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The Refund Issue

This update reflects changes that pertain to orders placed on and after April 11, 2019.

To our customers,

To begin, we are going back in time to explain how a well-intended policy eventually led to a growing problem for both ANOVOS and customers alike. Specifically, how our Golden Rule policy concerning refunds prior to shipping ended up negatively affecting production cycles and fellow customers.

Our forementioned Golden Rule policy stated that so long as a pre-order product had not shipped, ANOVOS would provide a refund to any customer that requests it—no questions asked. While this policy is not standard in our industry, it was a way to make customers feel comfortable about their pre-order. The issue we experienced was not in its intent, so much as in its application.  

For example, when a product had production issues and became delayed (as discussed in our earlier letter), we would push out the delivery date. This change caused some customers to cancel their orders, and in some ways, resulted in a buying habit of waiting until an item was in-stock prior to making a purchase. However, this “wait and see” behavior frequently backfired on the customer since the majority of our items are produced to meet a minimum order quantity, leaving little—if any—inventory available after pre-orders were fulfilled.

As an unintended consequence, cancelations of pre-orders caused a gradual shrinkage of overall production budget. Fewer pre-orders led to a number of issues including an increase in raw goods pricing, increase in per unit cost, a deprioritization of product (moving items to the back of manufacturing queue) and—in some extreme cases—the cancellation of items that no longer met the factory’s minimums. This not only elongated the manufacturing time for one project, but also other projects, causing a more systemic issue.

After careful study and consideration, the only conclusion is that the funds secured via pre-orders need to be locked in order to ensure a product is financed through production and delivery. The only path forward is one where all sales are final effective April 11, 2019. We will continue to honor any existing refund requests made prior to this policy change as business permits, and will still consider future refunds for customers after a product is in-stock and ready to ship, but only on a case-by-case review.

Many of you have been customers of ANOVOS for years, and we are thankful to our community for your loyalty and support. This decision was not made lightly, and is necessary to ensure all products are produced and delivered in a timely manner. Thank you for your understanding and continued support.

Joe Salcedo, CEO ANOVOS Productions LLC

Dana Gasser, COO ANOVOS Productions LLC

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Anovos Productions LLC April 11, 2019 0 tags (show) 13 comments

Straight Talk About Shipping

So, let’s jump right to it and talk about the elephant in the room. Shipping.

Following last November’s Black Friday sale, we have been struggling to consistently stay ahead of the orders placed for in-stock items. We are aware that many of you have seen delivery dates shipping beyond our current anticipated windows. It sucks, and there are no apologies that are sufficient for that ball being dropped. The only thing that matters are solutions.

Now what are we going to be doing about it?

Let’s start with the root cause and go from there, just for the sake of “setting the stage”: The reasons for these exacerbated delays stem from a perfect storm of internal changes, ranging from the technical to internal personnel changes. Fulfillment is both a digital task that segues into the physical realm, and you can’t have one without the other.

Beginning last summer, we began upgrading our internal systems that handled, well, practically everything in terms of data for products. From order queuing, to inventory allocation, and all points that lead to the final fulfillment of your order. While this was a Herculean task, we took this on to further optimize and shore up our process for easier streamlining.

Regrettably, this preparation and onboarding process spanned into the holiday season, and took staff members out of contention. Both of these facts were very much undesirable for obvious reasons, but once the train overcomes inertia there’s no stopping it…

The second point is that we have lost key people in the fulfillment division, and unfortunately were not able to adequately backfill during the holiday season. Due to the small nature of the company, it wasn’t feasible to simply throw people at the problem to address it, as putting people in a situation without proper training—in a high-stress situation to boot—is a recipe for further problems.

This is particularly true as our product (frankly, esoteric in and of itself) undergoes final QC spot checks before we ship it out. Further, our fulfillment personnel not only handle consumer goods, but also items that require the utmost discretion (as we offer services beyond consumer product), and so trust, discretion and adherence to Non-Disclosure Agreements play heavily into any of our talent onboarding decisions.

Now, how does that help you?

