TRON (1982) Cosplay — Kevin Flynn's Helmet

August 21, 2016: The Cooper SK 2000 S

For rerezzing this cosplay for SDCC 2017, I acquired a SMALL size Cooper "SK 2000 S" hockey helmet for the Kevin Flynn costume. The Cooper SK 2000 S is - near as I can tell - the helmet used for Kevin Flynn and for other characters including Tron, Ram, and Yori (during her solar sailor scenes only).

Cooper SK 2000 S (small) hockey helmet.  This helmet is a magnificent specimen (Homestar!) complete with face guard and side guards.
Cooper SK 2000 S (small) hockey helmet. This helmet is a magnificent specimen (Homestar!) complete with face guard and side guards.

The key distinction between the small, medium and large sizes of the Cooper SK 2000 is that the small has 4 vent holes on each side at the rear of the helmet, whereas the medium (some, not all?) and large each have 5 vent holes. In studying the film, it seems that all the SK 2000 helmets used were of the small size (padding removed and customized). The helmets are adjustable, and when the small size is adjusted all the way out (to fit adult heads), it looks sleek, elongated, and integrated - as if part of the user or program itself.

The Cooper SK 2000 S has 4 vent holes on each rear side and is the helmet used - sans face and side guards - for Kevin Flynn and for other characters including Tron, Ram, and Yori (during her solar sailor scenes only).
The Cooper SK 2000 S has 4 vent holes on each rear side and is the helmet used - sans face and side guards - for Kevin Flynn and for other characters including Tron, Ram, and Yori (during her solar sailor scenes only).

In cosplaying Kevin Flynn for SDCC 2016, I used a large Cooper "SK 2000 L" helmet which fit well but fell short of screen-accurate in three ways: 1) it was larger in proportion, 2) it had the five vent holes issue, and 3) it had to be adjusted in all the way, resulting in smallish ear openings and line art alterations in that area.

September 2, 2016: Helmet Disassembly

Part of me hates to take apart this nearly pristine Cooper helmet. But here it goes.

Cooper SK 2000 S disassembled. Neat find in between the liner and shell:  made 27 JAN 1993. The bare shell, ready for sanding.

September 25, 2016: Cooper Bumper Repair

A common problem I run into with Cooper SK 2000 helmets is that the side bumper's center screw eyelet breaks off, resulting in the inability to tighten down the size adjustment. This is probably due to the age of the helmet and plastic dry rot. Not to worry, like the man says: no problems, only solutions.

January 16, 2017: Helmet Neck Visor (vinyl backing)

The original neck visor from the film is fashioned out of craft foam. For durability, I am taking the approach I did last year by using a piece of white vinyl cut from the back of a Sterilite kitchen trash can. This material is similar in strength to the plastic of the helmet, and makes a nice surface onto which to bond craft foam in a subsequent step. Here are two 8.5"x11" printable PDFs of the template:

Cooper SK 2000 S neck visor template (left)
Cooper SK 2000 S neck visor template (right)

Pizza, soda, scissors, Tron screenshots - let's cosplay! Neck visor is fashioned from white vinyl cut from Sterilite kitchen trash can. After many measurements, markings, and cuts, the result looks promising.  It will be anchored by 5 screws (2 each side, 1 rear center). Hand-traced template from resulting visor.

February 26, 2017: Helmet Filling and Sanding

Used JB Plastic Weld to fill screw holes of side bumpers and factory holes around the helmet. At this stage, those fills are sanded smooth. More work remains on the front bezel.

JB Plastic Weld in screw holes. Inside view showing five #6-32 x 1/2" bevel screws holding neck visor. Screw heads are plastic-filled on outside and sanded smooth. Tractor Supply has these screws. The trick to getting the front trapezoidal feature is to cut away the bezel.

March 25, 2017: Helmet Neck Visor Complete!

The original TRON prop helmets used only craft foam for the neck visors. For durability, as shown above in a previous step, I opted for rigid vinyl to closely match the helmet's plastic. But that thin visor "shell" needs the craft foam for thickness, fit, and original look. Behold the final result:

Neck visor complete, using rigid vinyl backing and craft foam padding.  Looks authentic compared to original prop helmets, yet is more durable in the long run.
Neck visor complete, using rigid vinyl backing and craft foam padding. Looks authentic compared to original prop helmets, yet is more durable in the long run.

The craft foam is 1/2" closed cell polyethylene from The Foam Factory (1/3 sheet, $16.99). Below is a photo album showing the detailed steps to rough-out the neck visor's craft foam padding, bond it to the rigid vinyl backing, and do final cutting and sanding.

