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Interview With Creator Of The Stormtrooper Helmet, plus 300 characters for StarWars

By on March 10, 2015
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Stormtrooper helmets (photo by Andrew Ainsworth, 1975)

 That’s insane that you designed the Stormtrooper helmet. How did you come up with the design?

ANDREW AINSWORTH: I was given a small painting by Ralph McQuarrie, which had a sort of a trooper depicted in it, about two inches high. That was enough for me. I made my interpretation of it to help a mate out. I didn’t know that it was for a movie.

When George Lucas saw it, he ordered 50 helmets and asked me if I could make armour to go with it. I said no problem. I knocked together 50 sets of armour in about four weeks. After that, I continued working and made about 200 characters. It was fun! They took anything I threw at them and just wrote them into the script.


Tie Wing Pilot helmet (photo by Andrew Ainsworth, 1975)

Which characters did you design?

Made about 200 characters overall, many of each type: Stormtroopers, Tie Pilots, X Wing Pilots, Imperial Gunner, Tuscan Raider, Rebel Troops, etc.

What Did Lucas pay you for designing and making for the helmets?

I got paid OK at the time and never relinquished any design rights or intellectual property rights. No one paid me for designing the helmets, just for goods delivered.


Imperial Gunner helmet (photo by Andrew Ainsworth, 1975)

Did you get screwed over later on?

Well, 30 years passed and I decided to reintroduce the Stormtrooper for the memorabilia market. George Lucas’ licensing people rang me up and said, “Who the hell are you?” I said, “I’m the guy who sold you all those characters 30 years ago. Who are you?” They said, “We are the guys who have registered these designs as ours and sold licenses on them for the past 30 years ($14 billion worth), and now we are going to put you out of business!”

I wrote them a nice letter asking if they would like to go into business with me on the project. They replied by sending me a writ for $20 million.


X Wing Pilot helmet (photo by Andrew Ainsworth, 1975)

So what’s up these days?

They are now trying to enforce a US default judgement for the $20 million on me. (U.K. law makes this void.) The case is going well; I am on my home-ground with all the evidence I saved from 1976. Chapter and Verse, as far as I can see. They know jack shit about the subject.

 

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