As the cold air gets more bite here in the South, I find it harder to get myself out into the shop to work on my projects. In turn, I have little to discuss with you here on the blog. I did manage, despite my insatiable want to do nothing, to get out into the shop and finish up the mannequin for the Master Chief Cosplay I mentioned last month. If I’m being fully transparent here, I finished that project weeks ago but am just now sitting down to write about it. I was secretly dreading this project because I truly had no idea what I was doing.
To mend my lack of knowledge, I paid a visit to one of my favorite YouTube channels, I Like To Make Stuff. Though I took many tips from the video, my final design came out a bit different from the final product in I Like To Make Stuff.
To begin, I took measurements from the under-armor so that I would know how much PVC Pipe to buy. I actually ended up buying a bit of extra PVC for a future project. This PVC will basically become the skeletal structure of the mannequin. It is an ideal building material for a project like this for a few different reasons. It can be easily cut to any size, it is rigid and connects easily to a very large assortment of fitting that is readily available at any hardware store. Though I am not sponsored by this particular store, I always like to mention that my store of choice id my local Lowes because of their Veterans discount program. While I was in the store I also picked up all the fittings I would need for posing the mannequin.
With all the required parts in hand, I laid out the under-armor and began doing a dry fit of all the different pieces on top of the armor. This allowed me to take some really precise measurements and correct any mistakes before the final glue up.
The images are self-explanatory. Before finishing the skeletal structure, I needed to build a stand so I could measure the final length of the legs before cutting the PVC. You may have noticed the 2″ 3-way tee located in the chest area of the skeletal structure. This was included in the design to allow me a way to connect the skeletal structure to a stand that runs behind the mannequin.
Thus far things have been rather simple… measure, cut, glue. Now the first challenge has arrived. I need to attach my stand for my mannequin to a base. The base needs to be heavy and able to support the full weight of the costume. I decided that wood could look the best and would also match the wood decor of my office rather nicely, once it is sanded and stained. Being a bit of a hoarder, I had the perfect piece of wood already in my shop that I had salvaged from an old oak desk that was being thrown out. As far as attaching the wood to the PVC stand goes, I had to get a little creative.
I was negligent with my photos and did not take any pictures before and after the paint job. It’s not too exciting really. I just painted the 2″ pipe you see in the above picture solid black to help it fade away from view once the mannequin is installed. No one wants to see a white stick poking out of the Master Chiefs Butt. With the stand complete, more or less, I could now put it all together and start getting a sense of how this thing is going to go together.
Happy with the look so far, It was time for my next challenge, adding body to the skeleton. This was by far the trickiest part due to the way that the Chief’s armor sits with this costume. To make things worse, I was limited with the amount of foam padding I could use. The more I use, The more expensive this project gets. I went through lots of trial and error before finding a setup that I felt looked right.
After a test fit, I found that the helmet was just a hair to low. I decided to add a 3/4 inch tee to the top of the mannequin to add a bit oh hight, but this still left the helmet wobbly. Luckily I had a nice piece of padding from my old Army Combat Helmet from my time in the service. I glued this on top to provide better support for the Chief’s head.
With the main armor and the helmet now resting at the correct position, it was time for the last major part of the build… the hands. Take a look at your hands for a moment, they are wonders of nature. Hands make everything we do possible. They are the results of millions of years of evolution… so how do you recreate something so intricate and amazing? With force.
Though that mine photo montage may seem simple, this was a nightmare to complete and caused me many setbacks. I am less than enthused about the final look of the hands but It was good enough for the time being. I learned a lot by making lots of mistakes. With that behind me, it was time to start putting it all together.
My first test fit left much to be desired. I was going to need more foam for the legs and midsection for sure. I also needed a pair of boots for the foot armor to rest on. Being a Former Paratrooper, I could think of no better use of my old Jump Boots than to have the chief wear them. After a quick visit to the store for some more foam, I was able to wrap this project up… for the time being.
The project is still incomplete. I need to correct some of the paddings in the midsection and legs. I also need to stain the wood base of the stand and If I dare, I might even remake those terrible hands But for now, I am happy with the end result. I have a 6’7″ Master Chief guarding my office and scaring my family every time they look up.
Thanks for your time.