DON’T JUST SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH!!! If you really want to make a Thomas Bangalter Daft Punk helmet, it’s going to take a lot of time and patience. If you just want one of these helmets fast with no effort, go shop on eBay or something, because you’re not going to find it here. That said, if you DO want to make a Thomas helmet, and you haven’t ever done anything like this before and/or you don’t have many skills in this area, this tutorial is for you. Also, if you’re poor like us then you don’t have to worry about cost, it will only be around $50, which is really cheap for this sort of thing, if you didn’t know. This is our first prop design, and we pulled techniques from a few sources that best fit our simple skill set. It took us about 30-40 hours to complete this build, but that includes time spent messing up with dye and other things that you can easily avoid if you follow this tutorial. We will go step by step and tell you guys as specifically as possible how to make this helmet with very little precise skills. Remember, this tutorial is for complete beginners, because that’s what we were. If some of this seems like baby steps, that’s because we’re trying to help those with no skills in this area. Because of this, this helmet is not perfect. If you’re looking for perfection, go look at http://www.volpinprops.com/ . That said, let’s start the tutorial!!!
1 Pair of scissors
14 sheets of paper (printer paper for pepakura)
1 Sheet of thin cardboard/thick poster board (we used about 2x2 ft but more is better in case you screw up)
1 X-ACTO knife for cardboard
1 Hot glue gun
1 Razor blade (for excess hot glue)
1 Generic baseball helmet, as smooth as possible with as little bulge as possible for the ears (pics and better description further down)
1 Can black spray paint
2 C-clamps (optional)
2 Aluminum cans
Fiberglass and resin (optional)
1 Dremel tool
2-4 Tubes of Bondo (car dent paste, varies with amount of coats)
1 Putty knife (1-1.5 inches wide)
Some 220+ Grit Sandpaper, rougher to start, but really smooth after the final coats of bondo
1 Can of primer
1 Can silver spray paint
1 Sheet of 1/32" PETG plastic, at least 4x17 inches (size may vary slightly)
1 can VHT Nightshades tint
A truckload of patience (this is the most important part)
Step 1: PEPAKURA
Link is here: http://www.tamasoft.co.jp/pepakura-en/
After you have done that, Google and download a Thomas helmet file (link here: http://www.thedaftclub.com/forum/showthread.php/17216-Daft-Punk-Pepakura-File-Collection choose your flavor), which you can then print out using pepakura and build as a paper base for the rest of your project. You don’t actually have to do the whole pepakura model, as we will be using the baseball helmet for the entire back part (see pictures below) and aluminum cans for the ears. Cut out the front part of the model, as shown, and arrange on the cardboard.
Then, trace or tape the paper pepakura model onto the cardboard, and cut out the shape from the cardboard using the X-ACTO knife.
Once you have all your parts cut out, it should look like the last picture.
Step 2: BUILDING THE CARDBOARD FRONT
Add the chin pieces last, it makes the front easier to manipulate.
In retrospect, it is key to trim out the places where it overlaps, such as on the bottom of the eye piece in the fifth picture, and on the top as well. In ours, we left that in and it resulted in bulges in the finished project (not good).
Now that you have the shape of it, you need to add the trim around where the plastic will be. Just do the same as the rest of the pepakura except you’re going to have to make your own piece. It should be around the width of the fold flaps, and as long as the lengths of the edges of the eye piece. We had to add multiple pieces of trim for some areas to make the plastic piece fit more vertically, so you may have to adjust yours if your bottom part of the visor was farther in than the top part like ours was. This just means the plastic will be slightly slanted outward in the finished piece. It may sound bad, but it still looks really good, so don’t worry about it.
Spray paint the inside of the helmet black, to minimize visibility from the outside of the helmet looking in.
Now that you’ve got that done, onto the baseball helmet.
Step 3: ATTACHING THE VISOR TO THE HELMET
Sorry about the photos, I’m not a professional, as you can tell. Anyway, you can see that in this picture, the ears bulge out a little bit, which proved to be a problem with this helmet. If you can find a helmet with less bulge, that would be better. As you will see in later photographs, there are no vents or anything on this helmet other than the one hole at the top, which was easily fixed with fiberglass.
Now, attach the bottom part of the face to the helmet using a crap-ton of hot glue. Use the pepakura for a reference for the position of the face on the helmet. Use the c-clamps if you want to hold the visor in place until the hot glue is completely dry. This part will take some troubleshooting if you didn’t do something right. We had to bend ours pretty far to make it fit, so you’ll have to see what you need to do to make it work.
As you can see in these pictures, we cut off the visor on the baseball helmet. In order to get the right angle for the visor, you might have to cut off this part, which is easy if you have a dremel tool. If not, well… be creative. Once you have that on there, glue on the top part of the visor with the desired angle. Again, don’t overlap the cardboard, because you will end up with a bump on the top that doesn’t look good.
