Saturday, January 05, 2008

Copious Backstory

I wrote a lengthy and mostly uninteresting background of Master Replicas and the scaled helmets for my review of the Scaled Stormtrooper helmet. After several paragraphs I realized it really didn't have anything to do with the helmet I was reviewing, so I decided to remove it from the review. But it was kind of a lot of writing, so for those that really want to read it, here it is.


For those who don't know Master Replicas is a company that has been making prop replicas for several years. They have had the Star Wars license for five years (from 2002 to 2007). Unfortunately, they elected not to renew the license in 2008, and the world has lost an excellent (and the only) source of Star Wars props.

Master Replicas has made many, many Star Wars props, the bulk of which are full scale, movie accurate, high quality Limited Edition Lightsaber hilt replicas. I owned one for a few months a while back, it was quite nice, and I got it for under a third of the retail price, but it was too early in my high end collecting career for me to accept spending $100 for a shiny paperwieght. Someday when I'm rolling in money, and heating my house by burning the excess cash I'll go back and pick up all the LE hilts, but for now I'll stick with my favorite line they did, the Scaled Replicas.

Most of the full scale hilts released by Master Replicas was also released in a scaled version. These props are of similar accuracy and high quality, but much smaller (.45 scale) and of less expensive materials. They are much more affordable, and are easier to display.

But this review isn't about the lightsabers, but the helmets, as that is the other main category of item Master Replicas released during their time as a SW licensee. They released several helmets in a wearable full scale size, and from what I've heard they're absolutely gorgeous. But I can't afford that, so I was quite happy when they finally announced late in 2006 that they would be introducing a line of helmets in a smaller scale and a more affordable price point.

In 2006 I learned that 5 mini Star Wars helmets were released in 1997 by Riddell. They had done C-3PO, Luke's X-Wing Helmet, Vader's, Boba's and a Stormtrooper helmet. The story I heard was that they were two days away from producing a TIE Fighter Pilot helmet when the line was canceled. I was saddened to learn this, as the TIE Pilot helmet is one of my favorite designs. I was intrigued by the items, and ended up purchasing the Vader helmet on eBay for around $35. I was quite pleased with it, and wrote a review of it on the SW Action News forums (come join us) which I should someday reproduce here. Anyway, when the news came out some months later that MR would be re-releasing the 5 Riddell helmets, and then moving on to new ones I was quite happy. I was even happier when the price was announced at $50 per helmet, as the Riddell ones retailed at $70–$90, and while Vader was inexpensive on eBay and Boba wasn't bad, the Stormtrooper helmet tended to run $130 at that time.

Well, 2007 came and has now gone, and it saw the release of only 2 mini helmets, both exclusively sold at San Diego Comic Con and SW Celebration 4 - Biggs' X-Wing helmet, a re-deco of the Luke X-Wing helmet, and a Shadow Stormtrooper helmet, a redeco of the standard Stormtrooper base on some comics. Master Replicas was nice enough to make both helmets available through their online store and I ordered the Shadow Stormy helmet back in Jun, but due to some confusion with the manufacturer, the helmets ordered online were not made, and still have not yet been delivered, though they're coming someday. Also, as Master Replicas did not renew the Star Wars license they canceled the TIE Fighter Pilot yet again, which I was greatly anticipating, as well as dashing my hopes for a repaint of that as an AT-AT Driver helmet.

The last two weeks of Dec 07 they finally started shipping the Luke X-wing, Boba, and Stormtrooper helmets. In the works are several Revenge of the Sith clone helmets - plain white, Shocktrooper (red), 501st trooper (blue), Commander Gree (green), and Utapau Shadow Trooper (black, which will be released exclusively through Razor's Edge Collectibles). I hope to acquire all the clone helmets, as Episode III clones are my primary collecting focus.

No comments: