Sunday, June 21, 2009

501st LEGION~PART 2~IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MEMBERS by Denise Vasquez













The 501st members are the most inspiring, good hearted, fun loving, creative people I've come to meet!!!

I'm dedicating Part 2 of my 501st Legion interview to the members...

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MEMBERS!

To ALL of the 501st members, THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU & EVERYTHING YOU DO!

I've had the pleasure of meeting & hanging out with some of the coolest 501st members around the globe (Star Wars Celebration Japan, Star Wars Celebration Europe, Star Wars Fan Days II, Star Wars Celebration IV in Los Angeles, Clone Wars Premiere In Hollywood, San Diego Comic Con, San Fransisco Wonder Con, Frank & Sons, Star Wars Day Rancho Cucamonga & more...)

I've personally witnessed how dedicated ALL of the 501st members are to the Legion and what they ALL represent!

I had the pleasure of hanging out with 501st Founder Albin Johnson in Japan during Star Wars Celebration Japan and interviewed him for Part I of this series...

(You can read Part I of this 501st Interview series~my interview with Albin Johnson) here (see Archive 6/07-6/14)

Now, Let me introduce you to some of the members...

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I'll start with Regian Layug: How did you find out about the 501st?
It was through my fiance, who found out about it from some other friends. Those friends eventually became the first members of our outpost.

-What inspired you to want to join?
The thought that I, a girl in the Outer Rim, hahaha, could look like something out of the movies I love so much. It was thrilling.

-Which Garrison are you a part of?
I'm in the Philippine Outpost. We currently have 18 members.

-When did you join, how long have you been a member?
I joined the 501st in 2005, with an Imperial Officer costume.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
My costumes are all made in the Philippines. My fiance and I built them.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events? Where's the farthest you've traveled?
I have been to LA for Celebration IV (2007), Pasadena for the Rose Parade (2007), Taiwan for the 30th anniversary of Star Wars (2007), Celebration Japan (2008). LA is the farthest, since the flight is 13 hours long. :D

-What's your fondest 501st memory?
The Rose Parade! I was crying while marching. I literally shed blood, sweat and tears. I was so happy to be part of something so big and wonderful, and as we marched I was reminded of my dad, who passed away in 2005. He was the one who got me into Star Wars. I finished the parade for him. :)

Regina, You totally made me cry...I LOVE what you said about finishing the parade for your dad!!! that was really touching!!! (-.-)
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Lets talk to Regina's fiancee, Oneal Rosero: How did you find out about the 501st?
I found out about the 501st when some friends from the local fan group, Star Wars Philippines started talking about making Stormtrooper armor locally and joining the legion.

-What inspired you to want to join?
I've been a Star Wars fan since September 1977 when the Philippines was the first country outside of the US and the UK where they showed Star Wars Episode 4. while i was afraid of Darth Vader when i was young, the opportunity to actually become the toys i've been playing with was too good to pass up.

-Which Garrison are you a part of?
I'm currently the XO of the Philippine Outpost, with 19 members as of June 2009, we become a Garrison when we have 25 members, hopefully within the year.

-When did you join, how long have you been a member?
i joined the Legion in May 2005, my application was approved right after Star Wars Celebration 3 in Indianapolis. i trooped with over 400 troopers there and was instantly welcomed.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
my first Stormtrooper armor was purchased from another 501st member, i then converted it to a Sandtrooper which i wore to Celebration 3. after that, i got a shiny new Stormtrooper armor which i wore monthly for 3 years then sold to a friend. i then assembled a new Clonetrooper costume which we used for the opening ceremonies at Celebration Japan and for the Clone Wars promotions here in the Philippines. i'm currently working on a new set of Stormtrooper armor and a few other costumes.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events? Where's the farthest you've traveled?

i traveled to Indianapolis for Star Wars Celebration 3 in April 2005, then to Pasadena for the Rose Parade in 2007(i didn't march with the troopers but i was part of the support team & helped decorate the Star Wars floats) then i went to LA for Star Wars Celebration 4, then to Taipei, Taiwan for the 30th anniversary event for Star Wars in Asia, then to Japan for Star Wars Celebration Japan.

