Sep 27, 2011

Star Wars Blu-Ray Wampa Review

When I heard they were putting in the cut wampa scenes on the Blu-Ray I was excited. These scenes are from the attack on Echo base, which was a sub-plot that was eventually cut from the movie, well to be kind, the wampa looked bad! It is not easy to pull off realism when walking in stilts with arm extensions... yeah I speak from experience. My suit is not too far off of the original full size costume built and I see a lot of similarities in these clips, which makes me paranoid a bit on how mine! I have been pondering a re-work of the arms for a while now to get a more fluid and realistic movement. After watching this video, I am going to start up again on working on the prototype arm that is in the works. While this was a noble attempt, I agree with cutting the scenes. Personally I would have liked to seen footage of the "Bug Eyed" wampa, Story has it that this was their first attempt at building the Wampa, and the body doesn't look too far off from the footage seen above. Which makes me wonder if they swapped the head. This is the only wampa made that didn't make into the original movie, but at least we have stills. 

Also, so many people cringe when the mere mention of replacing original footage with CG, but if there is ever a scene I would be an advocate for it, it would be the Wampa scene. Lucasfilm did tweak the swatting arm scene a little bit when you can see the puppeteers red jacket, but there is still 3 different wampas seen in the actual film. Sure they look great in High Definition and I have noticed a few more things about the suit that I didn't notice before, but it would have been nice to see one consistent wampa. Their best chance was to reshoot everything as one costume during the "special edition" but it is too late for that. They could have taken the approach that they did with the Yoda in Phantom Menace and replaced all of these wampas with the one consistant CG wampa, it's ILM in 2011, I am sure they could pull it off seamless by now.

Aug 8, 2011

The Wampa visits Lucasfilm... sorta

Well, some call it Mecca (according to an AP article) though I would argue that an invite to Skywalker Ranch would be Mecca.. so this is the Medina for Star Wars fans? So on with the story, enough silly muslim comparisons... thanks AP. So while Genna and I were in San Francisco we got the chance to visit Lucasfilm Ltd. in San Francisco. Some of the props on loan for the Wampa Adidas photo shoot were on loan from Lucasfilm and we got to tag along when returning them.

Unfortunately we just missed our contact and we didn't make it further than the lobby, this was still really cool. We got to see the famous Yoda bronze statue which has a twin over at the ranch and inside the lobby is a pair of familiar characters, Boba Fett and Darth Vader, along with shelves of statues and awards won by Lucasfilm over the years. Believe me, once you have been there you want to head back. It was an unfair tease but we did make it closer than many people have done, so I am happy with that.

For the rest of our trip we got to wander around Downtown San Francisco. It is an amazing city, and there is so much to do. I have been to SanFran once before 23 years ago. As a kid it was fun, but I really wanted to re-experience things as an adult. I am amazed on how much we squeezed into a 3 day trip. We found a full size Starkiller in a GameStop and we had to snag a pic. We rode just about every type of public transportation which is lacking back in Florida. If they had a system like this in Tampa Bay, I would use it all the time. Street Cars, Cable Cars, The Bart, Muni Metro, any visitor can get anywhere they want using these. Here in Tampa there is such a whiny attitude between sports teams because of the Bay in between, public transportation like this would squash that argument, but that is a story for another blog...

Oh and food, there is some amazing food around town. For some odd reason we like to hit up Mall food courts when traveling, maybe it's the variety and fimiliar food. While wandering the streets outside our hotel was San Francisco Centre, a 9-floor mall, which had an AMAZING food court. With the Asian and health concious community in San Francisco, there were so many options. We settled on a Thai place that gave us so much food we couldn't finish.

Yep, we did play the tourist and ride the cable car to Fisherman's Wharf. I was after one thing, nope not the seafood that the Wharf is famous for, I wanted In-N-Out. On the east coast this is what we hear about all the time the Double-Double Animal Style. Freaking delicious.

In closing... Lucasfilm or not, I want to go back to San Francisco as soon as I can.

Jul 6, 2011

Adidas Star Wars Fall/Winter 2011 collection featuring the WAMPA!

The Wampa is featured in the latest promotions for the Adidas Star Wars Fall/Winter collection. We were invited to San Francisco to take part in the 2 day photo shoot that also included a Vader, Hoth Han and a Hoth Luke (seen in the background). When the idea was pitched to Lucasfilm to have a wampa in the photos they originally responded, well there isn't any realistic wampas out there anymore, then the folks at Juice Design presented them my wampa. Lucasfilm loved it and approved the shoot. There is no higher honor for a costumer which many think is an impossible costume to pull off than that right there. Also included in the photo shoot is my handler Genna's Hoth Luke costume and lightsaber. 

So why a wampa in the campaign? Well there is a new Wampa shoe coming out! Here is the official description of the wampa shoes:

Inspired the snow beast from the planet Hoth that almost made Luke Skywalker into a meal. The adidas Campus 80s Wampa dresses up these retro shoes with wampa fur uppers made from horsehair, contrast red stitching, a wampa tongue badge, and a laser cut wampa logo.

I will continue tomorrow with a post about our trip and visiting Lucasfilm! 

Apr 18, 2011

Another great Wampa Cake!

