Armor-Fiberglass or Plastic

Hollywood Hogan

New Hunter
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
 

AFettFullofDollars

Well-Known Hunter
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)
 
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DarthMiller

Active Hunter
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
 
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batninja

Well-Known Hunter
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.
 
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evan4218

Active Hunter
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.
 
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Keegan

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

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

Well-Known Hunter
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:

p54ESBofficialcollectorsmagfrom1980.gif
 
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Jango Fett Jr

Well-Known Hunter
Also remeber that in ESB, his armor was Fiber Glass
I don't remember that :confused
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.
 
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Tim Allen

Well-Known Hunter
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.
 
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Jimmy BufFETT

Well-Known Hunter
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.
 
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GCNgamer128

Sr Hunter
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 125ºF, and that could easily ruin $300 worth of armour. Fiberglass is very resistant to heat, and it starts to bend at around 400ºF 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.
 
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Buckeye 01

Active Hunter
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.
 
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evan4218

Active Hunter
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. :)
 
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Southern hunter

Active Hunter
I'm a little confused about this. Isn't the plastic that is used for vac-forming, thin to start with? :confused 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.:)
 
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Jangos kid

Well-Known Hunter
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 :lol: 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
 
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evan4218

Active Hunter
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.
 
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batninja

Well-Known Hunter
I'm a little confused about this. Isn't the plastic that is used for vac-forming, thin to start with? :confused 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.
 
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stormtrooperguy

Sr Hunter
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!
 
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