The Prop Den

On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet
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Author:  Darth Obsession [ Sat May 17, 2014 8:09 pm ]
Post subject:  On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

There is no way to know for sure which helmet Don Bies restored, since he apparently took no pictures of it prior to his restoration. Although, I have a theory about this helmet. The first question I ask when I look at it is, what is up with the dome? Why is it positioned so high? Why would Bies have changed it? It couldn't have been this way when he got it. Right?

My first thought was, ‘Man, he F—ed this helmet up.’


The dome on this helmet is positioned in such a way that the dome is sticking up in the back about an inch and a half above where it should be. Even though the Christie’s ‘2011 pictured here is positioned higher off the eyebrows, the back of the dome obviously much lower and the Bies helmet pic is taken from a lower angle which should make the back of the dome appear even lower than the Christie’s.


(picture restored to post 7/25)

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Sat May 17, 2014 8:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

But, I’ve been going through all of the helmets from ROTJ and ESB trying to figure out which one is which and where this one might fit in and I suddenly had a thought,

‘what if Bies hadn't repositioned the dome? What if he actually, more or less, just repainted the helmet and slapped on some ESB tusks. ‘

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out where I went next. There is a screen used ESB helmet that more or less fits the bill. The rebel command center helmet. But I know what you're saying, that helmet has an ANH chin grille. Yes, it did.

But it also has a dome positioned atop a mask in the exact same configuration as the Bies helmet.


In fact, it was this funky dome positioning that got my attention when I first saw the film. I didn't become aware of the ANH chin grille till many years later.


After all, with just a little artwork, who's your daddy?

In fact, it was this funky dome positioning that got my attention when I first saw the film. I didn't become aware of the ANH chin grille till many years later.

So, did Bies modify the grille? I doubt it.

I think the grille got changed years earlier. About the time Return of the Jedi came out. While these helmets managed to avoid tour duty for Empire, ROTJ was the most anticipated film of all time (at the time anyway) and they were gonna need lots of tour helmets.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Sat May 17, 2014 8:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

So was it a tour helmet? I believe it was.


The picture above is reported to be of the guys at ILM working on tour helmets. If you look at the picture closely, the two helmets down in front, on the right are both ESBs and the one behind them on the right is a ROTJ. How can you tell? If you look at the center strips on the two front helmets, they are sharp and defined and they reflect light at their tips, also their domes sit lower and closer to the eyebrows than those on the ROTJ in the back. The light reflection off the side of the ROTJ’s center strip is fairly wide, suggesting a much softer edge, than those on the sharper ESBs in the front row. And judging by the fat, black cheekbone on that ROTJ, I would say it's most likely our friend from the hanger scene with the Emperor( Ref. Visual Dictionary Vader, Is this helmet screen used?).
This picture shows that not only did the ESB screen used helmets get pressed into tour duty, but so did the ROTJs.

So, could it have been a touring helmet? Yes.

Now, take a look at the mask in the middle back. The riser appears to be taller and more vertical than that of the mask to the left, which appears to be shorter and more offset to the left rear. I believe this center mask is from the Bies helmet. If you look at the Velcro on the forehead of this mask, it is cut fairly wide and the left hand side touches the top of the eyebrow. This feature can be seen on the Bies helmet in the insert in the upper right corner.

I believe it is at this time that the Don Bies helmet finally got an ESB chin.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Sat May 17, 2014 8:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

To further support this, take a look at the chin grille from the Magic of the Myth Vader display, an ESB whose grille has obviously been replaced.


While not an exact match, it is very reminiscent of the grille in the Bies helmet. The grille lattice is larger and heavier than that of any grille lattice used in any of the movies, but this is an ESB helmet. And I believe their grills came from the same source, at the same time, the ROTJ tour helmet preparation.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Sat May 17, 2014 8:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet


So what did Don Bies actually do?

Even with the new chin grille, this helmet’s pretty funny looking as screen used Vader helmets go, so I'm betting it didn't get much use on the tour circuit. Which meant, it was probably in pretty good condition when Bies got his hands on it, aside from a little roughness around the nape of the neck (which can still be seen under the new paint), a chip in the edge of the left cheek (which he did not repair) and maybe a scratch here and there.

