Captain America: TFA "Lucky Star Cab Company" taxi car door build / costume

penwiper

Well-Known Member
So here’s my most recent project, and it's been a really fun one. I’ve been wanting to do an MCU costume, but every costume has already been done so many times and so well that I couldn’t get up the necessary interest, until I thought of this one. I’ve seen a few post-treatment Steve Rogers costumes, but I haven’t yet seen anyone who was crazy enough to carry around a full-size cab door. (There probably has been one, I just haven’t seen it!) So, ambitious crazy project – let’s go for it!


capcab.jpg

(screencap from nerdreactor.com)


Fair disclosure – I’m making this to my costume prop standards, so while I try to be as accurate as possible, this definitely is not up to prop replica standards accuracy-wise. Generally speaking, I try to get as accurate as I can in my research, then fudge as necessary when faced with the reality of materials and budget.

I started out by doing my research and found some great shots of the cab and the door from when they were auctioned off, as well as assorted screen grabs. Even better, since the cab was an actual vintage car (1937 Chevrolet Master 4-door sedan), I could search vintage car websites and get all kinds of useful specs and pics to augment the movie info. This gave me, among other things, the wheelbase of the car (letting me figure out the correct size) and some good shots of the interior and side profile of the door.

(Of course, later in this project, when it was too late to change anything, I learned that the actual prop door was built at ¾ scale. Darn. I think the part of this that upset me the most was that I could have done 25% less sanding.)

So the first thing I did was to use Publisher to make a life-sized printout of the door and its side profile, to use as my pattern.

cadoor-working-1.jpg


For a prop of this size, insulation foam was a fairly obvious material to use, so I built up a door-sized block by gluing together multiple sheets of ¾ inch foam. I ended up with two different colors of foam because part of it was leftover from an older project. I mention this largely because I discovered that the bands of color produced by the multicolored layers made it super-easy to make sure I was getting fairly straight lines and flat planes when I carved the foam down later, so that might be a handy tip for others in the future.

cadoor-working-1a.jpg



With such large pieces of foam, and it not being all one thickness, it was something of a challenge to evenly weight the foam while it dried. Most of y’all probably wouldn’t be using stacks of regency romance paperbacks to even out the weight, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. My poor grandmother would probably be horrified by the use I’ve found for her marble coffee table top, but this isn’t the first time I’ve used it as a costuming weight and it works GREAT.

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I let the dry for a week or so before proceeding. For the record, this was way too short a time and cause some trouble with having to re-glue later, so allow more time if you can. (I, of course, am always bodging things together at the last minute. Do as I say, not as I do.)

I marked out my pattern pieces on the foam.


cadoor-working-2.jpg



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Then it was time for Fun With Carving as I used a hot wire foam cutter to cut out the basic shape. As you can see, I had lots of supervision for this step.


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My foam wasn’t quite thick enough at the bottom, so I glued my offcut from the front on to the back to deepen the curve. This was apparently an extra-tricky step and required twice the feline supervision. (Sadly enough, my creaky old orange kitty passed away a few weeks later, and this is the last picture I have of him – but what a great way to remember him.)


cadoor-working-help2.jpg



I’ll continue this later!
 

DarkJedi1500

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I was lucky enough to see this at GMX this weekend. The final product is incredible. You should be very proud!
 

penwiper

Well-Known Member
Coming from someone with such amazing builds as you, that is a huge compliment - thank you!

So the next step was to do the rough carving of the general shape. I discovered that the most efficient tool I had available to use for the large-scale curves was our old pruning saw – I could bend the blade just enough between both hands to be able to drag the flat along the surface with some control, like a cross between a plane and a steak knife, and the coarse teeth just grated the surface down in no time.

cadoor-working-3.jpg


Far less fun was the ten hours that I spent after that smoothing the surface and working in all the finer detail with a power sander, including the fake "dent". This was in two marathon 5-hour sessions over the course of one weekend, and my arm ached hideously for a week afterwards.

cadoor-working-3a.jpg


I deliberately made the lip on the bottom edge of the door thicker than it should be; I knew I would probably be propping it on that end a lot, and was concerned that a thinner edge wouldn't be strong enough to take the weight. This is also where I flubbed a bit on the shaping of the back area of the door, since I was trying to do it from memory to keep from going near my computer while covered in foam dust; the main thickness of the door shouldn’t have the doubled edge I carved in there.

cadoor-working-3b.jpg


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Didn't grab a pic of this, but I finished up with a bit of dremeling for the handle holes and bullet holes.
 

DarkJedi1500

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Not sure why this thread isn;t getthing more attention. Please keep posting. I really want to see how this all came together.
 

penwiper

Well-Known Member
Sorry I haven't had a chance to continue this before now. Thank you for the interest!

In between all the largescale door work, I was starting to get together all the fiddly trim bits.

