For those of you who don't know who Ratchet is....well i'm sorry you lead a deprived existence. Ratchet and Clank is a video game series that my son is batsh#t crazy about. Pictured is Ratchet in his Hyperflux armor. This is what my son wanted to be for Halloween. Since he has been a good sport and worn the same "out of a bag" Super Mario costume for the last 3 years I decided to oblige him.
Part 1: The Helmet
Warning: For the duration of this Instructable I'm going to assume the reader (you) knows a little about the R&C series, because why else would you want to know how to make a Ratchet costume.
Helmet Material List:
Foam floor mat
Electroluminescent (EL) wire
Two part epoxy
Helmet Tool List:
Step 1: The Helmet Begins
Ratchet is a Lombax. A furry faced, weasel-dog looking squishy (non-robot). I am not a puppet maker, and I didn't want my son walking around in a wrong-looking furry mask. This is why he and I decided on trying to recreate the Hyperflux armor. It is one of the only armor upgrades that fully covers Ratchet's face. (Note: R&C Deadlocked is dumb so I don't count that)
To begin, I purchased a bargin basement motocross helmet from Amazon.com for about $40. I probably could have gone out and found a used one for cheaper, but the outdoors and contact with other people frightens me. I will be modifying the helmet a bit so it was necessary to remove the foam core. This was surprisingly easy, which I guess is why this particular helmet was so cheap. The foam just slid right out the bottom of the helmet in one piece.
Next, I needed to size the ears. I took a piece of wood and freehand drew a couple ears until one looked right. I cut out two different size ears and layered them to give it a little more depth so they wouldn't look like wooden ears glued to a helmet.
Step 2: Ears 1.0 (fail)
I had recently constructed a vacuum forming machine so I decided to try it out on this project and cast some polyurethane resin ears. I used the wooden ears that I carved as the "bucks" and formed some plastic molds for the resin. I glued the two halves together and cut a hole in one side to pour the resin. I used a two part liquid plastic resin I bought at Blick's art supplies. If this wasn't a failed attempt I would be more specific. I poured the resin in the mold and let it cure. When I demolded the ears they were perfect with one exception...each ear weighed 4 POUNDS! That may not seem like much, but an extra 8 to 9 pounds sitting on top of a seven year olds head for several hours is going to kill his neck. So, ultimately project "Resin Ears" was a failure.
I wanted to show this failed attempt because I worked so hard on it that I need to tell someone before I round-filed it. A catharsis moment i guess. So thank you reader for contributing to my emotional well being.
Step 3: Ears 2.0 (WIN!)
I was feeling pretty low after the resin debacle. I stood there hanging my head in shame...just staring at my feet. When it hit me! I should really put on some appropriate footwear. Also, the floor mat. I remember watching a Youtube video by XRobots.co.uk about making an IronMan costume where he used foam floor mats.
Using the wooden ear as a template I cut out multiple foam shapes and layered them as I did the wood version. After the layers were bonded I coated the whole thing with wood glue. The wood glue, so I was told, would seal the porous foam, and make a harder shell. It did both. 2 points XRobots.co.uk, 0 points My skepticism.
Step 4: Helmet Preparation
Since I had already removed the foam core from the helmet it was time to prepare it for alteration. First I roughed up the entire surface with sand paper so that it would be easier to paint later. I also sanded the sun visor attachment that came with the helmet. Next I positioned the ears using the title picture of Ratchet as a guide and marked the helmet for some holes. As you can see, I left a small "plug" of rubber on the bottom of the ears to stick through the helmet hoping this would help secure them. Using my dremel I cut two small rectangular holes in the helmet.
I fitted the ears and took a second to make sure the bottom contour of the ears fit snuggly against the helmet (I did a horrible job of this). After I was satisfied with the look and size of the ears I put the helmet on and sat down to play R&C for a few hours while pretending to BE Ratchet.
Step 5: Ears Continued...
Next I removed the ears and coated them with black PlastiDip to give the ears more weather protection, or something along those lines. After the fact, it didn't seam that necessary. Sorry I don't have a picture of this because my phone randomly decides to not store some pictures I take with it. I used the dip kind, not the spray-on kind. I spread it on with a paintbrush in multiple coats and it worked pretty well. Its not that smooth because of the brush strokes, but its for a seven year old so he can deal with it.
A side note: PlastiDip smells to high heaven. I'm sure it says that somewhere on the can but I like to plunge headlong into things like this with no regard for the small details. Be warned, if you use this stuff in poorly ventilated areas like say...your dining room table, your whole house will have a chemical fume smell that won't go away for hours. Don't judge me, a summer day in Vegas is awful even in the shade. Its like 105 degrees in my garage right now and the sun has been down for 3 hours.
After the PlastiDip dried I put the ears back on and used a strong epoxy to glue them in place.
Once the epoxy set I filled the gaps underneath the ears with basic silicone, and drilled a few holes for the lighting that will come later.
Step 6: Helmet Primed and Painted
Using basic spray paint I primed and painted the helmet and ears.
Our design is "based" on the Hyperflux armor. It is not meant to be an exact copy, so I asked my son what color he wanted the suit to be based around. He chose green. For some reason I saw the black helmet and visualized a circuit board type design. It may not jive with any of the game, but I think it works.
Step 7: Time for the Magic!
Finally, for the helmet I added some EL wire. In the game Ratchet's armor always has some glowing parts. I ran the EL wire through the holes I drilled earlier, super glued it in position and velcroed the power supply on the inside of the helmet.
When I reinserted the foam core I cut it into pieces and left out a small portion to make room for the EL wire power supply. The foam core is an inch and a half thick so there is plenty of room for the EL power supply without having it poke you in the head.
I considered adding a face piece out of clear plastic with eye shaped EL wire loops so that at night my son could see out and it would still look like the eye's on the armor. However, I think it would have made it a little too difficult for my son to navigate darker areas of the neighborhood.
Stay tuned for part two: Body Armor