Before starting a costume of this caliber, it's important to understand what you're getting yourself into. The time and money involved in making a quality costume is not something for everyone. If, however, you're serious about the commitment to quality and accuracy like me, I've outlined some tips that might help. These instructions are only a guide and are not always the best solution depending on the individual situation. They are taken from my personal experience of constructing my own Boba Fett costume, and as such are my solutions. I'm giving away my trade secrets here, so please... don't copy this document and place it on your own page, or distribute it in e-mails, etc. Instead, help keep this site active by linking your site here. Click here for banner images. Thanks for your help. Now that's out of the way, here's the secrets you'll find only here at The Ultimate Boba Fett Costume:
TUBFC Costume Construction Index
Tools and Misc.
Helmet- it's in the visor:
Start with a Don Post Boba Fett mask. Remove the plastic visor and sand entire helmet with 200 grit sandpaper. Use a Dremel Tool with a cutting disc to remove the t-shaped "visor " using care not to remove the red portion of the mask. Trim any excess with an x-acto knife until you have a nice clean edge.
Now take a face shield (used for grinding wheels- available at hardware stores) and separate from the headband until you have just the curved piece of clear plastic. Use the "cut" visor piece from the mask as a pattern for your new clear plastic visor. Trace the "pattern" on the shield leaving ample excess for the glue line. It's better to cut a little at a time than cut too much. See how it fits inside the mask- it should line up with about a 1/4" excess on the inside.
Prepare the inside of your mask for the visor. Use 40 grit sandpaper to roughen the edge where the visor meets the mask. By roughening up the mask and your visor (using care not to scratch the viewing area) where the epoxy meets will help create a strong bond. Mix a small amount of 2 ton 5 min epoxy and starting with one side press the visor on the inside of the mask. By starting on one side and gluing small areas at a time, you can better control the contour of your visor. It's also helpful to use squeeze clamps where able, if not use your hands to squeeze the pieces together to form a strong bond. Make sure the mask surrounding the downstroke of the visor (nose, mouth area) is evenly lined up.
After the visor is epoxyed in place, cut some small hinge-like pieces of Sintra for supports and glue them inside the visor along the mouth area. They'll help keep the visor from coming unglued. It's also helpful to run excess epoxy along the seal to help strengthen the bond.
Most Don Post BF masks look like they've been run over by a Cadillac. If your mask is crooked you can straighten it by buying a metal crochet loop, cutting it in half and gluing it along the contour of the back of your mask. This also helps prevent warping in temperature changes and keeps the visor in place.
A detailed paint job is needed to finish off your helmet. I used special screen printing inks thinned with lacquer thinner. WARNING: don't use enamel spray paints on your mask. They won't dry and leave your helmet tacky to the touch. The best advice is to consult a paint expert or call a screen printer and explain the situation. The mask is a latex plastic that requires special paint or inks that aren't sold at most hardware stores. Mask off the visor and paint accordingly. After that, just follow the references in photos from Lucasfilm. Try your best to weather the helmet according to reference- Fett fans know where the scars are.
After the primary painting is done, it's time to tint the visor. I used black limousine window tint- it's dark enough so people can't see my face, yet I can see out of it better than most people think. Don't buy the static cling tint used on home windows, but instead get yourself a square of the sticky stuff from an auto tint shop. Start with one end and rub down the tint being careful not to get any airbubbles. Trim with an x-acto as you go, but be careful not to rip the tinting. After the outside is done, paint the inside of the visor from the mouth area down black. This eliminates light from passing though the bottom of the mask and revealing your face. It shouldn't hinder your vision much and it makes a big difference when people can't see your face.
I've heard a hardhat liner works well fro keeping the helmet from wobbling, but I prefer sponges. I bought a jumbo cellulose sponge, cut it in half and glued each half to the inside where my ears fit. The sponges keep the helmet stationary, but I can also move it easily if needed.
Armor- the greatest secret never told:
Perhaps the most frequent question I hear is- "how did you make the armor?" Most costumes I've seen are either made of sheet metal of some kind or vacu-formed plastic. While both may work well, I think you'd be hard pressed to beat Sintra when it comes to making your own costume.
