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Sith Bith

Sith Bith
Photo: Debaser Photography
The Sith Bith in the 2014 Dragoncon Parade,
Holding Jana's Holocron Cube.
The Sith Bith was actually a quick fix for another costume that you may some day read about on this web page if I can think a reason to finish him. After Dragoncon 2013, I was inspired to create a new character, something more in line with what I had wanted to create to begin with: a protocol droid. So I came up with Darth 3PO, or D3PO. My concept was to combine Darth Maul's robes with the head, lower arm and leg covers of a protocol droid. The costumes was intended as half joke, half nod to the costume I really wanted. (That costume didn't happen for reasons I will explain on the D3PO page, if I ever actually finish the costume.)

We started seriously planning what we were going to do at Dragoncon in early spring. My friend Jana, who is the reason I ever started doing Cosplay in the first place, announced that she was going to march in the Dragoncon Parade like we had in 2013. I didn't really want to do this for various reasons, but she finally convinced me to convince myself. She then explained that we were going to be marching with a group called the Dark Empire Costume Club. This probably meant I was not going to be able to use my Captain Antilles outfit like I had in 2013. (Although I considered sewing an empire patch on his shoulder just to see how that would go.)

Sith Bith Robes and Lightsaber
The Author Pretending He's Cool With His
Sith Robes and Maul Lightsaber
Since we were over half way to the event, I looked at what I had ready that would fit the empire theme. I had had the robes for D3PO. I also had the official Darth Maul Signature Series FX Lightsaber with Removable Blade, which I had gotten off eBay. I also had some neat, sith-like boots.

I had the boots because when I was trying to figure out how to make the armor coverings for D3PO, I realized that the leg coverings were going to be a giant pain in the arse. Fearing this would hold the entire project up, I had purchased this pair of boots I had found in some lengthy Google search. They had the impossible name of "Men complex Guma Ding shoes European and American style punk fashion", probably because they had been put on a Chinese web site that wanted to include every possible search term that someone wanting such boots might use. (And it had worked in my case.)

Sith Bith Boots
The Comfortable Chinese Sith Bith Boots
The boots sorta' kinda' reminded me of the 'official' Maul Boots - the Frank Thomas Titan Touring Boot 101 which no one has been able to buy for a decade. (OK, they didn't remind me of those boots a lot, but the spirit of these boots seemed right. Or something. They had red in them and were tall.

When I was still unsure what this Empire costume would become, I also bought a pair of neat-looking Fox Motocross Racing Bomber Gloves in red and black to cover my hands. (I'm not entirely sure why I felt the need to cover every inch of my skin for this costume, but that seemed to be the unspoken goal.) The gloves looked sort of Sith-like and I found them pretty cheap. I actually didn't end up using these, but I thought I'd stick that in here to show my creative process or something. (OK, I really stuck them in here in case I use them in the future. Now I know what they are called.)

I also wanted a leather belt to go with this outfit because almost everyone in Star Wars has some kind of fancy leather belt. The D3PO belt wasn't done (and wouldn't have worked for this costume anyhow), so I started looking for something fairly reasonably-priced, but still all Sith and techy-looking. Sith Bith Belt and Lightsaber Clip
Sith Bith Anakin Belt and Lightsaber Clip
When I searched "Sith Belt" up came JediRobeAmerica.com Costumes' Black Anakin Skywalker Sith Belt. That seemed perfect. They processed and shipped my order very quickly and I had it within a couple of days. The product was well-made for costume garb and I thought it fit the costume motif.

There was one other thing I did that's related to the belt that I want to mention. The Darth Maul Signature Series FX Lightsaber with Removable Blade is a wonderful product with excellent effects and all sorts of neat little extras such as a connector for your second Darth Maul Signature Series FX Lightsaber with Removable Blade (cuz' then you'll buy two.)

It also had a belt clip. However, I found the belt clip to fit very loosely on the Anakin Sith Belt. When I walked around with my saber hilt clipped to it, the stupid thing occasionally fell off. So I disassembled the clip and stuck the fuzzy side of some velcro on the inside of the clip. While it was still loose, it didn't fall off the belt when I walked around, so that worked.

Jana, Shana and Mickey Flint as Zabraks
Photo: Shana WP
Twin Jana, Mickey Flint and Twin Shana
Glue Horns on Their Face to become Zabraks
Now for the face. I could be human, but where's the fun in that? (Remember I was trying to cover every inch of skin here for some reason.) Jana suggested I go as a Zabrak because she had horns a-plenty for Zabraks. (Zabraks have horns on their forehead. Darth Maul is actually a Zabrak. One with red tattoos on his face.) She even offered to stick the horns on my face for me. This seemed like a reasonable back-up plan, but, being so reasonable, I quickly lost interest in it. Several people connected to our group did go as Zabraks, so I apparently wasn't the only one searching for something that made my face more Star Wars.

