Jazz Cosplay

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Status: In-Progress
Deadline: BotCon 2011
Time: August 24, 2008 - ?
Cost So Far: $248.15
Page Updated: 13 May 2010

VERY image-heavy! Please wait until all is loaded!

Jazz is, by far, going to be no easy task. This Generation One Transformers creation has so many, how do I put this... luxuries to him that it's unreal. I recently wanted to create a costume for Comic-Con 2008, and being inexperienced in the robot-making field, it was a little hard to do at first. When I was planning my Blaster Costume back in early Summer of 2008, I met the first TF cosplayer I had found, Pilot, who first screamed at me that I was "copying" her idea (lol) and then promptly suggested a Blaster vs. Soundwave skit at Comic-Con 2008 for their Masquerade. Since she was working on Blaster at the time and I was planning on starting my Blaster soon thereafter, the skit wouldn't take place at this year's Con, but rather be a long-winded project for (originally Comic-Con 2009) San Diego Comic-Con 2011, since she suggested both Soundwave and Jazz to be in our skit, using Jazz as a bit of comic relief for the audience, if you will. Sadly, I decided to hold off on Blaster and instead focus on Jazz being my first Cosplay experience. With Jazz's construction, I've decided to go with foam insulation and fiberglass, and seeing as this was my first Giant Robot construction, EVERY material I was working with was a new one for me.

Making this costume took a whole lot of mathematical thinking, a lot of which was based off of my basic measurements. Once I had a good idea of what was going to happen with this thing/what I basically wanted it to do and accomplish, I began looking at pictures of Jazz. These are the basic measurements we managed to come up with:

I'm only posting these here so that you can see how much measuring and failure this costume actually took before we finally got everything to work correctly together. You could, conceivably, use them to make your own Jazz costume, but only if you can make heads or tails of all the measurements because, honestly, some of these sheets are so cluttered even I can't tell what is what any more. At first, I wanted Jazz's legs to be the more detailed IDW version, because that's what I thought his legs looked like in the original G1 show, but that was before one of my friends sent me an original roudabout picture of him and I found out the legs were completely wrong. Thankfully all I cut out up until that point was the base of the legs, so I didn't waste any foam at all.

When it came down to beginning to build, I decided to go with Jack Doud's way of making his costume and I started with the legs, since the legs affect how big the cod needs to be, then how big the chest is, etc., etc. After making the base of the legs and cod, I configured everything together with packing tape and toothpicks. The base looks good (so far) and all of the detail will be added AFTER I finish doing the base of the whole costume. Sticking everything on, we did a walking test, and, while I'm pleased with how the legs worked together, I wasn't satisfied with my range of forward movement.

It took me (by myself) about seven hours in one day to complete the lower half, which I was relatively surprised at. Seeing as this was my first TF costume ever, I've never worked with the materials, and I was expecting the initial construction of the costume to take longer then that. I know that foam is easy to cut and everything, but for the bottom half to take all of about half a day to make, it made me extremely happy.

My main snag with the chest is the fact that I have manly shoulders. It rather sucks, actually, because if I make my shoulders too broad and my cod too small, it would distort the character's image. So, I set it up so that my shoulders are, more or less, completely outside the chest's boundaries; that way it would leave my whole shoulder free to add foam to it as I please. Originally, I had wanted to use Wonderflex on the top part of the chest and using that, I would have had to put the chest on hold until the Wonderflex came in and until I learned how to use it, which easily would have taken a week, maybe longer. Out of curiosity, I took a piece of the insulation foam and bent it and was quite surprised when I found out exactly how far this stuff could bend (i.e. I could fold it in half and it wouldn't break!) and so proceeded to lop off a 12" x 18" piece for my chest. My brother thought it was funny that my chest said "thoroughly tested".

After creating the 12" x 12" back panel for the rest of this, I interrupted my guinea pig (i.e. my brother) from playing video games to come outside, tape me in and snap off some pictures.

