Don Post Deluxe Helmet Conundrum - Any experts out there?

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Starchaser

New Member
First time post, although a member for many years. I have a pretty big conundrum regarding what is and what is not a bonefied Don Post Deluxe helmet.
The problem:
I have owned a Don Post deluxe Vader helmet purported to be #883 (Matching mask and dome Don Post ID plates) for many years after acquiring it on eBay about 10 years ago. I used to wear it for Halloween gigs and such, since it had some scratch marks and a broken tusk. Recently I purchased another Don Post Vader helmet, Purported to be #675 (again with matching mask and dome Don Post ID plates) to display and replace my less than ideal one. However, side by side they are totally different!

Now I am unaware of Don Post using different molds for their production, and although I know there are variances between their production, I don’t think they would be as different as I am finding. Even the internals of the mask are different and they are noticeably different in size when compared side to side. So......I am thinking that one of these is not of true Don Post origin and would appreciate guidance to determine that for sure. All my research shows external frontal and side shots without either a close up of the internal features or with a size comparison. Hence why I am turning to the experts on this forum, many of which may own one of these helmets to help me reference.

Please see attached pictures which show the comparison of the two. I would really appreciate any help anyone can give. Thanks in advance. 1F7C6B6A-3329-4503-ABB5-76E7870B3347.jpeg 86C9D304-BF41-42F8-8B5F-C2EE8FDD88A6.jpeg 8FE1ED6B-A295-4741-9D97-6FEB7B7AFF1B.jpeg 8429EDF4-4956-4AD6-A193-108EE5BAB76F.jpeg 5BE2F0BB-11E8-4C4E-8840-144E80A2F27B.jpeg D3AC87A2-2F16-43BD-BFA9-CA99B98EA41E.jpeg 1F7C6B6A-3329-4503-ABB5-76E7870B3347.jpeg 86C9D304-BF41-42F8-8B5F-C2EE8FDD88A6.jpeg 8FE1ED6B-A295-4741-9D97-6FEB7B7AFF1B.jpeg 8429EDF4-4956-4AD6-A193-108EE5BAB76F.jpeg 5BE2F0BB-11E8-4C4E-8840-144E80A2F27B.jpeg D3AC87A2-2F16-43BD-BFA9-CA99B98EA41E.jpeg EE4D5E5C-1DB3-47BA-84BE-3E2B04F5180E.jpeg
 
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dcarty

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
From what I can see they both look authentic. There were several molds used, we don't know exactly how many but I believe there were at least two -- or at least two particular "types", and they were all hand finished of course which gives some variance. I've been keeping track of Don Post Deluxe Vader helmets for a number of years, I've owned three, and everything I see on yours seems typical of their production.

I don't know if you are a Facebook type of person but I started a group for people that own DP Deluxe Vader helmets to help try and create a knowledge pool about them. You can also check on other, more Vader specific, forums as well.

Cheers!

Dave
 

Too Much Garlic

Master Member
I haven't particularly studied the Don Post Deluxe helmets, but I know they had shape issues and I think later versions had softer details (same soft versions that were passed on to Rubies). I've seen great shape DP DLX helmets, decent shape, wonky, and utterly crappy shaped DP DLX helmets. It seems their quality control was all over the place, which is a real shame as they produced a stand up product otherwise.

Both look authentic to me. I've seen my share of DP DLX recasts and very few added the metal plaques on the dome and face mask signifying authentic DP DLX. Of course, it can't be ruled out that someone would do it... but honestly... there wouldn't really be any point in doing it. Dcarty definitely knows more about the DP DLX than me, so definitely the guy to check with. :)
 

CSMacLaren

Sr Member
As a former of two DP DLXs, I'm very fond of the subject. Perhaps I could contribute some thoughts and insights.

First, let me clarify things on the topic of molds.

Don Post Studios was provided one particular helmet which fathered the Don Post Deluxe edition, i.e. fiberglass Darth Vader helmets. Someone had come into possession of it and it was a beautiful acquisition, so we know it was a "positive" and not a "negative" (i.e. silicone mold).

Now, the run was 1,000 if I remember correctly. I do not think a single silicone mold can produce 1,000 pulls. Having multiples would make more sense to me. The reason is that molds deteriorate, depending on the materials you're casting with. Some molds deteriorate after 6-8 pulls - and depending on the deterioration, you may have to use bondo to the pull to repair any flaws.

There was an old theory that a low number was better and a higher number in the series was going to be warped. That might be true, in theory, if there was only one mold. And the first few in the series might have received more individual attention, but sometimes I'll see a mask with a higher number and it appears to be still in very decent shape, so I do wonder how accurate this theory is.

Now, comparing a production pull to the photo of the template/master, there are clearly some differences. Some may be due to deliberate modification so that none of the Deluxe line could ever be presented to an auction house falsely as a production helmet. Such modifications may include the helmet mounting system (the cylindrical ring on the mask's crown) and some softening of detail, flaring of the neck, etc. - among other "tells".