-What's your fondest 501st memory?
assisting the my fiancee Regina & the other troopers at the Rose Parade preparation, no matter where you're from, you're instantly part of a family of over 4500. it was also great when we met up with most of those new friends again at Celebration 4 a few months later.

Regina & Oneal~ It was such a pleasure meeting you guys @Star Wars Celebration Japan & THANK YOU for the "Philippine Outpost 501st Legion Of Stormtrooper" pin you gave me...i wear it on my Stormtrooper hat with pride!!!

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My partner Randy Martinez was sooo excited about being inducted to the 501st as an honorary member! Randy, How did you find out about the 501st?
My very first convention of any kind was Star Wars Celebration 2. That was my introduction to all things Star Wars fandom. And I was amazed. At first I thought all these people dressed as Stormtroopers were just random fans who showed up all wearing costumes, as a coincidence. But it was explained to me that there was Star Wars Costume club called the 501st. It did not take long to realize just how far spread the 501st was. It’s all over the world. Pretty soon they will have to change the name to “Earth Garrison”.

-What inspired you to want to join?

Over the years I had gotten to know several of the 501st legion as friends and fans and I learned all of the great community services they do. I knew I had to get involved one day.
The problem was I don’t have any of the costumes. Instead I tried to be as much a part of the Star Wars community as I could and keep tabs on the great things the 501st was doing. I have always been inspired by their selflessness and BIG heart
. I am an honorary member of the SoCal Garrison. One day I hope to be a full fledged costumed member!

-When did you join, how long have you been a member?
I am a newbee to the 501st. I was inducted as an honorary member in January of 2009. The truth is, the members of the 501st world wide have made me feel like I am family. I feel very honored to be one of the crew!

-What's your fondest 501st memory?
So far my fondest memory was getting inducted at the SOCAL Garrison Holiday party. It was a blast meeting all of the 501st members WITHOUT their masks on. Great food, great fun, even better people! I’m very excited about Comic Con this summer because I have created the official art for the 501st 2009 Droid hunt. I can’t wait to see my art dangling from every ones lanyards!

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Many of you know Ken Tarleton as "ElvisTrooper"...Ken Tarleton, TK-4321 reporting for duty...Ken, How did you find out about the 501st?
I found out about the 501st after making some contacts with other local SW collectors through a comic book shop in my area. One of the guys was in the process of making a Boba Fett costume and told us about this group he found online that was dedicated to Imperial costumes. Shortly after I had myself some Stormtrooper armor and signed up.

-What inspired you to want to join?
One of the first things I can remember about the group is seeing some of the early photos of a small group of Stormtroopers gathered together taking photos with people and just of the group itself. While 1 Stormtrooper is very cool, a group of 5 or more of them is just about the closest thing to the movie coming to life than most people will ever experience. I also though it was very cool to be able to pick your own TK number, that’s pretty official and all.

-Which Garrison are you a part of?
CCG – Central California Garrison

-When did you join, how long have you been a member?
I think it around 2001, might have been around late 2000 when I got the armor but took a while to figure out how to join up and become official.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
Move along, nothing to see here… but seriously, thanks to Al Gore, I found my armor on the Internet. While I did not make the hard plastic parts, I have spent the last 8 years or so building it, trimming it, rebuilding it and repairing it that I think of myself as building it. Now if you are asking about the ElvisTrooper, then yes, I had a hand in making all the extra little details that sets him apart from the regular Trooper armor.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events? Where's the farthest you've traveled?
I’ve traveled many places to do 501st events, from my local movie theater here in Merced, CA. All the way to the east Coast to party with other 501st member at Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA. Been up to San Francisco to do a few official events at Skywalker Ranch and the Presidio and I just got back from Vegas where I did a fun little event for LFL licensing.

-What's your fondest 501st memory?
My fondest 501st memory has to be of one of first big convention I attended as a member of the 501st and that was SW Celebration II. I actually wore my helmet for a bit, did some volunteer line duty, took part in a march and group photo that I still think is one of the best photos the legion has ever done. There have been a ton of other memories where I have meet some of the actors, been included as part of the official SW universe and just weird SW moments that any fan growing up on the SW movies would give there next of kin up for. But that first big gathering that I attended as a member of the 501st still hold a soft spot in my heart. Now change this question to what is the fondest ElvisTrooper moment and the answer will change, but then you might have to put a not safe for work warning on the interview.

