One of the biggest features I wanted to include with this figure was a helmet that can open and close. I want to show her face beneath the helmet without having to make a second, swappable head the way most manufacturers do it now. Also, having complex moving parts may make the build more complicated, but I think the end product is far more impressive than simpler figures.
I started this process with a basic idea of how it would function. Maybe a hinge at the top of the helmet. Then I added in a parallel set of arms in the helmet to make the movement more interesting and mechanical. I started playing with the length and angle of the arms to see what effect that had on the angle of the open helmet, and even mocked up some quick ideas with Lego pieces I had available. Once I had something I thought could work, I quickly laid it out in Maya and went to the 3D printer for prototyping…
…and my first attempt was a mess. Parts printed poorly, critical pieces were designed too small, some of them broke immediately on use. I was a little disappointed, but I learned a lot. Just because something looks like it will work on the computer doesn’t mean it will translate well to a physical model. So I went back and adjusted.
My second one came out far better. It actually worked! Pieces fell off here and there, but it was successful as a proof of concept. However, after that initial excitement wore off, I tried to look at it more critically to see if there were any more improvements necessary. I realized that while it did work, it wasn’t actually opening as far as I needed it to. This design wouldn’t even get the helmet above her eyeline.
Since I knew all the basic components worked, I went back to Maya and made a few different designs there. I tried changing up the arms to see what would give me the most clearance, and once I had something that looked better, I printed out the new pieces.
The resulting helmet is even better. These pieces will make up the internals, and I can build the body of the helmet around it. I’m hoping to have the head completely modeled by the end of April.