The Expanse: Belter Vac Suit Build

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Kokanee

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Oy beratnas!

I've decided to do a generic Belter costume from The Expanse for Halloween 2021. As opposed to my Apollo A7L suit for last Halloween (Apollo A7L Moon Suit), which was all scratch built this build will be a good mix of found parts, 3D printing, and sewing to complete it.

I want to acknowledge the great folks over on the Expanse Cosplay group on FB ( Facebook Groups ), where you can find a lot of files (STLs, graphics etc) that one needs for a build like this, as well as a good wealth of friendly expertise.

MATERIALS LIST

HELMET

USB extension cable (Amazon)
flex string of LED lights (Amazon)
1.0m gas mask pipe (Aliexpress)


SUIT

MAGID brand A.R.C. 1540 coveralls w/ mandarin collar (Amazon)
420 denier nylon ripstop black cloth (Amazon)
1" black nylon webbing (Amazon)
Diving Cap, 3mm black neoprene (Amazon)
Charhartt Men's C- Grip Impact Gloves (Amazon)
1/2" broadcloth piping (Amazon)
Airsoft helmet pad system (Amazon)

HARNESS + PACK

Ogio Mach5 pack (Aliexpress)
All Weather plastic grab handles, black (Amazon)
GUARDIAN HALO harness (Amazon)
6000mah usb power pack (Amazon)


BOOTS

SLAPLIT braclets, red (Amazon)
PU Leather fabric, black (Amazon)



So onto it! First bit to do is the Chinese TK-1 high altitude helmet.

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Here is a photo of mine mostly stripped of components. A fair bit of grunt work, keeping in mind the paint is lead based!

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First component to be refinished was the inner mid faceplate. In the previous photo you'll notice that it was a lovely brown colour due to all the sealing wrap used on it. After stripping that off, leaving the part in coke overnight and a light sanding it was hit with a blast of aerosol graphite powder spray and buffed to give it a blackened (but worn) appearance. The outer two parts of this subassembly are getting a final coat of orange paint in the garage right now, more to follow.
 
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Kokanee

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
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Finished the painting on the front two shells, going for a black and orange color scheme. I found flexible strip lighting that runs off usb so that and the pictured fan are running off a USB powerpack.

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Have to complete the helmet with greeblies, headlamps etc then finish the paintjob before decals and weathering. Also need to find a lower profile fan, and a blowers for the air hose as this helmet fogs something special.
 
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Wailonskydog

Well-Known Member
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Saw your posts on the FB group. I'll definitely be following your build! And check out my current build thread for a Holden season 4 costume. I'm sure our research will overlap a lot.
 

Kokanee

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
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Found some adhesive foam tape at an auto supply store today, perfect fit for the empty groove left in the midplate after you tear out all the eroded sealing gaskets. This gives a nice clean finish and provides something for the faceplate to fit snug against, eliminating any rattle.

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This was the product used, note the size on the carton for an exact fit.
 

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Kokanee

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
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Got most of the greeblies on, and the shell painted. Stickers on, sparingly. My printer thundered in so delay on printing the vents and back piece.
 
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Kokanee

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
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Printer is back up and running after overnighting a new part. So this is the first attempt at an adapter for my 120mm 54CFM 5v USB fan that I was hoping would run the main air line into the helmet. Unfortunately, only a whisper of air comes through.

On the advice of several people more experienced in air flow than I, I'm currently printing off mk2 which looks as such:

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12 hour print, yikes I guess I'll know tomorrow.
 

Kokanee

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
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So mk2 didn't work, instead on advice of another builder I went with a snail fan, above is the adapter to literally fit a square peg into a round hole.

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And above is yhe whole setup, provides plenty of fresh cool air into the helmet.
 
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Kokanee

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
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External helmet lights printed and installed. Might have to put these on a on/off switch as they are pretty bright and I imagine no one's gonna want to chat with two lights shining in their eyes.

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Shot of the whole wiring harness for the helmet. I removed the secondary ventilation fan as it wasn't doing much and was noisy.

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The whole setup runs off a single USB cable.
 

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Kokanee

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
It's been a while but I needed to collect some components before moving on to the suit.

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After sewing some bias tape onto the suit torso, inserted some 1/8" vinyl tubing to create the thermal tubing. Suit started out as a MAGID brand FR coverall with mandarin collar (Blue). This photo is after 4 applications of grey plasticote, to give the material a smoother appearance than fabric and to stiffen it a bit to change how it drapes.
 

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Kokanee

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My boots arrived a week ago, they are FirstGear Kili Hi boots the same as used in the show. These came on the market in 2013 and were discontinued in 2018; I was fortunate to be able to find a size 12 (EU 45) for my big feet (note: these fit a size small, so order at least a size up). I had preordered all the other materials I would need to turn these into accurate magboots, such as some faux black leather sheet, slaplit! braclets (red, x2), and some snap fasteners, which i had used on my Apollo A7L suit previously. They are so handy in costuming, I'm just going to keep some around in my parts bin from now on.

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After watching one of asavage tested videos with the prop master from the expanse, I got a template going and traced then cut it out of the faux black leather material.

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I then added snap fasteners and a thing clear vinyl layer to the windows to help with them bowing out and keep that straight rectangular shape. I'm not sure if that was present on the real deal, but it worked for me.

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Lots and lots of velcro.....

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The light up inserts are made from slaplit braclets, with a backing material applied to really let the red glow shine. I understand they used a white backing material on the show; I had some reflective silver tape left over from my suit so I used that.

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Viola! All done. The snap fasteners were blackened with some rattle can bbq paint. I used adhesive velcro sheeting (black) to attach everything, but it's peeling away after a few hours so I will be sitting down soon to hand stitch everything together and make it permanent.

IMG_20210705_160047.jpg
 

Kokanee

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
A few months back in March I realized that of course the stock air tube that comes with the TK-1 helmet was not going to reach all the way to the backpack. I was able to find a "Russian gas mask tube" on aliexpress that came in a 1 meter length (that's 3.3 freedom eagles for you Yanks) and looked the part. Fast forward to July and it finally arrived after a long stay in customs.

Slightly larger diameter than the stock tube.


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To allow mounting on the Tk-1 hardware, I whipped up a press fit adapter that prints out in two halves and mounts onto the mounting hardware of the helmet. Then you slide the new hose over (it's a tight fit), add a zapstrap for extra security and done.

IMG_20210702_162725.jpg
 

Kokanee

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
ogio-mach-5-backpack.jpg

Time to work on the airpack. Above is a stock photo of the backpack used in production, an OGIO MACH 5. They usually retail $200USD+ but I was able to score a knock off on aliexpress for $30. Prep involves ripping the fabric side panels off and clipping the straps.

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This took a day of work. I had pre printed the parts for the center console a few months back, and started by applying vinyl decals and colour accents to the pack. Then some vinyl stickers I had originally ordered for my helmet but were too large, worked perfectly here. Attaching some RV door handles from amazon, and then the printed console and hose adapter were installed.

After that it was time for some weathering. I went pretty aggressive on the high points using a dish sponge and silver spraypaint to simulate abrasion wear exposing the metal underneath. Some spray graphite and grey primer rattlecan finished everything off to dull down the shiny vinyl graphics and blend it all together.

Next step will be the display in the console, I'm not sure if I am going to do the animated display or just go with a static backlit graphic for the interests of time and money.
 

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