THE PREDATOR COSTUME MANUAL GUIDE Previous Version: SO YOU WANT TO MAKE/BUY A PREDATOR SUIT? READ THIS!!!!!! Important DIY link: Important Costume & Prop Links Content: - Memorable quotes - 1. General Introduction 2. Rough breakdown of prices 3. Important notes – From Animatronic Heads and general noob mistakes. 4. Maintenance of your suit 5. Conventions 6. Final notes Memorable quotes! “Not everyone has the ability to paint fast” “I can make a suit for 200 bucks! Two years down the line I spent 2000$ and I’m still at it” “We love Newbs! Use the search bar!” "It's called Latex, not batter." “Come in here with a game plan” " In the movie there was a team of FX artists repairing the suit after every shot" "I just want to point out for anyone coming here with no idea what they're getting themselves into. I started in late 2011 piece by piece, making a mr incredible version, scrapping it, being in between jobs, losing motivation, having no time, no place to work on it, and finally getting the money to have some decent artists make me a whole suit with painting comissions. It's June 2017 and in theory I'll be done next week. Almost 6 years. Probably about $2200 dumped into it. If you aren't able to commit the time or money, you'll end up with a half decade long project sitting in your closet or garage." - BranHeadhunter "People who have been doing this for a long time know what is needed to maintain a suit, the ones who have maintained their suits for so long are the right people to listen to. Latex is nothing like clothing it's survival depends on how well you take care of it. Paint will crack eventually and there is no such thing as a perfect suit that will last decades. It is important to have realistic standards for these suits as even special fx teams must fix 4 inch cuts and multiple holes after multiple wears." "You need to wear it, to understand it. It is very uncomfortable... some people 'tuff' it out. Others hate it." "People must have patience when it comes to building these or even commissioning one. These things take time to make." Pre-intro: Please familiarise yourself with all of these sections before thinking of purchasing a suit or making one. What you are mostly paying for is for a latex suit, not a foam latex suit made by StudioADI if you have impossibly high standards with animatronics and all that jazz you should invest around 50,000$ towards that goal. Most normal latex suits vary from 3000$-4500$ and artists spare no expense in bringing out the characters to the best of their ability. Despite this Predator suits can be expensive so please this information is here to help those who are planning to make or buy a suit for Halloween or convention purposes. 1) General information It is 2017 and it is time to rewrite and work on a manual guide that will aid further members of this site and from external sites to understand and come to grips with what it takes to build/buy, maintain a Predator suit. This manual will try and cover a breakdown of the prices, the costs as well as what artists go through with each process and what are the general assumptions and mistakes people make when getting a suit. An important note before we get started: On this forum it is paramount, a pillar which we must all follow. To respect our fellow members, there are members of all abilities and members of all ages we are all people in and out of cosplay and many have endeavoured to make this forum a place where people can share their suit making journeys. It is a bumpy road ahead which doesn’t promise glory all the time, triumphs and victories come with hard work this will inspire more to join. Whether you buy a suit or make it that is only half the journey. One must maintain their suit as well as work on it and upgrade it over time. There have been Predator costumers and costuming wearing hunters and huntresses of all ages. Predator cosplaying isn’t limited to a certain age nor is it gender specific all can be the hunter we so wish to portray in our own way. It was inspired by Stan Winston and the team that brought us our sentient humanoid creature that haunts our dreams and reminds us that our spines and skulls are trophies. You can be as old as our youngest hunter, Kayla or as old as the Elder Predator Greyback we as a community will do our best to support you. Every so often new members come in on mass to this site looking for a suit for Halloween or other general convention purposes. Note these suits aren’t mass produced they require attention, hours of works and many components which mainstream costume buyers will not understand and leave out which is a hazardous mistake. It is great seeing new faces eager to join the forum and to join the hunter family whether it is building a suit yourself or buying one. Realistically, only a few ever pull it off, some appear on the forum for a short while and disappear. Do not be scared, there are members who are here to help we were all noobs once, regardless of that, this is a learning process for all and we are all students. Without further ado we can begin. Correct terms for various parts of a suit: (To be worked on) 2) Rough Breakdown Predator parts can cost a lot, today cosplay and prop making is at its pinnacle it is more popular than ever and more people are wanting to dress up in suits. With that in mind it is important to note that companies such that provide the materials to make these suits have bumped up their prices. Suits can take a long time to create and each process is a challenge in itself from sculpting it to molding it to casting it to painting it etc. It is a challenge, if you buy it then you avoid these tedious areas but it will still cost you, a finished suit easily exceeds the 3000$ mark unless you choose to go the Mr Incredibles or the Rubies route. Most completed suits are very expensive, back in 2009 they were estimated at 2000-3500, now they can be upwards of $3500-4500 depending on who