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Ugnaught 911 - screen-used restoration project

Discussion in 'Production Made Costumes and Props' started by TomSpinaDesigns, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. TomSpinaDesigns

    TomSpinaDesigns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Been meaning to post this here for a while but have been crazy busy.

    I did this a few months back for Brandon, who sent me a screen used Ugnaught mask from Empire Strikes Back that had deteriorated badly. It's a foam latex piece that had been stored (gulp) stuffed with newspaper since 1979. That meant 26 years of having the moisture sucked out of the piece by acidic paper. The result was that many of the thinner areas of the foam had turned to dust, and some would literally crumble between your fingers. Further, it had been stored somewhat "flattened" and developed a (now permanent) fold across the back of the head to boot. Add to that severe discoloration and some very matted hair and it was a sight. :(

    Before I start, I want to say that I'm still fairly new to this degree of restoration, and carefully considered options before working on this. Brandon and I shared quite a few "philosophical" discussions about the pros and cons to restoring a peice as well as how far we wanted to try to take this. In the end, we decided that these sorts of choices need to be made on a piece by piece basis and, in this case, a pretty drastic restoration was not only warranted, but just about needed to save the piece from turning to dust and ending up in the trash bin. He felt that as-is, the piece had little value because it was barely recognizable.

    This Ugnaught in particular, had very few reference photos to work from. This means that some of my work is "best guess" based on the few photos we have of him, mixed with information from clear photos and first hand observation of other Ugnaughts used in the film.

    We decided to restore the piece and I set about recreating the missing and severely dry areas. I used as much as I possibly could save from the original, including much of the back of the head, the face below the brow and the sides of the head. I patched and repaired the face, lips and nose (stabilizing rather than rebuilding) and recreated the chin and forehead. I patched the gaps left from the crumbling areas of the head, and repainted the piece, attempting to match the few areas that remained with color (much of his color had turned a dark grey-ish beige due to the foam turning dark brown and crunchy.)

    Most of the hair was salvaged from the original and carefully combed through by me before re-applying it to the restored head and cheeks. What couldn't be saved was matched by me and replaced.

    All in all, this was an intensive project and one that required quite a bit of time and effort. Brandon and I are both pleased with the results.

    I suppose that's where I'll leave off for now. Please post any questions or comments.

    Pics in the next post, including a reference shot and before, during and after photos.

  2. TomSpinaDesigns

    TomSpinaDesigns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    A reference photo (he's the one on the right).


    Before and after comparisons:




    In progress:

    First up was sorting out what was usable and what was not and assembling then on a styrofoam head. You'll see that where the fold was across the upper back of the head had to be completely removed (although I saved the hair.). I had also removed the hair from the face at this point.


    Here is the beginning of the patching and building up of missing areas. You can see I've incorporated a cotton fabric underneath. This was to hold the new parts to the old, and to help stabilize the areas we were keeping intact.


    Here's a shot of it pretty far along. The forehead's been rebuilt (but not textured), the head pieces blended together and the chin added.

  3. Jack Bauer

    Jack Bauer Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    COOL. You do gtood work. The one on the left looks a little to real like a corpse or something. spooky.

    Great job.
  4. Lupus Yonderboy

    Lupus Yonderboy Well-Known Member

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    Wow, that's going to be one wicked piece :)
    Well done Tom.
  5. bothanspy

    bothanspy Sr Member

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    Tom, thanks for saving a piece of Star Wars history. Without talent individual like you, where would our love of this great hobby be. Outstanding work. I only wish I have half the talent you have. Great work.
  6. RKW

    RKW Sr Member

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    I've seen corpses in better condition than that.

    You've got balls of steel :thumbsup
  7. OldKen

    OldKen Master Member

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    no kidding...

    i cant believe that you could use any of that at all, the fact that it turned out so good... amazing.

    thanks for saving a piece of SW... :cheers
  8. BobFett

    BobFett Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Nice work Tom.
  9. TomSpinaDesigns

    TomSpinaDesigns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    haha on the "balls of steel" from RKW.

    Thanks man... it was very much a "bravery test" when I started on this one. Brandon was huge in the encouragement department though. He kep saying, "hey, you can't make it any worse." :lol

    While I know it wasn't 100% true, it was close enough that it got me going.

    Thanks very much to everyone for the kind words. It definitely felt good to "save" something like this.

  10. vaderfanforever

    vaderfanforever Active Member

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    WOW... :eek Now that is restored, take it to the Lucasfilm arcives and see what they will trade you for it. :p

  11. allosaur176

    allosaur176 Sr Member

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    * that mask was F@#&'d up.... You worked wonders Tom :cheers
  12. DaddyfromNaboo

    DaddyfromNaboo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Aw man, that here is not the RPF anymore...

