My series "It's All About The Members" began June 2009. If you'd like to go back & read past interviews, be sure to browse through the archives beginning with 501st Legion Founder Albin Johnson on June 14, 2009!
This interview FEATURES 501st Legion Member Chris Romines. We discuss the TK Helmet Project & what being a 501st Member means to Chris!
-How did you find out about the 501st?
By Accident! I was searching the internet back in 99 about the Biker Scout costume and ran across the 501st. After a bit more searching I found some folks that made armor, from that point I knew I had o get in gear and join up.
-What inspired you to want to join?
My geekness inspired me :) Hanging out with guys and gals my age in plastic sounded fun! Then after I joined the club started getting more involved with the charity events, and that sealed the deal for me.
-Which Garrison are you a part of?
I am a proud member of the Southern California Garrison and Founder of the 501st Pathfinders Detachment.
-When did you join? How long have you been a member?
I got in before the 501st had a approval process, so I think it was late 1999 or early 2000. so coming up on 9/10 years.
-How did you decide on your costume?
I was a US Army Cavalry Scout so there was only one costume that I wanted to do, the Biker Scout. Plus, the scouts on screen had such a cool chase scene and the bikes and blasters....oh my. Plus when I started, there were very few Scouts. Almost everyone was a Stormtrooper, so I had to be different. I am currently working on a Commander Gree suit, there is just something cool about a camo Clone trooper. Hoping to debut at C5!
Not only do I do the armor thing, but I am a member of the R2 Builders Club. So I built a black R2 called R2-A1. He is a Imperial Service Droid from the 2nd Death Star. He is fully remote controlled with sounds and lighting. Bringing a Imperial Service Droid to a event will all the troopers is a sight to see. The kids love it and it adds to the Star Wars atmosphere.
-Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
I got my 1st suit from an armor maker in Canada. His kit was the most accurate at the time, solid workmanship and great guy to deal with. He even made some changes to his suit based on my input.
-Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events?
I do San Diego almost every year, but that's not really travel. I did hit C2 in Indy and 2001 Dragon Con in Atlanta. I GOTTA go back to that, the most intense PARTY EVER!!! I will be heading to Orlando for Celebration 5!
-Where’s the farthest you’ve traveled?
Indy and Atlanta and add Orlando in 2010!
-What’s your fondest 501st memory?
Every time I see a child smile and get all giddy, I have a lot of fond memories, so picking out one is hard to do. But I would have to say going to the hospitals to see that kids tops the list!
But my second favorite memory is the Robot Chicken Crew (Seth and Matt) got about 1000 people to sing Happy Birthday to me at the Robot Chicken Skate party. They even got me a cake!!
-What’s your favorite thing about being a 501st member?
Simple, see a child smile at the events we do! The other major coolness of the 501st is the troopers! Everywhere I go, I have had nothing but a great time. Troopers bend over backwards to help fellow troopers, and coming from a military background, that’s a great thing to see. I know folks hear this all the time, but the 501st is like a big family, and for better or worst, its makes the 501st stand out.
-What is the TK Helmet Project? What inspired you to create the TK Project? How did your idea become a reality?
The TK Helmet Project is a charity event in which artist and celebrities are given a full sized Stormtrooper helmet for them to do anything they want to. Once the helmets are all done, we will be conducting a Auction to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. We have about 60 helmets so we should make a minimum of $15,000.00!
The TK project came about after seeing the Lucasfilm Vader project. The Vader helmets look great and are a huge hit whenever they are on display. So I figured, let’s do the same thing but auction them off. So I got approval fro the 501st and then Lucasfilm to do it. The big surprise of the project was getting a call from EFX Collectibles; Brian offered us 50 helmets, free of charge! So now I had permission and buckets, just needed artist. So I got the word out and next thing I knew, I was fully booked!
So we are in the process of getting the helmets painted by artist now. We have 2 completed buckets so far, West Coast Chopper Flame helmet and Tusedo Sanda Leopard Helmet. If this is any indication of what the other artist are going to do, we are going to raise a ton of cash for MAW!
We needed to raise some funds for shipping and a few other things for the project, some of the artist’s donated art and some cool one of a kind collectibles. Due to their generosity, we raised almost $2,500.00 for expenditures. The cool thing is if we don’t spend it, is will also go to MAW !
These Trooper helmets will be a one of a kind art piece. They will not be reproduced in any way. So the winning bidders will be taking home a piece of history.
-How do you find artists to participate in the TK Project?
I didn’t find them, they found me! Once the word got out, I got tons of emails from 501st honorary members and artist, next thing I knew, we were full! And if you look at our artist list, we got us some heavy hitters! So we should have some outstanding stuff for the auction!!!!
-Any upcoming events?
I will be at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, Ca on December 12th and the Laguna Niguel Christmas Parade on December 19th with R2.
The TK Project can be found at http://www.501sttkproject.com
R2-A1 is at http://r2a1.com
-Anything else you would like to add?
Just want to say thanks to all my fellow troopers for letting me hang out! I have had a blast over the last 10 years and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon :) See you all at Celebration 5!!!