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Half-Life HEV Suit

I have a Lambda Complex.

I love the Half Life video game series.  Since workshop time this year is difficult to come by, I decided to build an HEV Suit costume to wear at Dragon Con 2014.  It's the sort of thing I can build in the house, with very little set up or tear-down...and no noise to disturb a sleeping toddler.

I chose an HEV suit because I've long wanted to build an armor-based costume, but at the same time it isn't a huge armor project like a Halo suit.  So I'm hoping it's good for a beginner.  I'm primarily making it out of EVA foam; raw materials are a combination of craft foam from Hobby Lobby and Micheals and foam shop mats from Harbor Freight (I try to catch the latter on sale and stock up).

Also, even though my birthday is in July, my wife has already secured my present.  :)

At Dragon Con 2014

posted Aug 30, 2014, 7:11 PM by Lewis Baumstark

Sorry for the lack of updates.  I barely had time to work on it...

Chest armor, sans detail work

posted May 4, 2014, 5:14 PM by Lewis Baumstark   [ updated May 4, 2014, 7:49 PM ]

The chest armor is coming along nicely.  It's based on the pepakura files.  The fit is a bit tight -- the shoulders are perfect but the ribbing under the armpits is a little too snug.  Probably because I don't have a He-Man body like Gordon Freeman.  :)  Going to piece in a panel under each armpit to add some breathing room.  If that doesn't work I may have to rip out the ribbing entirely and and rebuild it with less tapering.

The masking tape bits are keeping the armor closed.  My plan is to put velcro there so I can get in and out.

Update: the surgery to add a little extra room worked.  Additionally, I rigged it so the opening for getting in and out is under one of the armpits instead of on the chest.  It's a little more hidden that way.


posted May 4, 2014, 5:08 PM by Lewis Baumstark

Only throwing this in for completeness.  This one was easy -- took about 30 minutes total.  Made from 10mm foam and based on the pepakura file.

I wouldn't have bothered with it at this stage of the game, but I wanted it when planning out the dimensions of the thigh prototype.

You can see sharpie marks where I originally drew it out incorrectly...

Thigh Prototype

posted May 4, 2014, 9:32 AM by Lewis Baumstark

Probably the hardest piece to fit (so far).  This one took a lot of trimming and piecing to get right, but I like the end product.  This one is 6mm foam for the dark parts with 2mm foam (yellow) glued behind the cut-out to give it that recessed look.  I won't be putting a "skin" over the dark parts to hide the defects, so this one is a true prototype: I'll use it as a pattern and cut two new pieces, one for my right thigh and one for my left.  This one is just too rough -- especially on the edges -- to keep.

Dat Boot: Shin Prototype

posted Apr 17, 2014, 12:22 PM by Lewis Baumstark

More or less finished with my lower leg prototype.  As with the forearms pieces, I've pre-assembled it using masking tape.  I bought some combat boots for cheap at a surplus store to use with this project; I stuffed one with scrap foam pieces to make it stand up so I could work on the prototype.

Still a little to add here, a little to shave off there, but I think it's ready to duplicate for the other leg.  I originally did the shin guards in 5mm foam, but thought it looked a little anemic (and I got the cutout for the detail work too big), so I re-did it in 10mm.  I really like how the beveled edged came out using the 10mm stock.

The only thing I might change at this point in the white bit right above the foot.  From the side it should flow more with the curve that comes up from the heel.

Forearms, unpainted

posted Apr 14, 2014, 5:41 PM by Lewis Baumstark

Top: left forearm.  Bottom: right forearm.

Infected by a random appendage:

As I mentioned earlier, the forearms are made from a fit piece covered by details (mostly) made of 2mm craft foam.  I kind of made the right arm up as I went, cutting and test-fitting pieces and pre-assembling them using masking tape.  I made alignment marks (you can see them all over the pics) so I would remember how to re-assemble.  Then I disassembled, copied the pieces to a pattern, used the pattern to cut the left-hand side pieces, then assembled both forearms with hot glue (the high-temperature stuff -- holds way better than the low-temp variety).

The white chalky stuff is regular construction caulk, used to fill the seams.

The multi-colored assembly looks tacky, but it was a huge help visualizing and assembling the bits.  It'll all go away when painted, of course.

These were actually my fourth (!) attempt at these.  The first three (constructed in 10mm, 2mm, and 5mm thick foam, respectively) were based on a Pepakura file I found on the Internet.  No matter how I tried, though, I just couldn't get the scale right for my arm.  Hopefully lessons learned here will keep me from that many tries on other pieces.

Forearm Fit Piece

posted Apr 14, 2014, 7:33 AM by Lewis Baumstark

I still haven't got pics of the finished forearms, but I discovered some shots of the fit piece on on my phone.  As with the shins, the idea here is use a rough-cut piece of sturdy 5mm foam to fit to my arm, then decorate it with the 2mm detail pieces which are easier to fine-cut.  Unlike the shin fit pieces, the forearm fit pieces are completely covered by detail work. 

I arrived at this piece mostly by trial-and-error: wrap a sheet of foam around my arm, mark where it should join, then cut and glue.  I was shooting for something slightly conical so I would avoid a stove-pipe look.  The seams didn't have to be pretty since they'd be covered and, in fact, it was okay if I had to rip them, trim, and re-glue later.  As a bonus the edges of the foam sheet made a natural "V" hollow so I oriented the rest of the design such that the hollow allowed my elbow to bend; basically the hollow is on the inside of my forearm.

Note that, before I final-glued the fit piece and all detail pieces I made sure to transfer my pattern to paper so I could construct one for the other arm.

Shin Fit Piece

posted Apr 13, 2014, 6:05 PM by Lewis Baumstark   [ updated Apr 14, 2014, 5:28 PM ]

Despite this being my first post, this is actually the second (maybe third, depending on how you count it) piece I'm working on.  The forearm pieces are assembled and sitting in the shop awaiting paint; I'll post some pics when I manage to get down there and snap them.

In the meantime I'm working on the lower leg (technically the right lower leg, but the two sides are symmetrical -- at worst, I just flip the pattern over).  I want to continue the approach I used with the forearms: construct an inner "fit piece" and layer the details over it.  Unlike the forearms, some of the fit piece might be visible this time -- I'm using this image from the Gaming Heads' Gordon Freeman statue as inspiration and the fit piece will approximate the gray curvy bits on the back of his calves.

With the forearms, the fit piece was just a cylinder, which I was able to eyeball and test-fit without much fuss.  The calves are more complex, enough so I can't eyeball it; my brain just can't visualize the curves required.  I have a Pepakura file supposedly ripped straight from the game, but I don't like the shins in it, so I'm trying to roll my own.

So I took my leg measurements (length from knee to ankle, plus circumference at the knee, calf, and ankle) and put together a rough Sketchup model which I then transferred to Pepakura Designer.  Here's what it looks like:

Not too fancy, but it's a close enough approximation to the statue's calves for my needs.  I should be able to construct it in just two pieces of foam, which will help keep things simple.

I tried to keep it with a reasonably low polygon count so the Pepakura wouldn't be too complicated.  Hint: use closed polygons instead of circles in Sketchup to keep the poly count low.

I played around with the scaling until I got something I thought would work, then printed it and transferred the pattern to 5mm foam.  It was way too "fat", but the height and calf-bump-out proportions were about right.  So I trimmed material from the front until the diameters looked right on my leg.  I trimmed from the front because I intend it to be open anyway; this is how I'll get my leg in and out and I'll hide the opening by velcro-ing on the orange shin-guards you see in the statue picture.

Here's the prototype fit piece as-constructed:

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