So You Want To Join The Empire: Accessories & A Side Project

So, the Stormtrooper is almost done. The armor is trimmed, assembled, and wearable. Now, there’s a couple of final things that need to be picked up. Additionally, I’ve embarked on another project: refitting my original Stormtrooper.

Let’s get started for what you’ll need besides the armor:


Under their armor, Stormtroopers wear form fitting clothes, which you wear the armor over.


Here’s the basic requirements for 501st Approval:

  • Black non-textured material, either one-piece or two-piece construction with no visible zippers or logos/designs.

I wear a set of Under Armour Cold Gear: a long-sleeve shirt and pants, which is useful up here in Vermont, especially in the colder months that we’re in now. Armor actually isn’t that warm: the plastic doesn’t retain heat, and a good breeze will strip any body heat you might have away. If you live in warmer climates, it’s probably better to get something that’s a little less insulated.


The nice thing here is that if you’ve got multiple costumes, this is pretty much a catch-all for that: I wear this under my clone as well.

Neck Seal

This is a bit of a specialty item - it’s a part that covers the wearer’s neck, and helps hide the fact that you’re human. Some people opt to wear a balaclava under their helmet, but this is the more accurate route.


Here’s the requirements:

  • Black with horizontal ribs, fitted to the wearer, and extending from the base of the neck to conceal the entire neck.

These aren’t hard to make, and if you have some skill with sewing, you should be all set. I ended up buying mine, and it fits nicely.



There’s two options for gloves:

For 501st approval:

  • Black in color, made of either rubber, nomex, leather, or leather-like material, with no visible straps or logos/designs. The fingers are enclosed, non-textured.

For level two certification (if applicable):

  • Gloves shall be black rubber or rubber- like chemical gloves or black silk or satin.

I actually hate the idea of wearing rubber gloves - I’ll go with something that’s like a Nomex flight glove, or something similar. Like the rest of the clothing, you’ll want to be able to wash them.



Boots are a bit of a pain to find, because they’re fairly specific. You can’t go with any regular sneaker or seamless shoe that’s white: they need to be leather (or something similar), white, with black soles and without any sort of buckle. There’s some cheaper options out there, but there’s some makers that’ll sell boots specifically to people with stormtrooper uniforms.

For 501st approval:

  • Boots are above ankle height and made of white leather or leather-like material.
  • Small U-shaped elastic sections on both sides of the ankle.
  • Flat sole with a short heel.
  • No buckles or laces.
  • Jodhpur/ Chelsea-type boots or an equivalent style is acceptable.
  • Elvis or Mariachi boots are not allowed.

For level two certification (if applicable):

  • There is no seam present on the front of the boot.
  • Boots are lightly scuffed.

With Anovos selling their own set of Stormtrooper armor, it seems like there’s been a run on these (and toy blasters) lately. They’ve been hard to find, and expensive, but there’s certainly some options out there. I picked mine up from 421 Imperial Boots. They were a bit pricey and took a couple of months to arrive, but they’re totally worth it.



Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about my original stormtrooper. I’ve had it since 2003, and it’s been in service pretty much the entire time since then. It’s an FX-style suit, which is a fan-sculpt, and not as accurate as the MTK, but it still does the trick.


My first build was rushed: I velcroed everything together, and after a while, that started to fall apart. After that, I glued everything, but there were still some minor issues, particularly with how it was strapped together: there was still a lot of velcro and tape holding everything together.

I’d intended on retiring the suit, but after doing this build, I realized that there’s still a lot of life in it, provided I put a bit of work into it.


So, in a fit of inspiration, I took the suit and essentially tore it apart. The strapping was a mess, and years of using tape to reinforce stuff left quite a bit of gunk on it.


All that crap in there is from years of tape, glue and velcro. This needs a good cleaning.

The first step was to remove all of that stuff- velcro tabs, tape, everything. Fortunately, because it’s quite a bit older, it came out with a little work. Fortunately, I don’t need to tear apart the arms or the front seams of the legs.


The next step was to give everything a bit of a clean: a little acetone helped take off some of the gunk, and it allowed me to clean up the outside a bit. In some cases, it’s just too grimy, so I’ll just leave it in place.

I had a bunch of snaps left over from the MTK build, so I pulled a bunch of snap plates, and glued them into the chest, shoulders and abs.


While I had it out, I ended up repainting the buttons to get them to be a bit more accurate.


The official CRL for the 501st Legion says that the back plate has to be two pieces: I’d never cut the original one in half, so that was the really big change here. Fortunately, there’s a nice line to show you where to cut. I’d honestly never given it any thought before.


After that, snap plates went in in the same locations as the MTK build. I’ve reversed the snap style for this - this’ll prevent me from mixing up pieces accidentally.

The next steps here will be to do the following:

  • Add on new cover strips to the thighs and legs. When I first bought this, I was a skinny kid, and now over a decade later, I’m not. I used a couple of shims for the thighs, but that’s just been an annoying (and intended to be temporary) thing, so I’m just going to cut up a couple of strips and glue them on. I don’t need much space, but it’ll give everything a consistent look, and it’ll look better than duct tape. With some new velcro, it should fit like a, well, set of leg armor.
  • Knee ammo clip. This cracked years ago, and it needs to be replaced.
  • Reattach the Abs / Kidney plate. I need some more straps for this to hold it together, especially now that it’s been cut in half. New suspenders are in order as well, all with snaps, rather than velcro.
  • Maaaaaaaybe a paint job. This is an old suit - it’s got it’s fair share of scratches and dings. I’m debating whether or not to just give the whole thing a new paint job, so that it’s nice and shiny white.

Once this is done, the suit will be not only wearable, but it’ll look a lot better than it currently does.

Also, just for fun, here’s the differences between an FX suit and an MTK one:


FX is a taller by a couple of inches, but you can also see that the actual sculpt is really different: the lines are sculpted entirely wrong on the FX. I hadn’t put them together before, but seeing them side by side is pretty astonishing.

Next week: test fit!


Andrew Liptak is the former Weekend editor of io9/Gizmodo. He is the co-editor of War Stories: New Military Science Fiction and hails from Vermont.

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