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Have you guys ever seen a Star Wars Wedding...Our 501st friend Consetta Parker had one...Consetta, How did you find out about the 501st?
Oddly enough, the same day I met my stormtrooper husband at Skywalker Ranch for the press junket for ROTS! I had no idea until I saw the troopers walking around and asked..then went on to marry one.

What inspired you to join?
Well, as soon as I learned of the group I knew I had to become a part of it! I mean, all I wanted when I was little was to find other kids that would want to play Star Wars and dress up with me to act it out! So discovering there were people all over sharing this dream and making it a reality as adults was just pure magic to me! its like I've finally found all my life long friends I've searched for since 1977!

I am a member of the Golden Gate Garrison :)

I joined officially in Feb. of 2007- still an active member


My hubby helped me with my Scout Trooper armor and I got my BOUSHH costume via a previous 501st member in Germany! *Scout armor made from scratch- Boushh only minor alterations and adjustments

So far I've gone as far south as LA- for Celebration 4 to participate in 501st events. I plan on making the next celebration wherever they end up having it!

My fondest 501st memory was the day of our Star Wars wedding. Being surrounded by so many members from our Golden Gate Garrison (over 30!) and married by Darth Vader....marrying in our armor. It was an official 'TOD' event for the garrison so everyone got credit for a 'Tour Of Duty' for our galactic day!

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501st member Terri Hodges made the most AMAZING quilt featuring 501st badges from around the world...I had the pleasure of seeing the quilt @Rancho Obi Wan...

My first experience with the 501st was at SDCC a number of years ago, they were doing line control. I remember thinking how dedicated they were in costuming. I didn't realize it was an organization until CIII, where I really got to talk to some of them and was gifted a Carolina Garrison patch.

I'm an Honorary member so I didn't join in the traditional way. I first began to work with the 501st through Tom's work.
Because I am an Honorary member I'm not a member of just 1 Garrison, but I currently live in Golden Gate Garrison territory (and they were the Garrison who inducted me). I was inducted at last years SDCC during the Legion picture.

I was a civilian with a great love of the work that the Legion does. I was deeply moved by the story of Katie Johnson and could relate in someways because my son had had some serious health problems as a kid. I really wanted to do something to benefit the Make a Wish foundation and my skills are on the crafty side. I had collected patches from troopers for a couple of years and had always thought that it would be a great way to display the patches. I approached someone from LFL (knowing that there are rules regarding the sale of 501st merch) and then the Golden Gate Garrison who were willing to sponsor the undertaking. They got the word out and patches started arriving from all over the world. I could never have done it without the troops pitching in. They did it, I just sewed it together!
I am currently working on a similar project but with the Rebel Legion.

At just about every convention we go to there is a 501st event of some sort and they always prove to be a good time. The farthest I've traveled was to London for CE, but then not specifically for the 501st but in the name of Star Wars.

Besides the quilt project, I was extremely proud to be able to help coordinate and participate in the induction of Ralph McQuarrie in San Francisco last year after Wondercon.


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I had the pleasure of seeing Chris Knight on more than one occasion in different parts of the world! Star Wars Celebration Europe in London & then @ the 501st Southern Garrison Holiday Party where my partner Randy Martinez was inducted as an honorary member...Chris How did you find out about the 501st?
We had heard of them via the Replica Props forum, and then met the local garrison while we were wearing our costumes for the first time at Comic Con

-What inspired you to want to join?
We wanted to do the hospital visits and charity events

-Which Garrison are you a part of?

Southern California Garrison

-When did you join, how long have you been a member?

2001, so that makes 8 years this Comic-Con

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
We got the first ones on Ebay but have bought/made many parts of many more costumes since. Most are a combination of made and bought elements.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events?
We have trooped at Celebrations 2 and 3 in Indianapolis, in International Waters in the Caribbean aboard Grandeur of the Seas,Celebration Europe in London England, JediCon in Dusseldorf Germany, All over California, including the Presidio in San Francisco, Las Vegas, NV, and soon Movie Park Germany and Finse Norway. We have also travelled to meet 501st members in France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, San Francisco, CA and Orlando, FL.

