Full Circle

The Back Pack

© 2001 Gunther Anderson

by Gordon Callahan

Bowman beyond the infinite

© 2001 D. M. Dubé

Bowman removing the AE-35 gyroscope

Bowman on his way to the pod bay

The backpack was constructed after the chest pack, so I could apply much of what I'd learned working on the latter.  Perhaps most important was that I didn't need to have both a cardboard skeleton and a posterboard shell.  Posterboard was more than strong enough for most purposes.  I built the pack as a central trunk with boxes hanging off of it, and the rocket cluster at the bottom as a separate box.  The central column is actually still cardboard, but each of the four yellow objects that wrap around it are folded posterboard.  And the rocket block is just empty posterboard.

Like with the chest pack, I closed all the gaps and rough edges, and reinforced structure where needed, with yellow electrical tape (click on the top picture to see an enlarged version where the tape is more obvious).  And again, it was invisible from the stage.

The rocket pack at the bottom is also just folded posterboard secured with yellow electrical tape.  The silver jets are posterboard covered with tin foil and rolled into cones.  They're taped inside with lots and lots of electrical tape (it was stronger than the old cellophane tape we had lying around, and less crude than duct tape).  Originally, I thought I could get away with simply drawing the rocket cones in place with black and silver paint and markers.  I'm glad I had time to make the silver cones after all - it really made a big difference, and lent a lot of credibility to the pack.

The backing material is simply yellow foam-core, and the boxes are all glued with Elmer's® to its surface.

The white and black areas are craft foam; the knobs on the white areas are more colored mirrors, and the ticking on the black strip is more Wite-Out.  The knobs on the right of the picture are, well, generic knobs from You-Do-It Electronics.  In retrospect, I should have gotten some guitar knobs from someone - it would have been cheaper.  It pays, sometimes, to work in the music industry.

The silver things on the boxes are silver vinyl wrapped around craft foam, with black foam glued to the surface.  These are intended to be evocative of the structure of those boxes, but not identical.  I could never get a really good shot of them, and it wasn't important that they be perfect - just plausible.  In the upside-down shot of bowman at the radar dish, you can see more of the structure and shape of the packs.  As with most elements of this costume, I got close enough for a stage presentation.

On the top of the pack you can see a slightly misplaced air-hose connector (it should be biased right, not centered).  This is the same conduit nipple we used on elsewhere to attach to some the black corrugated tubing.  The air hose was simply clear 1/2" plastic tubing.  Because we didn't have the corrugated black tubing for these photographs, they don't appear.  However you can see the tubes quite well in the various WorldCon shots sprinkled throughout the presentation.

In the Balticon official photography (Gordon Callahan's shots), I don't actually have the air hose in place.  In the green room, I was uncertain whether the hose connector would hold or not, so I decided not to put it on until the last minute, in hope that it would hold just long enough.  It actually held perfectly.  In the shot with the monolith, staged out back of the house, you can see the hose happily in place, attached to the helmet as it was in the presentation.

The straps are the same 1.5" webbing used on the chest pack, and as I noted there, the straps are fixed to both packs, so you can't separate them any more.  As with the chest pack, the straps are sewed to D-rings which are attached to the foam core with hair pins.  The pins straddle the D-rings, punch through the foam-core, and are bent and taped flat on the other side.  The boxes were then glued over them to hide the pins.

The crotch webbing forms a Y to attach to the single buckle on the front.  But where the front showed an obvious triangle connector linking the straps together, the back did not, and I couldn't believe there was one trapped between the actors' legs.  So instead I sewed three lengths of webbing together in a Y shape - two from the backpack, and one out to the other side of the buckle.  It was much more comfortable than it could have been.

I should note that the packs appear larger on me than they do on Dullea and Lockwood.  I'll admit that my dimensions are based on what I saw on the movie, and not very precise, but I really think it's really because Dullea and Lockwood are much bigger than I am.

Continue on to the helmet

Return to previous page
Send me mail