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 Post subject: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2016 11:27 pm 
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Location: Dallas, TX, USA
I've held onto my DPCA for 20 years now. As with many of them, it arrived very misshaped. I've stored it in a closet for most of this time. Yet it was pulled from the same or similar mold as the DPDLX, so we know there's a decent shape in there somewhere. Some have done amazing jobs modifying their DPCAs to the point where it looks almost screen-used in accuracy. Others have destroyed their's trying. With some help, I'm going to try to coax mine back into shape.

I found that I could wrap a rubber band around the base of the mask to narrow it. I'd left it there for a few weeks, and when I removed it I was surprised to find that it stayed in that position without the rubber band. Though after a few days it slowly started to release back to its original shape. I'm afraid to use a heat gun on it, but I have tried using black-dyed instamorph inside the mask/dome to secure a revised shape.

Here's what I'm starting with (a bit of work to be done here!):

Image

Here's a pic provided by dcarty of the Don Post Deluxe master which provides a good reference of what the DPCA should look like:

Image

With a few clamps and a bunch of rubber bands I can get it roughly into this shape:

Image

Now the question is how to make this shape permanent without destroying it!


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:46 am 
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The thing with vinyl, you don't need a heat gun. A simple hair dryer or putting it in hot water will soften it up. Though, vinyl has memory, but if it has stayed in a flared out position for too long, then the memory changes from how it was when it was cast to how it's been flared for a while, so whatever fix will not pull it back into the "coming out of the mold shape", but will revert back into the flared state. It all depends on what quality vinyl was used. One thing when doing the heat mod and you plan on adding something on the inside to make it keep it's shape - after you've heated it and gotten it into the shape you want, heat it again and then freeze it. The switch from heated and pliable to cold and rigid helps keep it's shape for longer while you work on adding the shape filler on the inside. Cold water is not enough in this instance - you need to put it into a freezer for half an hour to an hour or something similar. I'm not entirely sure of how long, since it's been a while since I read the tip and it was for smaller sixth scale figures and not a large full scale helmet.

Something like apoxie sculpt in a thin layer on the inside will adhere to the vinyl and force it to keep it's shape. However, knocking it, you may loosen the bond, but you can always glue it back together if it lets go using cyanoacrylate glue or super glue. Don't use hot glue as it will soften the vinyl and you can risk warping things. Using apoxie sculpt you apply a small area of about 10-15 cm in diameter at a time, use water to smooth it out more on the inside of the mask and hold shape in place until it hardens - most important step. It's a really small, but also slightly elastic material when applied to thinly, but will keep the vinyl in shape, but will "breathe" with the vinyl with temperature changes, compared to a super rigid material that doesn't expand and retract as much and will more easily snap the bond between it and the vinyl.

Hope this makes sense.


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:18 am 
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Thanks for the tips NHM.

I used a heat gun on the inside of the dome for a few minutes at the lowest temperature setting (250 F) from a distance. Because of the distance, the air hitting the dome probably wasn't more than about 130 F. After putting in the freezer it does hold its shape, but it does start to return back to its memory shape as it warms up without the rubber bands / clamps in place. I probably should have maintained the heat on the dome longer or slightly hotter, but I don't want to risk melting it. So I'll keep those rubber bands/clamps on when applying apoxy-sculpt. I may buy some black dye available for apoxy-sculpt before applying it inside the dome, and likely paint the mask and the dome with spray paint that is vinyl-compatible (though gunmetal might be tough to find).

For the mask, I only used instamorph with available black dye pellets mixed in. Similar to how I used this on my DPDLX mount, I was trying to find specific points where it could be used to hold the desired reshape. It stays in place less due to its slightly adhesive properties against vinyl and more from placing it so that it creates a mechanical brace. This is easy to add to separate two surfaces. But where you need a "pull" against a surface you need a complementary "push". There are lots of nooks and crannies where this can be done inside the mask, but it would be difficult to do on the dome unless I placed it all the way around the inside of the it. Instamorph that's spread about 1mm thick is flexible, but exponentially becomes quite solid as you increase thickness. 3-5 mm thickness is very solid and holds that shape really well against opposing pressure.

I applied instamorph inside the mask at several places to narrow it. I first added it to the sides, but that wasn't sufficient to narrow the bottom of the neck. If I pulled back on the top of the mask, it would narrow the neck, but that also wasn't sufficient. Finally, adding a thick strip near the base of the neck, braced at the return edge and inside the back of the hollows of the tubes. I applied that strip slightly hotter than usual (about 160 F) to make it stick better all along the extent of it.

I'm pleased with how the mask looks now, and it's holding in place fine after a week:

DPCA mask with instamorph applied where circled in red:
Image
DPCA mask front:
Image
DPCA mask right:
Image
DPCA mask left:
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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 10:41 am 
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I'm making progress with reshaping the dome, slowly but surely. I know the shape I want, but the dome is putting up a good fight to keep its original shape!

Some application of heat is needed as I found none of instamorph, apoxie sculpt, nor Loctite for Plastic would hold the reshaped dome where the tension needed was greatest. The best way I found to apply heat is holding the dome under running hot water from the kitchen faucet. At 140 degrees F, it's plenty hot to soften the vinyl. I then apply strips of industrial strength velcro (just the sticky side, not the fuzzy side) to the inside of the dome in the area reshaped and then put the dome in the freezer. After an hour or so, I take it out and let it thaw for about 10 minutes while I'm heating up a batch of instamorph. I stretch the instamorph out into flat strips about 1/4" thick and press it into the velcro. I do this because the instamorph often won't stick to the vinyl, the adhesive on the velcro is fairly strong, and the instamorph as it cools makes a firm connection to the velcro.

