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 Post subject: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:52 pm 
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So back in 2008 and 2009 we had discussions here about the TD ANH mask, and there were also previous lengthy discussions/debates on the RPF about it.

In a nutshell, my hope with this thread is to re-introduce it with a fresh mindset for those who already know something about those discussions, as well as hoping to hear opinions of members who have seen authentic touring masks at ILM or elsewhere, or have seen original masks in person as well (such as DarthJones, Vadermania, Brandon, Jez, etc.). I thought I would approach this with the point of view of seeing what impressions people have and then provide my own information about the years of research I've done on this mask, and that for me has still so much mystery and so many questions. I plan to show things about it I've never shown before on the forums, with the hope of getting closer to an answer. As many of you know, I have my own perspective about what/when/where in relationship to this mask but I think it is time to open up discussion a bit more about it. I know to what extent it is authentic in detail and how those details relate to other castings in the various helmet lineages. But I still have unanswered questions about it. Maybe I've mellowed a bit, or just getting older, but I am open to your own interpretations about it, and why, and I'll share mine. Hopefully it will lead somewhere interesting. I'm not here to profess anything about this, but just offer my own ideas I've had over the years about it. So we'll see how it goes. :lol

To start with, below are a couple of views of the mask, with nothing hidden this time, just as photographed.

Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:31 pm 
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It's definitely an interesting piece. I have my own thoughts about it, but I'll leave off commenting on it for the time being and let others take a stab at it.

However, I feel I must stress as a staff member before this goes much further: will you leave the pictures up indefinitely or will you remove them later as you've done on the other threads. I find it pointless to start a new thread if you plan on removing the pictures again down the line and rendering this thread as useless as the others. Please, this time, leave the pictures up and don't remove them again.


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:33 pm 
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yes very interesting indeed,
i for one have never seen an archived helemt from LFL or any screen used helemt for that matter. so i hope it was ok to post my comments here.
so i would have no clue to where or how this mask came to be. i do see the small circle on the left wearers cheek. and what seems to be an extremely faint C or L scar on the right wearers cheek. unless my eyes are playing tricks on me..lol i would think its a cast or copy post production ANH due to the tabs on top of the face mask. at least thats the conclusion i would come to by seeing those. i will say this though. with what i can tell it def looks a lot cleaner than the SL or the screen used helemt that i have seen in screen shots. unless of course its just the image itself hiding all of those details. i could be wrong for i dont have ti right in front of me to see. but,,could it be a pre-ESB copy of the faceplate that they were going to use for the film? as copy of the ANH but cleaned up for the ESB film? im no expert. so i am just speculating here.
but i am all for learning more about this face mask and its origins.


and i am eager to see what you have found out over the many years of research that you have done on this Thomas.
ill be watching this thread with great interest. :thumbsup


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:46 pm 
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So if a thread of mine "loses" the images that's either a result of my webhost going through a major clean-out (ie: my own indiscriminate reaction to something), or because I only intended to share the images for a short time for the purposes of the discussion. I haven't had reason to delete anything from my webhost for quite a long time and actually repopulated some of my other threads on here with images that were lost. I could do that as well for the old TD threads when I have the time. But please keep in mind that I am hosting these images, and I pay every month to keep them on a secure host. But it would take a very major event for the images to disappear. I have images on the RPF even that are still hosted by my webhost, even though I am not there anymore.

Thanks DM for your input. All comments are of course welcome, but also most appreciated from those who have seen tour or original helmets.

So for starters this is from the UK. And it is from the son of a person who did work for a lady who was a prop person on the ANH production, and she gave it to him for work he did for her. But the question is where did she actually get it from. Could it be pre-ESB and post-ANH? Definitely a possibility. There's no question that this is a copy of the original ANH mask because of the tabs being part of the casting. But then, at what point was the ANH mask molded? I had shown this to Brian Muir and he was certain that there would have been no reason to mold the original ANH helmet during the production. Although he also thought this was a copy of the 2nd original ANH helmet but that is not the case based on the details on this one matching those of the screen (1st) original ANH mask.

So about it appearing smoother. Yes it is smoother but keep in mind that part of that is there is a silver-grey base coat of primer (?), then no less than four coats of black paint. If you saw this black paint in person, it would strike you in terms of what a deep rich black it is. Is it original paint? People that I know who have seen it seem to agree that it is, but again I don't know for sure. But it is interesting how much attention was paid to painting it, even though the chin vent was not cut out, but rather just drilled with holes, as the mouth vents were also drilled, and the rear of the mask drilled with the same holes so someone could wear this, almost as if it was a test mask of some kind.