Sintra is a PVC foam-like material used in signage and p.o.p. displays. It comes in 4x8' sheets of various thickness and color. Sintra can be found at most plastics or sign supply shops (Check your area yellow pages under sign shops and plastic distributors for information on purchasing Sinra). I used 1/8" white Sintra to make my costume and others seen in the gallery. The great thing about Sintra is you can make just about anything with it. It's durable, easy to mold (providing you buy the 1/8" thickness), and holds paint like a champ. It can be molded without expensive presses or vacuum tables. And all you need it a big pot of boiling water and cold tap water nearby.
Here's how it works. I recommend making cardboard dummy pieces of your armor to use as templates. These will allow you to "fit" your armor to your body shape first and not waste the Sintra. After you have the right size, trace your templates onto the Sintra sheet using a permanent marker. Now it's time to cut out your pieces. I found a Dremel tool (don't buy the cordless!) with cutoff sanding wheels will cut through Sintra like warm butter. If you don't have a Dremel by now tool I recommend spending the 50 bucks on one. I don't think I could've finished my costume without one. Another advantage of the dremel is you can cut on a budget and the variety of tips available are essential later on. I assembled 95% of my costume in my living room without jigsaws, beltsanders, or table saws thanks to the dremel tool. Anyway, when cutting the pieces out, be sure and cut a 1/16" or more outside the line. The dremel will leave some burs on the plastic, but don't worry about that at this point. Now it's time to mold your armor.
Over a roaring fire, electric range or gas stove; bring a BIG pot of water to a low boil. The bigger the pot the better. If you're working with small pieces a smaller pot will work. Turn the faucet on cold water and have it running and ready. When the water starts to boil place your pieces ONE AT A TIME in the pot for 10-15 sec. The longer it stays in, the softer the piece will get. Use tongs to remove the piece and bend/mold it to the desired shape with your hands. The Sintra will be hot, but it's usually not so hot you can't touch it. If it is too hot, wear some gloves. MOST IMPORTANT- while you're holding the armor to the shape you want, run COLD tap water over the piece. This freezes the molecules in the plastic and the Sintra will hold it's shape. Here's the best part about Sintra- don't like the shape you just formed? Perhaps the angle was too sharp, or a corner was not bent enough. No problem- just repeat the process until you get it right. Once it's right you're ready to move on.
Now it's time to get rid of those nasty burs and smoothen up your pieces. I used a flexible sanding block with heavy (40) grit finish to remove the burs and straighten the edges. Use a heavy duty block at first to sand the shape quickly, Then, once it's close to the desired shape, move down to a 100-300 grit paper to bevel the edges. Beveling or rounding the edges gives the armor shape and makes all the difference in the world. You'll see what I mean. Continue sanding the entire surface area so you'll have a "tooth" for the paint to stick to. Finish the prep work by using the dremel with a grinding tip to "dent" your armor pieces. Be careful not to go overboard and sand through the pieces. See the painting tips on preparing your armor for paint. These techniques apply to all the armor, kneepads, gauntlets, and jetpack. One you master them your construction will go a lot smoother.
Jumpsuit- a stitch in time saves nine:
So you really want to look like you just stepped out of the Lucasfilm archives? There's only one way: have a seamstress sew your jumpsuit. I realize most costumes don't allow this in the budget, but if you have a friend or relative that can sew (like a wonderful mother I have), perhaps you could pay them for their time to sew your materials. Here's how my jumpsuit was born:
Go down to Goodwill or Salvation Army and find an old mechanics jumpsuit that fits your build. It doesn't matter what color it is since this will be used for a pattern only. Mine was a long sleeve brown chemical jumpsuit with a zipper down the front. I'm not too advanced in the art of sewing, but I can tell you a little about the construction. The materials were bought by the yard after hours of searching fabric stores for the right color (if you're doing the pre-production version it's tough to find). I bought enough from my mother's instructions to make my suit, and bought enough extra for pockets, etc. The material I bought was a cotton blend that was lightweight, yet durable. The suit has a zipper front (we used the zipper from the chemical jumpsuit), elastic fitting in the back to hug the belly, and cuffed boot anklets sewn from a slightly lighter blue material. The zipper is hidden by a seamed flap of fabric. The pockets were all custom sewn on the legs for the tools in the shins, as well as the big utility pockets on the thighs. Special care was taken to double stitch high-stress areas prone to ripping like the sleeves and pockets.
