Mandalorian Costume Layers

  • Mandalorian Costume Layers

So, I got this drawing sent to me recently:

Mandalorian costume for airsoft

The artist is Gustavo Mendonca and you should absolutely go and look at his incredible work.

I guess it’s the concept drawing for the new Star Wars film, but to be honest I’m just not into Star Wars so I dunno. That’s not important anyway.

Whenever people approach me to make their costume I always say ‘catch my imagination’. Since none of my friends could afford my rates for making things (because I’d have to make as much as my ‘day job’) I prefer to collaborate on things that require some imagination rather than just making to order. This outfit is cool. And has certainly caught my imagination.

Cosplay vs. LARP

I’m not particularly into Cosplay. I mean, there’s some incredible Cosplay stuff out there, but copying stuff isn’t really my thing. It’s ok as a technical challenge, but I’d rather be a bit more creative in what I do. I’d rather take inspiration from something and use it as a base to create something new – which I know lots of Cosplayers do when they do gender play, or when they do steampunk Jessica Rabbit, or whatever. That’s more my thing.

Of course the added difficulty of a LARP costume is that it needs to stand up to more than just standing around at Cosplay conventions. This Bobba Fett inspired outfit is going to have to stand up to repeated use at airsoft games. So that’s long weekends full of running around, getting shot at, rolling around on the floor, crashing through doors, jumping on cars… well… you get the idea. It has to work as a practical set of clothing. And it has to do the things that clothing should do – it has to keep the wearer warm and dry, it has to breath naturally because the person inside it is going to be pretty active, it has to move with the wearers body. There’s no point in having a LARP costume for a soldier that can’t do those things (unless of course, that’s the point of the costume – to be restrictive).

Pulling the Mandalorian Costume apart

With that in mind, I started to deconstruct the costume in the artwork above. The most important bit at the moment is the plate carrier – since the rest of the costume can come later. The plates of the armour are distinctive and absolutely key to the look. They have to be the first bit of the costume to be made, just in case the rest doesn’t get made in time. But the costume is more complicated than it looks, and although for Cosplay you might just get away with attaching the plates to a blue jumpsuit, it’s not going to work here.

I wrote a while ago about how layers are often key for making a costume seem realistic, and this isn’t an exception. Once you start to pull apart the layers you can see how they’ll move together. Layers slide over each other, meaning that the armour will cover the right parts without being restrictive.

So here’s where I pulled the layers apart in my sketch book:

Mandalorian Costume Layers - DrawingAs far as I can tell, there are six distinct items of clothing in the drawing that cover the torso (I’ve not counted combat trousers here). And the benefit of using high quality concept art is that the artist is really experienced in drawing figure and will have a fundamental understanding of how layers interact with each other and the human body.

  1. The long sleeve leotard. Ok, don’t think spandex and lycra. This isn’t glam-rock airsoft. Well, Shadow Wars is a bit, but that’s not the point here. Think heavy duty twill fabric, but soft and worn. The arms have stripes that echo the upper two padded layers. The placket down the front covers the buttons or velcro used for fastening. And yes, that is a crotch strap – that’s how the artist has got the V-shaped line on the drawing. I really like that bit of it, but you could equally just go for a long-line top that finishes just below the hips. Or even a shirt that tucks into the cargo trousers. The mandarin collar is essential to the look of the whole top line of the costume.
  2. Then there’s a kind of crop top with side lacing. Initially I thought that this was where the plates would attach, but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. This is just metrosexuality in all it’s glory. It seems to have a small pocket on the top of his right hand sleeve. Maybe it’s a brassard of some sort.
  3. The red belt padding. That’s… about it really. It’s kind of cool and asymmetric.
  4. The white plate carrier. It kind of reminds me of something that rugby players or American football players might wear, but I could be wrong about that. Maybe it’s another sport that I saw those white stretchy tops from. I dunno. I’m not really into padding, I’m a water polo player. We just try and down each other. Anyway… It’s essentially a sci-fi gambeson, with solid plates to cover the pecs. I initially thought that the shoulder plates attached to this layer, but now I’m pretty sure that they actually don’t. The shape of the white gambeson and plates recalls the shape of some of the variations of storm trooper armour. I reckon they’ve got a zip up the front or other similar construction for fastening.
  5. The black gambeson over the top is where I’m pretty sure the shoulder plates attach. It’s purpose is also to seal around the neck at the base of the mandarin collar and attach the shoulder plates. Why do I reckon this? Because shoulder plates need more movement than the chest plates. The chest plates should be tight to the body to keep them out of the way – you don’t want them moving around every time you put your gun up to shoot. The shoulders however should move and they should be relatively free. I think it would do up at the back of the neck, perhaps with lacing. And there are straps to secure it under the arms and prevent it from twisting as you move. If you look carefully at his right shoulder, there are also ties going under the bicep from the middle of the shoulder plates. Bungee cord or something would work really well. I don’t know what the middle of this piece is buckled to on the chest. I suspect it attaches to the white plate carrier to keep it from moving too much and stop it from riding up.
  6. The cape. NO CAPES! Sorry, wrong movie. Tatty cloth. Not sure what this would attach to. Logically the black gambeson piece, but I’d want to fasten that piece at the back. Attaching to the white piece wouldn’t work properly. I guess actually I’d do this by making it a stand alone piece. Tying it round the neck would be bad, so there must be a way to run it under the shoulders. Perhaps with a Northeners (GoT) inspired method that would go under the arms.

So… thats awkward. What I originally figured was two layers – at a quick glance – turns out to be six.