The photos here are its current state. It's a definite improvement from how it started out, but it's still not quite how I want it. It flares just a tad too much, and it is a bit too short. Some of this is appearances due to the taller mount, but is also due to a slight concavity that runs all around the dome about 1/3 up the flange from the bottom. This is where the vinyl is the thinnest. If I can push that concavity out from the inside to straighten it, that will add height to the dome as well as pull in the sides at the front. I'm close to having it the way I want it to look! Then I can look into fixing up the rest of the helmet (new grill, two-tone paint, etc.).

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 8:34 pm 
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I pulled in the lower right part of the dome to decrease the flare a bit. But with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case it caused or accentuated more of a outward bow on that side near the corner of the eye I need to fix next.

Image

From this viewpoint I took about 60 consecutive pictures with different lighting angles and applied single-pixel median and max filtering with the following results.

The median filtering brought out an interesting result for the right cheek. And the max filtering... well it just looks eerie!

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 10:44 pm 
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I think your progress is looking awesome! I've actually worked on reshaping my DPCA since the day I got it. Even after acquiring some very accurate helmets, for some reason I feel the need to get the most out of this humble gem from the beginning of my prop collecting days. I've gone as far a replacing the dome with a fiberglass one, getting some satisfactory results. However I do believe the factory dome can be shaped and modified to something awesome with some time and effort. I'm not sure if you have already done this but in order to get a better dome position, you have to cut and lower the mounting T on top of the face mask. Its a scary mod if you are afraid of damaging the mask ( or perhaps you dont want to affect the structural integrity of the mask) but it gets the best results possible for this project.

Here is an old picture of my DPCA with its original dome. At this point I had already cut the mounting T and reattached it lower. See what a difference it makes?!?!

Image

And here is the DPCA as it is today with its replacement dome.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 4:09 am 
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Thanks! Well I must say you're the one responsible for me taking on this project. After seeing your Vader display with your modified DPCA mask, that was the kick in the butt for me to see what I could do with mine. It's been a fun project to work on, even more so now that it's getting close to its "final" shape ( I put that in quotes because often times these projects go on and on when you see something just slightly amiss later you just *have* to fix).

The mask was fairly easy to change but the dome I wasn't sure if it could be corrected or even if there was enough material there to give it sufficient height. Thanks for posting that picture with the original dome as you modified it. It does look to be the right height in proportion to the mask.

I agree about the need to trim the T-mount on the mask to get it into a more accurate position. It's quite the optical illusion making it appear to short with it being just a bit too high and tilted too far forward. Unfortunately as I've gotten the dome and a mask shape closer to what it should be, I find that the entire T-mount surface fits flush against the inside of the dome. Which is a good sign I guess, but that also means I would have to trim or somehow melt a good chunk of the back of the T-mount to go lower and tilt back. And I'd also might lose some of the Lucasfilm and Don Post imprints on that part of the mask. Sigh... I think for the time being I'll just let it to have the Hoth Invasion / Don Bies Christie's Vader look.

Do you recall what kind of paint you used on yours? I know of the Dupli-Color vinyl and fabric flexible finish spray paint which is available in gloss black and charcoal grey which might work well.


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 9:22 pm 
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Evaluating what it would take to lower the dome and increase the tilt angle, pretty much the entire T mount of the mask would need to be pressed down or removed. I do have an ebay mystery helmet with a mask about the same size as the DPCA (but with a lower hat mount design) shown here with my modified DPCA dome. It gives me an idea of how much better the DPCA would look with the T mount mod. It looks pretty good, and a lot better than the dome the ebay helmet came with (which is what Vader might look like on a speeder bike going 300 mph the way it flares out).

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 6:31 pm 
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Still working on this helmet, striving to keep the original DPCA mask and dome paired together... probably have consumed more BTU's with my heat gun than the average household in Denmark uses all winter. But I'm determined to transform this ugly duckling into a swan.

Here's the latest update, now with different lenses I thermoformed myself from a sheet of smoke color transparent acrylic and a tablespoon, and some simulated wire mesh which is actually just an instamorph molding of the DPDLX mesh. All velcro and instamorph has been removed from the dome; the reshaped vinyl has been "trained" sufficiently to do without. The only painting done so far is redoing the nose. But I have spray paint for vinyl staged and ready to start shaking!

Image


Image


Image


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:05 am 
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Looking great.

Though, you should know, you can't "train" vinyl to not warp. You need some sort of strengthening to keep things in place.


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:35 pm 
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Thanks! That's true. I did leave the hardened instamorph inside the mask. Still fiddling with the DPCA dome. The right side of the dome is still a bit too short. Or looks that way at least. Twisting the mask so that the right side raised up slightly helped, which also made the mask alone look more correct. But I think I will end up trimming or melting down some of the T mount from the mask to allow the dome to sit lower.

I'll try adding a length of instamorph inside the dome along edges to secure the shape and maybe augment the return edges while I'm at it. I think I need to increase the depth of eye sockets also.


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 8:31 pm 
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Found a source for mesh at customcargrills.com in their scrap section. A nice 12 by 12 inch sheet of their silver small diamond mesh for $15. The size of it is close ANH, maybe a tad smaller. But at least my DPCA now has proper wire grill. I may hit it with a light spray of gunmetal paint to cut the Menthos bling a bit!

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:42 pm 
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Nah, that looks to be ANH size - you even got the positioning about just right. Looks great. :)

I wouldn't repaint it with gunmetal. If anything you could dull it with washes of matt black.


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 Post subject: Re: Reshaping a Don Post Classic Action (DPCA)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:42 am 
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No Humor Man wrote:
Nah, that looks to be ANH size - you even got the positioning about just right. Looks great. :)

I wouldn't repaint it with gunmetal. If anything you could dull it with washes of matt black.

Ok great. Haven't painted it yet. Thanks for the tip!


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