Original "Stunt" Stormtrooper Helmet
and Armor from Star Wars - A New Hope

This section is split into four parts.....
bulletIn-depth Photo Review of the "Move Along" Original Helmet Click Here
bulletIn-depth Photo Review of the "Stop That Ship" Original Helmet Click Here
bullet Video Overview of Stormtrooper Helmets and Review of an ESB Original Click Here
bulletOr just continue and read on for the Background Info below....


So it was the Stunt Stormtrooper Helmets that were the first to be manufactured by Andrew Ainsworth at Shepperton Design Studios. Working to a frenetic deadline, AA and a very small team worked around the clock in their design studio from February - May 1976 churning out helmets and armor that was later to be used in the film, being shot at nearby EMI Elstree and Shepperton Studios.

Initially, the Stormtrooper Armor was due to be fabricated in-house at Elstree (most probably in fiberglass), although the Elstree technicians had been having problems with their vac-forming machine so this process was out-sourced to SDS. Due to its boat-making business, Shepperton Design Studio’s was fortunate in that it had a HUGE vac-forming table, which was over 4 meters long. This was perfect for the trooper armor as it allowed a complete set of armor to be made from a single pull – a great time saver when there's 56 sets to make!

At that time, the huge success of Star Wars had not been anticipated and, according to Ainsworth, the making of the costumes was very much a process of trial and error. As mentioned earlier, the initial fifty "Stunt" helmets produced, were made from a khaki-green coloured Polyethylene - aka Polythene (HDPE) material that was being used in the workshop at that time to produce fish ponds!. The material was then spray-painted white, although the finish was less than satisfactory, as the almost-oily HDPE material didn’t take the paint very well.

Above, here's a photo of one of the 50 "Stunt" helmets, the infamous Move Along helmet I found a few years back, sold off at Christies - its profiled extensively on this page here.

So AA was asked to produce the helmets for the shooting which was to start just a few weeks away, initially on-location for the Tattooine shots filmed in Tunisia, North Africa.

From the rear you can see how much undercut there was on these helmets. This was probably due to a number of things including the relative flexibility of the different materials (the khaki HDPE of the Stunts being a lot more "springy" than the white ABS of the Hero's), as well as possible damage to the moulds following 50 (very rushed) stunt pulls made earlier. Basically the more you make, the greater the likelihood that you'll have damage and wear.

The helmet itself is very interesting as its asymmetric in appearance. For instance, if you look at the right tube (as you're looking at the helmet) it is quite significantly different in size and overall shape than the left. Many reproductions have ignored this and "sanitised" its appearance and incorrectly given it a more symmetrical look. As mentioned elsewhere the "hero" look is quite different from the "Stunt" with a lowered frown, bubble lenses and three sets of teeth either side of the frown. In addition, the Hero only has one screw on the central ear section, not two. The ABS production helmets and all the Armor were 1.5mm and made of a specific ABS mix which had a higher ratio of rubber to styrene, making them very strong (though slightly duller). As an indication of this strength, AA's sporting canoes were made from just 3mm.

Details on helmets such as the Stormtrooper’s seem to have come from from whatever they could lay their hands on. The front "Mic Tips" have the words "HOVI MIX pa2" written on the side of them. Even now its not clear whether these were actually rheostat knobs (possibly military?), air inlet valves or microphone condenser tips. The Pa appears to refer to atmospheric pressure, measured in Pascals. Note its possible some of the helmets had the real mic tips, however the majority of the Stunt helmets had resin casts of them.

During their production, disaster struck on the evening of March 26th 1976, as AA’s factory caught fire. Three oxy-acetylene canisters, which were in the building at the time exploded and the factory was gutted, with some work lost. Unperturbed they returned immediately to the project and working 20 hour days they were able to complete the order on schedule.

Here's another photo showing 26 helmets and armor outside Shepperton Design Studios in 1976.

Above an interesting photograph from the collection of Andrew Ainsworth of a partly-made Hero helmet taken at his workshop in early 1976. Its missing the ears, mic tips and painted detailing but given its made from white ABS its clearly a Hero.

Above and below are four really nice photos of one of the original ANH Stunt helmets, this one the "Set for Stun" who got capped by Leia on the Tantive IV.

This helmet (also known as the "Dave M" helmet) really is in fantastic condition with everything intact including ears, trim, eye lenses, mic tips and decals.

The paint finish is also superb with the khaki HDPE only showing through in a few places. Many thanks to Art Andrews and Dave M for these great shots.

Below, here's a comparison of the 2 helmets on-screen on the Tantive IV, with the Hero on the left and the Stunt on the right.

These next three shots were sent to us recently of the same "Set for Stun" Stormtrooper seen higher up the page.

These are really great images and show off the helmet detailing extremely well. Note that with all the ANH helmets all the detailing was hand-painted, there were no decals used on the these helmets. Many of the original 50 Stunt helmets were reused for ESB and had decals applied over the painted detailing and the grey frown painted black (though thankfully not this one)

In the shot below you can see a fifth tooth on the (wearers) left hand side. This tended to vary from helmet to helmet and depended on how sharp the vacuum pull was. This one is particularly sharp which is why the extra tooth is so apparent (although its not been cut out)

These next three from Art Andrews are  screen grabs from the "Making of" program. Top left is a hero whereas the lower larger picture features a Hero with two stunts behind him. 

