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Master Replicas Limited Edition

"Hero" Stormtrooper Helmet (ANH)

 

Update 27th December 2007 - Shipping for these helmets has now finally commenced, with all orders expect to be fully fulfilled before the final cut-off date of 31st March 2008. The only difference with the Prototype 2 helmet reviewed below seems to be a very slight softening of the ears - mainly the 3 bumps in the centre and the circular step going round the ear. The helmets are shipped with both Green and Grey lenses so you can take your pick - I've gone for the latter. Despite an original declaration that the run would be 2,500 (as per the numbered plaque), only 1,048 were actually made, along with another 30-40 AP's ......

Update 8th July 2007 - Bryan at MR kindly sent me the second and final Stormtrooper prototype for review. With a few paint detailing aside this will the helmet that will go into production, ready for them to start shipping out late December 07 and were $400 when ordered.

For comparison shots of this helmet against the fan-made GF then go here.....

Well here it is, and its a great improvement on what already was a very nice helmet. The key changes over the first prototype (shown lower down this page) is that the ears are now separate (as per the originals) and they've also been slightly redesigned. In addition there has been a significant change to the frown area which is now much sharper and more accurate - more of this later.

There's likely to be a few minor last-minute changes to it before it goes into production, but this will mainly be the detailing since some of the colours used on this helmet are a little too dark (such as the grey of the frown and the Blue tube stripes). You can ignore the plaque as its from my Shock Trooper.

So first off lets compare it with the first prototype I reviewed 5 months ago. As you can see the new helmet (on the right) now has totally separate ears, which are no longer part of the main helmet body. This has introduced a clear line separating the two parts and this is EXACTLY what we wanted to see. Don't give me any of this "Well the way the Empire wouldn't have had a wonky helmet with a gap between the cheek and the ears blah blah blah" - The majority of fans want the helmets to look as close to what they saw on-screen and thats what MR has tried to achieve. Kudos to them for not over-sanitising what is a wonderful piece of film costume design!

The eye lenses are now significantly darker than before, although for the helmet I had to review they were not the final versions. However I am told that the production versions will be despatched with TWO SETS of lenses, one Grey and the other Green. When we (as fans) can FINALLY determine what colour they were, everyone will be happy - well done MR for taking this approach. Note to self, expect to see lots of "Green Hero Stormtrooper lenses - used on once, no longer required" on ebay  (I keed, I keed!!!!)

Not only is the ear improved as its separate, its also been significantly redesigned as you can see below. The overall shape of the ear has changed, with the graduated step now reduced along with a general softening of the 3 ear bumps (which will be softened even more before production).

The ears on the original Hero Stormtroopers (of which only 6 were made back in 1976) were really poor, since the moulds by this stage had been used so many times for the Stunt Stormtroopers that they were in really bad condition, being patched up many times in the process. MR has tried to keep the overall design in place without going for something as badly deformed as the originals were and IMO this is a sensible compromise. 

There's now just a single screw holding the top in the ear, which is correct for the Hero's (and its painted white). Overall the helmet has been sharpened and better defined in several areas such as the trapezoids, and this is most evident in the frown and specifically the teeth......

Here's a close up and you can see how sharp that top lip of the frown now is, this really is a vast improvement over the first prototype. In addition there now (correctly) are only 3 teeth either side and the shape of them has been improved hugely to the extent that the centre tooth has the nice, slightly "hour glass" curvature to it. The frown is great 10/10 MR.

Next the obligatory shot from the rear, not much has changed here except the trapezoids are a little sharper. The black vocoder has also been slightly sharpened.

So there's only a few minor things to do now. The painting on this helmet is more accurate than the first prototype and for example the trapezoids now have a nice curve to them on the upper edges. As previously mentioned the colours need sorting out, the blue tube stripes looking really dark when I photographed then but then it was a very sunny day.

So to recap, this is a fiberglass helmet (as opposed to the originals which were ABS), but as you can see it really captures the look of the originals. From from a China-volume-production perspective fiberglass was always going to be the best way for MR to go. In order to create this Hero helmet, MR actually used a Stunt that was lent to them by the Joiner/Kurtz archive (see the actual helmet here). Although MR had access to the one and only remaining Hero in the Lucasfilm archives which allowed them to get the paint and detailing correct), LFL were understandably not going to let them disassemble and recast that last helmet so instead used a Stunt as the base. Remember in 1976 the Stunt and Hero's came from the same base mould anyway.