I get that’s what you’re really here for, so let’s get down to it.

Starting a few weeks ago, you will have seen a definitive increase in fulfillment after we’ve allocated proper resources to that division. The reason being is that we are catching up on the backlog, not only of in-stock products, but also of long-awaited product (such as the Rey Jakku Ensembles and Star Trek: Discovery Hand Phasers).

That said, we are going to readjust expectations to the following:

  1. We will only be shipping on Mondays and Wednesdays. (Unless there’s a holiday that falls on either of those days, then those days will shift to the next available business day, e.g. Tuesday and Thursday.)

  2. We are working towards recommitting that domestic in-stock shipments will take 10 to 14 business days to process.

  3. International shipments many take as much as 21 to 30 days to process.

The reason for this is pretty simple: our shipping people also handle other tasks in the company regarding operations, maintenance and other tasks. As you may have already surmised, we do not have a full-time fulfillment team, and due to the esoteric, highly-specialized nature of our product offerings we have to allocate our resources accordingly. File under: Work with what you’ve got.

For those who have items on pre-order, this one’s for you: as we progress through the year, we will be deploying “flash fulfillment teams” to handle the processing and fulfillment of pre-order product after it arrives at our freight forwarder (so it doesn’t even hit our warehouse, thus removing another “stop” along the product’s way, and shortening processing time). We beta-tested this during the unprecedentedly massive launch of our Classic Imperial Stormtroopers, which we saw great success in, and will be going back to that. More on that program in the future, as it’s exciting stuff.

To wrap this up, I cannot thank you enough for your patience and support. You are just like us in that we’re all insanely passionate about our fandom, and we appreciate you!

J. James, Operations Coordinator
ANOVOS Productions LLC

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Anovos Productions LLC April 10, 2019 0 tags (show) 13 comments

The Complex Burden of Accuracy

 

Dana and I (Joe) started ANOVOS as fans with a passion for making costumes and props at a professional level. In the early years of the company, we relied on experience gained from time spent within the fan community and applied it to our business, focusing on craftsmanship, quality, and accuracy. We were small, nimble and able to react quickly.  For us, passionate fans to the core, our greatest struggles have been finding the appropriate balance between creating a highly accurate replica and the time it takes to make that replica as accurate as we want it to be. The “complex burden of accuracy” has caused us an immense amount of pain, largely in the form of compounded delays.

We are fortunate to have access to original assets at an unprecedented level. We have leveraged that access by investing in a first-rate, research team who use the best technology to capture every nanometer in efforts to bring you the most exacting licensed props to exist.

With that access comes a tremendous amount of expectation, from our licensors, from you, and from ourselves. Our focus on accuracy is relentless, but that focus has come at a number of costs. To keep costs reasonable, we utilize overseas manufacturing partners. This is a challenging process because we create highly specific (nearly bespoke) products, in a mass-manufacturing environment.

The challenge becomes compounded by the complex nature of our products (different materials and specialized techniques) and the need to use multiple vendors. To arrive at a counter sample (their version of our prototype) all vendors have to be choreographed in schedule and task. With more vendors, comes an exponential increase in variables. If multiple prototypes are required, delays occur and in extreme cases, vendors substituted, running the risk of starting the production timeline all over again. Unfortunately, this has happened more times than we’d like to admit.

This process has caused delays, costing us time and money. We could simply allow a product to go through as-is, but that isn't who we are and that isn't the product we want to place into your hands. While it is hard to put a true percentage on accuracy, we like to say a final product is around 90–95% as accurate as the first prototype. The complexity of working with multiple vendors to produce our required level of accuracy creates a web of management that includes a constant dance and orchestration of input and feedback, all of which takes time, causing delays. Again, this could all be avoided if we simply accepted "good enough" product, but that is not who we are.

In early 2018, we were forced to come to terms with the fact that we were no longer keeping up with our promised delivery dates. We discovered what I have relayed above: our delays were largely due to our overwhelming commitment to accuracy sometimes sending back production samples as many times as 4–6 times until it was done correctly. Thus, until we had a clear path forward to mitigate our need for accuracy and the hiccups it was causing, we hit the brakes on pre-orders just after May 4, 2018.

