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HOWTO: Assemble arm armor

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Hey guys. Here's a detailed tutorial for assembling arms. Please let me know if anything is incorrect in terms of directions, etc. especially the references to screen accuracy :) If you have photos of screen accurate details that are valid, please post them below and I will add them to the tutorial.

 

Thanks T.

 

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Stormtrooper arms are made of 3 components: shoulder bells, biceps, and forearms (hand plates and gloves are covered in the Academy separately).

 

An example of completed ATA arms

4741151852_b49c368fd2.jpg

 

The original screen used armor had unique (asymmetrical) pieces for both left and right arms. Most of the current armor based on the ROTJ tour suit have asymmetrical arms (some shoulder bells are the same on both sides). It's important to note which unique arm sections belong to which side of the body.

 

Diagram describing left and right side arm components.

4700035679_ca8c5e0b29.jpg

 

Arm assembly

 

The armor should be trimmed to match your specific body size, but in most cases troopers will assemble the armor as close to screen accurate as possible. This usually entails assembly using the "butt join / cover strip" method. Some types of armor with lineage to the ROTJ tour suit, have formed ridges molded into the armor. You will need to make the arm armor a minimum size if you are to retain the ridges, but you can make the armor bigger if necessary by leaving larger tolerances for overlap construction / wider cover strips.

 

Diagram describing butt join / cover strip assembly.

5143108149_03601502fc.jpg

 

It's commonly believed that the arm cover strips (biceps and forearms) were 15mm in width. If you are using butt join assembly, this means you need to leave about 7-8mm of the formed ridge intact on both halves of the arm armor. This will allow you to glue the 15mm cover strip on the outside of the armor. As an option, you can also glue an inner shim running the length of the seam inside the armor, to add extra strength.

 

If you are doing overlap construction (overlapping one side over the other), you should have 15mm on each side of the ridge exposed. If possible, try to have the overlap occur on the outside of the armor, and the overlap seam on the inside to ensure that the "clean" side of the overlap appears to onlookers.

 

The biceps are one of the easier parts to assemble due to their size. Ideally, you should size up the armor to your biceps. Trim any extra flash / forming plastic first. Biceps should be fitted, but with enough room inside to bend your elbow / flex your bicep.

 

You can make a simple guide to draw 7-8mm lines by cutting a strip of plastic 7-8mm wide and about 2 feet long. Line this guide up with the ridge, and draw a pencil line where you will make your cut. Do this on both halves of the armor as well as the front and back edges, then cut along the pencil lines.

 

A guide being used to draw the cut lines on AM armor

4580736774_8d88b313e1.jpg

 

You can use Lexan scissors, scoring and snapping with a steel ruler and Exacto blade, or a Dremel (a Dremel cutting wheel may leave a wider cut line, so take this into account).

 

Scoring and snapping

4580737326_90d7dac79c.jpg

 

Test fit the bicep armor again, to ensure they fit. You may need to trim the top and bottom of the bicep to get better alignment. Sand the edges to remove any sharp points.

 

Bicep taped together for test fitting

4580106869_2006fa175d.jpg

 

You can now glue the 2 halves together. You can use Plastic weld along the seams to join the halves first, then glue the 15mm cover strip on top. Some troopers use ABS glue, but a popular adhesive is E6000. This is a contact adhesive (not a gap filler) so you must sand both surfaces, spread E6000 on both parts and wait a few minutes. This will allow the adhesive to "tack up". Now press the parts together and clamp them, and let them sit for 24 hours.

 

Gluing the bicep halves together (one side is shown glued here)

4580737848_0df9ae6aba.jpg

 

Both halves of the biceps glued together

4580107681_f3d01e2616.jpg

 

For extra strength you can glue a shim inside the armor over the seam first, joining the halves. This is optional but can make the armor a bit stronger and more rigid. Then glue the cover strip on the outside of the seam.

 

To make cover strips, simply use a pencil and a ruler to draw lines spaced 15mm apart, and use a sharp Exacto blade and steel ruler to score along the lines, and snap the plastic. Make sure they are long enough to cover whatever limb you are working on. For accuracy, cover strips should be cut with square ends. The corners should be rounded slightly.

 

Cover strips being glued over a butt join on a bicep

4581942608_131fa57593.jpg

 

Repeat this process on the forearms as well. In terms of accuracy, the wrist opening should not have a return edge. This should be taken into account when sizing the forearm armor.

 

Leaving an 8mm gap and cutting the forearms with lexan scissors

4580107949_1e44bd8049.jpg

 

ATA arms being assembled

4683953447_918a770087.jpg

 

Cover strips being glued over a butt join on forearms

4700565340_779e4eba63.jpg

 

Both the biceps and forearms should have both sides "glued shut". But some troopers with bigger hands have had to leave the underside of the forearms unglued to allow their hands to pass through, and use velcro to close the seam.

