spacer Building Big Daddy

Building the Big Daddy was quite a challenge and probably wouldn't have turned out as well if I hadn't found a 3D CAD file that someone had extracted from the game. This is a Wavefront .obj file. I was able to convert it into a more usable format (for me) with 3D Object Convertor. Using this model I was able to 'slice' the body in different directions and generate orthogonal profiles that I could use to define the surface of the body.

Orthogonal profiles define the shape of the Big Daddy body
Orthogonal profiles help define the Big Daddy body.

With the extents of the body defined, I started 'skinning' the model. When skinning the body I take measurements from the frame and then work by eye. There are no exact plans to follow. My first step was to define the arm portholes.

Arm portholes created by 'crimping' cardboard discs.
Arm portholes that look like 'half-donuts'

Measuring where the portholes attach to the body I cut two appropriately sized discs. I 'crimped' the edges to add curvature and taped everything liberally. Finally, I attached the portholes to the frame.

Adding the head dome

Next I defined the hole through which my son's head would protrude (seen at top) and added the ring onto which the head dome would mount. I worked hard to make the head dome as accurate as I could as this is the most recognizable part of the Big Daddy. I calculated the wedge profile shape in Excel and used a template to make the requisite 16 slices. When taped together these automatically form a dome of the correct diameter.

Dome has been installed.  Skinning continues.

Turtle back of Big Daddy

As I skinned I tried to work on the most defining features first. The body won't be exactly correct but if the main features look convincing then the minor discrepancies will likely be overlooked. After the dome, I worked on the large 'turtle' back. Once this was defined, plus the chest area, the rest was just a case of filling in the holes.

First test fitting.

Once the model was skinned, it was time to cut out the supporting frame. Since parts of the skin have been taped to the frame, I left ~2" ribs when I removed the frame. Here you can see the son having crawled into the model for the first time. There's plenty of room. Except for directly in front, visibility is pretty good. I left two holes near the bottom of the dome to give him some vision near his feet.

Building the cage out of cardboard

I had thought to use some plastic tubing I'd seen at the local Home Depot to build the cage around the dome but in the end I cheaped out and used cardboard. I cut some 3/4" wide ribs to the required curve. I then taped thinner 3/8" strips of double-thick cardboard to the sides to approximate a tube. It turned out better than I had expected. What I call double-thick cardboard is two layers of cardboard glued together and was found in a carton for shipping a UPS.

After building the tank that fits onto the Big Daddy's back, it was time to start painting. While the paint dried I worked on the boots, and other miscellania. As a start I gave the body and tank a quick coat of 'textured stone' paint. I'm only after the texture so any colour that's on sale was fine for me. Next, once it was dry, I gave the body a coat of hammered copper and some metallic gold highlights on the dome. Finally I went back and used black and dark olive green to give the body some dimension by painting around edges and in the creases. Painting with spray cans is very liberating and feels really 'graffiti' and gangster. Quite fun.

Early stages of painting

In the picture I haven't yet painted the cage. I'd had other plans but many of my old acrylic paints had dried up so I decided to use the remainder of my metallic silver to paint them.

The tank followed much the same path but I painted the lower portion a dark olive green. The handle got a coat of red acrylic and a coat of clear lacquer to add back the shine. For fun I put a bloody hand smear on the backside (not visible).

The final 10% of a project often takes a disproportionate amount of effort. Making the boots and other miscellania took quite a bit of time but added a lot of authenticity so it was well worth the effort. Matching the Big Daddy garment exactly on my budget was pretty much impossible. Gray snow pants plus a baggy blue sweater had to do.

Testing 'eyes' during assembly
Testing the 'eyes' during final assembly

The drill has it's own power supply. To stop the speed from varying as the batteries died I fed the 4 'AA's through a simple voltage regulator based on an LM317 (pretty much the circuit from the data sheet).

The repurposed leg controller (Big Daddy Controller) runs off another 4 'AA' pack. This also powers the LED's and the PC audio amplified speaker. To allow my son to trigger the sounds/LEDs hands free I made two 'nudge' switches that he could hit with his cheeks. One triggers the passive moaning (green/blue lights) and the other triggers the angry sound (red lights).

Ready To Go
Costume is perched in a box that acts as a stand.