I cranked Rocket out in seven weeks. Granted, during that time, I had a week where I literally worked 8 hours a day from home, and did nothing else but sleep, eat, and cosplay. I didn’t even have to cook- I was housesitting for a friend and everything was prepped for me.
Work, eat, sleep, cosplay. Of course I managed to pull it out so quickly. And, actually, as far as costuming goes, it looks way more impressive than it was difficult. The pieces were easy, almost no hemming (just the armholes and leg holes on the jumpsuit), and the vest and pad things were not sewn at all. The entire head on that costume was made in one evening while marathoning my favorite episodes of Danny Phantom.
Ratchet and Clank?
After our first convention, and I noticed some issues (Visible velcro, the kneepads needed work), not weathered enough)
After a number of additional modifications (fixing kneepads and how they adhere to costume, adding lights and buckles to shoes, etc).
Ratchet and Clank are a whole new level. Real EVA armor. A helmet. Lights and animatronics. Short fur- which means that I couldn’t hide seams with the fur above it (why Rocket’s head was so easy- I just cut and glued small layers of fur over each other to get a raccoon look)
All the shortcuts that I could use for Rocket weren’t an option here. And, since I’m entering Ratchet and Clank into the contest I entered Rocket into last year, it needs to be even more visually impressive, despite having more difficult technique to get similar results as last time.
Let me break the build down into parts so you can see how I made it.
The first question is probably why Ratchet and Clank. The answer is an interesting one: it was my first console game, and it’s one that I was never able to beat until this year (well, sort of).
It’s not a particularly hard game series (except possibly the first one, mainly because you have no weapon progression and no armor/health upgrades), but I’m legally blind. I got it about 12 years ago, not long after the red-box version of the game came out for the PS2. I never made it past Blackwater City (about 1/3 of the way through the game or so) no matter how hard I tried. My coordination was just that bad, and I eventually shelved it. Yaaaaay blindness!
Fast forward to about 8 years ago. I tried again, and made it to Gaspar, about halfway through. Got stuck again due to my reflexes, or lack thereof, and shelved it again.
Fast forward to two years ago. I finally pulled it out of storage and played with a friend who was feeling down, who was a fan of quirky space stuff. We got to the Gadgetron HQ before I graduated and moved away, the final quarter of the game.
Last year, I moved again, and got my own place. Bought a PS3. When the Ratchet and Clank trilogy was on sale in January for 5$, I snagged it. I promised myself I’d actually beat the damn game. I got to the final battle with Drek, ran out of ammo... and rage quit to the second game, and have since beat 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 (I only just bought 4- Deadlocked- which is it’s own independent thing). I still haven’t actually beat 1 because of that boss fight. But I’ll call it a win. (Do I have to turn in my gamer card? Am I a fake gamer guuuuurl? Haha.)
So, yeah. This is kind of a big deal for me. Ratchet and Clank is the physical representation of me overcoming my disability, and that’s pretty damn awesome.
It doesn’t hurt the movie comes out next spring (when I started building him back in January, it was still slated for this year, but it’s been shifted to next April).
When doing Ratchet and Clank, the first question is... what outfit? With the exception of the first game, Ratchet has at least three outfits (sometimes four or five) in each game, plus different shoes and helmets, each with their own abilities. I ended up settling on the very first armor you can buy, the blue Tetrafiber Armor, in Going Commando, the second game, the teal armor right here.
Other finalists were the Infernox Armor (best armor of the third game, Up Your Arsenal), the starter clothes from Tools of Destruction (game 5), or the Nether Armor from Into the Nexus (the best armor of game 10).
As cool as the Infernox and Nether armor look (I mean, look at all the purple glowy parts on that Nether armor!) you can’t really recognize it as Ratchet if you’re only sort of familiar with the game. And Infernox armor covers completely, not even the eyes are visible. Might as well just make medieval armor at that point.
His starter clothes from Tools of Destruction, on the other hand, are super recognizable. They’re a dark orange and blue shirt, with blue/black work pants. The problem with them is that they’re both too easy (no armor, very minimal electronics work, and no helmet- just a leather cap), and I would have to bind my chest, since there’s no armored chest plate to hide my... tracts of lady land.
Not binding ended up winning the argument, so the blue Tetrafiber armor won out. Not too easy, not so hard that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Lots of new techniques, like animatronics and working with unfamiliar materials and tools that I’d have a manageable challenge, but some easy parts to work on for a lazy Sunday afternoon. And he’s definitely recognizable as Ratchet (at least to anyone who has a passing knowledge of the character). With that out of the way, I started working on the costume...
