In taking on this project, I went to many different reference sites for making your own Darth Vader costume. The suit of May 2000 was built almost completely by my hands. The helmet was a small one I'd bought years ago. The gloves and boots were donated to me by a biker contractor I knew at work. The rest was my own work, including the chest armour made from badly sanded car body filler and the two-piece body suit made from leather-look PVC. Darn, that was hot. Considering I'd never done anything like it before, it didn't look all that bad. Not really.
I'd spent time looking into getting some far better quality fan-made Vader gear from various sources, such as Galaxy Trading, but considered the prices too high to commit to at that time.
A week before the BBC's Children In Need Appeal Day in 2005, our employers announced that we'd be raising some money by turning up to work in fancy dress and paying £2 for the privilege. While some of us were keen to get involved, we didn't have much notice. I still had my five-year old suit tucked away inside a travel case. I had a week to sort out the damages incurred during my disco and source any improved parts I could. I remembered Galaxy Trading and their wonderful looking chest and shin armour, but discovered that they were no longer running. However, I came across a guy who stocked and sold these GT parts - VaderPainter. I was earning a bit more now, plus with George W. Bush in control of America the exchange rate had fluxuated in the GBP's favour. I could now afford to invest.
I also found Sithplanet, a Vader costumer who sells on various Vader bits. I ordered a few parts from him but, with only a week to sort this lot out, they didn't arrive quite in time.
The suit I wore in 2005 was dubbed Vader Version 1.5, as it was a combo of my home-grown cardboard and coat hanger stuff and the GT gear. The bigger chest armour made a massive difference... but it also looked enormous on me.
I'd already looked at the big boys props five years before and had got hold of some big scale armour. I already knew I wanted to do this as true to the movies as I possibly could. It was only after I'd made this decision that I considered that my natural height may be a very large obstacle. Which is an ironic choice of words. I'd wandered about as a five foot nine Vader, and while it worked on the whole, I wanted to impress both adult and child.
An excellent DIY Vader site comes in the unexpected form of The Meditation Chamber. Calling herself 'Vaderkinde', she's been spending some years venturing into the art of making her own scaled-down Vader outfit, and it looks pretty darn excellent. I was reading through all of this information (I had to keep my mind open!) and she stated that a full-scale helmet on anyone less than six foot tall would probably result in a costume more suited for Spaceballs than Star Wars. Vader's canon height is six foot six and a tiny bit.
I was in for a big challenge.
This site is in no way sponsored or endorsed by: George Lucas, Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts Entertainment Co., or any affiliates. Darth Vader is a trademark and copyright of Lucasfilm Ltd. Star Wars © 2006 Lucasfilm Ltd. This is a chronicle of my own efforts and any action taken using my methods, ideas or advise is done so purely at your own risk. This site, layout, and contents are © 2006 Matthew Ainge or their respective owners.