The year is 1980. 3 years have passed since the initial release of “Star Wars. West Coast Science Fantasy Conference (Westercon) is held for the 33th time. This time at the Hyatt International Hotel in LA (source).
Costuming has always been the core of any cosplay/science fiction-fantasy convention since its early introduction in the late 30s. Dedicated fans have always loved to dress up in scratch-built costumes (movie licensed replica-costumes availability was limited at the time), and due to the lack of visual references made costume-making especially hard. A lot of artistic improvisations had to be made. The basis of any costume project is visual references. In the early 80s, unlike now, the only way of seeing a movie was to experience it in the movie theatre. The first home video release of Star Wars on VHS was in the mid-80s (Laserdisc in ’82). The rest of the needed visual references of the most common characters could be taken from various magazines, but this still represented a limited amount of information. Today, we have the blessing of both BluRay and other visual sources. By using any video player, one can freely screen capture any frame where needed costume details are wanted. This was unheard of in the early days of costuming.
Anyways, here’s an interesting picture I found from a scratch built (?) See-Threepio (Probably the first real See-Threepio builder) from Westercon (1980). The amount of details on the costume is quite impressive considering how little costume information one could obtain at the time, and the chrome surface looks to have been vacuum metallized. Even today, its chromed finish looks impressive compared to some of the Threepio-costumes made now. So kudos to this guy, however he is.
The arm pistons area all there, as well as the head antenna, neck bolt, arm details etc. However the basic head geometry, chest geometry and shoulder bell shape are a bit ackward, which makes me think it’s home made. Anyways, it looks awesome and must have been very impressive at the time (considering the other costumes at the same convention were like this, this and this (no offense made)).