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Tutorial for Attack on Titan 3D Maneuver Gear (Taken from my medium page)

Updated on September 8, 2014

Initial Points

I originally made this article on Medium instead of Hubpages because it was a new writing uhh medium I had and I wanted to put more articles in it. I really should have just put it here because well, it's a tutorial and it was more of a pain to put it on medium than I thought with little return in terms of views. So now I'll post it here so more people know how to make this thing (well at least I hope it helps) and hell I'm not getting paid to do this so why not just get as many viewers as I can.

Things you'll need

First of all let me just say, this is probably my first ever big project for a cosplay (Technically my first one was the necklace that Kid from soul Eater wears but that was just put together with Crayola clay and silver spray paint.). Everything was mostly made of foam board and foam sheets or foamies and all connections were made with paracord. The entire thing was put together with hot glue and no other adhesive except for duct tape which served no function in the end. Finally, sorry for the differing quality of the pictures, I changed the settings several times and used both my phone camera and a DSLR.

So here’s a list of everything I bought that actually went into the cosplay. I bought extra stuff that I didn’t need as well, but no use listing that. I’ll also list the stores I got them from and prices are in USD. This is a listing of the materials that I myself bought, please substitute whatever you can with a cheaper variation, I didn’t make many smart decisions when doing this, I just decided I didn’t care about the price as long as I got it done. So once you see all the materials, please, read my “regrets” section.

Walmart
1x 3/16 in. Foam board — 1.77
1x 2 pack 3/16 in. Acid Free foam board — 7.96
1x X-acto knife — 3.97
3x X-acto Knife blades — 2.47 ea
1x 18 ft. Black paracord — 1.97
1x Fine point black sharpie — 1.74
3x White ultra flat spray primer — 6.99 ea
3x Aluminum Brilliant spray paint — 3.67 ea
3x Satin spray clear coat — 5.32 ea
1 pack of 6 cord clips — 1.47
1x 2oz White acrylic paint — .50
1x 2oz Metallic silver scrylic paint — 1.49
1x 2oz Bark brown arylic paint — 1.49
1x 8oz Bottle of Mod Podge — 4.47
1x set of 4 Foam brushes — .97

Michael’s
1x 21 ft. Black paracord — 2.79
2x 12x18 in. White foam sheets — .99 ea
2x 12x18 in. Black white Foam Sheets — .99 ea
4x 20x30 in. 1/2 in. Thick foam board — 5.99 ea
1x Testor sandpaper — 3.49
1 set of 5 Paint brushes — 1.99
2x 1/8x3x36 in. Balsa wood — 2.99
1x Bag of pipe cleaner — 1.19
1x Mini dual temp hot glue gun — 6.99
1x 10 Pack dual temp mini glue gun sticks — 3.99
1x pack of ten 10 in. Long mini glue gun sticks — 6.99
1x Dimensional fabric paint — 1.49
1x Black acrylic paint — 1.49

Joann’s
5x 9x12 in. Foamies — .41 ea

Home depot
1 pack of 10 zinc hex nuts — .98
1x Aluminum 36 in. ruler — 2.97
2x 3/4 in, T shaped pvc pipe — .87 ea
1x Painter’s tape delicate hold — 5.87

Staples
1x Protractor — 2.00
2x 2x24 in. Mailing Tube — 2.99 ea

Shop Rite
2x Wat — Aah brain water — .74 ea incl. bottle deposit

Total
$163.61
+ Connecticut state tax 6.35
$174
This is without coupons, so if you get coupons, always use coupons!

Time it took to finish:
24 days with an average of 5-6 hours a day

Other tools used were a power drill, a dragging belt sander, duct tape, a respirator, safety glasses, scissors and a few sanding sponges. Only other material used was an old leather belt. I had these lying around so I don’t know the price of them.

