Halloween 2012

I’ve mentioned previously my Bat-chagrin that, despite my best toy plying efforts to ensure he was brought up in the manner of the Brotherhood, in my nephews own words he “likes Batman but loves Spider-man the most”.

So I’m claiming it as something of a victory that in a dress rehearsal for tomorrow nights Archery Association Halloween Party my Arkham Asylum based suit elicited a jaw dropped reaction and the comment “is it the real one..?” at first sight this Halloween.

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Now this ain’t a dumb kid, he’s seen me in costume regularly for the last five years, practically his whole life, and has no issue distinguishing his uncle dressed up from the fantasy that the various characters are real, so I’m taking a point for this particular success…

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Da Da Da Da Da Da Da Da, Bat BOOTS!

So, following on from my gratis gauntlet build and the lessons learnt therein I felt emboldened enough to make an attempt at some shin armour in the same manner.


Starting with the same basic template as previously I made some minor modifications to rework them into replicas of the in-game shin, printed out the card patterns and used these to cut out my foam sheet once more. Rather than recover old ground I’ll assume you’ve already read the related steps and this time cover how we’re going to assemble the parts below into a replica of the item at the top of the image.

For each shin then you’ll need the following:
A tin of black matt Plasticoat spray
Two sets of fast release clips (as you’d find on a backpack)
Two male camping studs (or, colloquially, poppers)
A pair of foam mat circles
A small strip of foam mat
A rectangle of foam mat to sit on the bridge of the foot
Approximately seven inches of trouser waistband elastic (depending on the thickness of your calves)
A length of elastic of sufficient length to loop round your chosen boot from the bridge of the foot to the sole and back
2 * 1 inch section of Velcro hooks
Your foam mat sections as per the template
Two 2 * 0.5 inch sections of Velcro loops
Lashings of lovely hot glue

(click to show full size, print onto A3)

So firstly we use the template to cut out the shapes for each part of the shin, remembering to flip the templates for each leg. Going by the problems I had with the gauntlets, you might want to write in big letters “done this side” after the first set, as I did to prevent later moronity.
I primed these with a coat of spray paint first before I started curving them to make sure any nooks and crannies were at least partially covered and hot glue the front of the shin onto the main shape, cutting fold lines into main part to make it easy to bend it into the correct shape.

With the boring prep done, we can start hot gluing. Cut enough of your trouser elastic (I use this as it has a nice ribbed texture and was sitting about spare) to secure the female part of the fast release clip and fix it closed with some glue.
You then want to take this and secure it on the back of the main part of the shin so that it nestles in one of the semi-circles which will be on the outside of the leg.
Turn it over once the glue has cooled and it should look like this:

Glue the foam bridge rectangle onto the bottom of the main shin, curving it to fit the shape. I choose to reinforce this with a strip of Duck tape as it’s only around 5mm of contact and this part will be under tension while wearing.
You can also at this point stick your Velcro hook section to the underside of the rectangle. I used industrial Velcro, but smeared some hot glue on the back for added adhesion nevertheless.

Repeat the steps for attaching the female part of the quick release clip to make the second required for this shin.
Ta-da!
And from the front…

Next I Dremeled a couple of holes through the foam and elastic to push the camping studs through. Remember these are effectively going on backwards, that is the side you generally don’t see is the one we want to be visible to achieve the right look. These are just for effect as opposed to being practical so you could probably just hot glue them into place, but attaching the two parts of the popper reinforces the bond of the elastic to the foam on top of that of the hot glue itself.
Speaking of reinforcing the bond, the last bit we’re going to do with this side of the shin is to glue that strip of foam mat on the inside, sandwiching the camping stud, trouser elastic and shin together. As it happens the mat I used had a foil backing which helps reinforce where corners occur, and by sticking this on foam side up, it looks like there’s some reinforced plate inside the shin where it’s visible behind the female half of the clip.