Where's the farthest you've traveled?
Farthest meetup is Tokyo, Japan I think, but trooping the farthest is currently Dusseldorf. Finse will probably beat that.

-What's your fondest 501st memory?
The Rose Parade!

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My good buddy & fellow artist Matt Busch is also an honorary member, Matt, How did you find out about the 501st?
It's been so long, I have a hard time pin-pointing it. I think I first heard about the origins back in the day at a Chicago Wizard World.

-What inspired you to want to join?
Well, obviously I wanted to have my own Stormtrooper armor, but the non-profit group and all they do for the community and charity is just awesome. So proud to be a part of it.

-Which Garrison are you a part of?
I'm in the Great Lakes Garrison.

-When did you join, how long have you been a member?
I've been an Honorary Member since 2006, and an actual member since 2008.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?

The parts came from 501st collectors all over, and the idea is that everyone makes their own suit of armor, but I have to give major props to my boy Terrell here in the Great Lakes who really helped me out.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events? Where's the farthest you've traveled?

No, finding an event I can do that I'm not already a part of as an artist has been difficult. But I'm working on it. I may do one of the conventions or shows anyway, but I'm not gonna tell anyone who I am. I'll be blending in with the rest of the stormtroopers.

-What's your fondest 501st memory?
When Jay Shimko presented me with my honorary plaque in Pittsburgh. I totally wasn't expecting it. It's such an honor.

-Is it true you have your very own 501st card?
Yes! I have my own Honorary Member trading card. Still working on trying to get my regular member trading card, where I'm wearing my armor. If you know how to get my trading card made and you're reading this, please contact me!

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I run into 501st members Danielle Alvarez & her man Dan quite often at events, and it's always a pleasure...Danielle, How did you find out about the 501st?
I was always intrigued by Boba Fett, ever since I was little. He and the biker scout were my favorite action figures to play with. Also, I've been a huge fan of Hunter S. Thompson almost as long as Boba Fett. I was selling a lot of Hunters books and items I had collected over the years on eBay for extra cash. Coincidentally, the night my auctions ended in February 2005 was the same night Dr. Thompson chose to end his life, and my auctions skyrocketed. With the money from those auctions I wanted to build a Boba Fett costume, so I started to research it on the web. While I was researching I came across a site called The Dented Helmet, and another site, linked from there, about a little girl named Katie Johnson. I became absorbed in her struggle. Through her website I found out that her father was the founder of a costuming group called the 501st Legion, a group of fans who dress up as "baddies" from the Star Wars universe, and whose main aim is working with various charity organizations and visiting children in hospitals. It became evident to me right there and then that this was a good chance to honor Hunter's memory. I immediately donated some of my profits to "Kisses for Katie" and put the rest of the funds to building my Fett to join the 501st Legion. To paraphrase Hunter, I brought the ticket and took the ride.

-What inspired you to want to join?

A precious little girl named Katie Johnson

-Which Garrison are you a part of?

I'm a proud member of the Southern California Garrison (SCG)


-When did you join, how long have you been a member?

I joined in February, 2007, and have been a member for just over two years.

-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?


I purchased all of the various parts from different makers, constructed some of those parts myself, and the fabric and other soft parts were made with the help of a great seamstress friend of mine, who shares my passion for Fett.

-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events? Where's the farthest you've traveled?

My boyfriend and I loaded our armor into the old Volvo and drove more than three hours out to Ridgecrest, CA, a very small town with a huge heart. We took part in an event that raised over $1,100 for Make A Wish foundation.

-What's your fondest 501st memory?

It's so hard to choose just one fondest memory. Every time I put my costume on, I get to see the excitement in the eyes of little kids who think I'm really Boba Fett, and I get to watch grown-ups turn into kids again when they see one of their favorite Star Wars characters. Through the 501st, I've found a wonderful boyfriend, and met so many people all over the world who I consider lifelong friends.

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