Regrets

For one, my biggest regret is not having a circular cutter. This would have helped a lot and I wouldn't have wasted so much material. I also wish I had a cutting board to precisely measure everything and cut more accurately as the scars I made on the back side of that ikea table made the cuts harder to do an bumpier as time went on. It also made me break a lot of my knife blades. Also I found out my dad had a power saw all along which annoyed me because the cutting of those 1/2 inch thick foam boards with an x-acto knife is no easy task. Heck I even completely broke my Gundam model knife. Speaking of which, I think most of you would be better off buying the more commonly available 3/6 in thick Elmer’s foam boards (Don’t buy the acid free ones! They’re pointlessly expensive!), My 1/2 in thick ones were sturdy as hell but the mechanism was made of mostly 3/16 boards and it held up great until the end when someone decided it would be a good idea to run out a of a crowded dealer’s room and slam right into it. The price you see is from wasted material, it should really be a lot lower especially if you’re more experienced and smarter. It also didn't help that I had to buy most of my tools. Finally like everything, I wish I had more time, in the end, I didn’t get all the details I wanted and will be upgrading it as time goes along for other conventions and maybe just to give away to a friend to cosplay while I move on to something else.

Tips

My first tip is for any American following this. Always look for your materials and tools at Walmart first. I went to Michael’s first and they have an amazing selection, but unless you have a coupon or there’s a sale on something you want, just check with Walmart first. They usually have everything you need and for cheaper even in the half sized one near me in southeastern Connecticut. For the glue gun, go with the dual temp if you can, I mostly used my gun on high temp setting but for the plastic bottles, I had to use the low temp. Like I said previously, I think the thinner more available 3/16 inch thick boards would do you better than the 1/2 inch thick ones. Not only would it be lighter and cheaper but definitely much easier to cut. But still, get at least one piece of the 1/2 inch thick boards in case you want some parts to be reinforced on the 3dmg mechanism. Some parts actually are much easier to build with the 1/2 inch thick foam boards too. You could also attach two 3/16 pieces together instead though. You also don’t need a belt sander like I did as long as the cuts are precise. However, if you do use a belt sander, you’re going to get little frills of board sticking on the side, just pull them over the side and rip them. Your fingers will start to hurt when cutting too much, so always take a rest rather than risking a bad cut for the sake of time as you’ll only waste material and time. If you have to, cut your pieces a little bigger rather than smaller as you can always fix by sanding. Finally make sure to clean everything that is spray painted with a quick wipe down. I didn’t do that and my hotel room ended up reeking of spray paint. Overall have fun with this.

Starting off

Note: Sorry I’m lacking in pictures but I was either in the zone or in a rush in the end of the build that I just forgot, so I’ll try my best to explain the process with words. These steps are written in the order that I went through except modified to be in sections, so you can modify them yourself according to what works for you.

I’ll be calling foam sheets or foamies “foamy” and foam board as “foam board”

These are my many tools of the trade.

Starting out with a few things, Ignore that E6000 glue, that stuff melts the foam so DO NOT use it! However, this picture shows the 1/2 inch thick foam boards I will be using.

Sheath Side Panels

The first few cuts of the half inch boards, notice the inconsistency, but they could be sanded later. I just cut the boards in half so they ended up being like 30 inches long and around 10 inches wide. I did this because there were more sides that would be straight already rather than having to sand a lot. In the end you should have 4 large pieces cut in half measuring roughly 30 inches long and roughly 9 — 10 inches wide because of sanding. It doesn't really matter how wide they are as long as they’re equal through sanding so don’t worry if you have it under 9 inches, but don’t go too crazy, these parts have to be wider that the top and bottom pieces.

Sheath top and bottom panels

Then cut two of the boards in half again making the tops and bottoms of the sheath boxes. This will require a bit more sanding considering you’ll have two rough sides. By the end of this, you should have 4 pieces measuring around 4-5 inches wide and 30 inches long. Again it doesn’t matter how wide they are, as long as you sand them to equal width, just make sure these are less wide than the side pieces so it doesn’t look like a complete square front and back.

