The first task was the visor shell. Back in the late 80s, while geared up at a convention in So Cal, Bryan and I were approached by a couple of other guys dressed up as Ghostbusters. Their gear wasn’t too bad, but it was clear they didn’t have access to reference photos like those I took in September of 1984 in Scottsdale. They were kind enough to give us a couple of Clippards, a couple of other small odds and ends, and a vacuform pull of a night vision goggle visor with some details indicated in pencil.
This visor kicked around in my possession for over 25 years until last year when I decided to add this prop to my arsenal. Because the Ecto Goggles were never, like, my most favorite prop my initial plan was to just throw something together using this piece as the foundation, using PVC pipe and other odds and ends to create something in the ballpark of the real prop.
I was worried that a vacuformed visor would be too flexible and delicate to withstand punishment, and I was also concerned about the soft detail. I hit upon the idea of using the vauformed piece as a mold for a fiberglass visor.
I coated the interior of the vacuformed piece with mold release wax and airbrushed in PVA. I tested a small area to see whether the resin would melt the plastic:
The vacuformed plastic didn’t melt, so I proceeded to glass the whole thing:
I had to tear this makeshift mold a bit to get the fiberglass piece out, but it came out fairly cleanly.
But as I started to study frame grabs and other builds I realized I was in for a TON of work to clean up the piece. The radius transiitioning from the visor front to the flanges that rest against the face (through padding) was way too round; it should have been a much sharper transition. Sanding that down would have been almost impossible. I considered completely cutting off the flange and building a new one from sheet plastic or recasting it from fiberglass. Then I noticed that, instead of being square, my vacuform mold was tapered, wider in the back (which makes sense given the nature of vacuforming). The front rim was also pretty screwed up.
At that point I decided it would be much easier if I just spent $30-$40 bucks to buy an authentic PVS-5 visor off of eBay. I purchased a blank frame from Nightsite (Sean Fagan), the go-to guy for these things.
These side-by-side comparisons show how messed up that vacuform/fiberglass version was:
My time has value, too. Buying a real frame probably saved me 30+ hours of work or more. Well worth it.
After buying this visor my perfectionism kicked in, and I decided I wanted to try to make a finished prop as close to the actual one as possible.
I planned to detail this visor blank with snaps and rivets according to the directions penciled onto the vacumformed piece we were given over 25 years ago. But while commenting on this build thread:viewtopic.php?f=12&t=42654&p=4897608#p4897608
Conqueror_Worm informed me that what I thought were rivets were actually smaller snaps for the face padding. I set out to locate comparable snaps, but after several hours of online searching I found out they’re very hard to come by.
So again, in an effort to save time and hassle, I went back to eBay and Nightside to buy a visor that came complete with the snaps. He had a few that were pretty grungy but reasonably-priced. These versions had the battery pack above the visor. I guess this is the “B” model of these?
The small snaps were pretty corroded. I threw increasing strengths of acid at them to brighten them up, but nothing seemed to make a dent. I ended up sanding them a bit. As I later learned when adding a single snap to the right side, it's hard to add snaps to molded plastic, so having them already set into the shell, despite being corroded, was another big timesaver.
I removed the stickers using some adhesive release I'd had kicking around for, like, 30 years.
I used Micro Mask to protect the metal pieces and primed the visor with Krylon Grey Sandable Primer.
Per Conqueror_Worm’s thread I used Tamiya TS-28 Olive Drab Spray Lacquer for the final olive-drab coat. I don’t know if this is 100% accurate, but the color of the prop varies widely in the movie under different lighting conditions.
I then let it sit this way for, like, three months, which was a mistake. The primer and paint had really hardened, making it very difficult to peel off the Micro Mask, especially on the small snaps I’d sanded. The Micro Mask and paint really bit into those rougher surfaces.
With the basic visor prepped it was on to the most technically complex and time-consuming part of the build, creating accurate lenses.