no human being on this earth with those proportions. For a visual reference, here's a proper human proportion:

    REAL humans are usually 7.5 to 8 heads tall. Meaning if you cut your head off, duplicate it 8 times, then stack them on top of one another... that's how tall you would be. Or cut that last head in half to make it 7.5 heads, that would be ok too.

    But, in the world of Gundam, it's a bit different. Actually, in the general world of anime, it's different.


    This Gundam is roughly 9 3/4 heads tall! Thems crazy proportions. The cute model next to him looks like she has freakishly big head now. What also doesn't help is the short torso and lengthy legs that any supermodel would be jealous of. The feet.. you kidding me? Compensate much?

    So, what does this observation mean? I means I won't be building a standardly proportionate Gundam costume to fit me. If I did, I would be wearing stilts and be 10 feet tall. Nope, not doing that.

    My solution would be to throw proportions out the door and go for a chibi look!
    This means I can do whatever I want. Might as well make it look funny. I'll try for the "funny but cool" look. It's gonna be a fun challenge! I love challenges.

    Here's my quick photoshop mockup:

    Tee hee. Love it. Gonna start!

    *TIP: Use a LOT of photo reference. Use the internet! It's fun! I had downloaded HUNDREDS of random pics from a gazillion websites. I'd even take a pic that had an uninteresting gundam.. but had one tiny cool feature that I'd think I may use.. i'd download it. Store it in the reference library. It might be an inspiration for something else later. You'll never know.

  2. #2
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    So, you're combining Strike and Freedom? You do know there's a MS called the Strike Freedom, right? From SEED Destiny.

    Either way, this sounds very fun.

    Lord of the 1/144 Corps

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    "The Scale of Tragedy"
    Conrad<Kahrys<Shepard<937<Nasir<Malenko<Nathen


  3. #3
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    Yup! I'm using Strike Freedom as a base. There's a resin bust of it that I like a lot. I had reference it initially.

    The details is what I'll be straying off from the original design.

  4. #4
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    Initial Software Build:

    The approach is to build this in computer first. Incorporate all the design elements. Give and take details away without wasting time (and material) in the real world. I used Maya. With help from a friend, armed with some great tips, I was able to build the head from scratch. Took me a few days to tweak it to final stages.


    *TIP: Do not overbuild! Remember, the more polygons there is at this stage, the more cuts and folds you will have to deal with later.


    My intentions with this Maya model afterwards was to be exported into Pepakura. (Pepakura is a software program for unfolding a 3d object into printable parts) Very easy to learn. It's a free downloadable program you can get from tamasoft.co.jp

    I also had to learn how to model in Maya. (I hate modelling. No good at it) But, for this project, I'd go through the basics just to get my head done. Like I said before, this is a learning experience. I treat ALL my projects like this. If I don't know how to do it, just learn it. Resources are abundant. Especially these days with the internet. Never fear the roadblocks. Challenge them!

    When building this model in Maya, I had to incorporate one key feature. The face must retract up into the helmet! I don't want to always be limited to the small eye holes in the mask. I can get more peripheral vision AND more air to breath when the face mask is in the up position. Well, that's the idea anyways. So, I made a 'bracket' that is attached to the face with a point to pivot. I'll explain this with a pic later.

    Once the Maya model is done. I broke it up into smaller pieces: "mohawk", "horns", "face", "sideburns", "helmet", and "goatee". This made it a bit more manageable in Pepakura. I can then focus and treat each piece as smaller projects. I exported each piece as an OBJ format so Pepakura can read.

    Here is the entire head imported into Pepakura. Just for fun. Looking at the unfolded pages on the right.. you can see why I decided to break it down into smaller pieces.


    Here is the face piece. And the "L" shape brackets are what I was referring to as the rig I made to allow the face to pivot and rotate up into the helmet. That might still sound confusing. Hopefully it'll be clearer when this gets made. hehe

    You can see on the right side of the screen shows the face unfolded. Each of those rectangles represents a standard 8.5"x11" sheet of paper. This face will take 7 sheets of paper to make.


    I had experience with Pepakura before as I had made 3 heads before (One was my halloween costume 2 years ago)

  5. #5
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    Made some progress with the helmet!


    Here's some of the pieces assembled. Mines the "mohawk" and "horns" and some detail bits.


    A work-in-progress .. Lined with resin and some reinforcement. And test fitted some parts here and there.

    Check out the blog for more detailed updates.
    http://headstrikecostume.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
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    Wow, that looks cool. I can only imagine what the final product will look like.
    "You see, there's no need to wonder where your god is. Because he's right here! And he's fresh out of mercy!"
    -Kirito (SAO Abridged)

    "Well, what good is being a god if you can't smite some people?"
    - Epsilon Church

  7. #7
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    If you stop this project and posting pictures, I will smash my gunpla.
    YOU JUST MAD CUZ ANGELO BE STYLIN ON YOU, Also OlNems is a bro


  8. #8
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    Zeta: Thanks!