I needed something to use for the large, padded interior door pull handle. A local thrift store yielded this vintage wall-painting sponger handle that was perfect.

cadoor-working-4.jpg


I shopped eBay for hardware for the handles and window cranks. The actual Chevy hardware, and even the reproductions, were a bit out of my budget, so I shopped for something similar and finally ended up with some repro 1960s Volkswagen handles that had the right general shape and feel and, at $30 for a complete set of handles, cranks, and bezels, didn’t break my bank.

cadoor-working-4a.jpg


I glued the big handle to the foam, and sunk dowels for mounting the hardware onto. I discovered two very important things in the process:

  1. E-6000 melts insulation foam. Whoops.
  2. If you want to mount dowels really, really securely in insulation foam, squirting E-6000 into your drilled holes will melt out a cavity deep in the foam. Fill the cavity with hot-glue and insert the dowels, and they will be held in like fence-posts in concrete. Silver linings and all that.

cadoor-working-4b.jpg



Once I had my dowels and pull-handle mounted securely, I gave the door a double-coat of paper mache, using typing paper and wood glue. I know fiberglass would probably be the preferred treatment around here, but I like paper-mache because it’s cheap, easy, non-toxic, and gives you that eco-friendly recycler’s glow. It’s orange because I was using paper scrap from work and using different colors made it easier to see where the layers start and stop.

cadoor-working-4c.jpg


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At this point, I had less than a week left until con. This was NOT what I’d hoped, and sure enough this rushed schedule turned out to have some long-term consequences for the project, which you’ll see when we get to the end.

So it was time to get as many layers of gesso on the door as I could in the time, sanding between every layer. This took several days and a lot of work!

Okay, look, I’m resigned to the fact that my cats will help every step of the way, but when they start recruiting the neighbor’s cat to come help too, that’s a bit much!

cadoor-working-4e.jpg


SO MUCH HELP.

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Anyway, despite the feline interference, I ended up with a reasonably smooth end product. This was maybe 6 coats? (I didn’t bother gessoing over the area on the back that would be covered by the upholstery.)

cadoor-working-4g.jpg


cadoor-working-4h.jpg
 

Guri

Sr Member
Gen, this is SO cool! I love the idea and your processes are always inspiring (inexpensive materials and all that) and you are so funny with your cats and happy accident comments. hehe... I can't wait to see the finished costume!

Also... this back yard- that tree.... LOVE IT! Even though I can only see a bit of the tree.... what a wonderful working area.

cadoor-working-4e.jpg
 

penwiper

Well-Known Member
Thank you, guys! This has definitely been a fun build, and a different kind of project for me, so thanks for making it fun to share it, too.

Julia, yeah, sometimes I wish I had a proper workshed with benches and lights and all that business and then I look around me at the birds and cats and growing things and think, nah, I'm good. :) (And yay for tree appreciation! That old oak is the best thing about this house and lot - so old and gnarled that I can walk completely around it on the roots without touching the ground. Lovely!)

DarkJedi1500, I tend to pick my what paper and glue I use with paper mache depending on the project. Tissue paper can be really fiddly due to its delicacy - either it wrinkles, or it disintegrate and lumps - so while there are some projects where it would be perfect, something like this where I want flat expanses isn't where I'd use it. I opted for typing paper over newspaper because it has a finer grain and smoother surface, plus I had a lot of it readily available. Other times (like with my weeping angel mask) where I want a very strong but moldable paper mache, I've used paper towels - they sop up vast amounts of glue and dry really sturdy - but that has a really rough surface texture so I only use that where I'll be covering it in paperclay. As for why I used wood glue - well, mostly just because I hadn't used it for large-scale paper mache before and wanted to see how it would behave. I'm always experimenting!
 

penwiper

Well-Known Member
Finally getting back to this writeup! Thanks for the continued interest, y'all. :)

Primed and painted! The paint I used was color-match for John Deere tractors, amusingly enough. :)

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Painted inside the window area and above the upholstery area black to better blend with all the black elements that would be added next.

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The tubing for the various gaskets/seals was made by trimming down and hotgluing pipe insulation foam. This was glued completely around the back edge of the door, as well as a double layer of it inside the window frame.

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The only window I had to worry about was the small lourvre window, so that was easy enough to cut out of some stray plexiglass I had lying around.

cadoor-working-5f.jpg


cadoor-working-5g.jpg


Meanwhile, I'd bought a roll of automotive seating vinyl off eBay for the door upholstery. I sandwiched some quilt batting between the vinyl and some muslin and quilted the pattern in.

cadoor-working-5h.jpg


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Once the upholstery and handles are applied to the door, it's finally starting to look like something!

cadoor-working-5j.jpg


Now that it's fully assembled, it's time to add the final details by painting on the Lucky Star logo and weathering the whole thing!

If you think that looks like hotel room carpet in the background, you're absolutely right. Finish a costume mere hours before I wear it? Moi?

I'd designed and printed the logo and cut out the stencil ahead of time, so now it's just a matter of painting it. The red is basic acrylic in some random but close color I had leftover from another project.

cadoor-working-6a.jpg


Unfortunately, the stencil bled terribly, so I spent a good 45 minutes cleaning it up as best I could. I'd had another stencil ready for the "shadow" portion of the logo, but after that experience, I figured it was less precise but safer to just freehand the shadow.

cadoor-working-6c.jpg


Fortunately, you have to be pretty close to see the messiness - from a little distance, it doesn't look bad at all.

cadoor-working-6d.jpg


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I didn't get any pictures of the weathering process, but it basically just involved a lot of black and black/yellow paint and silver rub-n-buff.
 

TheNickFox

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
How did I miss this before. This is amazing. I would have never thought to make this...but now I do!

Fantastic job!

-Nick
 
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