Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My name is David Court and I am a geek.

Fuck it.  I'm admitting what all of you must have known for years.  After an age of being all defensive about every single thing I've done that could be considered "geeky" and laughing at geeks and their funny ways to make myself feel smugly superior, I can't live a lie any more.  I'm as geeky as they come.  Going to a science fiction convention merely reinforced this in my mind, and I've now taken that final step towards über-geek.

I'm building a suit of armour (+8 Geek Points).
I'm making it out of cardboard (+12 Geek Points).
It's a suit of Master Chief Mjolnir armour (+24 Geek Points; Level Up)

Inspired by a phenomenal Master Chief costume I saw at the SFX Weekender and finding out that the price to purchase said costume is way out of my reach (and because I have some time on my hands), I've been investigating cheaper ways of producing the same effect - and to give my creativity a bit of a spin, which is something I don't get much opportunity for these days.

Following a couple of links on the internet I discovered the art of Pepakura and some of the incredible things that have been done with it by the helpful guys at the 405th, who are a community of papercraft armour makers (and an invaluable resource, it would appear).

The process is fairly straightforward; Pretty much every piece of science fiction armour you can think it is available as .PDO files (Not Ian Huntley, thats a different type of PDO file altogether).  These are designs to be printed on thick cardstock, printed out, cut out and folded - and then assembled together with a handy glue gun.

Remembering to scale down the images before printing them (Master Chief is, after all, eight feet tall, so building the armour to his scale would make it rather baggy, to say the least), each segment is an incredible undertaking.  The simplest designs (a simple panel for the back of a glove) may take a single sheet of card, the combat vest takes up around 20 sheets.

The scoring alone to make the folds work is a lengthy process, making mountain or valley folds depending on the instructions given.

Assembly again is a fiddly process with some of the attachment tabs being only 5mm across. A lot of molten glue is used, fingers are burned (and fingerprints erased, crime fans) and loud vocal cursing is done - until eventually, the thing begins to take shape and the structure is formed.

The next stage is the laminating (for which the materials have been duly ordered and I'm awaiting delivery). The structure needs to be sealed with resin and, once dry, strips of fibreglass matting need to be sealed with another level of resin around the inside of the structure to keep it solid and durable. The next step is the most laborious; The type of putty used to seal holes in car bodywork needs to be applied to the outside of the structure because this is where the detailing will go. The next stage is to spraypaint the assembled piece with primer, and then with black, and then the interesting bit begins whereby you paint the finished structure the way you want it and add detailing, weathering, damage, etc.

The finished result can be incredible - look at the 405th website for some examples of pepakura armour - but, by jingo, it's a lengthy mission. I started work proper on the project Sunday and have currently made the paperwork structures for four parts of the armour; The Pelvis, Left and Right boot and a Left Thigh Piece. And more importantly, they all fit.

And even more importantly, I've spared you the photograph of me trying on the pelvis; A.K.A. My Master Chief Pants.

Thanks to the help of my lovely assistant Tara (whose cutting out, patience and folding skills are exemplary) we're going great guns at the moment. Another week or so and I should have the majority of components created (only another 11 to go - sadly these include the helmet and Backpack which in themselves will take weeks of work) but the laminating and fibreglassing process on the bits that have already been made can begin as soon as the materials arrive.

Why am I telling you this? Why am I facing the very really possibility of some of you, my friends, disowning me? Why am I setting myself up for the great shame of admitting carrying out this activity which surely puts me in the higher echelon of Geekdom? Well, for one, I have a notorious habit of getting very bored very quickly with any projects that'll take me longer than a week - so putting progress on here is a good way to keep me enthused and hopefully see it through to the finish - and it's as good a thing to blog about as anything.  And in my heart of hearts I'm hoping that our love will see us though - It's stronger than this.

What am I making it for? Despite the fact I'm making it in my size I don't plan on wandering the streets of Coventry with it on. Hell, there are certain places in our city centre I wouldn't fancy even if it were real Master Chief armour. Ultimately, it'll probably just sit on a shopkeepers dummy as a display piece - although it might well get an airing at the next SFX Weekender in 2012. If the bloody thing is finished by then.

So, there we have it - out in the open. My card(stock)s on the table. Hopefully I'll post progress with this later - if I don't you'll know I've gotten bored of the project and the huge task ahead - but I'll do you a favour and mark every post with the 'Contains high level of Geek' warning at the top so if it doesn't interest you, you can simply ignore it and wait for my next instalment of Charlie Brooker style rants about the next thing that irritates me.


  1. I don't think of myself as a geek either. However, given I'm looking up Skyrim on the internet every other day and have watched sixty episodes of The X Files in a month doesn't back this up.

  2. Wow Dave! You're like King of the Geeks. Nice! :)


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