So, the Rogue One trailer hit the web earlier this week, and it looks awesome. There’s all the hallmarks of the original trilogy, on a war footing, and that means plenty of Original trilogy stormtroopers.
We’ve already spent some time poring over it frame by frame, but I want to look closely at one thing: the armor those troopers are wearing, and what it means for anyone looking to construct a replica costume from the film.
From a costuming and armor perspective, Rogue One is going to be pretty exciting, because the original Stormtrooper armor is an iconic element of the Star Wars universe. For those of us who own Stormtrooper armor already (as opposed to armor from The Force Awakens or The Clone Wars), it’s giving it a new lease on life, especially in front of a generation that’s only seen The Force Awakens.
So, if you’ve built stormtrooper armor in the past, or if you followed my Stormtrooper build this past winter, you might have approached the trailer a little differently, at least on the third or fourth viewings. I wanted to take a close look at the stormtroopers used in this film to see how much they’ve changed since we last saw them on the big screen in 1983.
Stormtrooper armor changes in each Star Wars film: A New Hope troopers have grey frowns and trapezoidal handplates. Empire Strikes Back troopers have curved handplates, black frowns. Return of the Jedi troopers featured new helmet molds, trim around the chest plate, and a couple of other minor differences - all differences that came down to the production design of each film.
When we saw the first pictures from Rogue One in August of last year, we could tell that these troopers would have some small differences. Now that we have our first look at them, we can start to parse out what those differences are.
And, there are differences.
Here’s our first glimpse of the troopers, and we can see that they’re pretty much similar to the ones that we see in A New Hope. The helmet sports the same grey frown, and most of the parts look pretty similar. You can see that the napping trooper’s handplate is trapezoidal, which matches ANH’s troopers.
This makes sense, because the film takes place just before that film, and logically, the troopers would carry over a similar appearance.
Here’s the next shot, with Jyn Erso beating the crap out of an unlucky squad. Take a look at the guy on the ground, and you’ll see some interesting things with his set of armor. Undoubtably, these are ‘stunt’ suits, designed for on-screen action, as opposed to ‘hero’ suits, used for closeups.
There’s two things that I noticed from here:
- Looking at the guy on the ground, you can see that his right thigh isn’t completely closed up - there’s either no fasteners or Velcro keeping it shut.
- On the same trooper, you can see a shiny black connector holding the chest and back plate together.
The lack of connectors on the legs makes a bit of sense: the original stormtroopers were haphazardly put together, and if you look closely in ANH, you can see tape holding them shut, or just free floating.
The chest thing is new, though. Some costumers use elastic to hold those two parts together in early stormtrooper costumes, but it’s become far less common in recent years.
The next shot gives us a good look at the back of the armor, and you can pick out a couple of big differences. The kidney plate looks like it’s composed of more than one piece, like they have a plastic plate holding two sides together. The original was molded like that, but this looks like it’s a completely different part. (This is sort of how the TFA armor was assembled)
The other interesting thing here? It looks like the belts aren’t made of canvas, but of the same plastic that makes up the armor. That’s a pretty big change. An early fan sculpted kit known as FX Armor had extra strips of plastic that costumers used for belts - it was riveted to the belt’s front piece and connected with Vecro in in the back. This looks like it could be a similar setup. It makes a certain amount of sense: canvas sags a bit, and if you don’t match the color correctly, it looks strange. If your troopers are moving around a lot, you probably want that as solid as possible.
Other details: the mold on the back plate is sharp, better than some of the fan kits that I’ve seen. The shoulder straps look like they’re firmly connected from front to back plates, which is a minor (but again, completely logical change from the originals), while the details on the detonator look a bit more pronounced.
You can also see that the backs of the thighs are still splitting open on both of those troopers.
Poor troopers. There’s not much to see here, other than to see just what these actors were put through in the film. You certainly don’t want someone’s armor flying off on set.
One interesting thing here is the knees on the guy in the air: there’s a lot of black showing. Either this guy is a bit taller, or they’ve given them a bit more space to move around.
Now, here’s our first good glimpse of the front. One thing I haven’t noticed in ANY of these pictures is a holster, even though they’re carrying the usual E-11 blaster or a much larger rifle.
This shot shows off some more detail. Look again at the knees of that guy in front: there’s a good amount of space there, and on the left knee, the sniper plate is really far down, which leads me to think that these suits are designed for quite a bit more movement than we’ve seen troopers require in the past. Wearing this armor is tough for movement: if you don’t build your suit right, it’s hard to bend your knees and arms.
The belt boxes also look different - they look longer, and placed a bit further away from the front than the original troopers. There’s also a weird line on the side (which we’ll see clearer in a bit.)