EDIT 6/16 Dammit Insomniac! After seeing the trailer for the video game, I’m upset at myself for not doing the base Tools of Destruction outfit, as a variation of that one is the outfit in All 4 One, Full Frontal Assault, and both the upcoming movie and game. I’ll probably make it too.
As I started building out the head, I made a little post back at the end of April, just going through the foaming process without too much detail, you can read it here.
I’ll skip a lot of the middle steps and run through how it was made.
First, I made a headpiece to fit my head, marking eyes, nose, ears, mouth, etc. I flipped it so the stitches were on the outside to give the mask interior a nice, clean look. The inside of the mask is seamless.
I then started sewing on the major components, like the eyebrows and muzzle. Looks a bit Cthulu right now, yeah?
Cheeks and ears were added, carved, and shaped.
This is where it stops looking so much like a gremlin- I taped in where the ear wires would go (the ears are bendable and moveable) and started smoothing out Ratchet’s face by stuffing joints with sales flyers. Walgreens ice cream sales and Whole Foods flyers are in his face.
Sewing in the wire, and the face shape is starting to take form.
The head is now fully prepped for the next step- patterning the fur.
The whole thing was covered in blue frog tape to make a pattern (the stuff you put on walls to mark where you won’t paint), as it sticks really well but also pulls off cleanly.
Cutting away the tape to make pattern pieces.
Attaching the pieces to butcher paper to make patterns, then shearing it out of faux fur (always use a razor, not scissors, to cut fur, to get a proper edge).
The fake fur was then sewn to itself with hand stitches, piece by piece around the foam shell.
The furred head, prior to dyeing.
Dyeing the head with a Sharpie and alcohol method used to dye synthetic wigs. Here’s me actually trying on the head in progress.
Finishing dyeing the head, making nose and eyes (I am going with a mesh eye method, so the plastic eyes are not being used).
The head, sans the eyes.
6-21 Finally finished the last section- the eyes. They’re tinted, painted window screen.
Sewing it in.
Completed eye dye job
Head in the helmet
I lumped the clothes (that is, his pants, shirt, and leather vest under his chest armor) into one category, as they were SUPER EASY. This is not costume where the sewing was the hard part. Everything BUT the sewing was hard, so forgive me for rushing through this. The shirt pattern was just a cap-sleeve T-shirt I took apart, and the pants were a pair of oversized cargo pants pattern I copied (I actually used my comics Gamora pattern, minus the pockets). The vest was the same as the chapels, minus the sleeves, and made from felt-backed pleather.
The clothes are supposed to be oversized and baggy in the legs, but tight in the arms, so wearing these clothes feels WEIRD.
“I’m helping!” You are not Ratchet, fuzzball, get offa my fabric.
Cutting out pant legs
Topstitching on blue inserts, adding elastic waist.
Skipping ahead to completed clothes, as this was really just a bunch of straight stitching.I also added in elastic at the knees for the kneepads.
There’s also the shoulder and kneepads, made from the same pleather as the vest, glued in sections over a piece of 8MM flam to give the right texture and shape.
Trimmed down and painted pads
I bought PVC work gloves, as I don’t have the means to PVC spray my own fabric. I cut out the panels for the glowing LED parts, and inserted blue acetate with a leather sheath so the LEDs could be slid in between the two.
6-21 Bought clown shoes, modded them with a top cuff
I don’t have much in the way of progress pics, as I was working with heat guns while building, so time was vital, and I didn’t have the chance to stop and take WIP shots. It took me three tries to make a helmet in a shape that I tolerated. I’m still not 100% happy with Mark 3, but helmets, especially one that has to go on a head that freaking large are HARD.
Mark 1 is visible at the end of the Head section. Here’s #3.
The back, unpainted.
Helmet, with cracks filled in with paper clay and masking tape.
Plasti-dip applied and painted with an undercoat
Painted, glazed, and weathered
The armor was way easier than I expected. We made a duct tape pattern by me wearing the costume clothes under the armor and then getting Saran-wrapped and then duct taped.
Me, feeling like a dweeb, and very uncomfortable.
Cutting the pattern apart, then cutting the pieces from EVA foam floor mats.
Gluing the components to 3MM foam, all will be painted dark grey topped with metallic chrome.
After sanding, shoulder straps, and deliberate “battle damage”.
Edit 6/16: began finishing armor.
My first BIG addition since May was the tail. It wasn’t hard to make, but has a nifty little extra impressive bit-
It’s animatronic! Why I can’t really show it in images, I can show you the basic steps of what I did to make the tail twitch on command.
It’s core is Klixx, a clicky de-stress toy (the colors are different between the two pictures because this Klixx is actaully Clank’s arms’ skeleton).
