I get a lot of e-mails asking me all sorts of questions about the armor I make, so to make things easier, I figured I'd put them all here for people to see!
And remember, these are all real questions that I've gotten over the years.
I'm ordering from outside the US, how do I place an order?
The Store has now been fixed, so it does (finally) calculate international shipping all by itself. If you see a problem with the calculations, be sure to let me know.
Shipping to Europe is approximately $60 for a full set of armor, to most of Canada is $30, and to Asia, Australia or New Zealand is $70. Also, shipping in the US is $30. These prices are based on the USPS shipping charges and as they raise their prices, these prices may change. Ultimately, the PayPal check out store will charge the correct shipping costs.
I did recently begin
charging shipping for the high end items in the US, and this is because
the US Postal Service has raised it's rates to the point where I can
no longer eat that cost. Sorry!
Check the cost of
shipping here: Shipping Rates.
Do you ship your suits to other countries?
Actually, I think I ship more sets of armor the Europe than I do in the US. Here's a short list of countries I've shipped armor to:
Japan, Romania, France, Holland, Germany, Australia, Norway, England, Sweden, New Zealand, Spain, Hong Kong, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, and of course, just about all 50 states in the US.
How do you ship the armor and how long does it take?
In the US, I ship everything via USPS Priority Mail (2-3 days). Internationally, I ship via USPS International Priority (generally 5-10 days).
But remember, this is just the shipping time, not the time it takes for me to make the armor.
What is the armor made out of?
The armor I currently make is made from black .100 gauge HIPS. It's about 1/8" thick High Impact Styrene plastic with a steel pot helmet (or optional plastic helmet). HIPS is a hybrid of Styrene and ABS, so it's flexible but not prone to cracking.
How accurate is your armor to the ones used in the film?
I'd say it's about 80%. My armor was made by eye based on stills from the film, and later from measurements taken from the original suits. So while not 100% accurate, they are pretty damned close. (Since posting this comment, I have gotten a lot of e-mails telling me that the armor is a lot more accurate than 80% and that I'm selling myself short.)
Can your armor be used for Airsofting or Paintballing?
Yes, and no. While the armor will easily take a paintball, or airsoft BB, even at point blank range with no problem, I worry about all the running through the woods, scraping up against things, tumbling and jumping, etc. The paint will probably scratch off, or at least get all sorts of messed up. If you don't care, go for it. Just remember, the knee armor is not meant to be abused the same way a real pair of kneepads are. They do not offer real knee protection, so dropping to your knees can hurt, and may crack the knee armor.
Another point to remember, the helmet is made of REAL steel. It's heavy. And I don't include any straps for it. Mostly for this reason. It will be tough to keep on your head. Though the new plastic helmet would work better, but you would still need to add some sort of chin strap to it yourself.
Has the armor been used for airsofting? Sure. In fact, as of this writing I've outfitted 3 full Airsoft Teams. One of which was written up in Airsoft International Magazine:
I've personally never tried wearing the armor for Paintballing or Airsofting, so I can't give a 100% positive decision. The armor can take a lot of punishment, but it is expensive to risk running through the woods or a building while wearing. Personally, I like to wear the lightest, most flexible clothing in those situations, but it's all up to you.
Russ decided to test out my armor and see if it would survive. Using the weapons shown below he had at the armor. Note, he was using white plastic (I use black now), and the plastic was unpainted.
From 10' away, 20 rounds will leave these marks.
And of course, 200 rounds at point blank range will make a bigger mess, and 400 rounds will finally make a hole! I think the whole point is, don't stand there and take 400 rounds from 2" away all in the same area!
If you have any questions about this test, contact Russ:
Are there any websites for Costumers and Marines?
Sure! Check out Colonial Marines.net, and the Aliens Legacy Message Board.
What are the names of the different Armor Components?
