"Customs" - Cannon vs. Imagination


Well-Known Hunter
I've never known how to quite put into words my opinion on the reception (or lack-of) "custom" Mandalorians. Overall, the circle of those involved in the interpretation of the Mandalorian's is a positive one. For the most part, everyone is as helpful and loving of Stars Wars as those creating strictly canon costumes. However, I would also say that there is a large amount of resentment for the hacking and slashing of canon characters.

When I began my own project, I honestly do not remember the massive amount of customs that there are today (though I may be wrong about that). My reasoning behind it was simple. It had nothing to do with a lack of motivation or patience to create Boba Fett or Jango Fett. The reason was that Boba Fett and Jango Fett were not me.

I've always wanted to be a part of that Galaxy far far away. As much as I respect and admire the work of the Boba and Jango's here, I personally felt at the time that if I wanted to make a contribution, it should be as the character I would be in that Galaxy. I absolutely focused on the canon Star Wars universe as a guide to my own character, but also obviously took some liberty in design. Being generally new to costuming, I didn't completely understand the culture surrounding this hobby yet.

I have never been directly told that my armor is problematic or anything like that (in fact, quite the opposite), but I am always aware of the conflicting views about it. It's a bit frustrating at times, but at the same time I completely understand and respect the popular desire to uphold Star Wars as it was told.

Why am I posting this? Not really sure. But I think there are some issues that need to be resolved in the Dented Variants. There are some extremely patient and well executed works, and there are honestly some which seem to come together much too quickly and with much less attention to detail as our Boba and Jango brothers (no offense). I am not one in any place to tell anyone else how to create their own vision. However, I am trying to determine the areas that cause the most conflict. Most of the larger costuming groups no longer recognize Variants as acceptable. Personally, I understand this stance. That said, I am very proud of my own work and I know it brings joy to many people.

So what can be done?

Maybe nothing...perhaps I am just rambling. Or perhaps, we should step up to more closely scrutinize one another. Perhaps we are not completely canon, but we can surely do our best to adhere to the actual look and feel of the Star Wars Universe. Choices like colors palettes (or lack of), accessories (or lack of), and legitimate weapon options (that at least incorporate significant elements of the known Star Wars Universe) can go a long way into unifying the Mandalorians.

I feel that the lack of unification is the single largest element that causes issue. Without a complete code to follow, we do as we feel, often before consulting any guidelines. This results in an armada of uniqueness, no two alike. My personal (opinion) is that while there would likely be more variance than Boba and Jango, there would also be a lot less than we are creating. How can we solve this, or should it even be solved?

I am curious if anyone else has an opinion on this, or if I am on my own.

Again, no offense intended to ANYONE. These are just a few thoughts I have had on my mind for quite a while now.
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While I don't have really much to add...or a solution to the proposed question. I do have to say that as a fellow "custom" I completely understand where you are coming from.

I understand fully what you said in your next-to-last paragraph about adhering to the Star Wars universe. I tried to stay as close to the technology and look in making my costume as well and understand how something as simple as a weapon out of place can make a Star Wars costume seem...un-Star Wars.

That's why I felt it best to try and copy and "modify" certain elements to retain a feel of the original Star Wars.

I'm glad that you brought this out into the open.
ShockWave, I definatly agree with the points you brought up.

When people think customs, they think of pretty much doing anything they want. I encourage that, but to a point. I've seen some customs that were "too much." I don't really know how else to describe it, almost like they were trying too hard to customize it. I'm not saying they should completely redo it because I think it's a bit much, just voiceing my opinion.

I also agree with scrutinizing and critiquing eachother's work. We are customs, that much is true, but it doesn't mean our work can't measure up to that of some of the Boba's and Jango's here. We should definatly strive for quility, much like our fellow cannon Mandalorians do.

So no, you're definatly not on your own. I'm sure others will have opinions to add here, and I look forward to reading them.
If I may add my two cents here... and if I am stepping over a boundary, please let me know. I agree 100%. Should there be a set guideline for customs? I can't say, as I am just now getting an interest in the Mando area. However, should that deter someone's imagination? That is something that everyone should agree upon and discuss. Personally, I think that if the custom looks like and is "plausiable" within the realm of SW- then I say **again my opinion only** go for it.
The debate over customs and "canons" in my opinion is pointless. Its like trying to argue with someone how chocolate is better then vanilla ice cream, no one can ever win or lose, so why argue? The way I think of customs is that its a persons interpritation of a character in the SW universe. Its somethin people have been doing since stories were first told and written. For instance, in the epic of Beowulf, you read the character of Grendal as a ferocious monster that is huge, hairy, and has tremedous claws. Thiis is where peoples interpritation come in. Some might percive this monster has a Bear like creature, or a huminoid warewolf. Its all about how someones sees things, and they do it all the time in movies. Everyone's seen all concept art, and what first thoughts and looks were before the final film came out.

