This was a futuristic film with a credible plot on a mining outpost in deep space.
Sean Connery played O`Niel, the local lawman, sent to investigate a murder that no one will talk about…..
Quite apart from being convincing, the helmets had to ventilate efficiently to avoid misting up.
Andrew devised a system, using a Martindale filter unit, to vent and re circulate the air in the helmet through the back pack.
Design of the Back Pack
The functionality of the air circulating system more or less determined the overall shape of the Back Pack. It had to house the Martindale filter and incorporate a feed from the back of the helmet.
The rest of the design of the Back Pack was covered in `Greeblies`.. Odds and ends of embellishments to satisfy the imagination of what the item would possibly look like.
This always was a fun part of creating film props, especially as it often relied on whatever was lying around on the shop floor.
Andrew`s sister Helen, was press ganged into working when on her holidays from California.
Vac Forming Back Packs at Shepperton was a change from an easy life in the Sunshine State.
Back Pack production required about 70 units to be supplied.
Mary Lee was on Back Pack assembly. All the crew had to be very adaptable but industrial clothing was not a company policy.
Check out Mary`s rather nice, delicate high heeled sandals.
Mary`s other talents were with furnishing fabrics, and as we also supplied the boots and gloves for the production, she was quite a useful member of the crew.
Like the Back Packs, the helmet design was governed partially by the functionality.
It had to be large enough to accomodate the ventilating system.
Andrew had previously designed and made a large spherical acrylic helmet for an avert production for `Space Dust`, Confectionary that sparkled in the mouth.
`We could re-use the same design for the basis of the Outland helmet.`
Acrylic half spheres, blown on the vacuum forming machine formed the overall shape of the helmet.
Cutting the front visor shape from the same sphere, allowed the visor and helmet shell to match up well.
Testing the ventilation system.
Before the Back Pack & Helmet units were delivered, the filter and ventilation performance were tested.
No point in getting on set to find all the actors faces were unrecognizable through misting up helmets.
The ducting on the outside of the helmet was functional and necessary for ventilation, but the addition of all sorts of `Greeblies` which were incorporated into the vacuum formed helmet shells, really transformed the appearance.
It was now a sophisticated piece of space technology and even the addition of a couple of bicycle lights at the ends of the ducts, did not detract from the illusion.
Helmet clamping rings that locked into the rest of the space suite were made from rigid polyurethane incorporating metal locking clasps.
70 Helmets and Back Packs
Production of the vacuum formed ABS helmet shells had to be mated up to the clear acrylic visors,with ducting fittings and neck clamping rings.
Bernadette was on Helmet assembly, but she never complained, even after 70 units.
The helmet ducting had to work by making a sealed tunnel in the helmet. The outside vacuum formed plastic shell formed part of the tunnel, but the inside also needed a helmet liner that also formed the internal part of the tunnel.
Andrew designed a helmet liner that was made from a moulded plasticized PVC skin, back foamed with Polyurethane cushion foam. This fitted inside the shell of the helmet and formed a perfect seal that allowed the ventilation to suck through effectively.
Lighting up the faces.
Although this was an afterthought, Andrew planted a row of low voltage fairy lights around the edge of the internal helmet liner as a solution to seeing the actors face more clearly.
The effect was a convincing element that enhanced the sophisticated and functional performance of the helmet.
Andrew created many internal vacuum formed panels that helped to make up the internal sets.
In all, the helmets & back packs were pretty successful, even more so, because Andrew sold them again for a British Airways Advert.