According to a recent post on Collectors Weekly, these masks from a steampunk dream date back somewhere between the 1800s and World War I, way before George Lucas had any plans for the two Star Wars characters. And, the collector world is saying there is no doubt the masks influenced the Star Wars design team.
The black leather Vader head gear comes from Hamburg, Germany and is said to be labeled Respirations Apparat by G.B.Konic Altona. That’s pretty crazy considering Darth Vader’s helmet was part of a respiration system! The C3PO looking one is made of brass and comes from France where it was manufactured by J. Manet. It was a firefighter mask that fresh air was forced into from the outside of a burning building. A bellow system was used to push the air through up to 13 meters of tubing.
It’s also said that one of the well known manufacturers of the time was known as Vajen-Bader. Bader sounds a lot like Vader to me! This could actually be some of the original inspiration for two of Star Wars’ most famous characters!
Look back at all the helmets and droids in the Star Wars movies, there could be a lot of characters inspired by different masks like these. It doesn’t seem too far fetched to us, what do you think?