Thoughts on "idealized" vs more "Screen accurate" replicas? Vader Helmet Example

mhariush

Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
hey guys
I've been in the film industry for 20 years, but switched to YouTube during the pandemic with a cocktail show we produce, but that made me want to explore YT themes that I really enjoy, which is film and TV and all the behind the scenes, costumes, props, set and location etc. I can't get enough of that.

And I recently, in the last 4 years stared getting into collecting some prop replicas, and of course, started with the obvious Black Series helmets that started coming out.

And I can't decide, and I keep going back and forth on how "accurate" an ideal prop, for display is. I see the point, and the drive towards having very screen accurate, or prop accurate replicas, but they often look a little shabby. And of course that's because they were made for the screen in a quick fast fashion. So there's something about having these more "idealized" props, that look more like they would "in universe."

I know there's not going to be a definitive answer to this, but what does everyone gravitate to here?

I did a little video on it. I try not to post videos around, but thought i'd share and see what you guys thought?

 

ggriffaw

Sr Member
Some prefer screen accurate, some prefer idealized. The only correct answer is what you like. You may want some props to be as close as possible to the actual props and others idealized.

I prefer most OT props to be like the original prop, but there are exceptions. For example the Denuo Novo Royal Guard helmet is fiberglass. The original props had two vacuformed abs halves glued together. On a helmet that long it could end up splitting over time so I prefer the more sturdy construction. RS Prop Masters makes a Scout Trooper helmet like the actual prop with two vacuformed halves for the back and another with a fiberglass back. The fiberglass is cheaper for them to make because of less labor so they can charge less for it. People like both versions. Some people feel the OT abs helmets (stormtroopers, TIE Pilots, X-Wing pilots) feel cheap and prefer something more sturdy.
 

dcarty

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Always a fun topic and, as Darth Vader is of particular interest to me, I'll chime in. I'm afraid I'm a "rivet counter" as far as my prop replicas go. For Darth Vader in particular--at least for ANH--a large part of what gives the character "the look" is the scratches and dings that are peculiar to that production.
 

Psab keel

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I prefer to have my props made of durable materials. Granted I know this sometimes means it's not as accurate, but I intend to handle my props so I want them to last. I'm not much for display only props. Considering the amount of money and time (if I build the piece) spent, I don't want to baby my collection too much. So if I can get something that was originally made in resin, made of machined aluminum? All the better etc.

As far as dings, scratches, etc, it really depends on the piece. For some I prefer pristine/ idealized items whereas some I much prefer the beat up/ worn look. When I build my V2 I think I'll likely do something close to the weathering seen with Trent's stencils, but I would tone it down a bit when I apply them only because the real prop had more paint on it while they were filming ROTJ. I admire the dedication some fans have to replicate the prop as it looks in Brandon Alinger's collection today, but technically that's not how it looked when Mark Hamill was using it.

When I do weather an item I get close but I don't drive myself nuts getting every scratch exact. I tend to go for weathering that sort of feels right. Ultimately I think keeping an item pristine or weathered really depends on what I think will look better, even if it's not as accurate to the real prop.
 

JPH

Sr Member
When making replicas, and I think you already know, there is usually more than one version of whatever you are making.

Look at R2d2s, is the panel on the back painted or aluminum? Shoulder hub buttons in front or back? Are the holoprojector's ribbed (Scopebottle tip) ends painted black, I can go on.

I also know that alot of props, when examined, have lots of imperfections.

So, as stated above, it is what you like.

When I make something, I usually try to make it nice, even if the actual prop is something I have examined or seen photos of, and it is full of defects. At what point does "improving" something make it too far away from the original that you have betrayed the initial concept behind it?
 

Snowtrooper

Well-Known Member
For the most part, I like my props to have be screen accurate and have all the little flaws and defects. It's almost like owning the original prop to me. But I don't mind having some props that are cleaned up, just so they're in the ballpark of the original in terms of looks. I have two efx limited vader fiberglass helmets, which I like just fine.
 

mhariush

Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
So sounds like the general consensus, at least here on the rpf is to be "screen accurate" and I guess that makes sense. I totally see the appeal to it, but I'm also leaning towards something in between, something more "realistic" in-universe, but still weathered and worn, if that suits it.

