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By CreamGingerly
#4972567
Hey everybody!

I thought I'd post to show off three of the most recent packs that have been brought into the world, and also to give major props to Chris of the Lost Wax YouTube channel, a true master of EVA foam. I'm sure most of you here are probably aware of his series of videos on crafting a pack from a floor foam mat and other cheaply, locally sourced/thrifted items, and after having gone through the process not once...not twice...but three times, I can attest to the awesomeness of his plans and tutorials.

I'll spare you the step-by-step of the build, as my process follows Chris' pretty closely. I'd say about 85-90% of the build are straight out of the Lost Wax vids, and the remaining innovations are largely from the fantastic scratch-build thread by Astyanax, with a few ideas here and there from other builds (though now I can't remember what came from where, but chances are if you've ever posted a build thread here, I've poured over it while working on these!)

I also wanted to make this post because while so many of the other pack builds here are stunning, more screen-accurate, and feature a variety of special effects and sounds, it's quite an investment (both time and money) to pull off a build at that level. I think the Lost Wax build is a great foundation for a budget pack builder that also wants to get as close as possible to a realistic looking pack for a fraction of the budget. And if you're a seasoned builder, you'll see all sorts of opportunities where things could be improved, made more sturdy, or elevate the look of the pack, which is what I tried to do where I could.

While I did want to incorporate the cyclotron and power cell lights, I didn't want to go as far as building out the lights in the wand or including sound, since the purpose of these packs is largely for myself and a couple other dads to wear while we're taking our kids around Trick or Treating (and possibly for an office costume contest), and they just need to look cool while we're walking around the neighborhood. I also didn't elect to do any additional texture on these, as the foam did look pretty cool on it's own after a coat of Plasti-Dip, and the thought of masking off all those fins on three packs sounded exhausting, so that saved a lot of time (and a few cans of truck bed liner spray, too).

So here are the finished packs, and I'll also include a few close-ups of various parts as well.
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The light kit came from eBay (yeah, that seller in Bulgaria you may have seen!) and they work great (here's a short video), are speed adjustable (I have a small, removable panel that allows you to get in the shell and change it without having to take apart the whole thing), and can run on a single 9V battery. I opted for 6 AA batteries and added my own case and switch to make it easy to access from outside the pack. We can even reach back and flip the packs on and off while we're wearing them, too.
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Here are a couple of early process photos, one showing the inside of the (mostly) complete shell,
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and one right after the first few coats of Plasti-Dip were applied.
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Chris doesn't use it in his build but there was no way I wanted to brush paint three of these, so after heat sealing everything with a heat gun I hit them with the Plasti-Dip so I could use spray paint. I gotta say, that was the real turning point of the project for me, because up until that first coat everything still looked like a bunch of foam bent and glued together (and my foam craft is not nearly as neat and tidy as the tutorial videos) and I wasn't sure if these were gonna look good, or just very "crafternoon-ish". But what a difference the Plasti-Dip makes! I could have gone even further with the Kwik Seal to get all the seams perfect, and then with a coat of texture on top I'd say you could really get a foam shell to look almost as good as anything you'd buy in a kit. But again -- building three at a time, there were many times where "that's good enough" was the operative phrase of the day.

Another key difference in the route I took vs. the Lost Wax videos was adding some reinforcements, notably in the gun mount, and adding a few 1" square dowels for strength and a place to bolt the motherboard to the shell. In the videos, Chris has to cut the shell to go back in to add supports for the v-hook and pack frame -- because, hey, was making a lot of this up as he went along! -- but now that we all have the benefit of his hindsight, building those features in before sealing everything up is a peice of cake. And speaking of the v-hook, his PVC/wood solution for that is fantastic, surprisingly easy to do, and of course dirt-cheap.

Chris also has a rather ingenious method of building a scratch-built PVC Alice frame, but adding the cost of getting a rivet gun and all the straps and padding I'd need, it made more sense to me to just go with some Army surplus frames. Amazingly, Quartermaster Supply, which was mentioned way back in Norm Gagnon's plans from 2001, is still around and was able to source three used frames at a great price. If you're struggling with with finding a frame locally and are leery of the reviews of the ones on Amazon, give them a call. The guy was super friendly, and yes, is very familar with the needs of the many would-be Ghostbusters he's helped out over the years.

A lot of the fittings, bolts, knobs, switches, lights and other materials came from the amazing surplus store in my neighborhood (if you happen to live in Minnesota, don't sleep on Ax-Man -- they are incredible!), which I think added an extra layer of realism over the scratch-built options in the videos. And I got lucky with the ribbon cable with someone on eBay selling NOS (new old stock) vintage Spectra Strip from 1981! No, it isn't GBII accurate, and certainly not Fincher-level GB1 style, but for the cost of one modern GBII cable, I was able to get enough of this stuff for all three packs. Once again, "that's good enough" is the refrain of the day, though if I had only been building one for myself, I'd totally consider a Fincher or GBFans cable.

