part 1         COLONIAL MARINE 2          part 3

This part describes the construction of the boot armor, helmet and pulse rifle.


The boots are prepped for the leg armor. I'm using 21st Century's boots because they're so ugly. In order to keep the armor from being too bulky, I cut out the bright green panels and replaced them with fabric. This will make the boots more compressible. In addition, I've cut out the front lace section to make it easier to put the boots on. Since this will be covered by armor, I don't care about beauty-- I've made a metal "staple" closure using piano wire.


03/10/98- The leg armor was fun to make. The knee piece is connected to the front piece with flexible vinyl, and has a working buckle (with a tine) made out of brass wire. The back piece has some flexible vinyl extensions glued to the edges. The front piece has straps glued to the inside and they connect on the other side with some of those styrene box buckles. These are short rectangular channels into which the styrene "tongue" is inserted: The buckle is held closed by friction. The boxes are made out of 4 strips of styrene, and glued with Tenax ("Space-Age Plastic Welder"). This makes a stronger buckle than Superglue, since it actually dissolves the styrene at the joint. When it hardens, it's strong enough to withstand the pressure that the tongue is exerting. The friction box buckle is not an ideal fastener (since it will wear down), but a hidden hook fastener would have added more bulk and looked weird. Besides, (as I said) it was fun to make.

You're probably thinking, "But Jimbob, those look like a friggin' bitch to put on!" Hmmmm...

03/12/98- An artsy shot of the helmet's rear armor panels and (barely visible) the front armor panel. The rear panels were done like the rest of the armor-- clay sculpts, cast in rigid resin. (They're too thick, but what the heck.) They're attached by vinyl straps. The front panel was formed by heating clear packaging plastic (heat gun) and stretching it over a stock helmet (a poor man's vacu-former?). The piece is then trimmed and glued to the helmet. There are a few rivet details missing (shoulderpads & helmet armor) that I intend to add later.

03/13/98- The helmet-mounted camera, as near as I can guess it to be. So far I've used up a huge chunk of time scanning through the videotape trying to flesh out details--I'm getting a little sick of the film! Although there is a closeup of the camera in the film, it's only good for filling in a few details. Unless you integrate that shot with other views, you're liable to misinterpret the distortion inherent in that closeup. In other words, I saw what I could, and made up the rest.

The main body of the camera was sculpted in clay, and the 'focus ring' was made from a Bic lighter part (I get a lot of mileage from those lighters!). The lens (slightly oversized) was made from a piece of clear packaging material heat-formed over a curved pen cover, like the helmet's front armor. I painted the back of the lens, so the visible side retains its reflective gloss.

03/14/98- Here's the helmet's comm assembly. Lots of good reference pictures for this thing... I dunno, it's not as much fun if it's too easy, so I lazily slapped this together. The unit is two sections (outer and inner) sculpted in clay and cast in resin. The outer section should be thinner and have a more rounded & "stamped metal" look-- I think the vented section looks too separate from the outer flap. The microphone is constructed of a brass wire and...(you guessed it)... brass parts from a Bic lighter. And no, I didn't hinge the earflap...

03/15/98- More helmet work... I added the "infrared eyepiece" which is the black thing tucked up into his helmet in the front. I refuse to swivel it down, because it looks really dumb. It's a piece of textured clear acetate, tinted red, with an engraved reticle. The frame is painted on it, and it swivels down with a corner pin. Yuck. However, this picture also shows the comm assembly from the front with some paint added. The "ear foam" is a rubber O-ring. Also, notice my attempt to "foam-coat" the microphone. Real ground foam would have been too coarse, so I grabbed my electric razor and removed some of the unnamed organic matter contained within, and mixed it with black paint. Gross, huh? You can also see that the camera lens really does look shiny, like a lens. I also put some more curvature into the back helmet armor, but you can't see it here...

03/18/98- I made a few more gizmos before I painted the armor: a watch-thingee (I think they call it a "personal locator" whatchamacallit--looks like a Casio watch to me!). Also, an opening pouch for the belt's front. I had made the strap's knife already-- it was made from a 21st Century knife/scabbard, except I hollowed out the scabbard and gave the knife a blade so it's removeable. I didn't feel that any of these minute details were worth photographing.

For the paint job, I brushed on Tamiya's acrylic paints. Weird stuff-- although it's a water cleanup paint, it's got an alcohol or solvent base, and takes quite a while to dry, compared to craft-store acrylics. You also have to be very thorough in stirring it (mere shaking won't cut it), or it will leave a slightly glossy and uneven coat, with a widely varying consistency. The payoff is that it's a very durable paint. It seems to adhere better than most, and resists the fingernail scratch off test.

...pictures of the armor...


02/23/98- This is a more-or-less scratch-built M41A Pulse Rifle from the movie "Aliens". It's built on top of Cotswold's M1A1 Thompson SMG, with styrene & putty additions. Ideally, you'd want to use a Franchi Spas 12 shotgun for the "grenade launcher" section, but one wasn't available, so I had to scratch-build it. The barrel shroud's vents were the hardest part-- I couldn't decide whether to make this out of clay/putty and stamp the uniformly sized vents, or mill them out in sheet styrene. I went with the latter method since they allowed the barrel to be visible behind the holes. The problem is that the holes aren't very uniform. The pump provided a different challenge: I ended up sculpting this in clay and making a quickie casting of it. Since I wasn't intending to cast the whole unit, I was able to incorporate some "working" features: sliding stock (which is inaccurate), detachable magazine and repositionable slide pump.


Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM