Stormtrooper Armor Makeover
How to prepare for the next Rebel invasion
Preparing for the next Rebel uprising is never easy and no Stormtrooper would be caught dead without a full set of armor or his/her trusty E-11 blaster. No way.
But things have certainly changed in the Galaxy since Star Wars first premiered back in 1977 and we certainly dont want to be left behind. Whether you are a Sandtrooper, Flamethrower, Stealth Trooper or weekend member of the 501st Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment, looking your part in a full armor complement is priority number one.
So why should we miss out on all the fun you ask?
This page was last updated: December 18, 2015
A few years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I broke down and purchased a complete stormtrooper armor set. It was based on the FX Models armor which was one of the only sets offered at the time. It included virtually everything along with a helmet, holster, orange pauldron, ABS glue, Velcro and a complete instruction booklet. I wore the armor once or twice and then tucked it away in the attic for what seemed like an eternity. Until now.
The armor was originally made from ABS plastic and features a gloss white base coat which saves you the trouble of painting the armor once it is assembled. Many of the pieces are precut which is an important aspect of building your armor and saved me a considerable amount of time I might have spent on cutting and trimming the .093 inch thick plastic material. Since my original purchase, several other manufacturers have entered the market located in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Some of these are good and some of them are not so good but how does a young stormtrooper wannabe tell the difference?
Another important question that must be answered is how accurate do you want to be and are you contemplating a membership into the infamous 501st Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment (FISD)? If accuracy is important you must choose your armor kit wisely.
Once the decision was made to bring my stormtrooper alter ego out of moth balls, I decided that it was time to rejuvenate and upgrade my armor and to display it proudly in my new office. So what did I do first you ask? I purchased a lifesize mannequin on Ebay of course. Then I spent literally hours combing the library of information that exists on the FISD Forums. Wow. Everything you need to know is found there. Be afraid Rebel scum.
I have to admit that I felt a little awkward with this bald, naked figure staring at me through lifeless blue eyes in my man cave, but once I starting fitting him with armor, everything changed. In fact, my quiet friend proved to be invaluable by helping me to fit and assemble each piece without standing in front of a mirror all afternoon. I quickly took an inventory of what I had on hand and made a list of tools and supplies that would be needed to get this project underway.
Two trips later to the nearest Home Depot and I was ready to begin.
One of the first things we did before making any changes or enhancements to our armor was to determine what version of the Imperial Stormtrooper we wanted to emulate. We decided on Sandtrooper Infantry. In order to be screen accurate and remain true to the original movie, we needed to add some upgrades to our suit such as canvas belts, drop boxes, snaps, white canvas straps and some very cool firepower in the form of a Lewis gun or DLT-15 (more on these later).
Secondly, we decided to make changes to the way the armor fits in order to make suiting up in preparation for a Rebel incursion easier and less problematic. The thigh armor for example, was originally held together by double sided tape. A classic rookie (not "wookie"!) mistake. We found a terrific tutorial on the FISD by Pandatrooper describing how to modify and improve FX armor pieces just like ours and do away with the double sided tape.
The trick is to remove any excess material, glue shims inside the armor piece, secure the two edges together, glue a ridge piece to the exterior and then roll the leading edge with a hobby iron. Pretty simple right?
FX armor was originally made for Stormtroopers like me that are taller than the 5'8" tall 160 lb actors who appeared in the movie. One size does NOT fit all and therefore its a good idea to trim your armor for the best fit so it does not look like its hanging on you. Movement and simple mobility can be a problem if your armor is not fit properly
Carefully measure how much excess you wish to remove, score a line down the thigh piece and then snap in two by bending along the scored line. Or, you can use lexan scissors. Easy.
We are using two different types of adhesive to modify our stormtrooper armor besides, what could be more embarassing than to suddenly lose your codpiece in the middle of a Rebel scum engagement. Gasp.
Plastic Weld is used to join the two halves of our thigh, shoulder, and wrist pieces for example. It takes a while to set but it literally melts the two halves together so you know its forming a permanent bond. The E6000 is great for attaching objects to just about any surface. It sets up fast, is somewhat flexible, clear in color and has a very strong smell.
Next, glue a shim on the inside of the thigh piece which will make securing the sides together a lot easier and more secure. We used extra ABS material purchased through Tro0perbay.com to make our shims.
In the picture on the right, clamps, popsicle sticks and rare earth magnets are used to keep both sides steady while the plastic weld cement works its magic. Using magnets to clamp the two ends together is a great idea since the hobby clamps cannot reach inside the thigh and wrist armor. Wish I had thought of it....
One of the features that we decided to replace on our armor were the drop boxes. These upgrades purchased from Trooperbay are excellent and a huge improvement over the originals. Some troopers make them functional to hold personal items.
Rob Kittell (Imperial Issue) provided us with this terrific off white canvas belt to replace the plastic "belt" included in the original kit. Really nice quality.