The Nasus Saga: Armor Pieces Part 2 – Thermoplastics

Thermoplastics are neat, but expensive.  I bought mine from www.cosplaysupplies.com, and I opted for the combo packs, which included both Wonderflex and Worbla.  Since this project was at least somewhat about learning, I wanted to try out a few different things, plus the Wonderflex was cheaper so I wouldn’t have to buy ALL Worbla.  Anyway, that is how these giant sheets of plastic came to live in my foyer. Inspector Talon does not approve (bottom right).

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The brown stuff is the Worbla and the white sheets behind it is the Wonderflex.  Both have a smooth side, which is sticky when heated, and a textured side, though the textures are fairly different.  Before I started putting this stuff on my foam armor pieces, I cut out a few small pieces of each, and played around with it.  I’ve read that Worbla shapes a little better around curves or spheres, so it’s used especially when breastplates or helms are involved.

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The first piece I started with was the cross piece for the skirt.  I decided to do this piece with Wonderflex since there wouldn’t be much shaping happening on this piece.  I traced the piece with a little bit of extra room on the wonderflex sheet, then heated the bottom of it with my heat gun, and went to work.  I used a flathead screwdriver to press the plastic down over the raised pieces of foam.

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I also made lots of strategically placed cuts around corners and curves and things like that to make it easier to wrap the plastic around the edge of the foam.  Sometimes pieces needed reheating.  And honestly, I didn’t find the sticky side of the plastic to be super … sticky.  Regardless, I was pretty happy with my first finished piece.

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I didn’t actually glue the gem on there yet, I just had to see that it would work when I did 🙂  The gems will be glued down at the very end, once the armor is painted.  I was worried that this piece would be a bit flimsy, so it actually has three layers of craft foam and the layer of plastic.  The Wonderflex did help a lot to make the piece sturdier.

Next, I decided to try Worbla-ing the skirt piece.  I did this while the foam was still flat, which worked great since this piece was so huge, but when I shaped it afterwards, I decided I would probably be shaping the foam pieces prior to adding Worbla.  It just seems easier.  Anyway, here is the skirt piece as I am applying heat and screwdriver to it.

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The other piece I will mention in detail is the helmet.  This piece was already shaped which is good, but had lots of unwanted lines from the various foam parts.  I used multiple pieces of worbla for this, and after covering it, my helmet looked like this.

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Not bad, but I’d really rather not share all the gross lines from the under layers of foam that are on the top dome there.  In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m doing the upper armor of Nasus in two pieces – this helm, and a shoulder / chest piece.  It looks like one piece in his pictures, but for ease and movability, I think this will work out better.  I continued covering this helm with several more pieces of Worbla, hoping to make a neat looking design that also covered the lines and bumps at the top.  And I added some of the stripes to the front tails.

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I wound up with this.  I think I like it.  The stripes look great, and the piece around the forhead is reminiscent of some Egyptian headdresses I have seen, even if it is a slight modification to Nasus.  I think it might make the helm a tad more feminine, and since this is a genderswap costume, I think I’m okay with a little bit of feminine stylization.

As you can see above, I made my face pieces to give me an Anubis nose as well … the first attempt looked like this:

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The severe overbite here made me feel like I was making a Phteven costume instead of Nasus, so I changed it to look like it does in the picture with the helm.

phtevenThe resemblance is uncanny.

Strangely, I can breathe fairly well in the face pieces. However, I will almost certainly get an itchy nose while wearing this costume :/

I am finding that I like working with the Worbla a little bit more than the Wonderflex.  The texture on the Wonderflex seems to make detail indentations difficult.  It works fine for things like the cross where I did minimal detail work.  But I used it for the axe pieces, and the indentations between my raised pieces were much harder to punch into the plastic.  See how there is a netting like texture on it?  It’s hard to get into the grooves between my foam pieces.  In some places I felt like I was ripping it, and in other places I felt like it bounced back and floated about the crevices.

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Ultimately the axe pieces worked out okay, it would just make me think twice about which pieces I will use Wonderflex for in the future.  The bracers and shin pieces should be fine, but I opted for Worbla on the collar piece after I saw what happened with the axe.

IMG_1034Even though a lot of time and goes into the craft foam pieces because of the length of time it takes glue to dry, the plastics were also time consuming – you have to cut them, and the the process of applying them isn’t super speedy.  They heat up fast, but they cool quickly as well.  So you can’t just heat up a giant piece and place it over some foam.  You have to do it in phases, work the indentations, curve it around the edges.

Most of the tutorials I read about working with Worbla mentioned sandwiching the craft foam between two layers of plastic.  I can see how this adds sturdiness, but there is plenty of stability with just an outer layer of plastic.  Having the foam side against your body is also likely more comfortable.  And finally, not placing plastic on the underside seems like a good way to save money / plastic.  I keep thinking I am going to understand why the sandwich method is used at some point, but for now, I have not figured it out.

For what its worth, the plastics can burn if overheated.  And you can in fact take all your Worbla scraps, heat them up, and combine them into a ball of plastic that can be remelted and used again.  I haven’t tried this yet with the Wonderflex.

Here are the rest of the pieces for this set of armor, even though I didn’t talk about them in great detail above.

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Definitely has been a learning experience.  Next I’ll get to learn about sanding and painting this stuff!

 

9 comments for “The Nasus Saga: Armor Pieces Part 2 – Thermoplastics

  1. August 7, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Aaaaah, now I want to do a Phteven cosplay! Hilarious. But seriously, this is a super cool project. Can’t wait to see it finished.

     
    • August 7, 2014 at 9:10 am

      I wonder if I could permanently stick Penny’s gums above her teeth … she’d make a pretty convincing Phteven!

       
  2. August 7, 2014 at 9:08 am

    This is so cool to see the steps of it being built!!

     
    • August 7, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Hah, thanks. I feel like this next step is taking forever (painting prep, sanding, and painting).

       
  3. August 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    This is looking really good, nice clean lines. I’ve never used Wonderflex but have had good experiences with Worbla.

     
    • August 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      Thanks! I’ll give you my wonderflex official review after I’ve seen how well it sands down and paints … So far I feel worbla is easier to work with.

       
  4. August 23, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Just wanted to say that the staff at http://www.wonderflexworld.com enjoyed reading and seeing your armor efforts here….nice work. Liked your candid comments. Have you ever worked with FOSSHAPE?

     
    • August 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks – it was a great learning experience! I haven’t yet tried Fosshape – but will put it on the list! I’d love to hear any tips y’all might have on smoothing the texture on the Wonderflex as well – I have plenty left over for future projects 🙂

       

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