I have currently suspended production of Mandalorian Helmet Kits, myself but have left this page online as it’s full of useful tips and techniques for anyone wanting to paint and weather a costume helmet.
Attaching the Ear Caps
It is easier to paint the helmet kit before final assembly and the kit will be stronger if you use more than glue to hold it together. Here are my tips for preparing the helmet before painting that will make final assembly much easier and more reliable.
Mark the centre line of the ear section on the helmet and drill holes into the helmet so the holes will be about 2cm in from the top and bottom of the ear cap part.
Measure twice. Measure again and make sure that the holes will go into the ear caps at the appropriate places.
Drill the holes in the helmet
Line up the ear cap parts on the helmet and mark through the helmet with a pencil onto the ear cap part
Double-check-measure-draw lines on your ear cap parts to make sure when you drill them, everything will be in alignment
Drill the holes in the ear cap parts making sure you don’t drill too deep.
Get some bolts, cut off the heads and then put them in with some 2-part epoxy:
Let them begin to cure but while the epoxy is still flexible, just line them up against the helmet to make sure the bolts will still go through the holes cleanly.
Then, when done, bolt the ear caps to the helmet.
If you want to be super-secure and never want to remove the caps again, before you tighten the bolts, put a dollop of 2-part epoxy between the helmet and the ear cap.
Attaching the Right Ear Cap and Cover
I mark using the holes in the ear cap and countersink the screw heads slightly into the ear cap. The ear cap cover, I attach with magnets – easy to clip on and off if you need to take the helmet apart or tighten the pivot for the rangefinder stalk. The kit is made for 10mm x 5mm x 2mm magnets which should be easy to find on eBay or from any specialist magnet selling website such as e-magnetsuk.com.
Then for the magnetic attachment, make sure the indentations are deep and wide enough for two magnets to go into (if not, scrape around with a craft knife a little to make sure the top of the two magnets lies flush with the surface of the ear cap.)
Drop a blob of superglue into the hole and push in magnet#1 let it stick to the inside of the ear cap.
When dry, drop on the second magnets – put a spot of superglue on the tops of them and then lower the ear cap cover over the top.
As above, you may need to carve out a little space in the middle of the ear cap cover for the bolt that you use to hold the rangefinder stalk in place.
Wait a few seconds and then all being well when you lift the ear cap cover away, the top magnets should be glued to the ear cap cover in the perfect spot.
I have discovered Shoulder Screws (Google them for suppliers – I got mine from eBay) – these work well because they’re designed to create pivots don’t unscrew like regular bolts do with use.
Simply use the shoulder screw as a bolt for the rangefinder stalk, throw in a rubber washer between the stalk and the inside of the ear cap (to provide a little resistance) and then, when tightened and bolted on the inside of the helmet, add a dab of hot glue over the nut to secure it.
If you’re looking for the correct length shoulder screw, just search “6mm (M5) x 20mm Shoulder Screws Bolt Black Steel Allen Socket Cap” on eBay – that should hopefully point you to the entry for the 6mm diameter 20mm length shoulder screw you’re looking for.
Clearing out the Key Slots
I specifically designed the mould for my helmet kits to make clearing out the key slots on the back of the helmet to be as easy as possible, sparing you the trouble of delicately trying to drill or cut them out.
The tools you’ll need are gloves, a respirator/dusk mask and safety goggles (since my helmet kits contain a lot of fibreglass particles which toughens them, but you don’t want to breathe in or get in your eyes), an electric sander and some needle files.
Simply put the helmet on its back on a cushioned surface, switch on the sander and lay it on the back of the key slots, gently move the sander around so that it evenly rubs down the inside of the helmet.
Do the sanding in small passes, continually checking the outside of the helmet until you see the back of the key slots becoming paper thin.
Then, finally, set aside the electric sander and with needle files, poke out the remaining bits of resin in the key slots and clean up the edges.
Installing the Visor
There are a number of methods you can use to install the visor but the fastest, simplest and easiest method I’ve found is to use hot glue.
To make this easier you may wish to apply a slight curve to the visor by gently warming the visor with a heat gun and holding it in place inside the helmet until it cools. (Wear gloves, take it steady – the objective is to warm the visor material to make it slightly pliable, not to melt it!)