The back panel of the costume was a little difficult because it had to be sturdy enough to hold packs of batteries for my electronics. The piece came down from the top of my shoulders all the way to the small of my back, which means that I can't bend backwards at all. The top panel on my back is going to have a sheet of Plexiglas on it and a coat of blue transparent spray paint over it, but it's going to be see-though so that people can see my "gears" inside. I'm planning on building out Jazz's back so it looks right under the window.

The cod, which I had originally made like Jack Doud's Soundwave Cod, seen here, I realized that mine was HUGE. It wasn't nearly as big as Soundwave's, I'll give it that, but it was too big for Jazz, and made MY butt look way bigger then it actually is.

To be frank, I hated the size of the cod AND the shape of it as well, so after doing some hunting, I found a few back and side pictures of Pilot's Blaster Costume and I fell in love with how she did Blaster's cod, instead made of 8 separate pieces that fit, more or less, closer to her actual hips, so I've styled mine off of that (thanks for the ingenuity, girl!). Also, with the change of my cod, I added a 4" piece to the top of the upper legs to give myself a better coverage on the side and not make it look like the legs are dorky with a huge, unsightly gap. Since my brother seems to love to poke fun at me, he told me that my cod looked like Marvin the Martian's skirt.

The arms and shoulders came up next, with the shoulder and upper arm planning to be stuck together. I, quite literally, hated this part of the costume, since it had given me the most problems up to date. I had originally wanted it to be 4" wide, but that didn't work with the upper arm (my upper arm was too fat) so we added a half inch to everything, cutting out new pieces of foam. When we put that all together and found out THAT didn't work, we added yet another half inch to the project, finally making it all fit correctly.

Luckily I only made one arm at a time, so I failed twice on just one arm before I finally got the sucker to be the correct size. I made the right arm as well then did a toothpick test. After finding out that I couldn't bend my arm much at all, I cut an inch off of the inside of the lower arm to give me enough mobility. It still doesn't give enough though (my elbow gets in the way) so in a later step I removed a back panel from the arm.

Once the arms were done, I dragged back out my other pieces of costume and took some full-body shots of it all, also ending the night with a rather humorous (and sad) Flexibility Test. When I fell, the side panels of the chest snapped, so I had to packing tape them back together.

The head turned out to be the toughest piece of shit I've ever experienced. Take any picture of Jazz and look at his helmet. It's a nightmare! It took 3 days of angrily staring at several different pictures and angles of Jazz's head before we finally settled on a way to do it. Sadly, I don't own a figure of Jazz myself, and no one near me does either (I think I'm the only TF fan within the lower San Diego area) so instead I've had to go off of several fan-made pictures instead. As soon as my brother suggested this idea, I wanted to hit my head on the table.

The base of the helmet is actually made up of six different pieces of foam; one on the back, one on either side, and three facing upward. Deciding to be helpful (since, up to this point, the helmet's construction has been mainly my brother) I decided to make the top vent. It looks kind of silly now, like a "Mohawk" as we've christened it. My brother was trying to configure the front flap which secured in my visor once we stuck it in place. I thought the helmet looked kind of like a base ball cap with that ridge sticking out so I put it on and Scott took pictures.

The horns (which my brother had so lovingly made for me) were INCREDIBLY small once we actually got them onto the helmet; Jazz's helm is very beefy and the horns my brother made were just based off of the drawings we had and nothing more than that, so it looked like we had ripped the horns of a femme's helm and stuck them on Jazz's. After taking the basic measurements, I remade the horns to be 3" x 4" x 1" instead of 2" x 4" x 1". After asking my brother what he was going to do with my voice changer, we started up on the vents, since the ones from before were a little too big, we just shrank them down a little (and the vents themselves were pissing my brother off to no end for some reason). The vents come out about 2" from my head to accommodate the voice changer in the back and sides.

When it came to the visor, I used two small pieces of Plexiglas cut to the right sizes. Since it required a strong hand and an x-acto blade, I had my dad cut the pieces out for me (yeah, I'm a wimp, I'll admit it. ^^;) As of right now, I can't even see out of the visor. I decided to leave the white film on the Plexiglas for now, just so that I don't have to freak out about it getting scratched or anything until I'm ready to paint and install it, which didn't come until later.

