If you search ‘mud trooper’ in your favorite internet search engine, you don’t get a whole lot… in a relative sense. A lot of the images are the same and each day there is more fan art (which I think is awesome, by the way!). You also get some images of the Mimban Stormtrooper, which is not a mud trooper. Among the images you find are some promotional stills from Solo (most focused on Han), a Hot Toys maquette of Han in Mud Trooper kit (yep, I’ve got that figure on pre-order), the 20 inch figure that was released by Big-Figs, and the mud trooper Funko POP. Some of this stuff I’d consider referential, but a lot of it isn’t. From the images that can be considered referential, there is still little consistency. Heading to the book store, I checked out Solo: A Star Wars Story The Official Guide by Pablo Hidalgo, published by DK. These official guides always have good imagery and give some interesting information. More good stuff on the mud trooper, but still a lot of inconsistency. This actually makes sense in-universe.
If you immerse yourself in the scene on Mimban, the location where Han was a mud trooper, the mud troopers are a rag-tag bunch. While there are some uniform standards, it doesn’t seem like there is much. A few mud troopers, from what I recall in the film, wore full armor, similar to what a Stormtrooper might wear. Many of the mud troopers, though, kept it light and practical, with chest and shoulder pieces and shin guards. Nothing on the forearms or thighs and no codpieces. It all kind of seems mix and match, with soldiers either discarding the stuff that got in the way, picking up what they could find, or replacing uniform pieces and armor with whatever was supplied that day. The helmet, goggles, and respirator, however, all seemed to be pretty consistent, which matches up with the need of protecting themselves from swamp gasses, fungal spores, and such. As for the soft goods, we see things of different colors. I’ve seen pants and shirts in brown, black, and olive green, mix and match, with no apparent consistency. Same with the capes some of the mud troopers have. There are also different accessories based on rank and function.
I take this inconsistency as a good thing. Costume organizations like the 501st have pretty stringent requirements for many of their costumes, and for good reason. Stormtroopers and Imperial officers should all look alike. While I’m sure the Empire wants all mud troopers to look alike, the reality is that these troopers are in… well… mud. They are dirty. It’s certainly not a place the Emperor or a Moff is going to be visiting any time soon.
So with that, I’ve begun assembling my kit. I’ve found a source for the armor. As much as I’ve wanted to get that right away, there are a few factors that have influenced my decision to stay my credit card for the time being. 1) Price. It’s over $1000. I want to make sure I’m getting what I want and the best value for my dollar. 2) Design. I’m hopeful that with more reference information released, available armor designs will improve. 3) Competition. Related to the first two items, competition can’t be a bad thing. Perhaps competition will bring the price down a bit or provide some different design options. The vendor I’m looking at seems to have considerably good quality and has produced other Imperial armor kits. I’m cool with paying for quality, but I’m also curious about what might come out in the near future.
As mentioned in my previous article, my goal is to have this kit for Star Wars Celebration Chicago, which is in April of 2019. I will be going to DragonCon this year, which is about five weeks away. If I pushed, I could have the mud trooper kit together for that… but right now I’m keeping that on hold. Maybe…
As for components other than armor… the soft goods, if you will… Following the hashtag #mudtrooper on Instagram has brought up some neat things with people assembling their kits. I’ve learned from quite a few of them already. Some people are doing fully custom pants and tunic. For me, it’s not something I want to get into yet, and I’m not sure it’s needed. I can sew (not particularly well), but there just don’t seem to be enough reference images out there. I figured I can go with something commercially available and make it not only work, but also look pretty authentic. As such, there is no better place to look than toward the military if you are putting together a military uniform.
Off to the military surplus store. Here you can find new and used gear from the US military and other nations. Some dating back to the WWII and the cold war, but most pretty current. In real life, for my job, I tend to wear some military or military-spec type of clothing, so I’m pretty familiar with what is out there. I wanted something light weight, lighter than typical battle dress uniform (BDU), but still durable enough. I settled on pants and shirt from Propper. The pants are olive green and the shirt black. I figured the black would contrast well with the olive green armor. I also got the shirt in a large long. In looking at reference pictures of the mud trooper, the shirt comes down pretty low on the waist. Also, as I have broader shoulders, a common problem I have with long sleep shirts is that the sleeves ride up when I brings my arms up. A long would help prevent this. While I was at the surplus store I also picked up a pair of comfortable black leather gloves, unlined.
I ventured to the fabric store to find material for the cape. This will largely be the only custom piece (thanks mom!). Reference materials have shown these to look like anything from wool blankets to grommeted tarps, some with hoods, some without, and again, in a range of colors. I wanted a lighter fabric (I really don’t need any more insulation on a con floor) that looked heavy. I found a fabric in olive that should be quite suitable. I’m going to leave the edges unfinished and frayed for a worn look. I won’t have it made up, though, until I have the armor, since I want to make sure the hood fits over the helmet and find a means of attaching the cape to the armor.
Another bonus of following that hashtag on Instagram was finding a source for that cool four pouch leather harness some of the mud troopers wear. I like the accessory and figure not everyone cosplaying as a mud trooper will have one. At first I spoke with a friend who does custom leather work. He said he could certainly make one for me. I discovered on Instagram, though, that the pouch is actually a Yugoslavian magazine pouch. Off to eBay… and I found being sold for $20… way cheaper than a custom build. It was shipped in from Latvia and arrived today.
So sans the armor kit and a blaster, I now have pretty much everything I need for the mud trooper. I have a pair of boots that should work for this, although I may look for something lighter-weight and comfortable while giving me the same aesthetic.
The picture is my best tough-guy pose with the soft goods. I couldn’t help myself!
Thoughts and suggestions are welcome! Find me on Discord or on Twitter @quigontimm.