It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited about a product because I can verifiably say that I eat and drink this stuff 24/7. Every now and then though, we turn something out that reminds me of why we went into this business. It’s not because these pieces belonged to the coolest characters in the galaxy, but because when you know something looks as perfect as our team originally envisioned, it’s like tasting a fine wine or beer.
The First Order Stormtrooper kit is just that. Yes, it took an inordinate span of time to create as this went through three renditions before we felt it was truly ready for prime-time.
It wasn’t enough to know that it was “just right,” we felt that it had to be darn near perfect. We now feel absolutely positive that this is the most accurate, and easy to put together armor which makes even our Classic kit look relatively complex in comparison.
So how did we do this? It boils down to these three primary focus points:
- Metal Molds
- The Power of Inversion
- Sourcing Multiple Screen-Used Suits
Why Full-Metal Molds?
To reproduce just about anything, you need to create a mold of your original piece. A mold is a hollow container used to give shape to your injected material of choice, or a solid object (often called a “buck” in this case) that can have material formed over it to create copies. There are a few ways to build a mold, and many material options to consider depending on your project.
First you need to determine how many “pulls” (or copies) you will need the mold to generate, and how to best optimize the molds to make the most use of each sheet of material.
Each mold has what is called a “pull life,” which is typically measured in how many times a mold can be used to create multiple copies of a piece before the mold degrades from overuse. Much of a mold’s life is determined by the materials it is constructed from, as temperatures and other normal wear-and-tear affect the mold’s life.
After making earlier versions of our prototype armor out of more malleable materials (to test construction, accuracy of detail, and other factors during the development process), we elected to go with a full-metal mold for our larger key projects such as our First Order Stormtrooper. The pull life of a metal mold is much longer than other alternatives, like medium-density fiberboard (“mdf”) or fiberglass, and can handle the thousands of pulls our factory required.
Metal molds also affect the final product itself! The metal surface of the mold has the advantage of retaining and holding heat during the forming process, creating smoother surfaces and better pulls due to longer work times.
Often, the shorter the work time, the greater the chance a pull will come out poorly and will need to be re-done. As one might imagine, this reduces efficiency and wastes material. Once a pull is finished, there’s no way to go back and re-use the same sheet of plastic so into the scrap bin it goes!
What is “inversion”?
Thermoforming uses air in order to suction heated, malleable plastic tightly down over a mold via a strong vacuum (hence the hobbyist term “vacuum-forming”) to create a copy. In some instances, using the traditional method of thermoforming may mean that the plastic can’t be formed tightly enough to the mold, causing the deeper corners and features to be softer looking and less defined than the original.
In the case of our First Order Stormtrooper armor, we opted for inversion casting on key pieces that require sharp detail. Utilizing an “inverted” mold forces the plastic into the mold details rather than over them, thereby creating sharper details in the finished product.
Using Multiple Screen Used Suits as Sources
Above all, this point is probably the most pertinent. The lineage of an item is unquestionably important and, in our case, we always go to screen-used pieces as reference whenever possible for scanning, photography, and documenting fine details. These are the things that make it to screen, and thus inform the most recognizable details, or those “holy grail” attributes, which when replicated bring a “right off the film” level of quality.
When we started with this project back in December of 2015, long before the release of TFA, we were tasked with creating suits for marketing purposes to be on stage for Celebration Anaheim. While the task was daunting, our source material was a cleaned up 3d print from production and not a screen-used suit. While the impression was wonderfully achieved, the source was a print that was rooted in poor scanning and reference technology. These first marketing suits were always considered passable versions that were larger and clunkier than they were supposed to be.
Nearly a year later we were given the opportunity to examine not just one, but many screen-used outfits from the film. This was extremely helpful — we could now photograph, Pantone color match and, most importantly, take our own 3D scans of multiple suits.
Having now acquired the best possible reference, we undertook the task of creating a new 3D model based on all these elements. The comparison between the previous, bulky, passable marketing trooper, and our final model was staggeringly different.
The new armor has finer proportions, and sharper detail.
Armed with this new reference, we could not only generate our own 3D model, but continuously compare our own physical prototypes to ensure faithful replication down the entire manufacturing line.The conclusion: Darn near perfection.
