New Member
Hello all!

This is my first dive into modern cosplaying. I chose to do the "Rescue Cap" for my first costume as the subject appeals to me and it involves the least amount of of custom created pieces to it. Really, just the shield and everything else is either "off the shelf" or requires but a wee bit of alteration to make it work. A good place then, to start!

And where I did start was here in this forum. I am most definitely building upon the work which so many of you here did and blazed the trail which I thankfully followed. It has however, been some years since TFA was at its most current so no few of the links for resources from back then have since dried up. So, a current refresh could help others also interested in their own Rescue Cap cosplay. That said, here goes...

Here's what I worked up.


01: The Boots
02: Compass Pouches
03: M1938 Map Dispatch Bag Pouch Case Shoulder Strap
04: M1936 Suspenders (First Pattern)
05: M1923 Cartridge Belt
06: M1911 .45 Pistol
07: M1916 Colt 1911 Holster
08: M1938 Dismounted Leggings 5-R
09: M-1 Helmet & Liner
10: B-7 Tube Vent Goggles
11: Paratrooper Chinstraps
12: Glove Oil
13: Captain America USO Shirt
14: Gloves
15: Web Utility Strap
16: M3 Trench Knife
17: M6 Scabbard
18: M42 Paratrooper Trouser Reinforced
19: Leather Jacket
20: The Shield

01: The Boots

On screen, Cap was wearing brown boots. Beyond that? Well...​
It's impossible to tell whether these are Corcoran Jump Boots, as pictured here, or the standard issue "service shoes" or just something which looked the part and the costumers went with it.​

At war's start the US Army's standard issue "boot" were these. The Service Shoe Type II

Quoting from the write up of these on the ATF page:

"From the late 1930's until late 1941, personnel of the US Army were all issued the Type I Service Shoe, which is this style of boot with leather soles. The Army introduced an improved version, the Type II, which had a rubber heel and tap (half sole) in the Fall of 1941. The Service Shoes were made from polished, grain-side out leather, painted cordovan brown."

For the time period of the Rescue sequence, these would be the most likely sort of boots Cap would be wearing. Yet, they don't match the imagery of what he had on his feet. These have a toe cap, his didn't.
Service Shoe Type III

These are what replaced the Type II's above.

Again, quoting from the write up of these on the ATF page:

In the Fall of 1942, the US Army Quartermaster developed the "Type III" service shoe. The new boots looked very similar to the ones issued during the First World War. The most obvious change from the previous models was the leather being turned flesh side out, which was more water repellent, especially once dubbing was applied. Most had a full rubber sole, although some were made with hobnails. Early versions had toe caps and riveted quarters, features which were dropped during the production runs.

One feature of boots made this way was how quickly they darkened once "dubbed" with beeswax. Thus darkened, these come far closer to what it looks like Cap was wearing and would be possible to have been in the field for him to have been issued / acquired to wear.

From a historical perspective, it'd be much more likely that Cap would be wearing the Type IIs as the Type IIIs only got into the field by early '44. Yet, from the imagery, Cap's boots seem more similar to the Type IIIs - no toe cap, rough surface appearance, and so on - than they do the Type IIs. But then, when you look closer at the imagery, Cap's boots don't look like standard issue anything.​
Looking closer at Cap's footwear in the Rescue Mission sequences, it really doesn't match either of the Service Shoe types. The toe box looks too defined. The sole of the boots looks too thick. There's no toe cap as there would be on the Type III's and the toes on the Type IIIs are much softer and flatter looking.​
And thanks to Cap's wearing the standard issue leggings, we can't tell if there's any boot under them.​

For my costume? I simply went with a pair of Corcoran Jump Boots. They're from the right period, they're brown, with the leggings you can't tell that they're Jump Boots, and I plan on doing US WWII Paratrooper cosplay in the future. So, they're right for that. Plus, the "Service Shoes" cost about as much as the Jump Boots. Thus I wouldn't save anything going with the Shoes. I probably could've gone with just a brown boot of that general style and no one would've been the wiser. Some other cosplayers here on RPF have done that and gotten great results as well.​
But, for me, Corcorans were it. I did make sure to wear 'em round the house for some hours at a time prior to wearing them to my first con. And I also made sure to wear some heavy boot socks as further cushioning. As a result, they broke in well and were quite comfortable for the hours I was on my feet in them.​

02: Compass Pouches

An affectation to "busy up" the costume. These are two Compass Pouches attached to a Map Case Strap. A Map Case Strap would not be worn as it was in the costume and nor are the Compass Pouches meant to attach to it. A Compass Pouch would be attached to the belt as it had the attachment holes meant for it. But, the costumers must've felt that the suspenders weren't making the torso of the costume look sufficiently "busy" so they added not just one Compass Pouch but two of them! I found mine on eBay as they're exceptionally generic.

03: M1938 Map Dispatch Bag Pouch Case Shoulder Strap

Just the strap and not the whole case. Luckily, ATF sells just the strap. It's a distinctive piece of the costume as you can clearly see the "shoulder pad" part of it behind the two Compass Pouches.​

04: M1936 Suspenders (First Pattern)

First Pattern M1936 Suspenders. Some rather eagle eyed cosplayers noted the exact nature of the suspenders worn in the Rescue Cap costume. They're just a little bit different from the "Standard" type. Luckily, this difference is distinctive enough to have also caught the eye of the WWII recreationist community and their needs are answered by ATF producing exactly this variation:
Anyway, this style of combat suspender differs from the "Standard" (or more common) style in two ways. First, these use Type II A (coarser) webbing for the shoulder straps instead of the ribbed Type IIB. Second, instead of using a riveted bracket with the loop and D-ring incorporated in it to attach the shoulder straps to the front carrying straps, this style uses a rectangular loop and a piece of 5/8" webbing.

