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 Post subject: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 1:20 am 
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For the past few months, I have found myself with a ton of free time on my hands. In this time, I have been doing some serious photo analysis of the on screen images
and web images of all the various Darth Vader helmets. I started with ROTJ helmets, but then felt compelled to move on to the ESBs. One of the helmets that I came
across was the 1994 Christie's auction helmet.

Looking at this helmet, my first thought was, 'NO WAY'.

Ever since it was put up I basically felt that this helmet couldn't possibly be an actual screen used ESB. It's appearance actually gave me the impression of a re-cast, and
not necessarily a good one, that someone had painted a while back and stuck on a shelf, then it got beat up from moving and storage.

But I have always felt, despite how poorly cast It looked, and how rough it looked, it still had something about it, that made it seem more like the real production used helmet
then even helmets such as the TM before all the paint was stripped off and the putty.(Not to impugn the providence of the TM at all)

So taking this into account, I decided to give it another look.

Obviously the first thing I noticed was the general rough appearance of the overall helmet, the trimming of the dome, the neck, and a lack of actual eye lenses. The three notches
on the bridge between the eyes seems cruder than what I'm used to seeing as well. The detail on the dome appears to be rough as well in the area of the widow's peak.

But, as I examined further, I began to notice some interesting aspects.

First, the shape of the face and its structures are sharper and more correct, then I'm used to seeing on any
recasts. Second, the colors of the paint and how the colors are laid out is consistent with an actual screen used helmet.

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Third, the grille in the teeth is consistent in size and placement with actual screen used helmets.

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Fourth, the right cheekbone appears to replicate details of the TM cast (and if indeed there is a TM cast underneath all the Empire Strikes Back helmets that would make sense).
Even though the angle and the lighting is different, which has some effect on the appearance of the exact details of the surface, there is definitely a commonality in the features
that can be seen in the highlighted area of the Christie's 94 cheek.

Image

Lastly, I took a look at the eye lenses. Even though you can't see through them, they seem to have a permanence about them, both in how they are attached and their shapes
(not just flat) seem to replicate actual eye lenses. And not just something somebody stuck in there.

Image

It is from this, that I began to seriously suspect that, not only is this actually a screen used helmet, but I can actually think of where it would've been in the film.

So I began to ask, 'Where would you use a helmet that is only crudely detailed in some places and has no functional eyes?'
And the answer was, 'You would usually blow it up.'


But please do not confuse this, with the helmet that rolls on the ground or the helmet that explodes on the ground, or the helmet that Hamill sticks his face through,
for it is not one of them.

I believe it is the helmet on the dummy itself. It takes a hit with a light saber rod, an explosion at the base of the neck, followed by nearly a 6 foot drop to the ground.
And if the person preparing the helmet had any idea how the scene was to be filmed, they would know the helmet did not need actual eyes, just something to reflect the
light and there was no reason to finish the cheekbone as it would be in shadow, anyway.

Image

I figure the helmet looked something more like this when they actually shot the scene.

Image

The light reflection in the eyes, simply reflecting off of polished clearcoat that has now oxidized just like the paint on the rest of the helmet.
And if you look at the helmet again, it's easy to imagine where it got the the rough beat up area on the forhead the dome, possibly from the fall.
There also seems to be some shearing of the fiberglass material at the base of the neck that may have come from either hitting the ground,
or I think possibly from the explosion, When the head is severed.

All in all, IMO, it's pretty good match. I can't think of any other way this helmet would've been used.


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 7:04 pm 
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Interesting theory. It certainly could be that helmet. Or it could be an ESB tour helmet. It's a good starting point, but a lot more analysis needs to be made and a positive identifiable details matching to make an ID.


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 1:35 am 
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It's pretty damn ugly for a 'touring helmet'.

The word was, it had documentation stating it was a screen used helmet. So based on that, my analysis is, that I don't see any other way it would've been screen used.