“Temba. His arms wide.”
The story of our newest release, the Captain Picard “Darmok” Uniform Jacket, is about stagecraft. You see actors love to stand out, lead actors especially so, and a classically trained Shakespearean actor would absolutely understand the value of having a costume that was unique especially in a large uniformed ensemble cast like The Next Generation. And so it was that in the run-up to season five, Patrick Stewart asked production for just such a uniform. Something that could be put into a rotation of sorts very much like the Command green wraparound tunics had been for William Shatner during The Original Series. Ordinarily a budget conscious production like TNG wouldn’t normally go to the expense or effort to create a new uniform for one character, but this was an easy call to make. A dashing new uniform was not only a good fit for the more action oriented stories they had in mind for the ever evolving Captain Picard, but a new uniform would provide additional options for the new toy line that would launch a year later with their first Captain Picard action figure. Not coincidentally that figure was wearing the new uniform.
The new uniform was a perfect piece of design work on the part of The Next Generation's costume designer Robert Blackman. Taking inspiration from World War II Submarine Captains and fighter pilots, the new uniform cast the silhouette of a dashing officer who was ready for anything.
The pants were plain black uniform pants, but with a wide cuff that was bloused into his boots much like any uniform ready for battle. In fact, they were the same pants worn with The Original Series movie era uniforms, only without the department color stripe that ran down each leg. The gray tunic, perfect in its restrained patterning and color palette is all business, and perfect when paired with the jacket.
As for the jacket itself, there were a few of them made and worn over the last three seasons of the show; it turns out that uniform was worn in over twenty four episodes far exceeding Capt. Kirk’s green wraps in screen time. However, it’s the first jacket that caught our attention, made of real leather suede with vinyl shoulders, and designed quite literally to be Starfleet's rendition of a pilot's flight jacket. It makes sense. Captain Picard was a polymath: an explorer, diplomat, archaeologist, strategist, and an excellent pilot. It’s the last one that comes to mind when we see Picard in his new jacket, and that’s exactly what the production intended.
There was only one small problem: the shiny shoulders on the jacket. Fans have presupposed a number of reasons why after only one appearance a new jacket was constructed with soft, micro-suede shoulders. There’s even been a tall tale or two told at conventions about it. The reason for the change was that the shiny, smooth vinyl shoulders reflected bleed-light from the set, including residual ambient green light from Chroma key green screen set ups used during effects shots. Ergo the first and, let’s be honest, the coolest version of that jacket made only one appearance. Until now.
We loved the original version of that jacket so much that we decided to make it as accurate as possible to the original including constructing it from real leather suede. Going even further towards a perfect replica of the jacket, we took reference not only from an original jacket but also followed the original patterning for the “Darmok” version. That version called for a casual jacket without closures as it was to be worn open. Later iterations of the jacket would employ a series of hooks and eyes to close the bottom of the jacket, but not in “Darmok” where you can clearly see Captain Picard trying to wrap the jacket around himself to keep warm. The only thing we added to the jacket were a couple of pockets to the interior which adds functionality while not changing the visual look of the jacket at all. Why would we want to? It's already perfect.
So whatever you call it; “Captain Picard's Flight Jacket”, “The Captain’s Alternate Uniform” or “Picard’s Nifty New Uniform Jacket (PNNUJ)”, the best uniform piece in the 24th century is coming, and we can’t wait!
“Temba at rest.”
"There are those who believe - that life here, began out there. Far across the universe. With tribes of humans, who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man - who even now fight to survive - somewhere beyond the heavens." ~ read by Patrick Macnee.
Pictured: Publicity photo of Dirk Benedict.
From the day ANOVOS announced that we had secured the Battlestar Galactica license, you have asked us for this jacket. You told us at conventions and through social media conversations just how much this costume means to you and we’ve been listening and taking notes. The Battlestar Galactica Colonial Warrior Jacket has been on our Production Wish List for a long, long time, and our team is truly excited to finally see it come to fruition. Not only is it accurate to the beloved series, but fully functional as well, making it an everyday wearable jacket rather than simply a costume.