The cool thing about this picture? Variant trooper! During the Clone Wars tv series, Clone variants were a dime a dozen when it came to weird helmets and colors, and it looks like that’s extending over a bit to these guys on the tank: They’ve got a grey or blueish paint over their shoulders, and they’ve got a thing on their forehead. I’m sure we’ll get a better view of them when the toys start coming out.
Here’s another variant: an officer of some sort, looking much like one of the Sand troopers. He’s got a canvas-covered backpack with an antenna sticking out the back.
Also, a shout out to the Rebel Legion: they’re going to have a field day with all the new pilots and rebel officers coming in this movie. We in the 501st particularly like the ‘captured pilot’ look.
Back to the troopers - the guy with the red pauldron also has a canvas pack. The original sandtroopers just had plastic backbacks cobbled together from - I kid you not - tupperware.
Quick shot of the troopers running, which is probably why the armor’s designed the way it is: for movement. The trooper armor from ANH/ESB/ROTJ are notoriously hard to run or sit down in.
Also, there’s a glimpse of that tan trooper that is new. It’s hard to make out any detail (although a picture of the helmet surfaced a while ago), but they look quite a bit like Scout Troopers.
Here’s where we get our first really good look at the sides of this trooper. There’s some real differences here.
Where the Abs and Kidney plates are two separate parts in the original troopers, there’s either something connecting the two together, or the abs plate is one part that wraps around the actor. I’m not quite sure what to make of that line - it’s either something that’s holding up the belt, or its a seam (which is a weird one). We’ll have to wait until we get another, closer look to understand how that comes together.
It also looks like the butt plate on the trooper closest to us is a separate part from the kidney plate.
Another angle from that scene, and you can see a really thick connector between the back and abs plate. You can also see that the belt connects on the side, and that it really looks like it’s plastic. I’m also really thinking that that back kidney plate is more than one part.
This also gives us a good look at the shoulder straps in the back: There’s a triangle-ish thing connecting them which is completely new.
The trailer also gave us a good glimpse of the new special-ops type troopers. New helmet (which we’ve seen), but also some looks at the armor. They seem to have some sort of black pauldron and an ammo pack on their shoulders.
Back in February, I posted up a picture of what had been purported to be the new armor for these guys, which was basically the new helmet on top of regular, black stormtrooper armor. Now that we have a good look here, we can see that that’s certainly not the case. Every piece that I can see is really different: the shoulders, upper arms and forearms. To me, it looks really similar to the Republic Commando armor from the old video game.
Plus, they’ve got some some wicked looking guns. Again, we’ll likely get a really good look when the toys start to come out, and in other trailers.
So, what’s to make of all this, other than analyzing the trailer frame by frame again? There’s a couple of takeaways for costumers here.
- The film has the original stormtroopers, but like the other films, there’s differences - quite a few of them. For groups like the 501st, this means that there’ll likely be a separate set of requirements for approval of the Rogue One-accurate troopers, and you can’t essentially change out a couple of pieces - there’s a whole bunch of new parts that costumers will need to make. Most people won’t honestly notice this, but it’s an interesting challenge for costumers to try and build based on the images that we have.
- Why would costumers opt for a Rogue One-accurate trooper? Partially for bragging rights, especially this early in the game, but there’s a really practical reason: they look like they’re a bit more attuned to movement, and if constructed right, they’d be more comfortable to wear for hours at a time.
- The film’s production team has paid some attention to these differences - the frowns and handplates line up with their counterparts in ANH, which is a nice detail to see. They also haven’t just dragged suits from the archives, recasted them and set them out for filming. (Sort of like what they did for the extra scenes in the Special Editions) - these look like newly designed suits.
- There’s a bunch of variants: this is in line with Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and it’s likely going to be a boon for toy manufacturers. (New action figures!) But, it’s a new variation for costumers to sculpt and construct on their own, which is always exciting to see.
- From the film perspective, the suits seem to be designed to stand up to some intense stunts. This is telling in a couple of ways: we’ve seen them get blasted a bit in the trailer, but compared to the Original Trilogy, it looks like they’ll get shot up or blown up quite a bit more. This fits with the fact that this looks more like a war film than a regular saga film.
For costumers like me and members of the 501st Legion, these troopers is another change that we can take a look into and deconstruct to make ourselves. The costuming community prides itself on going super accurate, and this represents a couple of new challenges to figure out. I have mixed feelings on the super accurate depictions, but I think that knowing the differences and looking at the different costumes with that level of detail only helps the final product.
With companies such as ANOVOS selling off-the-shelf kits, stormtrooper armor is getting really easy to purchase, and you’re going to see more of them at conventions and the like.
Is this enough to start building an RO Trooper? Maybe, but there’s still not a whole lot to go on. This is also just the first trailer for a movie coming out months from now: there’ll be plenty of other trailers to pore over before it hits theaters, and we’ll likely learn some other new things from those.
One thing is for sure: anyone who’s picked up a Stormtrooper kit will have a lot of fun on opening night at their local movie theater.