For some reason, I latched on to the idea of wearing a mask. It was probably because of that "cover every inch of skin" thing swimming around in the back of my mind. One of my favorite action figures from the 70s was Greedo, so I started out looking for a Greedo mask. No luck with that - Rodian masks are pretty rare for some reason.

So I had to think... what other figure was important to me when I was a kid? Why, the one that was never made! A Bith! (They weren't called Biths in the 70s, they were called the Cantina band members, but the times, not to mention George Lucas' canon, do change.) Oddly enough, I found a mask for that without too much trouble.

Before I explain the Bith mask, some backstory is required here. Wave 2 Figs
Star Wars Wave 2 Figure Ad From
Monster Magazine. Noticeably Missing
The Cantina Band

It will add nothing whatsoever to your understanding of this costume, but this is my web page and I want it here to explain why I chose this character. In 1978, Kenner released the second batch of action figures which included several characters from the cantina. What it did not include was one of my favorite characters - the cantina band member.

I can't tell you why I liked them. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that it was because I was learning to play the clarinet about that time and the fanfar (one of the instruments) sort of reminded me of a clarinet. Plus I know I liked the music and probably liked the fact that, in a menagerie of characters in that scene, they stood out.

So I got it into my head that Kenner should create a cantina band member for the next wave of figures. I put together a petition and got everyone in my grade school class to sign it. I enlisted the help of my sister, who got everyone in her grade school class to sign it. Then I proudly mailed Band
Part of the Cantina Band. The Second One From the Left
is Playing a Fanfar
these petitions into Kenner and waited.

They sent me a very nice letter, thanking me for my hard work and promised to follow my future career with great interest.

Not one to let a thing go once I had latched on to it, I painted the band on a board for a Jaycee haunted house I was helping my parents to build in September of 1978. (One of the rooms was supposed to be the Star Wars cantina. So I felt the band belonged in there.) I wish I had a picture of that to share with you, but, alas... I'm sure it looked just like that image at left.

The point of all this offside commentary being to show that my interest in the Biths went way back. This is why, when I was casting about for a character to be in a parade 36 years later, I landed on a Bith. So there you are.

Back in the recent past, I found a fantastic looking Bith mask (and hands) being offered on Etsy by seller MONSTRPARTY. I only had a couple weeks left before Dragoncon and I actually wanted Waiting for the Parade to Start
Sith Bith Waiting For
The Dragoncon Parade
To Start

to get it for another event the weekend before. So I contacted the store owner Cristina and asked if they could have it to me in time. She promised to do her best and she came through, finishing it in two weeks as promised. I love dealing with people like that - so few of the costume sellers seem to be able to meet deadlines.

Now I have dealt with masks in my Jaycee haunted house days and I know a little about them. (Not a lot, but a little.) I must say that this was an excellent mask. The paint job was wonderful, the latex was quite thick and the plastic lenses used for the eyes made it look outstandingly otherworldly.

They were also very helpful. The Bith has a huge domed head and I was worried about it sagging. Cristina suggested a couple things, one of which was to insert a child's bicycle helmet into the mask to sit atop my head. This seemed like the a good idea, so I bought a cheap one for 8 year olds and, in what I can only imagine what it must be like giving birth, I squeeeeeezed the helmet into the mask neck hole. I can think of no more splendid testament to the quality of the latex than this - the slit in the back didn't rip one bit. It had every right to, but it held up through the whole sordid process. Well worth what I paid for it, IMO. (I have since learned that MONSTRPARTY makes the cantina band instruments. I may have to get one so I can reuse this fantastic mask.)

There were a couple of Sith Bith Inner Robe Fit
Inner Robe Original Fit
other details to handle to finish this costume. The first was the clothing. I had had the outfit custom made for the D3PO costume, but it didn't look right. This was actually another part of the reason I had decided to create a new character - the clothing was supposed to be Maul-like, but it was a little too big. The outer vest was much, much too long for D3PO, but I kind of liked it that way, so rather than modify it, I thought I'd do something else with it and create this new character.

The inner robe had another problem. The designs on the costume were well done, but the fit of the vest on me was terrible. It was much too loose and baggy. I hemmed and hawed about what to do and finally sent a desperate message and a photo of how it fit (at right) to my friend Trudi to see if she could fix it on the quick. (This was the Thursday a week before Dragoncon.) She said she could, so I sent it UPS to her. She took in the sides, added a hidden zipper to the throat. (It had those stupid, cheap little hooks in it. With the garment being so loose, they wouldn't stay clasped.) I had it back by Tuesday and I think the results speak for themselves as you see in the Bith photos.

The other detail that concerned me was completely different. I had five costumes planned for Dragoncon 2014 and yet I had managed to choose the hottest, most challenging one to wear in the parade. I was worried about the heat.