By the way, those “support struts” are useless, don’t bother with them unless you really want to. Once you have that on there, glue on the trim for the top part of the visor, as shown below.
The ear on the right there turned out to be too big for that attempt, so just ignore it for now, that will be next.
Alright, now your helmet is coming together! You can see the shape of it pretty well, and you can tell if you made any major errors. Your helmet should look something like the first picture, hopefully without the overlap and excess glue. :P
Step 4: THE EARS
What we did was we started with a very large ear and loosely hot glued it onto the helmet to visualize what it would look like. Based off some reference shots and the pepakura, we were able to determine the length of the ears and get them somewhat similar, as shown in the pictures.
I can’t stress enough how much patience is needed for this project, as these simple ears took about two hours to get the shape and size right and the same for both ears.
Step 5: THE FIBERGLASS (optional)
Anyway, that said, place fiberglass strips over the parts where you can do one strip to cover the cracks and corners.
This way, you don’t have to worry about doing a thick coat of bondo over the cracks.
Here’s a picture (#2) of it when it’s wet with resin, note the air bubbles on the top right, on the chin area. GET THOSE OUT. Work hard on this section, you want this to be as good as possible as it will cement the shape of your helmet.
Repeat these steps for the rest of the helmet.
Don’t worry about getting it to cover the trim; you can do that with the bondo, as it doesn’t need that much covering.
After the fiberglass, I put paper over the eye area to see what the finished project would generally look like. (last three pictures)
Step 6: BONDO
Some tutorials just say, “then comes the bondo,” but that didn’t help me at all, because I had never used it before this. So, I will attempt to explain what to generally do with it if you are like I was and have no experience with it. If you already know how to use it, skip this paragraph. We bought the non-professional version, which comes pre-mixed and has no catalyst, which is why it is red, I would assume. This was fairly easy to use, so I would recommend it for beginners. Squeeze out a bit of bondo about as long as a wooden clothespin onto your helmet where you will use it. Use the putty knife to spread it as smoothly as possible, to give you less pain on the sanding end. Spread it out as much as you can, making the shape of the helmet more round, don’t just put an even coat over the entire helmet, because the different sections of the helmet will need more or less bondo than others.
Once you have a good coat of bondo on the helmet, wait for it to dry and sand off the rough patches. Here’s a picture of before (1) and after (3) sanding.
Yes, I know it looks like it has leprosy, but don’t get discouraged. This is only the first coat, and hopefully you did a better job than we did at making it smooth (this was pretty terrible). It’s not hard to sand, and I would recommend 220 grit sandpaper for the first coat and then progressively finer as you go on.
And then we did another coat.
So once you’ve got a nice smooth feel to your helmet and you’re satisfied with it, hit it with a coat of primer to really highlight the rough spots. (last two pics)
Go back and fill in all the gaps with bondo. This won’t require an entire additional coat (hopefully), so it shouldn’t be as time consuming. Spray it with primer again when you’re finished.
Ok, there you go. You’re almost there if your plastic adventure goes well.
Step 7: PAINTING
As you can see, it gets really ugly, really fast. If you do what we did and totally screw it up, just put another coat of primer over the top and start over, it’s no big deal.
Now you’ve got your painted helmet! All that’s left is the plastic.
Step 8: THE PLASTIC
Some failed RIT tests: (pics 7-9)
Make a paper version of the visor you are going to make so that you can trim and get the shape way more easily than if you did it with the plastic. Then trace the shape onto the plastic and move on to the tint. (pics 4 and 5)
So what we ended up doing was experimenting with the PETG plastic and the VHT nightshades about 5 times before finally getting a satisfactory result. We managed to get a good looking result on the outside on our first try, but you couldn’t see clearly out of it, as it was blurry and spotty. We found that if you warm up the can of VHT in the sun for a while, and then shake it for about a minute (basically what it says on the can), it will assist in a smooth coat. This alone, however, did not produce satisfactory results. On our final experiment, we sprayed the VHT about 3 inches from the surface of the plastic, and just drenched the whole thing with a super thick coat. The tint stuck together enough to provide an even coat. Anyway, this may have been the wrong way to go about it, but it gave us good results. Finally, glue in your visor with hot glue or something to secure it to the inner edge of your visor to prevent gaps in between the two.
VHT Nightshades (pic 10)
some pics of the tinting process (11-14)
Tint comparison (first test with nightshades vs. last) (last pic)
I think you can guess which one is which.
Step 9: THE NOSTRILS
Step 10: PUT IT ON
We also secured an iPod and a set of earphones in there so we could listen to Daft Punk’s music while wearing their helmet. (last pic)
Thanks for taking the time to read this tutorial! We hope this was helpful, and feel free to ask any questions about the build!
Next time: the LED matrix :D