If sewing a custom suit is not within your reach, I would suggest buying a grey Dickies work jumpsuit and modify it accordingly or even an aviator flight suit (if you can find the right color). Chuck Kato, pictured here on the right used a Dickies suit and his came out quite nice. Compare his suit with mine on the left and you'll see.
Whether you make a custom suit or modify a storebought, it's important to give it the well worn look of a dirty flightsuit. After all, bounty hunting is dirty work. Be creative here. Rub some powdered charcoal on your hands and carbonize the outside of the suit being careful not to overdo it. A few tiny tears here and there wouldn't hurt either. Take rough sandpaper to a few spots and tatter the cloth. Mist brown and black spray paint from three feet away in various areas. Wrinkle the suit and rub it in some dirt- anything tom make it look used. Nothing looks worse than a Fett costume that look like it's April fresh from yesterday's wash.
The jumpsuit is a big endeavor and takes a lot of time to sew, but if it comes out right the money and time spent will be a worthwhile investment to your costume. I wish I could go into further detail, but it really depends on what's at your disposal. If someone is talented in sewing like I'm sure many a moms out there are, be sure to provide ample reference photos. I provided my mom with the life size stand up, plus a few head-to-toe shots, and she was able to understand how the suit fit. Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!
Vest- the amazing velcro jacket:
Gloves- grip with patience:
Sewing the gloves isn't hard- just extremely taxing. Start with the a pair of brown work gloves. You know, the kind you find in the lawn and garden section. Now cut out individual pieces of tan imitation leather upholstery cloth (the same type of material used for the belt) for the fingers and top of the hands. Before sewing on the hand pieces add the circles (or if you want to a good laugh, make yourself a half-circle fett!) by machine stitching brown cloth on top of the leather. Now the fun part. Get out the needle and thread and start driving yourself mad. The pieces must be hand stitched, otherwise machine stitching will go right through both sides of the glove. I found loop stitching will hold the pieces better, but straight stitching goes a lot faster. Use tan thread so the stitches won't show. Boba had three different glove sets in the movies, but If you're making the white/grey versions the same techniques can be applied- if you can find the right color gloves. If you lack the patience for hand sewing you could always paint on the gloves, but I wouldn't recommend going that route if you're making a top notch outfit.
Gauntlets- layers and layers:
One of the coolest and most important parts of a good Boba Fett costume are the wrist gauntlets. While they are supposed to house miniature lasers, a flame thrower, and a retractable whipcord; you'll do well simulating these items with layers of materials. I recommend some experimentation with sintra on the chestplates and shoulderpads before you start construction of the gauntlets, for this is one of the more difficult segments of the outfit to build. Begin by cutting a loose cardboard pattern of a gauntlet. This is to properly measure the size and length of your forearms. This is hard to explain, so bear with me... Lay the pattern flat a trace it on a piece of sintra. Leave plenty excess as you can trim this later. Draw a cutline down the middle of the tracing to split the sentra in half. What you are trying to do is make a clamshell-like hinged gauntlet from the two curved pieces of sintra. You'll start by cutting out the pieces flat and then boiling the pieces one at a time (as described above) to fit the curvature of your forearms. Boil, bend and cool the sintra until you are close to the size you need. Remember, it's better to leave more sintra than needed- it can always be trimmed. Repeat the steps until you have four taco shell-like pieces that fit. If necessary, reboil the pieces and cool. Now, using care and trimming a little at a time, get the pieces flush until you can hold the pieces together with your hand and they totally enclose the forearm. You're past the hard part.
