The Costume and Property Departments Make SG-1 Look Good

Among the questions most often asked by fans are those inquiring about how to duplicate the style of SG-1. Where can the sunglasses be found? What brand of watch is worn? How can I duplicate the military look? We took these questions to the people who would know best, those who supervise the costumes and the props for Stargate SG-1.

The distinction between a costume and a prop is often a vague one. Items of clothing such as jackets and hats are typically the responsibility of the Costume Department, however accessories such as sunglasses and watches fall within the realm of the Property Master. Military ribbons and insignia present an entirely unique situation. Medals that are worn may be considered costumes, while medals presented in a ceremony may be props. In the case of Stargate, it was the Costume Department which worked closely with the Air Force to ensure authenticity, and so military ribbons have remained within the domain of that department, even though they would normally be considered a prop on most other shows.

To help address the questions of fans, we turned to both departments for enlightenment. Dean Goodine has stepped into the position of Property Master for both Stargate SG-1's eighth season, and for Stargate Atlantis. Assisting him are Ina Brooks, the Assistant Prop Master for SG-1, and Renata Zaleska, the Assistant Prop Master for Atlantis. Together, they tackled the questions regarding vests, backpacks, watches, sunglasses, and weapons. Responding to those questions concerning gloves and hats, was Barry Peters, Stargate's Costume Set Supervisor. At last, the look of SG-1 is within the reach of any fan.

Props Department
Ina Brooks [left], Renata Zaleska [right], with Property Master
Dean Goodine, who holds one of the Ancient "drones"
released from Antarctica
Where can the vests and backpacks that the team uses when they go on missions be found and purchased?

Dean Goodine:
The vests we order through a Vancouver company called Phoenix 1. Because of the post-9/11 world, getting into the military stuff can be a bit tricky at times, but Phoenix 1 is a company we deal with here in North Vancouver, and they order all the vests in for us. I don't know the actual manufacturer in the States, but that's where we go to. It's just a one-stop shop. They're not specially made for the show. They're a physical vest that is on the market, and then what we do is we adapt the backpacks. We do have to physically change the strapping to make the backpacks work on the vests. The backpacks are called the Blackhawk. On Atlantis, we basically redid the whole team in all new vests, a slightly different style than SG-1, but pretty much staying with the same operating procedures with the P90 straps and everything attached. Phoenix 1 does have a website, so people could go on the website and look it up.
Phoenix 1 online at: http://phoenix1.ca/

What is the brand of watch that O'Neill and the team wear?

Dean Goodine:
The watches that we're using are Suunto. It's a Finnish watch. It was specifically requested by RDA a couple seasons ago. This is the one that RDA wears on the show, and all the teams are wearing the Suuntos. It's a real outdoor watch. [The earlier model] was an Omega Speedmaster that they stopped using after, I think maybe the fourth or fifth season. The reason that they went to the Suunto is it has built-in GPSs, and compasses, and barometric pressure, altimeters, all that kind of stuff. They're all built into this watch. They're really big for sailors. They have golf watches where you can actually program in and find your ball, where it is on the GPS. It's a very specific outdoor navigational watch. RDA did come in and actually request that watch be purchased for him for the show, so they went to that watch. RDA wears the black Vector. Fans could buy the Suuntos. Suuntos are sold in North America. In Canada we have stores like Mountain Equipment Co-op, or a store that would be an equivalent type of store in the States that sells outdoor [equipment].
Suunto online at: http://www.suuntowatches.com/

What is the brand and style of the round glacier sunglasses that O'Neill often wears?

Dean Goodine:
I think they were Bugaboos [glacier glasses by Bolle from Mountain Equipment Co-op]. The whole thing is whether that style is still available, because that's a style clearly from about the mid 80's to the early 90's. It's like anything, you go back to the store a year later and it's been changed.

Ina Brooks:
Yes, they were Bugaboos. They don't make them anymore, apparently, so I wouldn't even know where to send you.

Dean Goodine:
You know, to my knowledge, RDA is a fairly minimalistic actor when it comes to putting a lot of stuff on him, unless the mission requires it. He's very low-key. It's really about the watch, the sunglasses, whether he carries his Beretta with him, or whether he goes off-world carrying the P90. He's very low-key when it comes to that stuff. So far, I haven't added anything more than what you've seen.

What are the weapons that are used on the show, and are they real weapons, or replica props?

Dean Goodine:
We use the P90, the MP5, the CAR15, we occasionally bring out the SAW, which is the belt-fed machinegun that you see Teal'c carrying occasionally. That's always very popular.

They're real. The Belgian company FN [Fabrique Nationale] developed the P90. The Air Force actually uses the P90. They're switching to a heavier load weapon in the last year or so, but the P90 is still the chosen weapon, and it's now been adopted by the Secret Service as well. So it's real. And the MP5s are a very popular weapon amongst law enforcement as well. You'll see, if you watch any sort of SWAT teams and stuff, they're using the MP5s a lot. That's probably their primary weapon. But the P90 [was chosen] because it's so light, and it's very easy to use, and when you have multiple gunfire, you can actually have people stand beside each other. In conventional machineguns, the casings fly sideways, whereas with the P90, it shoots straight down. So in a very close quarters fight, in an assault type of scenario, you can be side by side with the guy beside you and not have to worry about hitting him with shell casings. So that's why it's very popular. There was discussion of possibly changing the Atlantis weapon this year, but when we sort of put the options on the table, it became apparent that the P90 was still the way to go.