THE FACE. AUGH, I can NOT stress enough how hard this part was. Being not much of a "3-Dimensional"-thinking person, I had some severe issues with this the first time I tried. After I figured it out, though, it was easy.

First, I had to get help from Pilot, who drew the above diagrams for Jazz's face according the the inch requirements I gave her. Then, after hounding her with even more questions, I finally figured out how to create this... "monstrosity". My tools here had been scissors, a sharp knife, super glue a pen and craft foam. Using mostly glue to hold it in place, I first printed out the "templates" from above. Then, using the pen, I traced the template onto the craft foam, creating a base for the mask to be set on. Then, after looking at the side view of the template design, started to make it pop out of it's 2-D frame. I made the lips of 4 pieces of foam stacked on top of each other, then the nose, which gave me the most trouble since the nose made the whole mask move down about 1/8 of an inch.

The feet posed a teensy bit of a hiccup for me because of their curved nature on the top. I also wanted to have a pair of shoes that were permanently attached attached in, not only for comfortability, but for maximum crativeness. Getting a suggestion from my brother, I used something called Great Stuff Expandable Foam. I wanted the bottom of my foot to also be curved so that I had space to flex my foot if I needed to (and walking flat-footed at a convention all day would kill me).

After spraying the foam at the bottom of the foot, I had to wait until it fully cured (the next day) before I could do anything with it. Unfortunately, when I had come to find it, I found that the foam itself had shrunk a little, sucking in the insulation foam with it and creating a bowing effect on the sides. At first we were going to use it, so we took a large saw and cut off the excess foam.

After we did this, we left it alone to go shopping for about an hour and, to my dismay, when we returned, the cut foam had shrunk again, causing the sides to bow in forcefully. So, after totally ditching that idea, I cut off the base of the foot and we were going to try again, but this time, making a wooden frame inside the foot to prevent it from shrinking and bowing in.

While the feet were curing with the Great Stuff, we began to work on electrical. I already knew the basis of what I wanted (my visor to light up, my headlights to come on, a fan in my head or chest and a voice changer to tweak my voice to sound like Jazz) and then we just had to work out where to run the wires and where to put the battery packs. My brother helped me with all of this and we experimented first on a few different things. Sadly, we tried to work a fan into my helmet, and I couldn't quite get one to fit in correctly, so instead it went in my chest, right where the grille on Jazz's bumper is. The greatest part about the headlights is they're actually just flash lights. Two very bright orange, $5 crappy flashlights we found at Rite Aid, after going the way I wanted to (actually finding a couple 2" reflectors and headlights) was impossible.

After we had gotten those pieces in, my brother had begin work on the battery packs for all of the electrical gear. Each of the flash lights required two D batteries each, and the fan needed eight C batteries to work correctly. It sounds like a lot of weight, and it is when it's all clumped together, but we somehow managed to make it balance out in my back and chest.

My main goal with the voice changer is that I wanted it to sound EXACTLY like Jazz. After finding some sound bytes of his voice (click on "Sounds" on the top menu), I then had to see if I could match his voice with my own. Being a girl myself, that was... kind of hard. After finding that I couldn't do it well enough, I just prayed that the voice changer would be good enough to use. Once we had gotten it in, I grabbed my brother's attention and had him put it together, and was very happy when it worked, but after a couple hours of messing with it, something went haywire and it messed up. We brought it to my dad ('cause my dad's the crazy electrician) and he diagnosed the problem, but still, even after we got it back together, it still didn't work correctly.

After ditching the Electrical work (and most of the costume due to money issues for a few months) I finally decided to bust back into the actual "constructing" part. First starting off with a trip down to talk to Victor, my construction boss, at Fatboy Fiberglass and Welding in El Cajon, just so he could check out my pieces and give me a final(ish) price and time window of how long this is going to take. After finding out that this project is going to be a little more expensive then I had originally thought (forcing me to rethink my budget for this year) and finding out that it was going to take a lot less time then I had originally thought (about 2-3 weeks) I bright back out the foam to do more construction.

After staring at the back greebles on Jazz's legs for about a half hour, mostly trying to figure out the stupid angles, I just said "fuck it" and winged the whole design, just basically eyeballing the curves.

