Now that all of the Christmas gifts have been returned and half of my the New Years resolutions have been broken, I can happily refocus my attention on my ever-growing list of unfinished projects. Currently, all of my attention is on modifying my Master Chief Costume.
Last October, I bought a Master Chief costume for Holloween, and for eventual cosplay use. The costume, while amazing, is not perfect. Being that it is a mass-produced item, certain issues are bound to pop up. Missing details, improper fit, poor paint, etc. Overall I have been very pleased with this suit, but I still have many modifications I want to make in order to make this suit a show stopper.
Below I have compiled a list of my most pressing modifications, some of which I have already completed and will be discussing in greater detail in this post.
- Reinforce the structural integrity of the suit.
- Improve the paint job.
- Repaint the interior armor.
- Incorporate a power bank.
- Incorporate led backlights.
- Incorporate a cooling system.
- Build custom gloves.
- Build custom under armor.
Some of these improvements are simple visual upgrades while others are quality of life issues with the suit. I decided to attack some of the simple visual and structural issues, to begin with.
As you can see from the images above, the suit is painted in an OD green color on both the interior and exterior. When worn, the interior of the suit is still visible from certain angles due to the large openings for the arms and head. I wanted to make the exterior contrast better against the under-armor so I painted the interior with hammered black spray paint. After applying some masking tape to the areas I didn’t want to be painted, and a few coats of paint, I was left with a very nice finish.
Not all of the armor required a coat of paint, but I did repeat this process on the shoulder pauldrons as they sit high on the bicep and are extremely visible from all angles.
I was comfortable with painting the interior, but much more cautious about any exterior modifications. I am currently in the process of teaching myself how to use an airbrush, but I’m not confident enough to use an airbrush on my suit quite yet. I am, however, quite handy with a Sharpie. With that in mind, I used a lot of Sharpie markers to darken in areas of the armor that were painted with a lighter grey color.
If you look at the helmet you can see quite a difference between the area I darkened around the visor, versus the grey areas on the back of the helmet.
While I wait for my airbrush skills to improve, I decided to change gears a bit and work on some reinforcement of the armor. All of the armor is covered in hook & pile tape (velcro). You simply stick all the pieces in place and hope that nothing falls off. While this isn’t such a problem for some of the smaller, lighter pieces, it is a huge problem for the larger, heavier pieces that tent to shift as you move. Not only do pieces tend to break free, but they also rub together and make terrible scratching sounds, and generally just look terrible as they leave giant seams on some of the armor.
To correct the issue on some pieces such as the forearm armor, a simple solution was to remove the hook-pile tape and simply glue the seam closed. The original design allowed this particular piece to be clamped around your arm. I tested it beforehand and found it to be just as easy to install this section of armor by sliding it into place like a bracelet. The final seam is much nicer now.
The leg armor will be modified the same way as it is very similar to the forearm armor.
Reinforcing the armor on the legs and arms was straight forward enough. Remove the hook & pile tape, glue the seam. The body armor was a bit more technical. As you could see in the pictures above, the body armor comes in two separate pieces that have four points of connection. Each point of connection is, again, connected with hook & pile tape. I couldn’t, however, just remove the tape and glue it all up like the rest of the armor. I still needed the armor to break apart so that I could get inside of it. A solution was provided by the memories of my old IOTV Tactical Vest I once wore in the Army.
My old IOTV, as well as most plate carriers I can think of also have four points of detachment. Typically though, only the sides are detached to allow the armor to be equipped and removed quickly. The top half of the armor is simply dropped over the wearers head. I decided to apply the same principle to my suit. I would leave the hook & pile tape on the lower areas, and reinforce the upper area of the armor. I didn’t want to make the attachment permanent, however, so I opted to use nuts and bolts instead. Time to visit my catch-all drawer.
I found the exact parts I needed in my catch-all collection, though I needed to give them a quick polish before installation.
The wire wheel made quick work of the cleanup. Once I had all my parts collected and cleaned, It was time to make permanent decisions and predrill the armor.
While I was busy drilling holes and installing bolts into the armor, I decided it would also be a good idea to bolt on my thruster packs to the back of the armor. I followed much of the process as before.
These thruster packs are made of two separate pieces that are held together with… take a guess…, yep! More hook & loop tape. Once those two sides are married, you stick the whole piece on the back of the armor with more tape. As before, this leaves an ugly seam and provides little support. Time for more bolts!
I decided to reinforce the thrusters not only for appearance’s sake but for a more practical reason as well. They will need to support a bit of weight in the near future.
In my next update post concerning this armor, I will hopefully be discussing how I installed a power bank inside of my thruster pack to power the electronics I am getting ready to install. The next post will likely focus on all of the electrical aspects of the suit so stay tuned!