Hello, I’m Lee Houlgate, a cosplayer and cosplay constructor
living in the UK. I have been making cosplays for about 4 years now, and my
Iron Man cosplay won Best Newcomer at the Euro Cosplay qualifiers. I love
building prop weaponry; armour and robotics as there are always new challenges
to face and over come and it keeps me busy in my spare time. This kickstarter
project is designed to help me raise enough funds to help me finish building my
8 foot tall fully functional Terran Marine mech suit. Yes, you read that
correctly. Yes, it has weapons. Yes, it has robotics. We’ll come to all of that
Why should I care?
Well, when my mech suit is finished, I hope to enter this
into the Euro cosplay competition as well, and represent the UK on an
international scale. If I make my full Kickstarter target, it would also give
me the chance to take the finished cosplay to some of the US cons like
Blizzcon, Teslacon and the San Diego Comic Con and show people how UK
cosplayers do it! Plus we hope to use the suit for charity fundrasiers, by
appearing in the suit to cheer up kids in hospital, for example, or as a
promoter of an event. And let’s face it, you all want to see an 8 foot tall
robot stomping around London, am I right?
What has been done so far:
Having made a
previous attempt at this I feel confident I have planned to overcome the
previous failures. For example
on the previous attempt, the armour panels were very inaccurate, lumpy and extremely heavy.
I also made the mistake of choosing to use the armour to house the moving robotic parts,
meaning they were grinding together as I moved and damaged the robotics and the in
internals of the armour. If funded I will be attaching the lightweight cast
armour panels to the steel/aluminium chassis to combat this, as well as housing
the robotics separately.
The last attempt using plastic and wood
for the moving robotic elements will be
overcome using steel and aluminium, not only for a weight saving but also give
it the added strength that was missing last time.
The picture above shows my
first attempt at a mech suit using a plastic and wood chassis as well as the
very heavy (and not very good looking) armour panels using fibreglass and car
Visibility is another issue as the suit has limited mobility around the
head and I have no peripheral vision when I am in the suit. However, I thought
a solution to this could be a car reversing system;
it would be lightweight and run off the 12 volt battery that is already in the
I have made all
the armour mold plugs needed to finish the suit, so the next stage is to mold
them and make them using the lightweight material so it is actually wearable.
The molds you see in the images are extremely heavy and for the most part
solid. As its 8 ft tall 5 ft wide and 4 ft deep that's a lot of molding
silicone and also a lot of casting resin to create the armour panels.
These heavy mold plugs seen
below were all made by myself carved from insulation
foam, fibreglassed and then smoothed with car body filler. Already
you can see the improvement and after moulding these plugs I know that the
castings will look exactly the same as the plugs making all panels uniform
Mechanical chassis:Using cardboard and
plastic I have worked out the dimensions of the mechanised chassis and where
all the motors and other electronics need to be placed. I have drawn up plans
for the parts to be cnc'd / machined. I have also built and programmed a
robotic hand from scratch including constructing the controlling circuit. The
arms will be controlled with a similar system.The mechanical chassis will
also house all the electronics such as batteries, lighting, cooling, speakers
and amplifier, car reversing camera, turbines, control circuits, image
projector (H.U.D), motors and all the switches and batteries. I have worked out
a way which will enable me to put the chest and arms on like a backpack with
even weight distribution for stability.
Batteries :The batteries I am
currently working with are affordable and last quite a few hours, however if I
got fully funded, it would give me the chance to buy smaller and more powerful
batteries meaning, again, I am saving weight and also can spend more time in
the suit with all the electronic features working.
Weaponry :The Terran marine
rifle has been made from eva foam for two reasons, Firstly, it makes it “con
friendly”, as the gun itself is over 5 foot long, making it from wood, metal or
any other material would make it extremely dangerous to wield. Also, the suit
needs to be as perfectly balanced as possible to stop me toppling over, if I
had any sort of significant weight on one side, I would have to balance it out
or I would struggle to move. Inside the rifle will be a strobe light
and a nerf gun which will simulate ejecting shells and gun fire. I have fitted
an optical sensor so that when a nerf round is on its way out of the ejection
port, a signal is sent to the sound board I made to make a "bang”. So with
a press of a button inside the chest section I will be able to have a bang, a
flash of bright light and an ejecting shell simultaneously.