A few other parts inspired by builds from these forums include wooden dowels wrapped in split-loom for the ion arm resistors, the classic popsicle stick heat sink, a shock-mount fashioned from a stack of two sizes of nylon washers (a super light-weight alternative to the metal option, and they take paint well!), a bit of cut up dollar store strainer in the N-filters, a piece of CD jewel case for the light bar in the thrower, and the ladder, HGA, PPD and all the "capped PVC pipe" bits are all out of the Astyanax thread -- apologies to the rest of you, as I can't rememember what I got from where anymore, but your innovations were greatly appreciated!

The last touches were some Rub 'n Buff silver leaf (awesome stuff) and a black/brown acrylic wash to give everything just a fine layer of grime. The decals came from the excellent files provided by valentino_42 on these forums, though I did make a few small adjustments to the type to get it a bit closer to the look of the screen labels.
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Aside from looking pretty dang good in the end, these packs are also incredibly lightweight with each one weighing in at just under 13 pounds. That was another key consideration, as we'll be chasing our kids all over the neighborhood in full GB regalia Halloween night and would like to skip the sore backs the next morning.

Thanks for reading, and an extra big thanks to all of your step-by-step pack builds on this forum. Your images, tips, tricks, and ingenuity is greatly appreciated by all of us who decide to undertake a pack build of our own.
mike_waclo, jonogunn, DancingToaster and 2 others liked this
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By Holydohnut
#4972573
Superb work! Really great! I've never heard of plasti-dip before, but will be looking it up now!

The lost wax vids are great. I've definitely watched them into double figures. And I've had a foam floor mat in my ebay basket for months now! One day perhaps...
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By CreamGingerly
#4972576
Holydohnut wrote: September 14th, 2022, 3:23 pmI've never heard of plasti-dip before, but will be looking it up now!
Yeah, I'd always known it was the stuff you used to spray a sort of rubber-esque grip on your hand tools, but it's quite well known and used in the cosplay community, as I came to find out. While I'm shouting out YouTubers, I may as well give props (no pun intended) to KamuiCosplay and Punished Props Academy, where I got a lot of good info about Plasti-Dip, and if I had ended up doing the texture, the Punished Props proton pack video has a great section that details the process.

Thanks for the compliments, too!
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By oidoglr
#4972633
if you happen to live in Minnesota, don't sleep on Ax-Man -- they are incredible!
Hello fellow Minnesotan! (I'm in St. Paul) - I've honestly never been to Ax-Man, but whenever I drive by I wonder what it's like. I will have to stop in after your tip.

Also, your pack looks fantastic.
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By jonogunn
#4972643
Man these are clean! Did you hear gun seal it after you have completed and attached them together?

Also I love lostwax’s build thread I wish I had that went I built my first foam pack years ago. My only issue with his build is that the powercell box is “inward” too much. It should be protruding out to the left a little more
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By CreamGingerly
#4972645
Thank you! Once I had the main pack body together (as shown in the freshly painted shell pic above), I heat sealed everything right before coating it with Plasti-Dip. Same with any other part that was built from foam -- once it was together and right before painting, it got heat sealed.

And it's true -- the Lost Wax packs definitely aren't for those concerned with 100% screen accuracy, and I certainly took a few liberties of my own with things like the fittings, knobs, lights, and my makeshift crank knob, mostly because those were what I could source cheaply at the surplus store. But unless I happen to run into someone from these forums out in the wild, it's pretty unlikely the average passerby is going to notice anything amiss. :D
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By getraccd
#4972659
Hey, first time poster long time lurker here! I built a LostWax pack myself a few months ago. I love how yours looks. Mine's mounted on 1/4" MDF, in order to support the Spengler Wand, which bumped up the weight a little bit; but in my opinion 10.5lbs is better than what the screen-used packs weighed. Very fun build, definitely want to build another one closer to the 84 design, as opposed to the Phoebe design I chose. For anyone looking to build a budget pack, go with LostWax's patterns!
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By jonogunn
#4972664
getraccd wrote: September 16th, 2022, 10:37 pm Hey, first time poster long time lurker here! I built a LostWax pack myself a few months ago. I love how yours looks. Mine's mounted on 1/4" MDF, in order to support the Spengler Wand, which bumped up the weight a little bit; but in my opinion 10.5lbs is better than what the screen-used packs weighed. Very fun build, definitely want to build another one closer to the 84 design, as opposed to the Phoebe design I chose. For anyone looking to build a budget pack, go with LostWax's patterns!
I'd love to see that pack!
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By getraccd
#4972709
jonogunn wrote: September 17th, 2022, 1:52 am
getraccd wrote: September 16th, 2022, 10:37 pm Hey, first time poster long time lurker here! I built a LostWax pack myself a few months ago. I love how yours looks. Mine's mounted on 1/4" MDF, in order to support the Spengler Wand, which bumped up the weight a little bit; but in my opinion 10.5lbs is better than what the screen-used packs weighed. Very fun build, definitely want to build another one closer to the 84 design, as opposed to the Phoebe design I chose. For anyone looking to build a budget pack, go with LostWax's patterns!
I'd love to see that pack!
I'll post some pictures when I get the chance!
By getraccd
#4972727