But yeah, no right or wrong, as long you like what's on your shelf :)
 

Vagabond Elf

Active Member
Personally, I prefer an idealised version. Vader's helmet or the stormtrooper helmets are a bit of a special situation, because the imperfections could be "in-character" as well. But on a DL-44, say, I would not want to have a replica with Mauser markings and german instructions all over it. The prop might have had those things, but a "real" DL-44 certainly wouldn't.

However, I do think that precisely recreating a filming prop is much more difficult and requires more patience and skill. I also suspect that the added difficulty is why threads about recreating filming props get more attention. Which does make me wonder - do most users on the RPF truly prefer to recreate filming props over idealised versions, or is it just that those projects get more attention? I lack the tools to truly investigate that, but I'm nevertheless curious.
 

Psab keel

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I think recreating every minute detail is just baked into the DNA of a vast majority of the members here at theRPF. We obsess over the details to a level I've never seen anywhere else, often rivaling the so called "experts" that work for Lucasfilm. Granted a lot of the people who help make the films either did so decades prior, or they just slapped props together to get the job done with the sort of detachment that comes from working within the time and budget constraints of a blockbuster film. For all of their dedication to the work, they also don't care the way we do about it which is why I don't give any stock to the notion that "fans" working on a Star Wars film has any merit more valid than a member here who can put the professionals work to shame. Seriously. If there's any doubt, just look at Scottjua's YouTube videos and you'd swear he was handling a piece being auctioned off at Propstore.

I think the reason why you see about twenty variants of the Luke V2, for example, is because with each new discovery, people like us will pour over it and update the new run with the latest findings, even if it's as small as an extra step on the pommel or a new shade of bronze on the neck. I'd guess for many to get as close as humanly possible to the real thing is the closest we can get to embracing the imagined reality of the story. I can say that having owned a few props that were recreated exactly as the real film used item, there's an authenticity that truly does transcend the standard idealized props.

Small details count and add up quickly. I've been in the process of converting a saber into an Anakin ROTS hilt and each new piece added, the closer it looks and closer it feels to owning a piece right off the screen. I suppose like a painting, just the angle of a brush stroke can change the entire look of the canvas. Make enough small, seemingly insignificant changes and before you know it, you've taken a decent looking piece, into a very real looking artifact.
 

Inquisitor Peregrinus

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Dialectics. If I am seeking to replicate a piece of cinema history -- a prop or costume or setpiece -- I'll aim to use as close to the original parts and materials as possible, and try to replicate ever flaw and ding and damage incurred over time. If I am seeking to represent the thing as it would be within its setting, as a display piece or wearable/usable costume or prop, I aim to make it as idealized as possible. "More accurate than the film prop." The costume only needed to last as long as getting the shot in the can. The prop only has to look good flashing by on the big screen from ten feet away for about a second. A representative piece has to stand up to close scrutiny.

So I love the Black Series helmets for their symmetry. They represent, to me, what computerized design and machine manufacture in an impersonal fabrication industry in the Galaxy Far Far Away would produce. There are problems and manufacturing concessions and inaccuracies, but they are a good base to work from. But even then, it is a starting point for me. My Mandalorian armor is stainless steel. My Stormtrooper helmets will ultimately be sintered ceramic, with full a/v arrays and air management -- as close to a "real" Stormtrooper helmet as I can manage with our technology. Because, for me, that's the endgame. I prefer to leave replicating the props to others -- I feel vaguely like a forger when I tackle that. So I ping to the other extreme... I want people who come up to me at an event or handle one of my pieces to have a moment of "Holy **** -- it's real!" before rational brain can kick in again and remind them that it isn't.
 

ggriffaw

Sr Member
There is a difference between making a replica of the prop and making a version of the in universe item. Both can have dings and weathering. For example so people want an Anakin/Luke Skywalker lightsaber hilt made of all original parts with english letters on the clamp covered with tape. I can totally understand someone preferring a replica that makes more sense in universe that removes things that were concealed because they don't want people to see them. Using more robust materials is another area that may make sense to change. Alot comes down to what you want to do with the prop. Some want to display it on a shelf, others want to cosplay, others have budget limits.
 