I have a lot of problems with terminology and descriptions of the different parts of the armor, so I finally decided to post a little artwork:
Click the image to see a larger view. This way we're all on the same page when describing the armor parts. I don't know if this is what the real names are, but this is what I call them.
I'm X'X", and I weigh XXX. Will your armor fit me?
Sadly, I have no idea. Height and weight really say nothing about the size of a person. I personally have seen the armor fit perfectly on someone 6'2" tall, 270 pounds, and onto someone 5'2" tall, 105 pounds. But even two people who are the same height and weight can be completely differently shaped. Obviously, the best way to know if it will fit you is to try a suit on, but that's not usually feasible. But hopefully, using the measurements here and of the Ab Pad below, you should have a better idea if it has a chance of fitting you or not.
How do I know what size Ab Pad I need?
Measure yourself from crotch to sternum, and from hip bone to hip bone and compare it to the Ab Pad sizes to see which one will fit best:
The Regular Pad is 13" wide, and 21 " tall, and the Large is 15" wide, and 23 " tall.
If the Ab Pad is too short from top to bottom, it will pull out from under the chest armor. Too long will make no real difference, except that the Kidney Plate attached to the Ab Pad may bump into the chest armor. The good part is that the sizes make little difference from side to side. It it's too big, it will wrap around and not look too bad, and if it's too short, it still won't look too bad. So just make sure it fits top to bottom.
Does the helmet come in different sizes?
Steel Pot helmets are kind of one size fits all. But the liner is what actually rests on your head. The issued liners are very adjustable, but if you have a really, really big head, there's a chance the liner will not be able to adjust big enough. And if you add in an IR sight, it will be way too snug. What you can do in that case is skip the liner all together and just line the inside of the helmet with foam padding. We will no longer be offering Liners with our helmets, as the liners are becoming incredibly rare and hard to find.
Why the change in the price of armor?
Well, since the armor is about 80% plastic, and since plastic is a Petroleum product, the cost of materials used in making the armor has almost doubled in the last year. I was very happy with the old price, but the fact is, the material costs are skyrocketing so the price of the armor had to go up. But this is only the third price increase in 5 years. If the prices in materials ever come down, or I find new suppliers that can get me better pricing, I will bring the price back down.
So as of May 15th, 2008 there will be another $50 increase in the price of armor. Sorry! But again, this is only the third increase in price in over 5 years, so it's not so bad. I assure you, the armor is still worth a lot more!
I need the armor for Halloween (or any specific date), how soon do I need to place my order?
Honestly, just to be safe, you should be sure to place your order 12 months before the event you need the armor for. Also, be sure to contact me and let me know what date you need the armor for, so I can make sure it's done in time. Don't wait until the week before the event and then tell me you need the armor rushed. It won't happen.
Can I just buy a helmet?
Of course! Check out the SpatCave Store!
Is there a discount if I order more than one set of armor, or if I order multiple Pulse Rifle kits from your website?
Of course! E-mail me and we can discuss it.
I placed an order recently, and now I want to add something to it. How do I do that?
The easiest way for me is if you just place a new order for the items through the store. This way I'll have the correct receipts for them. Then e-mail me and let me know to add those items to your existing order (be sure to remind me when and what you ordered before). I'll combine the two orders and refund the difference in shipping.
Do you sell the Shoulder Lamp, Motion Tracker, or any other parts of the Marine gear like the Cloth parts, or boots?
No, just what you see in the Store. Sorry.
But after hundreds of e-mails asking me these same questions over and over again, I decided to make a list!
Most of this list is taken from Colonial Marines.net, and the Aliens Legacy Message Board. Two places you should check out first, all the info on costumes you could ever need can be found there.
Shoulder Lamp --------- Try Matt (though I know he's running out of materials for them) Matsucorp
Boots --------- (Taken from ColonialMarines.net) Altama Footwear, or IMS-Plus The Screen Used Boots had 'Panama Jungle' Soles.