Doing it once was hard enough, but I had to do it twice, once for each leg, and that was a pisser. Luckily I somehow managed it without a hitch so I then moved onto the wheel wells.

Deciding to create them solidly, after first arguing with my brother that making it hollow and curved would probably be better, him obviously winning the argument, I took six layers of foam and used Elmer's Glue, sealing the six pieces together. Setting them on my table, I let them be for a day before I took them off and set them up in the sun to aid their drying faster.

After we had done that, I had decided to take another full-body shot with my costume. The wheel well stacks were both still wet from the glue, so I had to wait to put those on. Instead, I put on what I could and then handed the camera to my bro, who snapped some off.

After that, I cracked out the glue again to do some surfacing. After talking to my friends down at Fatboy, he had told me that I need to glue the foam bases to itself so it'll be rigid and sturdy for the fiberglass once it goes on. I only did the helmet last night, because I was highly annoyed with it by then, not to mention cold, so I let it sit for the night with the wheel wells.

After about two days of waiting for the glue to dry (which it still didn't because there was no airflow -- just warm insulation) I decided to bust out the paint for this thing. As per the standard polyester resin used in with fiberglass, it actually will eat the foam itself so I needed to coat it with something. Now, the epoxy resin that is, apparently, the standard in covering the foam, is very expensive, and is apparently very hard to find. Once I asked Victor about the resin a few months back, he immediately came back at me with the best money-saving tip ever: "Use house paint".

Apparently it just has to be coated with something, and he had suggested that I use acrylic house paint, Elmer's glue or latex paint. Since I only had about 3/8 of a gallon of Elmer's glue left, that I mainly needed for the rest of the costume to make it rigid, and latex paint is just as expensive as the resin itself, I went with house paint. Not to mention that I have several gallons of every color under the sun at my house, it was the most logical choice. Free stuff is always the best. I had also decided to paint the whole helm, as I'll be coating every square inch of this thing, mainly because it's my helm and I really don't want white showing out on places it shouldn't.

Deciding to let everything dry, I moved onto the legs, which gave be some trouble. Once I found out that everything was dried (I had hoped) I began to sculpt out the wheel wells. I had taken my father's hand saw and did all of the major cutting with that thing, making sure that everything was as straight as I could get it. All of those little teeth from the saw made such a mess of the foam though. Hope I don't have to do that again. After much silent debate with myself about where the curve is going to be and how far it's going to go down, I began cutting the pieces down to size.

After realizing that I had accidentally cut them out in the wrong direction ((one of them is 9 1/2" tall X 9" wide, the other is 9" tall X 9 1/2" wide)) I went ballistically crazy on myself and stopped working for about two hours because I was so mad (I have a tendency to flip out over small details). Resuming work after some coaching from my mother, I decided to ditch the wheel wells for the first ten minutes and make the tires, just three pieces of foam glued together.

The tires themselves I decided to make 8" in diameter, meaning that the inside of the wheel wells needed to be at least 8 1/2" wide to make sure that they will spin when I walk around. After taking off some basic measurements that I'm hoping are going to be good once I finish the whole project, I took my knife and began to hack away at the inside of the wheel wells where the tires were going to sit.

One final coat of the black paint to my helmet and then the whole mess shifted over to the Shop. Victor, after seeing the whole project fully together and on my body was ECSTATIC about helping me, it was rather funny. Setting me up in a corner of his shop over by his large air booth, I was instructed in the first order of business, which happened to be the clay covering. Since the Fiberglass has to adhere to every surface, the rough patches where my kitchen knife had cut were too fucked up to be used so, I had to sit for a while and cover every dip, bump and jagged edge with the light tan clay to prevent having to sand all of that tedious Bondo later.

Sitting for an hour or so doing that crap (and learning the HARD way why an X-Acto blade might have been the better choice to use from the start), we broke out the brown paper, resin and Fiberglass. Using what they call Chopped Strand Fiberglass Mat or CSM, a brand of fiberglass that has thousands upon thousands of little bits and pieces of the "fabric", we busted out our gas masks started the work. Victor showed me how to work with the material first, since it WAS my first time, so he did the majority of one side for me while I took pictures and documented everything to memory. Since the Fiberglass took about 45 minutes to dry with the amount of hardener we used, I was done with work for that day and had to leave.

