Featured in this section are first-time building tips, modification recommendations, and wearing basics.
If you think you'll just buy the kit and be done with it... There's more! Obviously, you'll need some other gear, including:
Blaster -- 20 bux through over 500 bux! For durability at public appearances, score a plastic Kenner blaster for $20. It will last through YEARS of service.
Body Glove -- Many of us wear a black Lycra scuba diver "lining". Around 40 - 50 bux. But after sweating profusely and grossing myself out, I've found a two-piece cotton glove (around $75) which BREATHES 100% better than the Lycra (for me at least).
Brain Bucket (Helmet) Paraphernalia (Consider installing micro-fans... it gets WARM in there). You'll find more information available in my TROOPER GEAR section, under BUCKETS.
I have recently completed a whole new section devoted to Trooper Accessories. We need support gear to complete the look/feel of transforming into a Trooper. Please see the TROOPER GEAR section (click on the Trooper Gear button located in the left Navigation Bar).
There are some wonderful sites showing how to build/modify your suit. They are listed below in the Mods section Check these people out and bookmark them for additional info on the actual building of your suit. Trooper TK103 had *outstanding* building & customization details for white armor, but I no longer have a link to his info. I have created this section in accordance with my own findings whilst building/wearing armor, yet much of my info comes from TK103. He has my gratitude for being gracious enough to give me a blessing on writing my own section.
Below is a cheasie old pic of the suit, as completed over 10 years ago. Looks nothing like this today.
You may need a hot glue gun, CA (cyanoacrylate) adhesive, and a compliment of the normal tools -- x-acto knife, screwdrivers, Dremel tool, scissors, measuring ruler, sanding paper (from Medium (400) to Very Fine grade (2000)), etc. The kit comes with an AMPLE supply of Velcro, which is great... it becomes apparent there are other ways of fastening armor pieces with Velcro not described in the construction document (Thanks, TK103!)
A side note on hot-gluing -- Consider it to be temporary, depending upon the application. For instance, epoxies work better for more permanent applications where you want to ensure equipment is SOLID. Hot glue is flexible, but not necessarily permanent. SAND every location where adheisive is intended. ABS is so smooth, the bonding agent will only hold when the surface in sanded prior to application.
If you're below six feet in height, prepare to trim your armor to avoid pinching. First time you wear your armor, you will understand. If trimming is necessary, a utility knife works real well and you can "carve" the material. Or, score it with the knife and bend the piece to simply break it off. The trimmed piece should break off cleanly - Or, power up your Dremel tool.. Perform this work in a well-ventillated area. Heated ABS can release toxins, according to several sources. Now sand the cut area to round it to a smooth finish. I'll use either sand paper or an x-acto blade (edge perpendicular to the work piece) to carve a nice rounded surface.
The Brain Bucket (Helmet) -- TAKE YOUR TIME and construct the helmet carefully... very carefully! Use a dose of patience fitting the facemask and aft sections together. Likewise for the decals. Use a spritz of Windex on the surface before applying decals... place a little Windex on top of the decal as well. It gives the applicator (you) time to flatten decals out and position them properly. Use a piece of soft cloth or cotton to smooth the surface of the decal. If the decals are applied dry, you're in for some meticulous work!
The supplied hard-hat liner may be installed a little too close to the facemask for your wearing pleasure. I found it necessary to "push" the liner assembly aft a little by inserting a cut piece of foam in front of the liner's brow. TK103 has a wonderful picture of the completed unit with foam installed. Since he wears glasses, this was a necessity. If foggy lenses steams you, obtain a fog-preventor product (local dive shops/sports stores should carry this). When I began assembly of the helmet, I was skeptical of its durability - due to my lack of building anything for years. Once the parts are fastened and the "edge roll" material is applied around the base of the helmet (a GREAT touch) this helmet is SOLID!
As mentioned by fellow Troopers, the kit brain bucket is slightly larger than the Movie helmets. I think the kit helmet LOOKS the best (quality of finish). Due to the size of the large breather apparatus on the lower forward section of the helmet, it has a tendency to rub against the chest plate/upper back plate connectors. This translates into the wearer not being able to fully swivel his/her head left or right. It's a little frustrating when you don't have a long neck like a giraffe. Taller Troopers do not experience this problem. Placing shim material atop the inside dome seemed like a solution - lowering the effective height of the hard hat liner. This won't work, since it lowers my eyes below the level of the helmets' tinted lenses and reduces visibility.
