Sunday, March 10, 2013

AT-AT Driver Helmet

For several months I worked on making a Tie Pilot helmet (seen here).  I enjoyed working on that project so much that I am going to do it all over again, but this time make it an AT-AT Driver Helmet.  The Tie Helmet and AT-AT helmet are actually the same helmet, just painted up different, and with a few nik-naks here and there.

...and for anyone who is not familiar with the AT-AT's themselves, simply they are the walkers from Empire Strikes Back.

For my Tie helmet I vacuum formed the face plate from a stormtrooper helmet I had.  This time I am going to use a pep file that my friend Phil was kind enough to give me.

I had an X-Wing helmet I started a few months ago lying around.  I think I will use it for this project.

Putting the face plate against the helmet we see that the helmet is a bit too small.

I think I will simply cut the X-wing helmet in half and add an extension in the middle.

The extension is simply a curved piece of cardboard glued in.

The resized helmet now perfectly fits the face plate.

Using strips or cardboard, I glued the face plate to the helmet.

And created the enlarged mohawk.

Next I added plaster wrap to the face plate and the new card board areas.

When everything dried I compared this helmet to my Tie helmet and saw that I made the front of the mohawk entirely too big.  So I cut away the excess area.

And glued in a new piece of cardboard to cover the hole and then applied plaster wrap.

At this point I decided to try out something I had wondered for a long time.  What would happen if I applied Fiberglass resin to plaster wrap.  So one day when I was home, and my landlord was away and my girlfriend was at work, I decided to try it out.  The face plate was made of card stock and covered in plaster wrap and then I covered the insides and outsides with resin.

It worked wonderfully!  The dried face plate is quite ridged and since I have a lot of difficulty working with the fiberglass side of fiberglass and resin, this works excellently for me.  

While the face plate was drying I added the triangular shape to the mohawk...

...and created the ears from the pep file I used for the Tie helmet (which were the ears from Daft Punk Guy pep file).

And then I glued them onto the helmet.

Next I gave the whole helmet a coating of black acrylic paint to being smoothing the surface and filling in small holes.

After the paint dried I began to mark where elements will be taken away and added.  Namely on thr front of the mohawk...

...and the back stripe and pill box.

Next, I cut out the area in the mohawk, and recreated it and the crest in the mohawk with cardboard and foam.

And also made the strip and pill box and glued them on.

Next I started to add wood filler to smooth out the helmet.

then I sanded it and painted over the wood filler.

...and then more filler.

...more sanding...

and more paint.

Next I decided to use some spackling paste to even out the textures and fill in gaps.

This was the first time I've used spackling paste.  I've used plain old spackle before, but paste is a bit better in my opinion.  It's wetter, and well, paste like.  Much easier to apply than standard spackle.  And it sands quite well.

When I finished sanding and cleaning the helmet I gave it another coat of black paint.

While that dried I started to build the chest box.  I used the same files I created for the Tie Pilot helmet and simply altered it to better match the AT-AT helmet's chest box.  However, I am currently out of insulation foam, so I am going to make it out of EVA Foam - which is the same foam I used when I made my Sci-Fi Body Armor (seen here).

 Once all the pieces were cut out I glued them together.

I also used cardboard, crafting foam and 2 coin capsules to add on the other elements.  Unlike the Tie Chest box, I did not give the top front & back edges a bevel.  This was an error in my part, but I left it as is.  I also need to get the PVC couplings for the sides at the hardware store, so this will sit and wait for a while.

Back to the helmet....
When the paint dried I touched up a few areas with spackling paste.

While that dried I decided to work on 2 objects that hang from the top of the face plate. says that these were made from CO2 canisters, but sadly I can not find anything like it on the internet, so I am just going to make my own out of some EVA foam.

I cut out 4 pieces and glued them together in pairs.  Then I beveled the edges and glued on a coin capsule to the bottom.  It's not pretty now but I'll make them look better later.

Back to the helmet...I added a coin capsule and some furniture tacks to the ears.

and I added some spackle to edges of the chest box to fill in a few small gaps.

