The Prop Den

Rubie's Darth Vader Deluxe (Supreme) Helmet Set
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Author:  CSMacLaren [ Fri Sep 14, 2007 10:02 pm ]
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Author:  Darth_Finger [ Fri Sep 14, 2007 10:55 pm ]
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Good info to know.

Author:  Anakin Starkiller [ Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:11 pm ]
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Well that looks familiar :)

Great job documenting the rubies. This info would be invaluable for anyone interested in getting the skinny on this entry level helmet.
Do you have plans to modify this one, or leave it as is?

Can't wait to get the new guy ;)



Author:  CSMacLaren [ Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:58 pm ]
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The opportunity to once again study the Rubie's has given me some ideas how to make it look far more accurate than I originally envisioned it. It would involve sculpting a great deal of the face, but this time I would approach it differently.

While my previous effort made certain features more accurate, it did not make the proportions more accurate. The stock Rubie's proportions are all out of whack in comparison to the screen-used prop. So making features accurate without making the proportions accurate lead to a nicer looking but distorted mask.

I didn't have this understanding when I first started out as a total newbie, and now that I'm a 1 year old newbie, I realize that the deliberate modifications made to the master by Rubie's makes the face even more disproportionate. But I have a far better understanding of how to address those problems now. It all depends on how much work I want to do.

The original effort took me a year. But if you consider that my modification of a mere Don Post Standard (in the Works in Progress forum) has taken only a mere month so far (almost done, but not quite) then I now have the advantage of building on the past year's worth of experience.

This time around, I think I actually know what I'm doing. The question though is: is it worth it? That is a loaded question.

First, what is the impact to beginners? Well, many beginner tutorials cover things like "put putty in the bottom nose notch" and small scale modifications. Beginners might not catch the nuances to achieve a far more accurate look. Sometimes it takes months or years of intensive study if you don't have an accurate prop to start off with, so a lot of beginners' tutorials are kind of one dimensional. The mods do require a three-dimensional understanding of at least some of the subtleties that make Vader what he is. This understanding can only be partly explained in writing. The rest comes from hands-on experience which may not be as easy to communicate. It's like in the world of Fett helmets, some people can tell the difference between the PrePro1, PrePro2, PrePro3, ESB and ROTJ helmets at a glance. Me, I'd have to study very, very intently. That kind of eye takes time to develop. That eye is not necessarily developed in a vacuum and by reading text.

Second, does the person embarking upon modifications have good photo references? One should at least get a Don Post Deluxe, but even a DP DLX has very specific inaccuracies that I feel were deliberately put in there. I understand that once a major auction house made a boo-boo and auctioned a fanmade replica as a screen-used. Good references are only a fraction of the challenge. People can interpret photos differently. After I started a scratchbuild, I found that some of my previous assumptions of the same screenshots were incorrect, even though my previous work apparently was enjoyed by people. Here on the Den, we put 90% of effort into that 10% that nobody even cares about!

Third, how involved do you want to be? From cheek corner to cheek corner, the DP DLX measures 148 mm, approximately. However, the Rubie's is 138mm. It is off by a whole centimeter. The sides of the cheeks where they meet the tusk tubes: from side to side, the DP DLX measures 118mm while the Rubie's is again 1cm off, measuring 108mm.

So to make that accurate, one needs to either structurally widen the mask, or to sculpt the sides out. If you use heat, good luck, because you might distort the skull shape irreparably, and quite frankly heat alone will not do it. You have to sculpt it out. Scultping it out means those tusk tubes would have to be ground out and/or sculpted over. Patching a notch in the nose with putty is one thing. Sculpting tubes is a whole different story. And once you start sculpting the sides out, then the eyes are going to start looking funny. If you then try to build that out, it will look weird because of the skull shape. Now if you're crazy like me, you'll modify the skull shape...

... but at the end of the day you'll go, "Gods... why the frack didn't I just buy a Don Post Deluxe recast instead?!"

Can I do it? Yes. Do I have time? It's debatable. The companies I work for are going into a phase of craziness. I may be posting less, but I still need to post in order to blow of steam because work can get pretty stressful.

I may be too hard on this Rubie's. Perhaps some basic modifications can still make this look great without widening the face. I'll still consider it though.

This, by the way, is not accuracy for accuracy's sake and being anal. There is a certain look of the character that is lost when the face becomes this narrow. I have a brief acting background, and in acting it is important to craft a character. Props, costumes, makeup, etc. facilitate the emergence of that essential character, so when I look at various replica masks, I am looking for that one particular mask that unmistakably resonates Vader's presence and character to me.

