Mara wears a set of black shin and knee guards. They should be made of plastic or
fiberglass and should be worn over the top of a high pair of black boots. The knee
guards are oval, and the shin guards themselves should extend from the knees to the
ankles with black padding visible underneath. The shin/knee guards are the place
where my costume differs the most from the Decipher version of Mara and most fan
costumes. Instead of purchasing a pair of store-bought shin and knee guards, I chose
to make my costume accurate to the comic book images, and I sculpted a set for myself.
To get the look of the shin guards worn by Shannon McRandle for her Decipher photoshoot,
the best results can be found by searching for riot or flak gear. I have heard that
the brand Centurion is what was used for the photoshoot, but I cannot confirm this.
Riot and flak gear can often be found in military or police surplus catalogs or on
ebay. Hockey shin guards have also been found that work quite well, and are considerably
easier to locate.
To make my shin guards, first I made plaster castings of my legs from the heels to
just above the knees and then I used those to make duplicates of my legs in fiberglass.
(It was VERY disturbing to see a pair of legs lying on the table!) I sculpted the
shin guards over the fiberglass using soft plaster mixed with a bit of ultracal for
stability and strength, and then I spent many hours sculpting and sanding them to
a mirror-smooth finish. Once they looked the way I wanted them to, I cast the shin
guards in fiberglass. Unlike my usual custom of creating reusable molds, this time
I made the shin guards with a set of one time use waste molds, which were destroyed
when I pulled the cast fiberglass shin guards away. This is one of the shin guard
sculpts in the very early stage of development. Unfortunately my camera was on the
fritz at the time, so I didn't get any other pictures of the process.
Cracks have begun to develop in my shin guards after they were smashed about in my
luggage during several flights, so I decided to make silicone molds of them while
they're still in one piece. Then, on a whim I decided to try making vacuform bucks
from the molds. I did make the molds, and I did make the plaster bucks.... but I'm
not sure I'm happy with the way the vacuformed guards came out. They look nice enough,
but they just don't seem to have the same fit, connections, or sharp lines of the
fiberglass versions. My next thought was to cast some new fiberglass guards from
the molds, but when I got everything out, I discovered that a mouse had gotten into
the tub and had EATEN one of my silicone molds! It is literally covered with teeth
marks! (Note for future reference... don't store bird seed in the workshop. It invites
unwelcome guests.) I set the project aside after that, though I do still plan to
remake the damaged mold and try again with the fiberglass casting someday....
In this picture, you can see the plaster buck in the center. I tried vacuforming
with a lightweight white styrene, and a heavier black... the two materials that I
had on hand at the time.
I've been considering lately giving myself a new challenge: sculpting one of the
other style of shin guards that are worn by Mara in the comics.
This is the style that was used for a reference when the first Mara Jade action figure
was sculpted. It includes a built-in holster for a knife, as well as attached knees.
It is a design which would limit my mobility quite a bit unless I make some major
modifications for "real life" wear.
Or, there's also this design, which resembles stormtrooper shin armor quite a bit,
complete with attached knees.