 

Shoulder bells:

The shoulder bells should be trimmed with no return edge on the top / sides. The bottom should have a return edge. It's believed that the ridges or swoops on the biceps are asymmetrical, and they should both sweep forward or backwards on the wearer. Whether they face one way or the other is up for discussion, as it varies on different troopers in the films.

 

Connecting the arm components:

All of the arm components should be connected together. This provides for ease of wearing and proper alignment each time. It's believed that the screen used armor had the ends of the elastic glued inside.

 

Assembled ATA arms

4740515481_7100fb2596.jpg

 

As an alternative, "snap plates" can be made. This consists of snapping a male rivet (Tandy Line 24 is commonly used) through a square of plastic about 1.5" square. This can then be glued inside the armor, while the elastic has the matching female snaps punched through the ends. Now you can join the armor by "snapping" the elastic straps in place.

 

You can also attach the armor using elastic and industrial velcro. Normal velcro will work, but can fail easily. You can sew sections of 1.5" elastic with loop velcro on the ends, and stick the hook velcro inside the armor. You may want to reverse the velcro positioning in certain areas to prevent it from snagging your undersuit.

 

The shoulders should be connected to the biceps, via a 1.5" elastic strap that attaches from the inside middle of the shoulder bell, to the top of the bicep. You can also add a narrower elastic that wraps around the bicep, connecting the sides of the shoulder bell together. For more accuracy, some of the armor had plastic "hooks" on the inside of the upper bicep to keep this elastic in place.

 

Elastic joined with snap plates, along with a strapp wrapping around the bicep

4594185747_79e5a668e4.jpg

 

The biceps should connect to the top of the forearms. The elastic should run from the inside of the bicep, to the inside edge of the forearm.

 

Completed arms

4594186255_8beaf10a8d.jpg

 

Care must be taken to ensure that the armor fits you before permanently attaching your elastic straps. A common method is to use making tape to join the components together first, and adjust them to fit. Then remove the armor and make your elastic straps to the proper length.

 

Attaching the arms to your armor

 

It's believed that the original screen used armor had black elastic that ran from one shoulder bell to the other. This strap would run across your shoulder blades below the base of your neck. Care must be taken to ensure that the elastic is the correct length. This method requires the arms to worn first, then the chest and back armor is laid on top to hide the strap.

 

An alternative is to run a strip of black elastic running from the top of the shoulder bell to the elastic shoulder strap that connects the chest and back armor together. This strap should be attach 1-2" inside the shoulder bell, and can be sewn or snapped to the shoulder strap.

 

Example of shoulder bell to shoulder strap connection

5144102152_54aaa6e71d.jpg

 

Padding:

Depending on the wearer, and the type of armor - there may be cases where the armor is loose, or padding would help in terms of comfort.

A common area to add padding is the top edge of the forearm, lower portion of the bicep, and wrist opening. The bicep / forearm area can sometimes result in "armor bites", where the armor pinches the skin when you bend your elbow. Some foam padding such as weather stripping (black flexible foam used to insulate door frames and windows) can alleviate this.

You can also add some padding in the wrist area to avoid armor bites and to take up some space when your hand is inserted through. Make sure to leave room for your gloves.

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Guest jedislayer5000

beautiful! i will definitley be extensively using your guides while making my armor. thanks panda :D

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Mark, sorry.....

How do you KNOW that's not true mate?

 

Also don't you think this may have dealt with better via a little polite PM between you and the poster?

This way people think ur just being a weenie.

 

I've seen an old b&w pic of a TK behind the scenes with no chest but his bells still on. Did they staple them onto him?

I don't know one way or another for a fact, but that chap bells stayed up....?

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On well built armour john you can put arms on without any other armour and they sit there just fine.

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Suggesting an alternative strapping method is just fine. Even if it was "screen accurate", some may not prefer it. I've tried the system where the strap goes behind the back and is not connected to the shoulder straps as Terry has outlined, but find that they tend to move more than desired for me at least.

 

I'll agree that positive suggestions of alternatives are certainly in the troopers helping troopers spirit, and remind everyone that anyone is free to contribute to text for the Academy. Terry is doing all the writing so far as aside from myself, no one else has stepped up to the plate. We are certainly open to others' writing, should they care to jot down notes or link to posts they have made.

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Duly noted. So the general consensus is that "on the screen used suits, there was no elastic connect the shoulder bell to bicep, but there was one connecting the bicep to forearm - correct?"

 

As I stated in the first post: I am one who compiles the info, and it's whatever is on the boards. I don't profess to be an expert in the world of screen accuracy from 30 years ago. I know lots of people have invested the time into the research of the actual suits.