Returning the next time with renewed vigor at trying to get it all done, I finally got to get my hands on the thing with a sander. Sanding off the parts that I could, we then did the other side with fiberglass, making quite a mess in the progress. Fiberglass, being horrid on your lungs, was dangerous to sand, so I had to use my gas mask while sanding and I had to stand over by the fan booth to avoid the dust from going everywhere.

While I was sanding ((did I mention I'm a beginner at using ALL of these things/tools?)) I managed to sand too deep into a few spots and ended up burning parts of the foam underneath from the friction. An easily fixable problem, Vic mixed up some putty for me and placed it over the parts that I managed to fuck up (check the blue spots under the fiberglass). Turning the whole mess over, we did one final Fiberglass coat to the base of the helm, vents, and inside of the helm, being mindful of the spot on the helm where the vent opens in the back. We had to mix up some epoxy to put there so that the resin wouldn't eat the foam away.

Letting the mess sit for the night, I came back the next time and, after some light sanding to keep the fiberglass out of my fingers (which didn't help anyway), I placed even more fiberglass inside the helm. Part of the fiberglass from before had bowed outward and needed to be repaired, so I got to get in there and do it myself. Speeding up the process with a little more of the catalyst then normally necessary (using 6ccs instead of 4ccs for the amount of resin) and a heat gun, the whole mess dried in about a half hour, allowing me to then sand the mess one more time before starting Bondo.

Using a 1/10 ratio of Bondo to catalyst (the Bondo being tan, catalyst being blue, making it green) I began (rather sloppily, I might add) applying the Bondo to the helm in copious amounts. I apparently was putting the Bondo on like someone would if they were doing putty for a wall or something, and was told to lighten how much I stuck on there. Can't blame me for wanting the fucker to be smooth and all, but, after this, I found out that sanding the Bondo is a BITCH. Well, some things are taught to you, others you have to learn the hard way. (the last picture is fuzzy because Vic doesn't know how to hold the camera still. o.<)

Spring Break was a HUGE help for getting my costume done, spending most of my days in there. Taking a break for the beach, since I hadn't been down there since last Summer, I came in with a sunburned scalp and I was tired, but I was ready as ever for more work to be done. Plopping down with the fully-Bondo'd helmet and a sander, I made quite a disaster sanding every part I could. Finding out that I apparently like to favor my right side when I sand, I was constantly having to turn the helm around to avoid having a lopsided straightedge.

Finishing off that part of the helm, I was forced to take a break from the costume by Vic, since the guy had to do some painting on a SWEET Mustang and, therefore, could not allow me to make dust, forcing me to work on the other pieces at home. FINALLY getting around to remaking the sides of the chest that had broken before when we were trying to test my flexibility, I took off the paneling for the "stripes" of Jazz's armor and made them rounded off, since they need to be round. Gutting the electronics out, I was preparing the thing for painting. After applying a GENEROUS coat of paint to the "stripes" on the chest, I abandoned it and moved to the back paneling.

After utterly FAILING at cutting out a straight line with the back window, I had my Daddy come out again and cut out the plexiglas window for me so that it fit the right size dimensions. Discussing possibilities with Daddy about how we were gonna get the window into the back after the fiberglassing was done (which wasn't gonna be possible) Daddy gave me a bonding agent for the plexiglas (which smelled BAD, btw) so that I could glue the window into place.

Leaving that alone for the day, I bustled back over to get Jazz's cod, busting out the paint again. Having a windy day forced me to actually tape the pieces down to the paper I was using to prevent them from flying away (even though the bastards did so anyway). Painting several pieces at once saved me a bit of time as I worked on one while another dried, coating every bit of the pieces that I could with the black paint. Catching all without a hitch, I painted for three days straight before it was time to go back to Vic's.

Repeating the process for the helm, I got to sit down with the back and begin to clay it out. Luckily, the cod pieces were smooth enough that they didn't really need the claywork, so they went straight to Vic, who did that part of the fiberglassing for me.