Hopefully I can find some more pictures. Unfortunately in the case of the Christie's auction, this is the only pic I've seen. And while I do have more pics of the scene being filmed, they're usually from behind the dummy and all you can see is the back of the dome, which you can't see at all in the Christie's picture.

If anybody's got more pictures of either of these, please post. Thanks.


Last edited by Darth Obsession on Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 10:50 am 
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Well, usually I don't trust auction texts, as we have evidence that they aren't exactly accurate. But, going with the notion that it is screen used, your theory is definitely a good starting point.

Also, it may not have the original lenses installed anymore. Looks more like some quick fix, just added to the back, to me. Sure, they look domed and not flat, but that is actually not a difficult effect to achieve.

If there was just a way to get better pictures of the helmet from that Dagobah scene, so we can check the paint scheme pattern and individual identifiers.


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 2014 11:59 pm 
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Well, I'm not seeing the cheek details you are referring to. Can you point them out, and in relationship to a TM cheek? Also, the lenses are added, and flat. Similar to TD ANH lenses, actually. The grill doesn't line up. Sorry to be a party pooper, but you'll need quite a bit more clearer evidence photographically. For example, why the different nose slots? They don't relate to original ESB or to TM ESB slots. I could go on but.....hehe.


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:11 pm 
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Quote:
Well, I'm not seeing the cheek details you are referring to. Can you point them out, and in relationship to a TM cheek? Also, the lenses are added, and flat. Similar to TD ANH lenses, actually. The grill doesn't line up. Sorry to be a party pooper, but you'll need quite a bit more clearer evidence photographically. For example, why the different nose slots? They don't relate to original ESB or to TM ESB slots. I could go on but.....hehe.


Hello,
I wasn't trying to say it was an exact match to the TM cheek, or I would have marked out matching details. The lighting and the angle also can affect what such details look like and so as I said, there is a 'commonality to their appearance'. But I did not intend to suggest an exact detail match. And if, as I suspect the cheek was then painted and then clear coated such detail would be muted, or distorted that much more.

I also have to disagree with you on the lenses, if they were strictly flat, you would not have the circular light pattern that you have in the right eye, it would just be almost totally dark. There is also a widening of the light pattern in the left eye. If it was flat, you would have an almost parallel width to the light reflected from top to bottom.

Lika deez...

Image

....and not..

Image

They may not quite match regular eye lenses, but they are definitely convex.

As for the grille, I wasn't trying to say it was an exact match to a hero ESB. However, I have seen lots of grills used on all kinds of fan made helmets and rarely does anything actually look anything like what was originally used. This grill used a diamond, flat expanded metal of a similar size (approximately 1/4" or 8mm wide) to that used in the original helmets. It's centering and placement behind the teeth is also consistent with the screen used ESBs. And I've never seen anybody do that, not even the almighty EFX, which used a reasonably accurate grille, but didn't take the time to match its placement.

As for the nose slots, I think this helmet was a hodgepodge of scraps and rejects they just had laying around. Something that would be no great loss if it got blown up. But just say for example, that there is a TM cast underneath that facemask, it probably went through the same treatment as the original TM, i.e. covered in resin, so a lot of the detail you're seeing isn't cast created.

:wink:
John


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:44 am 
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Well, if that was not enough, how about this...

As I said before, I've been doing some serious research on all the Vader helmets from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
I was going through the making of ESB yesterday and just happened to notice this particular picture and it is of the dummy just as the explosion goes off.


Image


Even though the overall image is hard to see, you can still make out the side of the helmet pretty well. Looking at the side of the helmet, especially on the dome,
I immediately noticed some very distinctive dents and details in the paint, both on the dome and the neck of the facemask. The most definitive of these I've outlined in blue.
Looking at the original Christie's image, there appears to be corresponding detail.