So I do plan to show the interior of this mask, something which I never have done before on a forum, and which I hope to get feedback on. This casting is quite thin, like the originals. It has foam inside in an arrangement similar to what you see on the ESB originals and I think similar to the original ANH mask (but I would have to double check that).

When I got the mask from the UK, the inside smelled like something you would smell if you were in the taxidermy section of the Smithsonian.....very old musty smell and the foam is extremely old and darkened from age and crumbling into very fine crumbles.

This mask, also like the originals, was painted inside. It is a dark green paint. When I spoke to Paul Harrison years ago about this mask, I mentioned to him that it had paint inside. Then he said "is it green?" and I said yes. He was then very surprised and became more excited about the mask because he claimed that the original ANH mask also had green paint inside, something that I've not been able to confirm. Now, long after that I learned not really to trust what Paul Harrison claimed, but that was an interesting thing that he guessed correctly the color of the paint inside.

This mask is definitely on the "UK" lineage, and has features that are in common with the ESB masks, but not the Rick Baker mold masks. They eyebrows are identical to original ANH and original ESB masks. The chin vent is the same filled in chin vent (or nearly the same....it isn't identical) to that seen on masks like the VP ANH and TM ESB. So there is something in common there. But, the tabs are unique in a few ways from anything else and I don't mean they are different tabs, I mean they are the same tabs but in a different state. But I guess more on that later.

Something I've never said before on the forums about this mask, is about the resin. This mask has been masde with cold cast resin. That means there are fine metal flakes in the resin so that if you look at a bare area without paint (and there are very few such areas on this mask that don't have paint), it looks metal. It actually looks like gold when I look at it under the microscope. So it is a gold colored cold cast resin. This has been one of the biggest mysteries to me over the years. Why this kind of resin? It almost looks like the Death Star droid resin (which is why I've asked before for high resolution images of the droid on display). Could it be they were testing this kind of resin on a helmet which is supposed to be metal so that if paint did come off, there would be a shine underneath? As far as I have tried to find out, the original ANH mask and helmet were not made with this kind of resin, but again it would be interesting to find out if any other props from the ANH production were.

Another thing that I've only hinted at previously but can go into more detail here is that this casting is not just a painted casting directly from the mold. Before it was painted black, it was worked on, refined, but in very minor and subtle ways. That is to say, there is a beige-white material like filler material that was used to modify a few areas, particularly on the tusk tube ends, and around the rear edge of the mask. If this was just a pull that was after the production, why would anyone spend that much time carefully trying to correct small imperfections? Again, one of the major mysteries I've faced for quite some time about this mask.

I've been told again and again over the years....just strip the paint. I won't because if you saw this paint in person, you wouldn't either.

Ahhh well, maybe enough for now. I'm just trying to reveal things here that I hope will lead to something more concrete about the origin of this mask. I've compared and studied its details for years with other masks or photos of original masks. And it still leaves me with questions, which makes the hobby for me a lot of fun as I enjoy investigating these mysteries.


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:47 pm 
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very interesting ,
i can see why there is so much mystery shrouding this mask. when i first was reading what you wrote about it it was saying to ym self "yeah this has to be a pre-ESB/Post-ANH. and as i kept reading the more it sounded like that it very well could have been a precursor or prototype for the ESB helemt.
but then the more i read the more it made it sound like that it may not be that. but then again it still could be.
but then you mention the bit about the inside of the mask being painted green and that the original ANH mask was painted green. and then you mention a little bit about the locking tabs on the top of the mask " But, the tabs are unique in a few ways from anything else and I don't mean they are different tabs, I mean they are the same tabs but in a different state."
and im wondering if you mean that they looked to be newer or less used than what was on the original helmet that was molded post-production.

if that's the case then that would mean that it very well could have been cast per-production. could it be that the original helemt may have been flawed in a away that Lucas wanted to make another helemt? such as the roughness of it? maybe he wanted to do a more stylized version of the helemt and wanted to see what it would look like all cleaned up? or that maybe the original one was too heavy and that they wanted to see what it would be like if they made another one out of the resin that your claiming it to be made of. o that it would be lighter? or a combination of everything. you may ask why would they mold it with the tabs on when they could have done it without them? well like i said. maybe it was a trial thing and that Lucas wasn't happy with the first original one they made and instead of taking the time to take off the tabs. they just left them on to save time. and or didn't want to take a chance on ruining the original helemt for that the tabs could have been glued and screwed on.

