It's my favorite time of year again. This Halloween I worked to solve the problem on how to make the armor the Baroness wears from the old G.I. Joe toys and cartoon. I was able to do it without the use of messy, and time consuming fiberglass. This method uses craft foam which is not only cheap, but shocking versatile. Flimsy in nature, this Instructable will show you how to make it not only polished, but sturdy. As far as the time required to make this, You can make it start to finish in about a week. Most of that time is waiting for things to dry.
Step 1: Materials
(9) 12X18 Sheets of Craft Foam
(1) 12 oz bottle of Elmers Glue
(1) tube of red acrylic paint
(1) magic eraser sponge
(1) can of black spray paint
(1) can of clear coat
(1) beer bottle
1 inch elastic band (about 3-4 yards of it)
1 inch nylon band (about a yard of it)
(8) center release buckles
(2) parachute buckles
(20) velcro squares
scrim-like cloth (as much needed for the armor)
a sewing machine
a glue gun with about 5 sticks of glue
a heat gun
a medium size paint brush
an Xacto knife and a pair of scissors.
Misc. Items to complete the costume not needed to DIY:
• Black athletic long-sleeve workout top and bottom
• Black leather/leather looking boots and gloves
• Glasses with clear lenses.
• A black long haired wig, if you don't already have long black hair.
• A big belt.
Step 2: Arms: Cutting the Pieces Out
For the arms, first you want to measure the distance from the wrists to the elbow, and subtract about an inch and a half. This is the length that the arm piece should be. Next, you want to have the pieces partially wrap around your arm, so you'll cut them to do so. I found that cutting the foam with an Xacto knife was much cleaner than using a pair of scissors. Once you have this shape cut out, cut another for the other arm and then proceed to drawing the Cobra logo that will go on top of it. With a felt tip pen, I drew what I wanted the snake to look like and cut out two of those as well.
Once you have the cobras and the arm pieces cut out, glue them together with some Elmers glue, and prepare some diluted glue in a bowl, (one part Elmers glue to one part water) I brushed a coat of the watered down glue over the entire piece. This allows you to hide the excess glue that comes out when pressed together. Finish the the other arm piece and then sit them somewhere to dry. They are dry when the glue turns clear. Don't fear if there are a lot of bubbles coming out of the glue you brushed on. Because the material is foam, it takes a lot of coats to cover them up. Don't use a heat gun to dry the coating of glue. It will cause it to dry clumpy and will make it difficult when you need to apply additional coats to make it look more smooth.
Step 3: Arms: Getting in Shape
To help reinforce the armor, You'll need to cut out some fairly rugged cloth to the shape of the pieces. Once you draw the outline of the shapes, cut them a little smaller so that you have about a quarter of an inch of play on the edges. this way there is no overlap to deal with.
With a heat gun, heat up the foam so that it softens, and use a bottle to give it a mold to shape itself. Allow the foam to cool, and it will retain it's shape. Once you have the desired shape you want, glue the fabric to the inside of the piece with more Elmers glue. Once the glue is dry, paint another coat of glue on the outside of the fabric and set them to dry again. You can still shape the pieces a little bit with the heat gun when they are dry so don't worry if it looses some of it's shape when being painted.
Step 4: Legs: Piecing Them Together
For the legs, I cut three pieces and glued them together. To make the edges more defined, I added some extra trim around the edges. Refer to Steps two and three for the techniques to glue them together, shaping and adding the cloth for reinforcement.
Step 5: Body: a Three Piece Suit
This is the most difficult part of the armor. After a few days of trying to figure out how to mold this from one sheet of foam, I determined that it's really not possible with this material. The advantages of this foam is that it's very flexible if it bends in one direction, but when you try to bend it in multiple directions, or try to make it bend in concave/convex curves, it's really stubborn. The best way to get it to shape in multiple curves, is to make it out of multiple pieces that curve in single directions.
