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Darth Vader: ROTJ
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Description: Darth Vader: ROTJ
Prefix: SL
Detachment: Sith Lord Detachment
Context: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

See also: ROTS Vader, ANH Vader, ESB Vader


The 501st approval requirements are listed in black.

The Sith Lord Detachment defines additional, optional levels of costuming excellence. In the page below, items listed under "For level two certification" are recommended features that will greatly improve the quality of the costume. These items are not required for 501st membership, but are highly recommended. Items listed under "For level three certification" are some of the highest level accuracy features for those who strive to be screen accurate. These items are also not required for 501st membership.

Also note that these two additional "certification levels" DO NOT correspond to the Advanced Standards program of the Sith Lord Detachment, and you are encouraged to visit the Sith Lord Detachment Forum for more information.


For 501st membership, only the requirements in black need to be met.


  • Please note:
  • Visit the Frequently asked questions page for information on the Rubies Supreme Vader costume.
  • All uses of the term silver in this document imply a machined aluminum look.
  • Weathered or used aspects referred to in text, may not necessarily be depicted in photos.
  • Click pictures to enlarge and view details; the text only highlights the key aspects of each component.

This Visual Guide has been reviewed by the detachment staff and the LMO team and is certified for use as a minimum approval guideline for GMLs. GMLs are free to approve this costume type.
Required Costume Components

The following costume components must be present and appear as described below for approval .


This document is a Work In Progress being used to restructure the SLD CRL. It should not be used for approval purposes.


SL vader rotj dome.jpg Dome
For 501st approval:
  • The dome is gloss black.
  • There is neither an indentation nor a sharp point in the front center of the dome brow between the eyes of the mask. View
  • Click here to view helmet comparison and details.
  • Allowed (but not recommended): The front center of the dome brow may contain a thumb-sized indentation.
For Advanced Status certification (mandatory upgrade):
  • The black paint used on the dome should match that used on the face mask and the chest armor.
  • The brow of the dome should sit slightly above the brows of the mask, contouring to them and allowing them to be fully visible.
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • When viewed from the side, the bottom of the dome should slope downward to the back in order to hide the back edge of the face mask neck.
  • The center ridge should be rounded off and not as prominent as the one on the ANH or ESB dome. View
  • When the wearer looks up such that the lower tubes on the sides of the mask are horizontal, the very back of the dome should almost be touching or flush with the cape.
SL vader rotj face.jpg Face Mask
For 501st approval:
  • The face mask is painted in an alternating pattern of gloss black and gloss gunmetal/dark grey.
  • The face mask is asymmetrical.
  • The lenses are slightly bubbled and tinted amber/dark grey (eyes are not visible behind lenses).
  • The lower mouth vent is triangular with rounded corners, and is roughly the size of the upper mouth vent. View
  • Large, grey, diamond-shaped mesh is inset in both vents; additional screen backing may be used to conceal the wearer’s face further.
  • The tusks are silver, and have pointed (conical) tips. View
  • There is not a substantial gap between the neck of the face mask and the top of the chest armor. View
  • No skin is visible from any angle (under or through the mask).
  • Click here to view helmet comparison and details.
  • Allowed (but not recommended): The tusks may have rounded (hemispherical) tips.
For Advanced Status certification (mandatory upgrade):
  • The lenses should be tinted amber with NO reddish hue.
  • The black and grey paints used on the face mask should match that used on the dome and the chest armor.
  • All features of the face mask (corners, edges, etc.) should have a sharp, crisp, and non-rounded look to them.
  • No neck brace should be worn with the face mask.
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The paint scheme should match the provided scematic.
  • The wearer's right side of the mask is higher than the left side due to the asymmetrical nature of the mask.
  • The neck of the face mask should sit on the top end of the cape hook and just above the cape chain (still allowing the chain to show fully) when the wearer looks slightly downward.
  • Additional Note: The tusks used in the film were metal.
Generic-balaclava.jpg Balaclava
For 501st approval:
  • A balaclava is a black head sock/hood that is worn under the helmet and is used primarily to hide the following features: the wearer's mouth which could be seen through the mouth and chin vents, the wearer's neck which could be seen under and around the neck of the mask (especially during movement of the head), and the back of the wearer's neck/head which could be seen from the back at a low angle underneath the dome.
  • While the balaclava is labeled as "required" merely because it is the simplest way to ensure that none of the features listed above are visible when the wearer is in full costume as well as to keep the wearer's head cool, any other items or methods that achieve the same result may be used instead of an actual balaclava.


