Saturday, November 14, 2015

Force Awakens Flametrooper Helmet Replica

It turns out there's a whole new Star Wars movie coming out.

I promised I wouldn't get myself excited enough to build any of the stuff from the film until after I'd actually seen it.  Then I saw this guy:

That's a stormtrooper.  He has a flamethrower.  This is who I want to be when I grow up.

Since the State of California has very specific restrictions on the ownership of flamethrowers,* and the action figure just isn't quite enough, I'm going to have to settle for just dressing like this guy.  As luck would have it, the Lopez twins (my Carvewright CNC machines) were sitting idle in the shop.  So I hit up my friends at and had them crank out a quick 3D model for me:

After the Lopez twins were done chewing it up and spitting it out, I molded it, cast it, and painted up a rough-draft version like so:
flametrooper Rough Draft 1

For more (better) photos, the final draft version, and a step-by-step explanation of how it was made, read on...
After importing the STL file into the Carvewright designer software, it took a few minutes to slice up the model and lay everything out for carving.  The next morning I loaded some 3/4" MDF into Lopez Dos-Point-Oh and he cranked out these pieces:
Flametrooper Parts

Once I'd snapped the waste material off, my workbench was covered with little flametrooper helmet bits like this: Flametrooper Parts on the Bench

After gluing most of it together, I had to try it on.  Size-wise, it looked about right:
Flametrooper Test Fit Sans Crown

After assembling the top of the dome, I did another series of test fits to be sure it was going to be the right fit:
Flametrooper Fit Test Front

I'm pretty happy with it:
Flametrooper Fit Test Side

In order to fill in the fuzzy surface of the MDF, the next step was to spray on a few coats of primer:
Flametrooper Helmet Assembled and Primed

Then fill in all the unwanted seams where the separate carved parts fit together:
Flametrooper Helmet Filler

After a few passes of filling and shaping, it was really coming together:
7 June Progress14

In order to be sure I had the scale right, I had a friend bring over his First Order Stormtrooper suit made by Anovos.  It's supposedly the exact same size as the screen-used helmets.  Setting them side-by-side, I was satisfied that I had sized the flametrooper about right:
7 June Progress16

Along the way, I ended up adding a bit more bulk to the jawline.  Here it is in gray primer somewhere in the middle of the filling and fairing process:
7 June Progress30

And again after a bit more filling and sanding:
09 June Progress20

At this point, it was so close I could almost taste it:
Flametrooper Side Nearly Smooth

The last few flaws were filled with spot putty:
19 July Progress11

Once I'd sanded them smooth and given the whole thing a coat of white primer, the prototype got my customary lightish red gloss coat:
Spraying Gloss Pink

Pink 1

In order to make the mold last a bit longer, I wet-sanded the whole thing to 800-grit smoothness, then put on a couple coats of wax.  Here it is somewhere in the middle of that process:
Waxed Prototype

Satisfied that it was smooth as a fresh jar of Skippy, I flipped the whole thing over and added a cardboard standoff in order to make the molding easier:
Flametrooper Standoff Added

Since the area under the chin was likely to trap air and cause all sorts of headaches when the helmet was sitting upright, I elected to fill in all of the undercuts with silicone while the helmet was inverted:
Flametrooper Undercuts Filled

Once that had firmed up, I mounted the whole thing to a scrap of cardboard, built up a drip wall to keep the silicone from drooling all over the bench, and poured on a print coat:
FlametTrooper Print Coat

After the print coat had firmed up, it was time to add a couple layers of thickened silicone:
Laying Up Rubber Jacket

Here's the final shape of the rubber jacket mold, complete with pre-cast silicone "registration keys" to help it stay properly aligned in the mothermold:
Rubber Jacket Nearly Done

Once that had cured, I built up the parting wall (where the two halves of the mothermold will separate) out of oil-based clay:
Parting Wall

Then I mixed up a batch of resin and fiberglassed the first half of the mothermold:
Mothermold First Half

Once the fiberglass had cured, I turned the mold around, removed the clay wall, and coated the fiberglass flange with a release agent:
Parting Wall Removed

Then I laid up the other side of the fiberglass mothermold:
Mothermold 2nd Half

Once the resin had cured, it was time to trim the fuzzy parts off of the edges:
Flametrooper Mothermold Trimmed

Then I drilled some bolt holes along the flange:
Flametrooper Mothermold Drilling