Some people see very sharp lines and surfaces (perhaps oversanded and oversharpened) and fall in love. Some see pristine paint finishes and go nuts. Some people are happy that it covers the back of the neck and don't even notice that the vendor lengthened the helmet's flange by 3 inches and horribly altered the proportions of the helmet. Yet when I look at these helmets, I go, "Nice work... but it doesn't 'speak" Vader to me."

I'm still looking for that Holy Grail. Some on these boards once said that all that talk of lineage and provenance is useless if the mask doesn't even look like the screen-used prop did on the big silver screen. How true! Thus begins, I imagine, our collective quest to find something that inspires such an awesome feeling that we so profoundly remember from our childhoods!

Author:  CSMacLaren [ Sat Sep 15, 2007 12:08 am ]
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And so the short answer to your question, Dan, is this: I might keep the Rubie's as it is for now, because I want a Chad Vader helmet! :toothy

Author:  The Undertaker [ Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:20 am ]
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Yeah, my collection wouldn't be complete without my Chad Vader! :lol

Excellent presentation Mac! :thumbsup

Author:  No Humor Man [ Sun Sep 16, 2007 12:22 pm ]
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Whatever has been done to this helmet it looks like it has been cut up and refined and then put back together again. The nose bridge is too long making the eye corners too far apart, and the nose section on the cheek, extending from the nose bride to the node plug area slants down too much. The lower parts of the front cheek areas has been severely cut down, the angle of the mouth walls are changed, making the whole mouth section too small, from bottom of the mouth edge to the nose.

This is a picture I did for CSM's first Supreme conversion project.
Forget the red lines at the teeth and the fact that the comparison piece is a fat lipped RotJ. What you can see here is the wrong angles of the mouth walls, they slant too much towards each other, and the lower front cheek areas are nearly non-existent... and the upper tusk tube and the side of the face slumps inwards, as if he's hollow-cheeked or anorexic.

Most definitely a very ugly looking helmet, imo.

Author:  CSMacLaren [ Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:35 pm ]
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The Undertaker wrote:
Yeah, my collection wouldn't be complete without my Chad Vader! :lol

Excellent presentation Mac! :thumbsup


And not only that, but I'm planning to set up some name tags as well. I designed an "Empire Market" logo from studying the Chad Vader videos. I think I came up with something pretty close.

And then next to that display, I'll have The Helmet of Jeremy (Commander Whickstrom). So Chad will have his nametag and "Day Shift Manager" and then Jeremy will have his. :lol

Author:  CSMacLaren [ Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:38 pm ]
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Those of you who don't know what Undertaker and I are talking about, Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager is on YouTube and was recently awarded by George Lucas.

THIS is the film that got me started in the Vader community. Not ANH, ESB, ROTJ or ROTS... but CHAD VADER!

Long live Chad! Clint sucks! :toothy

Author:  Hondo Vader [ Wed Oct 24, 2007 5:37 am ]
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Hi Mac,

I read your comments about doing mods to the Rubies helmet (the one you dubbed "Entry Level") that comes with the Supreme Edition costume. You mentioned you would consider doing some basic mods (i.e., paint, etc.) to it. If you were looking to do so, which ones would you recommend that are basic and easy, and don't necessarily involve alot of work. Thanks!

Author:  CSMacLaren [ Wed Oct 24, 2007 9:36 am ]
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The more I study Vader, the more I develop my eye and what I expect out of myself as a hobbyist sculptor and modder. I worry that changes that are too basic are oversimplifications and do not correct for the needed elegance and menace of the remarkable sculpture we know as Vader. In the case of the Rubie's the proverbial apple has been very forcably fallen far from the tree.

Initially I had a theory that I approached the Rubie's accurization incorrectly and began to formulate an easier approach and considered starting all over again.

But then I did this photo analysis with a Don Post Deluxe just now:


According to this photograph, the approach I had taken -- which involved destroying all previous work done to the eyes and bridge of the nose that I did as a newbie following the available tutorials of the time -- was the right call. Notice the arch of the eyebrow and frown of the DP DLX is different than the Rubie's. Notice also the location of the three rectangles in the bridge of the nose (tutorials that tell you to patch the bottom most notch are incorrect because such only makes the nose look disproportionately long -- and that is how you can spot a lot of eBay modded Rubie's recasts -- they all follow the same existant tutorials.)

I thickened the right mouth wall and removed the plastic insert and thickened the nose wall -- that was the right call. I also redid the arch of the nose and that was the right call also.

NoHumorMan's call to lower the teeth holes and to make them rectangular was dead on.

Despite having done all these, the Rubie's fails to look like its older cousin.

So at this point, Hondo, I really don't know what to say. Those who study Michelangelo's David will have a hard time with tourist replica statues. Since I'm not that well studied on that antique scultpure, I may find great joy in collecting the tourist replica. If I've studied the David for a year, I might notice all kinds of subtleties and body language that the tourist pieces just fail to capture -- and then I am ruined.

