"Hero" Stormtrooper Helmets and Armor from
Star Wars - A New Hope

The company's original receipts show that in total Andrew Ainsworth at Shepperton Design Studios (SDS) fabricated fifty-six Stormtrooper helmets, twelve Imperial Forces' helmets, twelve Imperial Fighter Pilots' helmets and twenty X-Wing Fighter Pilots' helmets. For the Stormtrooper Helmets, an initial run of 50 "Stunt" helmets were made from a Khaki-coloured HDPE material, which was subsequently painted white. Following this 6 "Hero"  helmets were made for close up work out of white ABS (i.e. no need to paint) and these were the helmets worn by the Luke and Han characters when in Stormtrooper Armor. Below, one of those Hero helmets on a complete Stormtrooper Costume from a 1976/7 publicity shot....

Its believe all the Stunt helmets were made of the khaki HDPE (ie. the painted white helmets rather than the already white plastic), before they moved onto white ABS for the six "Hero" helmets, which were initially to be used for close-up shots (like the photo below), as well as the Han/Luke disguise helmets.

AA was asked to produce the helmets for the shooting which was to start imminently. In all he would vac-form 56 Stormtroopers (helmets and armor) and 12 Rebel X-Wing Pilot helmets. Following on from the initial run he added a number of other helmets including 12 TIE fighter pilots, 12 Imperial Gunners, 12 Squad commanders and the Rebel Fleet Trooper helmets seen primarily during the opening scenes on the Tantive IV blockade runner. Many of these were in act “bastardized” versions of other helmets, the TIE pilot clearly a combination of a Rebel X Wing helmet with a Stormtrooper face and a couple of other helmets.

Above and below are PR shots of a "Hero" suit taken before release in 1977. The helmet itself is very interesting as its asymmetric in appearance. For instance, if you look at the right tube (as you're looking at the helmet) it is quite significantly different in size and overall shape than the left. Many reproductions have ignored this and "sanitised" its appearance and incorrectly given it a more symmetrical look. As mentioned elsewhere the "hero" look is quite different from the "Stunt" with a lowered frown, bubble lenses and three sets of teeth either side of the frown. In addition, the Hero only has one screw on the central ear section, not two. The ABS production helmets and all the Armor were 1.5mm and made of a specific ABS mix which had a higher ratio of rubber to styrene, making them very strong (though slightly duller). As an indication of this strength, AA's sporting canoes were made from just 3mm.

The next 3 pics of the Hero helmet used in the Lucasfilm promotion photos before release were provided by Veedox - thanks to him, great resolution

Note that all the helmets in the Original Trilogy (OT) were Asymmetrical. By this we mean that the left hand side of the helmet is not exactly the same as the right (its not a mirror image). This is because all the sculpts were done by hand (remember this was before real Computer Aided Design was in place), hence Original Trilogy helmets are often referred to as "wonky". Human faces are asymmetrical and in my opinion, all the better for it! More at base of page.

From the rear you can see how much less undercut there was on the Hero helmets, this was party down to the less springy ABS material (the fishpond HDPE being much easier to remove the the moulds so the undercuts could be greater), but also potentially from mould damage caused  by the rushing of the 50 Stunt helmets which preceded the Hero's - many of which needed to be cut from the moulds at the rear.

The good news is that this helmet still exists - although its held under lock and key at the Lucasfilm archives in California - However in June 07 they showed it off at C4 and pics are lower down!

Ironically the design of these helmets which have achieved such an iconic status, was to to some extent “trial and error”. Although the Stormtrooper was predominantly a unique sculpt, the other helmets, such as the Imperial Gunner, Rebel Fleet Trooper and X-Wing (and its “derivative” TIE), were partly fabricated out of existing helmets (such as the US APH-6B, a US Navy Talker helmet, and other objects found either around the factory or at a local military “junk yard”

 AA was required to make six “Hero” helmets, referred to as “close-up helmets” by the company. These were hand finished in white ABS to a higher standard than the standard “Stunt” helmets and featured curved lenses (manufactured with the same "double-bubble" lenses as the TIE Helmets, i.e. a single lens material with the two eye “bubbles” vac-formed from a proprietary material).

Below some Hi Def screengrabs of some of the Hero helmets. As detailed elsewhere the Hero's have less "teeth", smaller "frowns" and also have curved eye lenses

In addition the ears are slightly different with a different bump pattern on the grey ear centres. This is most probably due to the damage to the ear moulds caused by over 50 sets of ears being vac formed from the moulds used. Remember the Hero helmets were made some weeks after the Stunt helmets.

There's no discernable difference between the Hero and Stunt armour as they were essentially the same. However its quite possible that the armour worn by Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford may have been fitted slightly differently.

