May 8, 2012

Creating Original Star Wars Armor with Andrew Ainsworth

"One day a good friend of mine had an enquiry for a futuristic military character. He was a scenic artist and he had no concept of how to achieve armies of slick, three dimensional characters. He was, however, an excellent artist with an enviable outlook on life and with a common passion for motor cars. When he asked me if I could make him something workable, I didn't think twice..."
Andrew Ainsworth talking about how he became involved in making the original props for ANH.

This is a quote from Andrew Ainsworth, who in 1976 with his friend Nick Pemberton were hired to create some of the most iconic characters ever to grace the silver screen. The Imperial Stormtroopers. Along with stormtroopers he also created many other helmets seen in these videos. He was able to use parts like a US army helmet and some floating pieces to make many different helmets such as the Jawbone (Death Star Gunner), the Cheese Grater (Imperial Navy) and various Rebel helmets. Got to love his names for them. Watch the video above to see how he came up with some of these helmets.

His Vacuum Forming techniques for armor has become a staple in the 501st these days, including my stormtrooper armor. It is lightweight and easy to build and wear. Other options for armor, especially helmets are resin and fiberglass. While those are heavier, they are much more durable. Vacuum forming is even the technique used by our own Darth Maul to make the stencils for his face paint. We used a pull off of a lifecast created right here at the Wampa Pen Workshop. While we use the at home oven technique, his set up is something prop builders drool about.

in 2004, Andrew claims to come across some of the original molds and was selling the copies. Sure enough Lucasfilm sued in 2006 for copyright infringement. US courts ruled in Lucasfilm's favor starting a legal war back and forth between countries. But the latest ruling in 2011, the British Supreme Court ruled that the Stormtrooper helmet was an industrial prop, and not a copyrighted sculpture,This shortened the copyright protection in the UK to 15 years from the date of first being marketed. Since this ruling, Andrew to start producing props again. But with the heat with Lucasfilm and the US rulings, my guess is this is why his site will not sell the Stormtooper parts to the US.

Check out more about the armor and history over at

1 comment:

  1. I noticed that he has Full R2 units for sale. I have no doubt the quality would be good, but I wonder how many of the R2 Builders are going to get upset over this.


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