Insider Secrets Behind The New Legendary N7 Helmet Replica
Get a detailed look at how this wearable light-up replica was made.
BioWare is pulling out all the stops for the Mass Effect Legendary Edition. So it’s no wonder that the complementary Mass Effect Legendary Cache is extra special, too. It includes a life-sized replica of Shepard’s N7 Helmet that’s wearable, beautiful, and faithful to the games. And yes. It lights up, too.
We worked closely with the devs to bring it to life. Here’s how it all went down.
Part 1: Working with the Model
Authenticity was our top priority. We want to make you really feel like Commander Shepard when you put this on. Luckily, we had the helmet’s actual in-game 3D model. Its high polygon count allowed us to work with fine details. In the video above, you can see that the carbon fiber texture is sculpted on the surface of the helmet. This would be the first step to a very careful process of getting the look just right. And you’ll see the carbon fiber effect evolve throughout this article.
We also made a few adjustments on the inside. There had to be enough space to fit your head—plus the lights and its batteries, wiring, and switch.
Because the helmet’s design is detailed and complex, we broke it down into a few separate parts. Then, we carefully planned how the pieces would fit together for assembly.
Part 2: At The Factory
When we were sure we had the model right, it was time for the real deal.
Step 1: Injection
From the 3D model came the molds. These things are made of solid steel so they can withstand the extreme pressure and temperature involved in the injection process.
During this step, ABS plastic pellets are melted into a liquid at over 200 degrees Celsius and forced into the molds’ every nook and cranny using hundreds of pounds of pressure.
Here’s what some of the parts looked like when they came out of the injection machine:
Step 2: Painting
To get the paintwork looking just right, we had it expertly applied by hand. Let’s go through the various techniques we used to make the ABS plastic look like different materials.
To make perfectly smooth plastic look like metal, we had to apply a little bit of distress.
Next is the carbon fiber effect. In the video below, you’ll see the sculpt and paint working together. The raised parts of the surface catches the silver paint from the sponge. And the recessed parts remain unpainted. You can literally see the plastic “transform” into carbon fiber in an instant.
Some parts were more straightforward. Like the large red section at the top. A few coats until the opacity and color were done right…
…and a thin layer of polish on all the parts that should shine.
After this step, the carbon fiber effect needed one last push. We added a transparent layer of brown paint on top to tone down the silver color. See the difference in the picture below. When the paint dries, you can really see the effect come to life.
For the N7 logo on the side, we had a little help from a stamping machine and a pair of heat guns.
Step 3: Assembly
Now we snap and slide and screw the parts together. Some parts like the visor are simply attached. While others like the back of the helmet are fitted with wires and a circuit board.
The more we assembled, the more the place looked like a Systems Alliance arsenal.
We then tested if the lights work. (Are you Paragon Blue or Renegade Red? There’s a switch inside that lets you choose.)
Part 3: In Your Hands (And On Your Head!)
All of the above brings us to this: the finished helmet, ready for action. But hang on a minute…
From the size of these boxes, you’d think there’s room for more than just the helmet.
And you’d be right. Here’s everything else you’ll get with your N7 Helmet:
Thanks for joining us behind the scenes, Commander. Have a great day!