The SpatCave Store
Patches ----------- Intergalactic Trading
Belt Tool ---------- The SpatCave Store
Headset ------------- The SpatCave Store
Matt again - Matsucorp
Smartgun Rig and Harness - Matsucorp
Smartgun Battery ----------- The SpatCave Store
Hand Welder -----------------
The SpatCave Store
The SpatCave Store
Grenades ---------- The SpatCave Store
Motion Tracker ----------
The SpatCave Store
Knife --------- The
Knife used in the film for the "Thing with the knife trick"
was a Gerber MK II. You can get one of these on e-bay for about $200,
or a resin version from me ------------------The
More to come as I get more sources.
How long does it take to make one set of armor?
If I do nothing else (and remember, making Marine armor is NOT my full time job, though it does sometimes feel like it) I can make a set of armor in 5 days. But, since this is something I do as a hobby, I can't devote that much time to it, so it usually takes me 2 weeks to make a set. To make it easier, I do make multiple suits at once, usually 2 or 3 sets at a time. There are occasional delays in the making of the armor, since making armor is not my full time job. This is actually a hobby of mine, and there are times where real life, and my actual work gets in the way of the free time I need to make Armor. I hope you can all understand that.
the time the order is places, it can take a few months for the armor
to be ready to ship out, and sometimes it can take more.
I saw a set of Marine armor on that Auction site for $XXX.XX. How come yours is so much more expensive?
Every set of Marine armor is made by me. Not by my crew, or by other people working here in the shop. Only by me. I vacc it, I cut it out, I sand and drill and slot it. I paint it, I detail it. I strap and pad it. I also sew the ab pads, and assemble the helmet. It is all done by me, by hand. And again, it takes 5 full, 10 hour days to make. Less the costs of the materials involved in making a suit, that comes to less than $5 per hour for all my time and energy. But the fact is, my suits are incredibly well made, and as they say, you get what you pay for. There's a reason why other suits are sold so cheaply.
Can I get the armor unpainted?
Since I paint the armor first, before it's strapped, if I send it to
you unpainted you would have to remove all the strapping to paint it
completely. I've tried to go back and paint under the strapping and
it's almost impossible for me (though other people have managed to do
it). And it's very messy. Also, removing the strapping from the armor
has a very good chance of damaging the armor. So for all those reasons
and more, the armor always comes with at least the base OD, or Dark
Green paint (or Flat Black).
send you your armor in "Pristine" condition, meaning that
I won't add the little metal scratch marks. Just be sure to mention
that when you place your order.
I want my armor to have the same exact camo pattern as the ones in the movie, can you do that?
Well, the short answer is No.
The camo pattern
on the armor in the films was hand painted, so even though my armor
is now hand painted as well, I just can't specifically match the actual
armor used in the film 100%. Also remember that each actor had multiple
sets of armor, and each one is painted slightly differently.
Also, we don't do
the custom "graffiti" used on the armor in the film.
BUT, I do know someone who will paint your armor for you, and will not charge you a crazy, outrageous price.
Check out Screamin' Eagles Studios, and tell him Spat sent you! He is located in the UK, so you will be paying quite a bit for shipping your armor to him and back, but it will still end up cheaper than some of the other painters out there.
How accurate are the colors that you paint the armor with?
The current "Spataflage"
is color matched to the original colored paints used in the films. But
remember, my camo pattern is airbrushed on, so my paint will always
look lighter than the screen used items. Also, the pics I take of the
armor have a flash on, so that lightens the look even more.
Also, I try to replicate
items that I saw on film. So I always try to get the colors I use to
look like the colors I saw on screen when I watched the movie. Some
people want to replicate the colors of the armor and items to the way
they looked to the actors on set. I don't do that.