Above, one of our NEW 360 degree Rotating spins - just hold L down and drag to rotate

Finally an interesting photo from Mike Montgomery - you're going to need your red/blue 3D glasses for this - got a copy of the Spy Kids 3 DVD?

So just to reaffirm that MR's done a superb job on this helmet and its a very well received collectible. The only shame is that due to MR losing the LFL license it will not be following up with the range of helmets we had all expected. However, the news of e-FX's launch incorporating many people from MR should ensure a constant supply of quality helmets to talk about in the future. Thanks again to Bryan and MR for letting us have this review helmet.

In all MR produced 1,048 helmets (plus a further 30-40 Artist Proof's), which is considerably less than the 2,500 originally envisaged (and in fact will deliver something like 70 less than originally ordered so there'll be some unhappy collectors). Bottom line is the helmet didn't actually hit collectors until MR had lost the license which probably explains the gap.

Above, I'd had a few emails from people asking me whether the warping  on their MR Stormtrooper helmet is "normal". Well hopefully from the photo above you can see that it is. I'm VERY glad to say that MR did the right thing and closely replicated the asymmetry of the original helmets, which were very wonky indeed as this photo from dead above shows.

So the next time your girlfriend asks "Darling, is it supposed to look like that?" you can confidently reply "Yes my dear - and shame on you for not appreciating its wonderful asymmetry". Similarly if she asks about your new MR helmet you can reply the same.

MR Prototype LE Stormtrooper Helmet

Update 6th Feb 2007 - The new Master Replicas ANH Hero Stormtrooper Helmet finally went on sale earlier this week and despite some pretty ropey looking shots on their web-site sold close to 500 units on the first two days. However there was some criticism of the prototype shown on their site and concern that this was perhaps going to be a missed opportunity for MR.

Following a couple of conversations earlier in the week, Bryan kindly sent me the prototype Hero Stormtrooper helmet to look over, so I've been able to spend a bit of time studying it - and taking some shots. Remember this is the prototype helmet so areas such as the ears, frown, eye lenses and bump under the eye are already marked for change

As mentioned above you need to ignore the ears, which do kind of stand out. They're for the chop!

As with the Clone's, Ive been really impressed with the build quality of this helmet. Sure there are a few things that need to be altered, but I'm really pleased that they're prepared to listen to collectors before finally going into production. Bryan at MR's already identified a few areas that will be changed on the production version, and these along with a few other minor tweaks will result in what IMO will be a really great collectible.

As with the Clone and Vader Helmet these are made of a very solid Fiberglass, as opposed to the originals which were ABS. It weighs about 1.3kg so slightly less than the MR Clone Helmets, but almost two and a half times that of an ABS Stormtrooper Helmet.

As a fiberglass helmet this is therefore a one-piece design and not made from a number of sections bolted together (i.e. cap/back, Face and ears of the originals). This has resulted in a more idealised version of the Trooper helmets without gaps etc. that we've all come expect. However thankfully MR didn't follow through on their plans to TOTALLY idealise the helmet so its still represented in all its asymmetrical glory.

I am sure there will have to have been some compromises due to the materials/processes used for this helmet, when compared to the originals, but as I've always said its a question of "horses for courses" and I really think that it would have been a mistake for them to have gone with ABS (and certainly a symmetrical version for that matter). Given the market MR's in I believe it stands out as a more "substantial" looking helmet that will be well received by a larger volume of collectors - imo far more than if they had tried to produce a "warts and all" 1:1 ABS or styrene product. 500 Helmets sold in the first two days suggest they were right!

Above and below a couple of shots showing the rear swoop of the helmet. The undercut is less than one of the original helmets but that's probably a consequence of the fiberglass manufacture technique (no vac forming here) and also probably a commercial decision to allow people to get this bucket on their head!

Ignore the plaque, that's form my Special Ops Clone Helmet. But it shows it off well.

