After more than thirty years as the foremost British comic-book character, Judge Dredd has become so iconic a figure that it is only when you stop to study the character’s appearance, and put aside your familiarity with him, that you realise how thoroughly original and unique the concept of 2000ad’s Lawman of the Future uniform really is.
The helmet, with its indelible and perminant scowl of disapproval, is a master-stroke of design.
The Badge of Office, worn as body armour and shielding the chest, is sybolically shackled to its wearer with a chain and zip that screams of pure 1970s punk-rock.
Chunky gauntlets and even chunkier boots not only protect the wearer but are clearly intended for use as offensive weapons.
Covering each shoulder and, to some extent protecting the neck, is a pad of light-weight armour. Curving over the shoulder from front to back, from chest to shoulder-blade, one of these shoulder-pads is a simple ribbed afair while the other is…
…the Eagle of Justice! Dredd’s creators, artist Carlos Ezquerra and writer John Wagner, were really thinking out of the box when they were inspired to place the symbolic bird-of-prey over the strong right arm of their brain-child, and the bizarre emblem remains there today unchanged.
A flick through my complete collection of 2000ad shows that Dredd’s ensemble of artists across the decades have tackled this tricky bird in a variety of ways - from Brian Bolland’s painstakingly detailed and anatomically accurate rendition, through Ian Gibson’s beautiful caricature replete with beady-eyed expression of disapproval , to Siku’s daringly abstract and deco interpretation -the essence of the Eagle of Justice pad remains the same.
Recreating the fundamental look and ethos of that iconic shoulder pad in the real world might prove a bit of a challenge…
Happy with the look, shape and size of the completed pepakura Judge Dredd helmet, it was now time to turn it into something far more hard-wearing and solid; and to do this I’m using the tried-and-tested MUD technique. This technique is being praised throughout the amateur prop-building community on forums and bulletin boards… so how hard can it be?
Firstly I gave the entire inside surface of the helmet a single layer of fibre-glassing. I used a kit straight off the shelf from Halfords- nothing fancy. A single layer of fibreglass tissue held in by a strong mix of resin took no more than ten minutes to apply and 20 minutes to set solid.
The MUD mix was next. I used a 50/50 mix of P38 brand car body filler and fibreglass resin. This was mixed thoroughly to a smooth paste and then a small amount of hardener was mixed throughly in. My first mix was quite runny (about the consistency of emulsion paint) to ensure it soaked in well and found its way into all the nooks and crannies. Being runny, I left it to dry overnight.
A second layer of MUD was applied the next day - this time the mix was approximately 70/30 P38 to resin, with a more generous amount of hardener added. The result was a porridge-like goop that brushed onto the helmet nicely.
MUD will run when applied - as you can see in the picture, it has dribbled down the temporary plastic visor put in place to help the helmet hold its shape - but you just have to allow for that and be prepared to do a fair bit of sanding and tidying of the piece later…
- Is it a bird?
- What’s a bird?
- Is it a Bat Glider?
- Nah! It’s just some clown in a cape!” —
Four Mega City Citizens conversing while staring into the sky.
2000ad Comic, prog 442 (dated 2 Nov 1985) - ”Judge Dredd - Megaman”
Aren’t we supposed to use silver bullets or something - ?
Stow the silver bullets - BIKE CANNON!” —
~ Judge Fogg’s question and Judge Dredd’s stoic reply on encountering a rampaging werewolf in Mega City One.
2000ad Comic, “Judge Dredd: Cry of the Werewolf - part two”.
Prog 323, dated 2nd July 1983