Design Evolution Part 01

After starting the third armour of the GAV Commander of Rogue One, I decided to make a patch. I wanted it to be in the striking and minimalist. So I used the three colours found on the Commander armour. It is reminiscent of the ranger patch in the US with the mention of the 71st Battalion which is the one that was station on Jedha ( wookiepedia !). There was also a desire to include the hammer shape since the GAV units are known as ” Imperial Hammer”. The toying started with position and included a *wink* at Pink Floyd ” Another Brick in the Wall” MV. but it did not gel properly. So the Hammer finally appears in the “ST” next to the 71 which left some room to add the Imperial Cog … now to production

Oh Glorious crap…

Yes China has copycats, bootlegs, replicas, shanzai… all of different degrees of quality and build. From toys to clothes to now badly designed and worn armors ! I’ve shown many in my previous posts and it does not stop !

I can’t really define the level of annoyance I have when I see that; is it the armour or the shoes, or the way it is worn… is it the attitude displayed or the fact that it not even in front of a relevant poster?

Propel … OMG

yes I used OMG and you will do too the day you get a propel Star Wars battle drone. These things are beautiful, fast, full of surprises and you can battle against others ( up to 12 players) for real ! They are extremely well designed, and the ergonomics is spot on. You can also upgrade with actual laser for battling …

… But the real jaw dropping part is not even the drone, it’s the package ! It is amazing and I have never seen anything like this. If you do not want/care to buy, go to a store and ask to open the box!

Sticky Business

I developed good skills for building X-wing helmet and making them looked distressed so it was but evident that I needed to work on making the stickers so I could have more options than Red5 when making a helmet.

The results many sticker sets for the original pilots. Now that Rogue one is out I guess that means even more work in making new stickers.

Imperial Tanker V2

I love this guy too much so I got myself another kit , ABS this time, and started building it with a few novelties. Magnetic closure, replaceable EVA foam the side, velcro removable neck collar… maximum flexibility for more compact packing when travelling.

more WTFake troopers in China and it’s getting annoying

Hey LFL/Disney

I know there is no such thing as bad publicity, that China can be quite uncontrollable, and that Star Wars needs exposure… but this is getting old very quickly. It’s now thing to see acceptable ( not screen accurate but ok) TFA troopers touring clubs and pole dancers wearing trooper helmet but when you start seeing this rubbish popping up on social media, something has gone wrong !

 

421 Limited

I was brought on board 1.5 years ago and how far have we come already thanks to the support of the community ! And what better to thank my two partners than having custom lightsaber engraved for each of us… Thank you guys Master + Jabba  

Rogue One Red Carpet Beijing

It was cold, damn polluted (as in her to see anything) and our plane was delayed 7 hours leaving from Shanghai… but at the end we were there to support Rogue One launch in China. The movie ( my second screening by then) was even better than when I saw it in HK. And despite the super hard seats and wearing an amor throughout the whole movie… what a treat.

Hover Tank Trooper

So I decided to get into Rogue One build and that means my all time favourite the Tank Trooper. Forget the Death Trooper, you cannot see Sh%$7 ; the tank trooper is rough, battled, dirty and full of grits and that’s what I love so much about it.

Redemption Team : first live meet-up

“Redemption” is a project that took place between Beijing and Shanghai. I was in Shanghai and Troy’s Team in Beijing, we had never met IRL and only communicated through email and WeChat. Comic Con Shanghai actually gave us the opportunity to have our first face-to-face meet which turned out to be quite fun, especially meeting the characters for the first time …

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Rebel Helmets

After my initial red5 x-wing helmet build I realised that I actually enjoyed making these helmets because of their paint job. I found it refreshingly fun to build and paint a helmet that had been “battle damaged”. So Came the Y-wing and the A-wing alongside other xWing …

“Redemption” fan film…

Last June at Beijing Comic Con quite a few people came to take pictures with Chewbacca. Then later in a WeChat group about Sci-fi someone posted their picture with Chewie and I mentioned that was me… private conversation ensued then the ever enthusiast Troy started to talk about making a SW fan film… 4 months later comes the announcement by Disney of their #GoRogue #Star Wars competition. Within 24 hours we decided to go ahead. I penned down a quick storyline and character background , thought of costumes and got East Hotel Beijing on board as shooting location and the local 501st joined in the fun.

Troy’s Team of action movie actors then kicked in and within 10 days costumes, location shooting and post-production were wrapped up.

Redemption is the story of a shamed elite black-ops stormtrooper exiled in a far aways forgotten outpost until the day where he encounters rebels… and finally show what stormtrooper can really do when fighting.

T-shirts…

The nice thing about mixing passion with skills is that you can create things for you. IN my cases a lot of design for T-shirt ( or polo in my case) . Here is a retrospective of what I have done so far . ..

Making a Pilot Part.02

After the built, the painting… and I made a few mistakes at first and kinda had to do a reset, as usual one step front 2 steps back…as it happens when you learn something new. That being said, the weathering technique I learned for this project turned out amazing !

 

X-wing helmet RAE

I was commissioned to do another two X-wing helmet; another “Red Five” Luke Skywalker and Raeh… the scavenged helmet Rey plays with on Jakku in The Force Awakens  ( side note RAEH / REY )

Quite happy with the final result, although I think it probably needs to be put under the sun for a few weeks to get that natural yellowish tan and roughened with some real sand.

Y-wing Rebel fighter Pilot helmet

I am an imperial at heart because their costumes really talk to the designer in me, the repetition, use of negative space, uniformity… all that is linked to who I am and what I do in life. That being said I must admit that building the Red five X-wing helmet talked to my inner artist; doing the paint job was awesome.

