Original Boba Fett Cosplay - The Time Duwayne Dunham Tested The Costume in 1978

Posted by Fantasy Costumes Staff on 9th Sep 2016

This awesome Boba Fett video gives an early look at one of Star Wars most infamous characters, Boba Fett.

This video is beyond exciting for any serious Star Wars fan. It features rare footage of Boba Fett's costume reveal to George Lucas and other members of the crew at Lucas's house in June of 1978, after the release of Episode IV and before the much-anticipated Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. The Boba Fett costume has come a long way since then! Ben Burtt, a sound designer, unveiled this costume while assistant editor Duwayne Dunham models the outfit and shows off all of the exciting features. The video flips back and forth between black-and-white footage from 1978 and present-day commentary from the two.

What's up with this "proto-Fett" costume?

This "proto-Fett" costume was designed to build hype for Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Lucas wanted something that could make public appearances, be displayed in real-life situations, and that was as close to fully-functional as possible to help with promoting new characters. This prototype, although not exactly what would appear a few years later, was very close to what viewers became familiar with in the next film and was very helpful in getting fans excited before its release. There were actually very few tweaks from the Boba Fett in this video and the Boba Fett that appeared in the later films.

The beginnings of the Boba Fett voice

In the demonstration, Boba Fett comes equipped with a functional radio so that the person wearing the costume can actually communicate with other people; it crackles and gives a little feedback, which, although imperfect, lends itself to creating an idea of Boba Fett's character and sounds similar to what would later become the iconic Boba voice. The Boba Fett costume came equipped with some actual electronics and digital displays which, although hard to see in the video, are actually still used in the films with more clarity; these include some numbers and readings on his chest, a moveable antenna-like "range-finder" mounted on the helm, and another indicator near his eyes that blinks two red lights on and off. In addition, Boba Fett came equipped with a range of various weaponry and accessories, including a laser sub-machine gun rifle, a flamethrower on his wrist that actually discharges propane and ignites the fuel, a dart-throwing device on both his wrist and on his knees, leg pockets that store tools and knives, foot-spikes for close combat, a hand-held laser gun mounted on his other wrist with a laser pointer for effect, a grappling hook accessory mounted on his backpack, and a jet-pack that actually projects a smoke or haze although produces no actual upward propulsion.

Black and white armor and other differences from the Boba Fett movie costume

The prototype was not exactly what would appear in the film, although it did come very close. For one thing, this costume shows Boba Fett as entirely black and white, which would later become altered to include grey, blue, green, yellow, and other muted colors of this nature. In the films he wore a necklace of scalps acquired from his mercenary duties, which were also omitted from the original design. In the demonstration, Boba Fett sports a humorous Star Wars beach towel, which was later revised to be a kind of cape or cloak. However, even though a few tweaks were made, this original prototype was followed very closely, and this demonstration allowed fans to become very familiar with his character before the release of The Empire Strikes Back.

The real first appearance of Boba Fett (kind of)

The video also features more recent footage of Ben Burtt and Duwayne Dunham taken from a present-day awards ceremony. They talk about the costume and the unveiling, and Duwayne himself reveals that the only reason he got the part of showing off the new design was because he fit inside the costume. He goes on to say that, unlike the original, the movie-version of Boba Fett wore spurs in a sort of homage to Clint Eastwood so that when he walked his costume would jingle in a musically ominous sort of way. Burtt comments that "they wanted a character that could make public appearance, and I think was designed as a character between Star Wars and Empire that they could get the public excited about something new."

Still cool after all these years

This rare footage from 1978 provides Star Wars enthusiasts with a unique behind-the-scenes view of the original Boba Fett prototype, and fans can compare this with his original appearance and see how things were altered or kept the same. Fans would enjoy the commentary from the costume designers because it shows how they approached the brainstorming and implementation process. Furthermore, it's interesting to see how much of the costume utilized practical effects; his costume actually had a digital display and was not edited; his jet-pack actually produced smoke; and his wrist accessory actually came equipped with a flame-thrower. This use of practical effects as opposed to digital effects or CGI is one of the things that fans love the most about the series, and in this video you can see how even the prototype costume is almost identical to the one used in the movies!