There is a shoulder piece, a bra piece and a stomach piece. I've tried to include overhead shots to see the shape of them for your own reference. How I was able to adjust this was to make it out of paper and modify that. Once you get the stomach piece cut out, cut out the ribs outline and glue them together. For the body piece, I used the hot glue gun to assemble this. The bottom of the bra piece is the same curve as the top of the stomach piece. This way they fit snugly. Keep in mind that the curve is when the breast part of the bra is formed.
Next, cut out the bra piece and using the ledge in the stomach piece (see photo comment) to hold it in place, hot glue it together. If you need to readjust it once the glue has cooled, the heat gun will soften the glue so you can reposition. Once you've shaped the bra piece, glue on the shoulder piece and trim the legs on the "M" shape to the outside of the body.
Step 6: Back: an Easier Version of the Front
To make this, I got one of her shirt's and shaped it a little smaller to that. I also added a border around the whole back piece.
Step 7: Painting Glue: Not Nearly As Bad As Watching Paint Dry
Once your pieces are assembled, now is the most time consuming aspect of the armor, coating it with glue. With the mixture of one part glue and one part water, paint a coat over the entire piece. Don't worry if it pools a bit, it will go away by the time it dries. Once you've covered it all, let it sit and dry. It is dry when the glue is clear. When dry, paint additional coats of the glue mixture. I painted around 8-10 coats of glue. Paint layers of glue until you can't see bubbles in the coating.
Step 8: Spray Paint: From Foam to Plastic
Now that you have all your coats of the Elmers glue mixture on the pieces, it's time to paint. Paint the insides of the pieces so the light colored fabric doesn't stand out when you are wearing them. Once that side is dry, flip them over and paint the outsides of the pieces.
Step 9: Accents and Clear Coat: the Polishing Touches
For the red accents, I drew a Cobra logo for the chest plate. Once I sketched it out in pencil, I then took a Sharpie marker to make it more visible to cut the stencil. I cut out the Cobra logo to make sure that the proportions were good. Now that everything thing is on the up and up, I cut the logo out of the stencil material (Contact paper) and place it on the body piece where I want it to go. Mixing some acrylic paint, red with a little bit of black, I take a magic eraser sponge and dab it over the stencil. I wait 30 minutes to make sure that it's dry to the touch, and then peel the stencil off. For the arm pieces, I brushed on the paint and let it dry. Once I'm satisfied with the accent color and paint job, I clear coated the outside of the pieces. For those pieces like the back and the legs, I clear coated them after the spray paint stage.
Once the clear coat is on, the flexibility of the pieces are very limited and should be very rigid. Be careful when bending them because the clear coat can crack and it will look like broken glass on them when it happens. If you need to bend them, it should only be slightly at this point, use the heat gun to help soften it up.
Step 10: Straps: Putting It All Together
The last part of the armor is putting on the straps. For the shoulder piece of the body, I used adjustable parachute buckles. To install these. I marked on the pieces with a ball point pen a dent so I knew where to cut with an Xacto blade. Once I made the cut, I threaded in half inch nylon bands and hot glued them into place. (Note, when cutting the elastic/nylon band, make sure to use a lighter to melt the edges to keep them from fraying) For the straps on the sides, I used a center release buckle and used elastic bands. Once I sewed on one side of the buckle to the elastic band, I cut the slot for them into the body and inserted them using the same hot glue technique to reinforce them. The arm pieces have one strap low towards the writs with Velcro on the upper portion.
For the leg pieces and the arm pieces, I additionally used some Velcro to help hold them into place.
Step 11: Non DIY: the Boring Stuff
Now that the armor is complete, The only things left to do is get some black running pants and jacket. Go to the mall and get yourself some some black boots, a cheap pair of clear sunglasses at those kiosks and a big biker looking belt. Then hunt online to find a toy gun. Oh! If you don't already have long dark hair, then you'll need to find a wig or some hair dye. Once you have all those, you're done! Enjoy!