05: M1923 Cartridge Belt

Standard "standard issue." Nothing unique and thus, thankfully, widely available. I purchased my M1923 Cartridge Belt from Sarco. Make sure to order the darker color option.​

06: M1911 .45 Pistol

Yes, Cap was armed with a gun back during the War. If you looked at the comic books of the day - and also in the more modern runs of them, Cap definitely was armed and had few problems blazing away with any and all of the firearms he had at hand. In "The First Avenger" Cap carried a M1911 .45 pistol and it was only because the Red Skull knocked it out of Cap's hand that Steve Rogers didn't plug the murderous villain full of freedom blossoms.​
Originally I thought to use a "training pistol" as a suitable stand-in for an actual .45. This, as there was no way on Earth I'd be able to attend any comic convention with a real gun holstered at my side. Let alone try to walk 'round the streets of San Diego with one either. I found plenty of such "rubber" training pistols that more or less looked the part but they were around $50! Thinking fast, I looked up what an Airsoft M1911 would set me back. It was all of $9.70. The shipping of the thing was almost double the cost of the actual air pellet .45 replica hand gun. Yes, it does come with that little orange ring at the barrel's end in order to be fully gun law compliant. The thing looks truly like a real Colt .45 otherwise. And it definitely looked superior to the rubber training guns I found online. Unsurprisingly, at the Convention the gun never left its holster as the Weapons Check folks made sure to tag it and then zip-tie into the holster. That was entirely acceptable. And the overall effect was still "screen accurate."​

07: M1916 Colt 1911 Holster

That big M1911 needed a holster to hang it off of Cap's cartridge belt and the M1916 Colt 1911 Holster is specific for that task. This, in brown leather not black. The US Army only went to black leather for such things after WWII was over. I'd thought to look 'round surplus stores but they had no such things in stock and the one gun store I looked in had only a vintage M1916 holster that was moldy and discolored leather and they want $100 for it. Amazon however, sent me one for about a third that price and it was in brand new high quality leather without a spec of mold upon it.

08: M1938 Dismounted Leggings 5-R

The Leggings. Aside from the M1 "Steel Pot" helmet, there's little else as iconic a thing for American troops in World War Two than these Leggings. These things were part of the US Army's field uniform throughout the entire war and were worn by combat troops in every theater the US fought in. In today's military they seem quite anachronistic. Quaint, almost. Certainly unnecessary by modern standards. But that's entirely due to the change in footwear that the US Army and then the entire US military adopted after "WW2 ."​
Prior to that, the "boots" our troops wore were the Service Shoes as described above. The problem with such "boots" was that throat of the boot only came up to just above the wearer's ankle. Out in the field that meant there was ample opportunity for things to get into the top of the Service Shoes. To get around this the Army adopted a simple cloth device meant to be wrapped around the top of the shoes. It's length would run up the wearer's legs sufficiently as to keep things out of the shoes and also keep the pant legs secured as well. It was convenient solution. And there were plenty of other militaries in the world at the time who adopted similar such solutions. The US Army had originally followed the existing trend of wearing the Puttee during World War One and the immediate post-Great War years. But, that particular means of "closing the gap" between shoe and pants wasn't all that popular as the things were somewhat tricky to apply correctly lest they unravel and defeat the entire purpose of having put them on in the first place. Thus a single piece of heavy cloth was deemed superior and such "gaiters" then became standard with the US military.​
Then came the paratroopers.​
Early on in the development of airborne forces, the Army recognized that the existing Service Shoes did not provide sufficient foot and ankle support for the parachutists when they hit the dirt after floating down in their canopies. Something sturdier was needed and in particular something which firmly encased the wearer's ankles. That meant a boot which went further up the leg than the Service Shoes. And thus the "jump boot" was created.​
Initially, these were specialist equipment that were restricted to just airborne troops. But, as the paratroopers had a huge cache associated to their daring doings, getting a pair of your own "jump boots" became quite the thing among US troops after the big airborne "drops" into Normandy. And also as a result, the US military realized the superiority of having a boot with such a relatively high throat to it. That length of boot meant more support for the wearer's feet and "closed the gap" itself between its shaft opening and the trouser legs. Thus, post-war, such boots entirely replaced the Service Shoes as what our troops wore in the field. So universal is this that when you say "army boot," most people today think of what were actually unique and highly limited issuance "jump boots" during the war. The concept of something as otherwise short and insufficient as a Service Shoe being considered appropriate for wearing into the field is non-sensical when viewed with the obvious superiority of the taller and sturdier "jump boot."​
But, all that was in the future. During the war such Leggings were a necessary part of a trooper's attire in order to more comfortably wear his shoes in the field. And thus the things became an indelible part of what an American soldier in World War Two was expected to look like. And the costumers did well by recognizing this in creating the Rescue costume.​
In wear, the Leggings are simplicity itself. Once, that is, you become familiar with the initial setup and purpose of the their lacing. Fortunately, the lads at the 90th Infantry Division Preservation Group have an excellent series of web pages that nicely detail the process.
I purchased my M1938 Leggings on the ATF site. Just take care to mind the sizing as they do come in different sizes to accommodate the range of calf thicknesses.​

