Tag Archives: 501st legion

A Trooper’s Point of View: Getting Started

Storm Trooper-09So you’re interested in joining the 501st Legion.  How do you become a part of the Galactic Empire?  Membership in the 501st only has three requirements.  First, you must be 18 years old.  Second, you must own an approved costume.  Third, you must wear that costume to an event at least once a year.  It’s the second point that we will focus on this time around.

I frequently get asked “What costume should I build?”  That is not an easy question for me to answer.  First, the costumes are not cheap.  Your standard trooper can easily be a $500 – $1000 investment.  Secondly, they take a while to build.  It took me about three and a half months to build my Stormtrooper.  Lastly, these costumes were designed with looks first and comfort second.  With that in mind I tell people to go with what they truly love.  If it’s your favorite character or you have a connection to the costume it will make everything that much better.

Now is the part where I tell you that I did not heed my own advice.  When I first made the decision to join the 501st I dove in before I had thought about what costume I wanted.  I really had no connections or particular affinity for the Stormtroopers before beginning my build.  In building the costume and doing my research, I grew to love the iconic design.  Now the troopers are one of my favorite parts of the saga.

You saw the 501st online or at a convention and want to join.  First we recommend signing up to the local garrison forums.  It’s an easy way to introduce yourself to the group and to find out about events and members in the area.  Secondly, you need to decide what costume you want to build.  After you decide what costume you want, you will want to check out the appropriate detachment.  This is a website and forum dedicated to a particular costume type.  Here you can find other people with that costume, tutorials, helpful advice and more.  You can find links to both garrison websites and the detachment sites on www.501st.com.

Box 1After purchasing your armor the waiting is the hardest part.  That time between sending in your money and the box arriving can be painful.  The day finally arrives and you get the Big Brown Box.  You open it up and see all the plasticy goodness.  It starts out like Christmas morning as you open the box, but you quickly realize how much work you have ahead of you in assembling this.  A box full of plastic is exciting and terrifying.  Where do I start?

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This is where the detachments will come in.  You can see others who are building the costume as well as follow tutorials and a wealth of helpful information.  I started with the smaller pieces to test out and worked my way up to the harder parts.  This is where I say that it’s helpful to have that connection to the character or the costume.  If you truly love it, it will keep you going when things get frustrating or difficult, and they will get frustrating and difficult.

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Full bodyAfter trooping for over a year, I decided I wanted a new helmet.  I spent the better part of a year building, tearing down, rebuilding, sanding and repainting my new helmet.  It was test of my skills and my patience as it seems anything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong.  By the time I was finished I had nicknamed it the “Hell Bucket.”  More than once I wanted to punt it across the lawn and give up.  Remember it’s not a race.  If it will help you, set deadlines, but set realistic deadlines.  Everyone in the Legion has been there before, and we want to help you.  Troopers helping Troopers is a motto many live by.

Helmet pieces

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Once you have completed your build you take pictures of yourself fully dressed and submit them to your local Garrison Membership Liaison.  They will review the pictures, making sure your costume is built to the Legion standards.  When you are approved you choose your Legion ID number and take your place in the Empire.

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Rhode Island Comic Con

2014 Rhode Island Comic Con
by Joseph Tavano

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The last time I attended a comic book convention was 1993. It was in the large conference room of a Marriott on the outskirts of town, and there were roughly 20 vendors from all over New England selling hard-to-find action figures, bootleg concert cassettes, VHS tapes of first generation Star Trek episodes, and long-boxes of comics as far as the eye could see. This monthly slice of heaven was free to all who could find it and pretty much the greatest thing my 13 year-old eyes ever gazed upon. My Dad would drive my friend and me to the “comic con” and set me loose among the stacks and tables to burn through the $20 I earned washing refrigerated trucks from his friend’s Italian sausage business.

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A Trooper’s Point of View: A History

It’s nearly impossible to be a Star Wars fan these days and not have heard of the 501st Legion.  However, I’m constantly surprised by people who know the name, but don’t know very much about the group.  With that in mind I’ll be doing a regular column here on the Star Wars Report talking about the Legion and my time as a Legion member.