Our first step was to make dramatic shifts in both our thinking and approach.

Simplify : First, we had to admit we can’t do it all. It was a painful acknowledgment, but with the size and scope of our offerings, the sheer volume and complexity that comes with managing the web of vendors per project was overwhelming. It has led us to realize that we have to protect our timelines by being more careful about which product pathways we choose now. Thus, we are shifting our focus to products that can be manufactured with as few factories as possible, streamlining our product and reducing the possibility of delays. This seems simple, but the implications are vast. As a result, while you were unlikely to know why, you may have noticed a simplification of the type of product we have brought to pre-order in 2019.

Bringing it Home: Second, we are bringing a select number of production runs here to the United States. While we can't do large volume here due to cost, small runs of product that demand a skilled artist's hand are viable for stateside production. The quality of our US team's work is impeccable, rivaling the quality as seen in the originals! As I type this, we are moving more product lines, including some prop collectibles, to our US manufacturing teams. This effort not only upholds our commitment to accuracy, but also creates a more dependable timeline for delivery to you.

Delivery Expectations: In the next few weeks we will be updating our expected delivery dates. After an exhaustive analysis of the past five years, we now have a more accurate assessment of how long the average product takes to manufacture. While this won't correct past issues, it does help ensure that your expectations are properly set when you purchase an item from us. Secondly, because we will also have parallel manufacturing in the USA, we are able to better ensure a shorter timeline for more products.

Internal Growth: We remain proud of our products and are equally proud of our project managers who have evolved along with this process. They have continued to respond admirably to the ever-changing demands we placed on them and have seen us through the worst of times. They are working hard to constantly upgrade our procedures, and we have already seen huge improvements in all aspects of our production schedule. Many products that have been long delayed are finally starting to ship to you. Our faith in them has never been more steadfast.

I sincerely hope by cracking the door and allowing you a glimpse into our process, it has provided a bit more understanding of both our current strengths and past weaknesses. More importantly, I hope I have conveyed the absolute resolve we all have to get it right despite many challenges.

Your continued feedback has been a huge source of inspiration. Thank you for giving us the chance to be better. We are listening. We are improving.

 

Joe Salcedo, CEO ANOVOS Productions LLC

Dana Gasser, COO ANOVOS Productions LLC

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Anovos Productions LLC April 09, 2019 0 tags (show) 40 comments

Meeting Expectations: A Letter from ANOVOS To Our Customers

To our customers,

At ANOVOS, we strive to make high quality products and deliver them in a timely manner. Our founding principle was to create costumes and props that would set the “gold standard” in production quality replicas. However, we realize that we have not effectively met the delivery expectations of our customers, and we would like to sincerely apologize for any frustration this may have caused.

Our goal is always to improve all aspects of our company, and we are aware of the delays in production, refunds, and in-stock shipments. We, too, consider these delays unacceptable and hear your concerns.

Over the next few days we will be communicating how ANOVOS plans to change in order to serve our customers and community better. It is our hope that these necessary changes in both process and transparency will restore your trust and faith in us as a valued customer.

Thank you for your support and patience.


Joe Salcedo, CEO ANOVOS Productions LLC

Dana Gasser, COO ANOVOS Productions LLC

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Anovos Productions LLC April 05, 2019 0 tags (show) 52 comments

PRODUCT UPDATE: First Order Stormtrooper Kit Instruction Guide Available!

Attention Troopers!

We wanted to let you know that the instructions for our First Order Stormtrooper are available for download here

Keeping in line with our instruction guides, this visual builder's guide is designed to facilitate your own personal build for your armor in a straight-forward, easy-to-follow manner.

It even lists the tools and supplies you will need to build your armor, so you know what to get before your armor arrives!

What other products would you like to see instructions on? Would you like to see more articles on build techniques? Comment below!

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Anovos Productions LLC April 04, 2019 0 tags (show) 1 comment

Baseball and Star Trek: These are Two of My Favorite Things!

There are few items of clothing that I put on with as much pride as a Starfleet Uniform. However, one of those items is something I wear so often that it could be considered part of my daily ensemble—a baseball cap. The cap I wear represents my favorite team playing the sport I love, Baseball, and you can almost always find me wearing one.

John Cooley

I am a baseball fan through-and-through, and I suppose there’s an unspoken tribal pride associated with the wearing of a baseball cap when you truly love the game. Even Captain Sisko wears a San Francisco Giants cap at the beginning of “Take Me Out To The Holosuite.” Do you suppose that team’s cap was a choice made by Ben Sisko or Avery Brooks? I have a feeling it’s a little of both.

Baseball caps can be a utilitarian item; just a simple hat you wear to protect your head and eyes on a sunny day, or it can also convey meaning. I wear my favorite cap nearly every day to display my affection for and allegiance to my favorite baseball team (Let’s Go Os!).

Only right now, the cap I’m wearing belongs to my favorite fictional baseball team in the Alpha Quadrant, and their home games are played aboard the Deep Space Nine station. Go NINERS!

Perhaps it’s no surprise then, that one of my favorite episodes of DS9 is “Take Me Out to the Holosuite.” The only other thing that comes close to my love for Star Trek is my love of baseball. And so, when the NINERS took to the field for the very first time I remember thinking, “I want their uniforms! I want a NINERS cap!” Apparently, I wasn't the only one. Fans at Star Trek Las Vegas would always ask us if we’d ever make anything from “that baseball episode.” Well, considering we just celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of DS9 and baseball season just stepped up to bat, what better time to show off your NINERS pride?

This is the ANOVOS Deep Space Nine NINERS Baseball Cap from our Shore Leave Collection! This is an official replica of the player’s On-Field fitted ball-cap worn by the NINERS during “Home” games! Moreover, this cap isn’t one of those inexpensive, adjustable, “Stadium Giveaway” souvenir caps. This cap is the equivalent of professional level on-field ball-caps. It’s a flex-fit cap, meaning that it has a fitted appearance while still allowing each of the three sizes (small, medium, large) to cover multiple head sizes.

The ANOVOS product development team thoroughly researched the classic navy blue caps (with 90s era gray under brims) worn by the NINERS humanoid team members during their historic game versus the T’Kumbra Logicians. As part of our research, CBS provided us with the original team logos and wordmarks (designed by fellow baseball fan and DS9 production designer Doug Drexler) to ensure that our replica caps were as faithful to the originals as possible.

We even went as far as creating a stitch-by-stitch template for our cap manufacturer to recreate the texture and color gradient of the original cap’s symbol into the modern embroidery found on our NINERS Baseball Cap. Finally, trying to hit this one out of the park—we made subtle improvements for comfort and attractiveness surpassing the original caps used twenty years ago to bring our cap in line with the ballcaps worn by professional baseball teams today.

I said before that there’s an almost tribal pride in wearing the ballcap of your favorite team. I suppose that could be doubly true where this cap is concerned. Could there be a better symbol (hats off to Doug) than the one on this cap? I love the image of the Deep Space Nine station and a baseball flying together in space—it’s perfect. To me, that symbol represents a shared love—freedom and fun, fandom and friendship, baseball and Star Trek.

Live long, and play ball!

 

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John Cooley April 03, 2019 0 tags (show) 4 comments

The Art of Perfection Is Imperfection

Perfect isn’t always perfect!

I’m sure you’ve had this happen before: a glossy, spotless new replica gets released of one of your favorite movie props. It’s got all the bells and whistles you could ever ask for and the smooth, consistent finish catches the light just so. So why does it still look so...wrong?

It’s missing the grit that made it so special. Somewhere along the way, the replicators buffed out all of the tiny faults and nuances of the original in favor of idealization. Part of our uniqueness as a costume/prop replica company is that it's the faults we seek to make reality. You’ve seen it in our past goods and Boba Fett's BlasTech EE-3 Carbine Blaster as seen in Return of the Jedi is no different. We believe, it’s the asymmetries and flaws that made it “feel real” in the original films, so why not include them in the kit.

Prop making in the film industry wasn’t always what it is today. Back in the time of these great films, budgets were smaller and pieces were routinely thrown away at the end of shooting once they had fulfilled their purpose. Props were a means to achieve an end on screen and little more.

Furthermore, film quality was lower than today’s blistering 4k and beyond, so things didn’t have to be nearly as pristine to look just fine on screen. This often resulted in a lot of tiny details, bumps and bruises that, all together, created the final look that we all know and love so well. With idealization, those details are lost.

We toyed with the idea of modeling the EE-3 from scratch, using measurements from a real Webley flare gun, but that had been done previously and we knew the original prop had a lot of character that isn’t easily captured in a traditional, scratch-built model. We decided the best way to do it justice was to use a 3D scan of the original prop, warts and all.

As is so often the case, we turned to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art which retains the hero Return of the Jedi blaster (one of many used on set) at Skywalker Ranch. Our research team discovered that the Return of the Jedi EE-3 actually started out as a casting of the original Empire Strikes Back version. That prop was a real flare gun and had been stripped of its greebles and molded. (Note: the original Empire Strikes Back blaster is no longer available.)

For Boba Fett's appearance in Return of the Jedi the EE-3 was remade with several new greebles and newly designed barrel added to the base casting. We meticulously scanned, photographed and studied the Hero prop to bring you a replica which captures the unique characteristics of this legendary blaster's family tree.

Here are the most interesting nuances we retained for our prop.

Body

Hammer Time

Like many props of the era, the EE-3 is comprised of several found parts. Without the aid of 3D printing and other modern techniques, the surefire way to make something look cool was to find as many neat odds and ends out in the wild as possible and cobble them together. This technique also helps ground the prop in reality—because it’s made of tangible parts that the viewer subconsciously recognizes, you’re more likely to accept the fantasy as true to life.

Without giving too much away, (leaving some easter eggs for you to find) there is a set of parts found on the EE-3 that were originally nothing more than plumbing components. Do you know what pieces these are…?

Here’s a hint, we left its maker's marks on it.

Wonky Fins

You may have thought to yourself that the fins surrounding the barrel of the blaster look awfully familiar. You would be right! The same style is used on both the E-11 blaster and Luke’s lightsaber… but why stop there? We then focused on the irregular spacing of the fins. Believe it or not, the negative space created in the spacing is just as telling as their placement. Instead of mathematically plotting an even distance between fins, we used the photos taken and 3D scans and captured the irregularities with purpose. We want the wonkiness and admittedly crave it.

All the Etchings

All Your Etchings Belong to Us

Sometimes we run across things that even surprise us, on site. While scanning the original prop we ran across a serial number left stamped into the metal of one of the components, untouched. It wasn’t in Aurebesh, so didn’t seem to belong with the continuity of the prop. To us though, these are “gems” of knowledge that was not known prior to scan.  Thus, we chose to reproduce it exactly as it was found on the part, numbers and shapes. Just as we were surprised to find it on the original piece, it was our way of sharing the experience the real prop with you.

Bringing it All Together

In our eyes, imperfect can be beautiful. With the current technology and opportunities given to us, we don’t have to settle for idealized and best guesses. When given a physical artifact, we can unapologetically tackle the level of detail never before possible. We know that you, like us, find that the devil is often in the details and that the bumps and bruises of a piece of history are sometimes what makes it so worth loving. By recreating wonkiness, asymmetries and other un-intended artifacts on the original pieces, we attempt to make these as real for you as it was for us.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this insight into some (but not all!) of the exciting little details to be found in our new kit. We’re excited about this one! She was a long time coming and we couldn’t be more proud of the result.

We'd love to hear your thoughts. Let us know if you’re enjoying these posts by leaving a comment below!

