Adam Marshall builds Star Wars clone trooper armor from scratch

Adam Marshall ’23 wearing his Star Wars costume – Ms. Sarah Dicicco

Scrolling through your Instagram feed, you might have encountered this post: Fifth Former Adam Marshall wearing a full, movie-accurate clone trooper suit. Made from scratch, Marshall had been working on creating that wearable suit of clone trooper armor for a couple of months leading up to the big reveal.

“I have been a Star Wars fan for a really long time, and I always wanted to have a clone costume for myself,” Marshall said. “What pushed me to actually make one was a YouTube video on an event called Star Wars Celebration.” 

Star Wars Celebration is a large fan gathering where Star Wars fanatics congregate to share films, costumes, and more generally celebrate the Star Wars universe.

Marshall had been an avid collector of Star Wars memorabilia for most of his life. 

“I remember watching A New Hope with my dad when I was four,” Marshall said. “Ever since then I’ve been hooked.” 

His collection is quite impressive, containing dozens of different scale models, helmets, and LEGOs.

To start his building process, Marshall purchased a kit of vacuumed formed parts from different vendors. “The general process of vacuum forming is heating a sheet of ABS plastic then laying it over a form. Then, the air gets sucked out so that it is a perfect replica of the original object,” Marshall said.

Adam Marshall ’23 Paints his Suit – Courtesy of Adam Marshall ’23

Although efficient, this method still has some drawbacks. 

“Vacuum forming can’t create a circle, it can only create half,” Marshall said. “This means that most pieces come in two parts. You have to connect them with small strips of plastic called shims.”

To create a forearm piece, for instance, Marshall would have two roughly trimmed pieces of plastic which he would then have to trim precisely. Using glue and the shims, he then connected the two pieces. Using different fillers, he would have to painstakingly fill up every small hole to perfection, so there would be no blemishes on his final product.

After all of the pieces were assembled, Marshall then had to paint it. “First I primed it, then I added physical weathering, which are actual dents and scratches in the armor,” Marshall said. “After that I paint it with actual colors. I use liquid latex to mask off some areas to create a chipping effect.”

After the paint dried, Marshall used dirt and other pigments to add additional weathering effects. In order to protect the paint, Marshall covered everything with a matte clear coat. 

When all of that was complete, he padded the inside of the armor with foam and felt. Additionally, any final assembly strapping stuff together is completed. 

“A lot of the armor is held together with velcro,” Marshall said. 

Another challenge of the build came from the helmet. 

“The actual hole is too small for my head to fit into,” Marshall said. “I had to cut the front off then reattach it with magnets.” The clone troopers in Revenge of the Sith are CGI, meaning that some parts of the costume, for it to be movie-accurate, had to be not ergonomic.

Marshall has also joined a volunteer organization called The 501st Legion. 

“There are three main aspects,” Marshall said. “First is actually making the costume. Second is going to different events and meeting people. The most important thing is charity work.” 

The parts of Adam Marshall’s suit prior to painting – courtesy of Adam Marshall ’23

The group often goes to help different organizations with running events. However, to get accepted into the organization, Marshall had to overcome many obstacles. 

“I had to make the costume according to a CRL, or a Costume Reference Library,” Marshall said. “Everything needs to be accurate with a minimal amount of error. They should be indistinguishable from the movie.” 

Marshall hopes to work with the 501st for different charity projects in the future. Currently, Marshall is working on another Star Wars costume: An Imperial Snow Trooper.