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Author Topic: Mass Effect 2: N7 Armor. The epic journey of stress and despair.  (Read 4710 times)

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Junon

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Just thought I'd share my month long project that I started just before FanimeCon hit.

By the end of April 2012, as FanimeCon was approaching, I decided to make life difficult for myself and began working on a Mass Effect 2: N7 Armor. I've seen the many versions of N7 costumes which impressed me and I wanted one for myself. There was one particular N7 Armor I've seen by cosplayer randerdis who made herself a Femshep N7 Armor -- it was the inspiration I needed to get started on mine, and she was very helpful with advice, suggestions and online-emotional support which was needed by the week of Fanime. :P

I originally started off like everyone else did, I used the EVA foam to get that carbon texture and the thickness all set. As I kept working with the foam I couldn't get the cuts to come out smooth and straight, and I kept misaligning the texture to patterns, so it was all over the place. I almost gave up when I decided to try it out with styrene, I originally didn't want to use styrene because I didn't want to do any vacuum forming, if I had to. And I will also lose the texture and the costume would weigh about 30+ pounds. But despite that, this turned out to be a wise decision.

I had a set of 8 sheets of 1/6th inch styrene at 24 x 18. I designed patterns in paper for testing scale and applied it to the styrene. Now using this styrene also added some pressure on me to not mess up and waste the styrene, as the the group of styrene I was going to start off with is something of a relic. The styrene I used is at least 50 years old, it belonged to my GF's grandfather who has passed long ago. I was told by her family that back in the 60's/70's, he used this styrene to work on model train sets. Adding to that, he was also a war vet, and when completed, I get to wear his styrene on Memorial Day. So making the armor was more than just a goal to make N7 Armor. (And yes, this may in fact make my N7 Armor, literally, the oldest ever created).

Back to making the armor, I managed to get all of the curves and other shapes without any kind of heat or vacuum forming. I simply cut pieces and glued them together in layers and bent many of them by hand until they stayed. Loc-Tite Professional is the glue of my choice with styrene, I also used it on the Claymore Teresa costume I made for my GF last year which I posted on this forum.


Multi-layered styrene making it weigh about 10+ pounds.

When the final week hit, I wasn't nearly as done as I wanted to be. I didn't have any of the leg armor done, I didn't have any straps setup, none of the armor created was painted and the LEDs weren't wired up to the battery and switch yet. With a few days left I crunched down on everything as quickly as I could. I got a lot done by Day 0, my plan was to get the pre-reg badges and rush home to take care of painting and the final wiring for the LEDs. Problem was, that plan was destroyed when the pre-reg line took 6+ hours. By the time I got home it was almost 11pm and I had no time to do anything I needed to finish up, so I slept in early and woke up early the next day.

By Day 1, I rushed to get the costume working, I started to prime the armor, ran out of primer and had to go to store to get more (wasting 30 minutes). Then as I resumed priming, the worst thing happened. It started to rain! I had to stop and bring in the armor as this freakish May storm hit. Its been sunny and warm all month long, and at this very moment, of all times, it had to rain. This made me give up, because the con was going on right now, and at 3pm I'm still home trying to get the costume finished. Disappointment isn't a word that could describe my feelings on this disaster.

I took a shower to give myself time to think this through, I decided that since I did get most of the stuff primed, all I needed to do was paint on the accents, strap it up and then finish soldering the LED's. It wasn't as bad when put into perspective, so I decided to take everything with me, costume, parts, tools, paints, and work on this in the hotel room. I toggled time between food, convention panels and costume building between Day 1 and Day 3. I had a lot more to do than I thought and I rarely slept much. At times I wanted to give up, but every time I made a small breakthrough, it kept me going.


At-con painting, Day 3.

By Day 3, afternoon, I finally got it done. While I didn't get every detail I wanted, such as missing the boots entirely, and not being able to get it to work without pants/belt (originally going to use wet suit), I thought that most of it was completed and looked good enough to be con worthy. I wasn't about to let a few details set back a whole month of work, energy and money and stop me being all the Shepard I could be.

When I finally went out with this, many people took pictures, called me Shepard and gave great compliments. I felt even for the small amount of time I did get to wear it, that it paid off. I had a couple of malfunctions which I was able to take back to the hotel room and fix in about 10 minutes, went back out and enjoyed myself for the next 2 hours. I got to meet some other Shepards which looked awesome.

In the end, while very stressful, it was worth it and fun. I plan to finally complete the entire armor with painted accents and the armored boots soon, so next year I'll have the costume done and spend more time wearing it. I hope to have it completed by this year's Sac-Con, because Jennifer Hale (voice actress of Female Commander Shepard) will be there and I would love for her to autograph my N7!


The defining moment..

Thanks for viewing! :)

Link to my FB Gallery with some images from the beginning to end.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150976029246679.535819.657926678&type=3&l=757bce0a3e
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Dagger-6

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Re: Mass Effect 2: N7 Armor. The epic journey of stress and despair.
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2012, 05:19:46 AM »

Very nice!  And as great as the foam builds come out, it's nice to see shepard armor made by different materials.  Great little piece of history about the styrene. =)

Looking forward to seeing the completed suit next year!  It already looks great for something 'incomplete'.
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Junon

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Re: Mass Effect 2: N7 Armor. The epic journey of stress and despair.
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2012, 10:54:31 AM »

Very nice!  And as great as the foam builds come out, it's nice to see shepard armor made by different materials.  Great little piece of history about the styrene. =)

Looking forward to seeing the completed suit next year!  It already looks great for something 'incomplete'.

Thanks! :)

I decided that I'm going to recreate it again from scratch based on everything I learned as the current one has some issues which made moving very hard -- I felt like a Tank at times. Plus I still have all the paper patterns which already makes cutting out the shapes much easier, if I continue to work with ME2 and not ME3 (which would require some new patterns). If I can get a second one done, I would then convert the old N7 armor into a mashed up steampunk version of N7 to wear at Clockwork Alchemy next year, while I wear the improved N7 at Fanime.

The one thing I forgot to add to the story was the many times I had to redo the straps throughout the week leading to Fanime and even during Fanime. The armor isn't flexible and was built for one size -- big dude. When I started on this project, I was a bigger guy, by the time Fanime hit, I had lost a significant amount of weight, but it was too late to trim down the armor, so I had to add more straps to keep it on and it ended up looking too big, even on me. This was one time I did not want to lose weight.
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JackMackerel

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Re: Mass Effect 2: N7 Armor. The epic journey of stress and despair.
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2012, 02:37:16 PM »


The one thing I forgot to add to the story was the many times I had to redo the straps throughout the week leading to Fanime and even during Fanime. The armor isn't flexible and was built for one size -- big dude. When I started on this project, I was a bigger guy, by the time Fanime hit, I had lost a significant amount of weight, but it was too late to trim down the armor, so I had to add more straps to keep it on and it ended up looking too big, even on me. This was one time I did not want to lose weight.

Totally should have been James Vegas. :V

And good luck, man, especially with the Steampunk version (THAT one's gonna be tough). The power stripes on the back are a nice touch!
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