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Starting my Tusken Raider

For those that are not in the know, I am currently working on my second screen-accurate Star Wars costume. I already own one costume that is 501st approved and that is my Tie Fighter Pilot (Technically, I have two. The Imperial Crewman is just a Pilot without the armor and helmet). Let’s get back to what is important, my new costume. This time I am working on a Tusken Raider.

You may remember the Tusken Raiders from the original films. They were the ones that ambushed Luke after he found R2 in the canyon and ran off when Obi-wan appeared. If you aren’t cool, you probably know them as the people that kidnapped Shmi Skywalker and resulted in them being massacred by Anakin. I am working on the Episode 4 / original version of a Tusken. There are some differences between the films. The masks have a different shape in the prequels and the prequel era Tuskens don’t have the respirators around their neck. Their are other differences like the types of bandoliers used, and materials, but I won’t bore you with that.

I have began the process of gathering parts to build this costume. I highly recommend visiting the Krayt Clan if you are interested in Tuskens. Go there, signup and like any forum on the net, read, read, read, before asking questions that have probably been asked before.

I am trying to build this for as cheap as I can. I’m shooting for 300-350 USD. If you think that is expensive, I would advise to not get into replica costume or prop building. I know a guy here in Japan that made his Tusken for about 150 bucks. However, he makes props and stuff professionally, and has a lot of parts and tools laying around.

I first started on my boots. I went to a local fabric store and picked up 2 yards of khaki denim. It cost me about 1500 yen ($15). I went home and cut it into 1.5-2 inch strips. I also made some 1 inch strips as well. After that I put it in the wash. I had read that people washed the strips after cutting but I wasn’t sure. I will tell you that when you pull them out of the wash it makes sense. You will end up with a pile of frayed, although twisted and knotted, pile of cloth. After you untie and cut away all the knotting, its time to weather the strips.

Weathered khaki denim

Weathered Khaki Denim

To weather and dye your strips you can use diluted dye, but the easiest way is tea or coffee. I make a big pot of coffee through in about 10 teabags, and put in my strips of cloth. Then I went to sleep and pulled them out 8 hours later. To set the die I used isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. I put the strips in a ziplock bag and added some alcohol and squished it around. After that hung them to dry. [An alternate way to weather would be to add the cloth into the tea/coffee bath and continue to boil for 40 minutes or so. Then add in some more water and salt to help set the dye. Continue to boil for 15-20 minutes. I did this on my 1 inch strips. They are a little darker, which is cool. I'll be using these on my hands.]

While my strips were hanging I misted them with black, olive drab, and sand colored spray paint to give them a little extra.

making a boot from a shoe and pants.

Glue Pants to Shoes

I also had a tube of brown water color I picked up at the 100 yen ($1) store. I mixed it with some water and put it in a spray bottle. It wasn’t really doing anything. I noticed the bottle was leaking on to my hands so I wiped them on the strips. The result was pretty cool so I started pouring it on my hands and wiping my hands on the cloth.

Next I started on my boots. I’m trying to keep this cheap, so I used an old pair of Vans and a pair of jeans to make the boots. I picked this up off of the Krayt Clan forums. Another user there posted what he did and I liked it.

Then add duct tape

Duct Tape for support and shape

Basically you cut part of the leg off the pants and glue it to an old shoe (slip-on!). After that you can use duct tape to give it some shape and support. From there I used about some of my strips to wrap the boot. In places like the heel and toe I actually cut several smaller strips to fit around the contours. I hid the ends of the fabric when I wrapped around with the longer strips. I used hot glue and some fabric glue to keep things attached. I then put Shoe Goo over the bottom of the boots to give them soles and also to prevent the cloth on the bottom from getting ripped away.

Wrap, glue, finished!

I still need to add some more weathering, but that’s it for now. Total cost for boots about 15 bucks, 25 with Shoe Goo. I’ll be hitting up the gloves and respirator later in the week.