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Unread 03-27-2013, 07:30 PM   #1
Tjen Tang
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Best Armor Material for getting hugs?

I'm doing Uncle Iroh for Anime Boston this year. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and and willing to expend money and time to make it look right. I have the robe covered but for the armor, I want it to be authentic. I wan't it to be a real-life representation of the character. After some discussion and planning, I settled on real leather, but after talking to some more experienced cosplayers, most suggest not using real leather, due to a lot of factors including how hard it's going to be to make one solid rounded across 2 planes chestplate, dexterity/mobility in the armor, durability, cost(which is only a small consideration), and although I don't expect it, I should plan on getting hugs.

What do people think Iroh's (and by extension: Fire Nation Armor) is made out of?

What would look best and be durable? (I really want to avoid simply making it out of cloth, as many do for him, it doesn't look right. I also want to avoid bunching, it's supposed to be 1 solid round chestplate.)
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Unread 03-27-2013, 08:33 PM   #2
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Unread 03-27-2013, 10:17 PM   #3
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Unread 03-28-2013, 08:52 PM   #4
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I tried posting a picture yesterday and it said it's awaiting moderator approval. It's still not up.
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Unread 03-28-2013, 09:56 PM   #5
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Ooooh, Uncle Iroh. You should definitely prepare for hugs with him. XD Let's see...I always figured although it sorta kinda looked like metal, it was probably hardened leather, because metal would probably be too heavy to wear constantly, and Zuko, like most Fire Nation soldiers, wore the same type of armor at his waist as well, and it being made of metal would probably impede movement. I unfortunately don't have any suggestions on what else to use, just putting in my 2 cents about what I've always thought it was made of. Hopefully someone else can help ^^ Best of luck
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Unread 03-28-2013, 10:04 PM   #6
wings! armor! madness!
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This version, yes?

I would assume Fire Nation armor to be cuirboilli leather. Maybe use hardened leather for the pauldrons and the upper rectangular section of the breastplate, and then EVA foam for the rounded black part? I figure that's the area most likely to suffer from hug-damage. Here is a tutorial demonstrating the kind of curve you can get with properly dart-patterned and sanded EVA. You could then cover it with a thin leather, or Plastidip it to look like lacquered leather.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 12:24 PM   #7
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Yes, that version. I'm looking at EVA now as the best option. It's going to be lighter, easier to move (and although cost isn't a large factor) much cheaper. Also, it seems hard, even in my further research to get one big solid chestplate curved like that with real leather without it rippling or warping in weird ways. Spending the hundred+ for the materials then having it come out crappy would be sad.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 05:17 PM   #8
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i'm no expert, but i vote leather too
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Unread 03-31-2013, 02:19 AM   #9
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I used pleather (faux leather) for my Azula, which is kind of similiar. I wasn't expecting it, but I got hugged all day. It was pliable enough to not get destroyed by hugging, but still looked badass (I thought anyway) for photos.

Last edited by Chryso : 03-31-2013 at 02:25 AM.
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Unread 03-31-2013, 07:25 AM   #10
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Check out Envel's profile pics - she's done a lot of leather work that may be what you're after. She also gives detailed explanations of how she has done it.
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Unread 04-03-2013, 07:27 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the feedback. That pleather does look great, but I'm going for a more solid armor like Iroh has.

I've been working with the EVA foam and it seems to be coming along. I have 1/4th thick stuff so I think I can bend it as needed. I tried melting it with a heat-gun and although It took about 30 minutes, it still came out uneven for a small maybe foot by 1/2 a foot patch. I've read/saw tutorials where people heated the EVA and formed it, I think that will work. But now I have to figure out what to make the negative space mold to stick the heated EVA in. It's going to be large and it has to be heat resistant and solid.
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Unread 04-05-2013, 10:56 AM   #12
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Maybe you could use a wonderflex base and stretch thin leather or pleather over it? I've been watching Fev on her facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/fevereon?ref=ts&fref=ts
She works with leather, so she might be a good person to ask.
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Unread 05-31-2013, 12:21 PM   #13
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Update: I used foam, sealed with plastidip spray, then painted with primer/paint brown, finished with 3 different color shoe polishes, then multi-layers with moge podge. It came out looking awesome, but the modge podge is bad with moisture and cracking. The cracks, most people told me, look like battle wear, so it's cool, but I think I'm going to find a new top coat clear sealer next time.


P.S. I got a lot of people asking for hugs... and received a lot of free tea.
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Unread 06-01-2013, 08:28 AM   #14
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I prefer acrylic medium over Mod Podge. It costs more, but dries faster, is less subject to humidity, dries harder and has a better matte finish than matte MP. You can go over MP with acrylic medium to refinish pieces.
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