Similarly, fanmade Han Solo blasters that are basically modified Denix Mauser broomhandle pistols don't do anything for me. It has an approximation of the look but not the real look. When you examine online photos of the real thing, it's like night and day. If you can relate to this, then you can relate to why some people go for machined aluminum parts -- be it for their blasters or for their Bobas.

There is also an issue of what you have an eye for versus what your skillset is, level of patience, and resources (powertools, etc.). My modifications can be attempted by anyone who already own at least a Dremel tool.

The price of all my materials and tools exceed the cost of the helmet.

The "Do these 7 things to make it screen accurate" unfortunately oversimplify the aesthetics and do not do Vader justice, but then again the Rubie's itself does not do Vader justice.

The only saving grace it has is that if you paint it gloss black, the aesthetics are boosted by 200-300% alone despite its great inaccuracies and mishapenness.

Anyways, you can tell from the above photo that the Don Post Deluxe has a wider face. It is as if they took the master of the Rubie's Deluxe and sanded the sides in, then pressed the face inwards at the sides. They also modified the eyes for the worse in order to facilitate front mounted lenses. The angle of the upper and lower inner eyelids are not accurate.

I'll keep an open mind. I'm still constantly thinking about this.....

Author:  SD68 [ Wed Oct 24, 2007 12:54 pm ]
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I love this last photo. It makes me realize that filling in the top hole was the right call on my facemask. I hope everyone notices that the face is not as terrible as everyone makes it out to be. The inaccuracies can be fixed if you can stand working with this bear of a plastic. I really hope you give it another try to make something of this helmet. I haven't been able to do as much to mine as I like to due to time constraints but I will post some photos later this week of the mouth and nose mods I have completed in my original thread. Thanks.

Author:  CSMacLaren [ Wed Oct 24, 2007 5:58 pm ]
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Thanks. And pertaining to your yoru comment, if you had filled in the top notch in conjunction with reworking the eyebrows, then you've basically done what I did. However, only patching the top rectangle creates a problem: the frown of the eyes is structurally incorrect, and a filled in top rectangle accentuates this look of sadness or worry. Such a look may be appropriate to reflect the ROTJ look.

In ANH, Vader looked the most meanacing with the dome rim wore low and often concealing the eyebrows of the mask. In ESB, the widow's peak (that helps create the look of anger) is gone, and the dome is worn higher, and then in ROTJ, the dome is worn even higher.

One site I read as a newcomer said that the eyes get bigger from ANH to ROTJ, and this is actually incorrect based on a plethora of prop evidence. The eyes appear larger with closeups due to perspective distortion created by the movie camera lens, and because you see more of the mask's eyes as the rim of the helmet is no longer obscuring the lenses.

I hope this helps:


Author:  CSMacLaren [ Wed Oct 24, 2007 7:31 pm ]
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In the above graphic that I just posted, you can see that:

* Filling in the bottom notch is incorrect becuase it was not a rectangle to begin with. The bridge of the nose that contains the three rectangles is, in a sense, a slightly raised platform, so this is actually the transition from the bridge of the nose to the nose itself, which is like an arch or hill. This arch becomes too high when you fill in the lower notch.

* Filling in just the upper rectangle means that the eyebrows now meet on the bridge of the nose far too high above the rectangles as compared with the original prop.

* Idea #1 involves using epoxy clay to build the lower eyelids. This method is tricky because you have to have some good sculpting skills to make your work seamless with the Rubie's plastic. Too much and it will make Vader look like he's squinting, and it can potentially make the upper cheek surfaces look too long.

* What I see people do a lot is fill in the three top notches and grind newly repositioned ones. They leave the eyebrows alone.

* Idea #2 is a combination of Idea #1 and the middle one on the bottom row. You can work the eyebrows so that they come onto the bridge of the nose but are poised somewhat over the topmost rectangle, and you can enhance the lower eyelid's outside shape a little. As for me, I blew away the bridge of the nose and resculpted it with AquaMend, an epoxy clay. Use whatever brand works for you so long as it cures well (certain ones won't if the temperature is too cold).

An important note about the eyebrows and frown. Only those of us who are passionate with every bit of accuracy focus on areas that most people will never see. For example, we worry about the mounting system being accurate and yet if you are trooping, costuming or setting up a mannequin, most spectators will never see the mounting system at all.

Another thing to take note on is that while it is commendable to make the eyebrows more accurate, a lot of this will be obscured by the rim of the helmet (and the helmet's rim has "eyebrows" and a "frown" of its own). If lit from above, it will cast a shadow over your mask's eyes, and if positioned properly, will obscure the eyebrows. That is why certain vendor's fiberglass ANH masks that have inaccurately shaped eyes look so cool with the dome on.

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