Among Boba Fett fans and costumers, The Dented Helmet is one of the websites that stands out above the rest as a resource for how to construct the perfect suit of iconic, movie-quality costume armor. The Boba Fett Fan Club (another of those standout sites, of course) recently sat down with TDH founder Art Andrews to discuss the galaxy's most infamous bounty hunter.
Art, thanks for talking with the BFFC, I'm sure you have been keeping very busy lately. It has been a while since I saw you back in Orlando for Celebration V!
Thanks for the opportunity to chat about one of my favorite subjects, James!
So what is your current connection to Boba Fett and how did that all get started?
I am most well known as the creator of The Dented Helmet, a site focused on helping fans of Star Wars build their own Boba Fett costume. TDH actually started as a series of threads on The Replica Prop Forum, the internet’s largest site focused on props and costumes. We quickly realized that Boba’s costume was too complex to be contained in a few threads and so we created a small site called “As You Wish”, which later became “The Dented Helmet". TDH is now one of the largest costuming sites dedicated to a single character from Star Wars.
Almost two years ago I assumed responsibility for the RPF, and more recently for The Hunter's Lair, and created my own company, Movie Prop Sites, LLC, in order to manage all three sites. While I don’t have the time to focus on Boba Fett and TDH as I once did, it will always be my first love and primary passion.
When can you first remember seeing Boba Fett?
The Empire Strikes Back was the first movie I ever saw in theaters, and I would love to tell you that my love for Boba started there, but it didn’t. I was four years old and fell asleep right after the battle of Hoth and woke up just as Darth Vader and Luke began to fight. Even though I slept through most of the film, I went Star Wars crazy after seeing it and first remember seeing Boba Fett on the collector card sets. I was fascinated by him because he looked so cool, but I didn’t remember him from the movie because I slept through all of his scenes!
What initially drew you to the character?
The costume! Many people love the story of Star Wars but for me the greatest appeal has always been the design. I have always been mesmerized by the complexity of Boba Fett’s costume, the intricate detailing and the greeblies that were added to the costume, plus the helmet. Who doesn’t love the helmet? The strong design influence of the early Corinthian helmet brings to mind thoughts of gladiators and people built for battle. Unlike many of the other characters from the movie, it feels like extra attention was paid to Boba and that he was created more out of passion than necessity, and that really appeals to me.
What is your favorite version of the costume?
While I am fascinated by Joe Johnston’s original concept art and the all white “Super Trooper”, my favorite version of Boba is from Return of the Jedi, primarily due to the paintwork Sandy Dhuyvetter did on the helmet. There is something about the randomness and the subtle layering in the paintwork of that helmet that matches well to what I feel Boba Fett should be. I also like the more conservative design of the left gauntlet that is reminiscent of the first prototype costume and the overall color scheme that is more like the prototype costumes than the Empire Strikes Back green on green theme, which I find a bit dull and uninspired.
You and I are a avid costumers, do you have a favorite one that you've ever created?
I am not so much an avid costumer as I am an avid fan of costuming. I would like to costume more, but I simply don’t have the amount of time/money/patience needed to spend building costumes as I would like. On top of that, I am exceedingly picky about the accuracy of my costumes and would rather not complete a costume at all than complete it poorly. Because of that, I only have a handful of costumes. My favorite of those is my "Wounded-in-action Starship Trooper" costume, which is a screen used Starship Trooper costume that I cut up to match screen shots of the death of a particular trooper who gets impaled multiple times by a bug. I sculpted a bug leg that appears to be broken off and impaled through my torso. That costume requires a lot of stage blood and is horribly messy, but it gets a lot of attention and people tend to really like it.
I am also aware that you don't in fact have your own Boba costume? Will we ever see you don your own suit?
Many people are surprised to learn that I don’t have my own Boba Fett costume. In fact, I don’t even have a completed Boba Fett helmet. However, my love for the Boba Fett costume isn’t centered around what I have or about me obtaining my own suit. My passion has always been to see others have better costumes and to try to provide a platform for them to do so. With the RPF, that passion and vision has broadened to encompass all costumes. I love seeing others make great accomplishments and knowing that in some small way, I help facilitate their ability to grow and expand their skill set.