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Anovos Productions LLC March 21, 2019 0 tags (show) 4 comments

The Pièce De Résistance of Blasters

Part 2 of Developing the E-11 Blaster Kit


When we last left off we identified the following problem: how and where can you find a blaster that has the accuracy and durability that can match the armor you’ve spent so many hours completing?

This article will cover the topic of accuracy...relatively speaking. Why relatively? The problem with replicating any kind of prop that originated from the 1970s is that it’s often more of an archeological dig than it is a simple matter of referencing the archives. Despite the plethora of resources and original film assets that are in the archives of the Lucasfilm Museum of Cultural Archives (what you might commonly refer to as the Lucasfilm Archives or Skywalker Ranch Archives), the only E-11 blasters in their catalog were sub-par castings from The Empire Strikes Back and the MGC Sterling from Return of the Jedi. We knew the blasters from A New Hope had been rented from a local rental house and were returned to that rental house after filming.

Unlike a lot of our earlier projects, nothing we found in the archives had true lineage to the original deactivated Sterlings that were used. We had to rely on other types of research that has long existed in the ethos of prop replication.

The key references we ultimately came upon were a set of very good photos of the blaster commonly referred to as the “Bapty” blaster, so named after the rental house from which the original deactivated prop was procured. We found both photos from the time of filming and more recent photos of these blasters that had made their way into the hands of private collectors. The Bapty blaster stands out because of its additional detailing and its slight variance to the standard E-11 blaster we all know and love, ultimately leading to our decision to base the first kit on this beloved piece.

  1. Grip
  2. Different Greebles
  3. Casting Line and Receiver Cut

Grip Comparison

Grip: Looking at the grip, one can’t help but notice the bold departure from the well-known Sterling checked grip featured on the E-11. The grainy grip of the original blaster is not present, but replaced with a relatively smooth grip instead. Additionally, the overall shape of the grip has been simplified to a degree. The only question is "why?" We will never know for sure, but it is presumed this is the result of casting the grip and trigger group to make the Sterling non-functional. This may have been done in a hurry, maybe even on location, and resulted in less detail than the original.

Different Greebles: Like Industrial Light and Magic, who coined the term, when we refer to ‘greebles’ (not to be confused with 'nurnies' which are CGI detailing of a similar nature) we are identifying the small detail pieces purposely placed, sometimes seemingly at random, on a prop to give it a more complex and interesting appearance. Greebles are typically found parts from various unrelated kits and models, often at all sorts of scale, and repurposed to provide depth and on screen ‘realism’ to the piece. In this particular blaster, we noted that the greebles we ever so slightly different with unique additions to the magazine and the counter. Again, why?

Counter Comparison

Scope Comparison

Cylinders Comparison

Casting Line and Receiver Cut: To top it all off, there is an odd cut line that was present on the body of this blaster that wasn’t on others. As part of the deactivation process, the receiver tube of the Sterling was cut and a solid-cast replacement metal receiver was riveted to its tail end. There is a very obvious line down the side of the new rear receiver due to the casting process where the two halves didn't quite align. While this wasn't an intentional deviation from the standard E-11, it is an obvious identifier of the Bapty blaster.

Receiver Comparison

Now at this point most people have dozed off, but to enthusiasts of the prop this discussion has spawned all kinds of theories as to why the Bapty is the way it is. One of the most prevailing ideas (none of these can be definitively validated) takes into account that we do know some of the blasters were taken to Tunisia, crossing international borders. It is speculated that because of differing deactivation prop laws, perhaps more care than usual was needed. It would at least explain the odd cut line; perhaps it was used for additional proof of deactivation. Secondly, perhaps that iconic grip had to be removed and replaced by a quickly cut and sanded down version that worked more as a plug than anything. This would help drive home the the notion that the prop held no more threat than a broom handle. Lastly—and this is a shot in the dark—maybe the additional greebles were purposely placed to demarcate this as a true variant, perhaps only something a Sandtrooper would love. We’re fans, we can dream!

There you have it! With all the mystery and history, how could we NOT choose this as our first E-11 base kit? It’s clearly unique and perhaps the most easily identified variant of the E-11 seen in A New Hope.

