The 2013 film 47 Ronin was based on the true story of masterless samurai out to avenge the death of their lord. It featured some beautifully designed suits of armor. After production wrapped, these costumes were sent to auction houses for sale to collectors.

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My friend Paul purchased one of these amazingly detailed suits. Since the movie tanked at the box office, he got a really great price for a screen-used costume.

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The suit didn’t come with a “mempo” which is a decorative/protective chinstrap. Here is a real one that I’ll base my replica on.

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After drawing up plans based on the reference, I imported the front and side view into Strata and sculpted a low-polygon version that could be printed as a Pepakura prototype to test the size.

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The model was then refined with basic detail and uploaded to Shapeways. The new pricing instituted last fall allowed this fairly large piece to be printed with a 2mm skin for $75…certainly worth saving all the time it would take to Pepakura model, resin and sand.

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A few weeks later, I received the print from Shapeways. Even with a thin wall, it’s certainly usable right out of the box. But I wanted a copy as well, so it will get molded and cast in resin.

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The print was mounted to a wooden block, and the mouth and nose holes were closed with Bondo. Detail was added with epoxy putty. In hind sight, it would have been easy enough to add this detail in the model before printing…not sure why I didn’t.

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A slush cast copy out of the silicone mold.

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For my copy, I added fangs with epoxy putty. Ribbons were tied to the grommets so it could be worn.

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I don’t have a suit of armor yet so I guess I’ll just have to skulk around the house in this.

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Paul wanted a more authentic look, so he bought some horse hair to make a mustache and beard.

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After drilling mounting holes in the mask, I selected as much hair as would fit and threaded it through to the inside.

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To keep the hairs from pulling out, I secured the ends with epoxy putty.

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Each group’s ends were smoothed over with more putty.

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The final mempo

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Paul added sharp teeth with epoxy putty to mimic the gold serrated edges on the armor.

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A black wash adds some battle grime and brings out the detail.

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This hole in the bottom of the chin will help mount neck armor.

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Steel rods were bent and epoxied in to make hooks for attaching the helmet.

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The mempo with the rest of the armor.

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Resin copies of this customizable mempo are available in the kit section.

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