McQuarrie Concept
Darth Vader Helmets

Following on from the recently added Ralph McQuarrie concept Stormtrooper section, this area deals with what Darth Vader (or at the time General Vader) would have looked like if the sculptors had followed one of the other concept designs put forward by visionary artist Ralph McQuarrie

If we go way back to January 1976, Brian Muir (see interview here) took a lump of clay and sculpted what we now all know as "Darth Vader" basing his work on the design Lucas' had selected following numerous iterations from designer Ralph McQuarrie. In transitioning any work from the 2D to 3D world, there will always be a certain amount of artist interpretation, and all this is reflected in the sculptors final work. However, there were a number of other slightly varied designs by McQuarrie, and more recently a number of prop makers have gone back to some of the original McQuarrie designs and produced their own interpretations of the initial Vader designs.

In addition, new-licensed producer e-FX Collectibles are producing a n "official" licensed Ralph McQuarrie Concept Vader helmet due for release during the fall of 2008 and can be seen here.

As a side issue, one of the earlier Vader drawings was used to create the CZ-3 Jawa Sandcrawler Droid, and you can read more about this in the Brian Muir interview page.


JRX Concept Vader

So first up is JRX's excellent interpretation of one of McQuarrie earlier Vader designs, which has a tighter nose area, more angular face and spear-like widows peak.

This helmet is the design seen in the pre-production painting where an Oxygen-mask wearing Luke is fighting Darth Vader onboard the Tantive IV in an earlier draft of the story.

Below a shot from the rear showing what must be JRX''s interpretation of the rear dome - since McQuarries drawings were I believe only front or side-on. I really like the horoz twin stripe.

Below a shot of the helmet altered to show what it would look like with the same 2-tone paint finish of used on screen-used helmets to help light it more effectively.

And finally below a comparison shot against a screen-size Don Post Deluxe helmet, showing what big helmet it is. This new helmet really does look superb and is another great example of how the fan-base is really able to really expand the Star Wars universe.

Jerry sent me these shots of his completed JRX helmet recently (March 08)

I think new new pro images really show off this helmet well - it looks superb.

I really like the gloss finish- it suits it well.

KropSerkel's concept General Vader

Next up is Kropserkel's interpretation of the character, which at this early part of his development was referred to in the script as General Vader.

 Its an extremely aggressive looking design, above with the same slate-grey matt finish and below with a more shiny vac-pulled dome.

This is another superb interpretation of McQuarrie's work. Though only recently finished, Kropserkel actually started the work in 1997 before putting it to one side.

Side on the circle shown in McQuarrie's drawing is quite pronounced but acts to break up  the dome, giving it good definition for lighting

Yep - certainly a mean one, and again extremely impressive work.

Canadian Concept Vader

Now this one I absolutely love. Its a one off created by Mark, a Canadian prop maker which I think is just absolutely incredible with its battle-damaged appearance. Now this Vader looks like he's been through the Clone Wars!

This Vader was shown off in a Canadian comic book store for some time and is based on the McQuarrie concept which illustrated the first Ballantine Books Star Wars novel published early 1977. Though looking more like the final screen-used Vader design, it features some really cool face detailing - and as a concept is absolutely marvellous.

Mark's a great sculptor and has really succeeded in capturing the dead-eyed evil stare of the McQuarrie look.  Mark started building the helmet way back in 2003, just because he loved the look of the design.

Mark's goal was to create the kind of Vader he really wanted to see in Episode III ... a kind of hopeful prediction...." I thought it would be amazing to see that mask and armor as if it had endured years of battle in the Clone Wars. Maybe it got so weathered it would be replaced by the time A New Hope happened."

The mask needed a lot of time to work on, so he sculpted it in an oil based clay, fitting the helmet onto it to make sure the proportions were okay.

Then he moulded the mask, and cast it in poly resin, endless sanding and hole filling, finally primer and auto body paint. The helmet, mask and armor parts were all painted at the same time.

Above, a head and shoulders shot of the complete costume.

Does that look mean enough for you?

I think the thing I like about this helmet (apart from it incredible aggressive appearance) is that it really does look like its been hand cast out of iron!

Oh, and if that isn't good enough - its also a "reveal" with Mark's Anakin sculpt beneath the face plate! How damn impressive is that?

Below a shot from a few years back of the complete Vader next to his self-made Boba Fett - clearly Mark's a VERY talented man. Many thanks to him for these shots of his extremely unique Darth Vader.


Koo Koo's concept Darth Vader

Last but by no means least is Koo Koo's concept Vader. As many of you will know Koo Koo is a regular contributor to this site and other examples of his work include the excellent McQuarrie Concept Stormtrooper and soon to be added C-3PO





Darth Stones Vader Concept Project

Here are some wonderful photos from Darth Stones of his take-on the Ralph McQuarrie artist design of the Dark Lord of the Sith - Darth Vader

Again it looks superb and reflects a huge amount of work, and a huge heap of talent as well.

Kent (Darth Stone) adds....I have always loved this version of McQuarrie Vader. A friend of mine has a JRX concept Vader helmet and it was the inspiration for starting this one - a project that has taken me a full 2 years to complete. 

So now after 2 years of work. Starting with 60 LB. of clay shaping and reshaping the proportions to closely match the KOTOBUKIYA Luke vs Vader statue version of Ralph McQuarrie's painting. I am really happy that it is now finally complete

So are we Kent - really superb work and another fine example of what Vader could have looked like.