I went quick and dirty with the soft parts for this costume, so they're not super accurate but definitely look the part. The real suit is a standard Star Wars jumpsuit, just like those worn by the scanning crew in Episode IV, Tie pilots and other helmeted imperials in black, X-Wing pilots in orange, etc. It features large cargo pockets on the legs, a mandarine collar, and a few other pretty specific details. I figured a regular ol' grey coverall would be fine for starters, and I'd parhaps add the pockets and fix the collar later. I ordered a Dickies grey coverall from Amazon, but found the color to be much too dark for my liking (though it might look ok with accurate light grey armor instead of white). So this one went back and I purchased a Red Cap grey Twill Action Back coverall instead. Much better! I used it unmodified, and like I said I may add the missing details later.
It's kind of funny describing this build after the fact, it seems so simple..."I bought this, I used that." The reality was that I spent stupid amounts of time scouring the internet looking for the most accurate bits I could find (at a decent price!). So, the gloves - These are welding gloves from Weldas. The gloves on the real costume are all suede, but I really prefer the suede cuff with leather glove look, and these gloves matched the look in my head perfectly. I picked them up for about $16 online. On the list of things to add is the wrist communicator, which I started to build but ran out of time. Nice pictures of the communicator have since turned up in the Star Wars Costumes book, so it should be pretty quick if I ever decide to do it.
The AT-AT Driver was only seen from the neck up in the film, but the original costume sported some sweet white moon boots. Oh man did I love moon boots when I was a kid in thye '70s! What's more Star Wars than clomping around in some cool puffy boots? Well, it turns out they're hard to find these days, at least for under $100. I did find a purple and grey pair on ebay that matched the construction pretty well, snapped them up for under $20. I removed the laces and spray painted these white with some special paint made for auto interior vinyl surfaces, hoping it would adhere well to the polyester-ey material and rubber soles. It doesn't. But hey, a lot of the original trilogy costumes had painted boots with peeling paint, so it's ok!
Lastly we have the webbing for the ejection straps. Working with necessary compromises in color since I went with white instead of light grey armor, I decided to use 2" silver nylon webbing from strapworks.com, rather than white. Even with the white armor I think matches the look of the original costume best. I followed a template I found for an X-Wing pilot costume, it's pretty simple to assemble the webbing. I didn't feel like pulling out the sewing machine so I hot glued/stapled/velcro-ed the webbing, which was quick and works fine. Again, something to fix up later if I want. ;)
DETAILS AND FINISHING
Well, this costume was pretty close to done! With something like a week to spare I spray painted all the armor parts with Rustoleum Professional Gloss White. This is recommended by a lot of the 501st guys, and it really does spray a nice smooth high gloss coating. Not pictured here are the various rubber hoses I went through trying to find the perfect match for the costume. Home Depot had a decent looking washing machine drain hose, and I found better looking but too-large vacuum cleaner hoses online. In the end Wampa Wear hooked me up with the hose I needed, same as X-Wing pilots use. (incidentally, these guys also appear to have very accurate grey flight suits). I used rare earth magnets to plug the tubes into the housings on the back of the helmet for easy removal so I can take off the helmet while wearing the rest of the armor.
Yet to be detailed was the greeblie stuff on the back armor plate. The original seems to have been made with various things including some kind of circuit board connectors on the side. I elected to make this from a clear styrene sheet (cheap picture "glass"). The center section is decorated with black vinyl with hand cut white and red details. I screwed up the application on my first go and detailed it off-center, so rather than re-doing the vinyl I cut off the circuit board sides and made them as seperate pieces. The circuit board connectors themselves are cut from silver vinyl stuck to the front of the clear plastic sheet. I hand painted the intricate "etched wiring" with a silver paint pen, tracing a template I drew in Illustrator (pictured above). I then back-painted the clear plastic with a greenish circuit board color. Before back-painting the main color I used a slightly darkened version to paint another layer of wirey stuff, just do add some depth to the look (very hard to see but I know it's there!). This unit was glued and screwed to the painted back plate. The real costume had a 1" plastic magnifying box glued to the back (turns out these things are all over Imperial stuff in Empire!). Easy to find but I think it looks pretty dumb, so I used a "cog looking" washer from an electrical breaker box and a lamp switch for a bit more high-tech look. More missing parts - there's supposed to be a grey box of some kind in the middle of the large black rectangular space. I started building one from scratch but ran out of time, will definitely add this later. ;) Here are some photos of the basically complete backplate details, plus the obligatory dining room table shot.
I won't bore you with a ton of info about my rush strapping job. I used primarily black or white elastic straps, heavy duty velcro, and hot glue to make this thing wearable (notice I didn't say durable!). Everything was done in a rush, but can be easily removed if I want to make a more rugged strapping system later. Ask the 501st guys, they're better at it than me!
That's about it then! Photos of the "finished" costume are in the gallery!