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How it’s Made: Anthem Javelin Exosuits

Building a Life-sized Javelin for EA Play

In Anthem, Javelins are the powerful and customizable exosuits that give players superhuman abilities. For those brave enough to venture into the wilds outside Fort Tarsis, a Javelin is essential to survive this dangerous world.

At EA Play, attendees saw Javelins on-screen, but also in real life: we brought four life-sized Javelins with us. Built by Henchmen Studios with direction from BioWare, the Ranger, Storm, Interceptor, and Colossus were on-site to give attendees a unique look into the world of Anthem.

These suits aren’t your typical costumes—they’re complex and intricately built with fantastic attention to detail. To learn how they were created, we went directly to Henchmen Studios to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to build four real-life Javelins for EA Play.

The real-life Javelin exosuits were crafted by the talented team at Henchmen Studios, in Toronto, Canada. A team of 17 were involved throughout the various steps in the creation process, from 3D modelling and fabrication to sewing and painting.

Before building the suits, production planning and prototyping took place over several months. Once building began, Henchmen Studios built all four Javelins from start to finish over an 11 week period. The Ranger, Storm and Interceptor all stand at 7’2” tall and weigh approximately 50 lbs a piece, whereas the giant Colossus stands at 8’5” tall and weighs 100 lbs. The team aimed to nail the accurate size and proportions of the Javelins, while keeping the costumes as safe and as easy to wear as possible for the performers at EA Play.

Each Javelin has a variety of materials appropriate to their needs, from spring steel and aluminium, to Cordura and leather.

The Ranger, Storm and Interceptor’s rigid armor pieces are a combination of cast plastic, and finished PLA and ABS 3D prints. The 3D prints are backed in fiberglass to create high impact and durable armor. In order to limit the weight of the massive armor pieces of the Colossus, they are constructed from EVA foam and finished PLA 3D prints backed in fiberglass.

Each Javelin makes use of stilts to create the larger than life silhouette of the characters. They are made up of materials like spring steel rods, stainless steel cabling, lightweight aluminium, and PVC pipes. Tailored to each performer’s comfort, the stilts allow for minimal strain on feet and legs while they're being worn. Additional adjustments included padding out the performer’s body proportions to balance the scale of their new ‘legs’ and height with the rest of their body. This was done with a combination of padded muscle suits and armor to build the illusion of a large body structure.

The sewn elements of the costumes use a mixture of vinyl, leather, Cordura, woven fabrics and custom printed textiles. Many of the elements are quilted or backed with varying weights of upholstery foam or headliner foam to recreate the automotive upholstery inspired elements of the suits.

The project kicked off with a round table discussion to break each Javelin down into individual components, brainstorm materials, establish final rigging process, and to identify any potential barriers that would need to be addressed during the build.

Next, a part list and production schedule were created for each Javelin to track the creation of each element. The team were subdivided into smaller crews per Javelin, with a team lead to keep everything running smoothly.

Once the project was set up, there were numerous tasks which needed to be executed simultaneously in order to keep production moving efficiently. The digital team began the 3D modelling process while the fabrication team started prototyping elements, such as stilts, for a proof of concept.

The sewing team took the models' measurements and created padded muscle suits to build out each performer’s proportions to match the scale of the final Javelins. Next, they moved on to patterning and producing mock-ups of the fabric elements for each suit to confirm the fit and placement of specific elements. Once the digital model and prototyping stages were complete, they moved on to printing and creating the final pieces that would be used on the Javelins. The final digital models were 3D printed at a high resolution. Next, the body shop team assembled and sanded each piece to perfection. The Colossus was built differently than the others due to his large size; the internal frame structure was constructed from aluminium and PVC. Once everything was assembled, the team moved into final rigging and painting.

Mounting points and closures were finalized and secured on the armor pieces and undersuits prior to painting. Once the team was happy with the final riggings strength and stability, all the armor was primed and prepped for painting. The paint jobs on the Javelins required meticulous masking and taping to create the levels of distressing seen throughout the Javelins. Base layers of paints were applied first, then painters went in with airbrushing, washes and patinas to bring everything to life. After a final clear coat to protect the paint job, the Javelin exosuits went through final assembly.

Here we have it folks, the finished products:

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