Will I ever don my own completed suit? I’d like to say yes, but honestly, I just don’t know. I am too picky and too finicky, and my attention is focused more on the site itself and helping others than it is about my own suit. Maybe it will happen someday, but it isn’t a priority.
What was your involvement with Jeremy's gifted Boba costume, and can you tell us a bit about that endeavor?
I was loosely involved in the Jeremy project, but can’t really take a lot of credit. The primary credit for that goes to TDH members Alex Alva and Jason Miller.
Over the years there have been multiple attempts to put a suit together for Jeremy as a "thank you" from his fans, and time after time it has failed. Alex really took the bull by the horns and organized the effort on TDH (with additional support from Philip Wise of Rebel Scum) and the response and support from our members was simply amazing. As I mentioned earlier, the Boba Fett costume is incredibly intricate with literally hundreds of individual pieces ranging from the fiberglass jetpack, to the machined metal flamethrower, to the cloth jumpsuit, to vaccuformed plastic armor, to the electronics in the chest plates. All of these pieces aren’t cheap and require different skillsets to bring to completion. One of the advantages of an online forum like TDH is the diversity of talented members. We have people who can make all those pieces and make them well. Best of all, they stepped up to the plate and freely volunteered their time and skill to create this amazing costume for Jeremy.
My primary involvement was photographing Jeremy in the costume. I am a bit of an amateur costume photographer and this shoot was the highlight of my photography experience. I have shot dozens of fans in Fett costumes and it is often tough for them to strike a pose that really personifies Boba Fett. We often have an art director involved who helps them. When Jeremy stepped into the studio and hit the first pose, it was like magic. He is Boba Fett. There was no doubt and no need for any direction. He simply nailed it perfectly. While that may not seem surprising, one has to remember that Boba Fett was a bit part in Jeremy’s career from 30 years ago, yet he was able to bring that character back to life in an instant and it was truly a breathtaking moment for everyone present.
What do you enjoy most out of going to conventions?
The people. While we all love Star Wars, it is the friends and the camaraderie that truly makes these events special.
Of all the cool things I saw at CV, my most fond memories are talking and laughing with fellow TDH members, the guys from the Prop Store of London, Jeremy Bulloch and Alan Harris at the lounge every evening after the convention. There is such a sense of relaxed familiarity and friendship that has been developed among us that you simply can’t put a price tag on it.
LFL uses a great deal of your work for merchandise. How did your involvement there come about?
Yeah, that is unfortunately one we really can’t talk about. I will say this much; of all the studios and film companies, I don’t know any who focus on their fans more or are more lenient with their fan base than Lucasfilm. A lot of that credit goes to Steve Sansweet and Mary Franklin. Mary’s devotion to the fans is second to none and we love her for it.
I totally understand and agree with you there! Moving on then, do you have any new projects on your to-do list?
There are two really big projects I am currently involved in that I am super excited about. They are both majorly licensed projects that I can’t yet talk much about, but I think they are going to blow Star Wars fans away!
I can tell you that one of the projects that I am co-sponsoring is the “As You Wish Project”, which is an art project similar to the Vader Project and the TK Helmet Project. As I mentioned earlier, TDH’s original name was “As You Wish” and we thought it was a nice nod to our former name. As we get closer to Celebration VI, more information about the project will be revealed!
Beyond that, my projects mostly focus on improving TDH, the RPF, The Hunter's Lair and any new sites we bring under the Movie Prop Sites umbrella in order to better facilitate the needs of the prop and costume fans who visit them. That is a never-ending task as needs and technology continually change, but I couldn’t be happier to be serving fellow fans.
Art thanks again for chatting with me and the BFFC, it's a pleasure to finally catch up!
It was my pleasure to answer your questions. See you guys on the forums or at the next big convention!