A well made gauntlet is one that fits the arm well and is not loose, but rather snug around the wrist. Since this is the case, the gauntlets are hinged to allow the wrist to slide through. You want the gauntlets to be strong. For the hinges, I found some small flush mount hinges that are strong, but not too obtrusive. I would stay away from rinky-dink jewelry box hinges, as they are rather delicate. Although I could go on forever in detail about how I did mine, basically I used pop rivets and a liberal amount of epoxy to attach two hinges to the outside of each gauntlet. Be sure you attach the hinge properly, otherwise it might not bend the way you want. Also, be careful not to get epoxy on the moving parts of the hinge. After they dry, try them on for size. If they are too loose, you can trim, but remember to leave some room for the cloth of the gloves and the jumpsuit. Don't worry about the insides attaching just yet, we'll get there shortly.
Sand the tops of the gauntlets with a rough sandpaper to give a good tooth to the entire top area. We're going to start making the plastic cups around your arms look a little more like gauntlets. This is where your imagination is an important part of the journey. I pondered how to build the gauntlets up for a while, then I just dove in head first. I made some marks as a guide, then I went searching for the appropriate materials. I knew sintra would work, but I found a variety of objects gave a good appearance. Curved wood trim for instance, was used for the edges of the gauntlet's plateau. I ran two rails down the middle (epoxy them well) and this gave me a good foundation for building up layers of wood, signfoam, and sintra to form the intricate workings of the gauntlet. Epoxy putty, a costumers best friend, was used to fill in all the gaps. After that, Testors modeler's putty and sandpaper were used to smooth everything out. The goal is to make it look like a solid piece of Mandalorian armor, not a buildup of layered materials.
There are some areas of the gauntlet that require special attention and explanation. The piping hoses are connected to a protruding wooden dowels that are sunk into a blob of epoxy putty down in the outside layers of the gauntlet. By using epoxy putty, you can be sure that it won't come of. This also allows the piping to detach from the gauntlet, which is another convenience. The dowel on the right arm is covered by a custom bent piece of sintra (see the costume). Both gauntlets differ dramatically. The right arm is probably a little easier to build than the left arm. The left has a section that partially covers the wrist. Remember the wooden rails used on the left arm? Repeat the process, but instead extend the rails out over the wrist section to form the foundation. Finish with a layer of sintra and trim, then smooth it all out. I made my controller plate (the calculator-like metal plate that covers the left wrist) using a thin piece of sheet metal. I then sanded it and covered the plate with a grid of several drips of epoxy. When dry, they look like a pattern of buttons and it's an easy alternative to other solutions I've seen. The lanyard (extended area on the left gauntlet) on my costume was made from a steel rod, wrapped with a coiled phone cord-like keychain. [It's amazing how when you start working on the costume you'll notice things in stores and around the house that work perfectly.] Other version have a more intricate housing for the lanyard which could be easily constructed from sintra. The laser housing or "laser drill", as some call it, was made from an obvious PVC pipe with some extra details. A pointed spigot was epoxied to the pipe and a wooden dowel protrudes from the other end, much like right arm to attach the hose. Be creative- if you can find a better way, do it.
Before sanding and painting the finished gauntlets, you must determine a way to attach them. There are several ways to do this. I took the simple way out by drilling three holes in the sintra down the edge of each half- ending up with six staggering holes on each gauntlet. I then took nylon cord and laced up the gauntlets by tying a knot in one end and pulling taught the two halves together. The other end of the cord is held tight with a slide clasp hidden inside. Granted, it's probably not the most accurate way, but it's an economical and reliable way to attach the two halves together. When done right, most people will never know the difference as this is a rather hidden part of the costume. I've seen other attachment methods with velcro, snaps and plastic clasps, but the lace method worked best for my situation and it is the one I recommend you try. Now, paint and finish the gauntlets and you've completed the second hardest part of building the perfect Boba Fett.