there is so many different variables that what its could be or what had happened. but with the fact that its painted green the same green as the original helemt. and that the tabs are in fact not as used or worn looking (IF thats what you meant by them being in a different state). and that it has a cleaner look to it.
the evidence would make me to believe that it was cast post-production or even during production. something could have happened where Lucas wanted them to make another helemt. and maybe it was during production or just prior til. reason for the tabs being not as worn or new looking. again, if thats what you meant by them being in a different state.

oh well thats the only logical conclusion i can come up with with the facts you are stating here. but it would be nice to know exactly what you meant by the tabs being in a different state.
i mean honestly, the only other state they could be in is new or not as worn looking if they are the same tabs and in the same position as the ones on the originals.

so spill it man. what kind of state were they in? :lol


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 7:14 am 
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This is such a cool piece! Always thought so.

One thing though - before cutting the mouth slots away or the triangle one would probably sink some holes from which further cutting could be done. I wonder if this was started with this piece but then it got used for painting tests or other.

Just a weird whim.


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:35 am 
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DynamicMenace wrote:
and then you mention a little bit about the locking tabs on the top of the mask " But, the tabs are unique in a few ways from anything else and I don't mean they are different tabs, I mean they are the same tabs but in a different state."
and im wondering if you mean that they looked to be newer or less used than what was on the original helmet that was molded post-production.

oh well thats the only logical conclusion i can come up with with the facts you are stating here. but it would be nice to know exactly what you meant by the tabs being in a different state.
i mean honestly, the only other state they could be in is new or not as worn looking if they are the same tabs and in the same position as the ones on the originals.

so spill it man. what kind of state were they in? :lol



Ok ok, hehe. Mainly the right tab, Vader's right, on the TD ANH is flush with the surface of the mask, namely curved....whereas on other masks (ie: two other well known ESB lineage masks)...have straighter right tabs that lift off more in the front than on the TD. An exception is the DS 20th C. Strangely enough, the 20th Century mask is a bit like a really cleaned up, smaller version of the TD ANH. It has the curved and flush tab on the right. I'm not sure if I would offend by comparing the TD to other UK sourced masks, but it does help to show how it is distinct. But anyway, it would seem that over time, the right tab detached a bit in the front and straightened out as a result, so that by ESB, it was straighter.


Here's the inside rear of the TD ANH, something I've never shown before on a public forum. There's a large foam strip on the top, a foam strip over the eyes, there was thinner foam strip on the nose and under the eyes but that is gone now. There was also a thin strip of foam, curiously enough, around the base of the neck. The pattern of green paint can be seen as well.

Image

One thing I'll mention is that the top of the mask has quite a bit of wear in the black paint consistent with it being mated with a dome, or at least something was rubbing the paint away on the top of the mask.

The undercut on the rear of the TD ANH extends further back than any other mask I've seen. Two things that were revealed from that was the latch system used to connect the original REAR half of the head with the front. When I showed Brian Muir this he then remembered there was a latch system that connected a front and rear half of the Vader mask and so I assumed that the rear half was discarded because it was deemed sufficient that the dome would cover the actor's head in the rear....and it would be a lot cooler for Dave Prowse if there was no rear half (ie: not a full head) even though Brian sculpted a rear section. It was also molded as a complete head. So the remnant of the latch system can be seen on the TD ANH rear of the center tab, although it is different than what is seen on later castings, as it is a specific type of latch mechanism. There is also the possibility that there were side latches and there might be evidence of that on the mask as well. In any case, because the undercut had to cover the rear of Dave's head partially (ie: behind the ears), but the front and back halves were molded with a seam nearly around where the ears would be, the TD ANH shows a seam where the rear sections of the rear half of the head remain. It was originally thought that the seam was real, ie: not in the casting, but that as yet hasn't been proven because of the paint covering that area.

One of my guesses as the type of latch is a small handbag latch like this:

Image

Although then one would expect screw holes for that latch. There is also wear just in front of the latch, as if something wore out that depression in front of it. But the latch or what might be a latch it part of the casting, so hard to say what it might be, but that's my best guess.

Here's an old image of the top rear of the TD ANH showing that strange protrusion (latch?):

Image

Here is a microscopic view (from 2007....I got this mask June of 2004) of one of the breaks in the resin on the neck edge, showing the gold in the cold cast resin, something I've never shown on any forum before:

Image

Again under a microscope, here's another break in the resin along the neckline, showing a bit more of the structure of how the resin/fiberglass is organized...