ImageImage

Starting on the dome and working your way down, No.1 is a horizontal feature that almost looks like someone took a serrated pizza knife and ran it on the dome. No. 2 is a fairly deep dent just about midway up the side of the dome. An inch or two behind that and slightly lower is No. 3, a somewhat larger dent and finally No.4, an area that appears to be perhaps pealed paint just as the dome skirt starts to come around to the eye overhang. These features are distinctive, and not found on any other domes. In the MOESB pic, a roughly half inch wide, rectangular indention can be seen at the base of the neck, it seems to be the beginning of a feature that runs up the side of the neck to the tube. This feature is No.5 and can be seen in both pictures.

ImageImage


Also in the pic it can be seen the front of the neck is damaged in the explosion and it even appears that the piece that has been blown off is in the picture directly below the arrow. Although it is in the area of the cape hook, it is too large and extends upward at a 45° angle across the chest armor.
To help find these features, I have outlined the helmet and marked each feature in blue. I have done the same on the Christie's photo. I have included the raw photos for easier verification.
(Note: looking at it just now, I believe I underestimated the size of item No.2. I believe it extends a lot lower on the production photograph and includes the detail directly below what I have circled as well. Likewise on the Christie's photo it extends to the area somewhat higher than what I have circled. And item No.1 disappears in shadow and terminates somewhere above item No.2.)


In my opinion, there is no doubt. These helmets are one and the same.

I would imagine whoever purchased the helmet, was probably given a chance to examine it and compare it with photos such as this, prior to purchase.


Last edited by Darth Obsession on Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:13 am 
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The dents seen on the Christie's dome can also be seen on the TM, so is likely common features on all domes. The serrated groove 1 just looks like a reflection on the dome caused by a dent there to me. The feature you see on the neck is also on the TM, so is also a standard feature of a helmet that hasn't been finished for hero use.

Just speculation on my part, but the helmets are a mine field of bumps, nicks, dents, scratches and paint detail. So one needs to know what is actually ON original helmets and what is distinctive to that one helmet before any such features can be used to make a match.


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 12:05 am 
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Darth Obsession wrote:
The word was, it had documentation stating it was a screen used helmet. So based on that, my analysis is, that I don't see any other way it would've been screen used.

Hopefully I can find some more pictures. Unfortunately in the case of the Christie's auction, this is the only pic I've seen. And while I do have more pics of the scene being filmed, they're usually from behind the dummy and all you can see is the back of the dome, which you can't see at all in the Christie's picture.

If anybody's got more pictures of either of these, please post. Thanks.



Hey there,

I still have the auction catalogue this appears in somewhere, there's no mention of documentation concerning this prop's authenticity in the listing I'm afraid, just that it was made for The Empire Strikes Back.

Here's another photo of this helmet below. It's clear that neither the mouth mesh nor eye lenses are screen accurate, although it's possible they may have been added at a later date. In fact unless it's a trick of the light the lenses do look quite different to those in the auction catalogue, so they may be more recent additions. Also in my view this helmet doesn't really show a screen-used finish, it isn't glossy enough to match any of the original helmets, including the pyro stunt you mention but then you can't discount this one having been repainted at some stage?

Admittedly all this is only going by one relatively small image - which is kind of the point I'm making really, we'd need to see a lot more of the Christies helmet in a lot more detail before being able to pass judgement on where it came from, in my view. With all due respect I don't really see anything that solidly ties it to any screen helmet, but then one can never tell from just the scant reference we have of it. :)

It would be very interesting to see the dome attachment method, the strapping and the clasps on the straps.


Image


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:56 am 
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No Humor Man wrote:
The dents seen on the Christie's dome can also be seen on the TM, so is likely common features on all domes. The serrated groove 1 just looks like a reflection on the dome caused by a dent there to me. The feature you see on the neck is also on the TM, so is also a standard feature of a helmet that hasn't been finished for hero use.

Just speculation on my part, but the helmets are a mine field of bumps, nicks, dents, scratches and paint detail. So one needs to know what is actually ON original helmets and what is distinctive to that one helmet before any such features can be used to make a match.



Exactly. I'll second Carsten's points. The domes closer to originals have those shallow indentations and imperfections in the casting that, when finished with reflective paint, give the impression of specific details.

