I was asked to make a full head and neck for this mask for a Frontier Airsoft game.
As always with these builds there’s a few things to bear in mind.
- It’s going to be shot with BB’s, a LOT.
- It’s probably going to be used for several years to come, maybe modified and re-purposed.
- It’ll probably be worn by a few different people over the lifetime of the prop, so it needs to support different head sizes.
That means it needs to be tough and built to last, but with a degree of flexibility. There’s also the usual considerations – It’s for a staff member to wear playing a role in a game, so they will need to be able to actually function while wearing it in a variable woodland environment, still be able to actually perform the job they need to do and remain safe while they do it.
On top of that is has to look cool, obviously!
Getting down to brass tacks the basics are really simple. I started by making a fabric ‘hood’ that I could simply glue all the panels to. I’d already decided to use EVA foam for this since it’s protective and easy to work with, plus it can be quickly and easily cut, shaped and glued into place. I sadly didn’t take many build-photos, I mostly forgot, but there’s a few here and you can see the basic steps. Once the hood was shaped and had a rough idea of how I wanted the panels to sit from previous similar projects.
The breaks in the panels are for two reasons, Firstly it makes it a lot easier to put it together if you use these panel line breaks as part of the design, making one continuous smooth curved shape is actually quite difficult in any medium. Secondly they actually serve to allow the mask to flex and stretch, this is important since it might need to be worn by different people. The face mask itself has elasticated straps which I attached to the hood to help with that too.
Most full head masks open at the back along a seam, but with this one I decided to make it open at the front, so there’s actually a seam from under the chin that runs down the front of the neck and chest. I did this because I wanted to give the wearer a quick way to get air or water if necessary – it’s a very hot mask to wear and because the whole face is solid there’s no way to get a drinking straw in there really, so the chin-seam works for that. In addition, because it’s hot and heavy I thought opening it at the neck would allow the wearer to get air quickly just in case they felt too stuffy. Most masks I make I make sure to leave adequate vents around the mouth, but this one didn’t have any of that. Better to be safe than sorry!
Finishing was done with a bunch of wires from my bits box(es). I used them to add a bit of texture to the build to make it more interesting, and robotic-looking. Also to hide some of the joins!
Pretty simple, an over-all of various silver shades. I used a giant fluffy brush which at some point in the past was some sort of makeup brush, it gives a big soft cover and is great for this type of job. I literally just swirled it over everything in various layers of different greys and silvers. I then went back and re-painted the gaps between panels with a black and silver mix to neaten it all up.
Overall it took about 5 hours from start to finish to make this head. It was fairly simple and the painting was quick, plus the most complex part (The face) was already done!
You can see more of our builds if you follow out facebook page (we’d really appreciate the likes!) and if you’re into Airsoft or fancy giving it a go, visit Frontier Airsoft which is based in Staffordshire.