3D Printed Samus Varia Suit 2.0

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Well-Known Member
As some of you may know my first costume was Samus' Varia Suit from Metroid Prime 2 & 3, but being my first one it had its issues. Most importantly were the problems with the legs that caused it to be unwearable to cons (which I unfortunately discovered after having brought it to a con). :(

This quick photoshoot was the one and only time I've ever fully worn this costume.

A number of factors including the thigh rigging breaking, the shins popping apart when I flexed my leg, and the thighs and/or shins being slightly too long, caused the suit to be unwearable (or at least unable to be moved around in with anything more than a sad shuffling motion). There were also a number of other smaller issues that I wanted to fix. So after taking a break from the project I've started work on Samus 2.0!

My goal is to have the suit in a state that I'm fairly satisfied with by the time PAX Prime rolls around so I can finally debut it there. There are a number of other things on my list that I'd like to eventually improve, but for PAX this is what I'm aiming for:
  • Completely remake the leg armor (both to fix issues and also make it much lighter and comfortable to wear)
  • Make new shoe armor (the old ones were just painted foam and the paint was cracking)
  • Give the yellow torso a better coat of paint
  • Add elastic to the forearm to keep it closed when I flex a certain way
  • Create better rigging for the upper arm armor
  • Secure the chest armor better so it doesn't keep sliding backward
  • Install fans in the helmet to reduce the fog on the visor and help keep me cool

Eventually I'd like to:
  • Make all new 3D printed yellow torso armor
  • 3D print a new arm cannon which will be much lighter and won't have the globby looking glue that's in between the rings currently. Holding the cannon up for poses is very important and I struggled a lot after less than an hour of holding it while taking pictures previously.
  • Solder all the connections for the EL tape so the suit finally lights up!

So far I've already done some of what I'm aiming for!

I've already fixed the forearm armor with elastic.

For round two of the leg and shoe armor I'm 3D scanning and then 3D printing brand new versions. I've borrowed an Xbox 360 Kinect and used an adapter to hook it up to Windows so I can use 3D scanning software (Skanect) to scan the old versions of the armor and also my body so I can figure out exactly how I need to model the new parts. I started with the shins. The originals were by far the worst of the bunch and were the hardest part to make. They're such a complicated shape with all sorts of curves and I had a really tough time getting them to fit right. Scanning them also proved to be fairly difficult and I had to experiment with ways to hold the shin up and rotate it around to get a good scan. I ended up duct taping it to the rod from a floor lamp. Scanning my leg required more outside the box thinking. Standing on a computer chair (with the back removed) and having my sister spin me around didn't work as well as I thought it would. I managed to get a successful scan by laying on my back with the Kinect on a desk, one leg held up in the air, then shuffling around in a circle like the worst break dancer ever known to man. The result was this:
I didn't intend to have my foot to be flexed up so high but I was upside down and it was hard to judge what 90 degrees was. I was glad to have the bent knee however, as that helped me determine where the shin should stop. Having the shoe on would help with modeling the bottom of the shin, and later could be re-used while modeling the shoe armor.
Here's the shin scan:
A bit rough, but definitely enough to work with! Using these two scans as reference I made a brand new model:
which I then sent to Zbrush to get smoothed:
To be able to get it on my leg I had to divide it into three pieces: two sides and the knee spike. To 3D print it I had to divide it even further: each side was sliced horizontally across the middle, and the round light caps were separated.
Even just printing it ended up being a little bit of a challenge. Overhangs are a common problem with printing but it was my first time having to really deal with them so I had some learning to do. Here's one of the longest prints and its support structure:
This part takes about 23 hours to print! For those curious, I'm printing on an Ultimaker 2 and I used the default normal speed settings. I love this printer; it makes beautiful prints even without using best quality settings.
While other pieces were printing I started sanding and spot putty-ing the completed prints. Currently almost all of the first shin is ready for final sanding before the copper paint can go on.

I also have most of the second shin printed - I still need to print the other top half, the knee spike, and a light cap. I've had a few failed prints including one which just randomly stopped for no reason with only a couple hours left to go on a 20 hour print (I suspect a brief power outage), and another print which ended up looking and feeling like foam due to a clogged nozzle.

