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CfO - Cast from Original
Replica RotJ Stormtrooper helmet

The guys from CfO have been making helmets and armour for around three years and are starting to get themselves a great reputation for their RotJ Stormtrooper Helmets and Armour. We recently got our hands on one of their RotJ helmets and were extremely impressed....

First off its worth noting that CfO are currently the ONLY people making replica RotJ Stormtrooper helmets and armour, so from their perspective that means that they've had to make everything from scratch. So away from the actual helmet itself, they've also had to make the green bubble lenses, cast the mic tips and make up the interior liners. The CfO replicas are vac-formed using the same Haircell type ABS used on the original production-made helmets. Haircell was a common form of ABS used in the early eighties and is most noticeable as one side of the ABS is shiny, while the other has a dull "matting" type textured finish. 

The decals were a real challenge as CfO were desperate to emulate the original helmets exactly - so had bespoke screen-accurate decals made for the tears, trapezoids and side tubes. Yes they do bubble and crinkle a little (but putting a flat decal on a curved surface does this) - however they're supposed to do this - as the originals did exactly the same thing!.  While on the subject of the decals, they have a really cool cross hatch texture applied to them which gives the appearance of them being screen printed like the original decals. Each one is cut by hand and so has that same slightly wonky look that the originals had - we love that kind of attention to detail.

it's worth noting that CfO produces two different RotJ type Stormtrooper Helmets, each one cast from a different mould. Lower down the page you'll see the Oakley-mould helmet (using Cameron Oakley's moulds), whereas these shots are from a separate set of moulds which were cast directly off the Production Made helmet seen below....

As the value of screen-used helmets goes up and up, the availability of source helmets available for casting plummets. So in this instance the guys at CfO managed to obtain what is believed to be a "production made" helmet from Return of the Jedi. In layman's speak that term usually means a helmet that was made for the production of the movie but never actually used in it. In many cases these are unfinished helmets that were surplus to requirements for the films production. 

The Jedi helmets look a lot different form the ANH/ESB versions even though they were cast directly off an ANH helmet. CfO has done a really great job in replicating that look with this helmet which has a slightly softer appearance to it than an ANH equivalent. The helmets are finished to a very high standard with screen-accurate decals, bubble eye lenses and hovi-mix style mic tips.  The side profile shot below really show off that Return of the Jedi helmet styling.

Unlike the ANH/ESB helmets, everything on the original RotJ Stormtrooper helmets was glued together and this is most apparent when you look at the ears (no screws!). In fact the ears are actually the hardest part to trim and fit to the helmet since they are glued not bolted - so there's little room for error. One of the things we really liked about the CfO helmet was the double-dip you get on its right hand tube, which is clearly noticeable in the photo below. In some replicas the tubes look almost "over inflated" with little or no definition where the base of the tube meets the bottom of the "ear"- but that's certainly not the case with this. 

 Below one of our 360 degree animations, just spin it around!

The helmets are finished extremely well externally - and internally as well. If you look inside you can see the same hard-hat helmet lining, chin straps and poppers like on the original helmets. As mentioned earlier its vac-formed in haircell ABS like the originals - so in years to come when these suckers have yellowed with age its going to cause someone a lot of problems differentiating them from originals!

So in summary CfO has produced a really impressive helmet and one that captures the unique look of the RotJ helmets. Equally important its great to be able to report that CfO is a reliable producer/manufacturer and our helmet arrived quickly and was shipped to us very well packaged.

We will be looking at their alternate RotJ helmet based off the Cameron Oakley mould in due course.

Replica RotJ Stormtrooper Armor

 


Update May 2012 (below) - There's a new Stormtrooper producer in the fan-market and its called "CfO" after "Cast From Original". The armor is cast from a set of moulds Cameron Oakley made in the 90's (see Oakley section here). The moulds Oakley made were cast off an original set of RotJ armor, and the helmet has the same provenance as its cast off a separate original RotJ helmet.

So that's a pretty excellent pedigree, which has resulted in a really fantastic looking Stormtrooper.....

The story goes..."In the late 1980ís an Australian Star Wars fan was lucky enough to acquire a set of Stormtrooper Armour which was rescued from a skip at Elstree Studios. The suit was most likely created during the making of Empire Strikes Back and is what we refer to as the ROTJ Background version. He had the presence of mind to create a set of moulds from the armour.

Fast forward to 2010 and the founders of CfO were lucky enough to acquire the original set of moulds taken from this suit. These moulds pre-date all the other replica suits that have been offered to fans over the years. CfO was also lucky enough to acquire an original Return of the Jedi Stormtrooper helmet in 2009, this helmet was taken apart and moulds were taken four plastic pieces along with casts of the original green bubble lenses.

The helmet and suit moulds have been vacuum formed on a professional 8ft x 4ft machine to offer you the fans, one of the most accurate replicas ever made available!".
 

Hyperbole like that is useless if the finished piece doesn't cut it - but in this case I'm please to say that that its well warranted if these photos are anything to go by, as it looks fantastic.

