ESB WIP: Ord Mantell's ESB Build

Ord Mantell

BFB Hero
I started this build in 2009, but for reasons out of my control, the project got put on hold. Some of these parts were purchased a decade ago and the info of who I got them from has been lost. But during the crazy downtime of the pandemic, I'm committed to finallt completing it. My goal is a museum quality reproduction with as many vintage found parts and original techniques and methods as possible. The parts list below contains links like an index to the thread posts on those parts.

Parts list

lineage parts, vintage found parts, unconfirmed vintage found parts, original maker parts
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Starting with the old Pulce 40




Okay, so don't do what I did and paint the whole tube. The backend fits into the plastic hand grip super snug so too much paint in that area will make it hard to get the tube back into place. I had to sand that part back down. Dangit. Don't do that.




weathered and completed. Pulce 40 no longer.

The old Michell sweep arm for some of the doohickies. Is that the technical term? Oh, greeblies.


Time to break it up for the different destinations. Jetpack thingie, gauntlet dart, knee dart, and HIC control knob...


comparing the found part knee dart to a nice machined replica. Pretty solid match, but the original has a hollow point. Interestingly, the toe dart replicas I have do have the hollow point.



Also have this dental expansion screw piece. Unfortunately it's just a replica. It's a metal cast made by a friend who had an original. But still cool. He sent it in a replica box, too. Classy.


And I managed to get most of the armor trimmed, except for the chest pieces, and got most of the costume up on a temporary mannequin. This mannequin is 6'1", too tall for Fett. The helmet is a stand-in, Fettpride Premium circa 2013, and the gloves, ammo belt and suit are also stand-ins, all to be replaced. I will repaint the jetpack, originally painted 6-7 years ago.

Finally! An ESB helmet that's the correct size and shape. This is Minutefett's G4 raw cast bucket on a new manny. Again, just a stand-in, but a big upgrade. The true Fett bobble-head look is now a reality.


My inspiration for the pose I want is from my favorite shot of Fett in ESB:




The source of the vintage helmet chin straps and chin cup. This chin cup has the four holes in front instead of the correct three. WTB the correct cup.

Time to work on the boots. I'm doing two pair since I'm giving a fresh set to my ROTJ as well. I have a pair from MOW's 2nd run way back when, maybe a decade ago. This was the first run to have the correct squared toe and is pretty much the same thing as what Imperial Boots sells currently. The second pair is a recently purchased set from, well, Imperial Boots.


Before proceeding I looked at every photo of the boots I could find, and I noticed something I hadn't seen before. I'm sure it's been brought up here many times by others, but it was new to me, since I never focused hard on the boots before. I noticed there was a spot on the upper right ESB boot that looks like it completely missed the weathering process, like it was covered up when they gunked it up. However it happened, the spot shows up pretty clearly.


This is cool for two reasons.
1) it shows the base color of the boot is the same as the flightsuit.
2) it allows us to match this exact boot to the AOSW display below:

AoSW_ROTJ samebootsas ESB2.jpg

So we know the AOSW boots were the ESB pair.

I used the flightsuit color to get my base colors and plan to leave that top inside area on the right boot fairly clean as I weather both sets.

base colors after dye bath and base colorant:

Looks pretty garish. Part of that is lighting. Blue scattered daylight makes blues look bluer. Weathering will mute all of this. My technique is probably different than others I've seen. I use colored talcum powders and weathering powders and work them into the fiber dry with brushes. Lots and lots of powder. Then wipe out the excess with dry cloth and at the end mist with fixative, to keep the color from coming out with handling. I then use a fair amount of liquid pigments on top of this. Let it dry and rub out. Works especially well if you pair with weathering powders. If you've studied Star Wars costumes and characters you become familiar with raw umber and burnt umber liquid pigments as a primary source of weathering. Examples: ANH Threepio, ANH Sandtroopers, ANH R2-D2 are heavy with raw & burnt umber.

The MOW's below will be the ROTJ pair. Weathering mostly done on the right boot. Still playing around getting all the complex tones correct. Will do the rest tomorrrow.



ROTJ boots complete, sans toe spikes


For the ESB I had a bit of a decision to make... how much weathering should there be. If you examine the production photos in shooting order, you begin to notice the initial weathering wears off quite a bit from the beginning of the shoot to the end.

The start of shooting Fett's scenes began in early April 1979, starting with the Bespin corridor with Fett escorting the HIC and confronting Luke. The weathering was fresh and thick and the boots looked mostly like this:


Later near the end of April, in the Executor scene, they looked like this:


Already a lot of gunk has worn off and the overall colors are starting to even out, as well as the black strip down the middle losing some of its contrast. Also the sides of the soles have lightened up considerably. Maybe lighting is playing some tricks to add to the differences. Really hard to know. I'm pretty sure these are still the same boots because a tiny bit of the unweathered spot is peaking through on the right boot.

Then by the time they shoot the carbon-freezing chamber scene in late June 1979, a lot more has worn off. The soles almost look white again. In fact they look so clean, I'm not even sure these boots are the same as the other scenes. But certainly someone on here probably knows and said so before (Rafalfett? :cry:):


So I want to make my build to approximate scene 371, outside the torture chamber when Fett confronts Vader ("He's no good to me dead") which was shot in mid May '79. I don't have any shots of the boots from that scene, but they are close in time to the executor scene so that served as my main reference. The trouble is, those pics aren't great and still leave a lot to the imagination.


spikes on the boots.

