Sunday, July 18, 2010

HALO - the saga begins

Well, it's been a while.

Other things have been taking up a bit of my time, but that hadn't stopped me from pondering my next project.

And yes, that means getting another costume done. I still seem to be on my video game kick. First it was Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 5; now it's the Master Chief (or a Spartan II supersoldier) from the HALO series of games on the Microsoft xBox.

I came across several videos on YouTube with guys in HALO armor (though the proper term is 'Mjolnir Armor' ) - some of it was just plain sad and laughable, others were some damn impressive pieces that folks were wearing. I did try to contact one company - Nightmare Armor Studios - but the place went out of business. Several places offered do-it-yourself kits, but I don't have the time and inclination (or wide open spaces) to take on a project like that. Some of the places that offered full sets had a one-size-fits all policy (which from experience, never works) or were way to expensive.

For some historical background:

MJOLNIR battle armor is a fictional suit of battle armor in the HALO series of video games and novels used by the Spartan II super soldiers, most notably by the series's protagonist Master Chief.

This powerful armor has recharging energy shields, and a head link for AIs' (Artificial Intelligence).

In the 26th century, soldiers have used performance enhancing equipment for hundreds of years, and the MJOLNIR battle armor represents the current pinnacle of military technology. The armor was envisioned by Dr. Catherine Halsey, who realized that no normal human could wear the armor without literally shattering every bone in his body through a horrifyingly violent and uncontrollable chain reaction of muscle spasms; The armor endowed its wearer with a very powerful amplification of physical strength, to the point that a human without surgical augmentations and a lifetime of grueling physical training would be crushed by his own amplified strength. However, the Spartan II Project super soldiers are capable of using the armor with devastating expertise.

The suit of armor stayed in the "nice to have" category until I came across one of the best looking suits made by a Canadian FX company - FilmProps Inc. Shawn (the owner) had posted a few videos on YouTube and I was completely blown away by how professional the suits looked. Video link is here.

(I haven't had exactly great luck with Canadian vendors - long-time readers will remember my so-so Boromir clasps from Wareham Forge and my rusty scabbard from Darksword Armory)

So I contacted Shawn and we started to talk about the suit. He would make it to my measurements and I could have it in any color I wanted. The suit itself is made of a two-part polyurethane resin used for rotocasting. The material is poured in layers and cured in silicone molds to create thick, durable armor. It would include LEDs in the helmet as well as in the weapon. (weapon? Of course, I got a weapon!)

So I sent off a custom measurement chart to Shawn and let the project begin. I decided to get a medium-dark metallic blue with battle damage.

I must say, third time is the charm - Shawn was a pleasure to work with; he always responded to emails, always kept me up to date with the suit's progress and was good enough to pose in the armor for me before he boxed it up and shipped it. As it turned out, Shawn and I were approximately the same size, so this was an added bonus!

Here are some of the work-in-progress pics that he sent me.

I'll be posting more pics as well as the adventures I had getting into the suit the first time.