Then I went to the hardware store and picked up some plumbing parts... 

to use as the cylinders found on the back of the helmet, as seen in the photo below.

As you can see, my cylinders and not very similar to what was used, but I think I'll use them anyway.

I also got the PVC couplings for the sides of the chest box and glued them in place.

Next I sanded the helmet...

...and the chest box

Then I gave them both a new coat of black paint.

Next the helmet got some air drying clay to refine some of the shapes of the helmet.

The next day I sanded it and then added more clay to a few areas - most notably the under sides and inside the 'ears'.

and then added some more spackling paste to even out a few areas on both the helmet and the chest box.

Next I sanded the helmet down and repainted it black.

The black paint showed a lot of areas that needed sanding.

Next I decided to attach the 'air tanks' onto the back of the helmet.

I covered the top with pieces of cardboard and filled in the gaps between the tanks and the helmet with a strip of crafting foam.

Then I decided to repaint the helmet - this time I painted it Gray.

When the helmet dried I cut some crafting foam to make the 'mouth'....

...and then I glued it on.

I also glued on the 'teeth' using crafting foam.  I opted to make only 5 'teeth' as opposed the the usual 7 used on the Tie Pilot helmet and Stormtrooper helmet.

Next I started adding some of the little elements to the helmet like the square buttons on the top of the helmet, on both sides of the front of the mohawk.

For fun I put the ATAT & Tie Pilot helmet next to each other.

At this point I added 2 Krazy glue caps to the 2 spaces at the front of the Mohawk.  People might get upset by this, because it is nothing like what is on the real ATAT helmets.  

During Empire Strikes Back, the production team added clock parts for this area.

I honestly never liked how they looked.  So I am sorry for those who don't like this change.

For the cylindrical shape right below those clock parts I used a small wire cap.

Next I used some insulation foam, cardboard, coin capsules and larger wire caps to create the spikes that are in the 2 rounded areas on both sides of the mouth.

 Then I glued them in.

Then I used wood filler to start fixing up some of the smaller areas that needed touching up.

When that dried I sanded the helmet, chest box and the 2 hanging objects.

When I finished everything got a fresh coat of black paint.

There were still various pits and holes and areas to fill.  The weather is still way too cold to take it outside for an application of filler primer, so I decided to be a bit creative.

I watered down some spackling paste and applied it with a paintbrush.

When it dried I sanded it with some fine sandpaper.

And then gave it a coat of gray acrylic paint.

When that dried I gave it a coat of white paint.

All these coats of paint are simply acting like the filler primer I would normally spray paint on.  But the weather is too cold for spray painting, so this is the next best thing for me.  Next I went back to the light gray paint.

The first coat was rather streaky.  The second coat was much better.

When the paint dried I glued on the tube-thing onto the front of the helmet.

And then I started to paint on all the black elements of the helmet.

I also gave the helmet a light wash of black to give it a slightly weathered look.

While that dried I printed out decals for the chest box and glued them on.

I also made the Empire Logo stickers for the front of the helmet.

Then I stuck them on.

Next I started to paint the red details on.

Then the silver details.

And I also added some slight weathering to the chest box.

Almost done!

Next I screwed in the tubes in the back.

The AT-AT helmet sits in it's new home in between my Dark Trooper and Tie Pilot helmets.

Next I used a sheet of paper to trace out the shape of the eyes.

I then used those pieces of paper as a template for some tinted plastic, cut out the plastic and glued them in.

Next I gave the insides a coat of black paint.

When that dried I used a marker to draw in the lines on the bottom sides of the face plate.

And then I painted them in with black acrylic paint.

Once the weather warmed up a bit I was able to take everything outside and spray on a few coats of glossy clear enamel.

Once the enamel dried I cut up some furniture foam and applied it to the inside of the helmet for padding.

And I'm done!

Below the AT-AT Driver helmet sits along side my Shadow Trooper and TIE Pilot helmets.

This helmet is definitely not screen accurate, but there's no question what kind of helmet it is.  I am also happy that this helmet came out so well without the use of any kind of spray filler or spray paint - with the exception of the clear enamel.  All in all it's another fine addition to my collection.
I hope you've enjoyed reading!!!