When Cristina from MONSTRPARTY learned where I was wearing the mask, she warned me to get a fan for inside the mask. I did, but it Sith Bith Walking in the Parade With Jana and Jenn
Photo: Victor Basinger
The Author As The Sith Bith Keeping as Much of an Eye as He
Could on Twi'leks Jana and Jenn in the 2014 Dragoncon Parade

unfortunately failed within 5 minutes of the start of the parade because of the way I wired it. This wouldn't have been a problem except as soon as that happened the eye lenses started to fog up and I couldn't see very well. Fortunately I could see Jana and Jenn, my follow parade mates. So I just positioned myself relative to them and stuck there through most of the event as you see at right.

My other big concern was staying hydrated. I purchased long-sleeved and long-legged black compression wicking garb which I don't think I can say enough good things about. Despite the fact that the parade seemed to be 27 miles longer than the year before, I was still relatively comfortable by the end of it. I was so comfortable, I stayed dressed in the costume, foggy-eyed head and all, until we got all the way back to the room. (If it was hard to see in the daylight outside in the parade, it was nearly impossible in the artificial light of the maze of connecting hotels inside.)

I also bought a camelback and a cotton bandana with cold-water activated cooling crystals in it. I wound up leaving the camelback behind and bringing the bandana. It proved to be a huge pain in the neck to keep in place when putting the mask on, but, after three tries, I finally managed to make it work. I'm glad I did as I think it helped quite a bit.

Now I had named this character 'Mr. Smith' (I was sort of thinking about agent Smith). That made him Mr. Smith, the Sith Bith. Ha! (OK, that was sort of dumb, but if you know me, The Character
Image: Stolen - Darth Tenebrous
you will understand this.) When we arrived to meet our Dark Empire Costume Club group, people oohed and aahed over the Sith Bith. Someone said, "Ah, you're doing Darth Tenebrous!" And I said, "Who?" Because I am not up on the ever expanding Star Wars universe; my link to Star Wars has always been through films, TV shows and the action figures. Turns out there was a Sith Bith before I ever thought of him.

The Wookieepedia entry on him explains that he is "a legendary artisanal starship designer with a reputation spanning the galaxy; as the Sith Lord Darth Tenebrous, he was a scientific mastermind possessed of a calculating intellect with an obsession on shaping the future". This actually sounds pretty much like I think I might be if I had a ginormous head and was interested in the same things. Upon further reading I learned that "Darth Tenebrous was a rationalist in his approach to the Force, which he believed to be nothing more than a very potent tool." Yep, I like that too.

Of course he has a rebreather for some reason and he wears armor, so I really did not quite fit the role. Perhaps if I do this again, I will create or procure the extra accessories and actually try to be Darth Tenebrous instead of accidentally picking something reminiscent of him.

Jana's Holocron
Photo: Jana
Jana's Holocron

I opted not to wear have my lightsaber drawn during the parade, instead clipping the handle to my belt. (Not being able to see very well, swinging a lightsaber around seemed like a bad idea.) My friend Jana had made herself a Sith holocron, something else I had never heard of before this all began. (The world of Star Wars fiction is massive and ever growing.) Even though I didn't really know what it was, I liked it and I told her so when she sent me photos of it. She planned to carry the holocron in the parade.

Well, with one thing and another, she and Jenn were asked to carry the Dark Forces Costume Club banner (even though none of us are officially members as far as I know) and she wound up trying to juggle the holocron and the banner.

She had made her holocron out of a brass incense burner, so it quickly became too heavy to hold in one hand while holding a large vinyl sign in the other. Since I had nothing to hold in the parade, she gave it to me. You see it in some of the parade images.

Sith Bith in the parade
Photo: Matt Hardy
Sith Bith in the Parade with Flowing Robes
Someone told me that was perfect for Darth Tenebrous, which I believed. (I haven't found what the connection is between Tenebrous and the holocron, but since he sounds like an engineer and it is apparently a memory storage device, it seems somewhat appropriate.) Whether it was perfect for him or not, it was a nice piece of business for me to have since I wasn't wielding a lightsaber and I didn't want to blunder into the crowd watching the parade because I might knock a kid off his dad's shoulders with my giant bulbous head. So holding a holocron gave the impression that it was important and I had the duty of carrying it.

Since it was impossible for me to carry a camera or even reach into my pockets to try and retrieve the one I had brought after I had the Sith gloves on, I have a rather disappointing collection of images of myself or the parade. Fortunately, what with Facebook tagging, my ever vigilant photo searching friends and it being a parade with thousands of people taking photos, I do have some to show here. (Thanks to those folks who allowed me to share theirs.)

Still, I didn't have any cool photos, so I put everything on when I got back home and staged some with the lightsaber. You can see some of those below.

Sith Bith Posed 1
Sith Bith Standing
Sith Bith Posed 2
Sith Bith Lightsaber 1
Sith Bith Posed 3
Sith Bith Lightsaber 2
Sith Bith Posed 4
Sith Bith Nervous Posing