The history of the Mandalorian culture is unique. They are not a race but an ethnic group that accepts those who are willing to live by their creeds and code. To wear the armor of Mandalore is to be both predator and prey. While Mandalorian armor is recognizable, it’s the iconic Mandalorian helmet that makes a true Mandalorian.
The distinctive helmet serves as a functional piece of armor, a passive (and intimidating) threat, and let’s face it — it’s stylish as hell. Mandalorian societies are clan-based, and many enforce a rule focused on never removing one’s helmet in the presence of other living creatures.
Like all societies, Mandalorian culture evolved over time. It eventually splintered into two factions: one peaceful and another that hung onto their ancestral martial ways.
The core of being a martial Mandalorian is the helmet.
The Modern Mandalorian Helmet
The modern Mandalorian helmet was purpose-built and designed. Mandalorians adapted to the threats they faced. When Mandalorian Neo Crusader forces encountered Jedi, they quickly learned to adapt their entire set of armor to face this new enemy. This included the helmet we know “now” as the quintessential. It was adapted specifically to face the enemy “Jedi wizards”.
As time and technology improved, the helmet became more than just head protection.
The helmets could have built-in targeting software, rangefinders, nightvision and thermal/IR capability, a comlink, sonic amplification to improve hearing, and more.
The Mandalorian helmet can even interface with a Mandalorian weapon to ensure proper targeting. The helmet is a mini-computer that gives a Mandalorian warrior the means to outsmart, outflank, and outshoot an enemy.
That’s way better than one of our old M1 steel pots, though somewhat less superior to the USCM’s M10 pattern ballistic helmet.
See what we did there? A little milieu merging…
Traditional Mandalorian helmets (the best of them) are made from Beskar steel. Read more about Beskar or…
TLDR Beskar helmets
The Mandalorian helmet is more than just protection for the brain housing group. They could wear a Team Wendy Exfil for that. No, these helmets provide wearers with numerous advantages when they’re outgunned, outnumbered, and often all by himself. Mandalorians are intelligent fighters, and the Mandalorian helmet effectively provides a second brain to the warrior.
It resists blaster and even lightsaber strikes. This gives the ole noggin protection against most threats a Mando would encounter. Imagine milling an 80 lower from Beskar. After the Empire began gathering Beskar, some Mandalorians turned to Durasteel and Duraplast to craft their armor.
As my own squad leader once said, “We don’t get to stop working cause logistics suck.”
From the Outside Looking In
Imagine a character so cool that he’s near-immortal in fandom despite saying maybe seven words and having just 5 minutes of screen time. A character so cool that he draws attention away from Darth Vader when they’re in a scene together. A bounty hunter with so much confidence he’ll talk back to a man who regularly force chokes his employees.
A man who never removed his helmet never gave us a look under his stoic veneer. A man who once proclaimed, “This is my face!” when referencing his helmet.
That character is Boba Fett, and love em or hate him, but he’s a cult-like figure to nerds like me.
And judging by the success of the eponymous series, now in its second season, the sexy Mandalorian cosplay out there, and the general proliferation- and Mando-based pop culture references, I’m not alone.
Mandalorian Helmet and Armor
That original Mando helmet and armor was designed by Joe Jonhston and Ralph Mcquarrie. It was intended for an army of super-elite soldiers. However, Star Wars didn’t have the finances to build tons of dudes rocking such distinctive armor. So instead of wasting their design Lucas turned it into the bounty hunter we know today.
The Mandalorian Helmet is a compelling design that manages to encapsulate the essence of both a space-age bounty hunter and a warrior of the bronze age. As any student of the history of warfare will attest, that distinct T shaped visor is present in helmets from various armies from the days of slinging swords and maces.
The design worked then and works now for the Mandalorian commando.
Helmets change, but the Mandalorian helmet mixes both old and new to form a distinctive and unforgettable helmet. That helmet might just be saving Star Wars as we know it. It’s certainly carrying the weight of the entire franchise right now.
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