The Prop Den

ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.
Page 1 of 4

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:13 am ]
Post subject:  ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

The following is the result of research I've been doing for the last several months, on both ROTJ and ESB Vader helmets.

I have been somewhat reluctant to post this, partly due to its complexity, as in how best to lay it out, but also due to its 'matter-of-fact' nature.
Some of which you may or may not agree with. But for me, most of it was pretty cut and dry.

Probably the first thing to know is that unlike ANH and ESB helmets, each of the ROTJ helmets are reasonably distinct and pretty easy to tell apart.
Most of them have been on display and visual reference material is reasonably available. Although I have done the same with the ESB helmets,
it's a lot more elaborate, as well as somewhat more controversial, so I am going to do the Jedi's first. I will first image them as a group, then break them down individually.

It's gonna take a little while for me to load all this in, so please bear with me. (Also, I'm not sure if it is the forum or Photobucket, but for some reason
this is as big as I can get these images. The original is almost twice as big, and easy to see. Hopefully you can see this, apparently you can click on the picture to see it full-size.)


The image above was meant to be a heading. But it also contains all of the helmets used in Return of the Jedi. Admittedly in the small images, it may not be so easy to tell them apart.
For the most part they all look like Darth Vader helmets, but when you examine them closer, no two are alike. You'll notice the heading says, 'mostly'. That is because at least one helmet
in this montage is an ESB, and another helmet is a reworked ESB. They are placed here in the order on which they appear in the film, and I will identify them as 1, 2, 3 in the same order.
While these may not be the actual numbers that were assigned by the production, I do know that the third helmet in this lineup is marked with a number 3. Most of these helmets were used
in more than one shot or scene, but not all. While used in multiple shots helmet No. 3 only appeared in one scene. As did the last two helmets in the lineup.


This second block shows alternative images of each of these helmets. You will note that helmet No. 6 shows a helmet from Empire Strikes Back, that is because this helmet is actually an
ESB pretending to be an ROTJ. And although it has seen a little bit of modification, it is still mostly in its original form. No. 7 is the reveal mask and was only used in one shot. It did not have
an accompanying dome and most likely the dome from No. 6 was reused. (Reminder, you can click on
the image to make it bigger.)


In block No. 3, we see the helmets as they've appeared in the years after the films. Helmets 1, 2 and 3 have been regulars at conventions and exhibits as well as No.7, 'the reveal'. No. 6, the ESB was on
display in a Planet Hollywood, but I've heard that it's now been sold to someone overseas(??). The last I heard, No.5 is still in the Lucasfilm archives. But No.4 is whereabouts unknown. If it's still
in the archives, it has never been put on display, publicly.

One helmet that I could not identify, was the helmet worn as Vader flies end over end through the air, having been kicked by Luke. No matter how hard I tried freeze-frame it, the helmet is just too fuzzy
and indistinct. It is helmet No.4 that is being worn before and then after the airborne tumble, but I would think it unlikely that it was worn during it.

While it is reported that ESB helmets were modified for use in ROTJ, I can find no evidence other than the scene with No.6 of this having taken place. Another ESB helmet can be seen in the film,
in the shot where Vader watches out the window as Luke's shuttle heads off to Endor, before he turns around and walks away. I believe this to be a non-used take from the ESB, as this helmet is
completely in it ESB trim. Complete with ESB tusks and all.

From here, I'm going to take it down to the individual helmets. But before I do, I want to make note of some key changes to the ROTJ Vader helmet, from the ESB.

1. ROTJ domes sit slightly higher than their ESB counterparts. The dome on an ESB sits nearly flush with the top of the eyebrows.
Whereas, there is a noticeable gap between them on the ROTJ. The ROTJ dome also sits flatter against the forehead, further
exposing the eye brows.


2. The center strip on the ROTJ dome does not have the dimple, (a remnant of the ANH) at its tip, like the ESB and the edges of the
center strip are slightly more rounded.


3. ROTJ helmets use different grills than the ESB's. Although some people it said the chin grille on the ROTJ is larger, when compared
side-by-side. I see no evidence of this. The ROTJ grille is muchbrighter, with the grille being painted silver, as opposed to the ESB's which
were painted the same color as the neck, but other than a slightly straighter cut the chin grille opening is the same size on both.


4. The cheek faces of the ROTJ have been somewhat reworked. Whereas the original ESB cheek inner edge would terminate 8-10 mm behind
the face of the nose, ROTJ cheeks, with some exceptions, flow smoothly up the side of the nose to it's tip. The cheekbone color also matches
the whisker on an ROTJ, whereas they are color opposed on the ESB.


5. The ROTJ eyes, tend to appear wider than the ESB's. This is because most ROTJ eyebrows have only their upper edges highlighted and the
eye lenses are somewhat flatter and have a golden tint to them.


6. The inside of ROTJ noses are painted after the clearcoat is put on. So they reflect brighter than their ESB counterparts.


7. And last but not least, ROTJ's use a different tusk. The tusk has a flatter, wider head than the ESB. (But everybody knows that...)
Do you really need a pic?

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Helmet No.1

This is the workhorse of the Star Wars saga. Not only is it an ROTJ, but It was also an ESB.

It differs from the other helmets, especially in the area of the left or black cheek face which is broader at the cheek/nose apex than on any other helmet.
Unlike most of the other ROTJ helmets, it has fully highlighted eyebrow faces, a feature it shares with only the 'reveal'.


How do I know it was an ESB? There are two primary crossover identifiers. I have isolated and enlarged these features. If you start with the ESB promo photo in the upper right
you can see afairly large semicircular chip taken out of the base of the neck just beyond the bulge. It is roughly 13 mm wide. There is a small nick in the edge about 10 mm in front of it and the
sharp edge of the fiberglass neck is somewhat flattened for roughly 10 mm behind it. Since this was a fairly distinctive feature, I decided to check the ROTJ screen caps to see if any of the helmets
might exhibit it. I knew if one did, that it would have been repaired. But maybe I'd get lucky and something remained. It just so happened the first picture I looked at was the one on the lower left
from the death star hanger scene. And there it was, I saw it right away. It had been repaired, just as I expected, but I could still tell where it was and see the small nick in front and the flattening
behind it. But I knew this alone would not be enough to satisfy anyone. So I continued to look, to see if there was anything else that would tie these helmets together. I searched the ESB frame
caps to see if I could find a helmet that had this chip. I found it in the hero used in the carbon freezing chamber, and I have isolated it in this photo as well. I didn't notice much else in that picture
to tie them together, but this helmet has a very distinctive, inner nose paint pattern. Unlike the nose paint on any other ESB helmet, it has a jagged bottom edge. I found the same paint pattern on the
inside of the nose of the helmet from the dining room scene. However it did not have the chip in the neck. Yet. So I looked to see if there was anything else there that could help me with this. Right away
I noticed I could see some fairly distinctive patterns, including one that looked like a figure 8 on the inside of the dome and wondered if I could see of them on any of the ROTJ No.1 pics. As soon as I
looked at the picture in the lower right, I spotted the distinctive figure 8, that can be seen both on the ESB and the ROTJ.(remember, you can click on these photos and blow them up).


This is the only helmet that I've been able to match a screen used ESB hero, to a screen used ROTJ hero. But it does not surprise me that this helmet made the full transition. This was the go to helmet
for photo shoots and publicity for ESB and then to perform that role once again for ROTJ. Like I said, the workhorse of the Star Wars saga.


Author:  Darth Obsession [ Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Helmet No. 2

This is an interesting helmet. I always tend to think of it as the punisher or the brute. That's because it is detailed in such a way that makes it look heavier
and more robust than the other helmets. It is also sharper in detail than the other helmets, which makes it look more angular. If any helmet were a modified ESB,
I figured it would be this one. The center strip on the dome is sharper than on the other helmets and there is still just the slightest hint of the ESB dimple. Also,
the left side cheek was never modified to flow up the side of the nose and looks pretty much like an ESB. The inner nose paint is rounded and unlike any of the
other ROTJ helmets, providing a stark contrast to the angularity of the face. Even though it seems like it should have been an ESB, I can find no real evidence
that it actually ever was.


This helmet has seen lots of exhibit duty. It was seen exclusively in 'SW - Where Science Meets the Imagination' and is one of the most photographed helmets.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Helmet No.3

My personal favorite. To me this helmet is the epitome of what the ROTJ helmets were meant to be.
It has all the features and is truly sinister looking.

If the last helmet was the brute, this helmet is the panther or the ninja. It is the Ferrari of Darth Vader helmets. It is smoother and sleeker than all the
other helmets and is almost a direct contrast to helmet No. 2's heavy angularity. There seems to be a design Genesis in the helmets up to this point,
as helmets 1 and 2 differ from this helmet, but also differ from each other. Whereas, helmets 4 and 5 are both very similar to this helmet, except for the
obvious functional modifications to helmet 5 (the stunt), plus the thicker chin bridge on helmet 4, which mimics that of helmet 5 and thus provides a visual
bridge between this helmet and helmet number 5. Although this helmet appears to have a flat finish, it is actually very shiny and has been sprayed, on the set,
with an anti-hotspot dulling agent. This is commonly used in films to prevent camera reflections on shiny objects. It is not permanent and washes off with water,
although I don't think anyone at Lucasfilm ever washed it off, this leaving the helmet susceptible to fingerprint damage, which you can see on the black cheek in
the picture in the lower right corner.


This helmet has seen some exhibit exposure, in at least one Star Wars Celebration convention exhibit, but for the most part I think it's been doing time in the archives.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Helmet No. 4

The helmet that snuck in and you almost didn't know it was there.

This helmet is detailed halfway between number 3 and number 5. It has elements of both. It is similar to helmet No. 3, except that it has a thicker bridge
between the tusks, which mimics the bridge on the stunt helmet or No.5. This helmet, combined with the stunt helmet, may be the reason that ROTJ
chin grills are believed to be larger than those of the ESBs, as due to the modified bridge, the chin grills on this helmet and the stunt are somewhat larger
in response to the wider leading edge under the bridge.


Pics of this helmet are very rare. I have not seen any other than what I have here. This helmet has made no public appearances and has not appeared in any
promo shoots. For all intents and purposes, this helmet is missing in action. Hopefully it is being safely preserved somewhere, as it would be nice to have at least
one pristine helmet from this film.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Helmet No. 5

The stunt helmet that was a hero????

Who can say for sure why this helmet ended up being used like a hero in the biggest close-up of the film. One possible reason, is the design change to the neck.
Unlike all the other Darth Vader helmets, the see-through neck on this helmet has no forward facing lip. The forward edge of the neck drops almost straight down.
This means the neck fits within the opening on the shoulder armor making it much easier to swivel this helmet back and forth as Vader does when looking at the
Emperor and then at Luke, again and again. Or, it could just be that it looks cool, maybe Richard Marquand just liked all the extra detail.

Another way this helmet differs from its ROTJ brethren, is in the lack of gold tinted eyes. While the lenses still have the same shape and the eyebrows are painted the same,
the lenses appear to be simply dark clear.

This helmet also has a truly huge chin grille. This also in response to the see through neck, which was heat formed directly over the existing neck, which was then cut off.
It is the extra thickness of this thermoplastic that creates the extra thick bridge between the tusks. It is still about 30% thicker than the bridge on helmet No. 4 and therefore
caused the helmet to have an even wider chin grille.

Like the other ROTJ helmets, this helmet does have very shiny finish. However, it has been completely doused by the anti-shine spray, followed by a generous heaping
of talcum powder and smeared and smudged fingerprints. I always wonder what they're trying to achieve with all that talcum powder? Electrical arcs do leave a powder
like residue, but Vader hasn't been hit by lightning, yet. Yeah, his hand was cut off, but I still don't see how you would've got all nasty, dirty looking just from that. Oh well.


This helmet has not done any time on the exhibit circuit that I've seen. Far as I know, it is still in the Lucasfilm archives. It is interesting that the picture on the far bottom
right, which had to be taken sometime after production, years from the looks of it, still shows the helmet as having tubes that are intact. While in the two smaller images
the tubes of been clearly broken off. It just goes to show you how little respect these original helmets get. And as I've said before, they are simply tools and not showpieces
sitting on someone's shelf.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Helmet No. 6

The ROTJ that wasn't.