I see what you mean about the lenses and the new photo of the helmet show you were right about that. But in regard to other details, you would have to have much better resolution to be able to pin it down so definitively as you have been attempting to do, admirable your attempts they may be. I like what you are trying to do with these images, and certainly keep at it! Just be a bit cautious about drawing conclusions outright from details in general versus actually showing specific details. As you can see from example comparisons I've done in the past below, I focus on specific details that can be resolved and even then when they are nearly the same, all I can do is say there is a relationship, but it takes a lot of analysis to actually find those very few details among so many details in common between authentic castings that show a particular casting is uniquely related to another or is an actual original casting. It is as much a process of exclusion as it is inclusion.

Image

Image

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:04 am 
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Quote:
The dents seen on the Christie's dome can also be seen on the TM, so is likely common features on all domes. The serrated groove 1 just looks like a reflection on the dome caused by a dent there to me. The feature you see on the neck is also on the TM, so is also a standard feature of a helmet that hasn't been finished for hero use.


Quote:
Exactly. I'll second Carsten's points. The domes closer to originals have those shallow indentations and imperfections in the casting that, when finished with reflective paint, give the impression of specific details.


Unfortunately, I don't own a TM and pictures of the TM cast have been hard to come by. However, I did go through images of other casts
trying to see if I could find anything that was specific to any cast, and didn't see anything that matched. Although, if these items are on the TM,
to me it stands to reason that this would be further evidence of this helmet being actually created for the production, since that cast was only
uncovered in more recent years, and its details a somewhat guarded secret.

But assuming you are talking about the TM prior to being stripped, it is covered with dents, and those dents are every bit as severe as the dents
on the dummy helmet, however, they are in the wrong spots and I've outlined below, all the TM dents in red and where all the dummy dents are in blue.
Blue item No. 3 on the TM pic should be a little bigger at the top end of it, but it's still in the right spot. I do also see that there is a commonality in the
bottommost dent on the dome skirt. The dummy also has a 'big ass dent' which I outlined in green, and I'm pretty sure I haven't seen that on any domes.
Unfortunately, I can't see the back of the Christie's dome so...? But I do feel the rest of the dents on this dome are of the same nature and not just the usual fare.

A for me I cannot rule out my position, without studying the stripped TM dome, as I would be interested in seeing how many of the dent features carried over to that.


ImageImage

I am aware that the Vader dome has lots of surface imperfections, but they just tend to be more like dips and rises, and they tend not to be very visible,
unless you just happened to catch them in the right light. Whereas these, are very pronounced, and easy to see on both helmets in both images,
even though they are photographed from different angles and in different light. Indeed, these are actual dents just like the dents in the TM dome.

If we are talking on screen, I'm not seeing much in the way of any dents, especially anything approaching these. I am aware of several pronounced
dents cast into the domes, such as the one on the right temple and one on the far side, but we're not talking about these.

ImageImage



The helmet in the new photo, appears to have been cleaned up some. It's definitely the same helmet, but the eye lenses have definitely been changed
since the original photo was taken. It would be nice to know the source of this photo and how old it is.


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:22 am 
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The TM dome was never stripped. Only the face mask. If you've ever seen the efx from the 360 degrees video you will notice that the dome is riddled with surface irregularities that only show in certain angles and in certain light. And even with the eFX being soft, it still shows them pretty well.

The green outlined "dent" is likely just a reflection. Please be aware that you are looking at painted gloss black surfaces that easily reflect things.


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 1:26 pm 
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Darth Obsession wrote:
Quote:
The helmet in the new photo, appears to have been cleaned up some. It's definitely the same helmet, but the eye lenses have definitely been changed
since the original photo was taken. It would be nice to know the source of this photo and how old it is.


Unfortunately I have no idea when the photo was taken, there were a couple of other lowish-res ones floating around at one point, I'll see if I can find them.


The fact that it's numbered in chalk is interesting. That isn't something one would usually do to their own private copy, (unless they were passing it off as something it isn't!) Comparing the the way the number's written, where it's placed perhaps, the dome attachment and strapping, even the type of fibreglass inside the face could all possibly help in working out what this helmet is.