it is from. These are very expensive stuff. Not to mention people who have been doing this for a while have acquired a certain skill set for example those who have painted latex heads for a while know what goes into it. From the liquid acrylic paints to the adhesives as well as the varnish which is used up. Not to mention the artists paint job reflects how much the artist is worth. Also it is important to note that the price reflects the cost of labour, damage to the mold, materials used, artists paint job and so on. If you’re expecting cheap suits, Rubies Predator is your best option. The section below is a general census of what is available around the board and external sources. None of these prices represent an individual members prices etc. This serves as a guide. Raw parts: Body Suits/Legs can total $800-1400 Armour pieces can be upward from $300 Latex heads: (Raw) $200+ (painted and dreaded can range from 600$-1500$ depending on how custom it is and who it’s from) Bio Masks 120-250 US (Raw) Painted/electronics can be anywhere from 220 US – 400$ Dreads = 1 Dread is 4$ think of it like that. Flex foam dreads. Not cheap backer rod dreads or tubing dreads. (More general census prices will be added) If you plan on getting all of the parts raw you can spend as little as 1400$ - 2200$ picking up all of the parts required for your suit. Realistically, if you do not know how to paint latex or have no prior experience in all of this you will need to educate yourself on how to do all of this. There are a multiplicity of videos demonstrating what it takes to paint suits from Youtube, Stan Winston School and so on. You will need to utilise acrylics, adhesive promoters, flexible foam, air brush kits and so on. Note: paint cannot stick to latex and no matter what you do there will be eventual cracking which you will have to patch up. Suits aren’t mass produced items that will be kept in pristine conditions to the end of time. Suits will need fixing and maintenance before outings. There are those who can paint it all for you. Those who have the experience and the decades under their belt. They can charge from $2500-4000 – it depends on who it is, how custom do you want it and how soon you want it. All of those factors are involved. Painting latex is very tricky – many of the older members know this already it will help you in the long run if you do your research calculate the pricing on things and then create a plan on how you’re going about making a suit or buying one. Also as a community we like to help as much as we can. For those who come on here to press members about getting a suit in time for Halloween with one month notice – it’s not happening… period. Best option as PredatrHuntr suggested Rubies cheap-o version, or a paper mache, foamies or a Mr Incredible suit and do it yourself. Utilise the search button and the respected forums such as the RPF. 3) These suits can take anywhere from 2 weeks to – 4 months to make. For those who are going the route of not buying a suit it can take years. Some members have spent two even three constructing their suit from scratch. Predator suits are a labour of love and are not for the faint hearted whatsoever. Throughout this journey you will gain skills that will help you maintain your suit and to train you for what may come in the future in your other ventures. Members who have made suits in the past and have completed their builds have spent no expense in trying their best to get the suit that they desire. A few key things to remember are: Many of the suits are latex and not foam latex (seeing as latex is the most cost effective way of making suits) Suits can be very expensive in todays climate with cosplay and prop making being at its pinnacle. You have seen a Predator move its mouth and someone was using animatronics for their head. First and foremost, to new members set your suit goals to a realistic level, not many members do animatronics not to mention the parts are very hard to come by with the addition of having many draw backs. The rig inside the mask can be heavy, the mask itself to have the full effects of an animatronic mask it should either be in foam latex or in silicone. This can all cost thousands of dollars to even achieve. Many of our fellow forum members actively replace, repaint parts on their suits or builds as there are wears over time. Paint cannot stick to latex without an adhesive promotor, many members of the forum use either Tim Gores adhesive promoter or another of their choice. Note the consistency of the paint must also be very thin, hence it is mostly recommended to be doing this by using an air brush. Liquid acrylic – is a medium most tend to use when painting a suit. Latex will crack and peel from the latex suit over time and will need pre convention prep. Dreads – Dreads are dangerous to make. Newcomers often do not appreciate them for what they are they are an art form which takes years to fully master. Foam is generally dangerous in its chemical form, it can lead to many respiratory problems if one doesn’t use the proper protection. I for one have suffered as a result of this so please don’t be an idiot like I was, we are human we aren’t invincible. Some of these effects can shorten your life greatly. USE PROTECTION! Latex gloves, respirators, etc 4) When I started out, I underestimated greatly! And I mean if I met myself now a couple years ago I understood why I got the flack that I did. I purchased raw latex parts. Over time I realised my biggest mistake was underestimating every aspect and component that went into making a latex suit. I purchased an air brush, upholstery foam, paints, adhesive paints, kits etc. I ended up receiving right advice and wrong advice. I looked at some of the members like foam dreads cost that much? Really? Many of the members on this site who have suits, whether hand made by themselves or bought the finish product is awesome in its own right. It