Eight years ago, I embarked on what I look back at now, as one of the best experiences i have had with any of my costuming endeavours. Being a part of the Mandalorian Mercs, forming up and leading Clan Vhetin’Ade, to moving up the ranks to Regional Commander of Canada to subsequent retirement has put me in touch with a great number of people and artists across the world.
Here then, is the build on the armor that after a year off, is being worn once again in troops with the local clan, Vhetin'Ade.
I happened to be looking around on The Dented Helmet, a Boba Fett costuming resource forum, when i happened across a thread that was entitled Custom Mandalorians. I was curious enough to take a peek and that is when I was firt introduced to the Mandlaorian Mercs, a Lucasfilm approved costuming group dedicated to similar ideals as the 501st by way of quality costumes, charity works etc. After some research (and being a fan of Star Wars) I thought to give a shot at becoming an official member.
And so, it begins with a helmet. Unless you get lucky, and can find a Don Post 95 Boba Fett Helmet on Ebay for a reasonable price, you are left with only a few options. But a fan made kit, make one yourself from pepakura files (Wizard of Flight is the best source for this avenue. Check the sidebar for links to the files and other helpful tips and tricks) or you can look around for a two peice Jango Fett from Rubies Costume. Most people settle for the fan kits, as the quality is good, it fits most head sizes and the creators of these kits are vetted (reputable) and approved by the club already. For my needs, the Jango Two Piece was perfect in fit and budget.
The images a bove show the finished paint job, but there was some work that needed to be done before hand. One, the seam that ran from side to side had to be filled in with bondo, and the entire top of the helmet smoothed out with sandpaper. the visor also needed to be replaced, as the one the helmet came with originally was not nearly dark enough. I had to flare out the bottom a little bit with steel wire (craft wire) as the shape was too “square” overall. I also had to bang up the paint job to make it look more used and “in universe”. Over the years, more modifications were made to the helmet. A little more wear and tear, the addition of some more decals and a gladiator type strip of styrene that ran down the centre of the visor gave it a more intimidating look.
The armor itself was based off my own hand drawn patterns. The original design was very simple in look and I wanted to go for a “heavy” feel, as in, more armor coverage than the norm. The armor plates consisted of three chest pieces, two part pauldrons, thighs and lower legs and a cod piece. The back plate and backpack were scratchbuilt from my own design as they needed to be a little more functional in removal than a harness, and the gauntlets were originally a Ruffkin Toy vacuform. Like the helmet, changes over the last few years have improved the look overall.
Additions and accessories also go to lend a huge hand in completing the heavy armoured bounty hunter look. A backpack is the most staple of all the Mandalorian builds and come in various designs from thier own respective creators. My first one was relatively simple.
Constructed out of sintra (pvc sheet) plastic cups and a few found items (plastic bowl, foam rings, discarded copier cartridges, a burnt out electrical transformer and some wood model parts from a tank kit, the pack took on a very unique shape and design all on its own. With some home printed decals, some weathering and a few special individual touches, the pack looked very much “in character”.
You will notice that the color scheme is very consistent. this is important in helping to develop the character as colorations and combnations of color have meaning in the Mandalorian Culture of the Star Wars universe. I did not plan for this during my design phase, as I wanted to co with a canadian theme. Things like this sometimes work out. Im glad it did, as this set has become very recognizable over the last six years, even with the subtle improvements.