In the next segment, we’re going to take a look the thought process in redefining how a blaster costume accessory kit should come together, from design principle to actual execution. Don’t miss the final chapter in this three piece series!

Questions? Comments? Let us know below what you think! Ready to get yours? Click here!

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Anovos Productions LLC March 19, 2019 4 tags (show) 1 comment

The Sterling Finishing Touch, Part One

Part 1 of Developing the E-11 Blaster Kit

Sterling, isn't it?

Back in my ol’ Stormtrooper cosplay days I often spent hours, days and WEEKS making my white armor perfect. You know what I am talking about: measuring your armor, scoring it, making the perfect cut. Then you measure if it fits, make the proper adjustments, measure if it fits, adjust...then see if it looks right, detect asymmetries...the whole kit and caboodle. Then finally, if your fitting mirror could only talk, you have… the PERFECT set of armor that fits you flawlessly! You couldn’t be prouder and you’re ready to hit the convention or event.

But what’s a classic trooper without his or her’s blaster?!?

If you’re like me, this is where things go, “eh”? After all this time to create the perfect piece of armor, you’re suddenly scouring eBay, forums, friends and family looking for an E-11 blaster. It then dawns on you; when it comes down to it, you really only have three choices:

  1. A Real Sterling Conversion
  2. A Foamy
  3. A Kit
Right off the bat, a real Sterling (the base of the E-11) is just out of the question because... well, depending on what country or state you’re in, there might be some legal jurisdiction issues and, not to mention, it’s horrendously expensive and equally heavy. Try holding one of these for an extended period of time, and you will get a real appreciation for our Greatest Generation troops.
 
A “foamy” is made of condensed open cells. It is generally made of a single cast, with a process that skins the inside of a mold, then an expandable open cell formulation creates the strength of the body around a metal armature. This option is awesome if that's your cup of tea, but sacrifices undercut detail due to the nature of the total foam build. Secondly, finding sources for really good ones is a tough thing now a days. In my day, this is what I used for lack of other options.
 
Kits really ranged in my day. The first issue was simply finding them: I often had to ask around, search eBay or hope someone in my costuming group resolved to never build theirs and would sell it to me! When you did find one or some, their accuracy and complexity was really polarized.  Some kits were mind-numbingly simple, but lacked detail and accuracy. Those same kits usually had a seam line that took days to sand then align with putty. Then some kits were direct casts of Sterling parts and conversion kits that, while amazingly accurate, were exceedingly complex to put together, then ended up being brittle because of the tiny parts hanging on for dear life with a drop of CA glue.

The crazy thing about it all, you’ve put in all this work into making your outfit incredible, but the finishing touch was a scramble to find something suitable that, honestly, didn’t match the caliber of your suit.

I am sure you’ve had similar experiences and it’s what framed our design of the E-11 kit. Many of us in the company have worn suits and have the bathroom scars to prove it. But with our kit we wanted it all: accuracy, durability and, most importantly, the ease of putting it all together whether you were an experienced kit builder or a beginner.

It all started with one rule: Make it super accurate but super easy.

This is going to be a three part series that looks at just that.

Wait, why three parts? Because the finishing touch is easily overlooked as the best part to the costume—next to the helmet of course—but it gets the least love!

Obviously, this is the intro into the problem that has existed for most of us. Be on the lookout for the following segments where we will dive deeper into how we chased the accuracy of this piece, and how we made it easy.

Questions? Comments? Let us know below what you think of these insights.

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Anovos Productions LLC March 15, 2019 4 tags (show) Add a comment

A Flash of Greatness: What Three Seconds of Screen Time Will Get Ya!

Some straight talk—when we first saw you, Patrol Helmet, you remember us, from the pre-movie product review. About a year before your film debut we thought, “Look at you! Yes, you are the coolest helmet we’ve seen in a long time, and we can’t wait to show you off!”

Then we sat there in the theater on the big day, scanning every scene… waiting, and squinting, and scanning… then BOOM!

