Loki Scepter v 2.0 – Step by Step

At long last it’s time to post this bad boy. I decided shortly after the first attempt at this piece that I could create something more accurate and easier to assemble with a bit more prototyping work and better molds. This continues from the process I used to create version 1.0 of the scepter.

04 - m5g3uwkFirstly, some of the issues I had with the first design. The bigges issue in the form was that the angle where the shaft met the head was much too acute and the assembly point there was crappy and not flush. Secondly, the backplate on the head where I hid the battery slot was the wrong shape, has a hard to use mold and, again, needed better assembly posts. The head also had an unnecessary detail which appeared on the spear length, but not the scepter. Finally, I wasn’t happy with the strength of the LED in the gem or the weathering of the gem.


01 - 848oSNgWhere I started. I first ran casts from the 1.0 molds, which were done in a tin cure silicone and, sadly, had already started to deform. You can see here how lines are uneven, there’s obvious ridges where the mold seams no longer match and there’s divots and hills on the surface. I ultimately decided to take the original prototype, assemble it fully with the blades and cast it as one piece. I had originally intended to cast the gold parts with cold cast powder as well as the silver, which was the reason for the multiple molds. However, I didn’t like the finish of the gold as a cold cast and the post-cast assembly of blades to head was weaker than it could have been had I just cast it all as one. So one piece was just the way to go here.


05 - fmDP4IsI also needed a better assembly point for where the shaft fits into the back of the head. I trimmed down the shaft cast I got from the 1.0 mold to match the lines of the back of the head. I then inserted a pvc pipe buck and filled the gaps with bondo.


06 - qDW2n0TThe pipe fits the slot in the head perfectly, and the shaft lines match perfectly flush with the curves of the head. This was the most time consuming part of the whole re-build before the molding honestly.


07 - 809HmAwAnd here you can see the newly assembled head. The reason the extra piece is still here is that I did not want to have two head molds. I’m still finishing up the full spear version, and this way I can use one mold for both lengths, and simply cut off the part for the scepter. After this, both pieces were given a healthy dose of line checking, spot filling and smoothing to prep them for molding.


08 - YQL4mtKThe pre-mold prototypes as they disassemble, along with the old version of the backplate cover. I later decided to re-prototype and mold this, more on that later. The ruler is a standard 18″.


09 - B3cCuwvAnd a bonus look at how the spear length breaks down. It has since then also gotten an assembly buck like the scepter length. This is how you fit a 6+ foot spear into a suitcase.


10 - TmJcKq7Mold time! This time around I decided to make a 2 part box mold. At first I naively made the mold in a gatorboard box, not realizing just how heavy the bugger would be once full of silicone and resin. We live and learn. First I set up the prototype in plastalina clay with an overabundance of registration keys and just the right number of flow channels fortunately. Next box mold I will make my dam walls wider, these can have trouble locking.


11 - gqK2foPAfter I poured silicone in the first side, I flipped it over and carefully removed the clay while leaving the prototype. Then slathered the already set silicone in sealant and poured the second side. Not bad for my first box mold!


12 - HpHSx0fFor the staff, I still went with a glove mold (something I’ll be changing soon) but with better registration keys for the mother mold. This has been alright for a few runs, but in the future I’ll be re-doing this as a box mold as well. It’s a nightmare to get this to set up right, and required 25 very carefully placed sewing pins to seal up. Leaking resin has already killed one mother mold.


13 - 9uofDR9A shot of the box mold box! This was built in pine, and has a cap that is screwed in place each pour, to ensure sealing and support as I pour. The box mold weight 22 pounds when full of resin. You can also see here the mother mold that was destroyed by a leaking pour on the shaft and its replacement.


14 - TLvp5yIDespite problems, the casts of the new shaft are nice and clean.


15 - Vp60ZTyAs are the head casts! The flashing is manageable and the cold cast is very clean. This was a quick 10 second polish to test the cold cast aluminum.


20 - Lqr2aeuBut, much resin had to die for this learning process. I had many leaks in both molds before I got the process down. Only two of these heads and three of the shafts were workable.


19 - ylB7GqmBut the trial and error was worth it. Here is one of these good cast sets next to the prototypes.


18 - MOEFJokTrimming the extraneous part takes very little time as well, and not having to epoxy ever blade into the head saves a load of time and makes for a much more stable prop.


17 - 5HKaeSdThe shaft now sits at a much better angle and makes for a much more stable assembly. With solid resin at the assembly buck, the connection point is solid and doesn’t have to be babied nearly as much as v 1.0.


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After trimming flashing and smoothing out any imperfections in the casts, the blades were masked off and the rest got several coats of primer and then several gold coats. I also cast up all of the additional hardware that attaches near the gem. These are now ready to be polished and weathered.


