AT-AT Driver Costume

The base for this costume is this crappy helmet that I picked up on eBay for about $40. The helmet it's based on is fairly good, and the face appears to descend from an original production Stormtrooper helmet. However, this particular casting was terrible, being warped, broken by removing from the mold before full cure, and covered in pinhole bubbles and surface imperfection. Basically a mess.
 
This pic shows the helmet after a heavy coat of primer and quick wet sand, my first attempt at filling the pinholes and smoothing the surface. Lather, rinse, repeat - I probably sprayed and sanded 5 coats of Krylon before I had a basically smooth starting point.

In terms of accuracy this helmet looks pretty great to me. The two problem areas are the mohawk and the ears, which are all pretty warped. The front of the mohawk is also innacurate, it should jut down below the brow. I fixed up the mohawk and front detail with plastic sheet (garage sale signs, cheap and big!) I tried to flatten out the ears using various means, and ended up with about a 30% repair with mostly Bondo. At that point I decided it was "good enough" and left them somewhat wonky. Here are a bunch of pictures of the helmet in various stages of primer and repair. I sprayed the interior with semi-gloss black. The eyes were cut out with a Dremel, which I found strangely enjoyable. :)

This next batch of pictures show the helmet basically ready for paint. You can see a few spots where it's a little rough, particularly in corners. Some of this I never did get smooth. In addition to the smooth finish I wanted to point out a few details that lead me to believe the face comes from an original Stormtrooper helmet. Note the small raised oval-magigger in the teardrop on the cheek. This sort of ghost of a detail is on the screen used helmets. Also the odd number of teeth, wonky shape of the hovi-mic openings, and general look appear to my eye to match the real deal. Im not 100% certain of it's lineage, but it is certainly good enough for me!

With the bulk of the helmet ready for paint it was time to work on details. Since I was starting with a Tie Fighter Pilot helmet base I was missing a number of important details. The big on is the black detail thingies, hanging from hoses on either side of the face. These hangers were originally made from BOC Sparklets cartridge holders, which held the C02 cartridges to carbonate home made beverages. Of course these are long out of production, and after spending a few weeks trying without success to find some on ebay or a modern equivalent I considered scratch building them from PVC pipe and such. After some prodding by Sym-Cha on The RPF I took another look at ebay and was lucky enough to find a set of two originals for about $20! Yay for authentic screen accurate parts!! I sawed off the bottom nubbin and mounted these on some pond tubing I found online. There's supposed to be a greeblie inside of each holder but I skipped that, being short on time and good reference. I will probably add something later. If you happen to have a good picture of the real greeblie (not the Laws version), please get in touch with me!

The gears on the forehead were scratchbuilt from a resin cast of a gear I found at the local RC shop and styrene sheet, a pretty simple task. I don't think the original chin spike parts have been identified exactly, but they were most likely made from some LP turntable pars, similar to Boba Fett's boot spikes. I cobbled mine together using nylon disks with drilled holes (painted with Alclad Chrome), some washers, and the spikes themselves are for punk rocker jackets or something. The cylinders on the back of the helment where the hoses attached were originally made from some plumbing parts. I actually did find a pretty good match online but they were not available in the US, so I scratched them from PVC plumbing parts and sheet styrene with a metal washer-magigger on top. The various black and red details were hand cut from sign vinyl, and the Imperial logos were purchased on ebay.

Being a repurposed Tie Fighter Helmet, there's also supposed to be a little box on the back of the mohawk. The original part was supposedly found by an RPF member but the info is being kept secret. ;P I suspect it was a phonograph needle box of some kind, but couldn't find a match. I did get the dimensions so started a scratchbuilt box but didn't finish it in time for Halloween, so this remains a missing detail for now. Regardless, some pictures of the basically finished helmet are in order I think!

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