Interview with Chris Reiff, STAR WARS Product Designer for The Mandalorian helmet

Interview with Chris Reiff, STAR WARS Product Designer for The Mandalorian helmet

Interview with Chris Reiff

In the past few days we have had the privilege of interviewing Chris Reiff, Assoc. Principal Product Designer STAR WARS who worked, together with a global team, on the creation of the Star Wars The Black Series - The Mandalorian Electronic Helmet, produced by Hasbro.

No more delay and let's go and present the interview !

Design and development process

Did you get the original designs of the helmet used in the TV series?

Yes, we had them. We have a long and fantastic history of collaborating with Lucasfilm. Thanks to this relationship, we are offered access to a wide variety of reference resources, which allow our designers to offer high authenticity and great immersive experiences through the product and the features we include.

Chris Reiff

How does the creative and engineering process of such a product work?

Although we have a small core group that follows the project from start to finish, throughout the process our projects involve a large team of designers, engineers, project managers, pattern makers, marketing, packaging, photographers and many others. Plus, with our offices around the world, it's not uncommon to be meeting with our counterparts in Hong Kong late at night or early in the morning. It is truly an impressive team working together, making all of this possible.

How long did it take to get from the development request to the shelf for purchase?

This varies according to the complexity of the article, but in general we start working on things from a year to a year and a half before consumers see the product on the shelves.

When creating an iconic object like a character's helmet that has been analyzed in every single detail by fans, what are the most important aspects that you take into consideration to make a successful product?

We strive to be as authentic as possible towards entertainment. We are fans ourselves, so making sure we are accurate with the details of these Black Series wearable helmets is as important to our team as it is to our fans!

Product features

The metallic details are amazing! How did you do it and how difficult was it to get them? It really looks like Beskar!

Thank you! The team worked hard to really find the right finish to achieve that look. At the beginning there were many experiments with different silver paints and vacuum metallization. We used some of our previous helmets to test the metallic details, so we had various chrome Stormtrooper and Boba Fett helmet pieces to work on as we refined the Beskar finish. In the end, we achieved that look through a combination of vacuum metallization combined with several subtle shades and matte finishes to achieve a perfect look.

The wearability of your helmets has been gradually improving product after product. What are the main changes you have devised to have more and more usable replicas?

We are always looking for ways to improve and fit is an important part of that. Different helmets have different requirements, but with the Black Series Mandalorian Helmet we were able to include additional padding at the top and back, as well as use a nice (removable) aerodynamic band to adjust the fit if needed.

In the other helmets of the Star Wars series there are often vocal modifiers. Why did you decide not to include it in this model?

The voice change function is fun to include in Stormtrooper helmets, so you can become one of the imperial forces and hear that very typical helmet sound. In the TV series, there is not much distortion of the voice for this specific helmet of the character, so we chose instead to add new features such as tactical light and interior lighting. to allow fans to explore all the details of the helmet and play their own adventures as the Mandalorian.

Why did you decide to use the new Black Series packaging for this product?

The design of the new Black Series packaging is really beautiful and includes great illustrations for each product! We want to celebrate the appearance of the characters and bring that magnificent art and style more to the complete Black Series line, including the helmets.

What would you have liked to include in this helmet that you had to "leave out" in the final project for technical or production needs?

The real Beskar! The Beskar is really expensive and it's hard to find enough to equip all fans of Black Series helmets…

Curiosities and anecdotes

Do you have any stories about the funniest and most difficult moment in making this product ?

One of the funniest things that happened during our research was deciding which tint to apply on the metal finish to get the right Beskar color. In our offices we painted a blue-gray color swatch and sent it to our factory who would then provide us with a color match. When they received the swatch, they matched the color and returned a production-level swatch to us as usual. The funny part is that when we got the sample it was pink! It turns out that the paint prototype we originally painted blue-gray in our office changed by oxidation during shipping to the factory. It corresponded perfectly to what had arrived, but it was not what it looked like when we put it in the box here!

What element of the Star Wars universe are you looking forward to (or are you afraid!) that Hasbro may have asked you to make?

Each new element of entertainment brings exciting new content to the Star Wars galaxy. I think it's the element I appreciate the most with Star Wars, that there are always new and exciting props and characters to explore!

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