While modeling the shin I included a flat surface on the inside, up top, on the back side. This would serve as a place to add a hinge. I mocked up a hinge in Maya and tested out the rotation to make sure it would actually work. I made some modifications so the swinging half of the shin could move far enough to get my leg inside. These modifications were creating a gap on the back seam and altering the angle of the seam so it didn't run into itself.
When installing it I had to be very careful not to break through to the outside. Another hurdle I had to overcome was pre-drilling the holes. A drill wouldn't fit in at the correct angle so I had to use my hands to twist a drill bit through the plastic! I also had to cut the ends of the screws off because they were too long. I had a hell of a time getting them to go in the holes but eventually I got it. I'll be removing this one before paint though, so I still have to do this twice more. :/
To hold it closed I'll be hot gluing a tiny clip to the top and bottom of the front on the inside. I've tested this out already and it works great!

I have also modeled the shoe armor:
and I've printed most of the first shoe and it is also ready for final sanding before final paint!
I had to do a lot of guessing for this model since the shoe scan was pretty rough and not detailed. To my surprise, each piece fit like a glove first try!
The pieces will velcro on to the shoe (they're taped on for the picture). I made the under side of each piece dip in so the velcro doesn't make them stick off a distance from the shoe. Velcroing them on means I can take them off in order to get my foot in the shoe, which requires flexing the shoe.
On the old armor I made I attached the vertical "tongue" to the shin instead of the shoe because it was too hard to secure it. This time around it's actually on the shoe itself, and it's combined with the top section of the shoe armor for stability.

So here's where I'm sitting at with the prints:
The shinier pieces in the middle are unfinished prints (printed in silver filament).

That's not all though! I've also added a coat of gold paint to the torso. The original paint was close to the correct color, but it was flat and boring. I used some watered down, really nice gold paint and brushed a couple coats on. It adds so much dimension and really helps sell it as metal like the rest of the suit! It's hard to capture the effect in pictures but here's the best I could get:
The first picture in particular has a very visible area of old paint in the bottom left. The middle picture has old paint in the three bottom right panels and the "underwear" part. The last picture has old paint on the "underwear", the entire top half, and the far right strip.
The effect is very cool looking; when the light hits it, it looks really metallic, and when it doesn't it looks kind of grimy and weathered. This is caused by the gold flakes gathering in brush strokes.
I will also be going back over the black lines (I got gold paint all over them) and maybe adding some brown for even more dimension and realism.

So that's it for now. I'm feeling pretty good about how much I have left to do, but I need to get my butt in gear. There's only two months left!

And this time I will make sure I have enough time to try it all on before I get to the hotel...

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Well-Known Member
Yep! Still working on it! Just now in a more relaxed manner. I decided that based on the progress I was making that it would be better to not try to finish for this year's PAX. I had hoped I could use the old thighs with the new shins but the thighs are just so heavy and unwieldy that I couldn't. Now I can tackle the rest of my wishlist as well, and whenever I finish I'll debut it at the next con from there.
I have some pictures I need to post of the progress I've made since my last post and I'll try to make time for that as soon as I can!

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New Member
Wow this is absolutely amazing work!
What layer height are you using in Cura? Do you sand and coat each 3d-printed part?



Well-Known Member
Thank you! I've been having great results just using the default normal settings in Cura.

To smooth them I start by coating the raw print in a couple coats of filler primer. Then with a nitrile glove I spread a thin layer of Bondo spot putty over the entire thing with my fingers. After that I do a sanding pass with 220 and 400 grit, then a coat of normal primer which makes it easier to see imperfections. If there are any I touch it up with spot putty, sand again, and prime again. Then paint! For the copper paint I start with a silver base to make the metallic look really pop.

Starting with the filler primer removes the vast majority of the print lines and the rest are handled by the spot putty. The reason I don't start with spot putty is I like having a buffer between what I'm sanding and the print plastic. I've discovered that sanding the plastic can leave burrs, so knowing when I'm about to get close while sanding (when I see the color change from the red spot putty to the gray primer) is really helpful. Plus, spot putty only works in a very thin layer and the less I have to use the better.
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Sr Member
Excellent work! I'm working on some 3D printed armor, but they're really low-polygon models, so a LOT more Bondo work is necessary (to basically sculpt the final shape). Hoping mine turns out 1/2 as nice as yours!


Well-Known Member
It's been a while since I've posted, but I've been working on and off on this project. I'm starting to get back into the swing of things again.

