If fun is defined as designing, planning, problem solving, frustration, do overs, and accomplishing a goal, then it is a great project.
If fun is defined as being the center of attention for the other team to kill, getting lit up with everything they have, disrupting their missions, supporting yours, then it is a scream...
Your goal should be being hated by thousands of players (other side) and loved by an equal number (your side)
You can spend as much as you want but figure excluding armorment (cannon, marker, air, ammo, plumbing) on $500 to start. Not to say you have to spend that all at once... That would include false starts and do overs unless you are really good.....
It can be a paycheck to paycheck project if you want to give up cars, girls, booze, cigarattes, etc. Just set your priorities.
Here is my second and most successful of four versions of a Star Wars ATST Imperial Walker.
Eliminate all the armorment, it weighs less than 20 pounds. I used polycarbonate twin wall which costs about $80 a 4x8 sheet that weighs 7 pounds. Incredibly strong and light. Hard to find locally and harder to ship large sheets via Fed Ex. But you don't use a lot either. It IS the structural material. There is NO FRAME other than the ALICE backpack frame. Just glued together.
Battle ready it weighs 65 pounds but includes a 22 pound air tank and autoloading cannon.
Weight is the Achilles Heel of Pugs, Mech Warriors, walking tanks.
When you reach that 70 pound mark, it quickly stops being fun to play in if you are 35 something. At 80 pounds, you had better be young and strong or be prepared to swap off with another player to keep it in the game while you "rest" while being a grunt.
Just being a grunt with a RPG, you are carrying 25-30 pounds of gear.
So whatever you build has to be 35-40 pounds empty. The lighter you make it, the more air and paint you can carry.
You look on the forums you will see quite a few attempts. Some really look cool. But you don't see field reports or reposts about them over the next few months. They don't respond to e mails about playability and playing weight. So I gather MOST were unsuccessful.
Everyone I have played against did not stay in the game due to weight and team mates unwilling to play in it.
Like most armored vehicles in paintball, they are high maintenance. One of my design hurtles was not to make a Dixie Cup tank. Fall down once and throw it away.
I was fairly successful but still had to repair damage from falling down after every game. I did a Leggo design which when I tripped and fell FORWARD, it was designed to break apart and just snap it back together. The 'turret/canopy/cannon would swing up and or pop off the body rather than break something. Downside was it had a tendency to give me a face full of cannon so I learned to shove it to the side on the way down.
The Damage requiring repairs were most often from falling backwards or sideways. The vast majority of time, I fell forward... Got 4 seasons out of it and is still repairable...
Using the same break away design, I made two PVC based walkers for a field in Hawaii. Their first experience with a tank of any kind. My budget for TWO was $500 but he furnished all the hardware for the cannon and marker.
They worked but had some flaws. The back was not stiff enough and the netting sagged terribly. Had to add a stiffener before game day on both and made it playable. Tried a different breechloader design that worked but not well. But it WAS cheap. And the break away design worked when they fell forward twice.... It popped off before the PVC broke. It also came in around that 55-60 pound mark battle ready with two 68 x 3000 air tanks, breech loader cannon, and marker.
Most importantly, I did not have access to my shop. I was working with very limited tools and equipment. Crappy table saw, hand saw, sandpaper, glue and my workbench was my pickup tailgate. It was VERY Low tech.
Back when I built my first walker, There was a LOT of resistance from players. I was also kicking major butt against armor and grunts. My favorite quote, "I'm just an old fart walking around in a duck blind that just says he is a tank..."
Some fields banned my walker and even today many fields do not allow walkers for Vague Reasons they don't want to talk about.
"Walking Tanks are just Mobile Bunkers" was my favorite because isn't that the functional definition of a motorized tank as well?
But there were some very LAME attempts out their that didn't seem more than a couple of games before they broke it. No reason to ban them forever.
From very early on, I thought about Mech Warrior Designs (suits of armor) with a cannon and marker. The sport just was not ready for that. Now it is much more accepting of a Mech Warrior design. In some places......
I've reworked the PVC design with a boxed in canopy/turret that would be more than stiff enough and hopefully be Playable weight wise. Not quite finished with the blueprints and specs yet. Winter project down in Mexico working on my tan.
My sis is a woodworker and was interested in building PVC kits for sale using that design. So I planned on building and fielding ONE of them to determine the playability and durability of it and for 'marketing' purposes.
Well, she married an early retirement and seems to have lost interest in extra income.
Like I said, I flirted with a Mech Warrior Body suit but didn't make the attempt. The sport wasn't ready.
Not to say I didn't spend considerable time researching materials and flirting with design concepts. You are welcome to that info.
The PVC design in Hawaii didn't have the 'chicken legs'. With Mech Warrior R&D using OPM (other peoples money), I made armored PANTS for leg protection. Body Armor made out of plastic wastebaskets from Walmart. They come is all different sizes, widths, lengths, Round, Rectangular. And they were a little lame but they worked. Got the rectangular ones. for the lower leg, cut the bottom out, MELTED a hole in the side at the top to attach it to the upper section. A larger, rectangular wastebasket with the bottom cut out but also cut out where they would meet in your crotch and continue up to protect the family jewels and exposed stomach. Tried nuts and bolts to no avail. Would pull out and break during the rigors of play. Out of desperation, I used 1/4" bunji cord, pan washers and a knot in the bunji cord to be the flexible pivot points for the joints. Had to cut and fit so I could actually go down on my knees and get up. Overall, it worked amazingly well but yes, they looked like they were made out of waste baskets and bunji cords. A tad lame looking. Given more time/money/planning, one could improve the cosmetics.
Now the upper body armor remains a dilemma. First, whatever you make has to have enough ventilation that you don't have a heat stroke wearing it. It has to be light, flexible, and adequate protection from paintball impacts while staying in one piece. I had a LOT of ventilation in the PVC tanks and I would still go though 2 gallons of water and electrolyte in a single 85-90 degree day. Wife wanted me to get a stress test. "I passed it already, I came home."
I pondered a variety of designs and materials. Carbon fiber tube frame with netting over it. Polycarbonate over it. Slotted aluminum. Expanded metal mesh aluminum, etc. Some seemed to have promise but did no trials against paintballs. All would not resemble anything like the first picture at the top of the post.
Armorment for a mech Warrior. I just HAD to go with a shoulder mounted cannon/rocket launcher. A Trademark for a Mech Warrior. Planned on a back pack (ALICE) frame with it mounted onto it. Carry it vertically on my back, reach up and grab the handle, pivot it down into firing position and cut loose. Reloading it was problematic but if you could swing it down in front of you, you could use a breech loader.
When I am a grunt with a RPG, I lay my marker down to shoot the RPG.
Can't do that with a Mech Warrior. I pondered a pair of football shoulder pads onto which I would mount my body and arm armor. I would attach my maker onto the arm armor.. I could let go of it to reload the cannon, raise flags, pick up props but it would be right there to grip and fire. Concept thinking only. Didn't get into design specifics.
So, this would be QUITE A CHALLENGE to make a playable Mech Warrior. Doable but problematic for a lot of reasons mentioned here. The more cosmetic you want it to look like, the more fabrication skills and finding light materials that will hold up to paintballs will be a challenge.
Might hang out at the adult Halloween costume store for Star Wars body armor and such.... Use that as a base to build on.
Might stimulate some thinking but as designed, would not survive one fall.