Rapid Tooling Story Time – How This Manufacturing Procedure Improved Hollywood’s Costumes and Props
By Nice Rapid | Jun 20 , 2020

If you are a fan of films, you probably have noticed the amount of craftsmanship that goes in many of Hollywood’s props and costumes in cinema these days. This is not exactly a new practice, since the days of older space-soap operas like Star Wars and Battle Star Galactica. The utility department of studios has been very creative when it comes to manufacturing the weapons, accessories, and costumes used by actors on the screen. If you are wondering how many of these props are made for larger productions, the answer is simple: rapid tooling manufacturing. 

These days the number of sci-fi productions has exponentially increased. It is nearly impossible to switch a channel without catching a cult film or a TV show based on costumed characters. The overall looks are very consistent with their source material, but eagle-eyed fans will notice the amount of detail some of these costumes have. One of the finest examples we can think about is the Batman costume used by Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. The suit resembles a lightweight version of anti-riot armor worn by many police officers around the world.

The process of creating such a stunning looking suit begins with a CAD model and an original sketch. The manufacturer must balance the great look of the costume with the practicality needed for the actor to be able to move. After an original prototype has been created using a mold cast made from the body of the actor, each piece of the armor is recreated multiple times. Rapid tooling helps by creating a cast mold for every part of the costume so that the prop department can line a single, full-body piece with the “armor” plates.


Other Stories of Rapid Tooling in the Set of Films

We just mentioned one of the latest examples in a film trilogy that is eight years old to this date, but what about something back in the past? Rapid tooling has been around since the ’90s. Some of the most stunning visuals could not have been created without this technology. One of the most iconic examples is the first-ever film of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While engineering and the master craft of the puppeteers of the Jim Henson Company where necessary to bring the turtles to life, rapid tooling was required to make their masks have the facial expressions they all have.  


The same film shows an army of ninjas led by a razor-welding warrior named Shredder who uses metal plates in his shoulders, arms, legs, and a fully clad helmet with pointy ends. All the props, as well as the costume of the Turtles enemies, were created using rapid tooling procedures. It’s the best way to make multiple versions of any outfit with diverse materials to make sure the actors didn’t inflict any damage among themselves in their staged fights. Among the many examples we can bring about the past, there is one that truly stands out on merits of accomplishment, and that would be Johnny Deep’s Edward Scissorhands.

Edward Scissorhands wasn’t the role that rose Johnny Deep to stardom. He was already an established actor before getting the part. He did imprint the creation of Tim Burton with his aura of innocence in a very menacing garb. To this date, the film is still regarded as a cult classic, and it has some unique visuals achieved to date. Out of all the props made for the film, there is a couple that is considered one of the most exceptional achievements of rapid tooling to date: Edward’s actual scissor hands. Unknown to most, the Scissor hands worn by deep were made with grade-5 titanium alloy, so they were functional as well as weightless. To this day, they remain one of the greatest achievements of rapid tooling on the big screen.


Rapid Tooling in the Mass Market of Costumes

Back in the XX century, dressing as a superhero was something reserved for kids. These days things are different, and adults enjoy getting into a costume as much as their kids, especially when a party comes along or when Halloween is around, and the kids need a chaperone to trick or treat. If you take a moment to see the type of costumes worn by a grown man in the past, you probably would have been disappointed since most of them were just plain fabric with bright colors. These days, thanks to rapid tooling, you can wear an excellent facsimile of the same costumes used by your favorite characters on screen.

You will notice how you can even wear the same props as your favorite characters since cheaper versions of them exist for sale. If we dive back to our early example of the Nolan trilogy of Batman characters, back in 2012, the adult costume of that year was the version of Bane we saw on the screen portrayed by Tom Hardy. Run a quick search on Amazon, and you will see that all the props used by the character have been replicated using rapid tooling and low-costs plastics to resemble the look. Don’t feel out! Thanks to this manufacturing technology, you can disguise as your favorite character to have a great time. Also, welcome to contact us by email at enquiry@nice-rapidtooling.com to get free quote. 

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