Blankwhite.gif Cape
For 501st approval:
  • The cape is made of black wool (or wool equivalent), three-quarters circle, floor length, and lined with black satin.
  • The cape collar is black leather (or leather-like material), and is one and one half inches in width.
  • The cape is held closed with a cape chain.
  • The cape collar is worn such that it is not pulled under the mask thus allowing the cape chain to show.
  • There is no visible cape chain attachment device showing on the collar when in full costume.
  • Click here to view cape comparison and details.
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The cape should be made of wool and the cape collar should be made of leather.
  • The cape collar should not be visible in full costume when viewing the wearer from behind.
  • The edges of the cape should drape over the front corners of the chest armor thus hiding the shoulder bells while the wearer's arms are at his/her side; the edges should not drape so far inward that they overlap onto the outermost black raised sections. View
Blankwhite.gif Cape Chain
For 501st approval:
  • The cape chain is plastic, has rectangular/oblong links, and is dark grey in color.
  • It is attached to the underside of the collar.
  • It is positioned such that there is an equal length of chain on either side of the cape hook.
  • Click here to view chain comparison and placement details.
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The cape chain should be fastened in the vertical middle to the underside of the collar, and also not at the very end of the collar.
  • An odd number of cape chain links should show (more specifically five or seven) and it should be hooked onto the cape hook on the chest armor via the center of the middle link.
  • The cape chain should contour to the curve of the neck opening of the chest armor.
Blankwhite.gif Chest Armor
For 501st approval:
  • The chest armor is painted in an alternating pattern of gloss black and gloss gunmetal/dark grey.
  • The centermost raised section is grey, and all other raised sections are black.
  • The shoulder bells are entirely black, and are each attached to the chest armor by two straps.
  • There is a visible thin gunmetal/grey cape hook on the vertical center line of the chest armor and it is located approximately one inch down from the top of the chest armor.
  • Click here to view chest armor comparison and details.
For Advanced Status certification (mandatory upgrade):
  • The black and grey paints used on the chest armor should match that used on the dome and the face mask.
  • The color of gunmetal/grey used to paint the cape hook should be the same as the gunmetal/grey used on the armor.
  • The armor should be fitted with padding if necessary to ensure 1) the bottom of the armor does not rise up substantially off the chest, 2) the back of the chest armor does not stick out substantially through the cape, 3) the shoulder bells rest on and move with the arms, and 4) that the side of the chest armor and the top of the shoulder bells are almost flush.
  • Additional Note: During filming, the paint used on the cape hook started to wear off due to the cape chain. Depending on the scene the cape hook ranges anywhere from being completely painted to only the lower half being painted exposing the bronze/brass color of the cape hook at the top. As such, a completely bronze/brass unpainted cape hook does not appear anywhere on screen and has therefore been removed from the basic standard.
Blankwhite.gif Inner Robe
For 501st approval:
  • The inner robe is made of the same material as the outside of the cape.
  • It is ankle length, and is worn over the codpiece but under the chest armor and belt.
  • The inner robe is positioned such that the front edges taper - they're closer together at the belt than they are right under the armor (the inner robe does not touch the chestbox). The edges approximately line up with inside edges of the belt boxes at belt level. View
  • There are three pleats (no more than one inch away from each other) on each side of the inner robe that begin near the front edges and run perpendicular to the belt. The pleats end on the underside of the belt and are not sewn below it. View
  • Click here to view inner robe comparison and details.
  • Allowed (but not recommended): The side seams may be open from the belt down if the robe isn't full enough to properly drape in the front. View
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The inner robe should be secured firmly by the belt so that the area between the belt and chest armor stays close to the wearer and is pulled taut. View
