After last week’s misadventure with a couple of components, it’s time to get back on track with finishing out the arms for the Stormtrooper. This week, we’re finishing up the arms.

To recap, here’s the 501st Legion’s Costume Reference Library entry for the upper arms:

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Upper Arm Armor

For 501st approval:

  • Armor is fully closed.

For level three certification (if applicable):

  • Armor is constructed using the butt joint and cover strip method. Overlap construction is not allowed.

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Here’s the CRL entry for the forearms:

Forearm Armor

For 501st approval:

  • Forearms are fully closed.

For level three certification (if applicable):

  • No return edge on the inside of the front of the forearm is allowed.
  • Forearms are constructed using the butt joint and cover strip method. Overlap construction is not allowed.

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So, we’re putting these together the same way: cutting apart the forearms, and using a cover strip to join each half of the component together.

In total, the arms have several components, and duplicate copies for each arm. At the top, you have a shoulder bell, which attaches to the chest assembly at the shoulder. The upper arm fits just under that, mostly covered by the bell. In some cases, these two components are connected with an elastic band, to keep the biceps in place and to keep them from floating up and down your arm while you’re out and about.

The forearm covers from your elbow to your wrist, and your hand is covered with a handplate, which is strapped over your gloved hand with a couple of pieces of elastic. Ideally, you should have a fairly good range of motion with your arm, and you should be able to bend your arm in a 90 degree (or smaller) angle.

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Last week, I made the cover strips of my upper arms too narrow, and as a result, they fit, but only just, and it wouldn’t be comfortable wearing it for any length of time. So, I tore them apart to start over.

With a spare sheet of ABS plastic, I’ve trimmed out some new cover strips that are a bit wider - that will allow me to put in a bit more space between each part, and it’ll allow for a much better fit. I’m taking the time to measure and cut this out a bit more precisely this time. Each strip is 15mm in width, and I’m switching up my cutting technique, this time using a razor blade, which will allow for a bit more of a precise cut. Live and learn.

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Rather than throw out the old cover strips, I’m repurposing them: they’re going onto the inside of the part, and they’ll just add a bit more structural rigidity to the entire part. We’ll go with the same process: glue, then clamp on each side, then put the new cover strips over and clamp everything together.

With that out of the way, both upper arms are well on their way to completion. After one side dries, I attached the other, and after a couple of hours, both upper arms are completed, and more importantly, fit comfortably!

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These still need a bit of work - the cover strip overlaps just a hair. With a rotary tool, I took off the corners and cut each of the four strips on each end to match up with the edge of the armor. A couple of minutes with sandpaper smoothed out the entire end. Done!

While this has been going on, I’ve also been at work with the forearms. These go together the same way - they’re just a bit longer.

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Interestingly, the forearms aren’t identical: one curves a lot more than the other does. Clamps up along the cover strip allow it to bend to the form, and after several more hours of glue curing, they’re together. Because these are much longer, I can’t get clamps in the middle to make sure that there’s a tight seal. Some people use powerful magnets to clamp them together, but I don’t have those. Others might use a couple of pieces of wood and a pair of clamps, but these are curved oddly enough that I can’t do that easily. Instead, I’ve got dozens of rubber bands, and with enough, they put pressure around the entire part to ensure a good seal. Once these are assembled, I’ve hit the ends like I did with the upper arms, and they’re ready for wearing.

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I haven’t been idle while I’ve been waiting for this stuff to dry. In reality, there’s a number of components being put together at any given time. While this was happening, I decided to touch up the blaster that I carry. After years of trooping, it’s in need of a new paint job. A couple of coats of glossy black spray paint, and it’s as good as new:

I’ll talk a bit more about blasters later on, but for this weekend’s troop, it’s ready to go.

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Now that the upper arms and forearms are done, the next step is to test them out together. I’ve put these on over my bare arms earlier, but that’s not a great test. I’ve just thrown on an underarmor shirt, what I usually wear under the armor.

Everytehing fits perfectly! I can bend my arm easily, and nothing is pinching. The shoulder bells have already been trimmed, but I can’t attach them to the chest assembly yet. The kit came with A New Hope-accurate handplates, and I can’t use those, but I have some coming in that I’ll be able to use.

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Next week, we’ll get started on the legs.


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