During my Mandolorian costume build I was working on many elements at the same time. That’s really the nature of the beast because sometimes you have things that are drying or resin that is setting up or whatever. If you wait for things to get done before you move on, the costume build will take far longer and I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of things to do!
So, while I was working on my blaster and rifle I was also working on the classic Boba Fett Mandalorian helmet. This was done with the help of a fellow Trooper who has a lot of fun toys at his house. Some of which include things like gel coat, fiberglass and resin. Of course, not everything can be purchased at a store like Home Depot, but you can get fiberglass there. My Trooper friend goes through companies to buy the proper chemicals to mix up gel coat and resin, of which, any Google search will harvest what you need.
As a side note, I won’t get into details on how he made the mold for the helmet. Perhaps one day he will post up a series of “how-to” articles on this blog, but in the meantime I will just skip the mold making process. I will go as far as to say it involves plaster, sculpting, casting and creating silicon molds. All of this takes a lot of time and a lot of money. No joke.
Now back to business …
Since he has a nice helmet mold, it was decided that we would use his mold to create a vacuum bagged helmet. What is vacuum bagging? Well, it’s a technique used by the nautical and aerospace industries to produce boat helms and airplane parts.
The gist of it is that you apply the fiberglass and gel coat to your mold in layers as you would normally do, but take out all of the sanding and time consuming stuff and put the item you’re making into an airtight bag and suck out the air with a pump. By doing this, you suck out all of the excess resin, increasing strength while reducing weight. If done right, you will use far less materials and the final product will be so incredibly strong that, in our case, you can stand on the helmet and throw it against a brick wall without so much as a crack!
My Trooper friend set me up with the mold, gave me the materials and said: “Here, you do it.” I was happy to get my hands a bit more dirty and in the process, learn more about costuming and fiberglassing. All in all it was a good experience and I am forever grateful that he took the time to show me how to do this. And at the same time, he was showing me how to mix resin up in the right consistency to make resin parts to glue to the helmet for detail. Once everything was done and cured, I took a the parts and helmet to a belt sander to smooth out the edges and cut the visor area out of the helmet.
Note: I would suggest on waiting until AFTER painting the helmet (of any kind) before you cut any holes in your helmet. It makes the painting process much much easier.
Mandalorian helmet and resin parts …
You’ll notice in the pictures that the helmet has a metallic look to it already and I haven’t even talked about painting yet. That’s because I spray painted the inside of the silicon helmet mold with metallic silver spray paint. The gel coat and fiberglass will take on the color during the vacuum bagging process and the silicon mold comes away completely clean! So, a step has already been saved here
The only trouble I had with my helmet was that I was to anxious to get it done and didn’t wait long enough for the curing process. Not to mention that this was my first time laying fiberglass of any kind and wasn’t quite perfect at it. Add my lack of skills with the extreme Arizona temperature and it made for, what some consider, a lousy looking helmet.
But there is a sunny side to this, believe it or not. By pulling the helmet out of the mold early and laying casting the helmet in the heat, it caused some of the gel coat and fiberglass to not fill the mold properly. This ended in a helmet that already appeared to be battle damaged. Not only that, but instead of just paint chipping and dirt, this helmet looks like it had been beat up pretty bad over the years. It was perfect!
Closeup of helmet with “battle damage” …