So what Im tryin to say, is that customs are everywhere if you think about it. Also, its a art. Creating a character, and designing it takes as much effort as it does for famous characters most commonly seen. So no one is right to say thst customs are wrong or that they are inaccurate. Keep making art and dont worry about negativity from people who disapprove of "customs." Just keep doing what your doing.

(The world is full of characters, the SW universe is much wider, whos to say that there are only a set number of people there?)
It is a pretty pointless argument. But I think this thread is geared more towards the idea of having standards of some kind, so customs don't deviate so much from the Mandalorian standards that they become unrecognizable, or at least not easily connected to being a Mandalorian. While Mandalorians are all unique, they still have many things in common, keeping with the tradition that they all belong to the same state of being and belief.

I can respect that you feel Jango and Boba were not for you. My personal preference in costuming is to try to match the screen as much as I can. It's a sort of concrete goal that I can aspire to. That said, I really admire the creative effort that many costumers put into their customs.

I think its a misconception that those who do not do a canon costume do not have to have attention to detail. I think it takes a different talent altogether to emulate a style instead of an exact replica. I have certainly seen customs that were either underdone or grossly overdone. However, I think that if executed properly, a custom can fit very harmoniously into the general atmosphere of the canon universe. As I feel is demonstrated below...

Perfect, zxwing. :) My thoughts exactly.
And that is a kick:moon picture.

I think its a misconception that those who do not do a canon costume do not have to have attention to detail. I think it takes a different talent altogether to emulate a style instead of an exact replica. I have certainly seen customs that were either underdone or grossly overdone. However, I think that if executed properly, a custom can fit very harmoniously into the general atmosphere of the canon universe. As I feel is demonstrated below...
I think the important question to ask when creating a Custom is: "Does it look like it could've just walked off of the film sets?" If the answer is yes, then you're onto a winner.
Ok, as Custom Mando's we don't have a screen image to follow, there are no guides in any books, and our only limits are our Lucas inspired imaginations but (and there's ALWAYS a but!) we do have to stick to established facts about Mando's, and that means taking our inspiration from Boba and Jango. Unfortunatly this means we can't always win, with some people not impressed because they think we're just a repainted Jango or an alternatively coloured Boba.
When it comes to making any Mando, Canon or Custom the same rules apply:

1)Don't cut corners. Take your time with your armour, DON'T rush it. A good idea for a Custom can be ruined by rushing to finish your armour. It can take months for someone to finish their Boba or Jango, there's THAT much detail; there should be as much if not more detail on a Custom mando.

2)Don't think that just because you're making your own creation it'll be cheaper and easier then making Boba or Jango. If you start out by purchasing cheap and shoddy parts, the end results won't be as good as if you saved and bought the best out there.

3)As already mentioned, try and stick to the established Star Wars universe, study the films, comics and books to get the look down. Even if you are creating something new, a blaster, jet pack or markings on your armour for example; it MUST look the part.

4)Don't get upset when your called Boba or Jango by the general public. I troop with the Knights Of The Empire on a regular basis and get called Boba more often then our own Bobas do!!
well, The way I see it, Customs are just our little twist on the canon of star wars. We are all making armor because we think it's a cool, fun, and creative thing to do, but why are we all making mandalorian armor?

The answer my friends is

We are all paying homage to the great characters of Boba and Jango in our own little way, by making our armor in their image.

Now, customs are patently not canon characters, but I think that our desire to create a totaly new character, beyond the bounds and rules people place on pre-existing characters, and add a little part of ourselves to star wars. We're basically doing what fan-fiction writers and star wars roleplayers do, making a little bit of story for a small group of people.

I beleive that the real point to customs is expressing your love of the series and your creativity together in a vivid, powerful, and niftey looking package. Do what you want to your character, modify your armor, build a story, do what you want, because its a custom thats the point.

thats my 2 cents
Wow! It looks like I picked the perfect day to check out ye olde TDH forums again. ;)

I've done both at various times - from ESB Boba to Jodo Kast to a custom silver and black design. I too have been mistaken for Boba, Jango and even Darth Vader at times. Allow me to take a logical look at Mando costuming.

