Saturday, March 15, 2014

Darth Vader's Suit

I recently found myself watching Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in which Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader and is first given the infamous suit after his unfortunate butt-kicking at the hands of Obi-wan Kenobi, and I found myself wondering how it was that Palpatine happened to have the Vader suit conveniently ready.  I mean, the suit looks like a pretty impressive bit of technology so it wasn't something that was likely slapped together in a couple of hours, yet Vader couldn't really afford to wait a long time for the Imperial techs to design and build a life support system, so I have to assume that it was already available.

It's unlikely that Vader's suit was standard issue and that the Empire kept a supply of them ready in case of emergency because it appears to be very much one of a kind.  We never see any others like it, so it was almost certainly a prototype, and most likely a less than successful one at that, since it doesn't appear that any more of them were ever made.  Or maybe the other Sith Lords were just better lightsaber duelists than Vader, so only one was ever needed.

Which brings us back to the question of how it was that this one-of-a-kind prototype life-sustaining suit happened to be conveniently ready just when Vader needed it.  Maybe after seeing Darth Maul get bisected earlier (again by that troublesome Kenobi guy) Palpatine said to himself "I lose more apprentices that way.  I should really come up with some sort of life-sustaining suit for the next time this happens".  A nice bit of pro-active planning although, had he asked me, I might have suggested he simply try converting Kenobi over to the dark side in which case there might have been no need for the suit.

I wonder how long it took Vader to learn to use the suit.  I mean, look at all the buttons and lights on the chest panel and belt alone!  How do you know what they're all for?  Did the suit come with a user manual? If so, and if Imperial user manuals are anything like the ones we're familiar with, it might have read something like this:

Congratulations on choosing the E-3778Q-1 mobile life-support system.  Please read this manual carefully and follow all instructions to ensure years of trouble-free life support, armor protection and physical enhancement.


The E-3778Q-1 helmet and face mask are made from the finest durasteel, obsidian and plasteel components and are highly resistant to dents, scuffs, scratches and water spots.  To preserve the fine woodoo hide lustre, we recommend polishing the surface with a soft, lint-free, Wookie hair cloth treated with bantha oil as needed.

Caution: Avoid exposing the transparisteel eyepiece lenses to bantha oil, as this may cause them to become clouded, impairing vision.  Remove the helmet and face mask for cleaning only within the confines of a Qabbrat meditation chamber (available separately), as life support functions become inoperative when either is removed.

To remove burn or scar tissue from internal suit components, we suggest gently sponging soiled components with Jawa cloth moistened with warm water.  BE SURE TO DEACTIVATE ANY AND ALL ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS BEFORE APPLYING MOISTURE, AND THOROUGHLY DRY BEFORE REACTIVATING.


Your E-3778Q-1 is powered by four rechargeable Kovordian battery packs.  The right eyepiece HUD includes an indicator showing the status of packs 1 and 3 and the left eyepiece HUD includes a similar indicator showing the status of packs 2 and 4.  When either battery bar falls to the RECHARGE indicator and changes from yellow to orange, it is time to recharge the batteries.

Caution:  Do not engage in combat or excessive physical activity when either battery indicator is RED.  If the indicators reaches this status, batteries should be recharged at the earliest opportunity; immediately if possible.

When the battery charge indicator no longer reaches FULL, even after hours of charging, it is time to replace the battery packs.  Replacement packs are available at your local Imperial supply depot.  DO NOT INCINERATE OR DISCARD USED BATTERY PACKS BY PLACING THEM IN A TRASH COMPACTOR.  Used battery packs should be returned to an authorized disposal facility.



The E-3778Q-1 breath mask is designed to deliver nominal oxygen flow while maintaining environmental integrity and comfort, even in extreme environmental conditions.  The two mandibular atmospheric sensors automatically analyze gases and micro particulates in the immediate vicinity, filtering out harmful emissions and purifying breathable gases. The olfactory sensors can be conveniently deactivated in proximity to bantha poodoo and similar harmless, but unpleasant, odors.

An enunciator linked to an electronic voice processor facilitates verbal communication.  Vocal timbre, pitch and inflection can be adjusted to achieve the desired cadence. VoicePak add-ins are also available, enabling you to emulate the voices of any of several popular Imperial celebrities including Darth Maul, Darth Tyranus, Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones.

Please Note:  Owing to the face mask's life-sustaining respiratory functions, a certain amount of respiratory overlay with the vocal unit is unavoidable and normal.  Please do not call Technical Support regarding this issue.  Our Imperial designers are working to eliminate this artifact in future revisions of the suit.


The control panel positioned over the solar plexus contains controls for regulating respiratory, cardiopulmonary and neural functions.  Take time to learn the various controls and exercise caution so as not to confuse them as doing so can result in unpredictable behavior on the part of the suit and/or the wearer.

The blue switch activates the suit's auto control functions.  Use the red switch for manual override.  The rightmost switch, located at the bottom, is the system reset switch.  Avoid crowded spaces in order to prevent controls from being inadvertently tripped when brushing against others.

The data slots accept RepMed wafers for treating illness and injury, as well as delivering more recreational pharmaceutical substances, as desired.

The control panel also doubles as a universal remote control device, enabling you to activate and operate electronic components at a distance without expending valuable Force powers.


The belt contains secondary controls that provide redundancy for the control panel.  It also features a magnetic clasp which keeps the plastisteel briefs in place.

The EVAC 1 button causes the door in the codpiece to slide up in order to facilitate expulsion of urinary waste.  The EVAC 2 button serves a similar function for the rear door.  Be sure to remove the ornamental cape before activating the EVAC 2 button.


The gloves are made from a Micronized Mandalorian iron weave which is designed to protect against glancing lightsaber blows and, theoretically, can even deflect blaster bolts.  We highly discourage using them in this manner, however, as it requires unusual speed and dexterity to successfully intercept blaster fire with one's hands.

There would be more, of course, but I won't bore you with the full manual.  Besides, let's be honest - nobody ever reads those things anyway; not even Darth Vader.