I don't post nearly as much as I should or used to but I felt I would I would be remiss in my duties not to write a review for this armor. I know alot of folks are either on the fence for this armor or are on the waiting list. Hopefully this will help with that indecision or at the very least offer a solid set of finished pictures and information to the community. This wasn't my first set of armor nor will it be my last. However, after working with ABS all these years it was interesting to broaden my horizons. Here goes...
Flexible fiberglass. What is it? Well. It's what it sounds like. It is very much the same as it's rigid counterpart as it is different. It flexes very much in way that would be reminiscent of polyurethane. It cannot withstand too much abuse though or it will crack or tear just like any other material. Very common sense in this aspect. The weight- it's heavy. It is what it is. If you're like me and spent the last 4 years in an ABS ANH TK then you're gonna be a tad surprised. If you're a clone and already had rigid fiberglass with a slush cast helmet then you're going to be presently surprised as this stuff is much more comfortable then rigid fiberglass and I would venture to say it is also lighter. This stuff is awesome to work with. Unlike ABS, it is quite forgiving and any issues you have can simply be bondoed or sanded down with little problem as you will be painting anyway.
Not a whole lot is required but be prepared to sand and bondo in many areas. Like I said, it trims well and sands easily wit 220 grit. Expect the same level of preparation as you would from preparing any fiberglass or plastic part for paint. As always, a nice even surface is key to get the best from the painting and you will need to do a final wetsand and possibly during primer to get the best finish. The big things that were required were:
- Cutting the pill holes
- Cutting the chest 'vent'
- Gluing the shins (overlap method)
- Trimming the biceps depending on side and bondoing
- Cutting the eyes and vents on the helmet
- Trimming pieces and sanding for proper fit/ function etc.
The good news: Jim includes an excellent and well thought out PDF file for everyone who buys the armor that walks you through step by step of how to correctly build and strap not just the armor but the helmet as well.
Troopability and Comfort:
Here I will reiterate: not as comfortable or light as ABS. However, I trooped the TFA premier for about 2 1/2 hours in the armor and if pressed I could have gone longer. That was after doing an event earlier that morning in a very hot and uncomfortable news studio for at least an hour. If you can troop and ANH you can troop this too. I can walk easily and movement is roughly the same as in the ANH except the upper body is much more rigid. The big deal is you need help. I can put on my ANH all by myself like a big boy. When it comes to this stuff I'm worse than vader. I think the other TFA troopers here will agree that this is the biggest issue with "troopability." But that too is overcome with solid handlers, which I know we have here in GA!
I didn't use Rustoleum. Sue me. I have, and always will, prefer Krylon and that is what I used. As always, I had no problem spraying the armor. Because the armor flexes heavily you may experience some paint cracking in high flex areas. Simply spray in the "flexed position" as you would wear it and bazinga- you're good to go. If you are going to paint it yourself you may want to get rustoleum in order to match the color of the other TFA troopers in your garrison. I chose not to do this because I dislike rustoleum paint and I chose Krylon based on personal opinion alone. This armor will take whatever paint you throw at it. Again, surface preparation is the main key!
I love this armor. It's a fan sculpt from an awesome guy and I love that. It has a "made with love" feel to it even though it may have it's imperfections. That's what I love about my ANH, and that's what I love about this. The build is the build. It can be as easy or as hard as you make it. Use this community as your guide as I always have, and your garrison mates and it will be none the more difficult then any other build.
I will touch on this very briefly. As with any costume, use the CRL as your bible for this build and work with your GML's requests and I see no reason you cannot be approved. Simply building the armor is not a guarantee of approval. Enough said on that.
Jim Tripon is probably the most organized and decent guy you could ever buy from. He hand sculpted this armor and then has kept his runs going to help out the folks that cast it because it keeps their business afloat. He is truly what I believe the 501st represents. Sharing his passion for crafting with others not for his benefit but for ours. He will do whatever you need to make sure you have a smooth and pleasant transaction and will keep you well updated and informed. He answered all my questions diligently throughout the whole process and I would certainly purchase from him again anytime. Don't be afraid that he is in the Philippines. Shipping was no issue and everything arrived in perfect condition.
Below are some recent photos of the armor. Here's a little rundown on my equipment to make it easy to see what's pictured. I hope that this review will genuinely help the community with this armor.
Helmet: Jimmiroquai V3.0
Boots: TK Boots
Blaster: Heston 3D solutions
Gaskets: Jimmiroquai Cloth gaskets
Belt: Imperial Gaskets