I'm not stopping there though; I also have a pop out bayonette to add for even
Electronics: As well as the circuits already mentioned I have the robotic hand programmed to copy my hand movements using a flex sensor glove. The turbines with a control circuit to change strips of L.E.D lighting at different speeds . A power amplifier and speakers for all sound effects . Obviously powerful linear actuators for arm shoulder and wrist movement . Cooling fans and lighting . Reversing camera and display so i don't accidentally step on anyone behind me .
Height issues: How is the suit 8 ft tall ? I'm going to be wearing plasterers stilts with modified soles for a larger tread pattern . I am 6 ft tall and the plasterers stilts give me a 24 inch lift as seen briefly in the video as well as improved stability .
So there we have it, I have the knowledge required, the mold plugs are ready and robotics worked out and even the gadgets all working as they should!
£2000 worth of pledges would be enough to buy the molding compound to mold the entirety of the armour, a further £3000 means I can cast the armour panels and another £2000 allows me to CNC the required parts needed for the robotics, and then we have together built a fully functioning 8 ft tall mech suit . The rest of your pledges pays for the rewards for every level, travelling to and from cons and events and maybe even a well deserved cup of tea.
If we exceed our target, this would allow us to improve rewards at every level, meaning you guys get even cooler stuff for helping us out. We can also upgrade all the parts of the suit mentioned in the techy notes (more expensive but better performing batteries, for instance, or stronger engines or servos), should there be any cash left over.
And who knows, maybe when it's built, I could appear at your game store for the launch of a new expansion pack or game, or at your kid's birthday party, or your sci fi con?
I hope you are as excited about this project as I am, any donations would be gratefully received and we are rewarding people at every level, from a heartfelt thank you to your own set of armour!
Risks and challenges
RISKS AND CHALLENGES
As I have previously mentioned, I have tried making this suit before as a sort of practise run, and found many mistakes to learn from. My biggest challenges this time around are time and money. I know how to overcome the build issues, but I need your help in funding this project so I can get this finished by May so I can hopefully represent the UK in the Euro Cosplay championships.
Donate £50 AND AS WITH THE LOWER LEVELS OF DONATION you will recieve a printable Cubee Terran Marine (available from a £1 donation upwards), a piece of handmade Starcraft themed jewelry made by my own dear lady Rose (available from a £20 donation upwards), an email containing pictures of the finished suit, "My other ride is a mech suit" car sticker, an awesome t-shirt and mug with a Terran marine quote or logo. SWAG!
For being so generous, a £100 donation gets you not only all the above rewards and swag, but a day in my workshop too! I'll go through any cosplay/prop related queries you might have, show you the tricks of the trade and let you in on a few secrets. If you aren't in the UK, or don't want to travel (I'm based in Hampshire), I am more than happy to do an online tutorial, interview or webchat!
Pledge £150 or more, and you get all of the above, including an online tutorial/interview, plus a small cosplay prop of your choice, handmade by myself or Rose! Small props include, but are not exclusive to, animal ears/tails/horns, wigs, jewelry items, holsters/scabards, boot plates, claws, or single clothing items (shirt, skirt, belt,etc). Let your imagination run wild!
For an extremely generous donation of £200, I will appear at your event, in person, in the suit. Maybe you have a store opening, a kid's birthday, or a sci fi con? This doesn't include my travel expenses however :P But imagine the revenue you would gain from having me pose outside your store or promoting a game at your festival!
OK, so you are a serious donator, and that's EPIC. For your generosity, you can have a replica prop, weapon: sword, rifle, or plasma cannon of your favourite series/film/comic made by myself along with t-shirt,mug, sticker and e-mail. Ain't I nice?!
Wow. Really? That's awfully nice of you! I think you deserve a 1:1 scale replica Terran marine gauze rifle made by myself with ejecting shell mechanism sound and light effects. Also let's not forget a t-shirt, mug and sticker! How does that sound?
Yup, you earned it, your own Terran marine set of armour panels painted in whatever colour scheme you like. It doesn't have to be Raynor or Findley's, it could be pink with Hello Kitty, or whatever. Your choice! (just add the stilts, robotics and tech!)
So maybe if you were smart and donated TWO lots of £4700, you could get all the tech seen in this Kickstarter to complete a fully functioning suit, including stilts , circuits, motors, etc everything seen here PLUS the armour in the box above. Or maybe you already make armour and just need the tech? Then this is the reward level for you!