The idea of it was too enticing. Would I like to review a $700 Mandalorian helmet? As a fan of not just Star Wars or The Mandalorian, but Mandalorians in general, I emphatically said “Yes.” I’d seen all sorts of Star Wars helmets before: toy ones, collectible ones, and Lego ones, but never a wearable one with such a price tag. What would make this helmet so different from the others? Almost as if I put on a jet pack, my expectations went through the roof—which is how I found myself in possession of a helmet from The Mandalorian, courtesy and complimentary of Denuo Novo.
First things first: fans who collect these types of items probably know that for years, Lucasfilm was working with a company called Anovos. That company was synonymous with high-end costume props and, in fact, was the company that first announced this specific helmet way back in December 2019. However, earlier this year, Anovos just kind of stopped existing, leaving long-awaited preorders the company had not shipped for months, even years, for various Star Wars and Star Trek replicas (including this helmet) unfulfilled. Now the company is a ghost, with its defunct website redirecting to Denuo Novo. While the specifics of what exactly happened are a little unclear, what we know is that Anovos no longer has the Star Wars license. It has now gone to Denuo Novo, and as part of its agreement with Lucasfilm, it’s fulfilling Star Wars backorders fans made with Anovos before it went away, in addition to making new products. The company assured us that to do so, it’s working with the same factories and manufacturers Anovos did, and from the same molds and schematics, so that customers will still get the exact product they purchased months or maybe even years ago.
Make no mistake, when in hand, the helmet itself is gorgeous. The metallic color looks just like the Beskar armor Din Djarin wears on the Disney+ show. There’s purposeful distress in the crevices and cracks to make it look like it’s already been used, making it just the right amount of fake dirty. And the details at the ears and back feel and look authentic. If you lived in Star Wars, you’d imagine they have some kind of use. You can tell this was made in association with Lucasfilm and built from the screen-used props.
As a wearable piece of costuming, the helmet is functional and comfortable. It weighs only 3.5 pounds, making it very easy to move around in, with soft padding all throughout the inside. Depending on the size of your head, the viewing plate might not line up perfectly, which is why it comes with a few extra pieces of padding to add in. For reference, I have big head (a 7 1/2 fitted) and it worked perfectly for me. From the mail to my head, it slipped on easy and looked great. My wife, whose head is slightly smaller (a 7 1/4) despite being much, much smarter, said it felt loose, so she’d need to add some of the inclosed pads.
So the helmet looks and feels great. Obviously, those are the two most important things. However, the issue here is that price tag. For $700 you expect something truly incredible. And while helmet is certainly nice, it lacks a certain super ultra premium feel. Made from fiberglass, the helmet is optimized for use. It’s meant to be put on and worn out because it’s so light. But light also makes it feel fragile, not exactly a good asset for something so expensive. The plastic used to make the visor is also a bit too exposed. Thin and pliable, you can grab it from the bottom and just kind of wiggle it around. (See photo below).
The packaging and presentation also leave much to be desired. When you buy the helmet and pull it out of the box, it comes wrapped in a bag. It’s a soft satin-ish material that says “Star Wars” on the front, with the Denuo Novo logo on the back, and drawstrings on top. So it’s a nice bag, but a bag nonetheless. When you get the helmet it comes in a box inside a box, and inside that second box is a bunch of packing peanuts and the bag. I have to admit, I’ve never purchased or even handled a helmet of this type before so maybe this is industry standard. But for something that costs so much, you’d expect a bit more pomp and circumstance with it. A well-designed box. A slip case. Anything. But packing peanuts stuck to a bag isn’t that.
Out of curiosity and for full disclosure, I asked Denuo Novo if my experience with the packaging was accurate to the customer experience. “We sent [you] the Mandalorian helmet in the same way that customers would receive it,” Mark Von Ohlen, Brand Licensing Manager, told io9 via email. “The packaging is a box-within-a-box for safety in shipping. We found that’s the best way to protect the helmet compared to other options. The satin bag is also included in case you want to take your helmet on the road somewhere. It’s elegant and makes a nice travel bag and it helps differentiate our helmet from others.”
I also found the package to be lacking accessories. There was no promise or even mention of accessories but, for that premium price, you expect the product to go above and beyond. Besides the helmet, the bag includes the aforementioned extra padding to help with the sizing and that’s it. No case. No stand. According to Von Ohlen this is by design—but, again, without a little something extra, the product truly lacks that premium feeling. “We don’t include helmet stands as every collector has their own preference in display and they usually prefer a unified look,” Von Ohlen wrote in response to this criticism. “We’re exploring creating a Denuo Novo specific helmet stand that would work for most of our helmets, though there are MANY on the market already.”
“Our big point of differentiation with the Mandalorian helmet is that it is officially licensed by Disney/Lucasfilm and created using the original screen-used assets to get as close as possible to screen-accurate down to the weathering,” he added. Which is true.
Red tape is always a valid explanation as to why a product takes so long to make it into the hands of the fans. But now that this helmet is in hand, there’s no doubt it’s screen-accurate, comfortable, and will make you look like you’re on the hunt for Grogu. I just question if those things are worth what this costs.
The helmet is still available for purchase at this link.
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