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Heroes or villains who avert Helmets Are Hardly Heroic still rarely want to bother about putting it on, or removing the helmet and carrying it along. For them, there's a simple solution: the Collapsible Helmet.
Picture the scene, the hero (or indeed villain) of the piece is wearing their Powered Armor or other such suit. And then they reveal themselves with an unbelievably cool helmet that just slides, clicks, folds and all manner of other mechanical origami.
Through some Applied Phlebotinum, this helmet can usually fold into the armor as if no longer existing. When needed again, it can be summoned back in the blink of the eye.
The helmets often appear to not need any human interaction, and they usually just fold open with the minimum of fuss. Very handy for a Dramatic Unmask.
Even if it could be done in Real Life, this would probably still be a bad idea. The multiple moving parts would certainly weaken the helmet and compromise its protective value in a fight or a crash. Not to mention you wouldn't want to accidentally hit the switch at the wrong time. Or that some stray hair get caught between two pieces. Thus, this trope falls fully under Rule of Cool.
Anime & Manga
- Guts' Berserker Armor from Berserk. And that helmet? Looks like the head of a stylized hellhound, symbolic of Guts' inner beast. (It didn't use to.)
- Zero's helmet in Code Geass. Unusual in that the actual faceplate has to be removed by hand after the rest of the helmet retracts into it. Instead of being built for protection, Zero had the helmet designed so he could conceal his identity while still being able to use his Evil Eye, which needs direct eye contact to work (facilitated by a hidden panel on the mask opening with the push of a button).
- Spawn's Necroplasm suit includes this.
- Nova has a collapsible helmet. While it doesn't exactly fold into the armor, the usually hard Nova Corps helmet becomes fabric, for easy storage when removed. With a simple *flik* a Corpsman can turn it back into a hard helmet, which can keep them breathing in space, among other things.
Films -- Live-Action
- The most iconic example is probably the Stargate movie, where the intricate helmets, inspired by Egyptian Mythology, of the alien Horus Guards, Anubis, and Ra fold unto themselves in an impressive display of digital effects.
- In Tron: Legacy, the helmets worn by Clu (page picture) and Quorra fold back at proper times for a Dramatic Unmask. Sam Flynn's costume also automatically generate the appropriate helmet for the Disc Wars or the Light Cycle match. Justified in this case, as this is in cyberspace where you don't have to obey physic laws nor keep track of extraneous objects.
- In the movie version of Lost in Space, Major Don West (Matt LeBlanc) acquires a full-covering facemask when about to enter the fight against the alien spiders.
- In Iron Man, Tony Stark has a very simple version of this, where his face plate just slides up or down as necessary. In the second film, Whiplash's armor suit has a fully collapsible mask, but there's enough room in the considerably bulky suit for this to work.
- In Spider-Man 3, New Goblin wears this type of helmet.
- The title character in Zoom Academy for Superheroes, played by Tim Allen, wears one.
- Outlander: Kainen wears one in the opening scene. It never shows up again.
- Dark Helmet has one in Spaceballs, with a Vader-esque faceplate that slides up and down (often at the worst possible moment).
- In the Stargate SG-1 series, no doubt for budgetary reason, the intricate helmets of the original movie are very rarely shown. The Pilot "Children of the Gods", however, gives the Serpent Guards (and Apophis) more low-key (but still efficient) Collapsible Snakeface Helmets. The classic Horus helmets from the movie, even when they are seen, again due to budget reason, either do not open at all, or open in a limited manner like the serpent ones -- with the exception of a disguised Teal'c in one time-travelling episode, with a fully-functioning Horus helmet. Also implied to exist, but never seen, are Seth-headed helmets.
- Most Tokusatsu shows have this form, though a memorable goes to the Hurricanger/Ninja Storm helmets, which only does it half way to only show the faces as opposed to completely collapse.
- Another Toku example goes to Rescue Sentai Go Go Five/Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, in which it's also halfway as only the visors retract, showing only part of their faces and a breathing mask.
- Commander Kaagh of the Tenth Sontaran Battle Fleet, from The Sarah Jane Adventures story "The Last Sontaran". Strangely, there don't seem to be any other Sontarans in the Whoniverse who do this.
- Isaac Clarke of Dead Space 2 has various versions of his Resource Integration Gear, all of which have one of these helmets that can fold away and be stored in his suit. Often however, the helmet appears to unfold at points where it would not necessarily be a good idea, for example, when Stross attacks Isaac. It's left ambiguous as to whether this is the result of a design flaw, Isaac's own suicidal urges, or a little bit of both.
- Dino Crisis 3, features collapsing helmets for the protagonists, in addition to other collapsing doo-dads on their high-tech space suits, such as jet packs.
- A Fantasy example: Zant from The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess. In one of the final scenes before you fight him to the death, he finally reveals his face underneath the foreboding, evil helmet... among other things.
- In Ratchet: Deadlocked the helmet on Ratchet's suit will collapse during cutscenes when he's not actively shooting something. When the shooting is about to begin again, it goes right back on.
- In The Dreamland Chronicles, Alexander's blue armor has one.
- The Powered Armor used by the protagonists of Schlock Mercenary has collapsible helmets.
- While a full head helmet is still beyond Real Life, folding bike helmets are beginning to hit the market (mostly in Europe). These are mostly three piece designs with sides that fold or slid into the larger center piece making up the Front, top, and back of the helmet. A four-piece design can be found here.
- Some motorcycle helmets incorporate secondary hinges so they can either flip up at the visor like normal or the entire front faceplate can slide back like in the film version of Iron Man. They're especially popular with long-distance bikers because it allows them to eat or drink without having to remove their helmet and doesn't muffle their speech.