 

If anyone has any feedback to add to the accuracy level of all of our builds, please share it - we all benefit. PM me or post on the relevant threads, and I'm more than happy to update the content. :)

 

Thanks T.

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I thought it may help with a couple of extra pic's?

 

if I've got this right???

 

firstly the screen used bell on the right in the archieves, with the one short strap at the upper edge.

 

pp.jpg

 

Second pic of the recently discovered ANH Suit. It's got a strap from right arm bicep to forearm & short strap on the left bell.

 

untitledad.jpg

 

hope this help's??

Edited by riveting

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Thanks for posting those! So there's a strap from bicep to forearm for sure. The shoulder bell one doesn't show what's on the end, but I've seen pics somewhere of the that same short strap with a snap on the end.

 

If some of our screen accurate experts can confirm, I will list that method as "most accurate" and the strap connecting the 2 bells as a second option.

 

Thanks!

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I think what Mark was referring to was your statement on how the bells are connected

1) Most agree it's by a small strap that joins under the shoulder (I also agree)

 

2) I also agree with what you said re a strap behind your neck that connects them both :)

 

I only say this as look at my pics above (holiday special) there's no way the bells are connected in method 1)

 

Also there is a rare b&w photo (I can't flipping find it) of a TK/TD just standing drinking tea I think, no chest or backplate but his arms and bells are still on him :)

Magic! :)

So they 'may' have also been connected as in method 2)

I doubt 1 person did them all plus we all know stuff changed after Tunisia. So maybe it was changed bur look at my pics again. No way the shoulder and bell are connected there, but its from the HS

 

Who knows? But if you don't 100% know one way or another I don't think it's fair to poo poo anyone else advice

;)

 

Example Han clearly has a weird bracket thing on his biceps (right where the thumb print is) to hold the bells elastic strap in place. Not many mention that but is worth adding in a screen ref assembly? Were all TKs the same. I doubt it :)

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2.jpg

1.jpg

 

The shoulder bells are connected to a strap that holds the back and chest together. The strap is under the plastic ribbed shoulder strap and has a snap sewn to the underside of it. The shoulder bell has a short strap at the inside top and has a snap that connects it to the strap under the plastic shoulder straps.

 

There are no straps between the bicep and bell. There is a 2" black elastic strap glued inside the bicep to the forearm, no snaps there.

 

I guess Han had the clip on his biceps as he had to do a lot more acting in his armour than the Stormtroopers and it was probably made more comfortable for him to move around in. Luke's armour was also modified for him too. I guess the Stormtrooper actors just had to suck up the armour bites :)

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Cheers Paul

Is this based on what you've seen recently?

 

Have you seen the pic I'm referring too though? I can't find it anywhere.

B&w but I'm not sure if it's TD related or not as I think there's a uniform brick wall behind him so looks like UK.

I remember ur comments on MEPD some back on this strapping too :)

They changed a few things after Tunisia as the actors were complaining. Can't remember what though, sorry

 

I'm not denying the shoulder bridge connections as thats obvious based on the pics and armour we have, but that HS pic plus this old pic and the fact TDs were possibly connected different have me thinking some "may" have had this long connecting strap

 

Otherwise I can't think why the HS bells sit the way they do and that guy in the pic hi bells just sit there? Lukes bell falls off at one point!

 

Anyway :)

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I'm not sure which pic you have seen John. It would be great if you could find it so I can see which armour it is.

 

I used to think that the shoulders were held together with a strap behind the neck (like Dengar) but after seeing the real suits in the LFL archives and the one I handled recently, they all have the same white elastic shoulder strap with a snap sewn in place for the bells to attach to.

 

I think the suit in the HS is the same as all the others. There's no doubt it has been fitted incorrectly to the actor but the shoulder bell looks to be attached to the inner strap as the others. What might be throwing you off is the fact that the ribbed soulder strap is so far away from where it usually sits that it makes the bell look like it's going behind his neck. There is something making the armour not sit right on this trooper.

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I'm not sure which pic you have seen John. It would be great if you could find it so I can see which armour it is.

 

I used to think that the shoulders were held together with a strap behind the neck (like Dengar) but after seeing the real suits in the LFL archives and the one I handled recently, they all have the same white elastic shoulder strap with a snap sewn in place for the bells to attach to.

 

I think the suit in the HS is the same as all the others. There's no doubt it has been fitted incorrectly to the actor but the shoulder bell looks to be attached to the inner strap as the others. What might be throwing you off is the fact that the ribbed soulder strap is so far away from where it usually sits that it makes the bell look like it's going behind his neck. There is something making the armour not sit right on this trooper.