09: M-1 Helmet & Liner

The M-1 Helmet a.k.a. "Steel Pot" was a major change and a major step forward in head protection for US troops. It covered a much more substantial portion of the wearer's skull than the previous M-1917 British pattern "trench helmet." This new helmet was visually quite distinctive and thus became another of the iconic elements which were part of the US military's identity in World War Two.​
In the movie, Cap is depicted as wearing an M-1 that was repainted for the USO tour's chorus girls to wear. Hence the blue and the distinctive "A" on the front of it. This is an excellent blending of the previous comic book appearances of Cap during the War when in which he was depicted as wearing a more or less "standard issue" Army uniform - that included the steel pot helmet.​
The costumers couldn't leave it at that however.​
Looking closely at the helmet as depicted on screen, there's the helmet straps which are distinctly different on Cap's helmet. Those are actually the "A-yokes" and Chin Cup developed for the paratroopers. The simple single "straight under the jaw" strap of the standard M-1s proved inadequate for keep a paratrooper's helmet on when he jumped out into the slipstream of air blasting him at over 100 miles an hour as he exited his aircraft. So, the Army quickly developed a set of helmet straps that better kept the pot on his head by spreading out the attachment load through those "A-yokes" and also provided a better anchoring point with the Chin Cup.​
On screen, these are essential. Especially the Chin Cup. While Cap only wears the straps fully attached as he makes his own jump, for the rest of the film that Chin Cup is always visible as it hangs there, unsecured, to one side of his face. Thus it is an essential part of the costume.​
Time was, Army Navy surplus stores always had plenty of "steel pot" helmets available. Yes, they were likely dinged up and dirty and rusty but they had piles of them to choose from. At least that's what I remember through the 70s and into the 80s. Today? Those days are long past. At least so in the great Los Angeles metro area as I did my searching for a helmet.​
Looking online however, there's ample supply still. Said supply ranging from the thoroughly used old M-1s to reconditioned vintage steel pots, to newly made reproduction ones. All at a cost range to suit.​
As I knew I'd need the paratrooper straps, and as I knew the chances of finding such specific things as those at a surplus store were slim indeed, I opted to purchase the reproduction "paratrooper" helmet carried by At The Front. That way I'd get a helmet that wasn't rusted or dented and I'd get the paratrooper straps included from the start.​
Arrived, the helmet was a thing of clean perfection. So much so that I didn't want to alter the steel pot portion by painting it as Cap's. So, I scrounged around online again and found a suitable used helmet through Numrich Gun Parts. That, together with the reproduction liner from ATF, met my needs perfectly.​

10: B-7 Tube Vent Goggles

The Goggles. The thing that Cap wore on his face for all of the few seconds it took for him to put them on and then jump out of the aircraft to start the Rescue Mission. And then, for the rest of Rescue sequence, the Goggles stayed firmly stuck upon his helmet. But, there they are and they are as specific a visual element of the Rescue costume as the helmet and shield.​
Once again the costumers were exactingly accurate in the details they chose. In this case not only are these goggles exactly the sort of equipment issued by the US during WWII, they're very much specifically the sort of flight goggles the Army used. This, as opposed to the type the Navy used.​
Both of the goggles look extremely similar but, upon close examination the Navy's AN6530 goggles are just slightly different from the Army's B-7 goggles. It all comes down to the tubes.​


On the left above is a close up of the AN6530 vent tube. In the center is the B-7's vent tube. And on the right is a close up of the vent tube on the Goggles worn by Cap in the Rescue sequence. They're clearly not the Art-Deco inspired smoothly curving things of the AN6530s but are, instead, the simple and basic tacked on tubes of the B-7's.​
Thus the Goggles Cap wore during the Rescue Mission were B-7s and not AN6530s.​
Which for us cosplayers is a good thing as the reproduction market, for whatever reason, hasn't reached doing AN6530s. Vendors have however, popped out repros of the B-7s. Thus they're much less expensive and more plentiful than the "original issue" and "vintage" AN6530s. And for a prop piece that never gets actually worn but only lives atop the helmet, that's a useful savings.​
You'll have to bear in mind however, that there's reproductions and then there's reproductions. Turns out one company that manufactured quite a few reproduction B-7s chose to, for unknown reasons, make their frames just a slight bit smaller than the actual B-7's. You'd have to have an original issue B-7 put next to the smaller repro version to discern the difference. I only discerned after having purchased a B-7 with tinted lenses and then buying replacement clear lenses that had been manufactured to the original specs. Those lenses didn't fit.​
Trimming them down would've been pretty simple and direct. I'd have used the existing reproduction B-7 lenses as a template and just sand down the correctly sized ones until they fit. I contacted the vendor of the repro B-7s and he was glad to help me out by sending me replacement clear lenses that would fit his repro B-7s. Problem solved and the swap easily made. As of this writing, there's still plenty of B-7 Tube Vent Goggles available on his eBay store. Make sure to specify the lens color as you communicate with seller, in making your purchase.​

11: Paratrooper Chinstraps

A reiteration of the specific nature of the helmet straps. They really are that distinctive and prominently featured. You can source the straps just by themselves and then try to futz with getting them properly attached to your existing helmet liner. Or you can, as I did, simply buy a liner with them already properly fastened to it.

