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Taking cosplay to a whole new level with lights, sounds and robotics using engineering and all forms of armour construction


Who am I?

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 later on!

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.

working out robotics using plastic and wood on the first attempt
working out robotics using plastic and wood on the first attempt

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 body filler

First attempt at the Jim Raynor Starcraft mech suit (i'm not the bald guy lol)
First attempt at the Jim Raynor Starcraft mech suit (i'm not the bald guy lol)

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 suit.

Armour :

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 and symmetrical.

shin mold plug carved by hand
shin mold plug carved by hand

more plugs ready for molding
more plugs ready for molding

feet and legs sculpt as they will look when cast
feet and legs sculpt as they will look when cast
chest/back plug during smoothing
chest/back plug during smoothing

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.

working out mechanical chassis
working out mechanical chassis

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.

eva rifle
eva rifle

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 more accuracy.



sound circuit on nerf gun , sounds include rifle bang , dead mans click , hydraulic sound for when walking and stomp sound for when my foot hits the floor
sound circuit on nerf gun , sounds include rifle bang , dead mans click , hydraulic sound for when walking and stomp sound for when my foot hits the floor



sensor to tell the sound board to "bang"
sensor to tell the sound board to "bang"

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 .  

Electronics
Electronics

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 .

stilts
stilts

 summary:

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 Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

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.

FAQ

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17
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£240
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  • Pledge £1 or more
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    0 backers

    printable terran marine cubee and my heart felt thanks

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    7 backers

    My heart felt thanks and an email containing pictures of the finished suit.

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    4 backers

    "My other ride is a mech suit" car sticker, our heart felt thanks and email containing pictures of the finished suit.

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  • Pledge £50 or more
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    0 backers

    The Swag Level! 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!

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    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!

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    0 backers Limited (15 left of 15)

    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!

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    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!

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    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?!

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  • Pledge £1,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    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?

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  • Pledge £4,700 or more
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    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    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!)

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  • Pledge £4,700 or more
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    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    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!

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Funding period

- (19 days)