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Wedge Antilles' Helmet

Recently, I attended a Star Wars themed birthday party. It was, of course, a fancy dress thing, and while historically I've not really been into fancy dress, Halloween 2015 left me a changed man. (More on that can be found under the Atomic Robo costume heading when I get round to posting it!) So being the massive Star Wars fan that I am, I cast my mind around for an obscure yet faintly recognisable character to go as. Really, there was no choice: I had to go as Wedge Antilles.

I used to read all of the (now non-canon) Expanded Universe books, but my favourites were the X-Wing series. I loved every page of them and spent much of my spare time as a child playing the X-Wing video games in an attempt to emulate them. The most well known X-Wing squadron was Rogue Squadron, their leader being Commander Wedge Antilles. He was, to put it bluntly, pretty cool. Calm under fire, a fantastic leader and a hotshot pilot. Hell of a role model. So I decided to go as him!

Most of the costume for an X-Wing pilot is pretty simple. There is a bright orange jumpsuit, a flak vest, a chest control box and assorted straps and accessories. These, I had no real concerns about, but the crowning glory would be the helmet. The helmets used in the original film trilogy were modified from existing pilots helmets, but having looked these up I quickly realised I could not afford to go down that route. Making one from brown paper tape and cardboard like I did with my Atomic Robo costume helmet would be possible, but very time consuming due to the odd shapes involved. That left me with one realistic option left: Pepakura. For those not familiar with it, Pepakura is a computer program that takes a 3d model and unwraps it, laying it out across flat planes and assigning tabs and numbers to the joints so that you can print it out, cut it out and glue it together. This would be my first attempt at such a thing and i'll admit to being a bit daunted by the sheer amount of cutting and folding to do, but it was panto season at work so I managed to get the basic shape done there between fly cues! Here is the result of all that cutting and sticking:

If you look really closely, you can just make out the tiny numbers next to each join...mind-boggling stuff, but as you can see it yields pretty good results.

Having made the shell out of paper, the next stage is to stiffen the paper enough to work on it. This would work a lot better with card stock, but as paper was all I had, paper was what I used! To stiffen it, I coated the helmet on the inside with a thin layer of resin and allowed it to soak into the paper and set. I then repeated the process on the outside. Then I added several more layers inside and out until it was strong enough to tap without flexing.

The next step was to get rid of that papercraft faceted look, and this was achieved using a LOT of car body filler, a bit like this:

 The best thing to do is build it up in layers, letting each layer cure before sanding it briefly and adding more to fill any irregularities and cracks. As I was in a rush at this point, with only a couple of days left before the party it was due to appear at, I didnt quite get it to the smooth finish I wanted, but it was certainly solid and rounded. I can always come back to it at a later date and give it another, final layer of smoothing filler and a repaint. This is how it looked after giving it a coat of white primer:

At this point, it was the night before the party and about time I got some paint on it! Also, note the yellow safety glasses repurposed as a visor. Later, they had their arms removed and were fastened to the underside of the helmets brow and looked the part. Painting was done using some acrylics I had to hand, and the paint scheme was copied from a set of pictures of Wedge's helmet I found on Google. I then put some padding on the inside of the helmet made from foam, to ensure it sat right on my head, and attached a chin strap made of webbing. Here it is in it's finished glory, being modelled by my friend Darren:

I shall put up more details of the rest of the costume when I get around to taking some pictures of it!

(To Be Continued)