  • The pleats should be sewn only at belt level thus being hidden by the belt when in full costume. The resulting folds should open to the front and be ironed so they extend all the way under the chest armor. However, to ensure the folds remain prominent and crisp, corresponding pleats can be added under the chest armor. No stitching should be visible in full costume. View
SL vader rotj chestbox2.jpg Chestbox
For 501st approval:
  • The chestbox is square, semi-gloss black, and worn right below the chest armor.
  • The black leather (or leather-like material) one inch wide straps are worn over the bodysuit, but under the chest armor and inner robe, and attach to the top and sides of the chestbox as shown.
  • The face of the chestbox consists of:
    • Two silver rods on each side that are machined as shown, and each are bracketed at the top and bottom.
      • At the top: two black brackets each bear an upside down “U” shaped cutout on the lower inner half of the bracket.
      • At the bottom: two bronze colored brackets that each bear a finned design.
    • Three vertically stacked gray/silver coin slots on the wearer's right. These coin slots blink red, and the top surface surrounding the lit portion of each coin slot is painted black.
    • A blue colored panel (upper) and a red colored panel (lower) are on the wearer’s left and each are mounted in a raised black area slightly larger than the panels themselves. These panels are unlit. View
    • Along the bottom are four rocker switches which are mounted in a raised black section at their base and are, from wearer's right to left, three grey and one red.
    • Small silver(grey/chrome) switches are between each rocker, except the center rockers, and between the colored panels (three total).
    • Exotic (not aurebesh) text appears below each of the coin slots.
  • Click here to view chest box comparison and details.
    • Allowed (but not recommended): The top black brackets may have right-side-up "U" shaped cutouts on the upper inner half of the bracket similar to the ESB top black brackets.
For Advanced Status certification (mandatory upgrade):
  • In terms of width, the chestbox should extend just past the center-most black sections of the chest armor.
  • The straps should be made of leather.
  • The coin slots should not blink too rapidly (strobe) nor stay lit for more than a couple of seconds.
  • Only the two silver switches between the rockers should resemble each another. All should have more of a chrome appearance as opposed to a machined aluminum appearance.
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The flat surface that all of the accessories are mounted should be smaller than the ANH/ESB versions because the sides have a larger radius of curvature, thus making the chestbox taller (when laid on its back) than the other versions. View
  • The black brackets should mirror image one another.
  • The outer edge of the wearer's right bronze bracket and the inner edge of the wearer's left bronze bracket should slightly protrude towards the top of the chestbox---the bracket on the wearer's left is identical to the bracket on the wearer's right. View
  • The center of each coin slot should have square corners, and contains a semi-translucent red material.
  • Additional Notes: In the film, the chestbox was slightly weathered, the straps were slightly aged, the two silver rods and three silver switches were metal, and the gray/silver coinslots were not metal but actually painted.
SL vader1 ot bodysuit.jpg Bodysuit
For 501st approval:
  • The body suit is made of black leather (or leather-like material), fitted to the wearer, and quilted in lines spaced approximately one inch apart down the torso, arms, and legs.
  • A one, two, or three piece suit is acceptable. View
  • An open mesh back is also acceptable for comfort and heat dispersal. View
For Advanced Status certification (mandatory upgrade):
  • The body suit should be made of leather.
  • It should have a wrinkled/worn appearance.
  • Additional Note: The body suit in the film was constructed in three pieces: a top with only the sleeves quilted, a vest, and pants.
SL vader1 esbrotj gloves.jpg Gloves
For 501st approval:
  • The gloves are black leather (or leather-like material) and mid-forearm length.
  • The upper surface is quilted in lines spaced approximately one inch apart which run parallel to the arm which starts just behind the knuckles.
  • The palm side has no quilted lines.
  • Version comparison and details.
For Advanced Status certification (mandatory upgrade):
  • The gloves should be made of leather (more specifically, it should match the leather of the body suit).
  • The gloves should flare out on the outside edge towards the opening.
  • There should be six rectangular sections created by the quilted lines on the upper surface; they are not of uniform width (the outer sections are smaller than the middle sections View).
