Ever since I first saw the original trilogy as an eight-year-old, I have always wanted to own a Stormtrooper helmet. The problem for me as a kid was that the affordable options weren’t great back then and nicer replicas were far too expensive for my limited budget. I eventually forgot about the issue and moved on without a TK bucket. Recently, curiosity got the best of me. After years of resistance (and a shortage of funds), I came across the relatively new Star Wars Black Series Stormtrooper helmets from Hasbro. Priced at a relatively reasonable $75 on Amazon, I took the bait and made the purchase.
The helmet ships in three pieces that are very easy to assemble. To do so, simply press the front and rear faces together until they snap into place. Then, drop the dome onto the joined faces and press it down. Once the helmet has been assembled, it essentially has to stay that way. Taking it apart again risks breaking the locking tabs.
Out of the box, my helmet did have some minor issues that, from what I’ve read, are relatively common. Scattered throughout multiple places on the helmet are small scuff marks, both in the white plastic and the black rubberized material over the piece’s eyes. They aren’t noticeable in most lighting conditions, but in bright daylight, they’re noticeable if you’re looking for them.
As far as looks are concerned, Hasbro did a killer job with this replica. It’s intended to approximate the look of the Rogue One trooper head pieces and it does that very well. Unlike the buckets used in the original trilogy, this one is totally symmetrical, but that’s appropriate as the ones in the film are too. The main differences between this guy and the real prop are mostly minimal. On the real ones, the vocoder tubes are individual pipes, while the Hasbro ones are molded into the ABS. The black brow of the movie props sits lower than the one on the Black Series piece. On the film props, the black between the “teeth” of the helmet’s face is mesh, whereas this helmet comes with hard plastic. The chin on the film examples is a separate piece from the rest of the face. Lastly, while the blue tube stripes are properly recessed on the Hasbro helmet, the ones in Rogue One are actually cut out and the blue is a separate part attached underneath the white shell. On the whole, all of these differences are quite minor and most people won’t notice them. Those hoping to make this helmet 501st approved will need to do some work, though.
The overall build quality of the Black Series helmet once assembled is surprisingly good. The durable ABS plastic that makes up the majority of the prop’s shell is rigid and substantial. The black, rubberized brow stripe and vocoder tubes feel great and were actually molded at the same time as the rest of the piece. My only real gripe with the helmet’s build is its weight. It just doesn’t feel like a piece of armor that a “real” TK might wear. I don’t love the suspension system used inside the helmet to fit it to wearers’ heads and I think that padding would have been a better option, even if it is less flexible to different head sizes. The helmet is also lighter it ideally should be. I understand that for $80, some concessions need to be made and for the price, the replica is very nice. However, its light weight causes the helmet to move around a little too much when worn. Since it’ll be a display piece for me, that isn’t really a problem.
Fitting into the Stormtrooper bucket can be a little challenging. For one, the inside of the helmet isn’t spacious by any means. I typically wear a 7 3/8 in fitted caps and the Hasbro prop just barely fits. The hardhat-style suspension used to fit the helmet works fine, but it’s pretty Spartan. When I first donned the piece, I’ll admit that it made me feel rather claustrophobic. Second, the nose piece is in an awkward place, at least for me. The result of its placement is that the helmet wants to cant upward when worn. This issue is only exacerbated by the fact that the rear-positioned electronics make the backside of the bucket disproportionally heavy. When the helmet does tilt as it is want to do, forward and downward visibility is all but eliminated.
Since we’re discussing visibility, it’s probably appropriate to address the helmet’s smoke-green lenses. Visibility is naturally problematic in a Stormtrooper helmet. After all, Luke complained about it in A New Hope and in that same film, an unfortunate trooper famously rocked his melon on a Death Star door frame. Adding to the challenges with this replica is that the lenses distort the wearer’s visuals. Overall, the distortion is quite minimal and it certainly isn’t responsible for the majority of the helmet’s visibility challenges (thank the small eye openings for that), but it is noticeable and it might make some folks feel somewhat dizzy.
Easily the most maligned part of Hasbro’s Stormtrooper helmet is the voice changer (video to come). If you look around online, you’ll no doubt find plenty of people who claim that the thing doesn’t work. Strictly speaking, those people are wrong, but they also have a point. The connection from the 3 AAA rear-mounted batteries and speaker to the microphone in the front of the helmet relies on contacts on the right side of the bucket that are hidden by the seam between the front and back panels. If you don’t squeeze these two parts together tightly, the microphone truly won’t work. Another feature people seem to miss is that the microphone is somewhat adjustable. If you pull it forward towards your mouth, it becomes much louder.
Those difficulties aside, there are some aspects of the helmet’s design that undermine its voice changing capabilities. Most notably, the rear-facing speaker projects sound the wrong way and makes the helmet seem quieter. The other issue is that the helmet isn’t sealed. A “true” Stormie headpiece would be seal the wearer’s head from the elements and would naturally suppress his voice. The Hasbro prop is open on the bottom, so anything that the wearer says can be heard through that large opening. This sound conflicts with that coming from the speaker and makes the whole thing underwhelming for bystanders.
To be perfectly honest, this helmet really surprised me. I had heard and read plenty of good things about these before buying, but I was skeptical. For whatever reason, it seems that big toymakers like Hasbro often do these types of replicas a serious disservice and while the Black Series lightsabers are decent, they could use some improvements. As it turns out, the Black Series Stormtrooper helmet is a phenomenal prop that both wears reasonably well (there’s room for improvement here) and displays like a champ. With other TK helmets selling for over $200, the $80 tag on this guy makes it an absolute bargain. In short, I highly recommend Hasbro’s Black Series Stormtrooper helmet.