With that done, I pried apart the two halves of the mothermold:
Flametrooper Mothermold Removal

Then made a serpentine cut up the back side of the rubber jacket mold:
Flametrooper Mold Cutting

That made it possible to invert the whole thing and de-glove the prototype:
Flametrooper Prototype Demolded

Here's the completed, reassembled mold next to the prototype:
Flametrooper Mold Completed

Then the first rotocast resin copy after a light sanding:
Flametrooper Prepped for Paint

I was eager to see how it would look, so I gave it a coat of gloss white in a hurry:
Flametrooper Base White

Then I had the Lady Shawnon try it on:
Flametrooper Test Fitting

It looked good, but she makes everything look good:
Flametrooper Shawnon

Satisfied that the main body of the helmet was good to go, I got to work on the "aerators" or tusks.  I had a 3D printed pair, but I decided I wasn't really happy with how they'd come out.  Instead, I turned down a couple of bits of clear acrylic rod on the lathe:
Flametrooper Aerator Turned Bits

Then I glued them to the base section of the 3D printed parts and test-fit them into the prototype:
Flametrooper Aerator Prototype Test Fit

The proportions looked about right, so I went ahead and added the last little details and started filling in the seams:
Flametrooper Aerator Prototypes Nearly Finished

After a tiny bit of sanding and filling, they got the customary lightish-red gloss coat:
Flametrooper Aerator Prototypes Finished

When the paint had dried, I built a mold box around them:
Flametrooper Aerators Boxed for Molding

Then filled the box with silicone:
Flametrooper Aerators Molded

The next morning, I pulled out the prototype aerators:
Flametrooper Aerator Mold Completed

Then cast a pair in black resin:
Flametrooper Aerators First Pair Cast

They looked cool, but I decided they'd be better in cold cast aluminum.  Here they are fitted to the helmet:
flametrooper Aerators Installed 2

After a few minutes with some flat black paint and a small brush, the helmet was nearing completion:
flametrooper Rough Draft 1

Not bad:
flametrooper Rough Draft 3

Of course, at this point you can still clearly see into the eye slit.  To solve that, I cut a thin strip of grey tinted acrylic, cooked it in a toaster oven until it was soft and flexible, then taped it into the eye slit from inside:
Visor Formed

Here's a selfie with the camera flash:
Visor Test
I can see out, but nobody can see in.  Perfect!

For some reason I feel compelled to make more than one of everything:
Flametrooper Casting Lineup

The next couple of helmets got a much nicer paintjob, starting with an automotive quality color coat:
Final Draft Helmets

Then a clearcoat, detailing, and the tiniest bit of weathering:
Flametroopers Finished01

Flametroopers Finished02

Flametroopers Finished03

Now I just need to talk myself out of building the rest of the armor...

But wait!  There's more!

One of the other things that helped convince me to get started on this particular helmet was the fact that it's the foundation shape that's used for the Snowtroopers as well as the new TIE Pilot helmets.  So I've also started working on the Snowtrooper helmet.  Here's one of my assistants putting a coat of primer on the dome:
Re-Priming Snow Dome

The face has an extra plate that will be sculpted in place over the current helmet:
Helmet Prototype Progress41

More on that at a later date.

Then there's this other prototype made:
Phasma Helmet Prototype Test Fit 1

Which will look great in chrome.

Stay tuned...

*According to the State of California, I can't own a flamethrower without a special permit.  That's the bad news.  Here's the good news:



SECTION 12750-12751

12750. For purposes of this part, the following definitions shall apply: 

(a) "Flamethrowing device" means any nonstationary and 
transportable device designed or intended to emit or propel a burning 
stream of combustible or flammable liquid a distance of at least 10 

So as long as I keep it under ten feet (or use a flammable gas instead of a liquid) I can throw all the flame I want.


  1. Wait, why are you talking yourself out of making the rest of the costume? The helmet looks amazing. Just think how much better it will look with a full suit and flamethrower backpack (you can't have a flamethrower, but you can make a supersoaker look like one, just saying).

  2. Great job, that's all I can say is Great Job!

  3. Would you happen to have the flametrooper helmet file available for download? Thanks for this great project resource :D

    1. No, but if you contact the good folks at, they can probably take care of you.

  4. That's amazing but can I buy one is the next question. If I do that I'd pay you to design and build me a wearable full replica Flametrooper costume.

    Do you have an email where we can discuss this?

    1. If you'd like to hire me to make something for you, please email me at