Recently I've been working on remaking the thighs. I used the Kinect again to scan my actual leg and the old thigh armor which I needed for reference, and made a new, more accurate version. Hopefully I can actually get it to fit right this time! It shouldn't be too hard now that I have the advantage of rapid prototyping instead of being stuck with whatever I initially think is correct. I printed out a slice of the bottom of the model to see if it fit well. The printer clogged so I didn't get the whole thing, but it was enough to try it on. It did fit perfectly, but I had not accounted for the extra diameter of my leg when it bends. I've since gone back in and increased the size of the knee area by half an inch and I'll try it again as soon as I get some better filament.

Here's the finished model of the new thigh armor! (in fancy gif form!)


Other than that, currently the shins are in a state near completion. One shin is painted copper and has its hinges and clips installed, but its knee spike still needs final sanding before paint. The other shin has a coat of spot putty on it and needs sanding, and is missing its knee spike altogether. All 4 shin light caps are basically ready for final paint.

The shoes are exactly where they were previously, except for one thing: I decided to go back to the drawing board a bit for the tongue parts. After trying the shin on with the shoe parts I realized that walking would be a problem. The tongue wasn't angled far enough forward and the shin would hit it, severely restricting my range of movement. To solve this I didn't want to just angle the tongue forward permanently as this wouldn't look very good. Instead I went back to the model and separated the tongue part from the top of the shoe which had been a single solid piece previously. I modeled in a hinge which locks at a certain angle, and it will be held up/back with some elastic. This way the tongue will move with the shin when I'm walking and stop at a desirable angle! I'll apply some black 2mm craft foam to the back side of the tongue so the shin's paint doesn't get rubbed off or chipped by the tongue.



Well-Known Member
Update!!! I stopped posting about my progress a long time ago for various reasons, but I was working hard the whole time to get this done. As of yesterday Samus 2.0 is fully functional and ready to debut at PAX West this week! So if you're going to PAX please come find me and say hi! I can't imagine I'll be hard to find. I plan on being in costume at the beginning of Friday and Saturday, for however long I can manage to last, probably primarily in the lobby areas. So excited!

I took some pics of my progress that I didn't post about so I'll probably do a write up and post those at some point but not super soon. The weekend after PAX is Rose City Comicon which I'm taking Samus to too, so I won't have time until after that at the very least. If you're going to RCCC be sure to look for me there too!

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Sr Member
Thanks for sharing :) I have been trying to scan my own costumes and was frustrated with options- I had a friend donate an Xbox 360 kinect and I've not yet used it. Seeing these results has made it a bit of a priority to really get right because it looks great! I also have an appreciation for the actual scanning process as it's not as easy as just waving the device around! I ws moving to fast and then too slow to get a good test :) But seriously, thank you.


Well-Known Member
Day 2 of PAX and it has been incredible so far! Samus has been so amazing to wear, and after fixing a few first day minor issues (gluing the shoe tops on instead of velcro, for example) she's actually surprisingly comfortable. It can get pretty hot if I'm in a warm area but if there's a breeze and/or I'm in a cool area I really don't get hot at all. The movement is also surprisingly good. I can walk like a normal person (#cosplay goals) and it's been so great to actually be able to have good vision (my M'aiq cosplay is awful at this).

Yesterday I was stopped by IGN and they asked to film me for their cosplay video. They liked it so much they made it into a separate video just about me!

I've had a TON of people stop me for pictures; it's been insane. I get stuck in one spot as an endless stream of people stop to take my picture! When there's a lull and I try to leave I get about 3 feet before there's yet another person. It's such a cool experience to see all these people so excited to see Samus. My sister, who's been my amazing helper/sherpa, has told me she's been noticing a lot of people who see me standing still and think maybe I'm a statue or something but then I move and they get the most surprised and excited look on their faces. It's hilarious and fantastic.

I'll be in costume from about 3:30 to 4:30 tomorrow if you're here and haven't seen me. Not sure about Monday yet.

And finally, pictures! Here's what I've found by browsing around. No pics of my own yet.
(by severedstitches)

(by peatonford)

(by bvxsxr)

(by nickdorazioiii)

(by Douglas Bushong)

Thanks for sharing :) I have been trying to scan my own costumes and was frustrated with options- I had a friend donate an Xbox 360 kinect and I've not yet used it. Seeing these results has made it a bit of a priority to really get right because it looks great! I also have an appreciation for the actual scanning process as it's not as easy as just waving the device around! I ws moving to fast and then too slow to get a good test :) But seriously, thank you.
You're welcome! Awesome to see other people using scanning. Let me know if you have any questions!
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New Member
WOW... This looks so inspiring : D

I want to make this costume one day and hope it will be half as good ;3;

(also gonna 3D print mine, when one have a means, why not use them)

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