Also, apparently, a good cat toy. Felix has been ALL OVER this thing. I had a lot of trouble keeping him from it as I wired up the bike brake cables.
When the cable is pushed or pulled, it drags the pine with it in a swiping motion. The tail goes along for the ride, and I can even control where the twitch occurs. It twitches at the base, just like Ratchet’s does while idling in game.
Filled and stuffed. Wire goes up my shirt and into the glove.
Tail! Custom dye with sharpie and alcohol method, same as the dye job on the face.
I also added a tail puff, which you can see in the top image for Ratchet.
I needed a purse of some kind, so I repurposed a toolbox. I know Ratchet can’t even read lombax, but there’s a bit of Bilingual Bonus on it for the eagle eyed fans that can.
The wrench is Ratchet’s starter weapon, melee and short range (he can throw it like a boomerang). It will be made out of EVA, the same stuff as the armor and helmet, on a wooden dowel, once I finish up some other parts of the costume.
It’s not a Ratchet and Clank game without weird and interesting weapons. One of the unique weapons of the second game was the spiderbot. There’s always a pistol variant, a sniper rifle (or sniper crossbow), an RPG, a RYNO (an RPG on steroids), a polymorph gun, sometimes a mine launcher, sometimes a whip, et cetera. But none of the other games (and I’ve played all the mainline ones except All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault) have a weapon quite like the spiderbot, a remote-controlled spider robot that explodes when it comes into contact with an enemy and is even used in puzzle solving/opening doors/pressing buttons.
Since you can see Ratchet hold the remote control (and it’s listed as RC in the description), I figured I could actually build a working replica (without the, you know, ability to blow up. That would be bad.). This game came out in 2004, at the height of the RoboSapien craze, so the RC robot as a weapon makes sense. While they don’t build the bots anymore (and I wanted to at least make mine from a kit if possible), they do still sell all-in-the-box DIY kits.
I’m going to be brutally honest here. Clank>Ratchet. I want a to-scale plush of this adorable bot.
Anyway, unlike Ratchet, there’s really only one version of Clank. The only real concern in my case was wether to have him “open” or “closed”. For those that play Ratchet and Clank (except the co-op titles), Clank normally compacts his arms, legs, and neck inside his chassis while on Ratchet’s back, turning him into a dry-humored backpack. If you idle too long in game, however, Clank will usually expand back out to size, yawn, stretch, or do some karate chops.
Since it looks cooler, I’ve left his neck and arms expanded in my final version, but the legs stay compacted (so I can stand him more easily on his own on flat bottoms, and, more importantly, I won’t be literally kicked in the butt as I walk).
I ended up shortcutting his arms and doing just the hands for cons. Smart idea too, since PEOPLE KEPT TRYING TO HUG CLANK from behind my back. I get he’s clearly an awesome bot, but he’s a bit fragile... to the point that someone actually broke his neck at the convention this weekend. Sad face. Time for a trip to Home Depot.
That top photo of me fixing Clank? Not staged. Well, I put the Ratchet head back on for the picture, but I was actually fixing the poor bot.
I made the body from EVA, or floor-mat foam, same as Ratchet’s armor. First, I sized out Clank’s proportions with an Amazon box that contained Ratchet’s tail parts (Klixx toys and bicycle brake cables).
Designing the rough outline of the front access shutter
Hand hole housing.
Body completed (without rivets or detail)
Shaping jaw, and marking up the head and neck.
Prime and paint
Harnessing it through the armor and on my back.
Like a boss, no less.
THE HEAD WAS A NIGHTMARE. Because I don’t trust my skill in making a perfectly round, clean EVA head, Clank’s head is styrene. Styrene melts when exposed to spray paint, as I discovered, thusly:
I don’t know how well you can see it, but that perfectly smooth styrene ball is covered in pits.
6-16: Head alterations successful!
Here’s the process.
And the magnetic jaw (the inside of the mouth will be sealed up with black EVA when done)
Just like Ratchet’s tail, I’m using Klixx to make Clank’s arms’ “skeleton”, like so:
And the hands are being built, one joint at a time.
The arms will only be used for photoshoots away from conventions. People kept trying to manhandle Clank at the con, and having arms is an invitation for people to try and high-five him, unfortunately.
Started installing LED rings surrounded by craft foam to diffuse the light. Also added black craft foam in the mouth to hide the wiring and support beams.
Other eye, head grille, and antennae (which is a kid’s toy prize ball!)
Hands!!!! And Done!!!
Thanks for following along! I’ll be taking these two on a hike and mountain climb next weekend as part of a photoshoot. So really cool alien planet exploration shots to come....