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One step forward, two steps back for ESB. Now bereft of the majority of his soft parts, since the suit/vest/neck went to the new new ROTJ display, ESB waits a new set of softies, which is currently on order with @Clothears Costumes . For now the display looks rather sad and not much to look at, but the armor is primed and ready, except I need to make slight modifications to minutefett's hero shoulders. More on that later.


But first, I want to tackle the jetpack before I do the armor. My jetpack was originally painted by a really good TDH painter many eons ago, and he certainly did an admirable job overall, but I think there is room for improvement in terms of accuracy.


for starters, the base green is too saturated and the weathering is too dark. It needs a repaint.

This was my first attempt at a jetpack paintup.


I went with the archiveX grey-green for the base color. For the most part I went topical and eyeballed everything. Except the metal scrape on the middle spine. I wanted the size, shape, and placement to be as close as possible to accurate since this is one of the defining elements of the look of this version, so I used the best photo of the ESB jetpack, scaled it up to the same dimensions as this MOW pack (its spine is about 42mm wide so just scaled to that measurement), cut out the spine from the printout and placed it on the jetpack:

IMG_8200 2.JPG

IMG_8205 2.JPG

nearly finished:


comparing to the paintjob I painted over:


Putting the beacon/dental file/stabilizer on. Using RafalFett's uber precise placement drawing.

IMG_8218 2.JPG


cross checking the placement with a film frame... seems pretty good...

Screen Shot 2020-09-05 at 11.05.45 PM.png

not the exact same angle or lens so considering that, RafalFett's measurements seem pretty accurate, not that I ever questioned.

My stabilizer is a real Michell sweep arm part so it obviously doesn't have attachment hardware. Decided to cut the head off a machine screw, and glue it into the hollow center post. Not sure how they did it, but maybe similar. Anybody know?


I'm firmly in the camp that the ESB dental file is NOT blue. It's the same color as the rest of the jetpack with the top remaining unpainted or painted piano key red. My dental file is already red so I left the top unpainted.


Wired up the beacon light...


Getting the beacon attached turned into an issue. The placement is so near the edge, that underneath inside the jetpack, fiberglass was getting in the way of the bottom screw inserting flush to the surface, causing the beacon to look crooked. My solution was to cut the attachment screw so that it was clear of the fiberglass protrusion.


Finally masking off for the 'white dot'. I taped on a washer with an interior diameter of 9mm.


And now finished... a comparison to the original...

ESB JP vs MOW JP.jpg

I'm now pretty sure that white dot should be 8mm.
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A few months back I sold this baby, my 1915 Mark 1, SN#540:

It went to Airmarshal, aka Fieldmarshal on RPF, to finish his EE3 all aluminum CNC project, so I lucked out. We all did. Soon metal copies of this will be available to all, and part of the deal I made with Chris was I would recieve #001 off the line. Like I said, I lucked out. So here it is now:


I sold it mostly because I didn't want to have to engineer the mannequin display to handle the heavy weight. The replicas have gotten really good and are far easier to accommodate on a mannequin without much trouble.
IMG_8283 2.JPG

I have to say, as someone who owned a real one for a decade, this Sidewinder is truly a superb replica. What a beautiful reproduction it is. I ordered it assembled and painted by Sidewinder because his pictures were so impressive. The good news is that it's about 100 million times lighter than a real one and the manny handles it just fine.


When the discovery of the ever ready minilight was made, I was off heavily involved in other things and not really paying much attention. After all, I was still waiting for my armor to arrive for the previous three years so my focus was elsewhere. I missed out on the rush to gobble them up off the interwebs. I suspect the only ones left at this point not already in the hands of TDH'ers are scattered in Earth's crust in landfills. I've been hunting for the past year and have come up empty. So until I go for that vacation on a 40 year old landfill with my shovel, the gauntlet kit does come with a resin replica. But I felt it was missing something critical. The bulb. So I drilled a hole where the bulb should peek out...


got an ever ready replacement bulb... and did my best to seat it into the replica like an original to serve as a stand-in until I can get a real one. It doesn't actually light up, but I'm not that terribly interested in it being a functional replacement. I don't know squat about leptons and photons and all that... electricity stuff.


There was a small problem with the whipcord housing being inaccurate. I'm not sure if its with the mold or casting. But the inner part was missing.

Not acceptable, but seemed an easy fix with some polystyrene. I settled on 1.5 x 1.5mm polystyrene strips to build out the missing section.
Of course as I proceeded I noticed more inaccuracies and I think I'll have to make more modifications later, or just replace altogether.




Your painting skills are amazing. It's the best ESB jetpack and ESB gaunts I have ever seen. BTW, looks like you changed your MF Hero to a MCR helmet with ears, don't you?
thank you, sir! Those are kind words. My plan is to get MinuteFett's ESB hero as the helmet for this display, and put the Elstree ears on that, assuming there isn't too much shrinkage.
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I think the MF Hero was cast also with non shrink materials so it could be around 1% from original Hero. Way better than any epoxy which is around 2% per generarion.

I would keep the MC untouched as it's an early gen.
Yes. You are correct. MinuteFett used the non-shrink. There is only a 1mm difference in width between the G2 and MF Hero from ear to ear. Which is incredible if the MF Hero is G4 or G5.
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The G2 metal ears fit the MF Hero perfectly. I am assuming the ESB hero, which will be a G5 helmet, will also fit hero ears just fine. If not, I have a backup plan.
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