Coming back, I found that Vic had decided to help me out and had put the dark green putty on the helm to fix some of the edges and to fix what I burned from the sanding the time before. Adding a second layer of Bondo to the first, I filled in the holes and sanded yet again with 40-Grit paper, trying to fix all of the edges and bumps to get it ready for the primer so that we can paint.

One of the BEST things about Fiberglass is its threat to my own health. One of the BEST things about me... I tend to be a retard sometimes. While working in the shop, Vic's nephew Jojo was busily sanding away at part of a project that was freshly coated in fiberglass. He was over by the booth and I was way away from him so it didn't really faze me from over there. Working with Bondo, I came over to get some of the materians and, not thinking, stepped way too near the booth for my own good. I wasn't wearing my mask.

Long story short, I was blared in the face by fiberglass and I inhaled quite a bit of it. I didn't feel any of the nasty effects until later on after I got home, and MAN, did it hit me hard. I first just felt uncomfortable in the throat and beginning to my windpipe but then I coughed up a bit of blood. I didn't think anything of it but my throat did constrict and made it hard to breathe so I just took some anti-inflammatory pills for the constriction and decided to wait it out. I didn't go to the hospital for it, not needing to have the doctors tell me what I already know, so I just dug into my stash of codeine instead and had the biggest gigglefit ever that night. I woke up the next day with the inability to speak, but my throat wasn't swollen as much any longer.

Realizing one of my biggest fears with the codpiece, I had found that the resin had decided to fuck with me and managed to eat away at one of the side and the front codpieces. When it came to the helm before, I put copious amounts of paint on every inch of that thing, while all of the parts I brought in the next time only had one layer on it. So, stupid me, gets to suffer the consequences of me cutting corners, and I think I might have to re-do those pieces. Not wanting to risk it with the back, chest and upper legs, I then decided to take the mess home with me to reapply even more paint to it.

After waiting and waiting and waaaaiting for several months for no apparent reason, I finally managed to get back into making this costume. Giving a call to Victor, I made my way down to the shop to work on the helmet again. After using some filler putty on the "bill" of the helmet as well as in some small cracks in the fiberglass and soft places, the mess sat alone for the night. I also got to work on the cod a little, be applying tons of resin to the cod pieces and finally deciding to just remake one of the smaller pieces of the cod, since the resin ate away at just about all of that one piece and it just had to be remade.

After coming back the next day, we got to do the "final prepwork" on the helmet. After knocking off some of the more sharper points on the helm, Victor drilled a screw into the top of the helm. Hanging it up on a wire over near the fan booth, he mixed up and then sprayed on some epoxy primer material.

After leaving sit for about two hours, since we had to wait until it dried, we then mixed up some "G2 Feather Fill" primer surfacer. The surfacer itself is the light grey material. The black speckles we "piss sprayed" on a moment later is just a black auto primer. The black speckles will be used in a later step to guide me in sanding the mess as smooth as a baby's ass.

Taking the time out [and the gloriously warm weekend weather opportunity], I broke out the paint once more and began painting the majority of the pieces that still needed coats of paint. Because of the scare I had with the codpiece at the shop, I decided to no longer be stingy with my painting. Applying generous amounts of coat after coat of the green paint [since I no longer had any gray paint], the pieces now stand as being several ounces heavier than they were to begin with.

Deciding to play hookey from school that following Tuesday, I packed away a bunch of the pieces I had painted the night before into Jazz's plastic bin and took the whole mess down to the shop with Victor. I really wanted to do the final painting on the helmet, so that was my main want to skip out that day. Anyway, we mixed up some resin for the pieces [because I was no longer taking ANY chances with this baby] and slathered it all over every inch that I could reach with my brush.

Pushing the table outside the door of the shop so it could sit in the sun and dry faster, I went and grabbed from 220 grit sandpaper and a sanding block to get the Jazz helmet as smooth as I possibly could. I spent pretty much all day doing this, and my arm and hand hurt like Hell afterward.

