With the release of the new Star Wars movie, “The Force Awakens,” interest in all things sci-fi has been reignited. One item of particular interest to moviegoers and collectors alike is the helmets worn by the characters in the movie. What are connoisseurs, if not detail-oriented nerds?
Indulging in science fiction props religiously is one way to keep up with new sci-fi costumes. From the sleek, futuristic designs to the materials used, every character has a unique helmet that defines them, which is why the guide has carefully accumulated relevant information without impeding personal favorites.
What are Sci-Fi helmets?
Self-explanatory, isn’t it? Fictional Helmets are helmets designed, perforated, and executed in an imaginary world of movies, tv shows, video games, and books. But science fiction implies the helmets must have futuristic qualities or vary from magical fantasy. Although, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Like The Darth Vader helmet, children run around during Halloween, laminating the spirit of on-screen tales, or the space suit displayed at Comic-Con festivals, straight out of the movie production houses. This begs the pertinent question, are all sci-fi helmets wearable?
Well, it depends. Some helmets are meant to sit on shelves to opulate hallways. They are meant for decoration. Other than that, if spiderman or superman masks can be worn, so can the helmets. Since differentiating between two could be an uncharted territory for the readers, the following chronicles of methods and precise nit picking hopefully aid in decision-making.
Behind the scenes of scientific fictional helmet construction
Designers find themselves fixed in front of a blank canvas with only an imaginary outline for the helmet, which can make or break the action sequence, depending on how fast and swiftly it adapts to the environment. That’s why designers first go looking for concepts. What tedium will the helmet face? Will it journey across space or shrink in a quantum time warp or, perchance, fight an alien? Ultimately, the answers will decide the helmet’s capacity and features.
The designer is an artist for the time being, who will sketch out the idea of the helmet, and then they will create a 3D model of it. It is done with the help of either an artist who specializes in 3D modeling or a 3D scanner. After adding life to the imaginary labor, they have to deconstruct the shapes of smaller gadgets before thinking about the skull frame. The helmet obviously can’t glimpse into the future, but the beauty lies in the conviction that it can. So it has to look the part if not act.
Designers move onto the contour, slowly adjusting the mainframe, which can withstand the burden of detachable parts. Followed by detailing- how much movement would the ear flaps require or how much arch should the visor or face shield have.
Then comes the texture, touching up intricate patterns, and finally, deciding what material should be used for modeling the helmet. Real-time software cross-examines the volume and measurements against a primary pre-constructed helmet to see if the dimensions would actualize.
Once the 3D model is completed, the artist will then create a 2D design of the helmet. This 2D design will be used to create a mold for the helmet. The mold will be made of a type of plastic called polyurethane. This plastic will be heated, and then it will be poured into the mold. Once it is cooled, the helmet will be removed from the mold. The artist will then cut the helmet into pieces, and then they will assemble and paint the helmet. The process of designing a sci-fi helmet is long and complicated.
Material use depends on the designers, customers, and purpose. Helmets purported to last longer, be they mechanical or not, need more substantial foam. To elaborate on this contribution, the guide further mentions how selecting materials sets the tone for the remaining process.
The A – Z Of Materials Used In Sci-fi Cosplay Helmet Making
Materials such as foam, plastic, and resin are often used to create realistic-looking helmets. The foam is used to shape the helmet, and then the plastic is used to give it form. Resin is added on top of the plastic for durability, and then the helmet is painted. Once it’s cooled, the helmet is placed on a metal stand and given a UV treatment to protect it from exposure to sunlight.
Popular foams found at craft shops are EVA or Worbla foam. Lighter gears compared to exterior skulls built of fiberglass, Kevlar, or thermoplastics. Nitinol wires (spiral-shaped) hold and ground any mobile parts, so they don’t dangle.
And linear actuators for lever movement convert rotational motion into a linear stabilizing factor. It is needed when helmet visors flip up or down.
Mesh does the job for lightweight helmets regardless of the design. At times, foams cannot withstand the demanding load of mechanics used even in generic sci-fi helmets, which is why buyers gravitate towards firmer carbon substitutes.
