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With forty years’ worth of movies and spin-offs to work from, Star Wars prop building and cosplay is a popular pastime. But just how do you get started constructing droids, blasters, lightsabers, helmets and other props?
The best place to go for inspiration is YouTube, where you’ll find builds based on cardboard, foam, and even industrial tubing. Basically, there’s something for all DIY abilities. Basically, not only can you build props to gain superhero powers, you can become a Jedi, too! (Disclaimer: Not actually true).
Here are eight Star Wars props you can build at home this weekend.
1. Build Your Own X-Wing Helmet
“Red five, standing by…” “Almost there… almost there…” “Negative, it just impacted on the surface!”
“Luke, you’ve switched off your targeting computer, what’s wrong?”
Each line evokes memories of THE greatest scene in any Star Wars movie: the assault on the Death Star. And over half of the characters on screen during this sequence (the Battle of Yavin) are wearing helmets, as they pilot their X-Wings and Y-Wings into seemingly insurmountable danger.
Building your own X-Wing helmet isn’t as difficult as you may think. As Dustin McLean demonstrates above, it can be done relatively cheaply, with tools that you may already have.
2. Stormtrooper Heavy Blaster Rifle
Fancy your chances working for the Empire? Squash the puny rebellion scum underfoot with this, a DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle as seen in the original Star Wars movie, and several films, games, and cartoons since. Carried by Stormtroopers of a particular designation, these heavy blasters look superb, and you can build your own!
All of these components are available for $10 or under, but as you can see, this build is a little more complicated. Interestingly, this build is partially based on a German MG34, a semi-automatic rifle first issued in 1936 and seen in many war movies.
Not for beginners, the end results will cause many a gasp at the next convention you attend.
3. Han Solo’s Blaster
One of the most iconic handguns in movie history, Han Solo’s blaster was the handgun used to kill Greedo in the first movie, and subsequently went up against Stormtroopers on the Death Star, Hoth, Bespin, and Endor.
Building your own? If you’re looking for an in-depth build, then this video by Odin Abbot shows exactly how he went about it. Some prior knowledge of prop building is required here, along with a whole host of heavy duty tools. The end product is stunning, however.
If all of that seems too much, however, you could just customize a child’s toy instead. No, really. In this video, Bill Doran demonstrates how an inexpensive Star Wars toy can be repainted to more closely resemble the movie prop.
4. Build Your Own BB8
Want your own BB8 droid? You don’t have to buy one for $250 or so — you can build one for under $100, using magnets, a beach ball, an Arduino (see our Arduino guide for help here, it’s really worth learning), and a few other bits and pieces.
We won’t lie: this is a complicated, time-intensive build. But the results really do speak for themselves. Best of all, this BB8 can be controlled via a mobile app over your phone’s Bluetooth connection!
Full instructions can be found in the Instructables guide, in which the builder — with help from his father — gives detailed steps.
If you’re a big fan of droids, but want something less ambitious, try this foam-based astromech droid build instead:
5. Build Your Own Lightsaber!
If you’ve never held an invisible lightsaber tube and made “vumm-tscumm-chchchchc” noises, then you probably don’t harbor any ambitions to be a Jedi or Sith. But if you do have some inclination towards the light side or the dark side of the Force, and wish to begin your training, you’ll need to be able to build your own.
William Jakespeare shows you how in this video, although do note that no blade is emitted from the saber. You’re basically looking at a build for the handle, which is mainly based on Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber in the original trilogy. However, it has a bulb in the side, as per The Force Awakens, which is a nice touch.
Of course, a lightsaber looks pretty dumb without the blade. You have several options here, but our favorite is post production with Adobe After Effects:
6. Be Boba Fett With This Jet Pack
Since being knocked into the jaws of the Sarlacc in the Great Pit of Carkoon (Return of the Jedi), Boba Fett has been missed. So much, in fact, that he was added into the Star Wars special edition, while his father, Jango, was included as a key character in the prequel trilogy.
Of course, after his Empire Strikes Back glory, Boba Fett is out of his depth. How else can you explain him being outclassed by a blind Han Solo?
Using scrap PVC pipes, crafting board, rubber tubing, plastic cups and other easily-found materials, you too can build your own Mandalorian Jetpack, just like Boba Fett’s! Just, um, make sure you don’t end up in the jaws of a Sarlacc, right?
7. Mouse Droid!
Back in 1977, the collection of droids wandering around the Star Wars universe was a source of fascination. It’s still pretty amazing, with machines such as power droids, probe droids, and these little guys, the mouse droids.
Heralding their presence with a “tututu-tuuu”, these droids have an in-world purpose of maintenance and repair. They can be seen in the original movie, as well as Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Can you build your own? Yes!
All that is required to get started — as demonstrated by Ace Cosplay above — is a remote controlled car. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Check the full video to see just how straightforward this build is.
8. You Don’t Know the POWER of the Dark Side
It’s simple to impersonate Darth Vader: breathe heavily, aqualung-style, into a mug, and do your best James Earl Jones voice. But for the full effect, you probably need a helmet to get started. Let’s be honest: it’s the least you’ll need for cosplaying Star Wars‘s greatest character (despite what the prequels did to him).
Now, you could go heavy duty with your Darth Vader helmet, but it’s so complicated that it makes sense to start with a simple material like cardboard.
There’s no reason why you couldn’t upgrade to a better material in the future, of course. But for cosplaying events and conventions, where things can get damaged or lost, cardboard makes sense.
Do… or Do Not. There Is No Try
If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you’ve probably felt like building your own prop from time to time. Perhaps you prefer the toys, or pimping them up to resemble the movie props? Or do you like to grab a lightsaber in Toys R Us and duel with your partner or son? You could even build some Star Wars LEGO!
On the other hand, maybe you just like practicing your Darth Vader voice in an empty Star Wars mug (like me).
Whatever the case, we’d love to hear from you. There’s enough here to start preparing for your own Star Wars movie. What’s your favorite DIY Star Wars prop? Tell us all about it below. And be sure to take a look at these mobile apps that every Star Wars fan needs.
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