Its clear that the undercut on the Hero's was significantly less than the Stunts. This was probably due to a number of things including the relative flexibility of the different materials (the khaki HDPE of the Stunts being a lot more "springy" than the white ABS of the Hero's), as well as possible damage to the moulds following 50 (very rushed) stunt pulls made earlier. Basically the more you make, the greater the likelihood that you'll have damage and wear.

Details on helmets such as the Stormtrooper’s, were made from whatever they could lay their hands on. The mic tips have the words "HOVI MIX pa2" written on the side of them. Even now its not clear whether these were actually rheostat knobs (possibly military?), air inlet valves or microphone condenser tips. Note its possible some of the helmets had the real mic tips, however the majority of the Stunt helmets had resin casts of them.

Above an interesting photograph from the collection of Andrew Ainsworth of a partly-made Hero helmet taken at his workshop in early 1976. Its missing the ears, mic tips and hasn't had the painted areas but is still close and is clearly made from white ABS.
Below, here's a comparison of the 2 helmets on-screen on the Tantive IV, with the Hero on the left and the Stunt on the right.

It looks like the Hero may have been the Han Solo Hero below (remember the brow moves)

Above, FOH still featuring Hero Stormtrooper (in this case Han) and below the frame from the scene.

After the initial success of the film, Lucasfilm allowed the original costumes to be used for tours promoting the toys. So if you managed to see any of these between 1977-1980 then its quite likely you saw the real ones!

Above and below a couple of unique shots taken by Todd (TK-765) at his local Toys R Us in 1977 featuring what certainly appears to be an original ABS Hero Stormtrooper Helmet and Armour. Many thanks to Todd for sharing these photographs.

These next three from Braks Buddy are very nice as are screen grabs from the "Making of" program. Top left is a hero whereas the blower larger picture features a Hero with two stunts behind him. 

The whole project from beginning to end was probably no more than a few months, and yet the designs have become some of the most recognizable film props of the 20th Century.
Here above are a couple of interesting photos. The one to the left was taken in 1978 (possibly 79) and is one of the hero helmets with what looks like taped up mic tips. Interesting as it was taken during ESB pre production and there are a few scuff marks on it. The photo to the right is a reconditioned ANH/ESB Stunt previously owned by the Joiner/Kurtz archive, later reconditioned (again) in 2007 and detailed on this page.
Here's a publicity shot done in the UK in late 1977 / early 1978 for the UK release. Its clear that they've just tried to pull together any bits and pieces they can get their hands on including parts from both Stormtroopers and Sandtroopers (check the knee plates and the left troopers stomach box). Vader himself also seems to have a wonky dome and may well be the ANH original, which did not have a reliable fixing mechanism. It featured in the UK Monthly Poster mag (Spring '78). Thanks to Braks Buddy for the photo and Jackie Chan Fan for the excellent clean-up.
Incidentally, I was sent these comparisons some time ago by Jack Noren but forgot to put them up. They show (pretty conclusively) that one of the screen-used HERO Helmets used in ANH was the same one photographed with an early Boba Fett prototype helmet in 1978 (and was probably used on the horrible holiday special)

Above the original helmet (with taped up mic tip) and below a shot from the Movie (as Leia's being led away from Vader on the Tantive IV)

Next up, and courtesy of Braks Buddy are a couple of shots from the Lucasfilm archives taken in 2006 of one of the Hero helmets used in ANH. These helmets were the white ABS ones made by SDS and referred to as the "Close up" helmets, as worn by Han and Luke (and a number of other close up shots). Below you can see the "Hero" on the left and "Stunt" on the right.

Above on the left, standing next to one of the HDPE Stunt helmets, and below a close-up of it on its own. This is the very same "promotion" helmet seen at the top of this page, used  in the "white backing" studio shots, which I think were photographed in California after the film wrapped. This Hero was probably also used in the infamous "Holiday Special". Its missing its eye lenses, but apart from that looks remarkably good.

This same helmet was exhibited at Celebration 4 and a number of people have taken some really nice shots of it, including these from Shadow

Its missing its eye lenses but otherwise is still in great shape

Good to see that Lucasfilm has been looking after it!

These great pics below from "Noonch"

Above a nice shot of the rear swing the tiny bums thanks for TK4510, and last by by no means least, Rebelscum.

Below a couple of really nice shot from FreakEngine

To finish off some Hi Def screen-grabs from RoCKo of various Stunt and Hero troopers. Firstly Luke's Hero helmet (and suit). Remember this is White unpainted ABS plastic

This shows how difficult it is to make a symmetrical (non wonky) Stormtrooper helmet replica, as attempted by Don Post a few years back.

For The Empire Strikes Back Stormtroopers go here

For Return of the Jedi / Special Edition Stormtroopers go here

or to compare ANH Vs ESB Vs RotJ Helmets then go here

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