The Mad Max Guide to
Football Shoulder Pads
Football shoulder pads were used in Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior) and Mad Max beyond Thunderdome. First, let’s name the parts of a set of football pads so that we’re speaking the same language:
Magenta: Arches Blue: Arch Padding Orange: Plates (or Epaulets)
Sky: Deltoid Padding Yellow: Deltoid Caps White: Plate Straps
Types of Pads
Nearly all of the football pads used in Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior) and Mad Max beyond Thunderdome were Rawlings brand pads. All of these Rawlings pads appear to have belonged to an old series called the Crusader series, which can be identified by the Plate style and the icon (a knight chess piece with the word “Crusader” written across it) on the chest. Note: there have also been newer models under the name “Crusader.” The only 100% accurate method of identifying the correct pads is to familiarize yourself with their shape and characteristics.
If Max’s arch padding was not custom-made, it may have been an ER-46 model (a very rare model spotted once by the author). Wez and many of the Mohawkers wore FB series pads, such as the FB-20. FB’s can be identified by the extra rib padding segments, and the “X” that the elastic straps make on the back. Bartertown’s Guards wore mostly CP-66’s, which generally appear to have 2 pairs of slots on the front of the arches (to accommodate 2 sets of straps). The CP-46, although not used in the films, used to be the most common source for plates for Max costumes. Supplies of them have dried up. If you are looking for a plate for your Mad Max 2 outfit, contact me for resin replicas. For more on building a Max’s shoulder pad, check the tutorials page.
Rawlings CP-46 and Rawlings FB-20 (Wez)
Rawlings CP-66 (Bartertown Guards)
Wilson / Raider: The remainder of football pads in Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior) are believed to be Raider brand. These pads are very rare, and so there isn’t much information about them. I own one pair of Raider pads (the white pads below). And at one time I owned one pair of Wilson brand pads (the black painted pads below). I believe the side straps had “Wilson” woven into them. The reason I am lumping these 2 brands together is because their uncanny similarities lend credence to the theory that they are either made by the same outsourced manufacturer, or one is a copy of the other. Then again, perhaps someone with a pair of Raider pads added aftermarket Wilson straps to his pads and created all of this confusion! We may never know.
Warrior Woman and Zetta wore the same model Raider pads as each other (an even rarer model that did not have plate straps on the plates). There is a mohawker wearing a red mohawk and swimming goggles just before Humungus’ speech, and there is a motorcyclist that rides into the compound before it blows up- they are wearing the same model Raider pads as pictured below.
A set of Raider pads like ones seen in Mad Max 2 (The Roadwarrior)
Pads with “Wilson” straps as worn by Karol
How to identify pads: To the untrained eye, all football pads look the same. You will be able to tell a lot about a set of pads by looking at the Plate style, and the way the elastic straps hook onto the chest. Rawlings pads use a T-hook system, while Wilson-Raider pads have keyhole-shaped hooks that attach to mushroom-shaped studs.
Picture below: Plate “a” is the style Max wears. All of the Rawlings pads in the films have this Plate style. It has subtle features, and an oval crater. Plate “b” belongs to a series of pads that are similar to Crusaders, but the Plate has a squared look not seen in the films. Many fans mistake this Plate as the correct Plate! Plate “c” has the same general shape as Plate “a”, but has more pronounced features and a trapezoid crater. This is the plate style commonly used on Raider pads (and used as aftermarket replacements on pads that originally came with “a” plates).
A rule of thumb for identifying the correct plate for your Max shoulder pad is to look for the oval crater, and see if you can fit 3 average-sized fingers horizontally on the front, under where the strap comes through, without going way over the edge. You just can’t do it on a “b” plate.
a: Rawlings Crusader b: Incorrect Rawlings c: Wilson/Raider
Where to Buy Pads
Football shoulder pads can be purchased at second-hand sports equipment shops in the U.S., such as Play It Again Sports. It may be difficult to find pads during the football season (September- January). At times, I may also have some vintage pads for sale.
Football shoulder pads can also be found year-round online on eBay, although old models are becoming increasingly difficult to find. EBay keeps changing their categories so there aren’t too many search tips I can offer besides to look for both “football pads” and “shoulder pads.” Remember, if the pads aren’t white with gray padding, they’re not film-accurate. If you’re not sure, I’d be happy to take a look at them. Just contact me with the link.