    SFA: o noes! No worries.. I will post more tonight. Had a lot of things to sort out mechanic-wise. But, made a LOT of progress on it. Be prepared for a HUGE photo update. And maybe a video too! Your gunpla is safe!!

  9. #9
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    I should back up a little and go through the process of resin. The same process as those fancy composite materials such as "fiberglass" and "carbon fiber".

    Toughen Up!

    This is what I'll be using for the laminating resin.


    System THREE mirror coat epoxy resin. It's an A + B mix. (One pint of A and 1/2 a pint of B costed me roughly $30) Where it's a 1:2 ratio. I've used many other different brands and types of resins. Where you it's calculated by volume. The MEKP hardener is added in 1:40. That's a really hard ratio to mix! It's like a small cup of resin to a few drops of hardener. I never know if I get it right. With the System THREE, it's SO much easier to see. The "mirror" just means it's super clear. Dries like glass. Great for top coats too.

    The brushes are from Dollarama (Dollar store). 6pk for a buck. Love it when it's disposable. Cause it has to be. You can't reuse the brush after one use.

    The measuring cups are from Industrial Paint and Plastics. Same place where I picked up the resin.



    Once i mixed up the ratio into a plastic cup, I stirred quickly. Trying not to create too many bubbles at the same time. Bubbles causes weak points in the resin.

    *TIP: Prepare your workspace! Even though this brand of resin is 'indoor' use, it should be ventilated anyways! Better safe than sorry. Stuff is toxic. Cover up your workspace properly. Any drippage of the resin will be next to impossible to get out later. It would bond to anything! Gloves is a must too.

    Apply the resin with the disposable brush. Do it fast and methodically. Good thin layer. Making sure there aren't any pooling of resin anywhere. Notice the paper becomes transparent as the resin soaks into the paper fibers. This is normal.



    With an old coat hanger, I hung up the piece to dry. It should be hard for the next layer in about 8 to 10 hours. Make sure there's newspaper and/or cardboard underneath to catch any extra dripping resin. Best to hang this outside (away from rain and strong winds, of course). Garage is good.

    Some electrical bits. Micro switches, wires, 9v battery clips, and a couple of micro fans.

    I have to figure this stuff out later. Where and how it will be installed.

  10. #10
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    Reinforcement


    Now that I've got a nice thin coat of resin throughout the entire inside shell already. Good and tacky for the next part of the procedure. The reinforcement. Something to give it a bit more rigidity.

    If it was just the paper, it'd be just floppy. And if it was just the resin coating, it would be brittle. It'd crack and things would break off, it'd be a mess. You need something to bind it all together. Like all composite materials like carbon fibre and fiberglass, the process usually includes some sort of fabric for the resin to permeate into and bond. The fabric would give it both strength and flexibility.


    The Fabric:

    This fabric is from the fabric store. Just a simple sheer material at $7 for a square yard. Plenty for this project. Just pick something with strength, has plenty of holes, and thin enough that can bend over small shapes.

    Obstacle! (I'll hit MANY of these as I build this.. I'm sure!) It's a minor one. I fitted the helmet over my head and noticed the neck opening is a tad tight. Not like I was claustrophobic or anything. Just wanted a bit more room. So, with a pair of scissors, just trimmed it off a bit.

    TIP: At this stage, the paper and thin layer of resin was still easy to cut through. This is really the only time to make these adjustments. After I put the fabric in, scissors won't cut it. Only a dremel too would work then. So, plan accordingly!


    Pre-cut the fabric into small manageable pieces. Make enough for one good batch of resin. Actually, make MORE than you need. It would be difficult to stop in the middle of the resin process just to cut more fabric.




    The Resin Process:

    Here I'll go through the resin process in a bit more detail...
    System Three is a resin that was rated for indoor application. Most are super toxic that MUST be used outdoors or with great ventilation. The fumes are really REALLY bad for you. Like cancer bad. Don't risk it. Just not worth it.

    Prepare the area. I used a large sheet of cardboard. WEAR DISPOSABLE GLOVES! Stuff is sticky. And won't wash out with simple soap and water.


    1) Thoroughly mix the resin and hardener in a plastic (disposable) cup. (2 part resin + 1 part hardener) Try to limit the bubbles when stirring.
    2) With the brush, layer a thin coat of resin on the area you are going to apply. About the size of the fabric you have.
    3) Lay on fabric
    4) Lay on another thin coat of resin over the fabric. Making sure it's thoroughly soaked. Especially all the edges.

    TIP: Don't mix too much resin at a time. Only mix enough to work on for a half and hour. If you lay too much fabric at one time, it might get heavy and start to sag. Better to work one layer at a time. And in one area. Too much resin.. would just pool down.. making a huge mess. And possibly sticking your work onto the cardboard! Ruining everything. (Trust me, I speak from experience here!) You'd be better off spreading the work across a few days. Working in small sections at a time.

