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Make a skirmishable "Heat" Hockey Mask
Written by uscmCorps   

How to make a "Heat" Hockey Mask airsoft skirmishable

Heat is still to this day one of my favorite movies. Michael Mann made the movie in 1995, and after watching the movie again recently it occurred to me how well it holds up over a decade later. For me, there are two bad-ass scenes in the movie which always comes to mind... the armor car hold up, and the bank robbery. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, during the armor car hold up the heist crew needed to add a new member to their team and Waingro (played by Kevin Gage) was recommended to them. Little did the crew know that Waingro was a trigger happy homicidal maniac and his actions led to the homicides of all the security guards in the armor car.

Anyway, his homicidal tendencies aside, I always thought that Waingro's outfit during the armored car heist was pretty bad-ass. The most identifying feature of his outfit is the Hockey Mask. Tony, one of my friends/teammates uses the exact same mask occasionally for CQB games (with the upper portion of the mask cut off so he can use Bolle's with it). The mask is a Mylec Hockey Mask. They're not too common nowadays, but you can still find them here and there (here they are at Amazon.com link 1, & link 2) for about US$18-28. They come in two colors white and black. Waingro wore a white one, and Danny Trejo's character wore a black one. The rest of the crew wore another style of Hockey Mask.

• Here's some pics of Waingro's outfit:
Pic 1
Pic 2
Pic 3
Pretty bad-ass in my opinion! :
waingroscreencap05od6.jpg

I bought a white Mylec Hockey Mask about a year ago, but never got around to do anything with it. My buddy Tony took aluminum wire mesh and epoxied it over some of the holes for his conversion. While it's been holding up fine for him and he's used it for a few years now, I wanted to leave the entire mask intact instead of only using the lower half like he did. Looking at the mesh used in my Japanese Masks and the mesh BitterEnd Goggles uses in his goggles/masks, I bought my supplies from McMaster-Carr. (BitterEnd makes some fantastic goggle modifications BTW. I bought a pair of Fast Strikes in Multicam from him (see my review here), and he also meshed my Sykes Mask and I was very satisfied in both cases).

What I needed from McMaster-Carr:
Item # 9255T251 Steel Perforated Sheet, 36" X 40", .0625" Hole Dia, 41% Open Area, 20 Gauge (This is the Wire Mesh)
Item # 3585A12 Standard Cut High-leverage Sheet Metal Snip, Up To 18 Ga Stl,cuts Straight & Curves, 9-3/4" L (Snips to cut up the 20 Gauge Steel Sheet).
Item # 8947A11 General Purpose Hss Screw Machine Drill Bit, 3/64" Size, 1-3/8" Overall Length, 1/2" Flute Length (Drill bit to create the holes for the screws to go through)
Item # 96710A116 18-8 Ss Pan Head Torx Machine Screw, 0-80 Thread, 1/4" Length (Torx screws (50 pieces per box))
Item # 90480A001 Zinc-plated Steel Machine Screw Nut, 0-80 Screw Size, 5/32" Width, 3/64" Height (nuts for the Torx screws (100 pieces per box))
Item # 52995A23 Miniature Precision Torx Driver, Size T5, 1-37/64" Blade Length, 4-45/64"l Overall (Torx Driver to screw in the Torx Screws)
Dremel with a collet capable of holding the 3/64" Sized drill bit, and also a regular collet with a metal grinding attachment of some sort.

The wire mesh / steel perforated sheet I used was chosen because it has good visibility, small holes, and high strength. Pieces of this wire mesh I tested, showed minimal deformation when shot at point blank range at 410 fps using 0.2gram Excel BBs. Testing was done to the same degree as the tests I performed on some spare pieces of perforated mesh supplied by BitterEnd as seen here.

The Torx head screws were chosen because I liked the look of the torx head over that of a regular philips, slotted or Hex socket. The screw size was determined to be the optimum for my application as it the shaft was slim enough to pass through the perforated holes of the wire mesh, and the head was too large to pass through those same holes.

The drill bit was chosen based on the Torx machine screws used (mentioned above).

Step One: Make a paper pattern for the sheet metal.
So the first step was to take some paper and make some stencils for the eyes, nostrils, mouth etc. This took a little trial and error. You have to always keep in mind that these stencils are going to be translated onto sheet metal and you'll be limited as to how much folding and curvature you can introduce into it. After a few revisions to my paper stencils I had something that I could pattern off.

• Pic of the Patterns I used:
waingrocustom01bkl2.jpg

* Important note: the original sculpt a lot of masks are based off are sometimes not 100% symmetrical. The original sculpt of a mask is often hand sculpted by a person, and while it appears symmetrical, very often small differences from left to right may be introduced. Unless those differences are caught during the sculpting phase, all the final production masks will also have that asymmetry introduced to it. Why is this important to us? Well sometimes when you make a left piece and a right piece, even if your patterns are 100% mirrored, those pieces may not fit the same when used on the mask as the mask itself may not be perfectly mirrored. So you'll just have to adjust as you work from one side to the other.