Every cosplay helmet is different, but they all start with the same basic materials and construction techniques. Cosplay is reserved for one-time use or attending comic festivals and conventions. It can’t be preserved, for remachining such helmets is a buck load of work.
How do Animatronic Helmets differ from Cosplay?
Animatronic helmets are made by combining various materials and electronic components. The materials used will depend on the design of the helmet and the desired final product. For example, a helmet designed to resemble a character from a movie may be made from latex or silicone. The electronic components of the helmet are responsible for the animatronic movement. These components can include motors, sensors, and controllers. The helmet is assembled by combining these materials and components into a cohesive unit.
These helmets are made using various methods, depending on the final product. For example, some animatronic helmets are made using 3D-printing technology, while others are hand-crafted from start to finish. The most critical stage in any animatronic helmet-making process is ensuring that the helmet is realistic and believable. This often means paying close attention to small details, like the texture of the skin or the movement of the eyes. Costume designers make it a point that helmets have distinguishable features to mark on-screen territory, whether it’s in movies or video games.
Once the helmet is complete, it is typically tested on actors or actresses to ensure that it functions properly and looks realistic on camera. Without humans to use it, in high-budget movies, Artificial Intelligence anthropomorphizes.
Recently, a new merch line sponsored by Star Trek stepped up a notch to use magnets in disassembling their magnetic face masks and helmets. How gnarly is that! Naturally, Animatronic helmets require an engineering skill set untested by homemade, DIY, or even professional model sculptures.
These helmets last long, including their shelf life, and are worth the repairs.
Iconography in Thematic Fashion
Without going too deep into nuances of the thematic approach that makes fashion more liable, Helmets have a character, and that’s their crowning jewel. Realizing that character, bringing it to life, is an experience to be savored.
Some people prefer comics, books while others gravitate to video games and movies. To make matters concise, creative outlets are placated in genres, sub genres, avant-gardes, etc. This is why subgenres have a set of qualities their characters depend on.
Like Humanoids in fantasy land are robotic brainchildren of an increasingly progressive society. Their helmet, to a degree, should have automated features in human garb. Or Titans, Mech Battle siphons inspired by anime and manga and early Japanese comics, reflect a tyrannical outpost of a dystopia. The helmet, accordingly, should look battle ready.
So on and so forth with space explorer suits or a superhero franchise. This means helmets can be customized, changed, and re-grouped in any form. The artists are impassioned enough to keep at it until they get it right.
Real-time operation of Sci-fi helmets
Creativity knows no bounds. But to confine the endless possibilities within a set of intelligible know-how is an art. Hence, fashion houses, scientists, engineers collaborate on multidisciplinary projects to develop multi-purpose helmets. They level the playing field. If being aware that a sci-fi helmet is more than just about looks helps narrow down the choices, here are a few designs inspired by science fiction to help today’s reality.
An I-sphere mask helmet created in emergent conditions of the Covid-19 outbreak is freakishly fantastic.
It is one entire sphere covering the face like a pot, formed by joining two hemispheres- from the back and the front, to replace the traditional mask. Such designs were last seen in fictional space suits in the 1960s.
Integrated Head Protection System is a pioneering helmet study meant for the US Army, finding its traces in movies like I-Robot and Stargate Universe. The spacious blueprint of the design gives real-life helmet opportunities to plant gadgets, from night vision goggles, visors, anti-ballistic shells, and rails.
It’s gadget science, and anything can happen! Except maybe a grand scale production of a 007’s car.
The key is to embrace the depth of the character and find a way to represent the abstract expectations one has from a fictional world. Dialing down on adding gadgets without proper knowledge of them is a good start. It’s important to keep in mind that every purchase doesn’t have to be categorical.
Sub-genres and types of helmet can all take a back seat if intuition disagrees because the interest and preference in sci-fi helmets is so individualistic, and a matter of inherent indulgence, that the desired fit jumps out and clicks immediately for the buyer.