One of the reasons I was so keen to take on this project was the opportunity to work with thermoplastics. I'd seen many a build and tutorial with wonderflex, but never had the spare cash to shell out for it myself. The wonderflex itself was easy to work with, but definitely produced a very rough product. In the future I'd probably skip it. It was fun, but I can achieve the same thing with less pricey materials.
Originally the plan had called for wonderflex coated in Friendly Plastic. I cannot speak highly enough of Friendly, it's a FANTASTIC product and super easy to work with.
However, having never worked with these products before, I vastly underestimated how much friendly I would need to coat the helmet, and discovered very quickly that I was in trouble.
With no time left to order more in time for Fan Expo, I had to improvise.
I roped my saint of a friend into taking me to the hardware store, where I more or less body-surfed down the automotive department and walked out with an array of Bondo products.
I used my old Iron Man mask as a base, since it had pretty similar facial contours, and then built the back of the head out of cardboard and tape. I used a cheap modelling clay to fill in the gaps and build the facial shape onto the mask.
We ended up with a couple of tubs of Crayola Air Dry Clay. While the texture of the helmet was significantly improved, it was also significantly heavier. I do not recommend this product either, unless you're desperate as I was and the craft stores are closed.
I woke up the next morning to find shallow spider-webby cracks all over the surface of the helmet. At under two days to Fan Expo at this point, I was beyond terrified. I threw some more fibreglass resin on it in a desperate attempt to strengthen the clay.
A few coats of resin and a day later, the helmet was saved from the danger of flaking apart, but there were still cracks marring the finish. I spent the morning filling them in with paintstaking layers of white glue.
Finally, though still apprehensive, and with under a day til the con, I conceded there was nothing more I could do, and painted it up.
The result was this lumpy mess. My friend was pleased with the shape, not so much with the finish. So I swore to do whatever I could in the very little remaining time. After a lot of panicked communication to a lot of different people, I arranged to pick up a power sander from a friend before work, and another friend's mother brought me another can of bondo.
A half an hour of futile power sanding attempts later, I realised that the lumpy mess was virtually indestructable, and the power sander did little more than remove the paint. And it was too late to go to the craft store.
Again, Saint Brynn came to my rescue, and a late night trip to Walmart was made, where I desperately searched for any product I could use to smooth out the finish.
In spite of significant struggles (all of which could have been avoided had I possessed enough Friendly Plastic to start with), I actually ended up with a really decent helmet, which is probably bulletproof, at this point.
As usual, the pre-con crunch is the most anxiety ridden period ever, but, as usual, produces the best results.