Photos and Video
The results are in and I'm very pleased!
The process is called "Vacuum Metalizing" and Vacmet.com located in southern CA. Don Bies has confirmed that VMI is the shop that did the original C-3PO chrome suits for Lucasfilm. Kevin Franke at Vacmet charges $500 for as many pieces as can fit inside the metalizing chamber. The entire Threepio suit will fit in two chambers totalling about $1000. I've found that's a pretty typical price wherever you go. Another popular American shop for chroming C-3PO is vacuummetallizing.ca.
You can read all about vacuum metalizing at StarWarsHelmets.com Jez has a great article on trying to get the perfect finish on his C-3PO helmets.
Our opinions differ on the results. When you read Jez's article, scroll about 2/3 of the way down and see Jez's "Comparisons of the Two Approaches" section. He prefers a less reflective, but consistent finish of the left helmet. I prefer the more reflective, imperfect finish of the right helmet. My opinion is that people aren't going to be examining your finish from 2 inches away. I'd much rather have the majority of the finish have crisp reflections even if there were a few small rough spots. rather than the all over, hazy finish.
M & M Metalizing in southern CA does NOT want C-3PO projects, so don't contact them. Originally I had recommended them, after they estimated $350 to chrome 35 pieces. After it arrived in LA the estimate jumped to $1500, then to $3500! They said it's just too much work. Mike at M&M said he got a ton of calls about C-3PO chroming.
For those "wearable" costumes, Here are a few items you'll need under the armor.
Click here to search ebay for "Chinese Kung Fu Shoes". Daniels said he wore slip on shoes, and you'll want the lowest profile shoes possible. These shoes
fit underneath the screen-accurate shoe shells. C-3PO 's screen-accurate feet shells fit up to a size
The dive skin that stormtroopers use also works for C-3PO . However, the only
place you see it showing through is at the elbow and the back of the knees. You
could get away with wearing any tight-fitting black clothing, as long as the
knee backs, elbows and midsection show
black and wires.
I also found that a Tummy Trimmer worn underneath the bodysuit helps keep
your back supported.
Any thin, swat-style balaclava will work.
I found glove liners work best for a snug fit. These are $3 a pair.
I cut out a thin piece of plastic (thinner that sintra or styrene, almost like plastic poster board) glued black foam liner to the inside and added velcro, then painted the plastic.
Here's how I did mine:
Kevoris did his using zip ties
I found ribbed rubber floor mat at the hardware store for sale by the foot. Don
Bies said since AOTC they cast the mat in silicone for better flexibility and
comfort. Black, wide wale corduroy will work as well for this prequel look. He
of vinyl string in addition to actual wires.
I went by the craft store (Michaels, Walmart, Jo-Ann Fabrics, A.C. Moore, etc)
and found an entire section stocked full of the vinyl string (also known as gimp,
or plastic lace) in every color imaginable. The brand names are Toner Plastics
and Rexlace. These will work for wiring and you'll be able to get the colors
accurate! It's the same kind of string kids use to make beaded necklaces, keychains,
etc. I got a bag of 12 different colors totalling 400ft. for about $4. This stuff
is super cheap. It works well for the hand wires too.
Another idea which I ended up using is t-shirt puff paints applied directly to my black spandex shirt. I used blue, red, yellow, orange and gray. I also cut the pointy tip off the bottle so the "wires" would be the appropriate width. I'll probably redo my gloves like this too.
Machined Aluminum Parts
For machined aluminum C-3PO parts, I recommend 501st member Lucas Alvarez [TK2111] has amazing pieces for C-3PO, Tusken Raiders, R2D2, and other Star Wars characters. Screen accurate, fast shipping at great prices.
Russell has produced several parts in machined aluminum. For more info, contact him here: firstname.lastname@example.org He will cut the price if you order more than one piece. He makes the head antenna, eye grills and other parts for C-3PO.
For keeping the knees together, I used the screw from the knee piston and added a screw/nut on the opposite side of the knee (I know, not accurate). Then I took small bungee cords, looped the hooks around the screws, tightened the screws, and stretched the cords up to the top of the thigh where there are grooves on both sides of the leg (just like they were made for it!) Anthony Daniels commented that that was almost exactly how his are done.
Costume Voice Amp
I use the compact Aker voice amp for all my costumes. It's perfect for C-3PO or R2D2! The amplified voice effect is LOUD and clear. You'd wear it inside your chest armor. It has an input for the mic and a second input for an MP3 player so you can speak AND play sound effects at the same time. Or you can use just the MP3 input for use inside R2D2. It's fantastic. Comes with a charger so it's all self-contained. Perfect for crowds since you can hear it across the street!
From TK Electronics.
The speaker can be worn behind the chest plate since it comes with a neck strap.