Write up by Tyler Webster
With this costume, I wanted to create a mandalorian that had to meet some guidelines I had set.
- It had to feel like a classic mandalorian, something that felt very much as if it came from the Original Trilogy.
- It needed a little of its own flair. While this sort of contradicts the first point, I didn’t feel coping Boba Fett was the best thing here. I still wanted it to have some personality to it all its own.
In the world of mandalorian costuming there is a majority winner when it comes to making the actual armor plates, and that’s PVC foam board. Many will know the material by its popular brand name Sintra. In short the material is a lightweight thermoplastic, easily manipulated with a head gun you can get at Home Depot for $20.
For me that wasn’t the material I wanted to use. I am a pretty rough guy when it comes to my suit. I always have to engineer it with durability in mind, sometimes that isn’t possible without making the suit very heavy. In this case there is an alternative. Standard schedule 40 PVC pipe. It’s cheap, light weight, and extremely durable. I have fallen down a flight of stairs with this suit on, having suffered little damage to the suit, mainly scratches to the paint.
The issue here is that PVC is not as easy to work with compared to Sintra. With Sintra you can cut it with a basic utility knife and heat gun will work just fine. With standard PVC pipe to cut it, requires either in the best case a bandsaw or at minimum a handheld jigsaw.
Cutting the armor starts with any length of 6in diameter pvc pipe cut to a length of 2ft. Then cut a straight line down the center to split it in half on one side. This will make it much easier to work with in the end when we heat it up.
Now I am warning anyone reading this that the following should be done with caution. When heating PVC foam board or pipe it will release a casaniginic gas. Please do this outside or in a very well ventilated area. Failing to do so can be very harmful to yourself and others if not taken seriously.
With that said, its at this point that I had to get the piece of PVC flat. So I went with an old oven that I had hooked up in the kitchen I was renovating. Heated the PVC to 250 degrees for 5 minutes. Pulled the plastic out making sure I had gloves on and placed it between two pieces of plywood. Stood on the plywood and after about 5 minutes of cooling off it was ready to be turned into some armor.
I printed out armor templates, scaled for my size. Traced them onto the PVC with a sharpie and cut each piece out with a Jigsaw.
From here I used a heat gun to heat up each piece and shape it to my body, wearing several layers of clothing to prevent any heat getting through and to cut down on the risk of burning myself.
I had messed with velcro, snaps, and a couple other methods before. All of which have their weakness, some are too loose, others are heavy, or not as precise as you want for a set of armor you want attached and feel like its a futuristic suit of armor. The solution here, Chicago Screws.
Chicago screws are screws with a flat head side and a smooth side, one being the male end and one being a female end. This allows for some cool ways to attach things. It allows us to counter sink in very thin material and still have it hidden. This will make it so the armor attaches in the same spot every time. Keeping the armor close to the body, giving it a better finished look.
This process is repeated for the rest of the armor parts. Excluding the shins and knees which are held on with velcro and elastic.