He most likely just gave it a new paint job and just replaced the tusks. He may have painted the grille as it looks painted and the Magic of the Myth grille is showing signs of rusting. He may have removed a mesh behind the grille also, as that is an ROTJ thing.

I used to think Don Bies screwed this helmet up, but now I think he did it a favor. I can think of no other reason why that dome is
positioned the way it is, other than 'it came from the factory that way.'

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Sat May 17, 2014 10:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet


Darken the nose, and restore the chin grille, and the Bies Helmet, is an exact match to the rebel command center helmet.

It even appears that the screen image has something going on in the same spot as the chip in the lower right cheekbone (Vader's left).

Author:  banthapoodoo [ Sun May 18, 2014 10:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

Compared to a typical Vader, the Don Bies dome is sitting higher than normal and it looks like it's been rotated forward, both of which combine to raise the back of the dome similarly to the Hoth invasion Vader. In the Christies '11 picture it looks like it's still sitting higher than normal, but the dome isn't rotated forward. This would cause the back of the dome to settle down a bit.

This look can be explained by an atypical mounting arrangement. Some analysis was done here in the topic I added some speculation that the mounting rings could be butting up against other which could exaggerate the vertical offset and the forward tilt applied to compensate so that the widows peak appears in the appropriate location relative to the nose bridge of the face plate.

The pictures of the table full o Vaders is discussed here which includes Don (artoo77) in the discussion. He and others in that thread believe only the upper left vader is screen-used and the others are for "ILM character appearance" and make use of the taller tube mount (the same as is used in the DP DLX). Don also says in 1995 he made 18 Vaders with a mounting arrangement similar to the tube mount.

If the 1992 reconditioning he incorporated a form of the taller tube mount (or if it already had it), that would explain the higher dome positioning. And if it didn't fit within the dome ring, the effect would be more pronounced.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Mon May 19, 2014 7:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

it's so funny, I just noticed the tread that Mac did about the rebel command center helmet.
I had posted this a while back. I believe the Hoth scene simply has too much forward tilt.

In the above image, the photo on the right is the dome positioning of the screen-used hero helmet.


What he said. The back of the Hoth (as he called it) dome is tilted up about an inch and a half too high.

Despite what ever was said in another thread and even if I am wrong about the exact background of the table pic, it makes no sense that someone would even inadvertently
install a messed up riser, and leave it that way (seeing the result) anytime after the production and release of the film.

Bottom line, except for the grille, which could have been changed, the Bies helmet is a dead ringer for the Hoth command center helmet.


restored photo to thread 8/2

Author:  No Humor Man [ Mon May 19, 2014 10:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

Nice analysis. Though, the dome mount is a fickle thing, which anyone who's been at an exhibition and seen the Vader displays set up by people not really versed in dome positioning.

Also, I've quite forgotten, but when did the Don Bies helmet get restored, 'cause if it bumps into when the DP helmet was released, then that might have been the reference available.

What I'm seeing in the table pic regarding the domes is pure RotJ domes just plopped on without any correction.

There's also this one:

In order to really identify it as the screen used Hoth helmet, you need more identifiers than the dome positioning, which is seen in many other helmets outside of the movies.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Tue May 20, 2014 6:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

Nice pic, but from this angle there is little to identify it as even being a production helmet. Except perhaps the patina and the scratch on the dome, which suggests some age to it. It does appear to have correct ROTJ tasks. But from this distance, it's hard to tell if they are screen accurate or not. Got any other pics of it?


At first inspection, This is an ROTJ, not an ESB. While I can't say for sure, with as little of it as I can see from this image, it appears to closely resemble the LFL Vader, with a smooth flow cheek/nose and somewhat bulging eye lenses. It's clearly not the Don Bies restoration, unless somebody decided to do a serious modification to it sometime after its restoration. And since I've never seen any pictures of the Don Bies restored helmet since these first pictures I used here, I suppose anything is possible.
I do agree the dome on this helmet appears to be popped up and in pretty much the same position. However, this is not a known screen used ESB. I think somebody said that Don Bies did his restoration somewhere in around 1999.

