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Armor-Fiberglass or Plastic

  1. #1

    Member Since
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    Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    Hello all,

    I'm new to this board and to say that I am impressed would be an understatement. In my circle of friends and colleagues I'm considered the Fett Guru. I've been lurking around this board for about a week and a half and have done a lot of reading. I can say with certainty that my knowledge of Fett is miniscule compared to the vast amount of freely shared information here at this board. I'm also considered to be a stickler for detail and I'm very impressed and happy at how much perfectionism goes on in this board. For the longest time I thought I was the only one who looked for the "little details". This site truly does humble me.

    Now on to my question. I've read and searched this site but have not been able to uncover the answer to my satisfaction. What I'm wanting to know is the difference between armor being Vac Formed and it being Fiberglass. What are the different qualities, pros and cons of each?

    I've seen both FP's and BM's pics of armor and I'm amazed at how accurate every little detail is. The passion, effort and skill that has been put into each of their molds and armor is evident to all who view it. The main difference that I can tell from what I've read is that one is Vac Formed and the other is Fiberglass. Can anyone tell me how that translates into the costume (weight, resilience, thickness, ability to hold primer etc.). Thanks in advance. I hope this question is all right to ask, I do not mean to offend anyone.

    - Hollywood

  2. #2
    AFettFullofDollars's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    Vacuformed armor is made out of plastic. Fiberglass is self explanatory. It's made of fiberglass. Both take primer and paint easily. If you are going for 'Screen accuracy' then the vacuformed (plastic) is the way to go since that's how Fett's armor was made for the filming suit. Plastic will also be lighter than fiberglass and is more flexible. Fiberglass on the other hand is thicker, heavier, and may have more longevity for your investment depending on what you plan on doing with it (i.e.- trooping in it versus placing it on a mannequin for static display)
    Last edited by AFettFullofDollars; Feb 7, 2007 at 5:18 PM.

  3. #3
    DarthMiller's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    FP has made fiberglass versions in the past. I prefer Fiberglass myself...however if you plan on wearing your costume often then you might want vac form as it is very light weight

  4. #4
    batninja's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    I have always preferred plastic to fiberglass, simply because of the added flexibility. And the cost of plastic armor is generally cheaper than its fiberglass counterparts.

  5. #5
    evan4218's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    Also remeber that in ESB, his armor was Fiber Glass and in ROTJ they used Vacuformed versions from the same molds with some minor differences.

  6. #6
    Keegan's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    I've never heard that before. How do we know that?

    Plastic is the way to go for me because its cheaper.

  7. #7
    batninja's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    Justin, I'm not sure about that; in the ESB magazine I have, it clearly looks plastic. Here's the picture scanned on the Fett reference CD, but it's alot sharper in the magazine:


  8. #8
    Jango_Fett_Jr's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    evan4218 said: View Post
    Also remeber that in ESB, his armor was Fiber Glass
    I don't remember that
    I'm with Batninja, heck the knee armour in between the Threepio and Stormtrooper aren't even trimmed out so you can see they're vacuformed.

  9. #9
    Tim Allen's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    The only thing in my opinion that needs to be fiberglass is the helmet. Vaccum formed armor is lighter and althought not as strong as fiberglass, does have flex to it. Unless you plan on crashing into alot of things, plastic is a cheaper yet just as accurate route to go.

  10. #10
    I helped at SDCC '08 Jimmy BufFETT's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    I prefer fiberglass over plastic primarily due to where I live. Given how hot it gets, the plastic could easily deform if exposed to intense heat. The only downside with fiberglass is the knee armor ... the plastic armor is flexible while the fiberglass is not. I noticed walking with fiberglass knee armor is a little more difficult than with plastic ones.

  11. #11
    I helped at SDCC '08 GCNgamer128's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    Jimmy BufFETT said: View Post
    I prefer fiberglass over plastic primarily due to where I live. Given how hot it gets, the plastic could easily deform if exposed to intense heat. The only downside with fiberglass is the knee armor ... the plastic armor is flexible while the fiberglass is not. I noticed walking with fiberglass knee armor is a little more difficult than with plastic ones.
    I agree. Being in the desert, we can get up to 125F, and that could easily ruin $300 worth of armour. Fiberglass is very resistant to heat, and it starts to bend at around 400F or so I believe.

    Fiberglass is also stronger, it won't bend and won't lose it's shape. Bending is something that worries me about vacformed parts. After trooping with a Stormtrooper for about a year, I know how flexible vacformed ABS can be. Bending parts could cause cracking in the paintjob, requiring it to be re-done every once and a while.

  12. #12
    Buckeye_01's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    Listen, if your armor is deforming when your outside, then its time to come back in! I spent 24 years in Phoenix, so I understand the heat and the high desert.