Remember, I send you the armor with some basic wear and tear painting work done, but to make it look like it's been in battle, you'll need to do some work on your own. I have a Tips and Tricks page where I give some basic info on distressing the armor more. But remember, all the suits in the film were covered in a graphite powder to make them look more grungy. Without that coating on the armor, it will always look more clean and new than the ones used in the film. I don't fully weather the armor, since there's no way to say for sure how far I should go with each set, so I leave that up to the buyer to sit down and detail and distress their armor to make it their own. It's not difficult to do, and makes the armor look a lot more Marine when you're done!
How come the Movie Camo paint job is so much more expensive than the other options?
In the simplest terms, airbrushing a full set of armor takes about a half hour and uses very little paint, while hand painting takes about 2.5 hours and a lot of paint. Both paint jobs use the exact same paints, just that a lot more is used in hand painting than in airbrushing, since to airbrush it, the paint is thinned down. Also, once the armor is hand painted, I go over it with the smoke powder to darken it and make it look grimy, then it gets clear coated, and after the hand painted armor is strapped, I paint over the rivets to complete the set. So the extra price is due to all the extra labor that goes into hand painting a suit to make it look just like it did on film!
I plan on painting the armor myself, is the OD Green that you use the best base coat to start with?
personally I think the Dark Green is almost an exact match to the original
color intended, but for many years now people have told me that they
like the OD Green best. So who knows. I think a lot of people assume
that Olive Drab seems like the best choice for anything remotely military,
but there wasn't much (if any) OD Green used on the costumes and props
of the film. So it's all up to the buyer. When in doubt, I still
say Dark Green is the best in my opinion.
What's up with the Plastic Helmets?
Well, since the steel helmet weighs over 4 pounds, it can get a bit uncomfortable to wear after a while. So, I decided to offer a light weight version, weighing only 2 pounds! These look almost identical to the steel ones, but are half the weight! These also work better with Airsofting and Paintballing (if you add a chin strap to it) than the steel ones will.
Can you make me a set of armor in Metal?
Nope, just plastic. Sorry.
Can I add a real Pentax lens to your helmet?
Yes you can! And
it's pretty easy. The lens on my helmet cameras just screw off. In the
empty socket, the locking lugs that hold the real Pentax lens are molded
into the camera, so all you have to do is place the new Pentax lens
into the socket and then twist it to lock it into place. Of course,
I do recommend that you use some super glue or at least hot glue in
the socket to ensure that it stays in place and doesn't unscrew itself
at an inopportune moment. You can generally find the Pentax 110 lens
on e-bay pretty cheaply. Be sure to get the 18mm one - f 2.8/18mm Pentax-110.
I have my own Steel Pot helmet, can I just send it to you to convert it into a Marine helmet? Would that save me some money?
Well, since I get the helmets in bulk for about $15 each, it's not going to save you much money by sending me your helmet. Since you have to pay a shipping charge to get it to me, you may actually end up paying more. Sorry.
Can I get the armor in kit form? That's a lot of money for a costume.
Sorry, the armor only comes complete and ready to wear. I don't ship out any of my armor parts in kit form. I have thought about selling kits, but the fact is, I like knowing that each suit that ships out is complete and ready to go right out of the box. If I sent it out in kit form, someone could attempt to build it, screw it all up and have it end up looking like crap. Then people would see the armor and assume that I make crappy armor, while it's really all about the kit builder's lack of skills. So to avoid that, I make every set of armor myself. This ensures that every suit of mine that you see out there looks amazing, and meets my high standards of quality. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who could assemble a kit version of my armor better than I can, but the fact is, I like making the armor, so I'll keep doing it.
I have my own Steel Pot helmet, can I just buy the other helmet parts from you (Camera, Lens, Ear Flap, Lobster Plates, Frontal Lobe Plate, and Mic), so I can assemble it myself?
Check the store. I now offer some helmet parts in kit form.
How do I upgrade my shoulder armor to make it more comfortable and less likely to break?
Check it out here!
Can you send me instructions on how to make the armor myself?
Not really. It took myself and 4 friends over 9 months and $2,000 to make the first suit. It would take me less time to make a set of armor than it would for me to explain how to make it to you.
