I recently upgraded my skills in SketchUp, as well as in my understanding of how 3D printers work, and how well their materials perform. I also learned how to measure when I’m trying to recreate something! Using these amazing, newfound skills, I have created some seriously great metal Captain America: The First Avenger (TFA) buckles. I know, that’s a lot of patting-on-the-back, but I’ll tell you why.
When I was making this costume, I could find most anything I needed as far as materials either online or in some nearby shop. However, I absolutely couldn't find any of the buckles for the costume. In Captain America: The First Avenger (TFA), his costume has a very military look and feel, with the use of combat boots, utility buckle with what looks like ammo pouches, and the parachute harness that looks like it’s sewn into the suit. The buckles for that harness really resemble typical parachute buckles, but with a custom flair of course.
Sure, I was able to find something that would work for Captain America buckles either online, at REI or an Army surplus store, but never an accurate buckle. That’s when I decided if I wanted accuracy, I’d have to do it myself. Hence Superhero DIY!
With my 1/6 scale Hot Toys Captain America: The First Avenger figure in hand, and of course the blu-ray of the movie, I had everything I needed to recreate the buckles – I just needed to take the time to do it.
So, over the last few months, I did it! I’ve been able to create the most accurate buckles that I’ve found anywhere, and Shapeways is able to print these metal Captain America buckles at what I think is a pretty reasonable price – especially in steel!
If you don’t like steel, of course there are the plastic versions. The different plastic materials really do look great – especially the polished versions – but they just aren’t the same. When printed in metal, these metal Captain America TFA buckles have an amazingly realistic look and feel to them. They’ve got a real bit of heft to them, much like the die-cast 1/6 scale Hot Toys Iron Man XLIII figure, due to the metal used. They’re solid, durable, and can withstand some good costume distressing!
Anyway, on to the buckles. The first buckles I worked on were what I call the front strap buckles. These buckles go on the red straps in front. The strap first goes through, then up over the front chest buckle, and back through this very cool-looking metal Captain America buckle. Sounds like an adjustable slide, right? Here’s my original post on them, when I got them printed in plastic (White, Strong and Flexible). I can now print these myself, so buy them if you need em!
These are actually adjustable slide buckles, but they are very customized. I know because I searched and searched and searched, both online and in-store everywhere but found nothing quite like them! These actually weren’t too hard to do, but needed to be sized correctly. That’s just a bit difficult when working from pictures and a 1/6 scale figure, but hey it worked out!
Here are the metal versions:
Next of the metal Captain America buckles on the agenda was the lower back harness buckle. This is the one that connects the strap that runs from the upper harness buckle down to the belt. The buckle resembles a triangular parachute harness buckle, but has some extra detail added as well as a whole separate bar that runs from the top down to the base; something you won’t find on any other buckle. Trust me, I’ve looked! Another specific difference is the circle at the bottom, meant to grab whatever hook is on Cap’s belt to attach to the harness.
This one was a doozy and took some real time and LOTS of watching “How-to do this” and “How-to do that in Sketchup” videos on YouTube. Alas, I was able to get the perfect buckle created in only four iterations! Not bad, really! Here's the link if you need this part printed.
UPDATE: I since have learned Fusion360, and was able to create the upper back buckle as well. This prints great and is plenty strong in PLA plastic! If you need one, pick one up from my shop.
The costume only needs four of these fairly simple rectangular buckles, which go higher up on each side of each pauldron, and attach the arm straps.
Lastly, the front chest buckle. This is the buckle that connects the grey webbing/straps to the red. It’s much simpler than I thought, but has an interesting shape to it – it’s much flatter than expected and only has one opening. It does need to be strong, though, especially if this is going to be carrying the weight of the super-soldier! The suit only needs two of these.
And that does it for the Captain America buckles (that I had to make)! The belt buckle, easily enough, came with the UD Replicas Captain America TFA belt that I was able to acquire, so that’s simple enough. I may just decide to make that one as well though, just for the heck of it.
Did I also mention that I’m offering these metal Captain America TFA buckles as printable products on Shapeways? Just check out my store and get them printed if you need them! Shapeways always does an excellent job printing 3D models, and shipping is fast once production is completed in about 2 weeks.
If you need them faster, I can print them in PLA plastic myself for far less! However, they will be breakable as they're only 3D-printed plastic, but good enough for most cosplay applications. Send me a message on Instagram or Facebook if you're interested, or just check out my shop.
Good luck with your costumes and let me know what you think in the comments!