12: Glove Oil

Cap is depicted as wearing US Army horsehide work gloves. Those were standard issue for airborne troops and were of a rather bright yellow in their fresh condition. Cap's weren't that bright a shade and were clearly already worn and broken in and thus much darker. The way to quickly achieve this is through the use of Glove Oil. That's a product designed to break-in catcher's mitts and it's readily available in sporting goods supply stores or online. My Glove Oil came from a nearby Big 5 Sporting Goods store.

13: Captain America USO Shirt

The shirt in the Rescue sequence that Cap is wearing is supposed to be just part of his USO tour costume. This, despite his having other shirts and been on screen wearing them. However, that red, white, and blue shirt with its big star on the chest is part of how Cap has been depicted since he first existed back in 1941. So, the costumers in the film did an excellent job of incorporating it into the Rescue costume.​
And Marvel Inc. knew a good thing when it had one on its hands so it officially licensed the production of such shirts. Sort of. "Captain America: The First Avenger" came out in 2011 and was a huge hit. So, no doubt, Marvel made a zillion of these shirts. Which, a decade later, is a good thing as there was still some left. Unfortunately, the only ones that were still in stock were 2XL in size. But, as it's easier to tailor down than up, getting an oversized shirt is better. And that's what I did.​
I've seen other cosplayers custom make their Cap USO shirt. They started with a blue T-shirt and then cut up other shirts for the red and white panels. They also more accurately reproduced the star in five diamond shaped appliques than the single piece on the shirt I used.​
For my use for this costume, its limitations were more than fine. I needed a shirt which had that blue background on its chest and shoulders and had that big white star in the front. This licensed Marvel product did that. The fact that it was a shortsleeved thing was even better as that would help cut down heat load that leather jacket imposed.​
If I want to do the USO Cap costume I'd have to make my own new shirt anyway. So, for this use? The Captain America Emblem T-Shirt worked just fine.​

14: Gloves

The gloves. On screen, it appears that Cap was wearing the standard issue US Army "work gloves" as was used by the airborne units during their jumps. The rigging of the chutes can be quite abrasive and a good solid pair of work gloves was just the thing to help them keep their skin on their hands while keeping their chutes fully inflated and workable. The work gloves of the day were horsehide affairs that had a rather brilliant yellow color to them. This darkened considerably with even a moderate amount of use. Cap wore the gloves more frequently than the Goggles but not frequently enough, as depicted on screen, for them to have been broken in enough to have darkened them. But, perhaps he just grabbed an already broken in pair as he was scrounging for gear in preparing for the Rescue mission.​
Now, for an item which spent most of its time on screen tucked into Cap's cartridge belt - and one which I knew would make me become much hotter as I'd be wearing the leather jacket as well - I figured I needed something which only looked the part. I could've bought reproduction "Paratrooper Gloves" from ATF for $30 or I could simply go down to a hardware store and buy a pair of yellow leather "work gloves" for less than $10. And going the inexpensive choice was what I did. I then got some Glove Oil to work up the gloves so they wouldn't seem quite so new and bright. I could've left the modern tightening strap on as Cap wore his gloves with their ends rolled over and that would've hidden it. Instead, I just carefully cut it off of the Gloves.​
As it was at the San Diego Comic-Con, I tried stuffing the gloves in behind the Cartridge Belt but it didn't look the same and I was worried about them falling out being lost. So, I stuffed them into one of my pockets for the rest of that day and didn't even bring them on the second day I was Con. No one seemed to notice. In cooler temps I might well break out the gloves again. I'd probably but some of these Conductive Wire Fiber Finger Sleeves and cut them down to more discretely attach on the end of an index finger on the gloves. That way I'd not be stuck having to unglove any time I wanted to use my cellphone to take pictures and such.​

15: Web Utility Strap

Another nondescript bit of web gear but a necessary one. This one threads through the belt holes in the upper portion of the knife scabbard and then encircles the leg just above the calf muscle. This keeps the upper portion of the scabbard secured against the leg. Trolling through eBay I found a seller who had a box of various straps, web gear, and "stuff" for sale. Among the collection were a couple of these straps so I scored with that purchase. Lacking such a find when you're doing your Rescue Cap assembling, you could turn to ATF and purchase their "Web Utility Strap."​

16: M3 Trench Knife

Cap's Knife. Yes, in addition to Cap's .45 he also went armed with a knife. Most likely, as it was standard issue at the time and the on-screen imagery seems the match, it was a M3 Trench Knife. Actual M3s, be they original issue or repros, are pretty affordable even today. The US Army acquired so many of them during the years of their production runs that they still abound even today. Wearing an actual knife to a convention however, is really not a good idea. So, I got myself a WW2 M3 Rubber Replica Fighting Knife from The Field Werks and it fit the bill just fine. Being able to bend the blade almost in half was quite helpful at the Weapons Check to reassure the checker that it was merely a prop. She dutifully tagged it and it stayed in its scabbard throughout the rest of the event.​

17: M6 Scabbard

Cap's knife needed a scabbard and this was the type designed for the M3. So, I turned again to Sarco and purchased one of their M6 Leather Scabbard For The M3 Trench Knife scabbards as it was at a good price and convenient to combine with the Cartridge Belt order. In the future I might remove the web belt attachment bar atop the scabbard and try to "age" the leather of it as well. But, as is, it worked just fine.​

