Thursday, May 3, 2012

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Road to the 501st: The challenge


I've been in love with Star Wars for years. Probably since my brother, Dan, and I watched the movies repeatedly as kids on a scratchy old VHS tape.

For over a year now Dan has been an active member of the 501st Legion, a group of Star Wars enthusiasts who spend their free time crafting movie-accurate costumes and attending events in character.

In October, I joined him at a Fleet Week event at SFO, United Family Day. United had hired the local 501st group, the Golden Gate Garrison, to help them entertain the crowds.

The moment the collected group of stormtroopers, sandtroopers, clonetroopers, imperial officers, and one Darth Vader strode out onto the tarmac you could almost see the crowd gasp. Little kids raced towards them, clamoring for mom and dad to come take their picture. After a few giggles, the adults started begging for photos too. Eventually, some of the group managed to break away and walk a few dozen yards farther along the tarmac, and the process repeated when a new group caught sight of them.

At one point, a woman who had just taken a photo with my brother spoke to my sister-in-law and I.
"Do you know them?"
"That's my husband" my sister-in-law said, indicating Dan.
"Oh, wow." The woman's eyes danced, and she smiled hugely. "My husband's only a pilot. Lucky you."

The excitement and fun everyone in the group (and the people who got to see them) had made me want to be a part.

So began the search for what costume to create myself. I finally decided in April that I would make a tie pilot. It had armor, but not too much of it. In all black it looked like it would make me look awesome. And, from checking around I saw that many women and shorter men have done this costume and it looked good on them -- so at 5'4" I'd look ok in it.

For those of you who haven't been memorizing lines from Return of the Jedi for the past 20 years, here's some photos of what I'm going for.

The major parts I've got to collect for the costume include:
  • Helmet
  • Chest armor
  • Chest box
  • Flight suit
  • Boots
  • Belt
  • Gloves

So, let the costume building begin!