My early disasters


Sr Member
I've recently joined, so I thought I'd start by showcasing the first things I made - the ones that didn't turn out so well.

I'd read the Karen Traviss books, and fancied a Mando bucket, even though I've not been much of a Fettishist. I decided to go with the black and silver look, but here's what marks me out as an amateur - I didn't go find plans. I didn't print out lots of reference pics. I did the barest - ablsolute barest - minimum research online and just got stuck in. Starting with an old hockey helmet from a sports sale and - I'm really, really sorry about this - an old plastic coffee can.

As for equipment... I had nothing. No hot glue gun, no bondo, no... well, no anything. Just the regular tools of the household and lots of tape.
WP_000426.jpgHere the coffee can got augmented with an old ice-cream tub. You can see I'm working to the highest standards, and also spray-painting as often as possible to try and make it look less crappy.

I considered the dome and decided that rather than try to re-shape the helmet itself, I should paper mache a dome from a balloon form.
WP_000634.jpgI splashed out on a tub of filler and went to town on the new dome, plus the front of the helmet too. I'd added a shaped piece of corrugated plastic to outline the t-slit. It was a terrible idea, as it didn't take the curve at all. Also, due to my lack of reference pictures and stubborn belief that I knew what this thing looked like, I got the cheek shapes wrong. You will see they remain wrong for a very, very long time.

A balloon form gives you the wrong shape for the dome. It took some sanding and shaping for me to believe this.
I even tried spraying it again in case it looked better. But no, it was too rounded on top, too bulbous. I sawed the top off and shaved the sides.
WP_001127.jpgThings were coming together a little more. SO I decided to plough on and make the ears. Out of MDF. Without measuring.
WP_001190 (1).jpgYou can see I had already encountered surface smoothness issues and was combatting them by using cereal boxes to replace the rough filler. The ears are too thick and not symmetrical. I think I may have bought my hot glue gun by this point. I had a vague idea that it was easy and clean to use, and could be smoothed out really nicely.
WP_001197.jpgI added the rangefinder by using a piece of dowel I had lying around. Again, no measuring, just cut it by eye. You can tell how good my eye is at this stuff by now. I drilled down into the ear and hot glued the dowel in. I was hot gluing everything at this point. EVERYTHING.
WP_001206.jpgAfter a lot more sanding, I resprayed the helm again to try and make it look better. This is a mantra of mine that I cannot shake - "Maybe it will look cool if I paint it?" The colour is not significant, I just have a bunch of old spray cans in my workshop, and use the fullest. Note how straight and perfect the rangefinder stalk is not.
WP_001207.jpgI bought the silver paint for finishing, then cracked and gave the helm a coat, hoping it would magically become brilliant. Instead, it just showed up all the surface imperfections, and those areas where the glue did NOT end up nice and smooth. Incidentally, you can't hi-speed sand hot glue, because it just melts, did you know that?
WP_001211.jpgAt this point, the dedicated professional would have gone to town with sanding and filling, getting the surface sorted out and checking all the angles against the reference photos. I decided that more paint and some pointless (and non-authentic) detailing on the ears might distract people from the fact that the helmet looks like a Bantha sat on it.
WP_001218.jpgI still didn't notice that the cheek shapes were utterly wrong.
WP_001284.jpgI finally added a top to the rangefinder, and filled out the space for the visor with a plastic school binder cover. It was cheap, but.... well, there's no "but". It was cheap, that was it.

Although the bucket was the main plan, making it raised a few questions in the household, so I threw together the rest of the armour to pretend I had been doing all this for Halloween. I won't embarrass myself further by outlining THAT disaster, but I'll leave you with this photo, which shows it off to best advantage, on the stand I made for it.
Costume on stand.jpg

Next Post - A Biker Scout Helmet - how hard could it be?
Thanks Utri. I think I dropped it in the wrong place though - should be in the costume section, right?
Sigh. Another disaster in the making...
Too much of your approach sounds like my internal monologue ;). Love your thread and can't wait to see your next post.
Hands down the best thing I've read in a while. Nothing like be brutally honest with yourself. You win the Internet. Subscribed!
Thanks Guys!
I've added part two : The Scout Trooper Helmet to the replica Costumes section, as I think that's where they should go. When I get more time I'll upload the saga of my Hiccup Helmet, and then we'll get to Shakespearean Vader.
Haha, this is great! It actually looks better than the paper mache Mando helmet I made a few years back, believe it or not. It made an appearance at the dumpster before making an appearance here, along with a storm trooper helmet too.
I also read your part two thread, I know those feels all too well, my friend. The initial excitement of building this iconic item, getting your stuff together and just going for it before realizing just what exactly you really have to do to create this thing, and then wantingthe final product so bad you just paint it and add a few details and call it done.
Great thread ;)
Thanks Mean Obiwan! The Stormtrooper bucket (Atlanthia method) is my current build, and it'll be posted after the Shakespearean Vader. I'm not finished building it, and not quite getting enough time to work on it. People keep asking me to feed the family and go out to work.
Oh, I have two lightsabre disasters, thanks. The first one was made from a toothpaste dispenser and lots of electrical tape. Still have that. The second one was much grander, with ambitions to have electronics inside. That's still in bits in the workshop. One day.....
The first lightsabre I ever made. It's from a pump toothpaste dispenser, filled with coins and plumber's sealant. (No, really.) It's wrapped in electrical tape and partially sprayed silver. The activation stud is a bolt, and the neat-looking ring part is from a shop-bought lightsabre kit.
It looks crap, but that's only because it is crap, and doesn't reflect the hours of work that went into it.
My most recent lightsabre. About 12 inches long, partially built with the remaining shop-bought kit parts and two tubes that fired confetti. Yes, confetti. It's cut into two parts, so I can fit the electronics inside.
What electronics?
I don't know, that's why it isn't finished.
Have you ever thought about taking up another hobby?
What are you saying, exactly?
It's just that I have met goldfish that could make better props than this.
Are they on the rpf?
Haha, those sabers are great. I'm not too good with sabers either.
I still enjoy seeing your props, and definitely enjoy the stories behind them.
I can definitely relate on some levels like no measurements and just painting the damn thing hoping it will turn into what I see in my head.
My very first custom saber was the coolest thing in the world to me. I loved that rusty hunk of junk.
Great sabers ... I still recall when showing of my lightsaber props to some friends who'd never seen STAR WARS . . . ever, asking me what those shiny d*ldo-looking things were being on display ... truth be told . . . I made them watch STAR WARS ... one way or another :wacko

Chaim, that's great! Yeah, unfortunately many of my friends aren't as.. enthusiastic about Star Wars as I am. The response I get are usually, "Is that a flashlight?" Even if it was a sink tube build.
So you didn't do any research, built something you had no real interest in, couldn't really be bothered to even try to do any of it properly, fully admit you have no skill and we're supposed to congratulate you because your comments about how rubbish it is are amusing??

Well done!!....Mission accomplished:lol
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