The cut-out at left was a failed attempt.  Starting again here. The rough-cut blank craft foam with 1/2" holes drilled to clear the screws protruding inside the visor shell. The blank protrudes front of the helmet sides. Cutting to fit inside the helmet sides. Fits inside the helmet sides now. It's going to trim nicely to meet the vinyl neck visor. Double-sided fabric tape from Walmart is extremely sticky and will create a permanent bond. Left ear with double-sided fabric tape applied, with tape backing still in place. Double-sided fabric tape around rear edge and interior. Right ear fabric-taped. Working from left ear around to right ear, remove portions of tape backing and secure padding in stages. Secure padding to left ear area before peeling backing off remaining taped areas. Sticks very well. Next remove tape backing from rear area. Showing rear area tape backing ready for peeling off. Rear taped area ready for sticking the padding to it. And finally, remove tape backing from right ear and press padding into place. Craft foam padding is now securely bonded to the vinyl neck visor. Front view of bonded padding. Side view of bonded padding. Rear view of bonded padding. Use a razor blade to rough-cut the padding. Rough cut complete. Be very precise, and with a short cutting action, use the vinyl as the blade's guide. Use a sliver of a razor blade to navigate the tight curves of the ear areas. Final cut of the neck padding complete. Looks good, but blade leaves a lot of cut marks on the padding. Use 320 grit sandpaper on craft foam to reduce jagged cut lines. Final neck visor looks really good.  The vinyl backing will stand the test of time over craft foam alone.

May 1, 2017: Helmet Base Coat Complete, Ready for Line Art

After two coats of enamel primer 1000-grit sanded, I applied two coats of flat white enamel. The helmet is now ready for line artwork to begin. For the line work, I'll use painter's tape to mask each line and I'll apply flat black enamel using this new airbrush kit I got. Looks like fun!

Final base coat applied, ready for line artwork.
Final base coat applied, ready for line artwork.
This new airbrush looks like fun!
This new airbrush looks like fun!

May 9, 2017: Helmet Line Art is Underway

Whew, it's a lot of work to mask off the helmet to paint a few lines black! But the results are well worth it. This is the first of probably 3 to 4 masking/airbrushing iterations (each should be simpler than the previous). The flat white "canvas" of the helmet along with the flat black circuit lines results in an amazing prop replica. The original prop helmets used black tape for the circuit patterns. I'm hoping that once my painted line art is topped off with flat clear, the helmet will have a very durable finish that should outlast the adhesive of any tape or pin-striping material.

My decent helmet from 2016 is in the background.  New helmet promises to be more authentic to the props. Masking is a tedious process, requiring much patience and precision - and trial and error. Ready for first airbrushing! Ready for first airbrushing! Airbrushing is a lot of fun.  The quality of the masking job will determine the quality of the lines. First airbrushing phase complete! It feels so good to see such crisp lines emerge from the mist. A pile of tape long in the making! I'm very pleased with this first iteration.

May 14, 2017: Helmet Line Art, Phase 2

This phase of masking and airbrushing was focused on the finer lines on the rear of the helmet, the side bumpers, and the areas in front of the ears. This finishes up those areas, save for the round dots here and there, and square dashes that have to be applied to the ends of some of the circuit lines - these touches will be in the final phase. But the next phase will be the helmet brow and crown. For now, please enjoy the pictures below.

It took me about 2 hours to mask off these curved pinstripes... ...and times two on that. I love this part, where it seems impossible that this process could work. But the process does work - such clean lines.  There is some under-spray where tape lifts, but a razor blade cleans that up nicely. Onto the side bumpers.  Not shown is that I taped off the frontal ear portions too. Pretty much bulk-masked the whole helmet, as the angles required to airbrush all of this results in lots of overspray. Starting to take shape, isn't it?

May 22, 2017: Helmet Line Art, Phase 3 (brow area)

With about 8 hours of work, I taped and airbrushed the front (brow) of the helmet. I've learned that straight lines are the hardest. There are some square dashes to put on the ends of two of the lines, which I will do in the final phase. Next phase - and last major area - will be the crown.

Getting the spacing right - and everything perfectly straight - is very difficult. Kinda reminds me of Daft Punk. Fun, fun, fun. The 2 shorter lines will have square dashes at their ends after the final phase.

May 28, 2017: Helmet Line Art, Phase 4 (the crown)

The crown is complete, and this finishes the last area of the helmet. The patterns of the crown were the most difficult to lay out and replicate. Also completed squares and dashes. Circles remain to be done, along with final touch-up prior to matte clear coating. The tape lifted small chips of white paint here and there, so that will require airbrushing with flat white in the touch-up phase.

Paper cutter makes the thinnest pinstripes possible. Feels like the rings of Saturn. Trial and error.  And trial.  And error. it. First pass at crown - the horizontals (mostly). Horizontals complete, now for the verticals. Second pass at crown - the verticals. Top two squares and dashes above ear. Top two squares and dashes above ear. Dashes at ends of brow minor lines. All that remains are circles at some circuit ends, touch-up, and matte clear.

June 11, 2017: The Completed Kevin Flynn Helmet

After airbrushing 36 circles, final touch-up, and spraying a matte clear top coat, I am proud to announce that the Kevin Flynn replica prop helmet from TRON (1982) is complete!

There are 36 circles of 3 different sizes. Vinyl tape to cover vent holes.  These are covered in actual prop helmet, but I open for wearing. Note misalignment of center lines of front and rear shells.  Evidently this molding was a bit off.

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