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Trooper’s Point of View: Trooping!

10733850_852462078118057_2004696549878913853_oIn previous columns we’ve talked about history with the 501st Legion, and joining the Legion.  After you’ve gone through all the hard work to build your costume you want to wear it.  This time around it’s the fun part: trooping at events.
To maintain active standing in the 501st you need to do at least one event a year.  These events can be almost anything from a convention, a charity event, a Lucasfilm event, or a parade.  There are many different types of events that we attend.  Here in Garrison Tyranus covering the state of Virginia, we prefer to do events that help promote Star Wars, have a charitable aspect or benefit children.  Personally I’ve trooped a wide variety of events from conventions, to Lucasfilm events such as movie premieres and the release of the latest Star Wars products, to charity events and hospital visits.

I can’t say I have a preference on the type of event, each one is rewarding in it’s own way.  Conventions are a lot of fun due to the looser environment and give us a chance to interact with a wide variety of people.  Charitable troops and hospital visits give a great feeling of giving back to your community and helping to make things brighter for others.

DSCN0815Each troop is unique and has it’s own set of challenges and rewards.  But, there are some things that are common to all events.

First, there is the problem of changing into our costumes.  Unfortunately I can’t yet drive while wearing armor so we need a changing area.  These can range from a bathroom or unused room at the event to a parking lot.  While most of the changing stays PG rated, the first few events can always be a bit awkward as spandex undersuits don’t leave much to the imagination.  You get over your modesty pretty quickly.  At one of my first events I had to change in the parking lot of a Chuck E. Cheese pizza.  It was a pretty surreal experience.

When we first enter into an event there is always a reaction.  No matter how much an event is planned, someone always seems to be caught off guard.  I love to watch the adults turn into children.  Immediately the pictures begin.  It’s funny that a lot of people just want a “Stormtrooper selfie” now.  We troopers love to pose for pictures and we will happily take photos as much as we can.  Just remember we can’t see or hear very well, so you may have to try and get our attention.

No matter how excited the adults get, it’s the kids who provide some of our favorite moments of any event.  Most kids are excited to see us but then there are those that get excited to see us from a distance, but change once we get closer.  They can’t decide how to react, they are excited to see us but also realize that we are the “bad guys.”  In some cases there will be a trooper who takes his helmet off to help assure the kids that we are not really bad guys.  It’s times like these that it helps to have a “good guy” costumer with us or someone who isn’t under a helmet.

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I’m excited for this year’s Star Wars Celebration.  Trooping at the conventions is always fun, especially when the con organizers work to make us part of the event.  It’s one thing when we have a table to ourselves, it’s another when we get to be a part of the convention.  Frequently larger conventions will use Stormtroopers as convention “security.”

Trooping is hard.  It’s physically exhausting.  The costumes are too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.  We don’t get paid and frequently have to pay out of pocket for expenses.  All that goes away when you see the people’s faces and reactions, knowing that you helped bring some happiness into everyone’s life.

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Star Wars Scrapbook: My First Star Wars Action Figure

Star Wars Scrapbook
My First Star Wars Action Figure

Even thirty-seven years later, I can remember my first glimpse of a Kenner Star Wars action figure.  It was at my house in the spring of 1978, with the sun streaming in the kitchen windows. The lawn outside finally a vibrant green after a cold and especially snowy Kentucky winter.  Occasionally, when no one was looking, I would climb up on the avocado green kitchen counter to look into the dark brown cabinet beside the refrigerator.  I don’t recall what I was looking for that day, but I remember vividly what I found while exploring up there.  As I stood up on the counter, I spotted something on top of the refrigerator — a Chewbacca action figure in his transparent bubble on the soon-to-be familiar Star Wars card.  I couldn’t resist.  I had to have a closer look.  Taking the toy in my hand, I looked at the plastic representation of Han Solo’s copilot, comparing his likeness (or lack thereof) to the picture on the front of the card.  “What is this doing up here?” I wondered to myself.  I kneeled down on the counter, holding the treasure in my hands in order to inspect it more closely with help from the bright sunlight coming through the dual windows over the kitchen sink.  I had never seen anything so intriguing in my life.  I wanted to tear open the package and play with the toy, but I knew I had found something I wasn’t supposed to know about, and if I opened it, Mom would know I had broken her rules about climbing up on the counter again.  Exhibiting her psychic prowess yet once more, at the very moment I was returning my discovery to its former resting place, my mother came into the kitchen and caught me red-handed!

“What are you doing up there?” she asked in a tone that revealed she knew exactly what I was doing and what I had found.

“Look what I found!” I exclaimed, my youthful exuberance unable to invent a lie to avoid the trouble that would inevitably follow.  I handed her the toy, an unstoppable smile on my face, and she took it into her hands and looked at it with an feigned expression of interest.

