AW177 Mortal Kombat Noob Saibot Prop Mask ‘Custom’ Project
‘Customization’ of a Noob Saibot prop mask from the video game Mortal Kombat during COVID-19 quarantine.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit NYC, like the rest of the world, I was quarantined at home. When the news came out that people should wear PPE masks all the time, I thought to myself – watch, the next big trend in the world will be masks; I can already see that a lot of companies are already planning to sell/selling designer masks. I thought it would be a good idea to find a mask that can be cool, used more than once, and be an outlet for my creativity, since being at home all the time allowed me much more creative freedom. The customizer in me longed to do something artistic, however after working on and off for 2 years on my Snake Eyes helmet, I did not want a project that was too much to handle.
At first I tried to create my own mask by downloading a paper template and trying to make one out of paper as a test; I would then try to recreate this mask out of styrene plastic. However the paper mask was too tedious to create and finding the right size to fit my face made it more difficult to use. Plus the thought of having to cut out so many pieces of styrene made it too much to do so I decided to find a mask online and customize it.
Being a fan of the ninjas in Mortal Kombat, and their ninja face masks were always so cool – ninjas like Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Smoke, and Noob Saibot. I decided to go for one of these for a mask.
I found a seller on Etsy selling Mortal Kombat 3D printed masks, and after some discussion settled on a Noob Saibot one that was about 6.5″ wide, printed on grey filament, hoping that would fit my face. When it arrived, the sizing was perfect, however I have never worked on a 3D printed item before, and did not realize how much work it may take to customize this mask. So instead of a full customization, I decided to try to learn more about working on 3D printed items and keep it relatively similar to the original mask design – hence ‘customization’.
The mask was printed pretty well, but I can see that it was not as smooth as I would like it to be, and came with a lot of sharp edges. I had to put in a lot of effort to make the mask smooth for painting, and after putting in a ton of time to sand it, I finally was able to smooth it out as much as possible. I then used Bondo to fill out and cover the rest of the printer seams, lines and jagged edges. The process became tedious and reminiscent of the Snake Eyes helmet project; more sanding, more Bondo, more sanding, more Bondo, spray painting filler primer, more sanding, more Bondo, more sanding, more filler primer, etc! Working on and off over the course of a month, I was eventually able to get it smooth enough for a final paint coat (of course after all this, I did learn that I could have bought something from Smooth-On called XTC-3D, which will help smooth out 3D printed items and minimize the need for sanding. I may try this product out next time to avoid so much sanding I had to put in. You can find this product at Amazon).
My choice of paint is again, Tamiya spray paints; however in this pandemic, it was hard to find a place that had the Tamiya paints that I wanted (sold out in most stores and delays in getting more stock), and took a long time to ship out to me. Once my paints arrived, I painted the side and front panels in matte black, and the rest in regular black. My goal was to get the matte side and front panels to stand out against the shiny black of the rest of the mask. However, after spraying a few semi gloss clear coats on everything (I only had semi gloss), the matte black panels ended up looking close to the rest of the mask – a shiner black. I decided to try to make the rest of the mask even shiner to stand out against the matte panels – using a 3 step waxing/shining process (that I learned from the Snake Eyes project), I was able to shine the rest of the mask more than the panels so it stands out better now.
Last step in this process is to add straps so I can wear it. Going back to Etsy again, I found and bought a roll of black elastic straps. Originally I was going to glue on the straps, but decided against that, simply because if I wanted to detach the straps for any reason, gluing it on may make that decision difficult. So I went with my good ol’ black duct tape and just taped it on. I also found out that 1 strap was working well enough to keep the mask on my face, instead of 2 that I thought it may need (the black duct tape acted as a non-slip surface so it helped keep the mask on my face).
Looking at the mask after it was done, how smooth and shiny it was and how I was scared it may drop or get damaged due to the amount of work I put into it, I decided against wearing it out in public. I was also reluctant to keep shining it if I was to wear it out (due to weather, constant touching, environment, etc), come home and wash it over and over again. This would make a great display and/or cosplay item, so I am choosing to keep this one away from the public. I did however, reach out to the same seller of the mask on Etsy, and bought another identical Noob Saibot mask, only this time it was printed on black filament. This mask is the original raw 3D print with no work put into it; I put straps on this duplicate and will now wear that one out in public (if it get damaged, I can easily just buy another).
Both masks fit great, looks awesome, can breath easily in it, durable, and feel it offers much more protection than a regular mask or a cloth mask. The picture below shows the two masks side by side; the one on the left is the original non-customized, raw 3D printed one and the right side is the final AW177 customized mask. Hopefully in the future I can do a full AW177 customization on another mask and make it with more of my art work/style.
Total completion time for this project, working on and off, took approximately a little bit more than a month, completed at the beginning of May, 2020.
Click on the pics to enlarge; there are pics of the masks and of me wearing the final ‘customized’ mask. Thanks for checking out my AW177 Mortal Kombat Noob Saibot prop mask custom project!