This is my first cosplay outfit, outside of Halloween costumes, which don’t really count. I started planning this outfit in mid-2010, but I didn’t start actual work until around March or April of 2011.
I first got the idea from a bunch of buddies on my scenario paintball team.
My idea was to make a Space Marine paintball mask. From there it quickly evolved into “make an entire suit to play paintball in!“.
This became untenable unfortunately, because the only material that wouldn’t get destroyed is Fiberglass or Kevlar, which would result in the entire suit weighting upward of sixty pounds, even without any embellishments.
I settled for making it strictly for cosplay. I chose Dark Angels, because it’s my favourite chapter. Moreover, at that point, I’d only seen people do Black Templars or Ultramarines. As a combat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, I can identify better with the angst-filled death dealer with a deep dark secret, than I do with the ultra-pure holy rolling Dudley Do-it-right.
Planning the Cosplay Outfit
After copious amounts of Google sessions and tracking down prop-makers on DeviantArt, I got involved in a Warhammer 40K costuming community called Obscurus Crusade.
What I did was keep my mouth shut except to ask questions, once I got into the costuming community. I watched others, learned from their mistakes, trials and errors.
The majority of the admittedly small Space Marine cosplayers all work from a few templates (we may well call them Standard Template Constructs?). These are usually game files ripped from Dawn of War, Space Marine, etc… .
Most of us have settled for using a program called Pepakura, which is a Japanese paper-craft program. This is how we do the base design and then build from there.
I figured out what would work for me and took it from there by deciding what features I wanted. Ego alert: I designed it with comfort in mind, so I came up with some innovations that seem to have since inspired a few other costumers from our community.
Mike Hagy of 540FXperts and David Caceres of Black Widow Company have done a tremendous job with the fiberglass. I would be remiss in not mentioning that.
This particular Dark Angels suit is mostly fiberglass, bondo and EVA foam. I recommend to anyone trying to build a suit like this to use EVA foam treated for durability and rigidity.
Lessons Learned Along the Way
This is the first cosplay costume I built. It’s been a lot of trial and error. The fact that I’ve gotten to this point is a miracle, and a lot of talented people helped me along the way. Too many to mention.
The biggest thing that went horribly wrong was this: I have a CPU fan in my helmet, in the dorsal vent running on a 9-volt battery. The one time I let my hair grow out, it promptly got sucked into the fan blade. That was very painful!
Next to that, I also have a Corvus helmet that I barely squeezed my head into, only to find that I couldn’t take it off. I had to lay upside down on the back of my couch and pour cooking oil down my neck to get it off. My girlfriend at the time came home and found me like this.