Among the remarkable tragedies of life is the fact that by the time you are old enough to manage the toys you dreamed of having as a kid, it’s no longer acceptable to play with them. For instance, every young Star Wars fan has dreamed of owning an actual, real suit of Stormtrooper armour (just hopefully a little more blaster-evidence than what was depicted in the films). But what would you think of an adult who paid a huge number of dollars for such a thing? Or an entire subculture of said grownups?
They exist, and we talked to one of them. Brian Robinson (aka TK-2918) has devoted his life (or, at least, his spare time) to building and wearing display-precise Stormtrooper supplies. He told us …
#5. It is A Borderline Crazy Investment Of Money Plus Time
When there is a big Star Wars movie premier or occasion, they’ll line the red carpet using a phalanx of people in genuine Stormtrooper equipment, likely because it seems cool as shit.
The reality is actually more intriguing. Those Stormtroopers, like our source Brian, are part of the 501st Legion, a fan-run conglomerate that is costuming that Lucasfilm rings up whenever they should make an imperial butt-ton of walking, discussing Star Wars villains.
And, keep in your mind, every one of these people has likely poured a large number of dollars into their costumes. “At the high end,” says Brian, “you’ve costumes like Boba Fett and Darth Vader, which can run upwards of $5,000, are very sophisticated, and which occasionally take years to locate the right parts.” What, you thought you can let movie-quality gear from a costume shop? Oh, no — if you are joining the Legion, you are taking on a part time job which will consume a substantial part of your own life.
Somewhere in your neighborhood, there may be a man with a full-blown old-school Hollywood prop-making studio in his garage, however, he can’t go around advertising the fact for fear of Lucasfilm dispatching an Order 66 via copyright attorneys. “While sculpting your own casts and constructing your own vacuum-forming apparatus is an option for those people who have time and talent to do so, the vast majority of individuals purchase kits from a few of well-known vendors who’ve already made the big investment (generally tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of work hours) in preparing the infrastructure.”
So now that you have got your “Better than what a number of the genuine extras were wearing” Stormtrooper armour, what do you really do? Well, that’s the other section of the “occupation.” That really doesn’t include the time spent building and keeping costumes and communicating. … [It] works out to about 20 hours per week.”
And no, they don’t get paid. Why do they do it? That is part of that which we’re here to find out. Because on the very top of the time plus expense …
#4. The Costume Demands Are Similarly Mad
The 501st Legion does, and they’re damned serious about getting it precisely right. “The process for establishing the guidelines for a Legion costume — what the Legion calls a ‘Costume Reference Library’ — is outlined in Section 6 of the Legion’s ‘Operations Protocol.'”
If this sounds both haughtier and more complicated than the jawline of Grand Moff Tarkin, that is because it is. “For a new-to-the-Legion costume, we require at least three different and detailed references for it to be considered for inclusion. Those references can come from genuine display-stills to photographs and illustrations in various print media — even from toys and other collectibles that are considered detailed enough to accurately depict the costume as it would look in ‘real life, from a number of sources.’ So, yes, for a number of the more well-recorded costumes, we’ve enthusiasts that may freeze-frame every scene at which character appears and document the tiniest of details.”
#3. Even The Top Stormtrooper Wants Help (With Butt Plate Crises)
See where the eye holes are, compared to his actual eyes? Yeah. We can imagine that a “real” Stormtrooper helmet would package the most badass heads-up display that ’70s vector graphics technology had to offer, but in a real world replica, you are attempting to see the universe by means of your bitching hair wings. So transforming into a persuasive, film-accurate Stormtrooper takes more than just slapping on some armor — you also must possess some rudimentary acting skills. Performing like you can see, as an example. Or hear. Or like you are not slowly roasting like a perspiration-basted turkey to be served up at Vader’s Christmas Jubilee.
“It gets really hot, notably, when trooping events like the yearly Dragon Con Parade in Atlanta every Labor Day weekend. The costumes can chafe in some really disagreeable places. In fact, we’ve got procedures in place whose goal would be to prevent such things — we call it our ‘Trooper Survival Guide.'”
#2. It Becomes An Obsession
Let us face it: There is a certain stigma attached to those who spend their spare time dressing up as characters from their favourite fictional universe.
But despite what you may have assumed up to this point in the article, Brian is not some social inept living in his mom’s basement. He is a literal rocket scientist who just so happens to like Star Wars a whole, the whole bunch. “Ever since the first film came out in 1977 I’ve needed an exact-looking set of Stormtrooper armor. In January of 2007, the 501st Legion was featured in the Rose Parade (with George Lucas as the grand marshal). It’s possible for you to envision the effect of seeing 200 Stormtroopers marching in formation on live television.”
#1. Sick Children Adore The Hell Out Of Stormtroopers
This is not just about needing outside in pricey cosplay. You understand that the very first time you help make some ill kid’s day.
“Make-A-Wish is just one of the charitable organizations we are most affiliated with, because, well, what kid does not like Star Wars?”
“He’s a really down to earth man and a real lover — he even made an appearance at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim this past April as merely another fanatic.”