MARMIT STORMTROOPER

Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM

06/26/99- Finally. This has been one of the most eagerly-awaited "exotic" (imported & slightly pricey) 12-inch figures because of the cool promotional images and the disappointment from delays in its release. Well, it's shipping now, and it's time to take a good look at it, to see if it lives up to expectations.

Of course, that depends on what your expectations were. It's produced by Marmit (and is just like their other products), under an agreement with Hasbro Japan, so it comes in a box which looks like it escaped from the Hasbro USA figure line. Unlike the 12" figures produced by Hasbro USA, this one is signature Marmit: It's not a toy, it's a display model. The philosophy is identical to their Ultraseven kit, which I call a cross between a garage kit and a GI Joe. Since it's not a toy, you have to put it together and it's not as rugged (pieces will probably fall off). Since it is a model, it looks very faithful to the movie version and is intended for posing and display (with its fixed-in-position feet, you probably would want a stand for dynamic poses). It also costs more than the toy (about $100 vs. about $20?), and isn't as readily available. I ran across mine locally, but I think this can be ordered online from places like Jaxion, Just Be Toys and Toy Syndicate. They even provide a translation of the instruction sheet. I would like to apologize for comments I made about a watermarked version ("frickin' obnoxious") in the last update of this article... the gory details are the in the "Remarks" section.

Whether it's worth it is in the eye of the beholder and the wallet of the buyer. Personally, I think Hasbro USA does a decent job with most of their 12" Star Wars figures (with some exceptions), and in most cases, they can be easily improved by replacing the figure with something more articulated, and tweaking the fit of the outfit. Fixed up, their 12" Stormtrooper isn't bad in my opinion... the Marmit one just looks more faithful to the movie version. A "normal" person (non-Star Wars geek ;^) probably wouldn't be able to tell or appreciate the difference. Well... the Marmit's vinyl armor is shinier than the Hasbro's rubber armor (or is it armour? ;^). Certainly, the oversized Hasbro USA toy version of the blaster looks a lot more intimidating than the wimpy authentic version. (There's a paradox in making a realistic rendition of a fantasy costume design which dressed up real hardware for a fantasy world. Whew!)

Compared to the Ultraseven kit, the Stormtrooper should be a breeze to put together. There's only minimal painting required (the helmet is very nicely painted with details), a zippered Spandex bodysuit goes over the figure and the neckhole needs to be cut from the upper torso armor. With a bit of heat, the vinyl armor looks like it would slip onto the body fairly easily. Rubber bands are provided which apparently are to be cut and used like straps to attach parts flexibly, like the shoulderpads. I think the foam rubber strip is used to size the helmet interior to the headball. They provide two sets of arm/hand sets: one set is a combined forearm and hand (no wrist articulation), and the other set is the forearm armor with a separate hand. The hollow vinyl hands fit over the arm's ball-ends to provide primitive articulation. The blaster hand comes as two pieces so the gripping fingers can be glued in place around the blaster's handgrip. Like the Ultraseven figure, there is no feet articulation-- (no surprise, since the base figure has no feet!) -- Instead, the shin and foot armor is cast as a single piece and slipped over the shin stump. There are a few other minor details which are cut and superglued in place, and one piece-- a loop-like thing which attaches to the holster-- has me scratching my head. It's to secure the blaster when it's holstered, I think. It seems that it would have been easier to include a segment of cord or strap instead of having to cut the loop out of vinyl.

Notice how I've talked about the model theoretically? That's because I haven't built it yet. Actually, I don't plan to build it as intended anyway. After looking the parts over, I started thinking about other ways to do it. Like with the Hasbro USA figures, the first thing to go is the included base figure. A Dragon figure would be cooler, since it's got a neck, a head, plus feet and hands. The Dragon figure's torso articulation is inferior, but the figure's other pluses outweigh that weakness (Raj S. wisely points out that torso articulation isn't a big deal anyway, since the armor naturally restricts this movement) . Fortunately, the size appears to be just right, so the armor pieces fit well. With the Dragon figure underneath, you're able to articulate the ankles, and put real articulation into the hands. This will add a lot more poseability to the figure. It's really not a lot of extra work either. You just have to make a few extra cuts and figure out how you're going to connect the pieces.

Trust me. This will work...