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The quilted lines should be very finely stitched, and the upper surface should be padded minimally.
  • The quilted lines in the flared section are stitched as a "V" turning the sixth (outermost) section into a "Y".
  • The stitching on the gloves, with the exception of the quilted lines, should be external.
  • The top and bottom of each glove should not be directly sewn together in the flared section; a gusset should adjoin them starting at the wrist bone. It should be approximately two inches in width at the end opening of each glove.
  • Each glove should be constructed with three fourchettes-one between each set of fingers.
Blankwhite.gif Belt
For 501st approval:
  • The belt is made of black leather (or leather-like material) and is slightly smaller than two inches wide.
  • To the wearer’s left of the buckle, there is a metallic rivet/bolt on the horizontal centerline of the belt, no more than one inch away from the buckle.
  • The belt is worn such that the bottom side of the belt and the top side of the codpiece are touching; as a result, the portions of the belt buckle and belt boxes that are below the belt in fact sit on the face of the codpiece. The belt itself does not sit on the face of the codpiece. View
  • Click here to view belt comparison and details.
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The belt should be made of leather.
  • The belt should have incised lines one eighth of an inch from the top and bottom. View
Blankwhite.gif Belt Buckle
For 501st approval:
  • The buckle is slightly smaller than the belt boxes in terms of height. View
  • The base layer of the buckle is black and rectangular.
  • The second layer is silver and in the shape of a "D."
  • There are five progressively smaller rounded edge cutouts (the smallest is still a oval cutout and is neither a circle nor a square) in a triangular formation on the wearer's right.
  • The top layer of the buckle consists of a silver circle located on the center of the arc of the "D."
  • Click here to view buckle comparison and details.
  • Allowed: The cutouts on the second layer of the buckle may have squared edges.
For Advanced Status certification (mandatory upgrade):
  • The base layer of the buckle should not be gloss black.
  • Additional Notes: The buckle in the film was metal and slightly weathered around the edges.
Blankwhite.gif Belt Boxes
For 501st approval:
  • The belt boxes are black and centered vertically on the belt approximately one and one-half two inches from the buckle, and mirror image one another.
  • Wearer's right box is shown.
  • The back side of each box is removable and meets flush with the rest of the box.
  • From the center outwards each box has:
    • two rectangular opaque green light panels (bordered by a thin raised black section) above a half strip of braid-reinforced transparent hose inset in a rectangular cutout,
    • a cylindrical opaque red light set in a very small chrome ring (bezel),
    • and six silver posts with smooth, not knurled, sides in two vertical columns of three.
    • All lights are constantly lit.
  • Click here to view belt box comparison and details.
  • Allowed (but not recommended): The red light may be a small domed opaque light, and may also be set in very noticeable chrome bezel. The red light may also not contain any bezel at the base. The six silver posts may have knurled sides. View
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The belt box should be tapered: the back face should be larger than the front face.
  • The slots in the rear of the box for the belt should be taller than the belt itself (same boxes as ESB, but the belt is smaller than the ESB belt).
  • Additional Notes: The belt boxes in the film were metal. Depending on the scene in the film, the belt boxes range from being unweathered to slightly weathered. The chrome bezel is very thin and extends approximately one-eighth to one-fourth the height of the red light, and therefore is not very noticeable when the red light is on, giving the illusion that it is not there.
Blankwhite.gif Lightsaber Hook
For 501st approval:
  • The lightsaber hook is silver and held to the backside of the belt by two silver rivets (which can be located towards the bottom or top of the belt). The lightsaber hook is mounted on the backside of the wearer's left hip. View
For Advanced Status certification (mandatory upgrade):
  • The lightsaber hook should not have a mirrored finished.
  • It should be significantly farther back on the belt than the ANH/ESB version; in fact, due to the lighting in the movie, the lightsaber is almost not noticeably hanging on the belt. View
  • Additional Note: The lightsaber hook in the film was metal.