With that in mind I decided to make a Y-wing helmet and it was a trip! Granted I will not make the rest of the costume or planning on wearing the helmet per se, but the build and the paint job were a real blast.

Stormtrooper costume …

Following the post on Bad Star Wars in China and how costume are very loosely put together for commercial events, I decided to show new troopers what could not possibly work and how details are important using a picture of yet another ( albeit already “better”) stormtrooper wrongly put together 1262-pic_hd

What’s in a Jedi costume?

I’ve been asked that question many times and really it depends on the character. Some are more complex than others and if you talk about Luke Skywalker in ROTJ, well it really is different from Old Ben.

That being said there are “standard” components that one can use a a strong reference to create what we would call a generic Jedi. So find yourself a cool Jedi Name, go fabric shopping ( hint: the robe must be heavy and thick old military blanket style) while you want the pants and inner tunic in cotton for comfort; get someone to help you make the costume and head over the Rebel Legion for tons of info … like everything else you should first research and be patient.

Now follow Master obi-wan

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Thanks Michelle

The downside of making so many costumes is that you get to a point where you need the make room for more. Actually in my case I simply like to press the reset button once in a while.

Couple of months ago I decided it was time to let go of some of my costumes including Vader. That’s right I sold my Darth Vader costume and I must admit I was a bit emotional when the courier company picked it up to ship to the new owner…in Canada !

However I got this email today and it made my day
Hi Vincent –
I wanted to let you know after a lot of work to pad me up and some tweaks to the costume, I received my SL designation. For my first troop as Vader, we raised several hundred dollars to help child victims of domestic violence.  Thanks for selling me your costume and for being a trustworthy person.”

And this is what the 501st is about, camaraderie without border, troopers helping troopers and sharing a passion to help others.

WAaronandTeresa

Beijing ComicCon: Chewbacca

Great two days, several sessions with the walking carpet. Unfortunately wearing Chewiee is not as easy as say a spiderman, batman, deadpool … it’s hot …damn hot inside , I literally sweat a small bucket wearing this! And of course the shoe lifts do not make it nearly as mobile as I would love it to be… MUST rework that part again ( hopefully third time will be a charm).

Star Wars in China … the ugly !

When fans around the world gathered in the 70’ies to celebrate Star Wars by making their own props and costume that was “beautiful” not because of the quality of craftsmanship ( in cases far from it) but because you could see a unification of people in something “greater”, there was emotion, there was a true bound being formed. Retrospectively it started a movement which became a sub-culture and now arguably a culture in its own right; one that transcend gender, age or race.

When Star Wars came to China with the prequels…it fared ok but failed to get the pull that the original trilogy had in the west. With EPVII launched there was “a new hope” for fandom in China and while it may not have yield all the results expected ( yet) there truly has been an “awakening”.

The local 501st has been highly active in supporting Disney in its bid to promote the movie ahead of its release and participated in major events around China. In the same time Disney did produce some amazing events, the Stormtroopers on the wall was an amazing stunt ! Some will argue ( rightly?) that it really played for the rest of the world more than intra-muros ( in China) but the fact is, it was awesome… Christmas time also had plenty of awesomeness with life size swings and tie fighter dropped around China … so yes the marketing worked.

On the branding side of things it may be another story. Back in September 2015 a studio in Guangzhou started producing knock off stormtrooper EPVII armours and sell them – unlicensed for 3800 US$ then started to rent troopers to bars etc.. for 300US$ per head per appearances which fared well during halloween period. Some bars and club had topless ( near enough) dancers with TK helmet on and a slew of other “non approvable” activities banking on Star Wars brand.

This is where I take the stance: strong Brand Guardian are needed. Of course Darth Vader walking the streets is some PR if the said Darth Vader is actually properly attired. Lucasfilm was extremely protective of the Star Wars brand in the west but it seems  China proved to be a huge challenge. You consistently see the Star Wars iconic brand ambassadors ( Vader and Troopers) being abused for commercial purposes. We are not talking about fans making costumes, we are talking about companies profiteering from the image; and by the look of it they have no idea of the actual brand, movie history or cultural impact. What is clear however is that each of these appearances could not care less about precision, quality of execution or show any indication of proper research … More alarming is the fact that we are not always talking about meaningless club in the north of China, or small commercial activities in a remote country side city’s supermarket. Some offense are quite major, attract reasonable visibility, obviously for profit and perpetrated by unlicensed companies.

Yes the only bad publicity is no publicity at all, and having these “things” happening maybe seen  as a promotional gain. I do argue that such gain comes at a greater brand cost which ultimately will not benefit Disney or its licensees.  Brand management here is ensuring that the most iconic “image” is displayed properly so that all may see it as something solid and uncompromising. Allowing these display without consequences mean that it’s ok to have stormtroopers with the wrong helmet, or geriatric Darth Vader. If it is ok for that kind of display then surely it is ok for toys and other merchandising…slippery slope.

 

Making a Pilot Part.01

I have stepped into the light(side) and started my first rebel helmet build. Of course it is an X-wing … but which one?
Outer shell built, stickers applied and ready for painting…

The Belt..

I really love working with leather, such a noble material although quite unforgiving. It is just a shame I need to reprint the belt buckle!

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DL-44

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3D printed DL-44 ESB Han Solo varian, this is much better than resin counterparts, way lighter and easier to build.

Halloween

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Took my daughter to school as Casual Friday Vader…major WTH face on that lady ! Also last time my daughter agreed that I’d go with her to school dressed as SW character !

food inspiration ?

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My daughter pointed out why I really like these cookies…look at the name!  That being said  blue, white, black… did Star Wars get inspiration from my preferred brand of butter cookies?