Psab keel

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
The in universe explanation is also a really good point too. In that case you'd have to consider who "owns" the piece in question. A stormtrooper would likely maintain their blaster to keep up to snuff for their commanding officers who would reprimand them for not doing so, whereas Han wouldn't bother cleaning up his Blast Shield helmet because he barely uses it.

Ultimately as Adam Savage would say, it's all about the story you want to tell with said piece. That's why certain items feel right or wrong depending on the nature of the character they belong to.
 

ggriffaw

Sr Member
Replicas of props are great, but I think sometimes people get to worried about matching every detail. Often there are multiple props that are supposed to be a single in universe item. If they have differences, they can't all be correct for the in universe item. I look at them as various efforts to represent the in universe item. I don't see anything wrong with someone creating their own interpretation of the in universe item that could be better than the actual props. So often the actual props are quickly put together on a low budget and aren't mean to be seen up close. They only need to be good enough to be seen in the scenes they are needed for. A collector may want a better looking version to display or they may want a recreation of the rough prop.
 

Psab keel

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
That's a great point too. It's interesting which version people choose to add to their collection and I've seen some really cool hybrid pieces that combine details of different versions into one unique variation on a prop.
 

animator

Sr Member
I want props in my collection to be what I thought they were when I watched the film or show. Screen accurate for me is my impression of what I saw. For example the EFX Limited Edition Vader is a perfect Vader Helmet for me. It has all the detail I noticed like the correct shape, colors and fiberglass pattern on the inside of the dome. I didn't notice the "C-scar" or sloppy paint job the filming helmet had, so all that is a distraction for me. I don't like the Black Series Vader Helmets, because the shape looks wrong to me.

I do love the Black Series Storm Trooper Helmets, though! In Star Wars I didn't notice how sloppy most of the Storm Trooper Helmets were put together and finished.

Your props are perfect when they connect you to what made you love them in a movie.

It is fun to read threads of people who chase creating exact replicas of filming props. I appreciate the dedication, work ethic and passion, but those aren't the props I personally want. Your collection should be what impresses you.
 

Darth Lars

Master Member
I do love the Black Series Storm Trooper Helmets, though! In Star Wars I didn't notice how sloppy most of the Storm Trooper Helmets were put together and finished.
I hate the Black Series R1 TK helmet more the more I work on it and find various issues with it. :)
Although, my goals have changed over time... In the beginning it was to have been a representation of a sloppily put-together ANH helmet, but now I want it to be my vision of an idealised ANH version, and so my standards are set so much higher — and for that the R1 TK helmet may not be the most suitable base.

Edit: The point I was trying to make is that which interpretation you eventually go is probably best decided based on what kit, parts, files or even reference material that you have available or can source/manufacture easily.
Personally, I think that all classes of interpretations have merit, are interesting and can be fun to build: just pick the right one for the project.
 
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RBJ

Sr Member
I've always thought there were three types of replicas. I'll use Tie helmets to illustrate as that's what I know the best.

Accurate: As close to the original prop as you can get. Often with direct lineage to a real prop. Has all imperfections, runs, drips, chips etc exactly as the original prop had. Uses all original parts/hardware/materials or as close as possible, both indie and out.

Sanitized: Accurate shape and look, but cleaned of all perceived errors. Uses primarily original materials as screen used This is described often as " How it was supposed to be" in appearance.

Idealized: All "wonkyness" of original prop reworked to be perfectly symmetrical. Fit and finish as perfect as possible. Materials often vary from screen used in order to get a perfect appearance.

Personally I want mine to be as close to how the screen used helmets were constructed, warts and all.


accide.jpg
 

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