This particular helmet has been made and weathered for Jorg in Germany, with the assembly and weathering done by CfO themselves, decals provided by TK-4510 in the US

Produced in the UK, the helmets and armor are available in a number of configurations dependant on whether you're looking for a straight do-it-yourself kit or a fully finished ready-to-go Endor-weathered display. Hence armor prices range from £499-£1250 with helmets £189-£350 - again depending on assembly options. Interestingly they're shipping the goods either from the UK, Germany or USA so import costs and fees will be minimised.  Wow I wish some of the licensed companies would do that!

Update May 2012 - The guys at CFO have just sent me the following photos of their new production armor, they've sent me pics of clean Death Star type armor as well as my personal favourite....

Weathered Endor-style

First up we've got that weathered kicked-around a forest kinda look! Mark has some background info on this new armor..."I have updated the ABS I use to 2mm pinseal which is a lovely off-white creamy colour with a nice gloss. It is very flexible and durable and just what they used for the production run. Joe said it's identical to the ABS his original helmet was made from. I found the 1.5mm ABS to be inconsistent in finish and quality and less accurate! The helmet and armour are now all Oakley based from the moulds I acquired from Cameron in 2010."

Mark continues...."Some of the problems I had to overcome when I purchased the moulds is that the originals were female moulds used for producing fibreglass armour. Being a perfectionist I wanted my armour to be made of ABS just like what you see on screen. This meant casting the moulds in a resin based plaster building up the run-offs and re-sharpening all the details lost in the previous moulding done by Cameron. As the original moulds were taken from the outside of the armour they were softer than what I wanted. Having worked in the film prop industry I had a pretty good idea as to what they should have looked like as original vacuum forming tools."

Yep - that ticks all my "Awesome" boxes.....

"I have kept the essence of the forms and just sharpened the edges and finer details to bring you what is considered by my customers as the most accurate ROTJ armour available. I strive to offer the best customer service and give my clients a pleasurable buying experience after parting with their hard earned cash. I was initially a collector myself and was left with a bitter taste in my mouth from vendors taking my money and leaving me waiting for years on end getting substandard props and sometimes not receiving anything at all.

I treat my customers how I expect to be treated myself. I like to think I changed the way Stormtrooper vendors went about their business shrouded in secrecy and delusions of grandeur. I have documented the entire process of the birth of CFO on the various forums we've been completely open from the start."

Well that's a great attitude Mark/CfO - well done. One of the most important things we look for in this hobby is great customer service - and unfortunately (as many of us have found out in the past) we rarely find it!

Good shot from the rear showing the belt and canister. It also shows off that accurate edge trim they added for the third movie. As you can see the weathering is not overdone but subtle. IMO this gives it a much more accurate look - I'm loving this!

The shot above reminds me of someone looking for a missing golf ball - and yes I am armed when I play golf.

Not sure where the blaster and boots are from but they look pretty darn accurate too.
 

Clean-Cut Death Star Look

Now if that newbie "My first day on the Death Star" look is the one you're after for then look no further, as these pics from CFO show off a more pristine looking Stormtrooper.....

Sot its 100% the same armour - just clean and shiny and completely non-weathered....

Still looks great - and absolutely accurate for the Death Star II shots in RotJ

Note that Mark's updated these helmets so the decals feature "kiss cut wonky edges to look hand cut" with the colours precisely matched against the on-screen originals. In addition the texture of the decals are also matched to emulate the screen printed technique used for the originals.

Finally a final action pose featuring the clean look.....

 

Below - some shots from last year of the CFO Stormtrooper Armor....

Next up a group of four shots showing the helmet and armor from all angles. The weathering Mark's done on this set is extremely impressive and really has the "look" of an original set of armor. Nice work guys!
Below a close up of the front detailing and you can see that it looks really accurate and sharp.

The edging (which was also present on the original RotJ armor) also adds to the overall accuracy.

Next up some close up shots of the Jorg's helmet to really show off some of that detailing.

Decals (again present on the RotJ originals) look superb, although we expect that from TK-4510 who produces the best SW decals out there). Don't be overly concerned over bubbles and creases in them - in thi case they wanted to match the appearance of an original so rough, edgy, scratched and gnarled is what we want!

Bubble lenses, black trim and base trim all look great from here. Love the paint scratching and worn off areas.

Finally a close up of the vocoder area and mic tips - The guys have cast a set of original RotJ mic-tips so again they're really hitting the right accuracy levels there.!

So this looks like a very impressive debut from CfO who seem to have pit together a very impressive RotJ replica product at an "affordable" £999 price tag for an off-the-shelf ready to go set. Given a certain LFL-licensed maker was looking to produce armor at twice this price (and most certainly a lot less accurate) we think its a no-brainer for fans wanting their own set.

We've yet to see these "in person" and can only base our opinions on the photo's we're sharing here. However the makers say they will be sending us a helmet to review at some point so we'll post more pics and info then. However in the mean time it looks far and away to be the best looking RotJ armor and helmet we've seen.

Interestingly, we had the opportunity to handle an original set of RotJ armor earlier this week and have to say that this replica is amazingly close to that original set. Its a shame we didn't have this set to take with us to photograph some comparisons but unfortunately we didn't get much notice with the original.

 

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