    I have glass armor, and I really like it. It is a little difficult to get it bent to my shape, but it has held up really nice.

  13. #13
    evan4218's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    I am going off of what the mods have said in the past and what I can tell from the hi res screen pics of esb. His chest armor is much more "flat" with less of a lip. I could be wrong though. Either way I say vac aromr is better, lighter, and very accurate.

  14. #14
    SaxeCoburg's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    wow... I never heard of ESB being fiberglass... I'd certainly like to know more.

  15. #15
    evan4218's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    Hopefully Braks or Tyler will chime in here since I know they got da knolage!!!

  16. #16

    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    I'm a little confused about this. Isn't the plastic that is used for vac-forming, thin to start with? I'm going with Sintra and PVC because of the strength and rigidity. The Sintra I have is a WHOLE lot thicker than a For Sale sign. I'm sure Fiberglass is the strongest of all materials for armor, but I don't fancy fooling around with it. Isn't thick Sintra stronger than vac-formed plastic?

    Somebody plz help me out here. Thanks.

  17. #17
    Jango's kid's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    My last two sets of armour were fiberglass. I really love the stuff. yeah, its a tad heavier than vaced, but the weight & feel of glass makes it seem more like real armour...if that makes sense I've trooped quite a bit in my fp vesion 1 and it has really held up well. However, I just got a set of vaced, so I'm gonna try that out & see how I like it I think mainly it boils down to personal prefrence, although to be movie accurate, vaced is the way to go. Unless of course, it turns out that the ESB stuff was glass
    D

  18. #18
    evan4218's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    Well, unless you robed the archives and troop in the real stuff I dont think it really matters. If it looks right to you and your happy thats all that matters.

  19. #19
    batninja's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    Southern hunter said: View Post
    I'm a little confused about this. Isn't the plastic that is used for vac-forming, thin to start with? I'm going with Sintra and PVC because of the strength and rigidity. The Sintra I have is a WHOLE lot thicker than a For Sale sign. I'm sure Fiberglass is the strongest of all materials for armor, but I don't fancy fooling around with it. Isn't thick Sintra stronger than vac-formed plastic?

    Somebody plz help me out here. Thanks.
    Sintra is high-density PVC foamboard, and is usually thicker than the styrene or ABS plastic that most costumers use for armor. Sintra can be formed with a heatgun or boiling water, but I haven't seen anyone successfully use it for vacuforming. Some use this material as it is more cost-effective than building a vacuform apparatus.

    ABS is what most stormtrooper armor is made from, as it is far more sturdier than styrene and its gloss version resists UV rays better. It comes in different thicknesses, and is usually vacuformed into shape.

    Styrene is plastic, and is ideal for lower-budget vacuforming; it doesn't require as much vacuum power to make a pull. It is also offered in different thicknesses, the most popular for Fett costuming being .080 and .093. Parts with more detail are usually vacced with thinner .060.

    In my opinion, vacuforming with styrene allows you to get a much more defined curvature to the armor, as well as (depending on the mold) getting the signature 'lip' on the edge of the chest armor.

  20. #20

    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    for me, it's all about the metal!

    nothing like the resounding thud as some punk whacks you across the chest, only to find that he just backhanded a thick metal plate!

  21. #21
    Jango's kid's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    you definately have a point there!!!!!

  22. #22
    I helped at SDCC '08 GCNgamer128's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    tk7602 said: View Post
    for me, it's all about the metal!

    nothing like the resounding thud as some punk whacks you across the chest, only to find that he just backhanded a thick metal plate!
    You need a metal bucket and Jet Pack to go along with that set!

  23. #23

    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    I've never seen any evidence or heard any commentary from "reliable sources" that the ESB armor, or any armor for that matter, was fiberglass. All the photographic evidence we have points to vaccuformed armor.

    However, the lone exception is the left gauntlet. It's less rounded and a little sharper than the right gauntlet. And the gauntlet at MoM, which is badly chipped in the front, just doesn't look like plastic. Maybe a fiberglass left gauntlet was safer than plastic if they intended for the ROTJ gaunt to actually work.

  24. #24
    evan4218's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    If you look closely at the collar on one of the screen grabs I posted, there is little to know way that could be done on a vac table as it curves under. That kind of undercut cant be done IMO.

  25. #25
    I helped at SDCC '08 Jimmy BufFETT's Avatar
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    Re: Vac Formed Armor vs Fiberglass

    GCNgamer128 said: View Post
    You need a metal bucket and Jet Pack to go along with that set!
    A metal :jet pack???? Just the thought of that gives me the jibblies ... that's gotta weigh quite a bit!!!! If I had one, my spine would probably compress 3 inches. I call that an ouch!

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