Take a minute to glue the 2 * 1.5″ Velcro loop sections onto either end of your sole to bridge elastic strip, we’ll need them shortly.

Moving over to the opposite side of the shins now, you want to hot glue the larger of your lengths of trouser elastic (circa 5.5″ or more) round the male part of the quick release clips.

On what will be the inside of the shin, you’ll need to scalpel out two slits of sufficient size to thread the other end of your elastic through.
Flip the shin over and glue down sufficient length of this to hold it (again this is going to be under tension when your using the shin so better safe than sorry) while still being long enough to go round the back of your boot and clip into place.
Back on the front, use the foam semi-circles you cut to add additional bond strength by gluing them in place to cover the slits and elastic.

After trimming the circles to match the shape of the edge of the shin, you’re hopefully looking at something like the below, here mounted on a newspaper wrapped boot with the under foot elastic Velcroed into place under the bridge section and ready for its first proper coat of paint. Might be a good idea to masking tape off the elastic and clips if, like me, you’re happy as they are and don’t want to spray them with paint.

Now weirdly there’s detailing on the in-game boots which isn’t far off the blue colour of my foam mat, however as with the gauntlets I don’t accept the “official” blue colour scheme on the associated merchandise and just want a matt black on the whole thing, so here’s one shin after its first coat…

Give each shin a couple of thin coats, allowing time to dry in-between for a nice finish, et voila, the completed shins in situ on the motorbike boots I’ve chosen to use.

Taking my forearms from zero to hero in 9 steps and 9 hours

Or “An Arkham Asylum gauntlet build on a tuppence ha’penny budget”.
I thought I’d post up about my first scratch built set of AA gauntlets.  They’re made from foam matting, the type of which may be sold by a little bit helpful super market retailers’ Value range and some cheap surplus camping studs and leftover bits of strapping that most Stormtrooper costumers have kicking around.

I’m not in the slightest claiming they’re (game) screen accurate as the initial template was done off the top of my head from memory, they’re deliberately smaller (short arms, you see) than the humongous articles Batman actually rocks in-game and I don’t agree with the colour scheme used by official merchandise.

Also; black spray paint I have kicking about, blue I do not…

1) 12:02
I measure my forearms before I plan out my templates for printing onto card using a vector drawing package.  This has the added benefit that I can scale the shapes up later if I want to have a go at some matching shin armour.

2) Print them off and cut out the shapes.  Only need one set as I can flip them over for the right and left arms to make things simpler. 

Or not as we’ll see…

3) Draw round these onto the mat.  I can reuse one of the shapes, sans grooves, to make the back section of the gauntlets.  Also, unlike the templates, I’ll make the backing a single section with a partial cut to allow them to fold round the arm as the foiled backing glued onto the mat lends itself to a natural joining material.

4) I save the section cut out to form the grooves as it was easy to do while keeping it in one piece and these can be reused as a bracer to attach the fins too.  In another bit of serendipity, the spacing of the fins can be measured equidistantly using the small rectangular sections cut out to put the poppers through to act as fastenings…

5) Hot glue the front section onto the rear.  Hot glue the fins to their strip of foam.  Hot glue the strip of foam to the outside of the arm.  Erm…  Which one is that though?  All the flipping of the template has confused me and the fins point in opposite directions. 

Nevermind, it’s hot glue I can rip one off and start again.

6) Attach the camping poppers and webbing for fastening round my arms and it’s off to the Batspray cave!

7) While waiting for the first coat of pain on the left gauntlet to dry, I spot that when I took off and re-glued that set of fins I put them on the wrong side.  Which technically means it’d have been easier to take off the other set and glue them the other way round!  Bah. Back out with the glue gun…

8) Rinse and repeats for several coats of paint.