SL vader esb saber.jpg Lightsaber
For 501st approval:
  • The lightsaber should be a Master Replicas or custom built based on the MPP Microflash or the Heiland Synchronar 3-Cell flash handle to match the hilt used in ESB/ROTJ.
  • The metal has a chrome appearance.
  • The grips extend all the way to the middle section.
  • A lever is not present on the box on the middle section.
  • The side bars of the box on the middle section are black.
  • There are connecting wires towards the top of the lightsaber.
  • The lightsaber should only be required as long as it's in compliance with the applicant’s local laws.
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The lightsaber should be capable of being belt worn with the emitter facing upwards (detachable blade or no blade).
  • The lightsaber should be a 1:1 scale of the lightsaber used in the film.
  • Additional Note: The lightsaber in the film was slightly weathered.
SL vader1 esbrotj codpiece.jpg Codpiece
For 501st approval:
  • The codpiece is a padded-construction and faced in black leather (or leather-like material).
  • It is worn over the bodysuit, directly below the belt (the top of the codpiece and the bottom of the belt are flush, but do not overlap), and under the inner robe. View
  • It covers the front of the groin area and extends to the hips.
  • In its center, there is a slight rectangular inset with rounded corners that is edged with rolled piping. View
  • Version comparison and details.
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The codpiece should be made of leather, have a wrinkled/worn appearance, and not be thicker than one inch.
  • The area of the codpiece under the belt boxes should be no taller than one-third of the area under the belt buckle. View
  • A piece of leather with a smoother look (when compared to that of rest of the codpiece) should seemingly emerge from the backside at mid-height and gradually become more noticeable as it overlaps the bottom front of the codpiece. View
SL vader1 ot shins.jpg Shin Guards
For 501st approval:
  • The shin guards are gloss black.
  • Each shin guard covers the leg from the ankle to the knee, and at least one half the leg when viewed from the side.
  • The knee is shaped like a cut diamond.
  • Below the knee are six small square protrusions in a horizontal line (three on each side).
  • On both sides of the raised area along the center, a long "U" shaped cutout starts at mid-armor height, and gradually increases in depth.
  • The shin guards are attached by two straps that go around the boot.
  • Version comparison and details.
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • Both shin guards should slightly contour to each leg (right and left specific shin guards).
  • The right shin guard is taller than the left.
  • On both shin guards, the “U” shaped cutout on the wearer's left is longer.
SL vader anh boots.jpeg Boots
For 501st approval:
  • The boots are made of black leather (or leather-like material) with a medium gloss shine and are lace-less.
  • They come to just below knee height, have a rounded toe, and a smooth textured appearance.
  • There is no noticeable zipper in full costume.
  • The sole of the front does not exceed one inch in thickness and the heel does not exceed two inches in thickness.
  • Note: The strap/buckle at the top is not required; this area is covered in full costume and may or may not be there based on the style of boot.
For Advanced Status certification (optional upgrade):
  • The boots should be made of leather.
  • The sole should not exceed one and one-half inches in the heel or three-quarter of an inch in the front.
  • Internal lifts (if used) should not be noticeable.

This document and all of the images within were created by and are the property of the 501st Legion. All other uses are prohibited.

This CRL is available as a PDF at www.501st.com/databank/Costuming:SL_rotj_vader_wip

The 501st Legion is a worldwide Star Wars costuming organization comprised of and operated by Star Wars fans. While it is not sponsored by Lucasfilm Ltd., it is Lucasfilm's preferred Imperial costuming group. Star Wars, its characters, costumes, and all associated items are the intellectual property of Lucasfilm. ©2012 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.

Visit www.501st.com to learn more.
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The 501st Legion is a worldwide Star Wars costuming organization comprised of and operated by Star Wars fans. While it is not sponsored by Lucasfilm Ltd., it is Lucasfilm's preferred Imperial costuming group. Star Wars, its characters, costumes, and all associated items are the intellectual property of Lucasfilm. © & ™ Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.