Assembled Sheath

This is the end result, kind of pretty for just an x-acto knife right? Anyway to do this, just glue two of the top and bottom panels to a side panel and then glue a side panel on top.

Inside view, yeah, there’s a bit of a gap, but filling it in with hot glue should do the trick, and that side is going on the bottom anyway.

Sheath back cover

I used another 1/2 inch thick board for the back lids. This is probably the only time this works better than the thinner pieces because they shorten the overall length of the boxes so your sword can be sticking out of the front. Measure the inside of the boxes and cut accordingly. You can do this and the next step last if you want. I have long enough arms to reach the back of the entire box, but if you have shorter arms, just do this later because it will be hard running the paracord connections through the back.

Here’s the back of the box on the left. Don’t worry about the duct tape, I just put them on as a kind of reinforcement, I didn’t really need it. All it takes to put the lid on is just putting hot glue on two sides and inserting it into the back.

Bottom fan circles

So to make a circle without a circle cutter, just use something round. Of course this giant can of nuts did make my 3DMG pretty massive. Make four of these and sand them until they’re round.

Fan Fins

Then make 16 of these (yes that’s a lot) for the fan fins. There’s really no easy way to make these except measure an L shape on the edges of a board and then freehand the curve. Just use the first one you cut out as a template.

Fan connecting pieces

Cut a line directly down the side of a foamy and be sure to measure it as these things aren't easy to trace. Then just put some hot glue on one of the circles you made before as seen on the left and put the cut out foam piece standing up. In the end, it should look like the thing on the right sitting on top of my knife.

Assembled Fins

Put together the fins two at a time first making a straight line, then go perpendicular and then a plus sign as seen from up top. After that, just fill in the rest. There’s a total of 8 fins in total on each fan.

Completed Fan Unit

Make a plus sign on the top circle with hot glue and put the above concoction on top. After that start reinforcing it with more hot glue. Your fins are probably not going to be the same length and might stick out. Be sure that no fin is way too short from the edge. It’s okay if they’re longer, just cut off the excess after you've glued it down.

View with it standing up. Use this as a reference to what’s considered top and bottom. The top is the end of the skinny parts of the fins and the bottom is those two giant circles.

Make sure to do the same with the second one. and sand down the tops of the fins so they’re both about equal and straight on top.

Find a circular object around the size of the tops of the fins, the inside of a duct tape roll worked pretty well for me.

Top of fan unit

Now just stick the duct tape sized circle on top of each of the fan pieces.

Central Block

I stuck two pieces of 1/2 inch thick boards together on top of each other and then glued them. As for their measurements, I cut mine around 3 inches wide and 8 inches long. I decided to stick them together first as close as possible using the edges that were already straight and sanding out the excess until the entire unit was completely straight. If you don’t have 1/2 inch thick boards, I’d recommened like four 3/16 in thick pieces glued together. The block is definitely going to end up thinner, but any more might be a waste of material.

This part was a bit hard as it is all done by eye, a protractor kind of helps but in the end, just make sure it looks right for you. Start by cutting an angle as close as possible to 45 degrees and then sand both sides until they seem equal.

Central Block side attachments

Okay so I forgot to take a picture of those two things on the sides, but the way to make them is to simply draw a circle and take a ruler to the farthest ends of each side and trace down to an edge. I recommend using whatever you used to make the circles on top of your fans NOT the big bottom parts of your fans (It’s the circle I made using the inside of the duct tape roll). I Just stick them on with the inside edge level with the block. then use the block as a guide to cut the angle needed to make it straight on top. You can sand after a more shallow cut too if it seems easier. This was done similar to this tutorial though http://living-for-the-sake-of-it.blogspot.sg/2013/07/shingeki-no-kyojin-attack-on-titan-3d.html

Stick the top circles of the fans into the pieces on the side of the block and as you can see, it’s taking shape.