18: M42 Paratrooper Trouser Reinforced

These are another bit of excellent detailing by the costumers. Cap has to make a parachute jump behind enemy lines to conduct his Rescue mission of the 107th's men and of Bucky. So, of course, he'd wear paratrooper pants to do so. The visuals of just the standard Army issue pants weren't enough. And nor were the visuals of the standard issue M42 Paratrooper Trousers. Instead, the costumers went for the "Reinforced" version with the extra fabric panel at the knees and along the cargo pocket sides. This, for the added visual complexity.​

From the ATF site's writeup:​
Rigger-reinforced trousers as worn during the invasion of Normandy. The jump trousers were introduced for Airborne troops late in 1942. They were made from 8 oz. cotton twill cloth, in the olive drab no. 3 shade (often called "khaki" by newbies). The trousers had a lower rise than the wool pants, button fly, hip, seat and cargo pockets and slightly tapered ankles to make it easier to tuck them into the jump boots. During combat operations in 1943, it was found that the knees wore out quickly and the cargo pocket bellows could blow out during the opening shock of the parachute, which inconveniently scattered their contents all over the sky. In May 1944, troops of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were told to turn in their worst pair of trousers to the riggers. There they had canvas reinforcing sewn onto the knees and around the cargo pockets. Not all troops received the "improved" uniforms in time for the jump, but it appears most did.

So, this meant a very specific sort of pants would be needed to recreate the Rescue Cap pants. And luckily enough, the folks at ATF knew the military reenactors were wanting such modified trousers. Thus I was able to order a pair of M42 Paratrooper Trouser Reinforced for my very own.​

19: Leather Jacket

Cap's Leather Jacket is the only truly unique bit of apparel in the entire costume. It is not at all a government issued bit of uniform wear. Instead, it's a distinctly civilian thing. Cap could've worn a standard issue "Jacket, Flying, Type A-2" but, for whatever reason, that wasn't deemed suitable for the costume. And thus I'd no choice but to hunt for a close enough substitute, just wear my own A-2, or get lucky and find that recreations of the exact jacket were still available online. Lo and behold the eBay seller: "xactwearllc" was offering their "Captain America The First Avengers Distressed Brown Biker Real Leather Jacket" for a very good price. And thus the deal was done. There were plenty of other eBay sellers also offering the same style jacket that came up in my search. So, you should be able to take your pick as well.​

20: The Shield

The Shield. Captain America's Shield. Cap's first Shield. This is the most iconic element of the entire costume. It is THE thing which establishes Captain America. The signature piece. It's the defining element. Everything else is a supportive element. Yes, all the other bits add to the costume. Some greatly so. Others not a much. But having the Shield and with its being done right, everything else about a Captain America costume more or less falls into place. So, yes, it's a big deal and an important thing.​
I was having a helluva time finding a Captain America Shield suitable for use in the Rescue Mission costume. The movie did come out over a decade past and attention has shifted to the more modern renderings of Cap with his more familiar disc shield. Thus, what resources there were for the "heater" style Shield had largely closed up shop in the intervening years. Over on Etsy I found a perfect replica of the on screen "heater" style shield. This, replete with the brass rear layer and screen accurate padded grips for the forearm and hand. That however, turned out to be an active but otherwise long abandoned link. So, I had to do even more scrounging.​
The vendors I was finding online seemed more focused on small, ceremonial shields. None of which were the size or shape I needed. I was thinking of purchasing some aluminum sheet and having at it with a cut-off wheel and such. In lamenting my plight to a friend he suggested I look up the vendors serving the needs of the SCA community (Society for Creative Anachronisms) as they use shields in the Medieval combat re-enactments. A good suggestion that soon had me in communication with Windrose Armoury. They not only produced "heater" shields in the size and style I was after they'd also done several previous "Captain America: The First Avenger" shields for other customers so they knew what I was after. I sent them the size specifications and a basic template which Valor here on RPF had worked up. In short order I soon had my own "heater" shield and all I had to do was paint it up myself!

That's about all the pieces I needed to make the costume. Getting 'em all in hand was one thing, getting them properly setup for the cosplay was the rest of the process.
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Working the Elements...

I had a lot of elements to work on this costume. I started this effort in late May and had a deadline of 15 July 2022 for it all to be ready. Comic-Con San Diego being but a week later on the 22nd. I wanted to have everything in hand with enough time beforehand that I could make corrections as needed without having to rush. So, I identified what elements would take the longest to make ready made sure to get those underway first. Key in this was, unsurprisingly, the Shield. That would first have to be fabricated by the vendor and then I would have to get it properly painted up. I knew on my end that painting would take several days if not a full week when I accounted for the drying time between the different coats of paint. As I'd only the general time for delivery from the vendor, Windrose Armory, I knew it was imperative to get the Shield ordered from them to ensure I got it early enough to work on myself.

Next up, oddly enough, was the Jacket. Itself a custom piece who's look was essential to the Rescue Cap costume. I knew I had to source that earlier than later to ensure it too arrived on time. The other elements were less unique and more of an "in stock and ready to ship on order" sorts of things. I didn't dally getting them underway but their imperatives were lesser ones.

Everything did come together with only a slight delay to my schedule. Considering I was down for a week and a half with Covid in early July, a few days slip of my schedule - from being ready by the 15th to being ready on the 19th - wasn't bad.

Here's what was involved in all this.