Actually, looking at your picture again, I just realized it has a black cheekbone where is the cheekbone should be silver (or wherever the highlight color actually is). Which means that this particular helmet is more likely the helmet that was created somewhere around 1999 for all the 'Special Editions ' merchandising tie-ins. In fact, I've always felt the dome was in the same funky position also on this helmet and that it was a direct result of the Don Bies helmet, that it was this way. Same thing goes for the Don Post classic action helmet.


This helmet was the workhorse of LFL merchandising for most of the early '00s, until it was replaced by a fairly well done, but still reverse painted Don Post, which in turn was replaced by a more screen accurate, though still reverse painted helmet in the late '00s.

Author:  No Humor Man [ Tue May 20, 2014 10:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

Sorry, that's the only picture I have.

What do you mean about the cheek bone?

I also believe the Don Bies helmet was reported as an ESB helmet, but the dome is clearly RotJ.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Wed May 21, 2014 3:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet


What do you mean about the cheek bone?

Sorry if I am off on some of the terms. I'm talking about how the face of the cheek, continues smoothly up the side of the nose without a break.
And in this case, how it and the whole facemask is painted in reverse of a regular facemask also.

I also believe the Don Bies helmet was reported as an ESB helmet, but the dome is clearly RotJ.

It is, now. But I believe it's been modified. Not hard to do. In fact, I just modified my ANH to an ROTJ. Just took a Dremel tool, some sandpaper
and a smidgen of putty. And about 30 min. Messy business though, fiberglass dust sucks. Itchy, no matter how much you try to cover up.

And it is a lot easier to modify an ESB into an ROTJ, ESB is already halfway there. I know, maybe I'll put together a thread on how to do it.
It really is very easy to do.

Author:  vader45 [ Wed May 21, 2014 4:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

I always thought the Hoth scene helmet was a ANH face mask with a ESB dome. The ANH helmets did not have a ring, but instead had the apple tabs.

I dont see how the one helmet with the larger ring(the photo with Bies and the 2 other guys) is the Hoth helmet if the face mask was ANH. Did they add the ring to it?

The photos of the helmet after Bies restored it looks like its sporting a ROTJ dome. I cant see the strip indent and the stri[ looks to soft for ESB, well to me anyway.

Its easy to incorrectly place the dome on the face even wth a ring mount.

Author:  No Humor Man [ Wed May 21, 2014 7:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

Well, I believe the picture I posted was reported to be an original, though it doesn't appear to be a production or screen used helmet. Could be tour. Those certainly occasionally had whacky paint schemes. If you look closely... it isn't just reversed... it's weird. :)

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Sun May 25, 2014 11:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: On the subject of the Don Bies restored helmet

This helmet certainly is a mystery. As I said before, the big question is... Why does it even exist at all?

And I don't think it's as easy as, 'somebody stuck an ESB dome on an ANH facemask.'

And why was Dave wearing it in this scene?


One possible reason Dave would be wearing this particular helmet can be gleaned from the book,' the making of TESB'. First, this particular scene is the first scene shot with Darth Vader.
what you see on screen is not the first take. In the book, Prowse describes the first take;

'Wall explodes, amid a ton of smoke and debris and the two troopers in front of him, who cannot see, burst through the opening
and immediately trip over themselves. Prowse, who can't see either, tries to follow them, but one of the troopers behind him is standing on
is cape. When the cape breaks he falls down on top of the troopers.'

He doesn't go into any more description than that. But, is it possible that his helmet was damaged during the fall and perhaps this was the
only helmet immediately available? Or someone just grabbed this helmet on accident, not noticing the difference and nobody caught it until
after the shot was done. Somewhere else in the book, it describes a Wampa ice creature breaking through a wall and that wasn't working well
either. Each time it failed, it would take hours to reset the wall. By the time somebody noticed the helmet was wrong, maybe the time and cost
it would take to reset the wall and reshoot the scene was probably just not worth it. They probably just said, eh, hopefully nobody will notice.

For the last few months, nearly every day, I have been doing some very serious studying of both the ESB and ROTJ helmets and I've made some very surprising discoveries.
Things are not what they ultimately seem to be. Screen used helmets can and have been modified.

I think it's just assumed, that the ESB was gonna have a larger chin grille from the get-go. There is no facts behind that assumption. They may still of been just trying it out.

Where are the ESB screen used helmets today? Where is this helmet today? If it is not the Don Bies helmet, where is it?

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