Central top piece

Okay so I forgot to take a picture of this whole process in my rush to get it done. Cut three circles of foam board from a circle between the sizes of the tops and bottoms of the the fans. I just used the outside of my roll of duct tape. This might be a place you want to use the 1/2 inch board. You’ll need at least one thick circle that has a purpose a little later. Once again, the idea was from this tutorial http://living-for-the-sake-of-it.blogspot.sg/2013/07/shingeki-no-kyojin-attack-on-titan-3d.html

Again cut a long strip from a foamy but make it wide too. Make sure it’s long enough to wrap around the circles you just cut. As for the width, I’d say somewhere in the vicinity of 4-5 inches works well. Then cut a sizeable window in the middle. The size of the window only needs to be enough to look like it runs halfway through the circle. Mine was around 4 inches long and I measured the height of it by eye and traced with a ruler. After that just cut another piece that’s just a little bigger than the window and stick it on with some junk foam pieces.

The end result should look like this when put together. The easiest way to do this is to put glue on the bottom circle’s sides and wrap the foamy around it , then put some glue on the top inside edges of the foamy and insert the top circle.

Bottom fan fins

Now it’s time to put in the fins between the two circles of the bottom fins. Just cut foam board squares about the width of the two circles and stick it in. Then made marks with a pencil and cut with a ruler. Finally just glue it on aligning to the fin. Yes you have to do this a total of 16 times.

The overall result should look something like this after sticking the central top piece on. However if you didn’t notice, you’re missing the crown in the central top piece, which is what the third thick circle is for. The way I got the angle is I simply ran it through my belt sander on a tilt. However, you could use the same process to make the angle on the central block on the crown, just sand it after.

Assembled sheaths and mechanism

This is just a picture of everything completely assembled so far.
This is just a picture of everything completely assembled so far.

I just put painter’s tape on the window of the central top piece because I thought I was going to spray paint it at this point, turns out I didn’t, but it might be a good idea for you to do this at some point. I forgot to add this, but make the vent in front of the central top piece. It’s just a circle but with angled lines going down. Make two of those and then make a strip of the same length. The bottom picture shows a colored unit, but it helps show the piece. Here’s another tutorial for an idea http://living-for-the-sake-of-it.blogspot.sg/2013/08/shingeki-no-kyojin-attack-on-titan-3d.html(Man I gotta stop using this tutorial all the time, but hey, she did a great job)

Sides of fan unit

Once again, very sorry I don’t have more pictures for this but these were simple. Just trace a big circle out of a foamy and then trace a smaller one inside then cut. If you want to, you can just grab the mechanism unit and tilt the fans so you can trace the bottom big circles. As for the middle parts, just use a ruler to cut a thin straight piece (about .5 — 1 inch wide) and free hand cut the sides that you stick on the circles. Finally freehand the gap in the middle and then stick it to the circle.

Stick the circle on the fan unit. As for the little thing on the right, that’s just made using 3 small junk foam board pieces on each side. Just cut and stick them.

Gas cylinder lid

First off, cut these plastic bottles about 3/4 of the way.

Stick the top of it on the mailing tube and cut along the side so that the plastic cap fits snugly with the tube.

Use hot glue on the edges to stick it on, be sure to use LOW TEMP.

This was the result of using high temp, it smelled super toxic.

I chose mailing tubes over pvc pipes because they’re lighter and already have a lid on the bottom, so I didn’t have to make it. Also at a convention, if you get a poster, just open it and stick it in there.

I don’t have pictures of this, but to finish the gas cylinders, just wrap some foamy around the cap of the plastic piece, put glue on the top part and put the pvc piece in until it touches the cap. Then just attach it onto the top of the sheaths. Or just stick a cylindrical object on top of the cap.

Anchor front support pieces

Just take a small round object and do the same thing as the central block side attachments on a foamboard.

Should look something like this. Be sure to make two of these.

Anchor panels

Using one of the shorter supports, trace a shape like this on a foamy. To do this just put the support piece on it’s side, trace it, then start tracing it as you slowly rotate it by the curve until it lays on the other side. That will be the top line. after that just trace out the rest of this shape. Make two of these.