Jetpack- solid as a rock:
Finally I will reveal my secrets for building a solid Boba Fett jetpack. As I said before in the overview section, building the jetpack is
Belts- no pockets here:
Boba Fett has two belts. The top belt is a leather utility belt with small pouches lining the front and two bags hanging from the sides. The underbelt is a thong setup with a rope belt and codpiece. I constructed the belts with the help of my mom, who sewed the stitching, while I stuck to gluing the strips to styrofoam blocks. Construct the codpiece before starting the belts. My codpiece is formed from two pieces of sintra and a liberal amount of epoxy putty for support as this is a high-stress piece of the costume and you want it to stay together. After the codpiece is constructed and painted, size your waist. The rope belt is basically a thong that slips over the jumpsuit and is held by elastic straps, with a middle strap going around to the back. Hey, it's how the movie version is... who cares if the uneducated laugh at your wedgie.
ROPE BELT- The best way to make the rope belt is to get some marine rope (black or white works best) and glue the pieces of rope side by side on a piece of canvas. I can't remember exactly what type of epoxy I used, but a liberal amount of shoe goo of similar epoxy will do the trick. The main thing is to glue the pieces down good to the cloth with no gaps between the ropes. Don't worry about getting the ends to line up perfectly or if a little glue seeps through- you can trim both ends later. Be sure the strips are straight- I stretched the rope taught before laying it down on the cloth. The goal is to make it look like several strands of rope wrap around your waist. After the ropes dry, trim clean the excess to about 3/5 of you waist size and spray paint the entire belt chocolate brown. Glue the codpiece to middle of the rope section with 2-ton epoxy. Next, sew or safety pin (with several pins or big pins) 2" black elastic to make a belt that stretches taught when around your waist. I used safety pins on mine. Try the belt on for size. If it fits, epoxy a strip of 3/4" black elastic to the tip of the codpiece and reverse pin the other end to the elastic strip in the back. Congratulations- you've just completed another for a better costume.
UTILITY BELT- Once again, another area where people love to take shortcuts. Most costumers go down to the army surplus store and try to find a belt that looks like a Fett pouch belt, but they're usually far from accurate. Luckily, you can build a belt yourself and it chances are it will look alot better than a store-bought belt. Start by measuring your waist. Next, go down to the local fabric or upholstery store and buy a yard or two of synthetic brown leather (vinyl fabric). You could use real leather if you wish, but I used synthetic so my mom could sew a stitch finish to it, plus it's more pliable than real leather. Cut a strip about 3-3 1/2" wide and long enough to wrap around your waist for the belt (leave more than less... you can trim later). Get some styrofoam or floral foam and cut out beveled blocks about the size of the pocket compartments. Now is where your Christmas wrapping skills come in handy. Cut out a strip that wraps around the entire vertical length of the block and some pieces to cover the sides. That's three pieces per compartment. Here's the tricky part- most glues and epoxies won't stick to styrofoam. But superglue or vinyl epoxy will form a permanent bond when you attach two pieces of the synthetic leather together. It takes some practice, but the goal is to glue the vertical strip to the side pieces covering the foam block. No glue is stuck to the foam. When done properly, the blocks will have a solid appearance and the vinyl will not move- almost as if it's glued to the foam. Although the pouches aren't functional, they prevent the belt pockets from crushing. Now, simply use your superglue or vinyl epoxy to attach the pouches one by one to the belt. Attach a buckle or t-clasp to the back of the belt and you've got it. You could also safety pin it if a buckle setup is not possible. To eliminate shine on the belt and to give it a worn look, scuff it with some sandpaper and mist it with some dirt colored paint- like you did the armor. Anything to make it look used, not new.
Blaster Rifle- the right arsenal:
Face it. Boba Fett just ain't complete without a gun. Even though in my version of the costume he is never pictured with his trusty Blastech EE-33, it's the coolest of his weapons. Luckily, it's also one of the easiest guns to replicate. Start with a Daisy BBgun or similar brand and saw half of the barrel down. It's important you find a gun with the right stock. I bought my gun at WalMart new and it was only $25. Then find some 2" PVC pipe and cover the barrel to form the correct length and diameter of the blaster rifle. Pretty basic, really. I mounted a scope and built up some details on the side of the gun, then used epoxy putty to smooth out all the gaps and fill in the area a few inches inside the barrel. The entire gun, stock and all, was sanded and sprayed flat black (don't forget the inside of the barrel). To give the gun a used look like the rest of his costume, I dusted it with silver Krylon, and a few touches of polyurethane. Paint silver scratches in the barrel and on high wear areas on the gun. Aluminum tape was added at the end of the barrel and a wash of rust brown atop the metal parts for realism. The real gun has a shoulder strap, but I decided against it on mine since it was not practical. Once again, use caution and common sense on where you take it, because it still looks like a real weapon. Don't be surprised if you get stopped by security and be cooperative if you do.