    TIP: Keep a towel nearby. Wipe stray drops the moment it lands.

    TIP: Don't OVER soak. Too little resin, the fabric would come off and you'll lose strength. Too much resin, and it'll become brittle and crack.. and you'll lose strength. Find and learn that balance.

    (silly 4 image per post rule.. to be continuted...hehe)

    Any feedback and comments is welcomed. Love to hear what you guys have to say here. Am I nuts in a project so ambitious?!?

  11. #11
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    Wow, this is awesome. Looks like an fun project. Can't wait to see more.

  12. #12
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    Test Fit!

    Thanks thwalker13. Words of encouragement motivates my desire to update posts!!

    Totally forgot to mention where I got my inspiration from. A model of a Strike Freedom Gundam by an artist Min Bong-Gi. His work is simply awe inspiring.

    My costume will be 80% from his design. And I'll throw in things here and there.


    Overlap each piece a little. This would give it the strength and flexibility. Try not to go past the edges. It'll be more work for you later if you do. And that would involve a dremel tool.


    Hang it up to dry. Make sure the shape is correct. Not skewed to one side. At this point I have no idea if it's the correct width. I may need to make adjustments later.

    Resin all dried. Excited to finally test fit the helmet. Looking at this makes me smile. And totally fuels my motivation to continue!
    Wife test fitting the helmet section.


    This is where a lot of questions would be answered...

    - Would it fit? Yes
    - Is the overall helmet the correct scale? Yes
    - Does it look good? (Subjectively) Yes
    - Would my eyes align up with the helmet's eye holes? Yes
    - Is there sufficient room for the face to retract up? Hmmm.. still a close call. Not 100%. (fingers still crossed)

    I think there enough space between my face and the mask for breathing. But, I still think I would put a fan there to circulate the air. I'm sure it'll help.

    The vision through the eyes. Hmm... it's there. I can totally see straight. But, I'm afraid it won't be enough. I can see myself running into everything. I might consider virtual glasses and a mini video camera... that is .. if the budget allows. Those are expensive units. $300+!

    If I do end up going the route of virtual glasses. Then the eyeholes maybe fitted with a solid piece of lens that I can then light up! Which would be cool at night. And it'll also match the anime! That would be awesome.

    Being rich is awesome. Wish I was rich. Wish I was awesome.
    Last edited by Wiltonican; February 10, 2012 at 9:46 PM.

  13. #13
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    Dude, if you went the virtual glasses route. You could put cameras in the upper part of the head just like an actual head unit from a Gundam. Btw, excellent progress. It's looking really good. And that bust of the Strike Freedom is just awesome.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by thwalker13 View Post
    Dude, if you went the virtual glasses route. You could put cameras in the upper part of the head just like an actual head unit from a Gundam. Btw, excellent progress. It's looking really good. And that bust of the Strike Freedom is just awesome.
    Those were my exact thoughts! Perfect spot. Got the height advantage too! With a wide angle camera, there's no excuses for tripping! And if I went with an infrared camera, not only do I have the capability of seeing at night, the red lights adds to the lighting as well!

  15. #15
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    Horns

    I think for the next little bit, I'm going to focus on the "horns" or antennas or whatever-you-call-ems. They are the 4 long protrusions that come off the forehead. I had a concern where these long horns where I would bump into walls and doorways constantly and eventually break off. Totally see this happening because I have zero peripheral vision. Only looking out of 2 tiny holes directly in front of me.

    So the solution would be to make them strong and maybe 'break-away-able'. So, if I do hit something, it simply comes off.. and I can put it back together again without any damage.

    My solution for the strength part would be to use a different material. Metal would be too hard to fabricate with and it would be too heavy. The paper/resin would be too weak since it's hollow. Difficult to reinforce the insides. So, I'm going with plastic. I picked up a huge sheet of (0.08 gauge) plastic from Industrial Paint and Plastics. (They sell all kinds of cool industrial building stuff. Same place where I picked up the measuring cups and resin kits)


    (Small) Obstacle: I had to go back into Pepakura to print these shapes out on regular paper. Since I'm not going to use them in the same fashion as the rest of the build. I'm just using them as cutting templates. So, I left out the tabs and numbers too. Had to go back into Maya to adjust the model of the long horns. This way I can break them into 2 shapes that run arcross 2 pages. Couldn't fit the horn onto one single 8.5"x11" paper.



    TIP: Make sure that blade is still sharp! You have to make a few SLOW accurate runs on each cut. Being extra careful not to swipe that blade across any of my fingers! Don't really need to cut all the way through, once it's past halfway.. you can just bend-break it off. Still has a clean edge. Sand if not.

    Love modelling putty. Goes on easy. Cures fast. Sands smooth.
    (Picked up a couple tubes at the local hobby store)

    Plastic Cement is what I used to sandwich them all together


 

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