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For this first installment we will be covering Legion history, both of the group and my own personal involvement.

The 501st was started by Albin Johnson in 1997 around the time of the Special Editions were re-released into theaters.  Prior to this I don’t recall ever seeing Stormtrooper costumes at events, plenty of Jedi and occasionally a makeshift Darth Vader or Boba Fett, but never any Stormtroopers.  For being such an integral and iconic part of the saga it’s surprising that no one ever built a Stormtrooper costume.

Albin quickly realized that Stormtroopers work best in numbers.  One Stormtrooper is cool, but a whole squad is cooler.  A basic website was created for people to share costume builds and photos and the Legion was born.  It quickly grew into something much larger than anyone could have predicted.

Within 2 years there were over one hundred members.  5 years, over a thousand, and that number would double again within 2 years.  The Legion grew exponentially.  As of October 2014 the membership is over seven thousand active members in over 40 countries.

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I first encountered the 501st at a local convention in 2007 but it wasn’t until a few months later at Celebration IV in Los Angeles that I first saw the troopers en masse.  I was immediately intrigued and thought the armor was just the coolest thing ever.  The next year the con rolled around again and the 501st were in attendance.  I was hooked.  I ordered my own set of Stormtrooper armor two weeks later.

Assembling the armor is a feat unto itself and I will focus a future article on construction of the costumes.

We’ve seen where they come from, but what the heck does a 501st member do?

The 501st Legion are known as the Bad Guys Who Do Good.  We dress in the costumes to spread the love of Star Wars and give back to the community.  We troop events big and small year round.

With so many members spread out all over the world, the Legion is broken up into different smaller regional groups called Garrisons.  Here in the US nearly every state has it’s own Garrison.  Then there are Squads which operate inside an existing Garrison.  Once a Squad has grown large enough it can break off and become it’s own Garrison.  Next there are Outposts, these are generally in different countries or more remote areas where there may only be a few troopers, not enough to form their own Garrison.  Lastly, there are Detachments.  This is a website or forum devoted to a particular costume type to help people build and improve the quality.

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Every Garrison has their own particular method and way of doing things.  In my garrison, Garrison Tyranus, we like to keep it simple.  Our main goals are to support Star Wars, make kids happy and give back to the community.

The 501st does not charge for appearances, however, based on the specific event we may ask if the organizer can make a charitable donation.  In 2011 the Legion helped raise over $11 million for charity both directly through our own efforts and indirectly by attending charitable events.

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How does one join the 501st?  It’s pretty simple, there are only three requirements.  First, you have to own an approved costume.  Second, you must be at least 18 years old.  Third, you must attend at least one event per year in your approved costume.

Hopefully this has been informative and has helped everyone learn a bit more about the 501st Legion.  In future columns I’ll be exploring more about the costumes themselves, both Legion acceptable costume types and Star Wars costuming in general.

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Star Wars Reads Day: The Empire Invades!

Greetings Bothans! What follows is a post about some adventures had at this past weekend’s Star Wars Reads Day! Many of you will already be familiar with Paul DePaola who writes for a number of Star Wars fan sites and is also a podcaster, but be sure to check out his geek site Fanboys Talking! With that, I’ll let Paul take it away! ~ Bethany Blanton

The third annual Star Wars Reads event was held on Saturday, October 12th.  Troopers from all over the Empire showed up at their local book stores and libraries to celebrate literacy and reading.  I attended the event as a member of the 501st Legion, “trooping” my local Barnes & Noble as a Sandtrooper.

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Dragon Con 2014 Saturday

Hello there!

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Our second day at Dragon Con began with us sleeping in a bit after a late night. The first thing Riley and Bethany did was to go see the famous Dragon Con parade! With hundreds of cosplayers from a wide variety of genres, franchises, and a mix of both, the parade was definitely a must see for anyone interested in seeing costumes or cosplaying. There was a big Star Wars presence in the parade from the 501st Legion, the Rebel Legion, and the Mandalorian Mercs. There were also a number of Battlestar Galactica costumes, Final Fantasy, Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, Anime, and various other video game, TV show, and movie characters.

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