Built in 1980 and upgraded in 1981, this Boba Fett costume was my first “high end” attempt to recreate a character from a movie. The Boba Fett costume was undeniably one of the coolest designs in Star Wars, yet it wasn’t so complex as to be impossible to recreate.

1980-Original Build

I didn’t have a ton of references for this project. I had a school notebook, a few bubble gum cards, and the photos in The Empire Strikes Back LP soundtrack (which made the armor look more blue than green).

Fiberglass seemed like a good material to use for the helmet and armor, but I didn’t know anything about how to use it. Fortunately I found a place on the south side of Tucson called Meledo Enterprises that sold fiberglass supplies. The owner, Don Mey, was very patient and helpful, answering my questions and offering advice to this nerd building some dopey costume on a tiny budget. I was happy to recently learn that (as of 2021) he’s still in business in the same location, 40+ years later.

I don’t have a clear memory of how I fabricated the helmet. I MIGHT have cast it over a positive and then used a ton of Bondo to smooth it out. I do remember that my original helmet was too small to fit over my head with my glasses. I had to take the lenses out of the frames and tape them inside the helmet to see. IIRC I formed the armor on pieces of wax paper. My mom sewed the suit. The jetpack was primarily a styrofoam cooler. Note the futuristic production design in the interior photos.

While interning at the Flandrau Planetarium I participated in a Halloween Star Wars skit with a Darth Vader rising up with the star projector and me capturing a Han Solo lookalike. Fun.

For our family Christmas cards we used a photo of me in costume with a sprig of holly in place of the rangefinder.


The next year I reworked the helmet, jetpack and knee darts. I could now wear my glasses inside the helmet. I cannibalized an amp and speaker from an old cassette player and wired it to a mic so I could amplify and filter my voice. I built a little electronic device to blink some LEDs in the chest armor.

These are forced-perspective photos, with the MPC Slave 1 model in the foreground, attached to a ladder sitting just off-camera. I forgot my gloves for this shoot.

1983-return of the jedi

With the release of Return of the Jedi, 1983 would be a big year for this costume. I entered many costume contests at malls, bars, and conventions, winning a variety of cash awards and prizes (including a waterbed).

Note in both newspaper captions I’m referred to as an Imperial Storm Trooper. Also note ROTJ would open in a whopping TWO theaters in Tucson.

I also appeared at a special charity preview screening of ROTJ. One of the audience members offered their condolences after my character “died” in about the stupidest ways possible.