Wookie Scalps- the treasure of the kill:
Here's something anybody at any skill level should be able to tackle with ease- the wookie scalps. Go down to a beauty supply shop (I went to Sally Beauty Supply) and get yourself some bags of hair. I've also seen them for sale at dollar stores. The price of a bag is anywhere from $1-$5, and is about 3 ft. in length. The synthetic hair is used in weaves and practice braids and comes in bags with enough hair to make 3 or more scalps. Beware of a "kinky" hair that's wavy in texture, stick with the straight stuff.
If you've ever done a braid before, then you know what's next. Take a clump of hair and clamp one end of it down on a table with a squeeze clamp (you'll need these later, too). Now start braiding until you get the right length. Finish with a wrapping of string or dental rubber bands (used in braces) to keep the braid taught. Repeat on the other side. Trim the excess hair and tassel it up with a hairbrush. Remember, it's a wookie scalp, not a perfect braid. Don't be afraid to let a few strands loose or even make a few snips here and there- it will add to the realism. Attach to the vest with glue, velcro, or like I did with concealed safety pins.
Tools and Misc.- what are these things?:
Painting and Weathering Tips- Krylon is your friend:
When it comes to painting, the important step is preparation. Properly prepping your surfaces will ensure a firm bond for the paint. To prep sintra, first sand the entire surface with medium grade sandpaper. If you don't sand sintra the paint will have no "tooth" to stick to and will chip away easily. After sanding, wipe clean and spray with enamel paint primer. I used the generic brand available in spray cans for my suit and the paint sticks fine. Spray 2-3 coats allowing drying time in between coats. After the primer dries, you can spray a base coat for whatever piece you happen to be working on. For instance, the chest armor would be a moss green. I recommend using flat color if available, but gloss will work fine if you lightly Scotchbrite the surface after it's dry. Paint the pieces with a few light coats, once again allowing drying time in between coats. It's better to have several thin coats than a few thick, drippy coats.
You might be tempted to start painting the metal chips, but be patient. Go ahead and weather the armor accordingly at this stage. This is best achieved by "dusting" the surface with different color spray paints from a distance of 2-3 feet. You can also use sponges and dip and drag color across the surfaces. Be creative. If you want to brush on the spray paint, simply spray excess paint inside a container and brush it on. Just about anything to "dirty" the armor and give it a well used look. You can also spatter paint using the back of a toothbrush. Follow the reference photos for armor details. If you are handpainting the symbols for the chest and shoulder, now is a good time to do so.
After you've got the basic weathering down, it's time to add a urethane topcoat. I used a satin finish urethane topcoat available in spray cans. A word of warning- allow plenty of drying time. The topcoat will stay tacky for a few days, but if sprayed lightly will dry completely. The satin topcoat will help protect your armor from scratching. If you want a glossy armor you can try the glossy topcoat.
Getting the metal scarring right is crucial for an accurate costume. I used a chrome color spray paint sprayed in a can and brushed on the chipping according to reference. The paint will dull over time, but here's a little secret: While you're at the hardware store, pick up some aluminum tape. Aluminum tape is used in ducting and is basically aluminum foil with a sticky back. Cut into scar shaped pieces and stick in various places to get the realistic gleam you're looking for. Be sure you burnish the tape down with the back of your fingernail to smooth it out. The result is unbelievable. For a final touch, I brushed acrylic clear coat (testors model clear coat) on in random places to give the pieces more definition. Take a look at this picture to get an idea of the difference these little details make.
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UNDER DEVELOPMENT (almost done...)