This short video of my Half-Life 2 Civil Protection costume generated some comments on YouTube from people who want to create this costume. So, this post is a short breakdown of how I put this costume together, piece by piece, and how I will be upgrading it in the future. Here is the video:
First, a bit of explanation, for those of you who are not familliar with Half-Life 2, or the origins of this character.
Half-Life 2 is the groundbreaking sequel to Half-Life, a game that is considered one of the greatest video games of all time.
Half-Life starred Gordon Freeman, a scientist who worked in an enormous, top secret facility deep underground called Black Mesa. During an experiment at the beginning of the game, a hole is torn in the fabric of reality, flooding the complex with alien creatures. Freeman must fight his way through the ruins of the complex to get to the surface to summon help, fighting the military as well as the aliens.
In the sequel Half-Life 2, Freeman, who never speaks, finds himself in City 17, in a world in which mankind has surrendered to the aliens introduced in the first game. A small band of resistance fighters are determined to strike back against the military forces that oppress the city’s citizens, and Freeman is soon involved in guerrilla warfare.
The urban combat in the game is so realistic you feel like you’re actually in battle amid the city ruins. Below is the beginning of Half-Life 2, which slowly introduces you to City 17 and the sinsiter Civil Protection police force (jump to 1:40 on the video):
Here is a picture of the costume I created on the cheap, just to see how I would like it. It was a big hit at DragonCon, and I think I am going to upgrade it this year for future cons. If you are interested in creating your own Civil Protection costume, this is how you might start to assemble the pieces you’ll need without spedning a huge amount of dough.
Gas Mask – I bought the gas mask on eBay for $25. It is a Soviet PMG gas mask (find them here), and short of doing a sculpted mold replica and resin cast, this is the closest thing to the Civil Protection mask. Here are some tips for modding the gas mask for the costime:
- Get the largest size you can find. Seriously. I made the mistake of getting a medium, and the mask is so tight on my head I can only wear it for an hour, two tops. It is extremely uncomfortable
- Remove the filters from the mask so you can breathe.
- I made a paper disc the size of the lenses and took an old pair of sunglasses and cut out lenses that fit perfectly
- The top of the mask is open, showing the top of your head, so you’ll want to find a head covering that matches the color of the mask as closely as possible. I found one at an Army/Navy store; you may have to make your own
- I spray painted the front metal piece and lower piece that sticks down in silver paint
Back Head Piece Assembly – I really jury rigged this big time. It held up for DragonCon but wasn’t the ideal solution. Here’s how I put it together:
- I cut some foam into a roughly rectangular shape that goes around the back of my head, with enough space to overlap the sides of the gas mask. I got some black leatherette from Joanne’s fabrics and covered the foam with it
- I took some empty weedwacker spools and painted them green, and glued them to the sides of the head piece
- To attach the headpiece to the sides of the gas mask I used Gorilla Tape. Not a perfect solution by any means, but I was running out of time, and it held up pretty well. I would suggest using snaps and rivets, or Velcro
The rest: – I assembled these piece by piece:
- Outer vest: this is a motorcyle vest liner I found at a flea market. Any kind of black, nylon-type vest will do. I created the white squares out of reflective material at Joanne’s Fabric and sewed them to the front
- Jacket: This was an old black baseball jacket. I cut up an old tee-shirt to cover the soulders, and glued thin strips of ribbons from Joanne’s on the sleeves
- Belt: Military belt from army/Navy store, buckle spray painted silver
- Pants: Five dollars at a thrift store. Thrift stores are a costumer’s best resource. Glued white stripes on the sides
- Boots: Fifteen dollars at aan Army/Navy store. They were surplus, poor quality but who cares? They’re for a costume
- Gloves: Home Depot gardening gloves. Yes, seriously.
- Shock Stick: PVC pipe, and a plumber’s fitting on the end, spray painted black.
- Sound Effects: I have a speaker box and clipped it to the belt. I attached a hidden mp3 player and had a loop of City 17 radio chatter and ambient sound effects playing; it really brought the costume to a whole new level!
I’ve decided I like the costume enough that I’m going to upgrade it. I’m going to sculp a game-accurate mask that will be much more comfortable to wear, get better gloves and add the patches that the Civil Protection characters wore. Here are good reference photos of the CP costume: