Like many others out there, I decided I wanted to make my own Captain America helmet. I actually did this for Halloween, and have been wearing it to comic conventions for a while now, so it's actually DONE! Also, a little bit of history... I'd previously purchased a Disguise Deluxe Captain America First Avenger Costume. When it arrived, I was thoroughly disappointed with the entire costume, but specifically the mask! So with my small amount of knowledge, I decided I wanted to make a helmet as a means of taking the costume to the NEXT LEVEL...
Step 1: So, It Begins...
I began by researching on the helmet. Finding out what it looked like from all angles. Even though I did this research and it's based on actual images, I took creative liberties and made it my own design. So let me say this, my helmet is NOT a 100% ACCURATE COPY. I did many things the way I wanted to, or the best way I could (with my limited skill set), and NOT necessarily how they appear in the photos of the actual helmet. With that, I then created a shopping list and purchased the materials I felt I needed...
Step 2: Shopping List
- Captain America Half Mask from Target (or where ever you can find them for purchase)
- Skateboard Helmet (These typically have a smoother finish than bike helmets)
- Liquid Nails and Gorilla Glue (I used BOTH at different points to bond, seal, and fill gaps as I put the two pieces together)
- Blue Dupli-Color Automotive Grade Spray Paint (as close of a match to the blue of my costume as possible)
- White Primer Spray Paint (to even out the colors between the blue mask and the black helmet)
- Testors 1/4 oz bottle of brown brush paint (for leather accent pieces made into the mask mold)
- Testors 1/4 oz bottle of Aluminum brush paint (for clips and etc on the chin strap)
- White 3M Opaque Vinyl (option for applying the "A" and wings graphics)
- Blue Automotive Interior Trim Panel Striping (for the two ridge lines that run from front to back)
- Leather Strap & Various Leather Pieces (ear flaps and chin strap)
- Brown Shoe Polish (to even out the leather colors and cover any exposed glue/adhesive)
- Sand Paper, Paint Brushes, Thinner, Scissors, X-acto, etc (as needed)
Step 3: In The Middle, FABRICATION
Once I had everything I needed to start, I cut the rubber eye cushion out from the inside of the face mask. Cutting these support posts out was one of the more difficult portions of the project, but honestly the hardest part of the ENTIRE project was removing the dense foam padding from out of the inside of the FREAKING skateboard helmet! That one step nearly made me give up on the ENTIRE project! My advice is to just exercise LOTS of patience, and allow LOTS of time... I should point out that I left the elastic strap attached to the face mask for quite a while. As it was helpful in holding the mask and helmet together while fitting and bonding.
I estimated where I needed to cut the front lobe out of the skateboard helmet, and test fitted the mask over it. I did this a few times, only taking a slight bit off each time. This allowed me to "sneak up" on just the right size without going too far.
Once I had everything placed where I wanted and all was prepped, I spent countless hours bonding, gluing, and sanding until I had the finish looking as damn near perfect and smooth as I could. At that point, I sprayed the entire helmet primer white, then sanded it down again. I then used a computer graphics program to draw and print the graphics I could use to create stencils of the "A" and wings. That way they could be reversed out of the blue top coat (as the white primer would be exposed through he blue). I applied an even coat of the automotive blue. Once dry, I removed the stencils and realized that the blue had bled badly under and pretty much ruined the white graphics of the "A" and the wings. At this point, I decided to reprint them and stencil them onto white vinyl and cut them out. I basically made custom stickers out of them. I applied these over the previous white painted graphics. I then proceeded to paint the areas of the mask with the Testors brown that were molded to appear as leather.
To dress up the helmet dome and to also serve as a means of additional structural support, I applied the blue automotive trim as the ridges from front to back. I also inserted the original costume mask inside the helmet, making a cushioned liner inside. The strap from the original mask went under the jaw, which was NOT preferred. So, I cut it off and created a new strap and chin cup out of actual leather. I attached the strap to the rivets (which I had the foresight NOT to remove) that were the attachments for the original nylon strap of the skateboard helmet. I also used leather to customize the ear flaps of the liner mask, and to make them look more AUTHENTIC (I alternated between the smooth and the rough sides of the leather when I created my pattern). FYI, I didn't stitch the leather. I glued it all on the backsides, and along the edges to seal them. I then used the shoe polish to even out the leather colors, and to hide any exposed adhesive/glue. I stenciled off all the graphics and applied a final top coat of the automotive blue spray.
I then prepped the chin strap, and sanded and painted the original strap clips with the Testors aluminum paint.