What we do is we have real P90s that have been converted to fire only blanks. You could never put a real live round through the P90. They're converted. They're specially made for that. They have the adapters built right into the barrels, so you can't tell. And then what we do is we buy replicas of the P90s, which, for all intents and purposes, looks like the same thing, but there's no firing mechanism whatsoever. With the licensing in Canada being stricter than the United States for firearms, especially when it comes to machineguns, there's never a P90 that's even going to fire blanks on set without an armourer. So, physically on the lot, I never have a P90 that will fire without having an armourer here. The law requires it. So I have a bunch of replica P90s so that, if I have no gunfire in a scene, and they're coming through the gate or whatever, those are replicas. They look like the real thing, and they're under strict guidelines as well. In Canada, replicas are officially banned from society now. If it has no purpose, if it doesn't squirt water, if it doesn't fire paintball guns, if it doesn't pop ping pong balls, then you're technically not allowed to have it in the public. For me, in the movie industry, we're allowed to have them, but they're still in the safe, they're treated like a real firearm, and they don't leave the lot, they don't leave the set.

[Last year, Carter] used an M4, if I'm not mistaken. But we didn't use it this year because it doesn't clip to the vest. It becomes very awkward for her because, with being clipped to the vest, she has free hands. It'll just hang there, whereas with this weapon, it wasn't user friendly for her. The reason that they had to go to that weapon last year is something that maybe the fan base didn't realize. Because of the war in Iraq last spring, the blank ammo for the P90, which is very rare, became impossible to get, because all the brass casings were being made for live ammo for the war effort. So, towards the end of the season it became very difficult to keep firing the P90s on camera because they were starting to have ammo issues. So they switched Carter, and they saved the ammo for RDA's P90. They wanted to make sure they had enough ammo for him to get through the end of the season, so they started switching other characters' weapons around. Sometimes you're forced into those situations. Current events actually did dictate the availability of that style of ammo. It's a very rare ammo. But sometimes it's story-driven. What is the best weapon in this application, is how the decision is made. I have to talk to the director of Icon, because I'm not sure, at our battle zone next week, whether we're going to be able to make SG teams arrive carrying P90s, or we may bump them up a bit to a heavier weapon, because it's a full-on civil war that they're coming into. We try to be as realistic as we can with the application.

Barry Peters
Costume Set Supervisor, Barry Peters
Why did O'Neill stop wearing the black fingerless gloves?

Barry Peters:
Oh, he doesn't want to wear them. He hasn't worn those cut-off gloves for several seasons. He just got to where he didn't want to wear them anymore. I think it was hot. He moved on, but just be grateful we had them! But you never know! They might show up. We've still got them!

What is the brand of hat, with the curved brim, that O'Neill wears?

Barry Peters:
Rick's hat is a Merkley hat, and Merkley is a company that operates out of Toronto. It's a Canadian company.

We have those made for Rick by the Merkley company. The man who runs Merkley is a friend of Rick's. We get a whole bunch of these green ones made for him. I mean, they're not specially handmade individually. They churn out a bunch of green ones for Rick, and he'll find within the number, ones that actually fit his head properly. So that's where we get them. We curve the brim. I curve it. He curves it as well. We both curve it, so it's perrrfect! It takes a lot of, you know, just gentle pressure, because if you try and curve it too hard, it'll crack. So you just keep working at it. He is on his second actual hat in all these years. The first one just completely wore out. If you watch the early episodes, up to season three or four, it was getting worn around the brim. I kept touching it up with magic marker. I had one in the same color. But finally we just had to find a new one. Well, that was a big deal. We had to get Merkley to make a whole bunch more, and he had to find one that he liked, and he had to break the brim in. It's so personal, you know? It demands a fair bit of attention.

And that hat, the one we've got now, it never leaves me. I can tell you exactly where it is at any time. Once, I had it in my bag, and took it home, and brought it back, and left it in the truck. And he needed his hat, and I had to run, oh, half a mile, like hell, for that hat, and I had to run all the way back, and the whole crew was waiting, cheering me on. 'I've got the hat! I've got the hat!' But I had no idea on my way there whether it was actually going to be in that bag. I thought maybe I'd left it at home. So now I always know where that hat is. I always know where that hat is!

So that is the hat he wears. He'll put it on, and he'll have a haircut, and he'll go, 'Is this the right hat? Is this the right hat?' And I go, 'Yes, it's your hat. You just had a haircut, it just feels a bit different.' So we'll tighten it up here at the back a bit. It's pinned to my kit. And when we finish a scene, he just does this… [bowing his head down] and I grab the hat, and put it back, unless it's really hot and I say, 'Do you want to keep your hat for now?' And he'll go, 'Okay,' and then I keep an eye on it, because if that goes missing, we're in trouble. We have one for the stunt double, and we have extra ones. I mean, really, if something did happen to that hat, we'd just have to get him another one. But that's 'the hat'.

[Barry's description of the hat crises was told tongue-in-cheek. Shortly after relating this story, Barry returned to the set. Richard was wearing his hat, and completed a scene, but instead of bowing his head for Barry to remove the hat, Richard took off his hat and tossed it, Frisbee style, in Barry's direction. However, the toss was about one foot short of its target, and members of the crew watched as the hat sailed into a garbage can. There was an instant of horrified silence before Richard burst into laughter, and Barry, joining the laughter, retrieved the hapless hat, none the worse for wear.]

Ritter, Kate. "You've Got the Look." April 28, 2004.

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