It’s no secret that a certain Disney+ show has reignited and sparked a new love for a beloved franchise set in a galaxy far, far away. The combination of adorable new characters such as “the baby” and Din Djarin as the steadfast, tough, yet relatable Mandalorian has created a show that people are going crazy about. In fact, they are jumping at the chance to recreate these iconic characters and cosplay as their favorite.
Not everyone may be able to get their very own replica Boba Fett or Mando helmet this year, given everything that is going on. Why not just start a DIY project? As fellow fans of the series, we’re more than happy to share with you all the tips, tricks, and this helpful video on how to make a Mandalorian helmet yourself: https://youtu.be/BSuEIMpj_S4 This is a complicated project, but an extremely rewarding one for Star Wars and cosplay fans alike. In the end, you’ll have an awesome helmet that looks like a genuine set prop from the movies!
You will need to gather some supplies before deciding to tackle this fun project. If you are an experienced cosplayer you may already have many of these things on hand.
- Minicel-T EVA. EVA foam is the number one go-to foam for cosplayers and creators around the world. Minicel is a lightweight, closed-cell foam that is extremely durable and easy to shape and paint. You’ll need EVA foam in both ¼” and 1” thick.
- Great quality utility knife
- Printable Mandalorian or Boba Fett helmet pattern
- Foam pencil or marking chalk to trace the patterns onto the foam
- Heat gun to make foam pliable and to heat seal
- Foam anvil to round pieces
- Contact cement
- Rotary tool or Dremel with a sanding bit
- Duct tape and masking tape
- Marker or foam marking tool
- Mannequin head
- Caulk/putty that is air drying
- 220 grit sandpaper
- Superglue for small pieces
- PVC plastic for viewfinder
- Drill with a Forstner bit
- ¼” diameter magnets
- Flex bond PVA to create a smooth surface and prevent paint from sinking into foam, or, epoxy to create a hard shell for sealing
- Primer paint
- Glossy black paint
- Graphite powder for a metallic finish
- Acrylic paint (if weathering the foam)
- Aqua gloss
- Tinted replacement visor for a grinding mask
- Heavy-duty scissors or snippers
- Hot glue and a hot glue gun
Tips for Working with EVA Foam
Minicel-T EVA foam is a fantastic material for constructing costumes and props of all different genres: medieval, superheroes, video games, LARP weapons and more. It is especially beloved by cosplayers because of its affordable price. As a bonus, it is lightweight, easily cut, and can even be heated and molded to create new shapes.
If you a beginner at working with EVA foam, you might run into complicated builds like this one, but don’t feel discouraged! Everyone starts somewhere. Take your time and practice!
At Foam by Mail, we have several different types of Minicel-T to choose from. Minicel-T200, Minicel-T300, Minicel-T380, and Minicel-T600. The different numbers indicate the different densities of the foam per cubic foot. The higher the density, the more tensile strength and tear resistance the foam will have. So, when choosing a foam to make your first cosplay prop or costume, if you are looking for maximum durability, you might want to consider purchasing the denser Minicel-T EVA foam.
Before starting any cosplay project, it is highly advised to accumulate a few sheets of Minicel in different thicknesses to have on hand.
It is also recommended to keep a good craft knife or an X-Acto knife for precise, clean cuts. If the knife you are using to cut foam no longer cuts through without resistance, it means that your blade is being dulled. This can result in jagged edges, tearing, and uneven cuts.
Although completely bending foam is difficult, you can use a heat gun to allow the foam to be stretched, pulled, rounded, and molded for those more complicated curves. Always hold your heat gun at least 4” away from the foam. You’ll know the foam is ready for shaping when the surface goes from a matte finish to looking slightly shiny. If you see any bubbles forming or droplets, you’ve heated it too much or you are holding the gun too close.
Always work in a well-ventilated area! You will be working with epoxy, glues, and paints. It is important to wear proper safety gear. A full or half-face respirator with goggles is highly recommended when working with these materials.
Wear disposable gloves always.
Tips for Painting Foam
Before you begin painting a finished foam piece you must start with a coating of primer. The reason why a primer coat is important is because, without it, the paint may soak into the foam. This can create a rough, uneven surface that is difficult to smooth out, unless that is the look you are aiming for. By using a primer, you seal the cells of the foam to prevent paint absorption, and create a smooth surface to paint. Primer also helps to strengthen the foam and give it the illusion of a sturdier finish. This helps to bolster the foams’ tear-resistance, especially if the prop you are making may see action.
One of the top recommended primer coats for cosplay foam is called Plastidip: a liquid plastic material that comes both in spray and paint-on varieties. It can be found in any hardware store.
With Minicel foam, the best paints to use are: Latex based, Powder Pigments/Pastes, and air brush paints.
Other suggested painting supplies are makeup sponges, disposable brushes, and a top coat sealant to keep the paint and details safe. Spray sealants like Flex Seal work well and are budget-friendly.
Tips for Weathering Details
To add an aged, well-used, or worn look, you can weather your Minicel-T EVA foam after painting it and before you apply the sealant. The easiest way is using a wash, which is mixed combination of brown and black acrylic paint. The next step is to take a large or small brush to wash the painted foam in this color.
Note that acrylic washes dry very fast, so you may want to work in tiny sections.
Once the wash is placed, take a clean towel, and begin gently dabbing or rubbing some of the wash away. This serves to give your foam piece a fine patina of age, and gives the impression of accumulated dirt or grime in the nooks and crannies.
At Foam by Mail, you can find our huge selection of Minicel-T EVA foam in an impressive range of thickness, sheet sizes, and black or white for all of your cosplay needs. Get some foam, and get started on your project!
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