In terms of consistency across the line, I do see issues. There are some that have a more outward-spreading neck that, when two masks are placed together and one appears taller. A neck that suffers more flare will lean back more, and cause you to think it's shorter.

Some of this warpage may be due to the way they were cast. The Deluxes weighed upwards of 8 lbs. Not knowing what type of mold jacket was involved (to preserve the shape of the mold which, without a jacket, can be floppy), a mask with that much resin may spread outwards without the proper structural support. Then, if pulled before it had a chance to cure and placed face-up on a table, it may sag under its own weight and cure with a more bloated shape. Now, if it were stood upright (neck down) and the resin was still curing, you might have increased neck sag and neck flare.

There is also the possibility they waited sufficiently for the masks to cure, but that the resins - for whatever reason - were not acting to specifications (mix ratios, lack of thorough mixing, etc.). But that's difficult to tell at this point.

I've seen some discrepancies from painting. The helmet mounting ring on one mask had a painted interior, and another one didn't. But both had the engraved identification plate.

Also, one had a yellow foam liner. Another had gray. And I just noticed the circular cutout for the chin triangle. Neither of my liners had that feature.

Both masks had a similar fiberglass pattern and overall thickness and weight.

I had one mask I "rescued" off eBay, and it looked a bit more tilted when displayed upright compared with my first mask. I would have loved to have interviewed a DPS employee to better understand how many people were involved in the run, and what their processes were, but it might explain the slight inconsistencies.

I own both an eFX fiberglass helmet and eFX PCR. Each are "nice-to-haves" but I still ache over having sold my Don Post Deluxe, despite its imperfections. Perhaps it was one of the first "real" helmets I owned, but there is a certain elegance to the Don Post Deluxe I don't feel I'm getting with the eFX products.

Hope this has helped. You asked a great question!
 

vader45

Sr Member
Those two helmets look very nice and very authentic. I have always wanted a DP vader but investing in more accurate helmets always took over because of the limited money I have to spend. Some day I will own a DP helmet.

I always thought the DP was a very nice helmet. It has the right general shape and with a few minor mods its a is a great helmet, the stock form is also nice too for the time period it came from. This helmet started the insane Vader community as it was the first actual prop replica helmet available and then took off from there.
 

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Starchaser

New Member
Really appreciate all the insight guys. I never realized that there could be many “variants” out there for a limited production run. But you all make some great technical points I hadn’t thought about, regarding needing more than one mold. You have bolstered my confidence in the authenticity of these and I very much appreciate that. Like a lot of folks say in this forum, even if it looks great, and others may never know it, we can’t help thinking of our concerns whenever we look at it.

With regard to other sources like Facebook (Dcarty) I am afraid I haven’t delved into that world. I am not quite the hermit, but social media does feel somewhat invasive to me. Just old school I guess.

Thanks again all, for some awesome insight.
 

CSMacLaren

Sr Member
Really appreciate all the insight guys. I never realized that there could be many “variants” out there for a limited production run. But you all make some great technical points I hadn’t thought about, regarding needing more than one mold. You have bolstered my confidence in the authenticity of these and I very much appreciate that. Like a lot of folks say in this forum, even if it looks great, and others may never know it, we can’t help thinking of our concerns whenever we look at it.

With regard to other sources like Facebook (Dcarty) I am afraid I haven’t delved into that world. I am not quite the hermit, but social media does feel somewhat invasive to me. Just old school I guess.

Thanks again all, for some awesome insight.


You're most welcome!

Dcarty is a great resource. So is The Prop Den, which specializes in Vader props.

You are right to be concerned; take every marketing claim with a grain of salt. Both fanmades and licensees have used "from original molds" marketing which ends up being true only to an extent. There can be unintentional warpage or deliberate modification, as I had pointed out earlier. Even with the best intentions, a pull from an original mold may result in imperfections based on the condition of the mold, and whether or not those imperfections would have meant anything to collectors, some cleanup may be done so that the general audience does not feel they are getting a crappy product.

The Rubie's Fiberglass Limited Edition (FG LE) and the plastic Supreme/Deluxe are both from the "original molds" - technically true, as Lucasfilm had provided them one of the molds used by Don Post Studios (although I didn't find out if it was a positive or negative, but that is why the Rubie's FG LE looks very similar to the Don Post DLX in shape). But when you compare FG LE to their Deluxe, the Deluxe pales in comparison to the FG. It's face is smaller, and may have been adapted to either make it easier to remove from injection molds or to make it difficult to pass a fiberglass recast off as an FG LE.

Too often we fall in love with the idea of having something connected with the original. Don Post Studios, today, exists in name only - the last I checked, it was owned by a greeting card company, The Paper Magic Group. You may still see latex masks in retail stores around Halloween. DPS is very much part of fandom history, so despite its imperfections, it's a great collectible. And although I have both an eFX PCR and eFX LE, I find myself still wanting a DP DLX!
 

vader45

Sr Member
Don Post Studios was bought out my Paper Magic Group in 2000 but another company bough out PMG and closed Don Post studios for good in 2012. Some places may still have old stock sitting around.
 
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