Pictured: Original Dirk Benedict screen used jacket sold at auction by Prop Store.
During the years of research and development for our replica, we were able to directly inspect original jackets used in the filming of Battlestar Galactica. We had at various times inspected the jacket worn by Tony Swartz as Flight Sergeant Jolly, and the one worn by Dirk Benedict as Lieutenant Starbuck. We also garnered advice from the late Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo) about the jacket a few years ago. These invaluable resources enabled us to not only find modern equivalents of the original textiles to work with, but assisted in matching the colors as closely as we could to the originals.
Pictured: ANOVOS CEO and eFX CEO with Richard Hatch holding Tony Swartz screen used jacket.
This was our quest to recreate the iconic jacket...
In 1978 series creator and executive producer Glen A. Larson hired noted designer Jean-Pierre Dorléac as lead Costume designer for Battlestar Galactica. Inspired by the show’s romantic concept of WW II fighter aces in space, Jean-Pierre illustrated the design of the Colonial Warrior costume. A costume that, along with others from the show, earned Dorléac the Emmy Award for Outstanding Costume Design. His design was then translated into a physical costume by the men's tailor shop at the Universal Studios lot.
Pictured: Revised costume illustration by Jean-Pierre Dorléac.
Initially, costume supervisor Mark Peterson envisioned the uniforms to be made of a fairly new space-age material called Ultrasuede but it ended up being hard to source at that time. (Ultrasuede® is the trade name for a synthetic microfiber fabric invented in 1970 by Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto.) The studio men's tailor shop sourced a cheaper and readily available pincord-velvet style fabric which is similar to Ultrasuede still featuring a fuzzy type brushed face but with a tiny wale or cord to it. Our reproduction uses a modern fabric equivalent called micro corduroy or micro suede to approximate the look and feel of the original pincord-velvet style fabric.
Pictured: Original jacket pincord-velvet fabric showing the micro cord/wale pattern.
We are grateful to have been granted access to the original paper patterns drafted by Universal Studios men’s tailor shop for Dirk Benedict's colonial uniform provided by the NBC Archives. Our jacket is modeled directly off of Dirk's pattern measurements and graded for US sizes by our astute softgoods team here in California. Placement of key trim elements was carefully considered as the jacket changes sizes from small to double extra large.
Pictured: Production made paper patterns used to cut fabric for Dirk Benedict’s jacket.
The pin cord-velvet used in the original jacket is a lightweight fabric, but the jacket behaves very stiffly in nature like a leather jacket on screen and in person. The men’s tailor shop accomplished this stiffness by flat lining the back of the thin pincord-velvet with cotton denim and then lining in satin on the inside for comfort. In comparison, our jacket features the modern technique of applying a thick interfacing to the back of the fabric to add an appropriate amount of stiffener without being uncomfortable or overly complicated like the original construction.
The original buckles were made by a metal goods company in France. Unfortunately, supplies of those buckles dried up in the early 80’s and the supply of knockoff buckles from Hong Kong, in turn, dried up yahrens ago. Utilizing a set of original French buckles, we painstakingly drafted up working blueprints to manufacture the buckles ourselves at one of our factories. To duplicate the surviving artifacts finish, several iterations of the antique brass plating were made to ensure a screen accurate look.
Pictured: Original Made in France buckle. Despose is the French equivalent to Registered. Note the navy blue lining and russet brown fabric colors.
The Colonial Warrior's Galactica Patch was one of the simpler aspects of the jacket to accurately reproduce. Having access to original screen used jackets and knowing how patches were produced back in the late 70’s afforded us a few tricks to get the patch to look right. The size and shape of the triangles along with the embroidery stitch density of the metallic gold thread and fabric backing were all accounted for in our patch replica, right down to the distinctive asymmetrical layout.
Pictured: Original screen used patch on pincord-velvet fabric.
By now you may be wondering why we are not including the Colonial Warrior collar pins with our jacket. During pre-production of the show, the costume department - in an effort to militarize the costume - added pins and decorations to the costumes from their supply of real military accouterments from the countless military films and shows the studio had worked on.