    It is CSI Props from now on :p

    Great work, Tom .

  13. TomSpinaDesigns

    TomSpinaDesigns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks guys :D

  14. kurtyboy

    kurtyboy Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  15. Jango_Fett_Jr

    Jango_Fett_Jr Well-Known Member

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    Now that's an Extreme Makeover™ if I've ever seen one.
  16. adamata

    adamata Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    So, what were you using to patch and fill in the missing parts? (I know *nothing* about this)

    Its amazing.
  17. TomSpinaDesigns

    TomSpinaDesigns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    thankya :)

    The patching was a mix of techniques. Some was done with cotton fabric soaked in latex (the base of the lower jaw) but much of it was a mix of thickened pros-aide and cotton as filler to build up the bigger gaps.

    I did the paint and finish work using sponge and hand techniques to try to match the style they used on the originals.

  18. DL 44 Blaster

    DL 44 Blaster Sr Member

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    :eek Simply leaves me speachless in awe :eek
  19. ioncanon

    ioncanon Well-Known Member

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    Tom that is just AMAZING... Nice work. Simple breathtaking.. I've done small small patch work to dry rot, reinforcing, filling holes, etc. I didn't even know it could be done to THAT extent. Simply amazing.
  20. KevVader

    KevVader Sr Member

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    Fantastic work small step away from reconstructive surgery....
  21. Scapey

    Scapey Sr Member

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  22. Prefect42

    Prefect42 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I just read through this post and am in awe. Truly amazing work. The finished piece looks fantastic but showing us the before right next to the after shots speaks volumes. It added a great deal to your written explination.

    Like everyone said, thanks for saving a piece of history.

  23. The Death Curse

    The Death Curse Well-Known Member

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    What's with all these astounding restorations lately?... the most extensive restoration I've ever seen... I can't even believe you attempted it. RKW was right: Balls of high-carbon, folded steel.

    I don't even need to mention that you added 300% more AWESOME to it, do I? I can't stop staring at the pictures...I bet the owner is perpetually soiling himself. :lol

  24. Apollo

    Apollo Legendary Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Amazing work Tom.

    Simply Amazing.. :)
  25. Prop Runner

    Prop Runner Sr Member

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    Tom, are you by profession a forensic anthropologist, by any chance? Just... *... :thumbsup :)

    - Gabe
  26. The Wook

    The Wook Master Member

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    Yeah Tom, that's just amazing what you've done. Wow.

    The Wook
  27. Nexus6

    Nexus6 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I'm speechless. I have NO speech. :eek
  28. TomSpinaDesigns

    TomSpinaDesigns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks so much everyone. I knew that you guys would understand the work that went into this project and it's so nice to see that effort appreciated by so many....

    :D :D :D :D

  29. Boba Frett

    Boba Frett Sr Member

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    Nice work Tom :thumbsup

    You brought that puppy back from the dead.
  30. BAlinger15

    BAlinger15 Community Founder

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    Looks alright I guess...


    Excellent work Tom, I was shocked when it first came back to me.

    PM me for more info.

  31. Simmon M

    Simmon M Sr Member

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    Holy smokes. Your before and after pics have me floored Tom. A tremendous amount of work must have went into the entire process and I'm sure you were walking on eggshells from the very start.

    Simply incredible. You put your faith in the right man Brandon. :)
  32. dblank

    dblank Well-Known Member

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    Great job restoring that piece of history..

    You don't see Ugnaught collectibles very often. I always liked the little workers.
  33. mike d

    mike d Well-Known Member

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    I think this is amazing work. I would never think that the mask could be repaired.
  34. gizmo

    gizmo Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I don`t think I can add anything to what others have said,but I fell out of my chair
    when I saw this.Truly breathtaking. :eek

    Well done
  35. WebChief

    WebChief Sr Member

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    He's still one ugly motha.....

    Awesome work Tom.
  36. stormtrooperguy

    stormtrooperguy Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    wow. i can't even imagine diving into a project like that.
  37. TomSpinaDesigns

    TomSpinaDesigns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    shucks guys... thanks :$
  38. SethB6025

    SethB6025 Well-Known Member

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    Good save. Amazing restoration :thumbsup :thumbsup
  39. DARKSIDE72

    DARKSIDE72 Sr Member

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    Well done Tom, very nice indeed.
  40. stonky

    stonky Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  41. Star Wars Helmets

    Star Wars Helmets Sr Member

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    Ive only just seen this.

    Wow - brilliant guys. Thank goodness there are people out there prepared to rescue some of these original masks from oblivion



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