Step Two: Cutting out the metal pieces.
Using the paper stencils, trace out the patterns onto the wire mesh. Using the snips, I rough cut each piece first allowing about 1/4" (or 5mm) of excess around the periphery of the shape. Then I cut out the shape as accurately as possible. Be careful when doing this as the metal trim will have sharp rough edges and the metal tends to curl when cut. I'd recommend gloves and eye protection.

• Here's some of the metal pieces next to the stencils:
waingrocustom02yj4.jpg

Step Three: Shaping the metal pieces.
Being that the surface these pieces will be attached to is not 100% flat, you'll need to bend them slightly to help them conform to the inner surface of the mask. Remember that you always want to bend the metal less than needed and make adjustments until it fits nicely. Bending the metal too much may weaken the metal. So try and keep your adjustments to a mimimum. You may also have to cut off more of the sheet metal to get the right fit. The stencils were simply a good starting point. I did have to use a hammer and a rounded hard surface to shape the tighter curves of the eye pieces (around the bridge of the nose area). That gave me a nice rounded complex curve.

* Be weary of how much you've bent and deformed the wire mesh. If you've bent it back and forth too much or weakened the metal in some other way, you may have to start that piece over again. It's always better to be sure that your wire mesh is absolutely as strong as possible. Weakened metal may lead to the sheet get broken when shot at or allowing a BB to pass through.

Step Four: Attaching the wire mesh to the Mylec Hockey Mask.
Take the first wire mesh piece you want to mount and position it where its final placement is supposed to be.

Hold it there with something (I just used my hand).

Think carefully as to approximately where you want the mount points (i.e. where the screws will be installed) for that piece to be. You want to be relatively smart about the mount points, doing as few as needed but also strategically placed so that you have a very securely mounted piece (also remember that too many mount points may weaken the plastic too much). You also want to allow at least 3/16" to 1/4" from the edge of the hole for the mount point.

Take the Dremel or some kind of drill with the 3/64" Sized Drill Bit installed, and from the inside of the mask drill through a wire mesh hole that most closely matches the first mount point. You're not actually drilling a new hole in the metal, just in the mask, but using a pre-existing hole in the mesh to guide you ensures that a 0-80 screw will pass through both mask and mesh correctly. Watch your fingers! Before drilling any more of the mount points, you're going to want to bolt the wire mesh to the mask using this first mount point. Using the Torx Driver, screw in a Torx screw from the outside of the mask through the new hole and the wire mesh. Then bolt it down using a nut (you may need to use a pair of needle nose pliers to hold the nut in place). In most cases, the 1/4" length screw will be a little too long and there will be a fair bit protruding out of the nut. This is fine as we will dremel off the excess later on.

Once the mesh is securely held in place using this first mount point, drill the next mount point. Bolt the next mount point, and repeat till all the rest of your mounts points are finished. The reason why I do each mount point entirely before moving onto the next is because if you drill all the mount points in one go, there's a possibility that the mesh may have shifted just enough between drillings that the mount points fall out of alignment. By doing one at a time, you should never have alignment issues.

After the first metal piece is completely mounted (with multiple mount points) move onto the next until you've done the entire mask.

When all the pieces are mounted, you can use the dremel and a metal grinding attachment (you'll probably have to switch collets) and grind off the excess of the screw down to the nut. I'm not too worried about the nuts coming off, but for those who are worried, you can add some thread lock.

The way the mask is designed, the inner surface of the mask is always kept off my face. The only contact points between my face and the mask is at the cheek bones, chin and forehead. I can't feel the bolts or mesh on the inside of the mask, but in the future I'll probably take some foam padding or rubber draw liner and cover up some of the potential trouble spots.

• Here's the mask before I added the final piece at the top of the mask to cover the top holes:
waingrocustom03brx9.jpg

• Close up of the torx screws on the mask:
waingrocustom04baz2.jpg

• Pic of the inner mask:
waingrocustom05buh2.jpg

Step Five: Painting the Torx heads white *

* This is optional.

I was a little torn whether or not to paint the Torx heads. I was tempted to leave them silver as they did look pretty cool, but in the end I just painted over them using White-Out (aka Tip-Ex). They're still slightly visible, but from a distance, not noticable.

• Close up of the painted torx head screws:
waingrocustom06du8.jpg

And that's it!

• The Final Product:
waingrocustomsmallzm7.jpg

heatworn01alzu8.jpg

*** Disclaimer : Wire Mesh masks are not as safe as ANSI rated paintball lens masks. It is entirely possible that small fragments can pass through. Also, depending how you implemented this tutorial it is entirely possible that your mask may FAIL. This tutorial is simply how I did MY mask. If you choose to try this you do so at your own risk. These do NOT meet ANSI guidelines or requirements, and there's always the possibility of serious injury.

To get the whole outfit together, I identified Waingro's Coveralls as Dickies 4897 Fisher Stripe Coveralls. Relatively inexpensive, they can be found at Amazon.com as well as various other online stores. Give it a good wash and that'll soften them up a bit and hopefully fade them a little.
As for the Black Body armor, Pantac's SVS Personal Body Armor (Black) is a pretty close fit.

• Another angle of Waingro's outfit:
Pic

Gives you a pretty cool look in the end that closely resembles the look of the movie.

Enjoy !!! ;)

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