After a couple of moments of my gibbering on and on about Chewbacca, who he was, and why this would be a great toy for me, she reached up to the top of the refrigerator, replaced the toy, and took me in her arms to put me back down on the kitchen floor where I belonged.  She explained to me that I wasn’t to tell anyone about what I had seen, especially my brother, since his birthday was coming in just a few days.  She also sternly warned me not to venture back to look at the toy again, implying that it was for my brother and I shouldn’t spoil his surprise.  She sent me out of the kitchen so she could continue her cleaning in preparation for my brother’s birthday party.

At this point, you need to know that until that time, birthdays had been a relatively minor event in my home.  When one of our birthdays rolled around, after dinner we would have a cake to celebrate with the family.  Once the candles were blown out, a present would be given to the birthday boy or girl, and we would then go back to our regular activities.  This year was going to be different, though.  My mother had explained to all us kids that starting with my brother, each one of us would have a party on our tenth birthday with our friends.  It would be a big event, and my brother’s party would come that weekend.  As excited as my sister and I were about this news, we must have been a little disappointed that our parties wouldn’t come for some years later.  I was somewhat more satisfied about my participation in my brother’s birthday, though, since I now shared a secret about what would most certainly be the greatest gift he would get that year.

The day of the party arrived.  My brother’s friends, mostly his classmates and fellow Cub Scouts, came over to the house, each bearing a gift for the occasion.  It was noisy in the house and out of the house as excited ten year-olds ran amok until the time came for cake, a song, and the opening of presents.  At that point, I watched anxiously from the next room to see my brother’s expression when he saw Chewbacca.  But he never opened any Star Wars gifts.  Chewbacca was nowhere to be seen.  Worried that something was missing, I went over to my mother and started to ask her if she had forgotten the surprise.  Putting a finger to her lips to silence me, she beckoned me and my sister into the den and handed a small gift to each of us.  Knowing that she still always gives something small to siblings of birthday boys and girls when she is invited to parties these days, I can only surmise that she had gotten each of us a gift so we wouldn’t be disappointed seeing our brother flooded with presents from his friends, knowing that we would have to wait years for our own parties.  We opened our packages excitedly, and while I don’t remember what my sister got that day, I remember what mine was…

shazbazzar_ChewbaccaChewbacca.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that I had inadvertently discovered my own present on top of the refrigerator that day!

What are some of your best memories of Star Wars in your youth?  Comment below or tweet me @shazbazzar #StarWarsScrapbook with your Star Wars memories.

 

Roundup: TFA Toys, Sideshow Collectibles Lineup, Topps Cards, and More!

The new year is finally upon us! Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, season two of Star Wars Rebels, and the highly anticipated sequel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, are on the horizon. Before those events come to pass, there have been several updates and news reports from the Star Wars toy collecting community. To bring you up to speed with the latest information, this roundup highlights the most relevant and popular items to keep your eyes on.

No Toys Based on The Force Awakens at Toy Fair 2015

Hasbro announced on January 5 that no toys based on Star War: The Force Awakens will be shown at Toy Fair 2015 in New York City, a trade-only event for toy and youth entertainment professionals scheduled for February 14-17.

“Obviously, we know that there’s a huge amount of anticipation for Star Wars toys this year, and we wanted to be forthcoming about this as we know it might make a difference for some of you in regards to travel plans.”

Read the entire press release here.

The Force Awakens Hasbro Product List

z Rebelscum posted a Hasbro product list for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which includes 3.75 figures, The Black Series, toy lightsabers, masks, and other items.

Visit Rebelscum to read the entire list of products.

Hasbro Digital Release Box Sets

hasbro_digital_release_box_setsIt appears Hasbro plans to release products in conjunction with the digital releases of the Star Wars films sometime around May the Fourth, though the release date could also be sooner than that, according to Jedi News.

The figures appear to be from the Saga Legends line. Also, I find the lack of female action figures disturbing. Both trilogies have prominent female characters, and once again, they’ve been neglected. The Saga Legends action figure of Princess Leia as Boushh would have fit in quite nicely.

For more information, visit Jedi News. Continue reading

Rebels Review: Path of the Jedi

Rebels Review: Did “Path of the Jedi” Just Change a Historical Moment from the Original Trilogy?

Mitchell SteinIt feels good to be back and reviewing these episodes once again. After a fairly short winter hiatus, Rebels is back in a interesting new format. What I witnessed in this week’s episode was something that leaves me with mixed emotions. I found it entertaining certainly, but there are flaws that are just leaving me uncertain of what new direction the show is heading in.  Beware of spoilers ahead.

Like I said, Path of the Jedi is a confusing episode, not just in the story perspective, leaving you just as clueless as Ezra in the hallucination scene, but so much happened in this is episode, and ultimately at the end, not much of an actual outcome exists out of this episode, (or so we may think). So we get Ezra and Kanan going to a secret, ancient, Jedi base, yet another Inquisitor encounter (which actually doesn’t truly happen), and some confusing encounters that really just lead up to the one moment that the entire episode had me devote twenty-two minutes to getting the point across.

Kanan_vs_Inquisitor_vision Continue reading