Finding the person who sold it in the first place would also be a bonus. I tried contacting Christies once about that but never got anywhere. There's always the chance it was made for production, but without knowing what happened to it afterwards it becomes extremely difficult to say. If it was cleaned up and repainted by someone it could become virtually impossible to ever place. I've seen other original Star Wars props that have been repainted by people who felt they were 'improving' them, of course once you do that you loose any chance of screen-matching them.

I tend to agree that the artefacts you're seeing could very well be reflection, but who knows? Admire your enthusiasm though :salut

It's certainly a mystery and something I've wondered about for years.


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:49 pm 
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Yes, I like these theories and debates, because it pushes you into thinking about something you hadn't before or where you hadn't previously made a connection. It is intriguing.


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 Post subject: Re: The 1994 Christies's ESB helmet, a new look
PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 9:11 pm 
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No Humor Man wrote:
Yes, I like these theories and debates, because it pushes you into thinking about something you hadn't before or where you hadn't previously made a connection. It is intriguing.


That's what it's all about.

As I said before, I've been doing some very serious studying of the ESB and ROTJ Vader helmets. I cannot stress very serious enough. I didn't pick the name Darth Obsession for no reason, it truly does describe ME. I truly am a dog on a bone with this stuff. And for the last few months, because I have nothing else to do, I've spent most of my days doing photo comparative analysis of Darth Vader helmets. I usually start the day, by opening up my MS image editor, creating a 4000 X 3000 pixel canvas, turning it black, because white is distracting (hence why so many of the pictures in my posts have black backgrounds) and then deciding which helmet I'm gonna work on today. I then import pics, cropping them down to just the helmet and then I start hunting through my library, importing pic after pic until I find the answer to the question that I'm looking for. If I cannot find that answer, it goes on the back burner, for another day.

My usual MO is to stare at a pic, consider the environment it's in, the lighting and light sources and the distance from the object in question (in this case a Darth Vader helmet). I then start importing any pictures I have of the subject, that I know are taken at the same time and preferably from different angles. Then, for control, I import the pictures of similar objects (helmets) taken from similar angles and similar lighting, trying to verify whether what I'm seeing is physical, or merely a light aberration. I've been doing this kind of analysis since before Star Wars came out, only with physical pictures and magnifying glasses.

I am very well known for seeing things that other people don't see. And I don't mean imagining them.

I feel that, too often, many people have come to prior conclusions or opinions and therefore dismiss out of hand, any new analytical findings. And I must confess I have done the same. But the more research I do, the more I have to tell myself, 'forget what you know and start with a clear, open mind.'

I have been going through a lot of the threads, like 'ESB and ROTJ Vaders, what do we know?' and finding that I disagree with a lot of the conclusions. I too, found I was wrong about things I had believed for years.

It isn't about castings, or prominence, or is this mold or that. I have no original casting(s) or interest in or prominence. So for me, it's all about what do I see in the pictures?
What do the pictures tell me? What is the story? What is the origin? Why is it that way?


The first thing to remember about production Darth Vader helmets is what they are, tools. Tools to help tell a story. Nothing more. And the only reason they weren't thrown away or destroyed, was because they might be useful again in the future.

The helmets that you or I have, are showpieces. They are made to sit on a shelf and look good, or in some cases wear to an event and look good(i.e. the 501st). They are not tools, they are our pride and joy. And hence, 30 or 40 years from now, aside from some yellowing of the clearcoat, they might still look the same as they do today. The original helmets had no such luxury. To their creators, they were nothing more than a means to an end, not the iconic pieces of art that we would all like to believe they are.

So, one of the first things you should ask when trying to decide if a helmet is screen used or a copy is, "Is it a showpiece, or working helmet?" If it's got lots of scratches, yellowed clearcoat, missing grills and broken tasks, it was probably working helmet and therefore, more likely to be an original.


Last edited by Darth Obsession on Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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