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Original Screen-Used TIE Pilot Helmet Review

 

These photo's below are what has been now verified as an original TIE Pilot helmet from the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It was fabricated by Andrew's Shepperton Design Studio's in Feb/March 1976 and one of only 14 made (of which 12 were deliver to the studio). This is a major find given such a small number were made (some of which could easily have been trashed), and a number were re-used for ESB and RotJ (in the case of ESB two were sprayed white and became AT-AT Driver Helmets. For Return of the Jedi, existing ANH Helmets were simply re-used. This helmet is in an unaltered state and is therefore very rare indeed, what is also special is that it is in stunning condition.

Made of vacu-formed Black ABS (confirmed), the helmet is in excellent condition, especially when you consider its age and it still has its brilliant glossy black finish. The decals and lenses are also in very good condition and has all its original parts as nothing has been altered or modified. It's a Seven Piece design; Face, 2 Hemispheres, Mohawk, Triangular Mohawk Laminate, and 2 Ears. 'Interestingly a pair of Eye-lenses have been moulded into a SINGLE piece of tinted acrylic which was then glued into place. Additionally a piece of black ABS bolted through the forehead both locks the lens into place and completes the Mohawk detail. This fantastic prop was presented to its owner during the filming of Lucasfilm's "Willow" at Elstree Studio's in 1985/86 and has been in his possession ever since.

 Click Here for the New Video Review of this helmet

 


According to ANdrew Ainsworth, the TIE Helmet's were manufactured well after the Stormtroopers, and originally were only going to be seen from behind (note the McQuarrie painting featuring an over the shoulder view as a TIE tracks the Millennium Falcon towards the death star). Ainsworth maintains that it was his idea to add the Stormtrooper face-plate (pulled in black abs) although this was disputed by Lucasfilm.

The construction of the helmet was as follows:

1)The left and right head hemisphere's have been vac-formed separately and then glued to the Mohawk strip
2) the Mohawk forehead detailing/arrow part has then been glued to the Mohawk strip to both strengthen and characterise it.
3) The face has then been bolted to the completed head section
4) The two ear-pieces have then been bolted on.
5) The single  (double) eye lens piece then fitted (glued) and secured with another black strip of Styrene (above the eyes on the inside).
6) The two decals were added (single slice vertically from centre to accommodate flat decal on rounded surface) and the small box added on the back of the helmet.
7) Finally the sponge protection and chin-strap are affixed

The rear "pill-box" is rectangular black plastic with a white plastic lid measuring  56mm x 37mm x 10mm. It is Glued into place by the white lid (so that effectively the box now becomes the lid) transversally  approximately 16mm from the rear end of the Mohawk. The box locks by a flexible white snap-catch incorporated into the moulding. It's not spring loaded. The black half is cracked but not broken therefore the lid still locks properly.

The images are below, we also did a quick 3D-Picture here (about half a meg in size), apologies that it jumps a bit

Above and below are a couple of new shots of the helmet with the "missing" right bolt cover back in place! It appears that it had fallen behind the back of the brow bridge (in the gap between the bridge itself and the top of the face), and while AA was poking around with it, it fell out!

All these new shots were taken on top of my car bonnet as the lighting was excellent

Below an interesting shot showing the top of the  helmet. The finger print embossed in the plastic is believed to be Andrew Ainsworth's own finger print, caused when the glue used to weld the sections together in just a matter of seconds also partially attached his finger! Small details like this wouldn't have been seen by the movie Cameras and would have gone unnoticed (until now!).

 

The finish is excellent, the edges razor sharp. The chin strap was attached to a bolt on the right hand side but was not connected on the left hence it hangs down. 

The helmet did not come with hoses, which would have been connected to the chest-box.

As detailed above its a SEVEN piece design, fabricated from Black ABS.

Interestingly the eye lenses are a single piece of tinted Perspex, glued in place with a piece of black Styrene locking it in place. The lenses on the "Hero" Stormtrooper's (referred to as "close-up" helmets) also had the same one-piece (double-bubble) eye lens design. Obvious I suppose as he just used the trooper face on the TIE at the last minute. The helmet has a stick-on "W5" mark on the inside of the helmet which we believe stands for "Wardrobe 5"

The lenses are original and are a smoky colored, not green as per one of the other auctions.

Both Imperial logo decals have a vertical cut from the centre out to the top which was done when first made to allow the flat decal to adhere correctly to the curved dome surface. There is also a dried bead of glue running down the upper brow.

the original padding is still present and although yellowed is still in excellent condition.

The edge trim is a soft rubber, glued in a number of places and again is original. Its quite soft now but then give its age thats not surprising. We're pretty sure that the trim is actually Stormtrooper brow trim and NOT the same base trim as used on the Stormtroopers.

A close-up of the right hand side showing the screw that holds the face to the head, and the condition of the printed decals which are clearly very good. Note that this would have been considered a "Stunt" helmet since the main "Hero's" seen in ANH had silver detailing on them (and is the only difference). As with the Vader helmet in ANH these were only highlighted in silver when the lighting tests revealed the lack of definition under the studio lights. However, to confuse things some TIE's were seen in ANH and RotJ in internal Death Star scenes without highlights - so its entirely possible this helmet could have been seen on-screen.

To illustrate the "Hero /Stunt" differences (i.e. the silver painted detailing), here's a screen--grab from ANH of wnat we would refer to ass a "Hero" since it had quantifiable screen-time.

Another close-up of the brow area, notice how sharp the cheek and teeth edges are.

Shot of left "ear" showing face (on left) connecting to top/back and separate ear section

inside shot of (helmets) left ear showing bolt and chin strap

Rear view showing Mohawk strip and small connecting box on rear.

...a shot showing the black elastic chin strap, which is only connected on the left side as the bolt holding it on the right is missing.

Above an unusual top-down view showing the helmets overall shape
Above left, detail of rear box, which looks like an existing  item rather than a fabricated piece. It opens and looks like a pill-box . To the right a close-up of the existing forehead "bolt" (2nd now found!)
Above a shot with the rear box open (the lettering on the inside is the name of the owners son, obscured when the lid is closed) and to the right showing the missing "bolt" which has been placed  temporarily in roughly the right position. It had been hiding under the forehead structure all along!

Below a comparison of the rear box on the Christies 2002 TIE helmet which featured a vac-formed detail as opposed to the Pill Box fond on Don's above.

Above a shot of the 2-part Mohawk strip, with the helmet front to the right of the picture.
Above and below an indication of the size of the helmet and its dimensions.
Below a size comparison against a Standard Don Post TIE Helmet. Look at the size of that thing!

...and finally below we (VERY carefully) allowed a couple of little helpers to model it! 

This is a wonderful piece of Star Wars history and I'm sure its a shame for its owner to see it go.

Don't forget to check out.....

bulletOur overview of the TIE Pilot Helmets here
bullet We've a VIDEO Review of a recently found TIE, along with a TIE "History" available here