Who do we do it for?
Is it for the kids? If so, do they care if we're canon? If not, then who?
Do we do it for ourselves? If so, then customizing is a personal choice.
Do we do it for LFL? If so, then obviously Boba and Jango are surer bets but even LFL has shown that each mando is a variant. There's less in the way of cookie cutter molds than you might think.
In the end, I think it's a combo of all of the above.

Recent articles and comics such as Open Seasons show us that each mando is unique. In fact, custom mandos as a concept ARE canon. Each mando customizes his armor and weapons to his personal needs and desires. It's like creating a "canon" Ewok costume - no two are exactly the same. By nature, they are all "custom".

So, what is generally not appreciated about customs? Usually, it's stuff that varies from the spirit of the Star Wars universe. It's the old "customs are all pulse rifles, combat shotguns and chicken bones" argument. Customs shouldn't contain non-Star Wars weapons. A custom with a ninja sword and hockey pads might be cool for a fun costume but not as a serious attempt at a custom. That's fine for fun night at DC but not for serious costuming. In this way, we're no different from poorly done Bobas and Jangos with off-color paints and paper mache' gauntlets. Poor quality or poor design are both looked down upon.

Some might not like the day glo color schemes that some have chosen. Have you seen the Jodo Kast decipher card version? It's canon and the colors are pretty wild.

I've always come to accept the fact that currently the 501st isn't custom friendly. I'm working to change that but it's a slow process. The more quality customs that wouldn't look out of place standing next to Boba, Bossk and the boys the easier it will be to argue the case. The addition of a custom variants section here is a huge leap. Years ago when I first joined TDH, customs were the red-headed step children of the mando world. ;)

Allow me the sinful plug of inviting any and all Mandalorians to our humble forums: http://z6.invisionfree.com/Mando_ade

One fine day we'll get people to see that "custom" and "canon" aren't mutually exclusive terms. :)
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"In five millennia, the Mandalorians fought with and against a thousand armies on a thousand worlds. They learned to speak as many languages and absorbed weapons technology and tactics from every war. And yet, despite the overwhelming influence of alien cultures, and the absence of a true home world and even species, their own language not only survived but changed little; their way of life and their philosophy remained untouched; and their ideals and sense of family, of identity of nation, were only strengthened. Armor is not what makes a Mandalorian. Armor is simply a manifestation of an impenetrable, unassaliable heart. "
— Passage from "Mandalorians: Identity and Language"

The last two sentences sums up how I feel on the subject.
When I first started thinking about getting into costuming my first choice was doing a Mando. This was because I loved Boba and Jango from the movies, however I was never a big fan of Boba’s armor colors, and Jango was cool but not my cup of tea. When I first found there were custom Mandos out there it made my decision much easier.

I agree with both sides of this debate to a certain point. I do believe a “Custom” costume is just that, Custom. Which by its definition means not cannon, however I do agree with the notion of having some type of standards such as the general look and feel of a Mando in the armor scheme and helmet. That being said, the Star Wars universe is so large that there are weapons and gear out there that have never been seen besides inside the mind of the one who is working on them. I do believe that Mandos should not carry modern military style weapons, however customizing these weapons and creating your own custom weapon system is a great way to add to the custom experience.

A great way to look at the custom Mando world is to take a look into our past. The American Indian tribes were well known to customize their war paints and equipment to the individual. No one Indian looked alike in paint or weapons arrangement. This added to the ferocity of their appearance and helped to confuse their enemies, not really knowing how many individuals they are up against.

I do feel that some customs have gone overboard, but the better way to help these people out is to lead by example and make our customs to the top standards that our fellow Boba and Jango builders, as well as the rest of the costumers out there set for themselves. Be creative, be innovative, be yourself. If you feel that when you look in the mirror your costume would not work in the scene in ESB when the bounty hunters are lined up before Vader, or would not be found in a back water cantina somewhere blending in with the rest of the denizens then you may have over done it a bit.