23 - tO0BEGe

The old backplate turned out to be the wrong shape and was a pain to cast to boot, so I whipped up a new prototype. I cut out a piece of sintra into the new shape, rounded the edged and gave the leading edge a bit of a lip and molded that as a flat mold. I then ran a resin cast, and once the resin had hardened up to a solid but still pliable state, pulled it out of the mold. I took one of the crappier head casts and filled the battery void with clay as a base for shaping these. The resin was taped down around this with painters tape and allowed to completely finish hardening. The longer lower points of this new backplate create tension that holds the plate onto the head on their own. To keep the plate on in the right place longitudinally, I made a quick post in epoxie sculpt which fits into a hole inside the battery void. To change the batteries, just slide the backplate back about a centimeter and pull it upwards, then slide forward to reveal the battery void. The assembly screw attaching shaft to head is also hidden here.


24 - M207eJm

In v 1.0, I used one 3mm standard LED. This time around I opted for a 5mm superflux 4 chip LED. These are much brighter and diffuse light to a much wider angle. I embedded one of these bad boys directly into the clear resin as I cast the gem.


25 - WgcFvgh

And here’s how much brighter this is in the new, unweathered gems. You also get a glimpse of how I keep track of orders that involve lots of different parts and steps to complete.


26 - GYVWKFVAnd here is the gem after some simple weathering with acrylic paint and several coats of protective polyurethane. It looks like a nebula.


28 - gN1p4gq

Speaking of weathering, here is the difference it makes. I used cheapo acrylic paint in brown and black for this. The blades have a strange, acid etched look in the film, so I used a spray bottle filled with a mix of black paint and rubbing alcohol to achieve that. The gold areas got a typical combination of washes and sponge dabbing in black and brown. The whole piece was then given several coats of polyurethane clear coat.


LokiNew-01 And the final result. I know this prop like it’s my child at this point. I could likely blind-sculpt it in clay. It is the first of my works that will have a place of pride on my wall, and I can’t help but feel good when I look at it.

This familiarity and pride made Captain America: The Winter Soldier even better for me. Do stay for the mid-credits scene.


Busy times! Status of commission schedule.

Whew.

Been a while since the last update. I got hit with a slew of commission requests and general inquiries. The last two big projects have been exceedingly popular, which is awesome and humbling. However, I am up to my ears in work now (also awesome) but that means less time to post to the page or answer e-mails for non-clients. So, Just a quick update to where the studio is, work-wise and what it means for commissions right now.

Lokistuff

I am not accepting commissions until early next year. Right now the studio has been completely taken over by Loki (that sly b*stard). I will update the page when this changes, but until the current commissions for scepters, spears and armor are complete, I will not be accepting new commissions or even negotiating future commissions. I simply don’t have the time to do price quotes at the moment (which generally take between 30 and 90 minutes each). I will still give quotes for things I have done before and thus already know the price, but will not be taking actual orders until after new years most likely.

I also have had a massive amount of interest in the Megaman armor I completed earlier this year. I am floored by the response, and I really appreciate that the reaction has been so positive, but I will not take any commissions to replicate it. It was a great design and I learned a great deal from it’s completion, but I also learned that it is incredibly time consuming and that I did not want to undertake another project in that vein on a commission basis. If you have any questions about how I made it that are not covered in my post on creating flexible armor with EVA foam, please feel free to shoot me a line with your specific question and I’ll try to help out. However, I will not accept any commissions to make another one.

Thanks for reading, and look forward for Loki Scepter v 2.0 coming soon!

Technical Difficulties and Things on the Table

Just a quick note to anyone currently waiting on a quote request reply; My motherboard on my main computer died on Saturday morning, so I am going to be running my communications from my netbook until a replacement arrives. Unfortunately, the files I use for calculating quotes and long term scheduling are trapped on that computer, so I will be a few days late getting prop quotes out.

On a more pleasant note, I have some cool new progress to show, and drop the news on a really cool build on the table right now.

First, doing a piece from Fushigi Yuugi, Miaka’s priestess tiara, going for something between the Manga and Anime design, expect a full build on this one in the next two weeks:

 

And next, something I am very excited about, Loki’s spear from The Avengers!

Not much yet, but you’ll be seeing much more of this beastie. It’s a very cool build, and as a massive comic nerd myself, I’m glad to be working on something so in tune with my own obsessions. A shop copy will definitely be made later on.

 

 

 

 

Ed’s Automail Arm – Step by Step

 

By request, here’s the step by step process of how I made Ed’s Automail. There will be a few gaps in the photos, as I wasn’t doing the best job of chronicling this build. I’ll try my best to fill in the image gaps with adequate words.

Since there was no way to meet with my client and make a mold of his arm, I got several dozen measurements from my client and stitched a plush replica of his arm in muslin. I also made several paper mockups at this stage of major parts and mailed copies to my client to hold to the appropriate areas on his arm and hands and take photos so I could verify fit and scaling before moving to making the pieces in woderflex.

 

To make the end caps for the fingers, I coated a it of PVC pipe the same diameter as my client’s largest finger with bondo and began shaping the cap.

 

The pipe was cut off and the bottom sanded. You can see here how tiny my hands are compared to my client. I have very small hands, so the plush arm/hand double was vital to making this automail. After I sanded the piece carefully, it got several clearcoats and went under silicone. I then cast five copies using black tinted resin with Smooth On’s cast magic powder in Silver Bullet.