Maybe the snaps on the elastic shoulder band came loose from the chest, making the chest "flap" forward when he moved. As the the chest is connected to the ab plate with the wire-thingys it would not move down, but the top part could still "flap". This would take the plastic shoulder ribbon with it forward, as it flapped, making the shoulder bell look like it's more back, than it really is. Just a thought.

 

Do I make sense?

Edited by Locitus

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Yeah you make sense dude :) it is far forward yes

 

Paul, I'm hopingbive got this pic on my old old pc upstairs. Will check later :)

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i had the honour many many years ago to chat with Peter Diamond, one of the questions i asked was, what exactly was the armour like to wear.

 

Peter Told me that all the guys were given a box full of armour pieces and given a rough guide to how it all went together.

After the first day of filming all those same guys modified there own pieces of armour and how they wore those pieces of armour, because the raw armour pieces they were given either cut them to pieces or fell off during the filming.

 

How many of you have had to re trim your armour because it cut into you or pinched, quite a few i guess.

 

The same was had for the guys during original filming, basically most if not all the guys wearing armour those days trimmed their own armour and wore them different ways with different methods of attachment.

 

If you look at ANH the tantive entrance check how many troopers you see where the armour is nearly falling off, hell the Move Along Trooper MAT has duct tape holding up his left shoulder bell.

 

i would say there is no right or wrong way to attach armour pieces, there is no originality here just what was best for the individual.

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Good info there Simon. Interesting and also something I've wondered about TE derived suits. It was just ONE suit and all would have cut and glue differently.

 

Mr Graham, right? :) Hello!!!

 

Seems odd that LFL would let actors and not the prop or costuming dept fix the biting problems on their suits though?

Edited by john danter

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Seems odd that LFL would let actors and not the prop or costuming dept fix the biting problems on their suits though?

 

Very odd!

 

Cosidering I was'nt there during the filming :P it's just speculation & maybe the extra's trimmed the pieces that nipped? that sounds reasonable.

 

But the method of strapping & assembly , you'd imagine is the costume/wardrobe dept's job?

 

interesting info none the less. :)

Edited by riveting

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Very odd!

 

Cosidering I was'nt there during the filming :P it's just speculation & maybe the extra's trimmed the pieces that nipped? that sounds reasonable.

 

But the method of strapping & assembly , you'd imagine is the costume/wardrobe dept's job?

 

interesting info none the less. :)

 

Well id like to think Peter Diamond was telling the truth and i kind of like the idea of The extras refitting parts of their armour to suit there own personal needs and sizes.

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Hi Simon,

 

I don't doubt that Peter Diamond was being truthfull from a 30yr plus recollection.

 

My Philpot gave a similar account several years back, when recalling wearing armour for the test shoots!, "armour was randomly in boxes on top off & underneath tressel tables" & worn add-hock!

 

a-4.jpg

 

but it's too big a leap for me that starting from the above pic that the extras went from that to this.

 

millenniumfalcon_duke_anh1080p_troo.png

 

by jerry rigging this together whilst the wardrobe dept just glued its of the kit together.

 

P8270187.jpg

 

I'm sure it's well documented that "if the extras did'nt fit the armour they did'nt get to wear it."

 

sorry for the derail :mellow:

 

maybe Brian could clear this up? It's a Q: I've asked previously.

 

anyway feliz navidad & lets have a great year B)

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I've watched ANH a zillion times most of those have been frame by frame and I can honestly say I have never seen a suit that even closely resembles the one Philpot is wearing.

 

While I believe what Peter Diamond said to be true, I think you may have misunderstood what he mean't Simon. I would say the actors were allowed to trim off offending pieces of armour that dug into them to them almost bearable to wear, I highly doubt the actors did any modifications to the strapping system.

 

At best I would say they may have taped the shoulders to the biceps to keep them up or tape the shins or waist closed, but to think they actually modified their armour strapping is stretching it in my book.

 

Also, I was told that actors had to sign for their armour at the beginning of the day and it was checked in at the end of shooting each day.

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I've watched ANH a zillion times most of those have been frame by frame and I can honestly say I have never seen a suit that even closely resembles the one Philpot is wearing.

 

While I believe what Peter Diamond said to be true, I think you may have misunderstood what he mean't Simon. I would say the actors were allowed to trim off offending pieces of armour that dug into them to them almost bearable to wear, I highly doubt the actors did any modifications to the strapping system.

 

At best I would say they may have taped the shoulders to the biceps to keep them up or tape the shins or waist closed, but to think they actually modified their armour strapping is stretching it in my book.

 

Also, I was told that actors had to sign for their armour at the beginning of the day and it was checked in at the end of shooting each day.

 

:duim:

 

by the way Paul, i remember years ago all your research and your first attempts at sculpting molds on the RPB, all these years later your armour is superb mate.... well done

Edited by supa troop

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