06/27/99- The biggest disappointment for me was that my kit was packaged with 2 pieces of left thigh armor-- Marmit's quality assurance team was sleeping on the job, and there's no easy way for the gaijin to contact them directly for replacement. (Hmmm... maybe that's why I got such a good deal???) Making your own is sort of problematic since vinyl has a distinct look, and it would be difficult to convincingly alter the piece or fashion one-- by molding or thermoforming -- and match the look and feel.

There's really only one significant challenge with fitting the armor to a Dragon figure-- the shin armor can't just slide over the feet, and the feet aren't removeable. Heating the vinyl doesn't do the trick, since vinyl will only stretch so far without being damaged by distortion. My first idea was to slit the back of the armor at the narrowest part. Bad idea. It fit, but wouldn't stay closed since the vinyl is very soft-- so I glued it back together. The second idea was better: I sliced off a wedge of foot plastic at the heel. When the foot is angled down, there's enough clearance for the shin armor to slide over without deforming terribly. The shoes fit securely, and you can't even tell the wedge is missing. If you wanted to, you could always glue the wedges back on.

A few other changes were necessary: The ribbed neck section was completely cut out to accommodate the width of the Dragon figure's neck (I used a figure with a modified neckpost). It wasn't difficult to create a more flexible ribbed version using wire insulation wrapped and glued to fabric. I cut the hood off of the bodysuit too, since it creates an upward pull which lifts the upper torso armor. The hood part isn't really necessary anyway, since the neck is the only part which would be normally visible. (besides, this jives with the movie's scenes of Luke & Han in Stormtrooper armor.) The hands are covered with Spandex, the backhand armor was cut from the kit, thinned with a Dremel mototool and glued to it. Of course, the bodysuit's arms and legs have to be cut open at the ends to let you fit the appendages through & on-- I cut them to form straps so that the fabric would stay put, although it probably wasn't necessary. One last minute suggestion: velcro to make the upper torso armor stay put. It tends to ride up and flare open easily, since the only thing holding it in position is the molded shape. The vinyl is very soft, so it doesn't take much pressure to make the sides pooch out.

Aside from the QC problem, this was a very painless project, and similar to (but easier than) the other garage kit conversions I've done. In fact, all of them are really just armor fittings, even the "Guyver Zoanoid" project, so the techniques and work-around solutions are very similar.

(Okay, so I'm a Star Wars geek, and my wife isn't. Obviously, the authentic one is white, not yellow!)


 

LOOSETOON'S MARMIT STORMTROOPER CONVERSION

Well, I finished doing my Dragon conversion this weekend, and I must say, your help was a godsend! Just as you claim, the pose-ability of the Dragon figure in the Stormtrooper armor is amazing.

I just wanted to take some time here and let you know the details of my first conversion experience.

First off, I had a brain fart when I ordered the Dragon figure from smallblueplanet.com (What a great company they are, by the way! Kudos!) In your message to me, you said to order the "Adam" figure, and of course I went ahead and ordered the "Klaus" figure. DUH! It still worked out just fine, though, but I am wondering what the difference would have been if I used the "Adam" like I should have? "Klaus" has thinner thighs than the Marmit Figure so the leg armor is a little loose. "Klaus" also doesn't hold the blaster very well (Although quite well enough). If the "Adam" figure addresses these two problems, then definitely "Adam" is the better choice. Otherwise, "Klaus" fits the bill just fine. (The Adam figure was recommended because it was cheaper-- since they have removeable hands, I didn't even think of that! -- Jimbob)

I decided to go ahead and do the conversion on the Dragon hands, but with a little modification. I wasn't sure if I could handle the spandex wrapping on the hands, so I just removed them, painted them black, and glued on the back-hand armor. I just used an x-acto knife to trim the back-hand armor away from the Marmit hands. The results are quite good, although I imagine that touchups on the paint will be required regularly. I sprayed them with clear spray, so maybe that will help. (Sorry for butting in again; another possibility would be to use a black permanent marker. I think this might "soak in" to the rubber hands better, making it less likely to scrape off. --Jimbob)

I did the feet just like you said by carefully cutting the feet away from the leg armor with my trusty x-acto, and cutting the heel wedge off the Dragon figure. Worked just fine. And the wire insulation also worked great for the neck, although I just made a strip to the correct thickness and length, and wrapped it around the neck and glued the ends together.

I enclosed some photos of my finished product. It would be cool if you could post my experiences on your webpage to maybe give some other Marmit Stormtrooper newbie a helping hand.

Thanks again for all that you've done, and enjoy the photos!

Sincerely,
Steve Vitale
loosetoon@aol.com