Anchor units: Back anchor supports

Okay so I’m missing pictures again, anyway wrap a foamy anchor panel sheet around an anchor front support. The front anchor support should be in or near the front of the anchor panel sheet. Now you have to make back anchor supports which I’m missing pictures for. They’re just done by making a front anchor support, just a little longer. once you insert the back anchor support in or near the back, just trim it so that it fits with the panel. For the bottom of the anchor unit, just cut a strip of foamy the same length as the supports and trim accordingly.

Front anchor bands

Just cut a foamy whatever width you want (mine was about an inch) and wrap it around the front. Do not just stick it snugly aligned to the front, be sure to have it stick out about halfway. Be sure the strip is long enough that when it wraps around, it can stick to itself. If it isn’t just paste a foamy on the bottom as a connector as shown on the bottom one.

Back anchor bands

For these, do the same as the front bands except in the back. To make the crevasse, just stick it on and free hand cut. Make the long cut by using the back support piece as a guide and then make two cuts on the sides leading to the long cut.

Anchor Unit color

Cover both units entirely with Mod Podge. Use the brown acrylic paint on the panel and silver metallic on the bands. You can also cover the panels with painter’s tape and spray paint the bands if you want. The color on this is just dull because I used the wrong paint the first time. Just do one side first along with the top, bottom left and right, once dry do the other side. This applies to both the paint and the Mod Podge.

Sword handle pattern. This is 8.5x11 inch printer paper with the picture blown up on gimp 2 so that it’s around 6 inches tall.

Trace the above picture on printer paper and cut it out.

Trace the handle on the balsa wood. Leave out the back hammer shape, bike handle part and the trigger block.

Sword handle core and blade

Hard to see, but after you trace the handle shape on, trace a line using a ruler all the way to the end of the balsa wood using the sides of the top of the handle as a guide to the width. Make two of these or more if you’re so inclined. Make sure to make a 45 degree cut at the point of the blade to get the razor shape.

Sword handle housing

The balsa wood part should look like this by the end of the cut which is just the handle shape and the blade. Cover the balsa wood entirely with Mod Podge and set aside.

The casing is made by tracing the entire shape. Do 2 with the pattern one way and then flip it over for another 2.

Completed Swords

After the Mod Podge dries for the balsa wood, glue two sword handle casings to the sides of the balsa wood handles. After the glue dries, glue the bike brakes to fill in the gap between the two casings on each sword.

Sheath top cover

To do this, measure the front opening on your sheath from top to bottom and left to right. Cut 2 pieces of foam board accordingly. Then measure the inside from side to side and cut two pieces of foam board with the same width. As for the length, just make it whatever you want, those two middle pieces are just used to support your swords. For the sword holes, you can mostly do it by eye. or just measure and cut by three equal distances.

Glue pieces in a T like formation. Don’t put the lids on yet, THEY GO ON LAST. If you put them on now, they will just have to be taken off later so you can run the paracord connections.

Painting

Before painting, be sure to coat all foamy pieces in Mod Podge. Also even more importantly, coat all the exposed sides of the the foam boards in Mod Podge. Also coat all areas of attachment, so basically anywhere two pieces meet. You shouldn’t coat the board (paper) parts of the foam board in Mod Podge though as it’s just a waste of Mod Podge and they adhere paint pretty well anyway. Be sure to coat the PET plastic pieces on the gas cylinders as well. One or two coats of Mod Podge on everything is fine, but be sure to put it on heavy.

Paint everything that needs to look metallic together. A little tip for painting, when you finish a coat, either move the piece to a dry spot or a different tarp altogether. I didn’t do this and ended up having to re paint my swords and lids a bunch of times because they stuck to the cardboard. However, if you’re fortunate enough to have something to suspend the pieces, use that if you can.
Note: This is a picture after I primed it with white and painted with brilliant aluminum. It was actually crazy sunny outside but the reflective flare of these pieces pretty much screwed with my camera’s sensor so I decided to dull it with a satin clear top coat.

