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Robot Day & Cosplay at the Museum & Gardens

Robot Day is finally upon us! All summer long people have been buzzing about Saturday’s highly-anticipated event, being held in conjunction with our newest exhibit, Japan’s Robot Kingdom.

Not only are we featuring two of pop culture’s most famous Japanese robots, as well as games, crafts and activities, but we also have a fantastic, hand-made robot suit from local cosplayer and robot connoisseur – Ben Albert on-site for Robot Day. Read on for an inside look on how Ben created his Gundam suit, and be sure to join us this Saturday, July 18th from 10:00am-5:00pm for our exciting event!

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I have been cosplaying since 2008 and over the years I have gained a reputation for my large mecha costumes. These suits are usually over 7ft tall and very impressive to behold. Despite the intimidating stature, they are made from readily available materials using techniques I picked up while making Gundam model kits.

My go-to material for most applications is 1mm extruded PVC sheets, more commonly known as ‘Sintra’. Sintra is a lightweight thermoplastic that is waterproof, chemical resistant and has a satin finish. You can shape it with a heat gun or hot water or score and fold it into various shapes with a razor knife. Usually I make everything out of a cheap disposable material like paper or cardboard to ensure I’ve got my measurements right before moving on to the PVC build.

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1. Here are some parts for a helmet that have been printed and taped to some Sintra.

Gundam Step 1

2. Once they are cut out from the sheet I score the edges where the part will need to fold. It leaves a gap in the part but that will be filled and smoothed out later.

gundam Step 2

3. This skirt armor has been cut out and bonded together with slow curing, thick-type CA glue. This glue is strong but can be dangerous to use as it generates heat when used with its accelerator spray. Make sure to use it in a well ventilated area and use proper face, eye and skin protection.

Gundam Step 3

4. To fill the gaps left by scoring and folding parts I use Tamiya brand modeling putty. That is the grey substance you see here. Once it dries the excess putty can be sanded away leaving no signs of the scoring lines used to fold the Sintra into shape.

Gundam Step 4

5. Once the gaps are filled and the armor is painted with primer the gaps and imperfections become almost completely invisible making the armor look like a single uniform piece.

Gundam Step 5

6. Giant robots tend to have very exaggerated proportions. To help get the look as close as possible you have to use some tricks. The forearms for this suit have the elbow joints very deep into the forearm. This will help my arms appear longer while still giving me good arm mobility.

Gundam Step 6

7. The front of the shoulders is designed to hinge on Velcro straps. The armor will lock into place with small magnets when at rest. This moveable armor panel lets me raise my arms high and have good mobility even with large and heavy weapons.

Gundam Step 7

8. The legs have a large amount of clearance around the ankle. This will have a soft armor panel made from EVA foam on both sides of the ankle to hide my feet and the 9 inch wooden platforms in the feet.

Gundam Step 8

9. Adding effects to the suit gives it that extra ‘wow’ factor. The booster lights on the backpack are made from simple LED flashlights that screw into place.

Gundam Step 9

10. I make a wooden frame from dowels reinforced with fiberglass tape that will go around my waist on suspenders. This frame is where the skirt armor will be mounted via Velcro and elastic straps and buckles . It also acts as the support for the thigh armor and torso. I design this part to be reusable between multiple costumes.

Gundam Step 10

11. Sintra on its own is a pretty fragile material. Since the body will be supporting most of the weight of the suit its reinforced with fiberglass to make it strong.

Gundam Step 11

12. Now that the majority of the parts have been built and cleaned up they can be prepared for paint.

Gundam Step 12

13. My preferred paint is Rustoleum brand since it has nice bright colors and is very durable. I always make sure to take my time with paint making sure to get clean lines and good colors to ensure a good finish.

Gundam Step 1314. Once complete all that’s left is to hit the show floor and strut my giant robot stuff!

Gundam Step 14

For more information on how to make a giant robot costume please check my panel @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3J8S9K9Bxio

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