QUICKIE HELMET

Since it was asked, I'll go over how I created this "Quickie Helmet", which is only supposed to be a lazy-man's approximation of the helmet worn by the Dropship pilot (Ferro) in Aliens. Since I got the reference pictures from the Colonial Marines Technical Manual, I suppose it's probably the weasley-looking guy's helmet. What defines this as a "quickie" is the strategy of not worrying about accuracy, and using found parts for details whenever possible (Who wants to sculpt all that stuff?).

  1. The helmet itself is a white Cotswold pilot's helmet, a reproduction of the vintage GI Joe helmet. I liked the rounded shape of this much better than any of the flattened-back helmets that Hasbro has been releasing with the Classic Collection figures, despite the fact that they're much more detailed. The visor and mask were removed, and the holes were filled with Milliput (sort of).
  2. From a design point-of-view, the center ridge was necessary to make the helmet look less bland (after removing the visor). It's made by cutting a strip of fairly thick styrene, bending it and gluing it to the helmet. The side gaps were filled with Milliput and feathered into the helmet. The actual detailing in the CMTM is much more elaborate, with additional panels added on the side. To make an accurate version, you'd need to sculpt these pieces and vacuform them, since the edges have complex curves in them.
  3. The front part of the "camera" or whatever gizmo is a sculpted clay piece. It's got a rounded "lens" (which is too large) shape glued to the front - a piece of clear plastic heated, stretched over the rounded end of a paintbrush (faux vacuforming), and painted black on the inside. This gives it a glossy/glassy look (The sunglasses were made in the same way). The tail end is the childproof part of a lighter (it seemed to be about the right size), and has a wire glued to its tail. The detail on the other side of the helmet (barely visible) is also sculpted in clay.
  4. The microphone assembly is made of thin wire, bent with pliers. It wraps around another lighter part which fits into a hole drilled into the helmet (to recess it). This lighter part was pretty made-to-order: it's brass and has a groove around the base-- the wire fits right into the groove, slides forward and rotates. The wire grips the groove because it's cinched by a small brass strip clamp. The microphone detail itself is just the top of a gun from the infamous "Attack R2D4". The thin stranded wire from the microphone and the camera join at the back of the helmet underneath a small clamp made of strip brass, formed with a channel through it. It keeps the wires from drifting around.
Like I said, this isn't a very accurate version. The basic shape of the helmet would need some more work to duplicate the rounded shape of the ear panel sections. In addition, there's a ton of elaborate detail that would need to be rendered on top of those earpieces. In addition, there's the cloth detail which project slightly from the ear cover sections, with straps that connect under the chin.

Truth be told, the only reason I made this was that this was a "hand-me-down" figure: her costuming came from another project which I'd found better clothes for. I'd stolen her original body for my FAK-Q project (since it was vintage and therefore taller), and she got the over-bustified ME body. So she looked sorta plain, and I didn't like her ugly face much. The sunglasses helped there, and the sorta-dropship-pilot look let her fit in better with the "Babes with Big 'Uns" crowd, yet look distinctive (and not as much like a hand-me-down Frankenstein). Gee, isn't that interesting? ;^)


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