 

For certain areas, I wanted to use silver metallic stretch vinyl in order to minimize how much this automail would restrict my client’s movement. Here is the cold cast resin finger cap next to the vinyl, the finish really is very similar.

 

After getting the confirmation that my paper mockups were the correct size, I started the somewhat tedious process of cutting out all of the pieces. Each piece was numbered to keep them straight, I ultimately had to cut out two dozen pieces in Wonderflex and keep straight probably three dozen resin castings, so numbering was vital. Each Wonderflex piece was double thickness, one layer was just going to be way too flimsy. Once cut, the layered were joined with some mild heat from the heat gun. The folks over at The Engineer Guy are my favorite source for Wonderflex.

 

Once the pieces were layered, it was time to form them. I recruited pretty much every wine bottle, storage jar and tin can I could find to get the right curve forms, and even used my own thigh for the upper arm plates, as it turns out it was the perfect size (Shows how tiny I am that my thigh is the same thickness as an average man’s biceps). I used painters tape to keep the wonderflex in place while it cools. Wonderflex is a very useful material because, once you have applied heat, it remains pliable for about two minutes afterwards, meaning when you handle it, it’s no longer scalding hot. This is a huge advantage for anyone who has had to deal with heat forming styrene, which is only pliable while hot, lots of burned fingers!

 

Here is where I start having gaps in photos, as I got to the point where each piece was at a different stage in the process. Here we see the upper arm plates heat formed and hit with 2-3 coats of primer, which was then sanded. Wonderflex has a slightly pebbled surface on the presentation side, but a few coats of sandable primer usually handles the texture. Another trick for smoothing the surface is to use the back of a spoon  to burnish the surface while the Wonderflex is still pliable from heating.

 

You can also see the elbow piece and some of the cold cast resin pieces. They’ll be used to fill out all of the screws, studs, pivots, knuckle covers and any other little circle bit needed to embellish the finished piece. The elbow piece is also wonderflex, but has had additional buildup with Bondo to create the rounded  form.

 

I also ordered some colored plastic tubing and heat shielding to add in the armpit area to replicate thewiring and tubing. The large screw top there is actually a cast from the mold for my gold circles for my Lightning’s coat, with the notch scored in with the dremel.

 

Here I started assembling the hand plate and started working the finger sections. These are just stretch vinyl cylinders, since if I had cast these in resin or used Wonderflex, my client wouldn’t have been able to fully bend his fingers.

 

A glove will hold all of the pieces in place and hide the client’s skin. It’s sewn in basic black spandex. The paint I used for the silver is Valspar’s metallic silver. It’s not a chrome-like finish, but is far more durable than most of the high quality silver glosses I use, which I felt was very important since this piece would rub on itself and bits of the costume all day. Another advantage is that this paint has a much more forgiving humidity and temperature tolerance, which was an absolute lifesaver in southeast Georgia in June and July!

 

For the large forearm plate, I needed to thicken the wonderflex substantially. So, I cut a lower layer in wonderflex, then cut filler layers with the three dents cut out in EVA foam. This was easy to cut, lightweight and could hold up to the heat-forming of the wonderflex. The blue strips all-over the board are the notches I cut out. I then layers another layer of wonderflex over the base and foam, then pressed in the trenches so that the top layer of wonderflex bonded with the base layer, rounded the edges and flattened the outer form. This is the plate in an early form, after this would come a lot of extra filling and sanding.

 

The piece starting to come together! As you can see, some places required extra puttying and sanding, but on the whole the wonderflex didn’t require too much extra work.

 

Here’s a shot of the plate as I was puttying and sanding it, the pink is bondo, while the grey is Krylon sand-able primer. To get into the trenches I used a combination of sanding sponges, emery boards and standard sandpaper.

 

The hand was finished up with a sewn vinyl half glove. The T-shaped fastener is EVA foam covered in stretch vinyl, and I attached it with heavy duty thread sewing the T to the half glove. The stitches and knots are hidden nicely under the little resin studs. I also attached the finished arm plate to a strip of stretch vinyl for the underside of the forearm. The whole forearm closes with velcro hidden under the plate.

 

Here you can see the full arm underside, and the elbow attachment. The elbow also has a strip of stretch vinyl which will give more comfort when my client bends his elbow. The upper arm was also finished with a sewn vinyl cover.

 

The complete hand, the only hard parts are on the fingertips, back of the hand and the resin disk on the side of the thumb. This will give my client maximum use of his hand. I also took these final photos before realizing I had forgotten to add the studs to the arm plate, Whoops!! I made sure the studs were attached before it went to the client however.

 

For the shoulder area, I connected the major pivot points with a few real studs, then added all of the extra studs using my resin replicas. I also epoxied in the tubing and heat shielding. The spandex glove pulls all the way up over the shoulder and has a strap that wraps across the chest to keep everything in place.

 

This was a really interesting piece to work on. It used several materials I rarely get to use, but have always loved working with. I can’t guarantee it’ll help with your alchemy or survive a disagreement with your teacher, but at least you should look cool with it. Hopefully this rather messy write-up will help others hoping to tackle the project. I gotta say I have even more respect for Winry after making this!