It weighs a similar amount to their Clone Helmets but IMO the detailing is better with accurate "mic tips", rubber brow and base trims good examples of this.

Above a close-up of the vocoder and "mic tips", which are very detailed including the correct quarter-placed ridges, wire mesh and white inner cover. Note that the inscription "HOVI-MIX Pa 2" is not present. The vocoder is painted

Finally a shot of the inside of the helmet, which features the same soft padding as the Clone helmets. Again there's a removable soft cap section on the top to help those with larger melons. Though the prototype features  bright green lenses its likely the production piece will change these for the more accurate grey tints (or at least a darker green).

Very impressive.

Old News - Previous Prototype Info

Jan 2007 - Below some shots of the prototype "Hero" Stormtrooper helmet, which is now expected to only be available as an LE, NOT a SE or CE. Photos are courtesy of JediDefender.com and Rebelscum.com, our thanks to them.

Though a nice looking helmet there are a few things I hope they put right before it goes into production (edit 2007 - they are being put right - see above). It seems like they've produced something that is a midpoint between a Hero and Stunt and in my view it needs to be one thing or the other. If a Hero then they should REMOVE the bump under its left eye - that was only present on the original Stunt helmets, no the Hero's.

Also the frown needs tidying up. There are only 3 teeth either side and this the grey area is not so long. The caps on the ears look a little strange and squared, and also the eye lenses need to be smoked Grey not Green. But otherwise its a great looking collectible, expected to retail at $399.

Below a photo of MR's original Prototype Stormtrooper helmet at the 2005 Toy Fair, photo courtesy of www.yakface.com showing its clear GF roots. This helmet is completely different from the 2007 version suggesting they rushed something out to prove they were working on it. Given this was the time of the start of the LFL v SDS case, perhaps the two are connected?

Update December 30th 2006  - MR initially took the decision to produce a more sanitised version of the helmet "as the Empire would have made it", although (see below) are now looking again at this aspect. To achieve this "idealised" look they took a 3D scan of half a Stormtrooper helmet and then mirrored the opposite side, adjusting the design to get the look they desired. Note that the photo above bears a striking resemblance to the helmets produced by Gerardo Follano (the forehead dome curve a real giveaway) although its not clear whether this will form the basis of the production version as MR has more recently stated that they have had access to an original HDPE (Stunt) helmet.

Update Feb 2006. MR said there will be three different versions available, with the following details (note that this information is now out of date since only one version will be produced,  Hero LE)

CE: Vacuum formed in 4 pieces: Face Mask, Dome and 2 ears. The geometry of the helmet will be symmetrical "as it was intended to be". Flat lens.
LE: This will be vacuum formed in 4 pieces: Face Mask, Dome and 2 ears. The material will be more premium than the the CE version. The geometry will be "wonky" exactly as seen on screen. Bubble lenses. The inside will be padded.
EE: This will be made in 4 pieces, as well However, this will made of hand laid fiberglass. The geometry will be symmetrical. Bubble lenses. The inside will have premium padding.

 

So the most interesting of the three sounds like the mid-priced LE which will be a "Hero" type helmet with 3 teeth and the bubble lenses. It looks like it'll be made of vac-formed ABS (or something close to this) and therefore a similar composition to the originals. Importantly, they will be asymmetrical like the originals - this is great news.

The EE and CE helmets will both be more sanitised versions of the original props and are likely to be symmetrical (like the photo of the helmet from the 2005 Toy Fair). The view on this is they are producing a helmet which looks like a "real world" Stormtrooper helmet would look, as opposed to the actual helmets which were used on-set in 1976, limited by the design and technology of the day. The EE will reflect the Hero characteristics will be limited in number and made of Fiberglass, whereas the CE will be an unlimited, lower cost vac-formed plastic Stunt costuming lid.

If this is the way MR finally decides to go then I believe they should be commended for at least trying to cater for all types of fans. By going down this route the accuracy-junkies will be able to get their "fix" with the LE, whereas those looking for a more idealised version can go for the premium EE, or even the low-cost CE. My only advice to MR would be to follow up the LE Hero with an LE Stunt at a later date.


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