With this done, remove the protective film that is on both sides of the visor.
Then, lay the helmet onto its face on a cushioned surface and lay the visor in place. Hold the helmet and visor and using a hot glue gun apply a small blob of glue underneath the corners of the visor. Once the glue has begun cooling enough to hold the visor steady and not drip, roll the helmet over to check the position of the visor and if necessary make slight adjustments while the glue is still soft.
When the visor is held in place and the glue has cooled, you’re ready to lay in the rest of the glue around the visor.
Gently squirt glue into the gap between the visor and the helmet all the way around the visor. For best results, do this in sections – across the brow, down one side of the visor, then the other, then above the cheeks. With each section, keep rolling the helmet over checking that glue hasn’t seeped through onto the visible part of the visor before moving onto the next.
If you should find you have any problems during fitting, hot glue when warm (not hot!), can be easily peeled away and the whole process can be started over. If your hot glue has cooled and is stuck completely, gentle heat from a hairdryer (not a heat gun – this can warp the helmet) might be enough to make the glue pliable again, or apply rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) to the edges of the glue with a cotton bud, allow the rubbing alcohol time to react, then simply peel away the glue.
Padding your Helmet
My helmet kits are supplied without padding because everyone’s head is a different shape, and there are truly no one-size-fits-all solutions out there.
The most important factors to consider are:
- It’s really comfortable and distributes the weight of your helmet evenly over your whole head – you don’t want a headache from the weight pressing down on your forehead after an hour or neck ache because the helmet’s weight is causing you to be constantly correcting for it
- You get maximum airflow – fortunately my helmets are very roomy and the helmet is open all the way around the base (unlike, say a Stormtrooper helmet that encloses your head more) – but the having only the right amount of padding that’s necessary will help you if you’re wearing the helmet for a long time
- Your head doesn’t bobble or twist around you – you need to make sure that when you turn your head the helmet turns with it, and, while you’re walking the helmet doesn’t wobble about
- It’s easy to take on and off while wearing the rest of your costume – this is something that’s worth checking before you go out for your first time in public – you ideally need to be able to scoop up your helmet and drop it neatly on your head – trying to fish around inside your helmet to adjust it while wearing gloves and full battle armour is tricky
With all that said, I can recommend three different approaches, all of which I have used:
Custom Padding with Velcro Attachment
This is by far the best way to go. This can be as basic as a few pieces of memory foam chopped to size, or, as I have done with my own personal helmet, made a small ‘hat’ and some side pads using foam, upholstery batting and fabric.
These are all attached to the inside of the helmet with Velcro which means that it’s easy to remove them for cleaning/maintenance and makes your padding far easier to adjust while fitting or even during a troop.
Airsoft Padding Kit
Padding kits for Airsoft helmets are really cheap and comprise 15-20 neatly shaped pads that can be attached to the inside of your helmet using sticky-backed Velcro. Easy to position, remove and wipe clean with lots of airflow because you only use the number of pads you need.
(My tricked-out Stormtrooper helmet interior features Airsoft padding – helmet sculpt by Ross Warmsley of RWA Creations)
Whether this works or not for you depends entirely on your head shape and size. For me, my head was too small for Airsoft padding to work effectively which meant I had to build custom pads. However for my closer-fitting Stormtrooper helmet an Airsoft kit worked perfectly.
Safety Helmet Head Harness
You can buy a replacement head harness for a safety helmet from eBay or buy a safety helmet and remove it. This requires some additional work to mount inside your helmet but if fitted correctly will distribute the weight of the helmet evenly, prevent bobbleheading and ensure maximum airflow around and above your head.
I used this approach for my wife’s helmet by shaping and drilling four small pieces of aluminium to match the attachment points on the harness and then fibreglassing the aluminium tabs in place in the helmet. This is a tricky installation but if you get it right and it works for your head, it’s the most lightweight option.
Make sure that it’s easy to put on and take off – the back strap on some harnesses can move out of position while you’re putting on your helmet and it’s tricky to get your hands into adjust when in full costume (which is why I gave up on this option for my own helmet and made custom pads instead.)