Sunday, October 10, 2010

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MEMBERS FEATURE: 501st Legion Member Kris Kuipers

Welcome to another edition of my

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MEMBERS SERIES

This interview features

501st Legion member 

Kris Kuipers

How did you find out about the 501st?
For Dragon Con a few years ago my daughter asked me to make a Boushh costume. After much web searching and contacting the Boushh Builders Group on the web, I managed to complete her costume, (after 11 months) by Dragon Con 2007. She wanted to march in the Dragon Con parade and when we were walking over to the muster point for the parade we saw a bunch of Star Wars characters assembling for a group photo. My wife and I said “Hey get you helmet on and get in there” She did and we discovered the 501st legion.  Later that day we stopped by the 501st legion fan table and got some more information.
We then saw the local Garrison at a Toys-for-Tots event and met the Garrison Commander. Unfortunately my daughter was too young to join the 501st so she convinced me to make a costume, Boss from the Republic Commando’s Delta Squad, so that I’d be a member and she could troop charity events.
I then made a Clone Trooper from episode 3 (501st Legion paint scheme) for my son, acquired my Storm Trooper Armor, acquired my Darth Vader,  made a AT-AT driver for my wife, who has also joined the Legion.
Which Garrison are you a part of?
Georgia Garrison
When did you join? How long have you been a member?
I applied in January 2008 and was approved in February 2008
How did you decide on your costume?
RC Boss – I was looking for an uncommon character I had seen a squad of Republic Commandos from North Carolina at Dragon Con in 2007 and they looked great. I did some web searching and saw the Delta paint schemes and was hooked.
The Storm Trooper I acquired because Boss is not a “Canon” costume and I wanted something for formal canon events.
Darth Vader….. Well he’s Darth Vader.. Need I say more? I have wanted to have a Darth Vader since the 70’s when I first saw the original movies as a teen. When a garrison mate offered his for sale I couldn’t resist.
Where did you get your costume? Did you make yours?
Well I have three costumes, a Republic Commando “Boss”, an ESB Darth Vader and an ESB Storm Trooper. The republic Commando is primarily ABS Plastic and I assembled it from a kit and collection of parts and did all the paint work. Darth Vader I purchased basically complete from a fellow Garrison Member and did some tailoring adjustments to fit him to me. The Storm Trooper, I also purchased from a fellow garrison member. It had been used as a static display on a mannequin and needed to be completely re built to be wearable as a trooping costume. I also did some modifications such as made a new belt, new shoulder straps, leather holster, and ab buttons to make it more screen accurate. I also made a Jengo Fett for my son and Endor Leia for my daughter
Where have you traveled to participate in 501st events?
All over Georgia, and Chattanooga, TN, I’m planning on doing some in Alabama, and Florida sometime soon.
Where’s the farthest you’ve traveled?
For an event either Macon, GA or Chattanooga, TN
What’s your fondest 501st memory?
For the past two years I have organized and hosted a mixer for the 501st and Rebel Legion membership attending Dragon Con. I would have to say that the mixers are my fondest memory I was a great pleasure and honor to meet folks from around the world and some of the Star Wars royalty like: Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, Ray Park, Jeremy Bulloch, Daniel Logan, and many authors and artists connected with the Star Wars Empire they have all been very gracious.
What’s your favorite thing about being a 501st member?
There is a strong camaraderie almost a sense of family in the 501st. I travel a great deal in my day job and I have sent emails or messages to other garrison where I travel. Frequently I have been able to meet up with members around the country and they always welcome me like a long lost friend.
What’s the day like for you as a 501st member preparing for an event?
Event preparation starts well before the day of the event.
Does the 501st have ranks or positions? Do you have duties you have to adhere to during events?
Yes, I’m currently first point of contact for event requests.
I am the current Commanding officer of the Georgia Garrison.
I am also the Detachment Leader of the Clone Troopers.
As for at events… just keep everyone happy.
Any upcoming events?
A bunch… Just finished 2 events for Cartoon Network and have several book releases, store appearance, the Atlanta Children’s Hospital Christmas Parade and several other things and were just coming into Toys-For-Tots season.
Anything else you would like to add?
I have really enjoyed my short tenure in the Legion. It has been great to be a part of such an organization and to meet the many many new friends in and through the Legion. I am also very pleased that somehow I’m lucky enough that my Wife, son, and daughter have all managed to have the same fascination with trooping, costuming and Star Wars…
The Family that troops together stays together…
Kris Kuipers
Commanding Officer
Georgia Garrison
501st Legion - Vader's fist

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