That’s my .02 worth.
Wow while I love this thread I must say there is a lot at work here. First and formost x gen characteristics vs mellenium characteristics. as an x gen I hate rules ( and that is typical) but younger millenium like to rewrite the rules. There is a lot of psychology ( I know I have worked in the field for 10 years and have a degree) but I also have aN esb FETT AND A SKIRATA VARIANT. I do not consider 501st a valid group any longer. Sorry but they have locked themselves into a place where lucas can change their whole world in one press release.
If you are here on the TDH and you come to a con where I am at YOU are welcome. period to whatever party I am throwing to going out and trooping whatever. 501st isnt the only group out there and they drew that line in the sand. I am all about comparing costumes, having fun and talking about star wars . If you are too uptight well..... join the 501st I'm sure they need another schincter.
Remember that the 501st is just looking for quality costumes that meet film standards. We need more active stormtroopers, I hate going to events and there being 1 stormtrooper, a few custom Mandos, seven custom Jedi, 2 Boba Fetts and a Princess Leia.
It saddens me when I think of the seperations people draw for themselves, putting up barriers and walls in order to keep their own lives within their own control.

The 501st is a wonderful organization, providing support to costumers everywhere, and I respect them deeply for making hard-core costuming more possible for the average joe.

Now, I unfortunately will not become a member of the 501st due to the fact that I love my custom too much, but I realize that they have made a small but sad error in ecluding the thousands of us who love custom costuming. I personally have great hopes for the TDH, in the space of two small years in which I've been trolling here, the numbers of custom posts has grown infinately, and I hope that we will only get bigger and bigger.


As to quality of costumes, I think that even if a suit is low quality that everyone should do their best to support each other. We are a small group of people, and by telling somone "Your armor looks just like the trashcan you cut it from!", then we've just lost one more person.

I try to do my best to help others make their armor look as star-warsy as possible, and to make it better and better every single time they wear it out, in a state of sonstant improvement, until their armor is finnaly finished. That's how i've been doing my armor for nigh on two and a half years.

Support your fellow sons of Mandalore, and may you fly strong in your own endevors to become more like him.
Well we're lucky that the 501st is not just Stormtroopers anymore. It irritates me that people want customs in the 501st, we would lose the entire look of our club. Customs would let in Rubies costumes, scratch built extremely low quality cheap looking costumes, and etc. Those kind of costumes would not be as impressive as the 501st is now. The 501st should never allow customs, I believe that they should go back into the members list and revise the costumes again.

The 501st is not ignoring customs, they are just following the definition of "canon." They went through and brushed plenty of them out over the past year, I believe that Jango Wes's purple Jango wife was a member, she was removed. It's a nice costume, but it's just not canon unless some proof of it's existance in the Star Wars Universe (At least four pictures).

Without canon costumes, there would be no use for the GML (Garrison Membership Liason) in the 501st.

If you look at the Rebel Legion, they have a problem with costume quality, custom Jedi left and right, and that's why they are more of a follower of the 501st. Remember, you can always troop in your custom costumes as long as it's not an official event. If you want to be in the 501st, choose a costume that will go into the 501st! Why shouldn't the 501st let in Han Solo? If I wanted to make his costume, why can't I join that club? Why? Because it's not the right costume for the organisation.

Customs are not the 501st, if custom costumers have a problem with that, then perhaps they should start their own costuming club.
Question for GCNgamer. Why would allowing customs let in "Rubies costumes, scratch built extremely low quality cheap looking costumes, and etc" since part of the GML's job is to keep that from happening. It doesn't happen with Storm Troopers, it doesn't happen with Vader, it doesn't happen at all, and it's not because "There are pictures to go by" otherwise the Rubies Supreme Vader would be acceptable. It's because the 501st has a quality standard that some costumes don't meet. And the GML's keep that standard.

And as far as Rebel Legion, they actually now have standards for the costumes that allow for customization, unlike the 501st who have no costume standards, though the 501st is working on that. I will admit that Rebel Legion have had issues in the past, but they have worked to rectify this and were doing so before the 501st. And as far as Han Solo versus a Mandalorian, the 501st doesn't allow Rebel Face characters, but they do allow Bounty Hunters.

But to get this back to the topic at hand, the problem with setting standards, is what do you set the standard to? Do we throw out MS's "Heavy Mando" helmet because it has a bunch of stuff attached? What if you do a Mando that wears a Clone breastplate/backpate instead of the standard flak vest armor? Does it require shins and thighs? Does armor require gauntlets? Does the gauntlet have to have a missile on it, or could it have something different? For example for my custom I am doing an Information Specialist so instead of the traditional left guantlet I am planning on doing a more computerish design (maybe something simliar to a Pred flip computer but with a Star Wars look) with a droid data attachment on it. Does that mean I can no longer call it an "official" custom? There is a big difference between the quality of a suit and what is a part of a suit, and when you start saying what can be on a custom, then you will quickly find that the exceptions outweigh the rules.
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