Mandalorian Helmet DIY – Part 1

Mandalorian helmets are usually sold as unpainted kits that require assembly. But some vendors do offer painting or finishing services for people who don’t like DIY or don’t have access to a work area. You can also buy mass-produced Mandalorian helmets that are ready for display, like the Hasbro Black Series helmets. But I think most people would like to have a one-of-a-kind, hand-made helmet. There is a sense of pride in being able to create a piece of art yourself.

When buying a resin cast Mandalorian helmet you normally have two options. You can buy a raw/untrimmed helmet, that may need the bottom edge and visor area cut out and sanded. Or you can buy a helmet that is already trimmed and ready to be painted. Note that helmets don’t usually include the visor shield or any internal padding.

Unfortunately, helmets don’t come with step-by-step instructions, but this guide should help beginners with their first helmet build.  Most helmets are of similar construction, with similar earpieces and range finder designs. If you’re not sure how to assemble the range finder pieces, lay all the parts out to see how they best fit together. The photo below shows a common range finder design, although yours may be slightly different. 

Mandalorian helmet earpieces assembly unpainted kit.
Unpainted Mandalorian helmet kit and typical range finder parts.

Prep Work

Important: Please wear safety glasses and a good mask like an N95-rated mask. You don’t want to breathe in harmful resin fibers. And this is a messy process so it’s best to work outdoors if you can.

If you ordered a 3D printed helmet, you will have to get rid of the notorious 3D visible print lines. This involves lots and lots of sanding and application of spot putty or some other filler. For help with prepping 3D printed helmets you may want to search for instructional videos on YouTube. This post details the typical prep of resin cast helmets.

If you ordered an untrimmed cast helmet you will need to cut the rough excess material around the neckline. With a rotary tool or a Dremel cutting wheel, trim this area leaving a few millimeters. Then sand flat with a palm sander, Dremel sanding disk, or metal files. Finish with sandpaper to smooth down the edges.

Fix any cosmetic issues with the helmet before cutting out the T-visor area. The structural integrity of the helmet is reduced once the visor area is cut away, so try to do as much sanding, drilling, or cutting before removing the center visor area. Apply Bondo spot putty on any spots that need fixing, like large surface dimples, air pockets, or imperfections. Or leave as is and consider it weathering damage.

Drill a rangefinder screw hole if needed. And decide if you wish the back key slot area or ear caps to be open. Some people like to have open key slots for extra air circulation, and open ear caps for extra hearing ability. To cut open the back key slots, drill a hole, and use a cutting tool and needle files to clean up the tight spots. Sanding sticks may also help to smooth the smaller detail areas. This is a similar procedure to cutting open the visor area, (see part 2 cutting visor area). The nice thing about Mandalorian helmets is that they have a large bottom opening for air, unlike some other more restrictive Star Wars helmets. 

Mandalorian helmet keyslots and earpieces.

If you choose to have open key slots you can add mesh or lights after painting for extra detailing. You can use window screen material or metal mesh to cover openings. Jango’s helmet has mesh behind his key slot vent area. Also, do a test fitting of all the ear cap or back pieces to make sure they fit ok. If not, sand them a bit before moving on to painting and securing to the helmet.

Notice if your ear caps need neodymium magnets or if they can be glued to the helmet. If using magnets, make a countersunk crevice for the magnets to sit in flush. You can do this by using a Dremel to sand down a crevice. I recommend having removable ear cap covers in case you ever damage the rangefinder and need to replace it. 

Removing the visor area 

If you paid to have the vendor cut out the visor area, skip this section, just wash your helmet and move on to priming/painting.

This is probably the most labor-intensive part especially if you’re a perfectionist. It’s also a stressful task for some beginners. But this is a doable job for total beginners with no costuming or Dremel experience. Just remember to go slow, there is no need to rush. And if you make a mistake you can always fix it with Bondo, or call it “battle damage” weathering.

To start, trace an outline of the visor edge with a marker. I think this helps to see the edge better and to cut straighter. Then drill a hole at both corners, this helps prevent the rotary cutting disk from cutting the side. 

Using the rotary cutting tool make a scoring line, then do multiple passes to cut through. After the visor area is cut away and removed, use needle files to clean up the edges and the tight corners. Wrapping sandpaper around a paint mixing stick or piece of plastic also helps smooth down areas that are hard to get to. If necessary, apply Bondo to fix any mistakes or to smooth imperfections you don’t like.

Once you’ve finished sanding your helmet, wash it with dish soap and water, or a degreaser like rubbing alcohol. This will remove any leftover sanding dust, oils from your fingers, or release agent chemicals from the casting process. These can affect paint adhesion and prevent you from getting a good paint job.  A final wet sand with 400-800 fine grit helps get a nice finish. Use progressively finer sandpaper to get a smooth surface. It’s especially important to wet sand with fine grits if you’re going for a shiny metallic look. 

Lastly, you can make a paper T-visor template if you like now, or you can wait until after painting. See Part 3 on installing a visor.

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