Building the perfect Boba Fett costume (pictures)

Crave's Christopher MacManus explores Andrew Miller's custom movie-accurate Boba Fett costume from "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi." Fans of the legendary sci-fi bounty hunter won't want to miss this pictorial.

Christopher MacManus
Crave contributor Christopher MacManus regularly spends his time exploring the latest in science, gaming, and geek culture -- aiming to provide a fun and informative look at some of the most marvelous subjects from around the world.
Christopher MacManus
1 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET

Boba Fett

The faceless Boba Fett stands out as one of the most mysterious of all the personae in the vast "Star Wars" universe.

For Andrew Miller, a 41-year-old office worker who spends his days at a reference law library in East Lansing, Mich., being Boba Fett -- or at least looking and acting just like the intergalactic bounty hunter -- has become a second life of sorts. When I met Miller at Dragon Con in early September, I knew I finally came across the Boba Fett fan I'd always been searching for.

You can't just go out and buy a Boba Fett costume and say the deed is done, especially if you want to do it right. When Miller created his first Fett costume at age 27, little did he know he'd be spending many years after tweaking, changing pieces often, and eventually come close to achieving a film-quality representation of the Boba Fett costume as seen in the 1983 sci-fi spectacular "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi."

Miller told CNET he has spent "hundreds and hundreds" of hours perfecting the outfit. It took six months of nights and weekends to build the original suit, and Miller has since then upgraded almost every piece of the outfit as more reference material hit the Internet. The community and resources from The Dented Helmet, a collective of Boba Fett costume enthusiasts, have substantially helped Miller along the way.

Click through for a closer look at this incredible re-creation of Boba Fett's costume.

2 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET

BlasTech EE-3 carbine rifle

While there are many ways to create and/or obtain Boba Fett's favorite shooter, a BlasTech EE-3 carbine, from the "Star Wars" universe, Andrew Miller pieced his together by sourcing parts from four different people and assembling it like a model kit. Most pieces are resin, except for the metal bracket and two joined-together rifle scopes that form the signature look.
3 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET

The helmet

Andrew Miller's fiberglass Boba Fett helmet, which he painted himself, bears all the knicks, scratches, and irregular paint variations that made the rugged bounty hunter appear so authentic. It looks like the real thing in person.

"Growing up as a kid watching these movies, honest truth is that Han Solo was my favorite character. I don't look like Harrison Ford, though," Miller said. He contemplated being Darth Vader (he was too small) or a Stormtrooper (he didn't know any other troopers at the time). One day, a friend told Miller he should go for Boba Fett, because the costume could look good solo or alongside groups.

"That is how it all began," he said. "I built my costume as a Return of the Jedi Boba because there was Smithsonian's Star Wars: The Magic of Myth exhibit touring the country at the time and people had taken good pictures of the suit seen on the tour."

4 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET


It's not just a simple visored helmet, though, as Andrew Miller followed the path of experienced Boba Fett costumers who integrate electronics into the outfit. "The helmet has an electronic servo inside it where I can make the rangefinder go up and down with a hidden controller inside my glove and it will automatically blink the LED lights on top of the rangefinder in the down position," Miller said.
5 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET

Inside the helm

When wearing the Boba Fett mask, several components hang behind Andrew Miller’s head. He discreetly wears a super slim microphone with a cable that runs under his vest and into a powered speaker that sits in one of the pouches on his belt. "Makes it easier to talk to people at an event without them having to stick their heads up against your helmet and say 'What?' -- and fans always seem to love when Boba Fett or Stormtroopers have a voice that sounds amplified," Miller notes.
6 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET

Finer detail

After spending countless hours perfecting a costume, even the smallest detail can mean everything. For example, those little red protrusions, located at the back of Andrew Miller's Boba Fett costume, originate from Micro Mega number 15 dental files from the UK that actual "Star Wars" prop makers used on the original Fett helmet.
7 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET


Creating "Star Wars"-quality armor isn't just a matter of buying pieces off a store shelf. For Andrew Miller, achieving this Boba Fett look felt like a long-winded game of finding people who have the time to make the base parts (that often come unpainted) and then customizing those pieces accordingly. Communities such as The Dented Helmet make film-accurate costumes like this possible.

"Building a Boba Fett costume is a complex task, and I didn't really have any art skills when I did it. I had no clue what a Dremel tool was. I didn't know what drybrushing was. I just jumped in and learned along the way. I started working on the smaller armor pieces and then worked my way up to the larger pieces, like the multi-piece gauntlets, and saved the jetpack until last," Miller said.

"Then there's all the little parts you don't think about going into a project like this, such as needing to buy roughly 40-50 different colors of paint to make your Boba Fett look correct, and all the types of glues and everything needed to physically assemble your armor and so forth."

8 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET

High-tech chestplate

Andrew Miller's Boba Fett chest armor, which was vacuum-formed out of white plastic sheets, went through numerous paint jobs to make it appear similar to the real thing. The left piece of the chest armor contains a LED board (see here for examples) that flashes red lettering and a side-scrolling light pattern.
9 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET

Wookiee braids and things

Aside from painting and making sure all the scratches are correct, the most complex thing about Boba Fett's armor might be all the little pieces that gave him the appearance of a seasoned bounty hunter. For example, the red rope belt was originally a white mohair horse girth (for attaching a saddle), which "Star Wars" prop makers used for the original.

Andrew Miller bought Fett's Wookiee scalps from another fan who sells the hair online. "All the soft parts of the costume (jumpsuit, vest, neck seal, gloves, boots, ankle spats, ammo belt, saddle bags) are created from the ground up," Miller said.

10 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET

Behind the bounty hunter

Boba Fett's unusual-looking jetpack sports a mock missile and an unusual paint job -- and Andrew Miller's version looks nearly identical to what you'd see in "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi." Miller's even installed a white-light beacon on the jetpack just like the real thing.

It's an incredibly fun hobby, and I plan on continuing it throughout the upcoming years," Miller said.

11 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET

Fancy footwear

A picture of Andrew Miller's Boba Fett costume from the shin guards to the shoes. There's quite a bit of attention to detail even at this portion of the outfit, including the shin tools that originate from Paterson photo developing products and a cape that came from an old vintage Army shelter half tent.

"I have some CNC lathed metal parts on my costume that various guys have made over the years, from the toe spikes on the boots, to the darts on the side of the knee armor, to various pieces on the gauntlets and jetpack," Miller said.

12 of 12 Christopher MacManus/CNET

Side shot

Simply put, being Boba Fett changed Andrew Miller's life for the better, as it opened up new social avenues and lifelong friendships. "After I built my costume and started wearing it to local comic conventions, I then met some of the early 501st Legion (an enormous "Star Wars" costuming group) members and it carried on from there and hasn't slowed down for me, almost 14 years later," Miller said.

"There are people from all over the place that I would not have ever met if it wasn't for mutual love of 'Star Wars' costuming. Now we're onto another generation, as some of my 'Star Wars' costume friends now have their own children that they make little costumes for and bring them along with them to events that the parents are costuming at. It’s just one giant family and honestly the friends I've made through it feel like extended family members to me."

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