Dying It All

At times there is little in the world less uniform in appearance than a uniform. The various elements of Cap's Rescue Mission costume prove this. Fresh out of the box, the various uniform pieces present a disconcertingly varied color and brightness palate with too many different shades of the same general green color going on. While that's reality, up on screen it'd be an unwanted visual distraction. So the costumers for Rescue Cap opted to knock down the tonal differences and darken Cap's attire overall. Thus they'd preserve the visual texture and depth of the outfit while simultaneously making it less visually competitive with Chris Evans on screen.​
What this meant in practicality was dying the pants and web gear a darker shade of green (actually greens) than they already were. Doing this would even out that tonality and lessen the brightness of the costume. This wasn't my first time dying a costume. I did this back in the 80s with my Space Marines costume. It was however, the first time I'd tried dying a costume in decades. Literally, decades. Following my friend Perry's advice, I started off small in that I only used half the bottle of Rit Tan along with 1/2 a teaspoon of dish washing soap and a cup of salt. All this went into a large tub filled with scalding hot water. The dish soap and salt were to help "open" the fabric for the dye to set into. And then came the extra-hot water to further that process.​
I broke out my deep fryer burner and pot to get the water going. Once steaming, I poured the water into the steel tub I'd picked up at a Home Depot. Then in went the dye, salt and soap mixture. Then in went the cloth items and away I started to stir the pot - literally! I was doing this on one of the hottest days in the year thus far and standing over a tub of steaming hot water while outside in the Sun wasn't as cool as it could be. So, I hauled the tub over some until it was almost under the open garage door. Then I could stand in the shade of the door whilst I stirred away.​


After the half hour of "routinely stirring" I figured the dye was as cast as it was gonna be. So I used the 2x4 stirring stick to hoist the gear out of the still scalding hot water and set the pieces out where I could rinse down the excess dye. The trousers then went into the wash with an old towel to help absorb any further excess dye.​
The results were distinctly darker but not by a whole lot. Certainly not as much as I'd hoped for but the tonality was more uniform and, overall, they were different than they had been so I was closer to what I wanted. Close enough that I felt no need to go through the process again just then.​

The Helmet

Cap's helmet is the second most distinctive thing about the costume. It's the only time he appears in anything even remotely resembling a standard issue US Army helmet. Later in the film when he first appears in the First Avenger costume he's wearing something akin to a skull cap type helmet. That helmet is clearly the forerunner of the type of conformal helmet he's seen wearing in Avengers, Winter Soldier and Endgame. Thus the effort needed to make this part of the costume was very straightforward; simply get an M-1 helmet and paint it blue. Then paint the white "A" on its front and that's all there is to it. So that's what I did.​

Got the basic primer applied to the previously issued steel pot. I wasn't much concerned about how rough the finish was but I did wash the helmet before I tried putting it to paint.
I printed out and then cut out the "A" for the helmet. I got the template for this from the Replica Prop Forum once again. I'm not sure who it was here that created it but, thanks!
With the primer sufficiently dried, I got out the white paint and blast the helmet's front.

With the white paint sufficiently dried, I applied the "A" template and smoothed down its edges.
Then out came the Rustoleum "Oasis Blue" spray paint. I did two coats of this and then hit it up with a coat of clear flat to take off the gloss finish.

And that was essentially it for doing the "Rescue Cap" helmet.

The Knife

The M3 Trench Knife I ordered was thing of black rubber simplicity. It was made as a training aid and thus it's size and shape were the key things of it. Not its color.

The actual M3 knives had leather handle grips and that color was notably not black. There was no way I was going to buy a real knife as I couldn't bring it into the convention nor was I gonna buy one just to cut the blade down until it snugged into the scabbard.
So, the solution was to paint the handle. I was pretty sure I had some "leather" colored paint I use as part of my model making hobby. But I couldn't find the damn stuff so I used the closest shade of medium brown and brushed it on.

An "award winning replication of a M3 Trench Knife leather handle grip?" No, but it looks a helluvalot more realistic in the scabbard and to anyone not peering at the thing from ground level right next to the boot it does the job quite well.
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The Shield

This was the big deal. This had to be right as it was the key to the entire costume. Getting it right would overwhelm any particular shortcomings in the execution of the rest of the costume. Getting wrong would outweigh any perfection in the rest of the costume as well. So, yeah, it was the big deal.

Fresh out of its shipping box.

This is how the shield looked to start. On its front is the canvas covering that Windrose Armory glued to it. They provide this option as it forms a better surface for paint to adhere to. At least so for its SCA customers.

Typically, they do the gluing and then set the handle and grip in back. I asked them to set the hardware first and then apply the fabric as that would help minimize the appearance of the rivets for the hardware through the front of the shield. This worked out pretty well, all things considered. After the coats of paint those rivets all but disappeared.
The folks at Windrose Armoury said I needed to apply "gesso" to the fabric as a primer. I'd never heard of this stuff before but it's what you apply to fabric - such as canvass as in picture frames - that you intend on painting. Well, fair enough. I did. I put two coats of the stuff on it, as specified, to ensure there'd be enough "grip" for the Krylon spray paint that was next to come.
Even with the two coats of gesso, the fabric texture of the canvas was still too apparent. So, out came the sanding block and I had at it. I didn't want to sand down too far lest I start fraying the fibers and make a mess to deal with as a result. But I did want to knock the weave texture of the material before I put the paint to it.
Next was masking the back of the shield so that none of the spray from the front got onto it.
Next was making the star templates. I decided it would be simpler to lay down the white first, apply a mask for the stars, and then paint the blue background around them.