Paint the inside circle of the fan units as well as the part between the big circles in black or red if you prefer.

This is a repeat picture, but it shows all the places that needs to be painted black. The parts between the two big circles on the fan units and the window of the central top unit needs to be painted black. Be sure to paint the central top window BEFORE attaching the vent.

Cut the belt so that it’s just long enough to wrap to your sides and not all the way around you.

Time to dress up the belt. It’s just foamies cut using the belt itself as a guide and painted with silver acrylic paint. You don’t have to leave a gap in the middle, but I did it so I wouldn’t have to make the gap on the central block as big.

Cut a gap in the central block of the mechanism and attach the belt onto it.

Cut a hole in the Anchor units. Be sure to estimate smaller in the beginning and adjust according to the size of the ends of the belt.

Completed waist unit

Now all you have to do is drill 4 holes with a power drill. Two near the central block of the mechanism and two near the anchor units. Then just run a paracord through them from inside out in the back and then outside in at the front. Doesn’t really matter if you choose to go under or over, but I chose over. When you finish running the paracord, tie each end to each part of a cord clip. Don’t worry about the velcro straps too much, they were just used to stabilize the units, but I found them to be troublesome and didn’t need them. These were just attached by paint anyway. If you really want to use them, run them inside the foamy pieces.

This is a completed sheath with the gas cylinder attached and painted.

Cord attachments

Drill 4 holes on the top part of a side panel. Two in the front (where the gas cylinder T is near), two in the back. Run a long piece of paracord through the two back holes and tie two ends to two parts of cord clip. Run a short paracord through the front of the holes and tie the two ends to each part of cord clip. Repeat this for the other sheath unit. Make sure it’s the other side, you don’t want both units facing the same way.

frayed end
frayed end

You will notice that when you cut paracord, the part you cut from becomes frayed and weak, so to fix this, all you have to do is put hot glue around it and twist it. To twist the hot glue, I just folded a piece of foamy over it and did it. Then when it cools down a bit to just warm, I twist it harder with my hands.

This is the end result with the twist method. You’re going to be doing this a lot as paracord only has two hard ends.

Final Assembly

Finally put the lid on the sheath unit, with the back board going in. You might want to glue the front panel of the lid onto the sheath even though it feels strong just with the resistance of the back board. Walking around, with it on, it tends to just fall with enough shakes.

Remember to decorate the sheaths the way you want to. I wanted to put the square blocks on top of the gas cylinder but I ran out of time. A hex nut was used to decorate the cylinder too, but I never got around to attaching the mechanism to it because, again, of time restraints. All the black parts were just made of black foamies after everything was finished.

Decorate your sword as elaborately as you want as well, I just traced the handle out of a foamy on each side and painted it brown. However, I was stupid enough to wrap the band around the near bottom of the handle before attaching the handle. I remedied this by cutting a gap between the handle piece and attaching it as two pieces. It worked out well, it just took more work. As for the black piece between the blade and handle, That was just apiece of junk black foamy. The lines was just made with a sharpie, a protractor and ruler. My lines were 6cm apart (yes I used metric on this) but you can just make it whatever you want, as long as it’s even. You can leave a bunch of blank space for the end rather than filling it with more lines, it actually looks better that way. The lines are angled around 50 degrees. Just made dots 6cm apart and then measured 50 degrees at each dot to make another line and started tracing them with a ruler as a guide. Remember to angle them correctly with the point. After that just attach a hex nut to the bottom and on an Anchor unit and link them with paracord.

This is the end of the tutorial, I wish I had more pics of it, but I’m going to have to wait for other people who took pictures of me in it as I did a woefully bad job of it using my hotel room mirror at Connecticon and forgot to do it at any other point. Also as mentioned in part one, someone straight slammed into me and broke a fan unit off, I’m going to repair that and upload the fully assembled gear at some point.

Did this help you with your AOT cosplay?

So to be featured, I have to add extra stuff, so I'll just make this poll

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Attack on Titan Opening Theme

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