It was on the set and it was used in the film, which technically makes it a screen used ROTJ. So, anyone buying this helmet should be happy to know it was used in both films.
It's been known for a while that this helmet was an ESB and the same one on display in a Planet Hollywood, in Vegas was it? While the helmet is still mostly as it appeared in ESB,
there have been some subtle changes. First, the tusks have been swapped out, the interior of the nose has also been repainted and finally, the right cheek face has been slightly
reworked and repainted. It is difficult to say whether anything was done to the dome's position as it is sitting up extremely high in the film, even for an ROTJ. It is too bad that no
one as of yet has done a screen capture of this helmet before Luke pulls him up off the ramp. You get a really good look at the bottom of the helmet and the chin grille, which still
pausing the film I can see is still an ESB.

My research was on both ROTJ helmets and ESB helmets, so of course I had to figure out which ESB this was.


The one thing I could see that was unique on this helmet, that showed no signs of having been changed, was the terminator line between the black and silver highlight on top of the nose.
It differed from the other helmets in that it ran slightly to the outside of the notched bridge between the eyes, whereas all the other helmets lined up with the edge of the notched
bridge or were even slightly inboard. There is also a slightly raised feature to the bottom ridge of the eye socket, ending in a notch that can be seen on the Planet Hollywood image.
So, I began to search the ESB helmets for one with this configuration. After a short while, I came up with the picture you see above. As detailed below. When the image is highlighted
you can see that the terminator line clearly runs to the outside of the notched bridge and you can see also the slightly raised edge of the eye socket ridge that ends in a small notch.
This is the only helmet with this configuration. Hence, this was the helmet was used in most of the Stardestroyer bridge scenes.


Obviously this helmet has seen better days. It is very badly beat up, the tusks are broken, the grills are missing and there's a great deal of damage to the cheekbone. However, the
cheek damage happened fairly early on. Upon close examination I was able to determine that this is also the Clapper Board Vader. And the damage to the cheekbone is already visible in
those images, while the rest of the helmet is actually in fairly good shape and the tusks are still intact.(I would include a pic of the clapper board, but photo bucket is acting up.)

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Helmet (or mask) No.7

The Anakin Reveal, dome not included.

Probably one of the most known of all the Vader headpieces, it is a two-part affair with detailing both inside and out. The only Vader helmet designed to be taken off.
It is only used in one scene in ROTJ and is on screen for less than a minute, but it may be the most detailed Vader mask ever done. Aside all a technical detail adorning
the cranium, this helmet utilizes details from both ESB and ROTJ. Although the general shape is not unusual, the structural details are. Someone spent a great deal of time
making sure that details such as the teeth, the triangle mouth opening, the edge of the nose, the notches between the eyes and other details were very straight, sharp and defined.
Like most of the other ROTJ helmets, it has eye lenses that are tinted gold, but there is a fine metal mesh behind these eyes. The same metal mesh is used inside the teeth slots and
is also behind the chin grille.

It is very possible that this facemask is the reason that helmet No. 6 was used. As it is actually detailed more like an ESB than an ROTJ. It has full face eyebrow highlights and the
whisker color opposes the cheekbone above it, also the cheeks do NOT flow into the side of the nose. Last but not least, it has an ESB hero style chin grille. So there's a chance that when
they went to do this scene, they realized there was quite a discrepancy between this facemask and the other ROTJ helmets. When Anakin dies, Luke slowly lowers him back down to
the ramp and we can see the underside of the facemask neck complete with it's ESB style chin grille, which has remained, but magically disappears shortly after.



The Anakin reveal showing the ESB hero style chin grille compared to the ROTJ grills.

Author:  No Humor Man [ Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Darth Obsession wrote:


I do not question linking the RotJ reveal scene helmet with the Planet Hollywood helmet, as I theorized that some time back, but I can't see how it matches the ESB helmet you picture. The notch highlighted is a standard feature and is seen on several masks, so isn't possible to use as an identifying feature. The paint job on the ESB picture is just a whole lot thicker and looks to me to lack the definition seen on the helmet in the reveal scene as well as seen in the Planet Hollywood pictures.

Nice lineup, though. In some of the posts I can't tell which helmet is being talked about. A simple visible number above the picture would help. Or maybe I just couldn't find where you wrote which helmet you were talking about.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

No Humor Man wrote:
Nice lineup, though. In some of the posts I can't tell which helmet is being talked about. A simple visible number above the picture would help. Or maybe I just couldn't find where you wrote which helmet you were talking about.

Thank you, Take a look again, it took me 10 hours to put this all in. Started at 10 o'clock last night and worked on it till 2:30 a.m. then picked it up at about 11 this morning and finished just now at 5:45 p.m.
Last night, I just entered the blocks which have been sitting in my computer for a month now. Today I went back and entered more detail. And I will probably add more detail still.

Don't forget you can click on the blocks and make them a lot bigger, better see what I'm talking about. I am somewhat frustrated that they appear so small here.

No Humor Man wrote:
The notch highlighted is a standard feature and is seen on several masks, so isn't possible to use as an identifying feature. The paint job on the ESB picture is just a whole lot thicker and looks to me to lack the definition seen on the helmet in the reveal scene as well as seen in the Planet Hollywood pictures.

While I have seen the notch, I have not seen the raised area on the ridge between the notch and the bridge between the eyes. And I spent a ton of time looking.

As for the paint job, first there's the lighting, which is a lot different in the ESB screenshot, than it is in the other pics and in the ROTJ shot we're talking three years down the road and it's covered with who knows what, finally with the Planet Hollywood pic, it's some 25 to 30 years down the road, and it's covered with damage and all roughed and scratched up.

It's kind of like looking at the picture on the right, below and saying it just doesn't appear to be as shiny and such as that helmet on the left. But it is the same helmet and clearcoat oxidizes after time and loses its shine, unless you just keep it polished up and I doubt anyone's been doing that. And this helmets in a lot better shape than a Planet Hollywood.


Author:  darthjones [ Thu Jun 19, 2014 5:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Are we sure that # 2 is not # 4?

Author:  illbethere1 [ Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

W O W :eek Your really going for broke here Darth O ! Your kinda like a one man forum ! :lol Its cool on how you just burst on the scene like this and just flooded this site with a plethora of good pics/info and very interesting thought analysis on alot of stuff even ive been wondering about too....
NOT ONLY THAT ! Your a SithLord and a CsMaclaren all rolled into one wellington beef :lol Lets see, proficient on Adobe as Mac as well as examining differences and similarities between helmets as SithLord....All this while working on a project helmet of your own....

But seriously, think its great and fantastic with all the many elements you bring to the table here, its very entertaining and insightful :thumbsup

Author:  Sith-Smith [ Fri Jun 20, 2014 2:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Facinating!!! Love this kind of research. Thanks for sharing these. It be interesting to track down the new hope and empire helmets too.

Author:  Darth Obsession [ Sat Jun 21, 2014 7:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

darthjones wrote:
Are we sure that # 2 is not # 4?

I don't see how it could be, they really don't look anything at all alike.


The bridge between the tusks on No.2, is straighter and more defined than those in previous films, but is pretty much standard size. if you look at number four in the left picture and compare the diagonal faces of the mouth opening you can see the bridge is at least 50% thicker,
whereas looking at the picture on the right you can see the bridge is not much thicker than the diagonals. The chin grille on No.4 is also clearly wider on the left side.



Author:  Darth Obsession [ Sat Jun 21, 2014 7:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ROTJ Vader Helmets, as told by D.O.

Sith-Smith wrote:
Facinating!!! Love this kind of research. Thanks for sharing these. It be interesting to track down the new hope and empire helmets too.

Thanks. I got you covered on the ESBs. But I know I am in for some fights. I wanted to see how this would do before I started doing ESB. Plus the ESB is like twice as big.

ANHs, who knows?

Page 1 of 4 All times are UTC
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Hosted by, get your free forum now! TOS | Support Forums | Report a violation
buy web visitors
MultiForums powered by echoPHP phpBB MultiForums