Armor Masters: Behind the Scenes of ANOVOS’ First Order Stormtrooper Standard Kit

Joe Salcedo, CEO of ANOVOS, talks to StarWars.com about making costume replica armor for the First Order faithful.

When it comes to Star Wars armor and costumes, the stormtrooper design stands as maybe the most iconic — which is saying something, considering it shares space (no pun intended) with Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and the like. First Order stormtrooper armor, an update introduced in The Force Awakens, modernized the gear. Bold black, fluid lines connect features on a simplified helmet; leg, arm, and chest protection looks sleeker, with fewer angles and cuts; and overall, it just feels like an evolution. Fans loved the new version — and so did ANOVOS, purveyors of screen-accurate Star Wars armor.

The Force Awakens - Stormtroopers

“We thought it was an incredible design,” Joe Salcedo, CEO of ANOVOS, tells StarWars.com over e-mail. “Although seeing it for the first time, it had the familiarity of an old friend. It was clear that continuity within the saga was a key design element, and without explanation, it felt like a logical decades-later upgrade from the beloved classics we knew.”

ANOVOS has just launched pre-orders for their First Order Stormtrooper Standard Kit, a complete armor package. Working from photography and assets provided by Lucasfilm, they refined and tinkered with the product until it achieved the desired level of accuracy and ease-of-use. It was a time-consuming, difficult process, but the result will probably please even Supreme Leader Snoke. “The latest Standard Line version of the suit has gone through at least three different major revisions,” Salcedo says. “Starting with the armor we produced for the marketing effort at Celebration Anaheim in 2015 (standing behind The Force Awakens cast on stage and displayed on the exhibit floor), we knew corrections had to be made. The first iterations of the armor were actually quite soft in detailing versus the original screen-used pieces. Therefore, we had to employ different mold-making techniques and much stronger vacuum form machines to capture the required detail. Secondly, the first iterations were extremely complex to put together. This was the result of a tight development schedule, and is somewhat expected on the “first go” of any project. The current kit we are offering for 2017 delivery is not only much sharper, but contains less pieces to put together. In fact, we are aiming for a builder skill level similar to that required by our popular classic stormtrooper armor kit. Lastly, the accuracy of this new First Order armor is enhanced to better match the pieces provided by Lucasfilm in both photography and in personal observation of the screen used artifacts.”

How did they know the armor was ready for the First Order faithful? Easy. “This is actually a requirement for ANOVOS,” Salcedo says. “I can say, personally, that I have tried on almost all of our armor pieces alongside my co-workers.” But that doesn’t mean work was over. Armor creation for ANOVOS is an ongoing, let’s-keep-improving process.

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“In all honesty, our work is never done,” Salcedo explains. “Even since the time we opened pre-orders earlier this year, there have been modifications to improve user wearability or kit building accessibility. It is our commitment to the fans to make the best kit out there and sometimes that means revisiting the piece multiple times before shipping can begin.”

ANOVOS’ stormtrooper armor has long been popular with cosplayers looking for detail and accuracy. The goal for ANOVOS with the Standard Kit is to meet those demands, but to also make a version that can open the door to more fans. “It is not only sharper but easier to put together,” Salcedo says. “This means that even more people will be able to accomplish an armor build, and helps spread the word through the costuming community that being a super-accurate First Order stormtrooper is more attainable than they may have previously thought.”

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While ANOVOS is still pushing forward in all areas of Star Wars costuming — the Rogue One shoretrooper helmet was just revealed, and classic trilogy armor is still available — the First Order Stormtrooper Standard Kit is particularly special for the company. “I am proud of the commitment within the ANOVOS team, and thankful for the customer feedback that reminds us to never get complacent with our products,” Salcedo says. “As a result, we’re excited to deliver a kit that speaks to various skill sets at a price that is very accessible. We don’t ever settle and I think this kit definitely demonstrates that.”

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content writer and editor of the StarWars.com blog. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

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