The gold collar pins are in-service U.S. Army Military Intelligence Branch Insignia pins, but worn upside-down when compared to standard military usage. As such, we are not permitted to reproduce these, as per the United States Code of Federal Regulations, Title 32, Subtitle A, Chapter V, Subchapter A, Part 507, Subpart A and Title 18, Part I, Chapter 33, Subsection 701. Those regulations prohibits the manufacture or sale of U.S. military medals or decorations without expressed authorization or certification by The Institute of Heraldry: Secretary of the Army Office.
U.S. Army Military Intelligence Branch Insignia pins on service uniform.
Part of ensuring an accurate replica is to reproduce the fabric color of the thirty-nine-year-old costumes just right. Through our years of experience and observation, we discovered that differences in lighting, color timing, and display medium can drastically influence our impressions of how the fabric color of the Warrior jackets (and capes) appeared to us.
Many fans who watched Battlestar Galactica growing up, including ourselves, have particularly diverse recollections of what we believed the color of the jacket to be. When an image of the jacket is reproduced on a TV screen, a 30-year-old magazine page or a fading photograph each of the different mediums can show dramatic shifts in color. In many instances, the fabric color can appear as reddish umber and in outdoor scenes the color can appear as dark tan.
Pictured: This promotion photo makes the jackets look darker and redder than in real life while this daylight filmed action sequence makes the jackets appear dark tan.
Fortunately, we had the unique position to PANTONE color match the jackets in-person instead of relying solely on color matching from images. Our mandate for this and other high-end replicas is to dispel any confusion on color accuracy by matching fabric colors directly from the existing artifacts to PANTONE color reference under normal incandescent lighting conditions and to make note of any possible color shift under erroneous lighting conditions like fluorescent lights or direct sunlight.
Pictured: Screen used Tony Swartz flight jacket used as color reference.
The original shoulder caps were made from real split leather suede cowhide, and while they look great, they also presented a number of problems for our replica. Our goals for this jacket were to make it comfortable, easy to wear, easy to maintain, and affordable. The increased maintenance and care along with a higher cost of incorporating real leather elements into the jacket were deciding factors to make the change to Ultrasuede for the shoulder caps to enhance its usability as an everyday jacket for wear in all sorts of weather.
Finally, in an effort to take this replica from costume piece to functional jacket we decided to add a hidden zipper to each sleeve cuff so that cold winds could be kept out if you so choose or you could keep it unzipped for the classic Colonial look seen in the show. We also added two inside pockets to the interior of the jacket for better functionality, after all, Starbuck needs to put all his cubits and cigars somewhere.
This has been a long journey… and during the course of it, we happened upon a great many insights which dispelled many assumed notions passed down throughout the yahrens. We are happy to share our discoveries through articles such as this one and hope to revive nostalgia for Battlestar Galactica through this replica.
We hope you'll be as delighted to wear the Battlestar Galactica Colonial Warrior Jacket as we have been in researching and making it."Fleeing from the Cylon Tyranny, the last Battlestar, GALACTICA, leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest. A shining planet, known as Earth." ~ read by Lorne Greene.
We listened and we’re innovating. ANOVOS began in 2009 with a dream of bringing high-quality costumes, props and accessories from our favorite sci-fi franchises to fellow fans. Thanks to your support and continued patience, we’ve identified our strengths and weaknesses. We are now at a point where we can combine technologies to optimize not only a quicker made replica, but also a quicker shipped product. Through the combined technologies of 3D scanning, printing, and integrative manufacturing steps, we have pioneered a new system which has drastically impacted our production speed for the better. Now you will have the opportunity to hold your new purchase in just a matter of days rather than months.
Because of the nature of our limited runs (and due to some ongoing inventory counts), many of our costumes and accessories may show as out of stock from time to time. To help you know when that special item is available once again, we have added the ability to enter your email so you'll automatically be notified when a certain product is back in stock. We'll also use your feedback from these "Interest Lists" to better gauge which products will get another production run, so be sure to let us know what you want! Check out this new feature right now by browsing our website.
What were the First Order Stormtrooper costumes that were revealed at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in 2015?
ANOVOS was honored to participate in the first full reveal of the First Order Stormtrooper armor by producing a limited number of prototype kits for marketing purposes. These kits were made available to members of the 501st Legion costuming group, who then assembled and wore them to various events surrounding the promotion of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. These suits were not available to the general public.
Why is the 2016 First Order Stormtrooper costume considered a Premier Line item?
Based upon feedback and testing with our 2015 prototype armor, many pieces of the First Order armor kit were re-engineered for easier assembly. Produced in the USA, the Premier Line armor kit includes upgrades such as a rotocast rigid foam-filled two-piece detonator, single-piece backplate, improved chest detail via negative-drawn vacuum forming, new forearms and shins, and all new latex gaskets. The updated leather gloves and new boots are sourced from the original manufacturers which produced the screen-used pieces. In combination with the Premier Line First Order Stormtrooper helmet, we are able to provide a complete costume head to toe for the very first time.
How will the First Order Stormtrooper Standard Line armor differ from the Premier Line item?
Plans are still in the works to solidify the specific details for the Standard Line First Order Stormtrooper armor, but the key difference will be that the Standard Line offering will not include the genuine leather screen-accurate boots, nor the high-end Premier Line fully-lined fiberglass helmet with metal accents. There may be some small differences in the armor components themselves (for example, the chest may not be negative-drawn vacuum formed) and not all of the accessories will be included (neck seal, gloves, and soft goods may be sold separately). Because the Standard Line will be produced in larger quantities, our goal is to pass along that volume production discount to the customer for a highly accurate, but fairly priced set of armor that is not available from any other source. It should be noted, however, that delivery of the Standard Line armor is not expected until 2017 as production and shipping from our overseas manufacturing partners will take more time.
Can the First Order Stormtrooper armor be purchased without helmet?
Another version of the First Order Stormtrooper armor will be made available sans helmet in August 2016, but the Premier kit version is only available as a complete costume with Premier Line helmet and boots through July 31, 2016.
I already pre-ordered the Premier First Order Stormtrooper helmet. Can I upgrade my purchase to the full armor?
Yes. Contact email@example.com with your existing helmet order number, full name and email which was used during the pre-order. We will simply cancel the helmet order and you can then purchase the full armor kit with helmet and boots. Your wait time will not substantially change, and you will be able to acquire a full costume!
Will those who pre-ordered the standalone helmet get preferential treatment to order the rest of the armor before anyone else?
The public release of the First Order Stormtrooper armor will be made available to everyone at the same time.
What is the difference between the Premier and Standard Line versions of the First Order Stormtrooper helmet?
The Standard Line is made from lightweight injection-molded ABS plastic, featuring crisp detailing throughout, along with an adjustable hardhat suspension rig that will accommodate most size heads (up to a size 8). This is more of a "trooping" helmet that weighs about 1.5 lbs or .68 kg.
For our Premier Line, the production run will be smaller and will command enhanced features, such as fiberglass construction, metal components (such as the “grill” and aerator), as well as a finished lined interior with adjustable padding. This version of the helmet weighs approximately 4.75 lbs. or 2.2 kg.
Can I upgrade from the Standard Line helmet to the Premier Line helmet after placing my order, or vice versa?
You can make changes to your order prior to the shipping of any item. You would need to open a support ticket to initiate the upgrade.
Will the colors match for both the helmet and the forthcoming armor?
Yes, but note that because this is a mass-produced item, there is still the possibility of some variance (color shift).
Will the armor be available as a pre-assembled ensemble as well as in kit form?
Yes, the First Order Stormtrooper armor will be available as a completed ensemble as well as in kit form. Pricing will also vary, with the kit version being offered at a lower price than the completed version due to the substantial savings in labor costs.
Will the helmet itself be offered as a kit?
Our plans for the First Order helmet do not presently include offering the helmet as a do-it-yourself kit. For right now, the answer is no.
When will your STAR WARS items be available in other countries (like Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland)?
We are working on this with the licensor and, when we have added certain regions or countries to our sphere of influence, we’ll make the appropriate announcements via our newsletter, website and social media outlets. The best way to obtain updates would be to sign up to our newsletter: http://bit.ly/anovosnews
When will you be offering additional product from STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS?
