In this series we show how to assemble and complete all the parts for an accurate Resistance X-Wing Pilot Costume. These are the flight suits worn by Poe Dameron, Jess Pava, Snap Wexley, Ello Asty, and others Star Wars Characters in The Force Awakens.
Since no X-wing Pilot costume can be complete without a helmet, I started by purchasing an accurate and well-made kit from Allen Amis Creations. The unfinished kit includes the main helmet, yellow tinted lens, blast shield, microphone, hardware and other greebles to create a complete X-Wing Pilot’s helmet from The Force Awakens. I chose this kit because it came highly recommended and it was the smallest size kit I was considering. If you have a large head, you may want to consider a larger helmet such as the ChristWerxProps kit.
The Allen Amis helmet comes as an unfinished kit, but mine arrived with the blast shield and lens pieces already drilled and installed.
To create a finished helmet I first started by trimming off the excess material around the face opening with my Dremel tool and a sanding attachment.
I also widened the lower rear opening area to give it a more accurate shape and make it easier to get on and off. I decided to go with the white, blue, yellow and black paint scheme with the yellow and black checkered pattern on the blast shield, worn by one of the X-Wing Pilots in The Force Awakens.
There were a few small indentations on the surface of my kit, but this was to be expected. I decided to leave the visable ones for a weathered look on the helmet, but I filled the ones where decals would be applied, to ensure the decals would lay flat. I applied two coats of Bondo Scratch Filler with a plastic spreader, and sanded it smooth with medium grit sandpaper. After lightly sanding the entire surface of the helmet with 300 grit sandpaper, I sprayed 2 coats of Krylon Satin White spray paint for my base white color.
I let the paint cure for a day, then went to work painting the stripes and accent colored areas onto the helmet. To create (relatively) clean and straight paint lines I cut thin strips of 3M painter’s tape, using a hobby knife and ruler, and carefully applied the tape where I needed to place a paint line. I first pressed the tape down firmly to the helmet, then carefully painted the base color (white on this helmet) over the tape edge with some acrylic paint and a small detail paintbrush. This method seals the edge of the tape with the paint to stop the accent color from seeping underneath the tape. After the (white) base color dried, I added the accent or stripe color, allowed it to dry and carefully removed the tape.
While I waited for paint to dry, I applied some decals to the helmet. Some emblems and details are not conducive to hand painting, so adding these details with a decal works better. I used a set of vinyl decals I had printed by a local sign shop, but decals for the main X-Wing pilots such as Poe, Snap Wexley and Jess Pava are available from ChristWerxProps on etsy.com. Using a hair dryer or heat gun to lightly heat the decal will help remove any creases or bubbles after it’s applied. Dreamscheme Productions has a helpful video showing how easy it is to apply vinyl decals to a helmet.
Once the decals were all applied and the paint work was complete on the helmet, I painted the greebles using gray, silver, black and white acrylic paint. I also replaced the rubber cord, included with my kit, with some black electrical wire which holds its shape when bent. The helmet kit included a piece for connecting the microphone to its base, but I replaced it with a slightly larger finish nail which fit snugly into the holes of both pieces. Since the larger finish nail didn’t need to be glued, this allowed my mic to be rotated instead of stationary.
After painting was complete, I attached the greebles to the helmet using 2-part epoxy. When applying the epoxy, it’s best to wear rubber gloves, a mask or respirator, and use it outdoors, as it has strong fumes and an odor when mixed. The epoxy sets quickly and only a little is needed to make a good bond, so it’s best to only mix small amounts at a time. Since I wanted the microphone piece to be removable, to reduce the chance of it breaking, I used super strong magnets from Hobby Lobby to attach the microphone to the helmet. I used epoxy to glue one magnet inside of the hole of where the mic attaches to the helmet and one magnet to the bottom of the mic base. The magnets have polarity, so it’s important to make sure the sides that will magnetize to each other are facing outward when gluing the magnets in place.
After all the greebles were installed I sealed the helmet using a light coat of Testor’s Dullcote. Other clear coats, such as Rustoleum Brand could also be used, but I’ve had good results from Testor’s so I typically use that on my important projects. Next I began the weathering process using medium and coarse sandpaper to scratch and distress the helmet, acrylic paint washes of brown and black, and small amounts of white accent for a heavily worn appearance.
There is a helpful video available by Dreamscheme Productions, showing paint methods used to weather a TFA Resistance Pilot helmet. Once I was happy with the overall weathering, I applied a final coat of Testor’s clear. The last step to complete the helmet is the additon of padding. Black padding inside the cheek areas can be seen on the X-Wing Pilot helmets used in the movie. After searching for some suitable padding, I purchased a piece of 1 inch pipe foam insulation from Home Depot for about $7.
The foam is black, has the right density and is about 1/2″ thick, which seems to be the correct size to pad the cheek areas. Since it comes pre-formed in a tubular shape, I cut smaller pieces of it and heated them with a heat gun to flatten them out, first removing the adhesive tape on the edges by just pulling it off. It’s best to do this outdoors and use a respirator mask to avoid breathing any fumes from the heated foam.
To make sure I cut the foam in the correct shape, I made a paper template for the cheek and ear area of the helmet from a sheet of paper. Next, using my template I cut out the foam in the correct shape with scissors. Then I glued the foam inside of the helmet with contact cement. I applied the contact cement to both surfaces of the helmet and foam, using a disposable foam brush. I also added more padding around the back of the helmet using the same technique. Since the helmet is not very tall and I didn’t need much padding on the top, I used 3 pieces of thinner 3 mm black foam from Hobby Lobby for that area.
To make the helmet fit snugly, I added some thicker foam in a circle inside the helmet placed just above the ear areas and around the forehead area in front. Using the thicker foam allowed me to cut it down to the exact thickness I needed to create a snug fit around my head. I happened to have this foam on hand, but it may be found at fabric stores, or possibly in the weatherstrip department of Home Depot or Lowes.
With the padding installed, my X-Wing Pilot helmet was ready to wear! If you don’t have the time or don’t want the expense of completing a kit, Hasbro has announced that it will be releasing a Black Series Poe Helmet, complete with electronic sounds, for a retail price of $80.
Stay tuned for more DIY tutorials on the Resistance X-Wing Pilot Costumes from Star Wars The Force Awakens, including the blaster, flight suit, vest and more! And if you would like to see the finished product in person, catch up with us at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando!
Tools & Materials:
X wing pilot helmet kit
Dremel or Rotary tool with sanding / grinding bit
Assorted grits of sandpaper
Assorted acrylic paints for your color scheme
2-part epoxy adhesive
Foam Pipe Insulation (or other 1/2″ thick black foam)
Thinner Black Foam for top
Thicker Black Foam for Sides
Heat Gun (to flatten foam)
Blue Painter’s Tape
Testor’s Dullcote (or similar clear coat finish)
Spray Paint for base color of the helmet