This, as opposed to putting down the blue first and then constructing star masks to put the white atop it.

I used the star templates I found here on RPF in one of the threads there about doing just this thing - making a Captain America Heater Shield.
The process was quite simple. I put down a bed of masking tape and then tacked the star template atop it. I then carefully cut around the edges of the paper template into the tape. I used a scalpel for this as I wanted clean and crisp edges with as little tear out as possible.
And here's the end result. The two smaller stars I did in much the same manner. I used more tape toward the ends however, as I didn't want them to stretch too much in all the peeling and unpeeling.
The white paint is already applied here. So I've the stars set down and the dividing line between the blue upper portion of the shield and its bottom piece.
Bottom masking applied. I thought I'd sufficiently taped up all the possible gaps in the masking and that there'd not be enough bleed through from the blue spraying on the top half. Turns out, I was wrong and there was just enough "dusting" of blue to require touching up later. Lesson learned there...
And the blue applied.
Mostly clean star results. Some bleed through there as well. I was particularly frustrated with this as I thought I'd covered things well enough for it not to have happened.

I was careful in the application of the masks. I then sprayed clear paint onto the edges. I'd thought that would "seal" any of the gaps. Next, after things had dried, I used a scalpel to cut 'round the edges of the stars to further sever the blue paint from the star masks.

I also now figured that the masking tape I was using wasn't really up for such precise work. Tamiya hobby masking tape is thinner and sharper. So, that's a lesson learned for such work in the future.
Bleed through / bleed under

I didn't do a solid enough job of mashing down the masking for the red and some of it got under. More touch up required. Simple enough, yes, but an additional step.
With the front of the shield sufficiently done, it was time to work on the back. No, the back of the shield wouldn't be visible for all but the rarest of glimpses. I'd thought I could save time by ignoring it.

But, in the interest of completeness and also setting the shield up to also be usable for a "USO Cap" costume, I opted to finish the back too.

Straight out of the box, the back of the shield was a glue bombed mess. Lots of streaks and blobs of the upholstery glue used to adhere the canvas to the metal on the front of the shield.

That just wouldn't do!
So, out came the orbital sander and I had at it. I debated cutting down the cloth foldovers to clean things up further but I didn't want to wind up with the covering peeling from the edges. So, I simply cleaned 'em as best I could and sanded off the glue streaks and blobs.
Got the hardware attachment points masked and then the primer down.
Got the "gold" paint applied. This was the closest and most effective color to replicate the copper backing of the actual shield.
The finished back of the shield. Looks a whole lot cleaner than when I started. I suppose I could trim the cloth a bit more to get a more consistent edging. I'm definitely going to add to the handle as it tends to cut into my palm as I carry the shield.

For SCA purposes, where the users are fully armored and wearing heavy gauntlets, the edge of that grip is a non-issue. But, as I've been carrying it bare handed, it is an issue. It'll be a simple fix to enlarge the gripping area so that the edge of the metal piece isn't quite so intrusive.
And the final product!

I'm rather pleased with this. No, it's not perfect. Especially the more I look at it. The fabric texture still protrudes too much. I can see where the masking wasn't perfect and where my touch ups of that aren't perfect either.

But, for a first effort and for something of such general use? It's great! This shield perfectly plays the part and was instantly recognizable by all who saw it
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Post SD Comic-Con Update

I got everything together and got myself down to San Diego Comic-Con 2022 with time to spare and quite happy with what I'd worked up. My costume was exceptionally well received and that was very much a "happy making" thing for me.

Pretty quickly though, I recognized the need for some changes.

First up was the helmet. A couple hours in to walking 'round the San Diego Convention Center I took to wondering why my upper back and neck was so sore. I'd not lifted anything heavy to strain it and it'd been a couple days since I'd done my latest back workout. So neither of those things could've been the cause. Nor could've sleeping badly in the hotel's bed as that had yet to happen.

Then I realized that I was wearing several pounds of extra weight atop my neck. Yes, the M-1 helmet and its liner combine to a three pound weight adding its strain and stress to the muscles and tendons in your neck and upper back. Plus, all that mass meant more difficult heat dissipation. While wearing the steel pot is screen accurate, I figured that for practicality's sake, I could get away with just the liner.

The liner is far, far lighter - not even a full pound at just 13.5 ounces. The steel pot is over 2.5 pounds on its own. Yes, the rivets protrude through the liner but not overly so. And to be blunt, most observers aren't going to notice the difference. Now, in a costume contest competition? Yes, I'd wear the full ensemble and just suck up the weight. But for roaming 'round a Con otherwise? The steel pot wasn't at all needed.

All I'd have to do is paint the liner just like the helmet and I'd be good to go. So, I did.

This coincided with repainting the helmet as well. That "Oasis Blue" turned out to be far, far too light. A Krylon Oxford Blue was recommended as much closer to the color darkness used on screen. So, I got a couple cans of the stuff from a nearby Michael's - the cans are but of a wee 6 ounce size so I bought two so as to not run out in mid-painting - and had it. The darker blue looks much better.

I repeated the previous steps with putting the primer down on the liner and then blasting both the liner and the helmet with white on their front. Then I applied new "A" templates I'd cut out. Then came the new blue sprayed upon them. After a night's drying out they came and it was time to peel off the masking.