Getting antsy to paint the helmet, I have began to grown very, very tired of sanding. I thought I was done with the sanding but, when I got to the shop to paint, Victor told me I had more sanding to do. FFNGH -- I hate sanding so much. I know it's necessary, though, so I took some 80 and 220 grit sticky sandpaper and grabbed some paint brush stirring sticks so I could get into the vents and make them all smooth. After that, I took some Evercoat Metal Glaze blending putty so that I could fill in all of the divets and crevices that I wasn't able to get with the sanding from before, and also to fill in the hole where the screw was in the top of the helmet.

Finally came the part that I really wanted to do -- painting the final color onto the helmet. I was instructed first to do the internal parts with the paint and a paint brush; these pieces being the vents and inside of the helmet. These pieces would dry to be a flat black so that the internal impurities wouldn't be seen. After letting it dry for a day, I came back the next to paint it -- FINALLY. Victor set it up and made me a ball for it to sit on (made of old t-shirts and painters' tape, no less) and set the helmet on it. It got shot with a generous helping of black gelcoat resin solution and then set over by a space heater for faster cooling.

"Are we done yet?"

"No, we've still gotta do ...."

"How about now?"

"No, there's still ...."

"Can I take the helmet home now to put the electrical visor in it?"


GRAAAAAAAHH, I've had enough of sanding ....! The helmet is SO pretty, but it's not quite done yet. The paint bubbled ever-so-slightly when it was put on across the entire helmet so I got to sit down with 400 grit sandpaper and do what's called "wet sanding." Spray it with a little water, sand some of the black paint off, repeat, repeat, repeat.

After having to force myself to stop working for three weeks (between the end of school, Christmas and New Years, I'd caught myself a nasty cold and had to quit production for the time being) I finally was able to contact Victor again and run my ass down to the shop. I spent almost the entire day sanding the motherfuckin' helmet. I had to get out every single little dip and issue in the paint job before I could proceed any further. The right side of the back panel of the helmet also had one really nasty-looking dip in it that no amount of sanding would be able to fix. So, we broke out the bondo to work a little magic and make it smooth.

After it was done, I held it up to Jojo, Victor's nephew, and said "look, a dalmatian."
He said "No, a cow."
Thank you, Jojo, now I have "Cow Jazz" stuck in my head.

Anyway, after inspecting it over and over again, I finally handed it off to Vic, who went and got Fred's head and set everything up for me, we got to spray on the sealer coat to make SURE everything was alright -- which, of course, it wasn't.

Now, by this point, I am PISSED. I spent all day making sure that helmet was flawless and then, come to find out, that there are 7 spots that I missed -- and I KNOW I got them all with the bondo before. I tried hard to get Victor just to leave it the Hell alone, but he insisted that we do it right. So, handing me a Heat Gun, he allowed me to dry the sealer paint faster before puttying the thing and -- yes, you guessed it -- MORE sanding.

As soon as the sanding work was complete, I had Victor inspect it. Once he gave me the all-clear, he fixed up Fred's head (which wouldn't hold the helmet upright) with lots of duct tape. Unfortunately one of the places where the bondo had been put in place had cracked through again, but we fixed that once we shot some sealer onto it (thank God). We waited around for a mere 20 minutes after the sealer was shot on before we got to shoot one final coat onto it - the final, shiny black layer.

Having a chance to go down to the Shop a couple days later, I go to epoxy the crud out of the inside of the other pieces I didn't have a chance to get to until now. Jojo had to be my "mixer" today -- since I've no clue yet how to mix the epoxy resin the right way yet -- and I constantly bugged him for more epoxy. When I took the shoulders out of the box, I noticed they were skewed to one side. Jojo helped me clamp the pieces shut with epoxy for the glue and vice grips. Coating every piece generously (besides the chestplate, which wasn't quite ready for it yet), everything looked pretty shiny.

Coming back a couple days later, I got to have help this time from my good friend Lylix. She wanted to come down to see me (since she'd been gone for so freakin' long during Christmas break) and said she'd help me work on Jazz to hang with me. Anywho, we got to do the fiberglassing this day. Between two days of work, we got nearly every piece at least halfway covered in fiberglass, some of the other pieces (one of the legs and both of the hips for example) got fully coated in fiberglass on the outside.

