Quest for the Armored Bat Suit
My love for Batman, Halo 3 character Master Chief, and the ability to transform into any character, inspired me enter the world of cosplay. In my beginning years my father joined in my crafting and it became a bonding time for the two of us. My father has since passed away and now I look upon my cosplay as a way to keep the memory of shared times with my dad alive.
Initially crafting was a process that took a great deal of trial and error. My skills were honed over a period of three years of practice with a lot of trial and error. During the crafting process I produced six helmets out of which only one was of a quality I found to be wearable. The creation process from beginning to end is very detailed and precise work. My decision to make my first complete suit came when in July 2014 DC comics announced the upcoming move Batman Vs Superman Dawn of Justice. I have always favored Batman because although he is a normal, no superpowers, man he was able to rise above and overcome great challenges. To make the armored batman suit became a consuming goal. The process would be a lesson in patience, and dedication. It would also allow me to see who my true friends are because those friends supportive and willing to assist me in the process.
My suit was based on Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns comic book suit. I hung pictures of this suit all around me for a point of reference during the creation process. I used the open source software Blender, a 3d imaging software, to create the beginning low detailed pieces of the suit. Once I was satisfied with the creations in Blender I then transferred them to the 3d software ZBrush. ZBrush allowed me to add fine detail that I couldn’t get out of Blender. The ZBrush files were then transferred into Pepakura to create and print the 2d template for the suit. Upon printing the template the computer work was done and hands on construction began.
Completion of printing started the hands on work. I transferred the printed template to craft foam, assembled the pattern using hot glue, super glue, and contact cement. Once assembled I applied seven thin layers of wood glue to seal the foam. Once the glue dried I applied roto plastic liquid resin by brush and at times by pouring it on the pieces. It was at this point my mom came out to complain about the horrible mess and the smell. Mom even threatened to make me quit, but she never did. I now had the completed pieces ready for finishing work.
Finally, it was time for finishing my suit. After the resin hardened I sanded and applied bondo to get a smooth finish. Once the entire suit was smooth I sprayed it all with a matte black paint. While still tacky I sprayed the suit with a textured hammered metal paint. On the edges of the suit I added brown and black acrylic paint to weather the suit. With the help of my “good” friends I attached straps, padding and buckles to obtain a snug comfortable fit. I learned to solder so I could attach the LED lights into the helmet eyes but during that process I set of the fire alarms three times I thought we were going to have firefighters kicking down my door soon. It was an amazing affect! My armored suit was done, but missing the cape.
I needed a cape, but I can’t sew a stitch, time to call my grandma. In less than two hours my grandma took a piece of black denim, thread and some bias tape to make me a perfectly draping cape. I discovered the buckles I planned to use to attach the cape didn’t work out, so with my grandma’s help it was decided that Velcro would work better. The cape was perfect and with the completion of the cape my suit was finally done. It is ready to wear.
I wanted to test wearing my armored suit so my first test was to take a short walk through the neighborhood. The adults liked my suit and were awed by the fact that I make it. I actually had kids dancing around me “Batman” it was pretty cool. My second test was to war it in a Halloween costume at my work. Of course I took first place in the contest at my work. However, the ultimate test was to wear it to WizardCon. The reaction I got was outstanding. I couldn’t do much for people, celebrities included, wanting my picture. Stephen Amell, lead actor on TV show Arrow, loved my suit, asked me how I make it and signed my shoulder. I entered the WizardCon costume contest with over 150 contestants and I won honorable mention for best male hero. It was an exhilarating and mind-boggling day.
The thrill of the WizardCon contest was extreme all the applause and response of the audience was more than I can imagine. As I was on stage I honestly thought I saw my late father sitting proudly in the audience. I know he was proud that I had finished. I worked hard on my suit and am thrilled it is done. My only though is what will be my next creation?