Nov 122013

I have upgraded to the latest version of WordPress.  All seems well.

To celebrate the upgrade here is a picture with me and The Emperor (SL-7435) at this year’s All-Con in Dallas.  I love this shot!



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 Posted by at 7:34 pm
Jul 282011

This was my first event as a Tusken Raider.  This day was near 100 degrees and the humidity was near that high too.  Bad day for an outdoor event.  But, it certainly got the costume broken in.

The entire album can be viewed on photobucket.

 Posted by at 3:16 pm
Jul 282011


This was my first American Cancer Society Halloween Party.  Kids who have suffered from the disease and their families are invited to enjoy a little distraction from their difficult times.  We have a great time entertaining and dancing with them.  Smiles  are priceless.


My entire photo album of this event can be seen on photobucket.

 Posted by at 3:05 pm
Jul 272011

Here’s an event from a while ago.  The idea was to invite all the kids from Texas’ schools for the deaf and introduce them to the possibilities of working in the media, graphic arts, and entertainment industries.  We were part of the special effects bunch and were there with Peter Mayhew.

Some fun in the wings with Chewy

And a group shot with Peter and Angie

 Posted by at 3:29 pm
Jul 262011

There are three main parts to building an accurate Darth Vader belt.

The Belt

Although some argument may still exist, the general consensus is the belt is 2 1/4 inches wide.   It is black.  And, it has narrow channels carved into it about 1/8 inch in from each edge.  This belt style is consistent through the original trilogy movies.

Artisan Props Vader Belt

The Buckle

Each episode has a different belt buckle.  I got mine from russrep in England.

Vader ANH Buckle

Vader ANH Aluminum Buckle

Belt Boxes

Perhaps the most noticeable difference between the versions is the belt boxes.  The Episode IV boxes are definitely unique among them.  First, the box itself is unique in that it has a lid held on by two screws.  The mesh in the opening is unique and is said to be the speaker grill material from a vintage reel-to-reel audio tape machine.  The knobs are smooth and have red washers under them.  The washers on mine need to be repainted, the red has faded a bit.

Most of the other versions use a fairly common size plastic project box as well as fairly common green lights.

My boxes and knobs are from russrep, the opaque red lights are a common item, the mesh is currently available on a toy, and the green lights are apparently still available in Europe.

ANH Belt Box

ANH Belt Box

I wired the entire thing to a single battery pack.  Each box has 3 bright white LED lights with a 47 ohm resistor.  They go to a single 3.7v 14500 battery in a box with a switch at the back of the belt.

Belt battery pack

Closed battery pack

I tested on a fully charged battery and finally turned it off after about 14 hours.  That should be enough time for anything.

Battery load test

Here is the whole thing all done.

Finished belt

 Posted by at 1:46 pm
Jul 262011

Most people, including the studios, use a set of padding to mount the Vader mask to the wearers face.  There are advantages to this method.  But, the down side is it is not an easy helmet to put on and off.  Generally it involves removing the outer dome then unstrapping the mask from the face.  Plus, the contact with the pads become rather hot and soggy in warm and humid weather.

I’ve seen several attempts at using a hardhat liner (suspension) to mount the mask.  Then when looking at the “trooping helmets” created by Darth Stone, I saw he was simply permanently mounting the outer dome to the mask so it could just be worn and removed like any other trooper helmet.  Genius!

So, I set out to configure my new helmet to use a hardhat suspension and assemble it as a single unit.

-Preparing the hardhat

The hardhat itself is used as the mounting system for the suspension.  Of course the hardhat is much to large to fit in the Vader mask.  So, it is reduced to only a band that will hold the suspension as shown below.

Hardhat liner reduced to mounting band

The reduction of the hardhat to a single band is a LOT of work.  Using a Dremmel tool with cutting wheels and sanding drums, this takes a few hours.  You also need to remove the rear of the band to allow it to flex when fitting it into the mask.

The part that will sit on your forehead will go just even with the top of the eye holes in the mask.  This is the area covered with the grey perforated vinyl in the above picture.

In this photo, you can also see I drilled holes at about 1/2 inch intervals between the two suspension mounts.  This will make finding a mounting spot in the mask easier later in the process.

-Mounting the hardhat band

In the picture below, you will see how it gets positioned in the mask.  This takes some time to get correct.  Take your time.  I used a friend and a large mirror to assist in the positioning of the band within the mask.

First, figure out where the rear most bolts will need to be located.  While standing with the band on your head push the mask on your face while facing the mirror.  I then fidgeted with the position until we were all happy with the fit and look.  Then have your assistant mark the location on the mask and the band at the rear most location of the helmet.  You will end up with marks on the mask and band showing where it was located when you were happy.  Then, with the mask off, position the band back in the mask where the marks were made.  Using a thin marker or pen, poke some ink through the rear most hole to drill into the mask.  Insert the bolts from the inside out for fitting.

Here’s a look from the inside of the mounted band.  Notice the location of the front just at the top of the eye socket.

NOTEMake sure the band is tight against the front of the mask.  In my mask, I had no room to spare.  With the band up against the front of the mask, the rear of the hardhat ratchet just barely clears the back where it would touch the dome when mounted.

Now, repeat the process for the front bolts, but now you need to hold the band in place through the eye sockets.  Do not let go or let it slip while removing the mask.  Mark the front bolt holes about 1 1/2 inches forward of the rear holes.  You should end up with bolts located like the picture below.

Hardtat bolted in mask

When the whole thing is ready to be made permanent.  I will be using washers and cutting off the bolts flush.  They should also be glued or use a thread lock from the auto supply store to prevent the nuts from coming off.

In part two, I will be bolting the mask to the dome.

 Posted by at 10:53 am
Jul 252011

In episode 4, A New Hope, Darth Vader’s cape is an enigma.  Most people who you talk to have the impression his cape and robe are made from black wool suit material.  I have always been under the impression its made from a felt like wool material.  Perhaps a heavy coat material with a felt like surface.

Here is a picture of him in the TIE fighter scene.  Notice the texture of the robe.

Vader in his TIE fighter

Here’s the close-up

Here’s another good shot of the texture and look of the cape.

and the close-up

Seems apparent to me that this version is not a suiting fabric like a gaberdine or even a crape like in ROTS.

Watch the movement of the cape in ANH versus the other versions in various scenes.  I’m also convinced it is a much heavier fabric in ANH which may indicate a thicker coating material.

Food for thought.

 Posted by at 6:05 pm
Jul 252011

I’m adding some of my older events.  These pictures are from an event way back in 2005.  We were helping the marines with a Toys-4-Tots event at a local Toys-R-Us store.  This was only a month or two after I joined the 501st.  Fun times

 Posted by at 4:32 pm