The Jawa Project

"Joe the Jawa" Project
Allie and Emily wanted to dress up as Jawas for the presentation ceremony of R2-KT to the Johnson family. Kathy and I threw together something quick and it looked great for the occasion. Now Allie and I want to fix it up to look as close to perfect as we can so she can wear it for a costume and I can use it on a mannequin next to R2-KT.

I've always liked the Jawa characters from Star Wars. They're magical in a story sense - diminutive imps with shiny eyes sputtering gibberish. You can make up any story you want about them. I love the robots of Star Wars, and the idea has always been cute to think of these scavengers trolling the desert in their massive RV and hocking droids to the locals.

So when I found out that the R2 Builders were going to present my family with a fully functioning R2 unit, I figured the best way we could do it would be to dress up Katie's sisters as Jawas and pretend they 'capture' the droid during the presentation. So for Shoreleave 2006 Kathy made the girls some burlap robes and I set about to create the masks, lights, pistols, belts and pouches. The first prototype of the costume was crude but it did the trick and everyone at the convention loved seeing the girls as Jawas. But as a costumer I knew we could do better. So Allie and I have dedicated ourselves to make a better Jawa costume! We hope to eventually make it into a mannequin to sit next to R2.

In the beginning...

Starting out was hard. I am not a very good prop-maker. We found some burlap that looked like it would be right and Kathy stitched it all up using costume patterns for monks robes. After studying the pistol design, I followed Chris Bartlett's advice and bought a few cheap Paris toy pirate guns and modified them. One of the Jawa pistol designs was simpler with a large muzzle and oddly-shaped magazine clip. I found a wooden shelf bracket that could be cut down into the odd shape and scored it with the same lines as the magazine had then painted it black. The muzzle was made from a paint funnel cut down into the cone I needed and attached to a piece of PVC pipe. Fortunately, the opening of the funnel fit perfectly over the barrel of the toy gun. Everything was painted in flat black. Finally, for the pouches I cut out a design in two different shades of brown vinyl and attached snaps to the front to make them look more authentic. I cut slits in the back to fit them over the belts. A Halloween hood worked to conceal the face. I had trouble putting the lights together in time, so they were ditched for the first outing in the Jawa costumes.

Blaster and eyes
Building the eyes required an LED orange light set that you can wire yourself or order from the same guy referenced on Chris Bartlett's Jawa site. I then took an old Jason hockey mask and cut the upper half off, keeping the lower half as the mounting platform for the eyes. I also painted the mask black to hide it better.I drilled tiny holes to feed the LED's into, then cut a notch in the lower part of the holes into which the wires could wedge themselves into tightly. Then I glued them into place. Next, I took the clear plastic hemispheres from a gumball-machine-style novelty toy machine and cut them open ends at an angle so they'd fit against the mask at a perpendicular angle (you don't want the bubbles to protrude outward at crazy angles or you'll get a bug-eye effect on the Jawa). I glued the bubbles down and voila - I had a jawa set of eyes.

For the gun I took an old toy pirate gun and modified it. I took a piece of wood molding from the hardware store, scored it with lines to match the clip from the movie reference shots, painted the whole thing black, then screwed it into the barrel of the pistol. A simple power cord insterted into a drilled hole in the hand grip made for a reasonable looking power cord to the gun. The feet coverings are strips of cloth dyed deep brown/tan and wrapped around a normal sock. I used spray adhesive to make it all stick together. A slit was cut up the back to allow the foot cover to fit easily over a shoe.

Shore Leave Baltimore Maryland July 2006

Here's a clip of Emily celebrating the music of Star Wars. I guess she liked the costume!

In December 2006 I gave up on my home-made pouches and ordered the accessories like they used in the original movies. What a difference that made! I ordered them from the Sportsmans Guide website, which offers some old military surplus. I got two of them, one for each Jawa to wear diagonally across their torsos. One of them was missing a buckle, which was a very odd shape and hard to replace.

So Allie attended a friend's birthday party with only one bandolier. As you can see in the pictures, the costume is coming together but there needs to be a belt across her waist to cinch things up. Also, I finally got the LEDs working, but I was having trouble mounting them onto a mask and getting the bubble lenses to fit securely over them. So as you can see, the eyes are barely distinguishable when in full light or using a flash, but are somewhat effective in the dark. Some of the original Jawas in Star Wars actually went with this look - perhaps they didn't have lenses over the lights either. But you can clearly make out some pin-prick eyes on some of the Jawas.

Thankfully a fellow 501st member in the UK, Alex Howard, sent me an extra bandolier he had lying around which needed repair. I scavenged the buckle from that and had two working bandoliers. I figured it was worth putting both of them on Allie to make the costume look better. Here we have the pouches on the mannequin and the first eye test after mounting them. Looks pretty good without a flash! I'll have to figure out how to make them look good _with_ a flash. Maybe reflective discs or a gold backing behind the lenses.

Winston-Salem Symphony Concert - January 27, 2007
Allie with some of the Carolina Garrison and with R2-KT

Allie signing autographs after the show. She's a star! The crowd really loved Allie - people kept wanting to hug her, were freaking out over her eyes, and were commenting she had the best costume there. The praise was good feedback on the quality of our work.

Me and Allie. You know, when you pair a short trooper with his overly-tall daughter, the height ratio for trooper-jawa goes right out the window!