While we’re not at liberty to discuss specifics to future product releases until cleared to do so, all we can tell you is that any product will be announced via our newsletter, website, and social media outlets. As always, the best way to obtain updates would be to sign up to our newsletter: http://bit.ly/anovosnews
And, as always, should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to our Customer Support team by clicking here!
Our Premier Star Trek Command Tunic is a nearly perfect replica of the costume tunics worn by William Shatner during the third season of Star Trek in 1969. It has correct patterning taken directly from original sources, full length zipper (to allow for the actor’s hair and make-up), spring weave collar fabric, a body made from custom milled Premier 3rd season diamond weave double knit fabric, our perfected rank braid and insignia, and the actual “avocado-green-gold” color formula used by the Star Trek costume department. This costume tunic replica is crafted by hand to please those collectors who want nothing less than what was worn on the sound stage.
Our Standard Star Trek Command Tunic was designed to be a nearly perfect replica of the uniform tunics worn by Captain Kirk aboard the Enterprise in 2269. Its patterning has been adapted to provide a better fit for a wider array of personnel, it has a nominal six inch zipper, rib knit collar fabric (used at times side-by-side the spring weave collars), a body made from custom milled Standard 3rd season diamond weave double knit fabric (which is even a tiny bit heavier than our Premier fabric but less dense of a weave which affords it better breathability and comfort aboard ship), our perfected rank braid and insignia, and the same command division gold seen on our monitors for nearly fifty years. This uniform tunic is replicated in a factory to please those collectors who want nothing less than what they saw on their screens.
You see the distinction? When we brought our Premier Star Trek tunics to some of the first conventions we attended, we always got the same questions-“Why is your Captain Kirk tunic green?” “Shouldn’t Captain Kirk’s shirt be gold?” and so on. Our response was always to educate people to the fact that the costume William Shatner wore in the third season of Star Trek was this shade of avocado-green, and that it only looked gold on camera. Some understood, some didn’t, and some walked away saying that they didn’t care what color it was on the stage, Kirk’s tunic was gold. It was the last comment that always got to us. “You don’t care? We’ve made a tunic that could pass for an original in the Smithsonian, and you don’t care?”
Years pass and more convention conversations later, and we realize that there are lots of people who want to wear Captain Kirk’s tunic that are walking away because they want something that looks more like what they saw on TV. Ok, but we don’t want to change the Premier tunic as it’s already perfect. What to do? Create a new line of replicas that display the same attention to detail and accuracy but tune the color closer to what most people’s expectations are. Then we thought if we introduce a change like that, what else can we do to differentiate one line from the other and the answer was a lower price point. How do we lower the price? Standardize the manufacturing process, change the fabric weave to something easier to make, and construct the tunics in a factory setting. Those changes dropped the price of the tunic a hundred dollars, and opened up a whole new segment of people who would wear a Star Trek tunic, infusing our hobby with new blood.
As for the color of our Standard Captain Kirk tunic; the change in color to the naked eye (under most lighting conditions, even natural light) is so subtle that you’d be hard pressed to even discern it. Under most conditions it’s just a pinch more gold/yellow.
Here are both tunics pictured outdoors in natural daylight without a filter.
And then there’s what I call “The Camera Trick”, and if you saw us at last year’s conventions you might have seen it.
I take a Premier Command Tunic and drape it over a Standard Command Tunic...
(Indoors, artificial light, with a flash, no filter.)
...and then I hold my phone in camera mode over them and what happens next is exactly what happened with TV cameras in 1969 – the Standard Tunic turns gold!
(Indoors, artificial light, no flash, no filter.)
It’s really cool, and if you’re coming to San Diego Comic Con or Creation’s Las Vegas Star Trek Convention I’ll show it to you.
So here we are, offering two versions of the same classic Star Trek Command Tunic. Most people who at one time walked away from the Premier tunic purchase the Standard because it looks closer to how they expect Captain Kirk’s tunic to look (and the money they save is almost an afterthought), and we still make the Premier Tunic for those that want to wear exactly what William Shatner wore.
Who said you can’t please everybody? http://bit.ly/1rb5oht