My Equiness costume was turned down for membership in The Dark Empire. Many of the criticisms were around it not basically not looking like it was from Star Wars, and that many alterations would be needed to correct that issue. My goal was to create something original and new, so I regard that as a success.
Other comments were about the use of the color purple.
The most useful comment was in regard to the armor needing more customization as it still looked like motorcycle armor. I have thought that myself and actually plan to modify further.
Apparently, Equiness was just not a good fit for The Dark Empire, and that is fine. I have no plans to alter the mask or the color scheme. If I ever re-apply to The Dark Empire it will be with a new character.
As for Equiness, he’s going to stay around. Dark Jedi are such that they don’t like rules. The Jedi have too many rules and so do the Sith, so in true Dark Jedi fashion, Equiness is still going to be around and simply run rogue not conforming to anyone’s rules, but his own.
Now, as many of you may know, this year at Dragon*Con, we did a group Star Wars cosplay. Lorie and David made some amazing Jedi costumes, and Melinda and I, being bigger fans of the bad guys, made Dark Jedi costumes.
This blog post is going to be a little different from most. I am going to be writing about the creation of my custom Dark Jedi character and costume. This is going to serve as both my build log and my submission for membership in The Dark Empire. This will be a very image intensive post of the completed Equiness costume.
Therefore, members of The Dark Empire, I welcome you to The Real Redneck Geek blog. On TDE forums, I post as TN-Scotsman. I hope you enjoy the read here and that my work meets the requirements for membership.
Who is Equiness?
Equiness is the name chosen for my Dark Jedi character. He is, what I describe as, an educated brute. He knows how to analyze a situation, plan a strategy, and execute that strategy. However, when the plan starts to fall apart, Equiness’s rage and frustration builds to the point where he is just a brute smashing his way through to the end. He first appeared in the Outer Rim Territories around the time of Clone Wars and the fall of the Republic.
Like most Dark Jedi, he has no love for the Jedi order, and respect for the Sith, but no desire to follow anyone. He is a loner, almost a hermit, living in his starship and only landing on a planet for supplies and the occasional “job”.
His typical weapon is a simple red blade lightsaber, but he has been seen wielding a dual blade saber.
Nothing is really known about his background or where he is from. It is not known if his mask is simply symbolic or if it serves some life sustaining function. He rarely speaks, either by choice or condition. His age is unknown too. He appears old, given the tattered condition of his cloak and armor. This could, however, be from one plan too many going wrong. He has also been seen going back over a battlefield collecting items. It’s not known if these are trophies or items to supplement his armor or repair damage he had taken.
All that is known, is that in any battle, there are always two that walk away. Equiness himself, and one lucky individual chosen to carry the story of his victory and build the legend of Equiness.
Why a mask? Well, I wear glasses. I can’t wear contacts due to my recurrent corneal erosion, so I need a way to wear my glasses and stay in character.
The mask started out as a failed vacuform pull of my original Destro mask. The mold I used cause the pull to be “lumpy” and textured. Not good for a Destro mask, but a couple years later, it would be perfect.
The breather portion of the mask is simply a highly customized 3M respirator. I removed all the carbon filters but left the filter holders in place. I also eventually removed the strap bits since this would be secured to the mask itself.
To cover the lovely 3M logo, a piece of curved PVC cape was used.
Some painting and epoxy later and the breather was joined to the mask.
For the eyes, I had to build them out just a little to accommodate my glasses. A couple of pieces of EVA foam cut to shape worked perfectly.
I also dressed up the filter boxes with some strips of flexible PVC conduit.
Next it was time for the color scheme. I wanted something different. You see red, black, silver, grey, sometimes blue in Dark Jedi and Sith a lot. I wanted a different color. Purple. Not neon, Crayola, “Look at me! I’m PURPLE!” purple, but a nice dark purple, and a nice dark red. I like the final results.
The lump on top of my head is just the balaclava I’m wearing. It pulls on over the mask to hide the straps and edges. I just didn’t get it smoothed out in this shot. I also realized the lenses got completely lost. Some quick trim painting solved that.
Here you can see where some of the paint cracked. I started to fix that, but decided to leave it in order to provide some age to the look.
Like many of my other props, this was aged and dulled in some areas using shoe polish. It just looked to new and shiny for an old brute like Equiness.
OK, I am not the best armor builder there is and I had a very specific look that I wanted for Equiness. Being in the Clone Wars timeline gave me a lot of options, but I wanted something paneled and mobile. He needed to be able to move and, only if needed, smash through someone. I was also running low on time. Dragon*Con was approaching. What I found and fell in love with was a motorcycle racing armor shirt.
It would need a lot of customizing and weathering, but this looked too cool to pass up. Getting rid of the labels, kidney pad and elastic hand straps was first. Then sanding the plastic pads to take off that new plastic sheen was a necessity. To help with the grey pads, everything was soaked in a coffee solution.
The original idea for the cloak was to use heavy canvas and dye it black. Well, this didn’t work out well at all. I loved the shape that I came up with, but the color is just wrong.
Instead, I went with a purchased cloak that I again customized by shredding out every hem and seam to make it as threaded as I could. David also told me of an old Samurai tradition of hiding a ribbon of red inside the inner edge of the cloak. I liked this idea but went with purple instead. I intentionally used purple thread, too, so that there is this thin line down the front of the cloak.
I did make custom saber hilts for us all, but I had no way of adding a good looking blade to them. I loved the hilt I made for Equiness, but we needed full on bladed sabers.
The above are the prototype Equiness hilt that I built but didn’t use. The brown is a “wood” trim and the pummel is a “bone” tusk. I included these just for the sake of it. It won’t actually be used with Equiness.
I was able to score some Force FX Darth Vader sabers for me and Melinda, but the problem was, they looked like Darth Vader’s saber, and we had three of them. This would not do. Time to sand and repaint.
I used the same colors from my mask, and paid homage to the original saber by painting the ridge details in the same bone patter. Some steal wool was also used to just remove the new plastic look. The aging was again done with shoe polish.
Pants, Boots, Wrists, Top, and Waist Belt Thing
I’m lumping these all together simply because there isn’t much too them, if I’m honest.
The pants are tradition Kendo Hakama pants. Again, like the cloak and armor, I ripped out all the hems and frayed the edges. They too got a bath in coffee.
The boots are my New Rock boots. I originally bought these for my Destro costume, but I’ve been putting them into every other costume that I can for two reasons: 1) They were the most expensive shoes I’ve ever bought and I want my money’s worth out of them. 2) They are the most comfortable shoes that I have ever worn. Costumes are not always comfortable. They can be hot and and hard to move in. Keeping my feet happy helps out a lot. If you can ever afford a pair of New Rock boots, do your feet a favor and get a pair.
Now these boots do have some features that are not appropriate for a Dark Jedi costume, but fortunately, all those features are completely hidden by the pants.
I didn’t want to wear gloves. Most of my costumes end up needing gloves and since this was a completely custom character, I got a pair of fighting wrist wraps instead and simply wrapped my hands.
The main under shirt is simply a torn cotton long sleeve shirt.
Lastly, I needed something around my waist. I have a belly and it needed some attention. I took the original canvas cloak, cut it and turned it into a waist wrap.
Below are all the pictures of the final costume on me. Each side and detail images both with and without the cloak. Below those are some action shots and some from Dragon*Con.
Dragon*Con 2012 Action Shots