Image

I know this doesn't look like much, but I actually scratched the paint on the mask with a razor blade going right through the major paint line on the chin. And that line is in the center of the microscopic field of view. I'll let you be the judge whether it is in the casting or not.

Image

And here's a photo of the TD ANH under the microscope used to take these images.

Image

I plan to do some macro photography of the mask using a Nikon DSLR with macro lens and extension tube, so we'll see how that goes :salut

EDIT: forgot to add the inside view of the mask


Last edited by SithLord on Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:40 am 
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darthjones wrote:
This is such a cool piece! Always thought so.

One thing though - before cutting the mouth slots away or the triangle one would probably sink some holes from which further cutting could be done. I wonder if this was started with this piece but then it got used for painting tests or other.

Just a weird whim.


Yes someone told me that once, maybe Brian Muir, that in order to cut out the chin and teeth you would have to drill holes to make the cutting go easier, but it is also tempting to think that they just made the holes for cooling for doing fit testing of the mask.

Another interesting thing that both Brian Muir and John Mollo confirmed was that the original ANH mask was all black and only after that did they decide to go with the contrast of gunmetal to bring out the features on the face. So it is interesting that this is an all black mask. Of course, that doesn't really mean anything concrete, but an interesting thought nonetheless. Why would someone go through the trouble of priming and painting (spray painting....there are many paint drips going down the rear of the mask) with so many coats? The mask was laid down, face up, for the painting, or at least part of the time.


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:04 am 
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This photo of the right rear section of the mask has a LOT going on here.

First, there are additional screw holes that were filled in just rear of the tusk tubes. I believe that when the mask front half was being used, they tried to use holes there for using string or straps to hold the mask on the face, but then decided to add the rear section of the head so there's more undercut. The red line shows the seam, rear of which would be the portion of the undercut from the rear half of the head. One can also see an unfilled hole on the rear side that is the same diameter as the holes drilled in the chin and the mouth so presumably made around the same time.

In addition, there are two relatively large sections of reworking outlined by the yellow lines. The upper one is intended to round out the curvature of the rear of the mask in that area as I'll show later on. The bottom section is a rework of the bottom rear corner of the mask, which would make sense if rear corner was originally at the seam but then undercut was added and so that had to be reshaped into something looking like a rear bottom corner. These are clearly aesthetic decisions made before painting the mask and I doubt someone who casually made a pull would be doing this apart from the context of a production, but I could be wrong of course.

Image

The real paint drips are very evident on the rear of the mask. I did at one point compare them to the first pull of the VP ANH in the same area and found this:

Image

Which was kind of weird to see. At one time I thought the TD was some kind of father casting to a lineage but now I don't know what to think about it. It certainly is an early casting and I'll try to show a bit more about that sometime.


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:39 am 
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well im stumped.
but it very well could have been post production. maybe it was a trial run helemt. them trying to figure out what would work to keep the dome connected to the faceplate?
that would explain all be holes and reworking and the latch on the top back part of the mask.
plus the drips your pointing out and that large crater below them has far more depth than what is seen on the VP. so its def an earlier casting.

my guess would be it was a prototype of some sort? with all the reworking all over the thing and the padding and everything else your mentioned. that is what would be my guess.
and reason why they never cut out the mouth grill and chin vent. there was no need to because they were probably doing a process of elimination of what would work best for the two components of the helemt while David wore it on set. wanted to make sure that the helmet didn't fall off his head.. :lol
could be why they had the latch on it.

anyway. thats my thoughts on it.

ill rest and see if anyone else chimes in that actually knows what they are talking about .. :lol


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 1:06 pm 
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Hey Thomas,

Great to see some new images of the TD faceplate. I for myself would love to get a closer look at the tab section and compare it to the TM tabs. Will try to post some cu pics when I get home today.


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:49 pm 
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Here we go:

Image

That's how the tabs on the original TM faceplate looked after all the paint was removed. You'll probably notice those blobs on the left and the middle tab. When the original ANH faceplate was removed from the silicone mold, small chunks of the silicone got stuck on some of the little "trees" of the original ANH tabs and were literally ripped off the mold. All unaltered castings of this mold would show the exact same "blobs" in the exact same spots. Same with unaltered "recastings" that are based on an original casting from that mold.

The second thing that I find interesting on the TD are the shorter and thicker tusk tube ends. Well, what happened here? I think the answer lies under the paint.


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:50 pm 
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vadermania wrote:
Here we go:

Image

That's how the tabs on the original TM faceplate looked after all the paint was removed. You'll probably notice those blobs on the left and the middle tab. When the original ANH faceplate was removed from the silicone mold, small chunks of the silicone got stuck on some of the little "trees" of the original ANH tabs and were literally ripped off the mold. All unaltered castings of this mold would show the exact same "blobs" in the exact same spots. Same with unaltered "recastings" that are based on an original casting from that mold.

The second thing that I find interesting on the TD are the shorter and thicker tusk tube ends. Well, what happened here? I think the answer lies under the paint.



Thanks, Tom, for chiming in, I appreciate it. I'll get to the tube ends in another post because that's a big story by itself.

Yes I know about the blobs as the TD has the same blobs but they are not identical to the TM blobs. I refer to the "trees" as knobs with stalks being their supports that remain after the knobs are pulled off.

Here is probably what you've been waiting to see for a long time ;). Inside the yellow outline is another area that was reworked. Note the wear on the top of the mask in the paint down to the gold resin on account of possible mating with a dome. The shine to the black paint is gone on the top of the mask.

Image

And as you know I have a huge library of reference comparisons of TM vs TD tabs using the same angles and lighting. So if you don't mind, here's a small example of what I mean about differences in TM vs TD showing just a small area....same blobs, but there are many, many small differences in their condition and which stalks are intact vs not, condition of the screws, etc.. So that is why I don't think the TM and TD came from the same father mold (by father I mean the mold taken off the original ANH mask as opposed to an ESB mask mold).

Image


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:08 am 
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As for the cut tube ends, the best example is Vader's left tube end. And again, there is a LOT going on here to discuss even in this small area.

Below are different angles closeup of that tube end. It shows a cut tube end. A number of things are very curious about this. One is that the side of the mouth triangle is preserved in terms of the flat face of that side. You can see that in front view (yellow line) and then it makes a sharp angle downward vertically to the base of the chin. The cutting tool inscription can be seen in the side views, like some kind of knife was used. The big obvious question is, were the tubes cut off in the casting, or was the original mask cut back and then molded that way? I'll get to that in a moment.

Image

The other interesting thing is that there are for both tube ends what appear to be remnants of little holes, or shallow depressions of holes. On the left tube end, there are four of them. These could be remnants of the wire pins used to hole the tusks in place. We see these similar kind of wire pins on the ESB Dagoba cave helmet after it explodes. Whether they used such an attachment mechanism for the tusks in ANH is open to question, because I heard it was another method. So this is kind of mysterious. If you cut something back like that, and there are hole remnants, then it would have to have been done to the casting this mask came from, because these are not real holes in the casting, they were in the mold. This gets us back to the question of whether the tubes were cut in this casting or in the casting this came from.

It was told to me once by a special effects artist that it appears like this kind of cut was not made in resin but in clay or plaster. I guess the other side of that question is, can it be possible to cut resin in this precise way and with a tool that leaves that kind of mark on the side of the mouth triangle?

Yet another interesting thing about this area of the mask is that there is that beige/white bondo-type material on the tube end and I've outlined the modified area inside the yellow outline on the images. This is not something that is in the casting, it was done to the actual mask to rework the shape of that tube end slightly to bring out the side a bit in thickness. You can see where the black paint has chipped off....you see top middle of the cut face some of the gold resin, then to the right of it, the beige/white bondo-type material. Now, where the holes are, it is gold resin, not the white bondo material.

Below is a microscopic view of that cut tube end. This image was taken back in 2007 and after that time I had taken a needle to probe the holes and found the other two but in this image only two show up and they were painted over of course as well at that early time. So here it is much clearer to see the reworked area with that white bondo material going around the right half of the circumference of the tube end and where it's boundary ends on the top center of the cut end. So the question is, if this is really a reworked tube end, does the cut go through the bondo? Why rework something that is already cut? So that's where the contradiction comes in. The cut seems not to be in the casting based on the way it is cut, yet the bondo work there would indicate there was an intact tube on the casting at some point.

Image

So these are just a very few of the examples of strange things I dealt with about this mask over the years of studying it.


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 Post subject: Re: TD ANH Vader Mask: Any closer to the source?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 3:34 am 
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Just did some test shooting with a Nikon D800 with 55mm Micro Nikkor f2.8 lens (waiting for an extension tube). Better resolution. :salut

This is another chip in the neck from before but from a bottom angle showing the gold flakes in the resin and also to the right of the chip, there are clear cut marks in the base of the neck....presumably made with a serrated knife or blade of some kind. So would someone use that kind of knife on resin to trim the neck, or on plaster? But then again, these cuts might just be in the casting and not really trim marks.

Image


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