The masking on the helmet took well. There was some minor bleed through where I'd not closed the edges tightly enough. A minor bit of touch up there and it'd be fine. The liner however? That was a royal pain.

Fresh in from its overnight drying out in my garage, the liner awaits my removing the mask. I first scored around its edges with a scalpel to ensure the paint didn't stick to the mask material.

That worked just fine, actually.
The problem was that the primer didn't adhere worth a damn to the liner material. I've since learned that Krylon makes a special primer that is specifically designed to "grab" plastics such as what this liner is made of. That, allegedly, should solve this problem for future uses.

For my purposes however, this was just a royal pain to have to redo. I was particularly vexed when I later wound up pulling up the blue paint around the "A" as I removed the next set of masking I'd put down. That meant even more redoing.
The steel pot fared much better. But, as I was already redoing the liner, I thought to give the edges of the steel helmet a fresh mask.

In this case I used some Tamiya hobby masking tape. I picked mine up from Brookhurst Hobbies and got several widths. I figured the more narrow widths would better accommodate the curves of the helmet and liner surfaces. I was right, they did. I got much better lines with very minimal spray under or bleed through.
I used the existing outline of the "A" to lay down the new masking tape. Then I used the larger with tape to hold the masking material that protected the rest of the helmet from getting dusted with the white paint.
I repeated the process for the liner.
Back to the "paint shop" in my garage for the dousing with the white. I once again let them dry overnight.

In the morning I decanted some of the blue to do my brushed on touch ups. This was primarily covering where the tape had lifted the blue paint from around the mask area.

After some drying time I hit 'em up with clear flat to take off the satin finish of the Krylon Oxford Blue.
And the final results.

The "As" look quite sharp and the darker blue not only looks more accurate but also looks better, period.

On Saturday at Long Beach Comic-Con I wore the whole deal, steel pot and liner, throughout the day. My neck must've been used to it as there was no aching at day's end.

On the Sunday however, it was just the liner. I'd carefully separated the two as I didn't want to mar the finish on the liner. There was some scraping but I was able to obscure that with the goggles. I'll have to do some retouching and in the future I'll most likely put down some cloth to separate the liner from the coarse interior of the helmet.

Things still looked great though and I'm happy with these results.
And then there was the dyeing.

I wasn't fully satisfied with the dye job results from the first go 'round. So, just prior to the LBCC, I did another round of dyeing. I got better results this time 'round.

The dyed paratrooper trousers are there on the left. I originally ordered too large a pair of paratrooper trousers and have yet to return or resell them. They do serve a good benchmark for how "light" the fabric color is in their original state.

So, this second time 'round of dyeing I got things closer to what I wanted. I realized it's just half a TEASPOON of dish soap and not half cup's worth. Oops. I also did a better job of shaking the Rit dye bottle and getting all of the dye in it out of it by dunking the bottle in the tub I once again set up.

Other adjustments to come involve minor things. I noted that my boot knife had worked its way around to be right above the rear of my boot. In the field, the scabbard would be tied through the attachment bail of the leggings so as to keep it in place on the outer side of the lower leg. I also am getting better at adjusting the straps of the suspenders - i.e. the web gear straps. First time out at San Diego Comic-Con they rode too high. I've played 'round with them and adjusted them such that the cartridge belt now rides right on the top of the pants. Previously, they rode above that. Which was too high. This was very apparent once I left off the leather jacket. So, I got things to fit better on the Sunday of Long Beach Comic-con.

Plus, I picked up a set of pants suspenders. Lots of pants from that era were designed to require suspenders. This allowed for a more comfortable fit without having to cinch down your waist with an overly tightened belt. The suspenders made a big difference in the comfort of wearing the trousers as they are cut to be "high rise" at the waist. Thus, if you cinch 'em down with a belt just above your hip bones they'll wind up too low at the crotch. The suspenders keep 'em up and solve that problem quite comfortably.

I've also ordered a plastic toy M-1911 .45 pistol. The guys running security at LBCC would not allow the .45 in, period. San Diego's security check did without issue. I just showed 'em it was an Airsoft pellet thing and they tagged it and handed it back to me. The weapons check guys at LBCC said no deal and wouldn't budge. So, I'll cut down the plastic .45 so that just the handle and a bit of the rear of the thing is visible in the holster and then attach some foam to the front so as to wedge it into the holster. That should solve that problem.

And that's the latest update on the "Captain America: The First Avenger" Buck Rescue Mission Steve Rogers / Captain America costume.

More to come as I keep at it!
Oh, and as to the overall results of this work, there's these images...

Eduardo Daniel Ramirez (@img_in_ed on Instagram) to this one of me on the first day at San Diego Comic-Con. The "screen accurate" Rescue Cap cosplaying was a big hit. Even when attendees didn't immediately link it with "Captain America: The First Avenger" they recognized Cap when they saw it with some calling out to "old school cap." Not bad results for my first foray into modern cosplaying.


This one is from Long Beach Comic-Con taken by Ty Naccarato (@typecast_photo on Instagram.) He took this on day of LBCC when I elected to leave the leather jacket at home. Long Beach was amidst a heat wave with 100F+ temps throughout the weekend the LBCC was held. I'd already shown up the previous day in the full-up Rescue Cap costume so, on the second day I opted to take it "casual" and wear the "summer weight" Rescue Cap outfit. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it and I was a whole lot more comfortable in just the shirt as a result. No one there seemed to mind as both versions were quite popular on both days.


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