A recent charity shop find inspired this quick build. I had found a foam shield in a local store for £1 or less, fixed it up and gave it a new paint job. So of course the logical thing to build was a helmet to go with it.
If you’re unsure of how to pattern a helmet check out Evil Ted’s Helmet Tutorial or Punished Props Helmet Tutorial.
Now one thing you might hear mentioned which is good advice is “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. Thats all well and good when you can afford to use lots of foam, but here on Thrifty Props we’re all about saving money. In comes cardboard to the rescue as you’ll soon see.
Having previously patterned a helmet on to one of my kids heads I learned that direct patterning to a head can leave the fitting a bit snug. Too snug for my kid in fact, he can’t wear it anymore. On this build I wanted to avoid that happening. So the first thing I did was to get my kid to wear a hat before wrapping to give a little more space. Then I set about creating the pattern. I free handed all of this based on a rough shape I had in my head.
The next usual step you would take would be to transfer this to foam, but instead I transferred to some cardboard I had lying around. This meant that I could get the size wrong and it wouldn’t be wasted foam. I just attached the pieces together with some masking tape.
We then tried it on for size. Some adjustments were indeed needed but these were made before any foam was cut. Once I was happy with the new pattern, that was then transferred to my foam.
From this point on the helmet itself was a straight forward build. One mistake I did make though was not accounting for my size adjustments on my visor. It should have also been widened but I noticed too late and just had to move the holes instead.
One thing I wanted on this helmet was a working visor. I prototyped this in cardboard as well so I could try a few ideas if needed. Once I got the basic shape I wanted I set about making the hinge. I took a simple approach of just making a hole in the helm and fixed two larger circles of card on the inside and the outside connected by the card cut out from the hole. It was crude but worked. I then made the same type of hinge from foam. A tip for cutting holes in foam is to use sharpened pvc pipe, I started using a piece to make my holes and then notice that if I only went half into the foam it would stay securely held by the foam, if I put some glue on it it wasn’t going to go anywhere.
Above you can see the foam-pvc hinge. The pipe passes through the hole in the visor and the helm and is then held in place by the two circular foam end caps. I kept the pieces separate for painting then glued them in place one they had dried.
Since I know these are for my kids I don’t invest a lot in the paint jobs, they will be getting thrown around and probably sat on so it’s not worth it. A £2 can of matt black spray paint from the pound shop takes care of the base coat. Then some silver acrylic dry brushed on gives the final metal effect. I don’t seal it.
1/2 Floor Mat: 70p
Spray Paint: 40p
Acrylic Paint: 20p
*Costs are my best guess based on how much material was used and full price of items.