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I make toys for kids who don't want to grow up. I'm on the lookout for new projects. If you're interested in commissioning me to build something ridiculous, shoot me an email.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Phase One Clonetrooper Build

 As a young Navy lieutenant station in Newport, Rhode Island back in 2004 I had just started getting into cosplay and prop replica building.  I'd made a passable set of stormtrooper armor from scratch and was looking really excited about the new clone troopers that had appeared in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.  

I spent a lot of time looking for whatever reference images I could find and stumbled across a website called starwarshelmets.com.  There you could find all sorts of information about every helmet that had appeared in the original trilogy and suddenly all sorts of images of these new clone troopers.  There was even a page about fan-made clones and even then, just a year or so after the movie had come out, there were a few fans who'd absolutely nailed perfect replicas of this helmet despite the fact that the production itself had used only CGI animated versions for the films.

At that time there were only two really spot on fan-made helmet replicas and no affordable licensed replicas available.  Of the two fan-made replicas, one was a one-off made by someone called "King Jamie" and the other was this beauty made by "Clone Six:"

I didn't really know anything else about it at the time except that it was gorgeous and I wanted one.

Fast forward eight or nine years.  I had moved back to Northern California and gained a bit of notoriety as a capable costume maker.  I had just finished my Ironman suit and had a stack of Halo Spartan armor and the internet was starting to notice me.  

Then one day I get a message through the Replica Prop Forum from a user named "clonesix" asking if I was going to the NorCal RPF get together because he'd really like to meet me in person.  I was more than a bit surprised.  I had no idea where in the world this person was located and not only did he turn out to be in the US, but California.  Northern California even!   He was actually living just outside of Sacramento, not even two hours drive from me in Petaluma.  

I ended up going to the gathering and met Jon (aka "clonesix") and got to see one of his gorgeous suits of armor in person:
Clonesix Clonetrooper Armor at the NorCal RPF Prop Party

Jon told me all sorts of details about the development and construction of the suit and explained that he called himself "clonesix" on all of the forums because of this project.  He had built six clonetroopers for he and his friends to wear to Wondercon.  Only six.  After that he was done making clones and had no plans to make more.

Fortunately, he had given all of the molds and vacforming bucks to his friend Darren who could continue making clones for other fans.  As luck would have it, Darren was there too.  This is him at his tables with a bunch of cool stuff he had brought for show-and-tell:
Darren at the RPF Prop Party

Darren and I got to talking and ended up collaborating on a few things together.  First, he made the vacformed parts of this suit:
Shae Relaxed Stance

That was our Shae Vizla build.  You can read mroe about it here: LINK.

Somewhere along the way, we worked out a trade and I finally had got me a complete kit to make myself a set of clonesix clonetrooper armor.  Then, before I had a chance to actually build it, I got a second set from him.  These two giant boxes of parts migrated around my shop from corner to corner and shelf to shelf waiting for me to finally get around to doing all of the trimming and assembly, then painting and rigging to make them wearable.  Then when a friend of mine asked me if I could dress him up for a local comic convention at the USS HORNET museum, that was the last little nudge I needed to get this project back on the workbench for a minute.

In the middle of reorganizing the shop again, I dug these two boxes out of my storage shed and laid out the pieces I'd need to make up the full set of clonetrooper armor:

Untrimmed Clone Parts

At that point, I had about a week to go before the convention.  

The parts I got from Darren were vacformed perfection.  The plastic was a nice, thick 1/8" high-impact polystyrene.  Stronger than your typical cosplay kits tend to be.  In pretty short order, I had everything trimmed and primed:

The arm and leg parts required a bit of assembly before filling and hiding the seams, but even that didn't take all that long.  Here's two sets of lower legs and the backplate with the resin cast detail insert, all ready to go:

All of the trimmed, assembled parts were primed and given a coat of satin white paint:

Then it was time to start rigging the parts to make them wearable:

While I was in the middle of rigging, wearing the torso armor as seen above, my nephews walked into the shop and told me I looked "ridiculous."  For complete context, they were dressed like so:  

So take their opinions with a grain of salt.

Weathering the painted armor was a matter of lightly dusting the parts with grey primer, then buffing it back off with Scotch pad:

The resulting effect was a very subtle shading in the recesses that really brought out the details in the suit:
Then all we had to do was drive out to Alameda and get Jay all dressed up out in the parking lot:

I was a bit nervous because we'd never had a chance to do any test-fitting or adjustments prior to actually just showing up at the convention, but Jay turned out to be the exact right size for the suit.

Surprisingly he was even able to do stairs:

Once we were on board Jay got around quite a bit:

His girlfriend Renee caught up with us a few minutes later:

I didn't get to see too much of whatever else was going on with the convention.  Jay and I were too busy finding really cool photo opportunities:





At the end of the day we had a lot of fun.  Then we piled the armor into the passenger seat of my car and it was time to go home:
I still have a whole other set of parts to put another clone together.  Stay tuned to see what else I do with those.  It shouldn't take too much longer to make up my mind...