is important to never forget what goes on behind the scenes whether it is pre-convention preparation which is required. From refitting the dreads with adhesive, to repainting that unbleached titanium skin on your Predator suit. Here are some of the draw backs to latex suits over time. General suit maintenance: Suits require maintenance, members who have been here a while have learnt to fix their suits from the latex work to fix cuts to adhesive work and so on. In the FX world suits are generally fixed by a team of artists between each take. Latex does rip, it's best to learn how to fix it! Now let's begin. Dreads - Can fall off over time seeing as they are usually attached to the dread hole using some form of adhesive as well as insta set. Many costumers bring adhesives/super glue just in case their dreads fall during their convention visit. It happens to all of us. One way to prevent it almost entirely is to cut a cross in the dread hole and pull the dread through and glue it to remain still and steady. The last point was picked up upon on a past thread by Pred666. MaxiCure-Instaset are a good adhesion promoter combo its what most use. Latex – over time they harden and become rough and rigid. Tacky/Stickiness - This means the paint is sticking to the surface it is painted on. Indeed if it didn't retain some form of stickiness to the latex or the actual suit itself it would have a higher chance to crack or rub off at a later date. The tacky/stickiness will wear off after a couple weeks. Talcum powder is used to reduce the stickiness of the paint when its applied to the suit. Remember, latex paints dry really slowly... Warping – Latex and Resin can warp over time if not stored in a cool place with no pressure hence a mannequin is highly recommended with a good storage room in a wardrobe or a closet. Foam filling - if you have a suit and it isn't quiet foam filled to your liking, do not spend excess money on buying polyurethane foam... get upholstry/sponge foam and put it in there when you are putting in the suit. It will absorb your sweat and become smelly, you can simply remove it without excess stress and replace it with a new foam sheet/sponge foam. You can also utilize contact adhesive to attach the foam to the desired places. Smell - Latex smells, it always will. Get air freshener and spray the inside of your suit it helps with the smell. Stickiness - Acrylic paints cannot naturally adhere to latex so adhesion promoters will be utilized by most makers and coated in the end with perma wet or an adhesion promoter of their choice. This is something which is apparent in almost all Predator suits which have been made by people who have experience with painting on latex. Talcum Powder/Baby Powder - This is paramount to avoid sticking and to avoid overstretching your suit to the point of breaking point. Prior to wearing any suit remember to pat yourself down with power and the interior of your suit too. Nothing worse than having a sticky smelly suit. Acrylic paint cracking – Acrylic paint cannot naturally stick to latex hence an adhesive promoter is used to aid the bonding process but with enough friction/force paint can crack. Hence it is best to have the colors that are required to fix the part on hand. Fixing parts from time to time become part of your workload when preparing for a convention. Replacing parts – dreads can over time can degrade, armor can become warped over time too. (Applying paint to fix smudged areas or areas that have lost paint) - Pros Aide - Adhesion promoter - Brush on evenly on area and wait for it to dry. - Spray/Paint using Fw Ink/Acrylic paint - When you are satisfied the final step is the clear sealer. - Make sure the paint is dry, apply 3 coats of Monster Makers Perma Wet Clear sealer. Despite the suits looking amazing as a finished product it is important to note: Pre-convention preparation is required, many people do not see the work behind the scenes that takes place. From people refitting the dread locks, to repainting certain latex parts or filling any holes or any wear and tears from previous outings. 5) Conventions: It is that time of the year to show off your suits. But it’s difficult work! You will need handlers, water, repair kits if all goes to hell! - Lots of water - Repair Kit - Helpers 6) Final messages: If you have a question, please search for it in the search bar by doing extra research you can get the knowledge you desire. If the question hasn’t been asked already feel free to ask it. Many members lurk for months on end to make a decent post for those who come on the board just to ask a question that has been asked multiple times can be annoying. So please do your research. Final important note: We are here to help but if you can’t help yourself in anyway by progressing as an artist and a costumer than you shouldn’t take the plunge in the first place. There are guides and individuals here with enough experience to guide you on what you need to do to fix certain areas of your suit which can get damaged over time. We can go so far as to inspire and inform but the building/fixing is up to you. If you aren’t prepared for all of these factors, then this will be a long road for you yet. - Be realistic, there will always be limitations to a suit. The actors who portray the characters spend months and even years preparing for a role. Their level of athleticism is way better than the average joe. Not to mention in movies they use foam latex to be able to move and do what they do. The materials degrade very fast and there are like 5+ variations of the same suit for the actor. There are special fx crews, lighting crews as well as movie editors which work together to bring the character alive. It's good to remember these things and not to go overboard with expectations especially for those picking up suits from vendors. Further information feel free to comment. I will add it and arrange it the best I can. Thanks.