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12 Apr 2014 - 15:07112704
Wonderflex, worbla, styrene or foam?
Ok, so I'm making a She-Ra costume, and I want to make the gold details on her dress, the tiara and the gauntlets as armour rather than from fabric. I've seen a few different versions made from wonderflex, styrene and foam, and I've also heard a bit about worbla as well. The thing is, this will be my first attempt at making armour and I'm not really sure of the pros and cons of each material.

I'm looking for a bit of guidance on each material - what is it good for, what shouldn't it be used for, how strong is it, how flexible is it, is it light or heavy, is it easy to work with, how much does it cost on average, where can I get it from etc?

I'm going to making a few other props/armour bits for 2015 cosplays as well - 3 swords, Lan-fan's armour (FMA Brotherhood), a gun - so general info/guidance about each material rather than just what would be best for She-Ra would be really massively appreciated and will be rewarded with virtual cookies .

Thanks loads!


I have no idea what you're talking about, but it's evident that your fantasies are completely incoherent.

Last edited by Divadellarte (12 Apr 2014 - 15:08)
12 Apr 2014 - 17:23112712
I don't have a ton of experience, but here's my thoughts:

Foam - probably your cheapest option.
- Very light, very flexible.
- Good for things that need to be light and flexible - from what I've seen it's also good for a leather effect if that's what you're after!
- Bad for small intricate things, things with a small intricate design, and things that will be under a lot of stress or wear (I personally wouldn't use it for shoes/foot armour, or something that would bend when you wear it).
- Easy enough to work with, though I find the thicker the foam you use, the more difficult it is to get a smooth cut with regular tools.
- It's cheap - you can get regular craft foam from places like Hobby Craft, Wilkinsons, etc., and you can use things like camping/yoga mats.
- I'd recommend Plastazote - it's a lot tougher than regular craft foam. I used the 1mm thickness stuff for Daenerys' Qarth accessories and it kept a much better shape around the body and was a lot more durable than the craft foam draft I made. I'm not sure where you would get plastazote from - I got it from coscraft.co.uk, but they don't appear to sell it anymore. I'd check eBay or have a Google.

Worbla - probably the most expensive option.
- Worbla is very versatile and very easy to use (I find it easier than foam tbh!), and any scraps that are left over can be re-used so there's no waste. If you make a mistake, just heat it up again and it's easily fixed.
- It holds its shape very well, adheres to itself so you don't need glue, and it's very durable (you can drop it, throw it, bash it, and it's likely the paintwork will be all that shows for it).
- It is best for things you need to be solid and durable, so footwear definitely. Anything that will be under a lot of wear or stress. Great for armour that needs to look solid, great for imitating metal with the right paint job. I personally think it makes more realistic armour than foam.
- Bad for...I'm struggling to think!
The weight depends on how you use it. For tough, solid armour, most people use a piece of foam sandwiched between two pieces of worbla, which obviously makes it a bit heavier. If you do this, I wouldn't use it as say an adornment on delicate fabric as it will just weight it down. If you have lots of layers of worbla/foam, it will start to get quite heavy. However, you can just use one piece and it will be quite light.
- You can get it from Coscraft.co.uk - it costs £5 for an A4 sheet, £16.50 for a medium sized sheet and £30.50 for the largest sheet. It is so worth the expense though.

Wonderflex is very similar worbla, but more difficult to get a hold of and a bit more difficult to use. You can't really melt it down to reuse like worbla, and one side has like a mesh texture to it. I'd choose worbla over wonderflex.

I don't have any experience with Styrene, sadly!

For She-Ra, I'd use foam (I'd recommend plastazote, especially for the body piece). I think Worbla may look/work a little better, but for the price difference between them, foam is probably the more cost-effective way to go! You do need to seal foam before you use it - I've heard of different things being used, from PVA to plastidip to gesso. I've heard that gesso is the way to go for worbla too (not got to that stage yet myself!), as the non-glue side has a rough texture to it.
If you do use worbla, for She-Ra I think you can get away with just using one layer.

For armour, definitely Worbla. For weapons (swords/staffs)...use expanding form. Kamui has great info on using it, definitely check her out for Worbla work too. You need something as the base (even if you just use a plastic/wooden rod for support and use cardboard for the basic shape. You can use worbla over the expanding foam to make it more solid, but using paper mache can work just as effectively (though it will obviously not be as durable.

Think about how long you want the stuff to last for and how much stress it will go through, even in your suitcase. Also think about suitcase space. Obviously, foam can be squashed down, but worbla cannot (although you can pack the inside of worbla armour with other things in your case!).

Check out this tutorial - I think it would be useful for She-Ra! The helmet shape is very similar to her headdress. http://entropyhouse.com/penwiper/costumes/helmsdeep.html


30 Apr 2014 - 09:07113156
I can only comment on foam (the sheets from craft shops kind) and say it is an awesome material for leather look. The only other thing is - don't line it with cotton gauze unless you only intend to seal it once or twice with PVA.

My Sif armour cracked a million times after I took it off, and in retrospect I would have been better off sealing the foam with PVA glue and not stiffening it. (It simply wasn't flexible enough for large areas like leg armour.)

As for the finish, I used Halford's red car paint and lacquer sprays. Because of the PVA sealing, it created a vintage leather look that looked really good in person.

Edit: Having looked at the costume, I'd say you'd be best trying Rub n Buff for a metallic look. Didn't get chance to try on foam but worth a look in.

'There is only do or do not. There is no try.'

Last edited by LewaKyser (30 Apr 2014 - 09:08)
30 Apr 2014 - 10:41113162
I can't really offer much advice but I figured it was worth chipping in - Cosplex recently cosplayed She-Ra and used veg-tan leather for her costume details - here's an example!

I'm sure she posted on her page with some links to tutorials she used and advice incase you wanted to try the same technique

Last edited by Exelia (30 Apr 2014 - 10:41)
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