Here's a video I took a few weeks ago, showing off the lights (prop-forge on eBay) and the modded Spengler wand I used for the sounds. Definitely not 100% accurate, and I was doing some minor repairs on the wiring (hence the wirenuts hanging out of the hose lol).
Last edited by Kingpin on September 19th, 2022, 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.Reason: Added YouTube code
User avatar
By CreamGingerly
#4973946
I just went over it with a heat gun on the low setting. You'll see the change as you make your passes -- it almost looks like it glazes up or smooths out as you heat it. But don't get the gun too close or linger too long in an area or you'll start to warp or melt it -- be especially careful with this if you use hot glue! I got all my information from this on YouTube -- just search for "heat seal EVA foam" and there are a bunch of videos. It's pretty easy, and you get the feel for it quickly.
By xXStevenXx
#4974290
I also built one of Chris’ foam proton packs… in fact I built four.

Two of them are at 80% scale for 9 and 6 yo kids!

I picked 80% so that I could go down one pipe size and the dimensions still work. The packs are also a lot lighter than full size.

I found that using a double corrugated cardboard for the motherboard gave a stiffer feel rather than using foam. It also stays pretty light.

I don’t have any light kits integrated as I was flat out building packs, a trap and pedal, a moving PKE meter, Ecto goggles, Motorolas (all in EVA foam) and four flight suits and elbow pads in time for a Halloween event, and I only started in June, LOL!

Maybe I’ll try and mount light and sound in time for next year!
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By DancingToaster
#4974712
All of these are amazing! I also just finished building a LostWax pack and wand, and his pattern was fantastic. Some of the later instructions for the pack weren't in the pdf, but the videos had the details. I adapted it a bit:
  • I mostly used Barge cement, with occasional hot glue depending on practicality. This works if you have good ventilation, a respirator, and some decent gloves (I used nitrile) and don't use huge amounts of it at a time (I put small amounts in cheap squeeze bottles and then threw them out when they got too tacky). Foam scraps are good contact cement brushes.
  • Instead of a floormat, I bought a pair of large 6mm foam sheets from Foamory. I didn't get any thicker foam, so I stacked it for the occasional moments I needed it, such as for the wand handles. Instead of three 10mm sheets per grip, I used five 6mm sheets. Both sides, though very slightly different, can be used as the "right side" so no need to sand or hide parts of it.
  • I didn't use a pencil or stick for the part that hangs off the top, since I might use the pack for crowded conventions and was nervous it might break or poke someone; I used some very thin plumbing tube and scuffed/painted it to make it look metallic. It is a bit flexible so it's not exact, but it still looked pretty good :)
  • For the red lenses over the lights, I used 3M red lens repair film. It has pretty strong adhesive, and I put it on both sides of each hole like a double-paned window. It's a purer clear red and sturdier than the 3m lens repair tape.
  • For the lights, I used an LED blue glowstick and a small set of LED battery-powered white Christmas lights that I staggered; the light pattern was not fully accurate, obviously, but it still had a nice effect. I didn't put any lights in the wand (yet... maybe I'll have to slice into it again later).
  • I bought an ALICE frame on Amazon instead of making the PVC one. I still attached it the way it's shown in the video, and used some wooden whittling blocks I bought at the craft store. Positioning the frame was a bit squirrelly but it worked out eventually!
I might go revisit some things, such as remaking or purchasing new elbow pieces, one of which initially fell apart when I tried putting the wire into it. The prop still looked super impressive though, especially for someone like me, who had only used EVA foam for very tiny pieces in the past (and not incredibly well!). At some point, I'll have to get a decent photo of it by itself.