Final fittings - For torso flexibility, you might consider carefully removing the cod piece and reattaching it as a "hinged" unit - as described in TK103's armor section. There's little functionality when the cod piece and ab are a single piece. Oh... you can stand at attention for hours, if your own personal endurance can hack it. There is NO hope of sitting, it's difficult to lean forward and look down to see what is directly in front of you. Wait until the first time you drop something while wearing armor. It sucks to be a bad-ass looking Stormtrooper, when you can't pick up something you've dropped!!
Since writing this section, I'm contemplating relocating the circuitry to the helmet (only) to minimize electrical cord hassles... smaller versions of this unit may be mounted inside the Bucket.
I purchased a kit-built voice amp that simply gives a brief, "white noise" sound effect after you speak into the microphone. I've found the settings to be sensitive, but tinker around with it for a while and you can get it working consistently. You can do without the 'noisemaker' box, but it is a fun addition. Two Trooper fans have taken the technology to a phenomenal level, refer to my FAQ's section for additional information.
|As long as you're not storing anything inside the top portion of your chest plate, affix the attenuation box there (Velcro it in place, just like the O2 canister/thermal detonator on the belt). I've got the unit mounted inside my chest plate. It fits well and does not interfere with the abdomen piece. Position it horizontally to one side, so the mini cords can be plugged into the box without binding against the armor. The electrical cords are easily plugged in, before fastening the chest to the back plate with the lower Velcro straps. Click on the image below to see a close up of the positioning of the attenuation box (different pic than that of thumbnail).|
Place the Radio Shack amp circuit board in one thigh drop box and set the speaker in the other thigh drop box. Both components were hot-glued into place. The volume control knob extends BELOW the bottom of the drop box, just enough to turn it. Don't cut the notch all the way from the back of the box to the front, place the circuit board in the "bottom" of the drop box for a trial fitting and you'll see what I'm referring to.
Before gluing the circuit board in place, observe where the board will rest in the box, with TWO sides of the board resting against the inside walls of the drop box. This will help anchor the board squarely in place and shows you exactly where to cut the notch. Cut away only what is necessary to allow the board to be set down in the box, with the knob extending out. This is a functional way to adjust the volume at any time, while wearing the suit. Just feel for the bottom of the box and adjust! You'll need to perform a little soldering here to separate the Radio Shack speaker from its amp assembly. I CAREFULLY de-soldered the electrical wire leads connected to the speaker and soldered longer electrical leads to reach the amp. If you don't want to do that, simply splice the speaker leads and add longer lengths of wire. These splices should be soldered, to ensure a good connection. Wrap the splices with electrical tape, heatshrink tubing, or equivalent.
To remove the speaker from its housing, trace around the perimeter of the speaker with an x-acto knife, slicing between the speaker and the case. Then, gently lift the speaker away from the housing. I bought a 6 foot length of shielded audio cable with 1/8" mini plugs to replace the stock shorter cord supplied. The extended cable works well. Just wrap it around yourself! ;)
BEFORE GLUING the circuit board and speaker into place, PLEASE read on. Be very careful gluing around the edges of the circuit board! Electrical components are sensitive to heat. The tip of the glue gun (or the glue itself) may damage the components, so be sure to point that glue gun tip carefully. ;) Place the speaker in the thigh box ( towards the "bottom" of the thigh box) and trace the outline of the speaker, leaving a mark on the inside box. Remove the speaker and place four equidistant small drops of hot glue on your scribed line (i.e. 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 9) Allow the glue to cool a little then lower the speaker on the glue blobs. This will allow the speaker to be slightly above the surface of the thigh box. Otherwise, if the speaker is resting flush with the surface of the box, the speaker will not operate properly... Now trace around the speaker's edge with glue. Leave some gaps for air 'induction'. This does make the back of the speaker "stick out" of the thigh box a little, but I don't think it's noticeable to most casual onlookers. It's well worth the effect. Since your own voice ECHOS (loudly) within the confines of your bucket, you may not hear the speaker. Experiment a little. This is why I'm VERY grateful I bought the voice "enhance". The white noise it produces at the end of the transmission is QUITE noticeable after speaking, and is the only way I can readily adjust the volume of the Radio Shack amp while wearing the helmet.
Thanks to TK103 (again), the logical location for the speaker amp battery was in the utility belt box, directly above the thigh drop box. If the belt is attached to the ab piece, simply LOOSEN, do not remove the screw/s holding the belt in place. Pull the belt away from the ab piece and slip the battery (CONNECTOR ATTACHED) into the belt compartment. The thigh boxes and utility belt are now actually functional!