The whole project from beginning to end was probably no more than a few months, and yet the designs have become some of the most recognizable film props of the 20th Century.

Here's a publicity shot done in the UK in late 1977 / early 1978 for the UK release. Its clear that they've just tried to pull together any bits and pieces they can get their hands on including parts from both Stormtroopers and Sandtroopers (check the knee plates and the left troopers stomach box). Vader himself also seems to have a wonky dome and may well be the ANH original, which did not have a reliable fixing mechanism. It featured in the UK Monthly Poster mag (Spring '78). Thanks to Braks Buddy for the photo and Jackie Chan Fan for the excellent clean-up.

These next three excellent photo's are from Brian R of his original ANH Stunt helmet. Thanks to Brian for releasing these great shots of his helmet.

The helmet is white-painted Khaki fishpond HDPE and as you can see its in superb condition and has been well looked after by its previous owners. Looking straight on you can really see how wonderfully asymmetrical the helmets were with the right cheek tube (as you look at it) significantly larger and more bulbous than the left.

The mic tips are still in place and again appear to be in superb condition. You can see that the original helmets had hand-painted detailing and this is noticeable when you look at the tears under the eyes and the vertical stripes in the rear trapezoids.

It really is in fantastic condition and surprisingly very little of the paint has cracked and fallen off. I'm sure its the pride of his collection so many thanks to Brian for sharing them and allowing our readers access to these great shots of his helmet.

Above the original helmet (with taped up mic tip) and below a shot from the Movie (as Leia's being led away from Vader on the Tantive IV)
..and below an on-set photo of "Stunt" Stormtroopers lined up in Death Star Docking Bay set at Elstree.

Next up, and courtesy of Braks Buddy are a couple of shots from the Lucasfilm archives taken in 2006 of one of the Hero helmets used in ANH. These helmets were the white ABS ones made by SDS and referred to as the "Close up" helmets, as worn by Han and Luke (and a number of other close up shots). Below you can see the "Hero" on the left and "Stunt" on the right.

No doubt about the paint marks on this Stunt. The ear screws have even been painted white but they forgot to paint his tube stripes. He's now known as "Mr No Stripes"!

Finally, here's a composition to illustrate just how wonky, or asymmetrical the this wonderful hand-sculpted creation is. Since the left and right hand sides of the helmets are NOT mirror images of each other (unlike the more modern Clonetroopers), if we do mirror the face down the central axis we get quite a strange look - showing IMO asymmetrical is best!

This shows how difficult it is to make a symmetrical (non wonky) Stormtrooper helmet replica, as attempted by Don Post a few years back and MR/E-FX more recently.

Above and below, some previously unseen shots of the "Stop that Ship" and "Move Along" helmets we took a few years back when they went up for Auction at Christies

For more shots of these specific helmets see the links at the foot of the page which will lead you to more in-depth reviews of these specific original screen-used helmets.

In the shot above you can see the original X-Wing helmet which can be seen on this page here. The Stormtrooper "ears" were not originals but replicas we took along with us..


In case you've missed these, there are a couple of Photo Reviews of the above original ANH Stormtrooper helmets on these pages here........

bulletIn-depth Photo Review of the "Move Along" Original Helmet Click Here
bulletIn-depth Photo Review of the "Stop That Ship" Original Helmet Click Here
bullet..and a Comparison page of ANH Vs ESB Vs RotJ Stormtrooper Helmets here

old TK Page here..

The Myth behind the "Prototype" or "Serrated Neck" Stormtrooper Helmets

Occasionally we come across the so-called "prototype" Stormtrooper helmets, either on eBay or on regular auction houses like Christies and Bonhams. Over the years we've done a lot of work to try and find out more about these helmets and can confirm that we are absolutely convinced that these were NOT made prior to production, but some time after the film was made and most probably released.

We understand that Shepperton Design Studio's did produce limited numbers of Stormtrooper helmets some time between the release of Star Wars and the Empire Strikes Back (i.e. 1977-1980) - and sold them locally (i.e. London, UK) - so it could well be that these are those short-run replicas. The most obvious difference is that the rear section is 2-part (notice the line between the upper cap and lower back below) - and the serrated section beneath that. Note that not all of these helmet types had a serrated neck, some had a rounded bell section - although it is clearly massively different from the original helmets made for production.

Below are shots of an unfinished Stormtrooper "Serrated Neck" style helmet made after the film-used 56 and were therefore not connected to the films production. Initially it was presumed that these were prototypes but it has been confirmed that they were produced later. The key differences with the helmet being the 3-piece design and serrated neck.
...and left, another shot of one of the incorrectly-termed "prototype" Stormtrooper helmet, made some time between 1977-1979. This image clearly showing its age and state of this prop. This particular helmets looks to have been made of white ABS, and is a THREE part design. The screen-used helmets were just two-part with a single "swoop" from forehead to the nape of the neck, which must have been a nightmare to pull! The rear section of these helmets were made from a "U" shaped piece of metal with a hose pipe attached, with the ABS pulled over them. This was then added to a cap cut from a traditional cap-and-back sections from the helmet face moulds.

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