After sending my friend home (after several days of heavy, heavy rain -- she had to stay an extra day until the river over my street subsided) I went back once more to work. Finding that she had left all the hard parts for me (thanks, love) I began to sand aaaaaaall the pieces down. I swear, by the end of this, my right arm is gonna be so beefed.

Getting to finally do some test movements with the newly-fiberglassed pieces, I've found that the arm joints are rather tight. Going to fix those asap before the bondo goes into place.

Getting to come back on another day, I played around with more fiberglass and resin. Generally, it went off without a hitch, getting to fiberglass the other side of some pieces and finally got to doing the insides of the arm and one of the upper legs. One of the upper legs, though, was a little skewed and Victor had to straighten it out for me (resulting in him cracking the resin a little and me spazzing that he was gonna break it).

To avoid boring the crap out of everyone, I'll 'jump' a little and just say I did more epoxy work, a little Fiberglass and -- dear Lord, is it really? BONDO. Which comes ..... more sanding. Luckily, though, my friend and brother both decided to come down and help me out.

After being sent home with the bondo'd pieces, since I am really beginning to run out of time here, I began to fiberglass -- and fiberglass I did. I spent three days straight getting all the pieces ready for the bondo, and that included more and more and more fiberglass. I do have to say that I am most pleased to be working on the cheat and back plating of this costume again, especially since during all this time those two pieces have been put off more and more because of their overall difficulty.

One of my friends wanted to hang out with me. I needed to work on my costume. We compromised and he worked with me in the morning before going to do other stuff in the afternoon. Yes, Darryl was a big help today, and I thank him much for it!

Pretty much just fiberglassing and sanding. It's comin' along. Jojo also helped out by cutting a chunk off of the inside of the arm joints to help out with my mobility.

Decided to take some body shots today just before working. I'm excited to see them. :) More fiberglassing came along, just putting the finishing touches before bondo.

Glad to be working back home and on my own time, I bought some automobile bondo from PepBoys. Glad to get to work, I broke it out and did some work on some of he pieces. The process was incredibly slow-going since it was all sanding block stuff, but I did have my brother and his friends to talk to and help me out.

After my mother decided to help clean up the mess I had created the day before with the sanding, I found that the sanding block I was using was missing. So, after asking my father for help finding it, he instead tossed a wonderful belt sander at me and told me to go to town. Progress went SO much faster after that! I played by myself today and found out that the poor upper legs and the upper arms are both skewed a little in terms of straightness. The belt sander has proven that. However, all of the pieces have their first full coat of bondo on them, and shall soon have more to even out the dips.

I didn't get much work time today; mostly due to the fact that I had to work in the morning and it was pretty cold outside. I worked with the bondo and belt sander for as long as I could stand until the winds picked up. Which ... probably was all of about a hour of work time. Oh well. Took some "full-body" pictures too. Can't wait to get the chest/back plate from Vic's.

Workin' fer a livin' ...... Bondo'd as much as I could today after sleeping in until 1pm. After all these days of working, my back is beginning to suffer for it.

Took a break from it all to give my back and arm a chance to relax, I soon went down to the Shop to get the chest and back plating to work on the bondo at home. Took a few more full-body shots with all the pieces as they are now before getting set on the bondo.

Thanks for reading so far, more updates to come later!
-Mirai, 13 May 2010

With the completion of the Jazz costume, I also want to create a functioning Blaster boombox, which means that I have to go out and find a working boombox like Blaster and paint it up. I've seen a person create a Blaster boombox before, but the last one I saw wasn't a functioning one, even though it looked awesome. I need my Blaster boombox while I wander around as Jazz just in case I don't have someone portraying my rock-and-roll counterpart.

Since I want it to be functioning, I have to keep my eyes opened for a Blaster-style cassette player, and, as of so far, I've had no real luck, which makes me sad. Worst comes to worst, if I don't get the correct tape deck for Blaster, I could always take a very small CD player or cassette player and build a Blaster boombox right from that, splicing up my own speakers to it instead. It'll be made much the same way the other costumes are made, with foam insulation and fiberglass again.