Oh, THERE you are, you Patrol Troopah you!

A whole three seconds of screen time featuring you and most of that a blur.

Now, editing is necessary and we understand when certain things have to be cut for time. We love props and costumes, whereas the producers and editors love story. We’re truly thankful you didn't end up entirely on the cutting-room floor, or stuck to Ron Howard's shoe! We just wish viewers had a better chance to catch what a show-stopper you are.

Well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Now the onus is on us to bring you back into the limelight you so deserve.

Surprising Complexity in Real Life

So what is it that 2D or even video reference can’t give you, that the ability to handle, hold, weigh and 3D scan does? Right off the bat, in one word: Complexity.

When we held the original film asset in our hands it was amazing how complex it was and how many details were packed into an area no larger than the stormtrooper helmets we have seen for 40+ years. The Patrol Trooper is a digital merging of the classic Stormtrooper (as reimagined for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and Death Trooper design (also seen in Rogue One). It couldn’t have been easy to design, but that level of complexity that ended up capturing our imagination. In fact, there were at least 50% more parts to assemble with this helmet than previous helmets we’ve done—and we’ve handled most of the helmets from this universe so that’s surprising to say the least.

Along with this complexity came a truly stunning level of engineering and precision of design, far exceeding the value of its three-second screen time. In the tug of war between both styles, meaning the “old” and the “new”, there were concessions made by each design to give way to this stunning combination. We honed in on the most essential elements and then carefully noted, scanned, and 3D sculpted them.

The Key Elements

  1. The Visor Merge
  2. A Lesson in Cubism
  3. Vocoder Dogpile
The Visor Merge
 
Typically, complex junctures (where organic curvature meets a geometric edge) don’t give us too many problems. But, in this design, the meeting point between the Stormtrooper goggles and the Death Trooper style nose and cheek created an interesting challenge. Unlike previous helmets where the Stormtrooper eye is an enclosed "island", or the Death Trooper mask which just had angular detailing for the "teardrop", THIS helmet combined the full visor and the "mask," while following the curvature of the goggle.
 


Visors: Stormtrooper (left), Patrol Trooper (center), Death Trooper (right)

In other words, these are compound curves on top of compound curves, and we were extremely lucky to have had scanned and taken multiple reference photos to capture this incredible feat of design work.

A Lesson in Cubism

So, what is cubism? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, after all!
 

Cubism as exemplified by Pablo Picasso's 1910 painting, Girl with a Mandolin.

Now how does that work within this universe? Well, another surprising moment for us was finding detail present where one typically never sees it… underneath the helmet! The vocoder on this unit was really complex, not only in its multilayer construction but in its
cubism-inspired design!

Though subtle and not caught until later examination of the scans and reference photos, the angles were different from those we typically take for granted in that galaxy far, far away. Most helmet’s vocoders utilize 90 and 45 degree angles, but that’s not what was observed in the bottom of the Patrol Trooper helmets. Instead, we found a unique design of angular boxes and swoops unlike anything we had ever seen before. It was such an interesting and artistic bit of design that we instantly knew we needed to do it justice.

Vocoder Dogpile

The last element shouldn’t be surprising at this point--what we noted was just how many layers the vocoder had in this helmet. Not only was the vocoder itself composed of a few different pieces, but the ‘mic tip’ was also done as an inset body!

Vocoder comparisonsVocoders: Stormtrooper (left), Patrol Trooper (center), Death Trooper (right)

Yet again, it’s an interesting mix of the Classic and Death Trooper helmet designs. How cool is that? Once again, you’d never notice it on the screen or even in the Blu-ray’s extra scenes.

So, Mr. Patrol Helmet, while you didn’t get the screen time you deserved, we did our very best to do you right. It is my sincere hope everyone gets to finally bask in your glory and recognize what a true achievement of design you really are!

With Love,

ANOVOS Joe

Take a look for yourself here, and let us know what you think in the talkback below: http://bit.ly/patroltrooper

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Anovos Productions LLC March 15, 2019 0 tags (show) Add a comment
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