Suiting Up 101
Wearing the armor (particularly for those shorter than 5'-10") can be a slightly painful experience. This assembly may grind into you a little. Don't get frustrated the first few times you wear the armor. Caution - Wearing the suit without a bodyglove indicates very quickly, areas which may need trimming! Problem areas for shorter folks: Backside of the knee joint and 'inside elbow'. Without trimming, I walked around stiffer than C-3PO.
There is a DEFINITE order of donning this suit of armor. If you don't follow it (or whatever works for you), you'll find yourself removing pieces, just to get some other piece on first. Every Trooper that I know has had to backtrack from time to time when stepping into armor.
Do NOT lay pieces on the floor!!! Once partially suited up, it becomes rather difficult to pick up stuff on the damned floor. There are two kinds of Troopers out there... those of us who have dropped something while suiting up/Trooping... and the rest of you who haven't....you will. I guarantee you will utter two words.
Typical Suiting Up Routine (Sandy Trooper)
1> Thigh shells - Belt/Suspenders harness (the system I've adopted)
The suit gets WARM in sunny Southern California. Taking an occasional break sans the helmet can be necessary. Having a supply of coolant (liquids) is a must. Beer seems like the answer, but remember, alcohol actually dehydrates carbon-based life form systems (us). If you wear White Armor, be prepared to sweat... strive to remain hydrated!
rivets can be your best friend
Following is a quick reference to items modified to date. Since I have made frequent Trooper appearances around Southern California, I have subjected the White Armor to rigorous tests of strength and durability. Prolonged missions exposing the suit to the rigors of heat, sweat, and condensation may cause the stock (non-industrial grade) Velcro adhesive to gum up. In most areas, I've reattached the Velcro with cyanoacrylate glue. USE CAUTION, as I've found some adhesives do not work well with the Velcro adhesive compound. The cyanoacrylate variety seems to work well without dissolving the Velcro adhesive.
New - As of working alongside the BlackSheep Squadron, all of my strap attachment points are now rivets and snaps. A strap ending with Velcro isn't secure enough for hours of duty in the desert for film set. Most Velcro stripping holding shells together has been replaced with Industrial Velcro and CA glue.
There's an ongoing debate over using Velcro Vs permanent attachments with glue only. I still prefer the Velcro, as it gives you versatility in wearing and adjusting the armor. Some pieces (such as the upper body plates) need not be adjusted or split apart to wear/remove, so they're permanently attached. Shin pieces must be opened to wear, so they're still Velcro'ed together.
- Tops of thigh and calve shells trimmed (a little in the front, more so in the back).
- Forearm shells (inner elbow section) trimmed slightly for more flexibility
- Lower end of inner bicep pieces trimmed with a slight curve.
- Removed Velcro attachments for shoulder top connectors. Secured the connectors to upper chest/back plates using cyanoacrylate glue (NOT the super-quick drying variety) and popped a RIVET in place (one at each end of the top shoulder connectors, total of four).
- Fitted white Velcro straps inside shoulder bells connected to the biceps. Keeps the biceps shells from sliding down. TK8356 used weather stripping type foam inside the bicep shells to prevent them from sliding. Works well if shells are a bit oversized.
- Riveted the knee utility belt to the lower end of the thigh shells. Riveted one end of the belt only, so I can still separate the thigh shells if necessary.
- The knee drop plate has been riveted in place on the shin.
- Thigh Shells - I'm now using a hockey 'garter' waist belt/suspenders combo to hold the thigh shells in place. THIS ROCKS. Metal loop hooks are riveted to the thigh shells, front and back (on the inside, of course). These are connected to straps that attach to the waist belt. Suspenders are attached to the belt as well. Very secure.
- Bucket gear - Cooling/ventilation fans and switch, and the intercom system are described in the Building section.
- Snaps - I have removed the lower chest/back strap Velcro material. Now these straps are held in place with snaps. Pics available soon.
Obi-Wan's Jedi Academy - Stormtrooper Section: Excellent information detailing where to trim, among other good ideas.
TK103's Armor Section: Very cool Mods and a great comparison of movie Vs. the armor we've built for ourselves.
As indicated by other Trooper aficionado, it's good to have a non-armor-wearing spectator around for support. (Major kudos to the webmaster of Obi-Wan's Jedi Academy). When subjecting yourself to the general public, some folks will think you're a part of Lucasfilm Ltd. They don't realize we're simply fans of the entire Star Wars experience. Some people may decide they need a piece of you! The thigh drop boxes and O2/Thermal Detonator devices, for example are a target of "I got a piece of Star Wars!" seekers. Be sure your gear is secure!
The first time you wear the full armor and check it out in the mirror (it'll happen) you will see before you a transformed shape. You will no longer be in the Milky Way galaxy, you will be somewhere in a galaxy far, far away...
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