The ear flap on my helmet sticks out when I wear it. How do I get it to stay tighter to my head?
I see that a lot. You need a helmet band. It's a simple elastic band
(sometimes with reflective "Cat Eyes" on the back of it) made
for helmets. This slips onto the helmet, and when slid down to the bottom
edge of the helmet, pulls the ear flap in and keeps it against the head.
It also creates a place on the helmet for you to stick a Grenade, Ace
of Spades, or pack of smokes!
I just attach a Shoulder Lamp to the Back Brackets and be all set?
does not include any brackets that attach to the shoulder lamp. The
back brackets on my armor match the ones used in the film, but they
never actually attached to anything, they are considered "General
Use Brackets", and in theory, pouches, bags or other equipment
would attach to them. A shoulder lamp attaches to 2 special brackets
that are not included with my armor, for 2 reasons. 1 - without a lamp,
one of the brackets is a heavy steel bar sticking straight out from
the back of your armor which could hurt someone; and 2 - because each
lamp maker's lamp is different, and it would be impossible to get all
of them to line up with the brackets that I would include. Once you
attach your lamp to your armor, there is very little chance of any other
lamp actually fitting in its place. They are very unique.
Generally, the lamp
maker should include brackets that are made to fit their lamp (be sure
to check before you order, though). Once you get the lamp and brackets,
you will need to attach the brackets to the lamp, line them up on the
back of the armor, mark where it lays, and then drill holes and attach
the brackets yourself with either screws, or rivets. Remember to reinforce
the inside of the back armor with some plastic (1/8" thick at least)
or something similar, where the screws or rivets from the lamp are going
to go. If not, there is a chance of the back armor breaking or cracking
from all that extra stress put on it from the weight of the lamp being
focused on those tiny screws.
Also, once the lamp
is attached, you may notice that it bounces, or flops a bit. This can
be due to the brackets not being snug enough, or sometimes just happens
because of the size and weight of the lamp. To make sure that it won't
wobble or fall off, I like to run a single 1" screw from inside
the back armor, into the lamp body. Make sure the batteries are out
of the lamp before you do this! It's a simple trick, and will keep the
lamp in place, but can easily be unscrewed if you want to take the lamp
off and store it. Just be sure that if you're wearing the armor without
the lamp, wrap the lamp bracket in some kind of padding to prevent injury.
Is it possible that you can give me the complete sizes for the armor so that I can create a set myself? That would be great. Thanks a lot.
Uh... no. Why would I do that?
Any tips on customizing the armor?
Sure! Check out my Tips and Tricks page!
I noticed that the original armor had green buckles and webbing. Why are yours black?
Actually, the original
armor had very little green webbing. Most of it was black webbing
that was painted green. The buckles were painted green as well. Since
the buckles take a lot of abuse, the paint tends to scratch off them
very easily. I do now offer green webbing and buckles, but can do
them in black if you'd like.
Can you custom make a set of armor to look just like the armor worn by Hudson, or Hicks, etc?
No. Sadly, I don't
have the time to do any custom painting on the armor. Nor can we use
custom paints for the base coat.
I have come across an odd plastic that can be molded by hand when boiled, and I would like to make Marine Armor out of it, using two sets of your armor, un-painted, with no straps, and no helmet, just the plastic armor pieces and maybe a camera mold, i will pay to use these pieces for 1 week upon arrival, and i am willing to sell it on your website and give you 50% of the profits, the percent of profits for you is negotiable. I will make some sets and send you one to let you see how you like it, and if you don't like it, or if it needs a few touch-ups on paint or scratches, I would be happy for any advice. But this is only if you are willing to let me rent 2 sets of armor with no straps, and no paint and no helmet.
Sometimes I wonder why I even bother answering my e-mails.
Can you refer me to where I could get a replica suit of a suit from the movie Scarface?
Why do they all find me?