9) And there we are, 21:44 and both gauntlets finished in half a day.  The dangers of being at a loose end and there’s nothing on telly…

Kittens are a superstitious cowardly lot, so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts

I arrived home from work on Tuesday to find that Parcel Force had tried to deliver something while we were out. Popping over the wall to the neighbours, I collected an unexpected box from the US.
“That’s odd”, I thought, “the only thing that would be coming from the States would be… But it can’t be… It’s only been a couple of weeks since I ordered…” A passing glance at the single word description on the shipping label confirmed what I hardly dare think. Batman.

Barely able to contain myself until I got upstairs, I tore at the tape sealing the box, shedding a load of those polystyrene packing “s” shapes across the floor. A layer of clear polyethylene and inside… An Arkham Asylum style cowl. More “s” snow and beneath, a pouch laden utility belt.

I began searching the front junkroom for my old black two piece wetsuit. Locating only the trousers before dinner I resigned myself to wearing just a black top create the correct effect. Racing through dinner, I brought up that I was trying to locate a blue carrier bag, the last place I’d seen the top half of the wetsuit without explaining why. Julie mentioned she’d shifted some stuff about while looking for something else, so I resumed my search elsewhere this time coming up triumphant.

Digging out some motorcycle boots and gloves I locked myself away from her prying eyes to don my ensemble.

Except.

Except, it’s been a good fourteen years since I last wore that wetsuit and even then it was a tight fit. In fact, the only reason I’d held onto it after becoming disenchanted with SCUBA diving was with the vague that since it was black and rubberised it might make a good undersuit for some costume or other.
So it was that I entirely failed to heed the fact that the trousers only just made it to my hips with the crotch sitting midway up my thigh and an odd tingling in my right ankle that could possibly be down to me cutting off the circulation in my leg and started to struggle on with the top half. After barely managing to get the whole length of my arms to the end of the sleeves I was in now standing with my head inside the chest area with what anyone with any common sense would realise was far too small a neck opening to actually push my head through. Still nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I started pulling and tugging at the top half to eventually pull it down over my head and chest.
This had now effectively divide my body into thirds, with the bottom of my legs and from the chest upwards sheathed in black rubber and from my midriff remaining bare to the world as the upper part of the wetsuit had bunched up just under my arms.
Now when such a thing occurs when trying to put on a tight jumper it’s simply a case of unrolling it down the body. When you’re mildly claustrophobic and wearing a skin-tight-by-design top about two sizes too small and your hands are starting to turn a bruised red colour, well, I’ll be honest you’re pretty much fucked.
In the latter situation struggling to rearrange things is going to achieve exactly three things:
1) You’re going to start sweating profusely
2) You’re going to quickly tire yourself and get out of breath
3) You’re going got end up MORE awkwardly stuck and shouting someone else for help

Let’s just be glad I wasn’t in the house myself when I’d tried this as I doubt the cat would have been of much assistance.

After extracting me without querying what the hell I was doing Julie returned downstairs and I adopted Plan B: wearing my Stormtrooper undersuit instead. Now we were moving in the right direction.
Boots: check.
Gloves: check.
Utility Belt: check.
Limited Edition Arkham Asylum Replica Batarang that came free with the game: check.
Slanket as a faux cape: check
Cowl: ch- Oh…

The neck of the cowl won’t budge over my forehead.
Recalling my not minutes before experience with tight rubber garments I stop to consider if I can leave it sitting as it is. On the plus side, it would give me the required height. The slight downside being my eyes are looking out from the bottom of the neck.
Still being fairly well lubricated by the pints of sweat on my forehead from the aforementioned events, I’m sure a good hard tug would sort the situation. Mind you a good hard tug might also tear the thing I’ve spent several hundred pounds on before I’ve had the chance to enjoy it…

By way of compromise I put on my Biker Scout balaclava to act as a lining and start gingerly pulling the head-gear into position and take a look in the mirror.

Da Da Da Da Da Da Da Da BATMark!

I’m now set to bring Shadowy vigilante justice to the streets of Gotham and scare the bejesus out of the cat.