LONDON — If you love the new “Star Wars” film and want to dress up like a stormtrooper, one guy in Twickenham, England can help you out.
Unless you live in the United States.
Andrew Ainsworth said his sales jumped ten fold in the run up to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as fans have discovered his stormtrooper helmets, which are made from the same molds used to produce the original costumes.
Ainsworth’s helmets sell for between $400 and $750.
If George Lucas had his way, Ainsworth would be out of business. In fact, the famous director’s studio filed suit against Ainsworth in a case decided by London’s High Court in 2011.
And here’s why.
In 1976, Ainsworth was asked by a scenic designer friend to make a futuristic military-type helmet.
His friend was making costume parts for a certain film and was too busy to deal with the helmets.
At the time, Ainsworth was making kayaks out of resin and other composite materials.
Ainsworth designed and built the helmet, and parts of the armor, and took it all to Elstree Studios to show the film’s director.
It turned out the helmet was for stormtroopers in the original “Star Wars,” and George Lucas liked what he saw.
The only problem for Ainsworth, and for Lucas: There was no contract signed, no detailed design drawings and no clear answer as to who owned the copyright to the stormtrooper, which came to light in the Lucasfilm suit.
Ainsworth got paid but also kept the stormtrooper molds, which he dusted off in the late 1980s when he needed to pay school fees. Some molds went to auction. He decided to start to making helmets from the molds he kept.
In 2008, Lucasfilm sued Ainsworth for copyright infringement, in California and in London, when his helmets started to show up in the U.S.
Ainsworth told CNNMoney that Lucas sued him for $9 million. Ainsworth said he eventually settled with Lucasfilm’s new owner, Disney, for £90,000 ($135,000) to compensate for the 19 helmets he sold in the U.S.
He is now barred from selling the helmets in the U.S., but said he retains the right to sell into the rest of the world. He also sells other Star Wars replica outfits made in his Twickenham design studio.