Darth Vader - Tour and Promotion suits

ANH Tour Suit / ESB Promo?

Every now and again something really interesting crops up and this July ('08) I received info from a long-standing collector of a recent acquisition - a near complete promotional Darth Vader costume. Now stuff like this is a rare find, but this particular costume - and especially the helmet looks like it will create a lot of interest within the prop community...

Clearly an ANH, the most immediate point of interest is the helmets similarity to the one used in the Empire Strikes Back teaser poster from early 1980.

The helmet photo used in this photo is the one below left, with this "new find" on the right. Its worth noting that for the ESB teaser poster, they took the photo and flipped it (which you shouldn't do since we all know that Vader is most certainly not symmetrical!)

So comparing the helmets we see a lot of similarities that suggest that the Dome could very well be the actual same dome as was used in the photo - although the differences in the face plate suggesting that if it is the same - that a lot of work was done in it sometime in the intervening 28 years including a complete repaint. Just to note that these are early days so at the moment this is all conjecture - an investigation to reveal the provenance of the helmet. However the circumstances of its finding, along with the accuracy of many of the other parts found with it suggest it IS something really special.

Here's a great new shot of the complete costume, minus the boots and shins which were included. When you look at this there's an immediate WOW, since instantly you can tell this is no replica. All costume parts were present apart from the leather inner jacket (the leather pants were included) and missing gloves. Its therefore a long way down the road of being complete.

Of special interest is the following cod piece, which on the reverse shows what appears to be an original Berman & Nathan's wardrobe tag. B&N produced many of the soft-parts used for the original ANH costume, suggesting that this could either be an original cod - or one that was made at the time of production.

By the way, apologies for the obsessive watermarking but just a reminder that you are MOST welcome to use photo's from this site for your own enjoyment or research - or as part of forum discussions on the subject of Star Wars costuming. But ABSOLUTELY NOT if part of any auction or sale where you're trying to pass off good as either this or "similar" to those found on Star Wars Helmets (other than mass-produced licensed helmets).
Now, turning our attention to the helmet....

The helmet and face are made from white gel coated fibreglass. Brush strokes can clearly be seen on both the helmet/dome and face, so it was originally done with a brush. Since then it looks like it's been sprayed with (we think) both colour and a clear in a quick attempt at a clean up - possibly repairing the rigours of promotional work.

After investigation it seems that the latch mechanism used to connect the face and dome is exactly the same as an ANH helmet in the Lucasfilm Archives - as well as the Funeral Pyre Vader used in RotJ. The paint  colour under the latch is a gunmetal with the usual bluish hue.

The clear coat is thick and laid on VERY heavily (as you can tell by the drips on the cheeks and under the mouth). The clear coat has yellowed badly and combined with the hue of the gunmetal, gives it a green appearance. The armour is the same, brushed and with a yellowing of  the clear-coat.

If you look hard you can still faintly see remnants of the the Y crease in the widows peak, but it is faint. One theory is that it could well be that following a re-spray/touch up, the clear coat has pooled at the widows peak and at some point the drips were sanded away. Having just gone through a Vader dome re-spray I've encountered this problem myself so it MAY suggest why the Y crease is almost gone. If stripped down this could be proved/disproved although clearly there's not much appetite to do that!

Some new shots now of the various parts, starting with the shoulder armour which to me certainly looks like its come from an original source. Given that this appears to be a promotion suit for ANH it would make sense that either its cast off the screen-used ANH set off from the original moulds.

Below the chestbox

Another shot of the Cod

The belt is interesting, different from the screen-used but nonetheless close in other areas. Note that the photo's cut in two so its easy to display.

...next the leather pants. Funny, in the UK "Leather Pants" has an entirely different "Village People" connotation!

and finally a good shot of the black ABS shins - these look great

I'll update this with more info/pics as I have them on what's emerging as a very important find.

ESB UK Vader Tour Suit - 1980

As a coincidence, Graham S has sent me these photos taken back in 1980 when Darth Vader visited  the "Sava Centre" in Kent, UK

Note that this is clearly a different Vader than the one featured at the top of this page, but nonetheless may well have some original parts - or at the very least parts cast off original stuff or from original moulds.

There doesn't seem to be much  information on the "Tour" costumes, so its not clear how many were made for ANH-ESB-RotJ so if you have any onfop them please let us know!

Again thanks to Graham for sharing these great pics.

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