I already had some tools, like a wireless drill, but I ended up buying others, such as a Dremel 8240 rotary tool and a vise. The cost of making the pack will vary depending on if you need to buy tools, etc. It's still probably a lot less than the more screen-accurate ones, though. On the other hand, I have some really useful tools to use on other projects now!
Last edited by DancingToaster on December 16th, 2022, 8:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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By EnderWeggen
#4974825
Love seeing more EVA foam builds. Good job detailing your pack if you ever want to fill in gaps and seams on EVA foam use kwik seal and water on your finger to smooth it out works super well on EVA foam and its printable, not that you need to your packs look good. I did use the kwik seal on my EVA foam pack for that Fiberglass shell look I also spent two years building it :walterpeck:
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By CreamGingerly
#4974914
EnderWeggen wrote: December 2nd, 2022, 11:58 am Love seeing more EVA foam builds. Good job detailing your pack if you ever want to fill in gaps and seams on EVA foam use kwik seal and water on your finger to smooth it out works super well on EVA foam and its printable, not that you need to your packs look good. I did use the kwik seal on my EVA foam pack for that Fiberglass shell look I also spent two years building it :walterpeck:
Thanks, EnderWeggen -- your build thread was one of the many that I referenced throughout the building of my packs! I did some smoothing of joints with Kwik Seal, and if I had only been building one pack I would have taken a lot more time and care with it than I did. But I agree -- you totally can get close to a fiberglass shell look with foam if you spend enough time with it.
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By CreamGingerly
#4974915
Also, thanks to DancingToaster, xXStevenXx, and getraccd for sharing your builds as well! I'm glad others have had success with the LostWax plans. When I was getting ready to start my build and gathering references and resources, I noticed there were hardly any mentions of the LostWax packs on these forums. I wondered if maybe they were frowned upon in the GB prop community?? But like a lot of you discovered, you can use Chris' plans as a solid foundation and expand/improve upon them in a lot of different ways. For the budget-minded builder -- or for those of us building three or for at a go -- it's a great option.

Awesome looking packs, too. Love it.
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By DancingToaster
#4975325
CreamGingerly wrote: December 6th, 2022, 1:35 pm Also, thanks to DancingToaster, xXStevenXx, and getraccd for sharing your builds as well! I'm glad others have had success with the LostWax plans. When I was getting ready to start my build and gathering references and resources, I noticed there were hardly any mentions of the LostWax packs on these forums. I wondered if maybe they were frowned upon in the GB prop community?? But like a lot of you discovered, you can use Chris' plans as a solid foundation and expand/improve upon them in a lot of different ways. For the budget-minded builder -- or for those of us building three or for at a go -- it's a great option.

Awesome looking packs, too. Love it.
Another nice thing about the LostWax pattern (in addition to the weight and the cost) is that it gives you more of a full-size pack compared to the Spirit Halloween ones.

I forgot to mention earlier - I also ended up using different labels than the hprops ones that Chris links to in the pattern (some were accurately sized, but others didn't really fit properly when I printed them out, even at 100% scale). I used the ones posted on this forum page awhile back (links in the OP's signature).

I was also having a lot of difficulty getting the T-Rex clear repair tape to stick when making the ribbon cables, but had better success with Crystal Clear Gorilla Tape, which appears to be a very similar product.

Acrylic tubing is available with the thicker, more accurate wall; shipping for this stuff tends to be pretty expensive in the online stores I looked at, though. Amazon seems to have some, but I ended up going with thinner-walled tubes from this store. The shipping still cost more than the very inexpensive item, but I bought extra, and the total cost wasn't so bad. Also, if you scroll down their home page to the Google map view, you'll see why this store choice ended up being kind of funny... :cool:

Overall, if one is willing to forgo most of the lights and sounds, the Lost Wax pack is a pretty convincing prop (diehard fans would notice differences, but most people I spoke to couldn't believe it when I said it was foam). It became noticeably more realistic-looking after just a bit of silver paint "weathering." More creatively minded folks can also add more effects to the pack if needed.
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By santizbuu
#4976100
Ok, i did mine for halloween 2022, i made 2 Lostwax proton pack because the first one was smaller than it is suposed to be, since i did 2 of them i think that i can give some advice on how to do some things.

I was able to make it work with the spengler neutrona wand, i used 3d printed parts for the v-hook, and some details that the tutorial couldn't finish like the generator knob for example, but the important thing about this is that I used legos inside some parts to make it more solid and stable(the spengler neutrona wand weights more than the rest of the pack itself), so it doesn't brake or something like that( the neutrona wand can stay there for hours and don't break, i tested it a couple of times in conventions). So try to put something inside to make the pack more solid

I'm looking forward to buy an alice frame for the pack, i want it to be more screen accurate and also, more comfortable than the straps I puted in myself(i had no time before the first convention xDD) so if you can buy or make the one that LostWax did, do it without doubt
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By rolandblais
#4976936
This is an extremely inspirational build! Chris' video inspired me to build a pack, then I went down the 3D Printed rabbit hole. But an EVA pack is still in the pipeline. Yours has spurred that interest again!

    Hey and welcome

    Hey and welcome

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