The folks over at had this cake submitted to them for their Yummy Star Wars pics. This cake was for Adam's 11th birthday. I got to say Adam has great taste in Star Wars Characters! Read more about it and check out more pics on the link above.

Feb 22, 2011

I'm Luke Skywalker.. I'm Here to rescue you!

So the process in ordering parts for my TK armor has begun, and my coping mechanism for my height is to emulate the shortest Stormtrooper there was. Everyone's hero, Luke Skywalker. I know it's a bold move, and the more expensive route. But I think if I want to walk around confident in armor, than I need to do it the right way.

(Hero on the left, stunt on the right)

To most people there Stormtroopers look all the same, but there is a big difference between the armor in all 3 movies, and there were even 2 sets of armor in A New Hope (ANH). In the first movie there was the Stunt troopers and the Hero troopers made famous by the armor Luke and Han wore. Most of the noticable differences were in the helmet. The stunt armor was made from a grayish plastic and painted white, the lenses in the eyes were flat, They had 8 teeth cut out in the frown and the ears had 4 bumps. The hero helmet on the other hand was made for close-ups and was made from white plastic, Luke and Han had smoke gray bubble lenses, only 6 teeth were cut out of the frown which made the mouth appear smaller, and the ears had 3 bumps. There are other subtle differences like the amount of rivits/screws and hand plates but I can't give away all the secrets,  go learn about them over at if you want to learn it all!

But when it comes to Luke's armor there is another big difference from the rest. Sure they had to cut his armor shorter in the chest and the back to make up for his height, but the big difference was his belt. We all remember one of the most memorable scenes of Star Wars (yeah, I am dropping the whole New hope baloney, this is what it was called when I became a fan!) It was Luke and Leia's swing to freedom. Luke would never of been able to do that if the ONLY stormtrooper with a grappling hook didn't check up on the falcon.

So with this addition, plus the others mentioned above I am building Lukes armor. I am awaiting shipping on all of these changes and the armor itself. Once I start building I will follow up here on MyWampa. Thanks for reading and hope to see all of you at an event sometime soon in my new armor (and the Wampa too)!

Oh yeah, parts are already arriving! I got my belt and shoes already. Who knows maybe we will have armor ready by Megacon.... then again I really don't want to rush it.

Feb 9, 2011

Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper? BS!!

We have all heard that famous line given by Princess Leia, and it has become a go to insult for all of us short guys out there wearing armor at conventions. So why in the hell would I want to be a stormtrooper?

An odd situation when your other costume is over 8 foot tall, why would you want to dress in armor that is made for someone that is 6-8 inches taller than you? Well it comes down to honor and pride. Yes I have made the first steps into becoming a Stormtrooper, or a TK as we know it in the 501st. I have officially started on my second 501st costume. Last week I put a downpayment on a set of AP armor and purchased the shoes. The week before I worked on modding a Hasbro E-11 blaster to look like the real thing.

Forgive me if I am a bit of a broken record but with the anouncement of the purchase I will give my reason why again. In the 6 months of trooping with the Wampa, I have seen a lot of wear and tear and for a costume that big and that memorable for so many people I want to now reserve it for the most important events. By doing so I would either have to limit myself to only a few troops a year or conventions or I could make a second costume.

While trooping I have met some great friends out there and I have asked many questions like the obvious what should i do next. Sure I had my concerns about my height and other costumes could have fit my size better but the one thing I have got the most was do what is important to you.

I wavered between Emperor Palpatine and various armor sets like an AT-AT Pilot, a TIE Pilot, Animated Clones even the badass Shadow Scout but everything kept pointing back to the classic Stormtrooper.

It was a series of events that led me to this, first of all the history of the 501st begins with their founder Albin Johnson and his Stormtrooper, this was the go to costume from the beginning of the organization over 10 years ago. Second came from reading the boards when I first joined, there was a chance to be on stage with "Weird Al" Yankovic during his songs Yoda and the Saga Begins. This was an amazing opportunity that I had to pass because they wanted TKs and the Wampa is just too big.


 Third was meeting our buddy HYPER at Celebration V. His only set of armor is a TK but he customizes it and makes it his own, with his Beach Trooper and his Luchador Trooper. He ended up on stage introducing George Lucas for the Main Event.

Next came the announcement of the Disney Holiday Parade, they wanted only clean TKs, and if we want to do Disney Star Wars Weekends you need a non-EU costume that can march in a parade and although the Wampa is from Empire, it is not very friendly to marching in parades... are you seeing the pattern here?

Fritz in his TK armor

But the moment of truth came from trooping with Fritz, a fellow short guy like myself who was trooping in the Pinellas Park holiday parade as a TK. When seeing him in armor, I knew that I had no more excuses. I had to do a TK. So here I am about to be another guy mocked for being too short to be a Stormtrooper, but will love every second of it. I will post progress pics up as soon as I get my armor in!

Jan 28, 2011

State of the Wampa Address....

It has been a while since I updated the site but I needed to step back for a while. The 6 months that the costume has been around, it has gone through some great times and some rough times. Just like any large costumes there will be some damage control going on and boy has there been some.

In October I took it out to some costume contests to help recover some of the cost of the suit. I did walk away with $600 but also came away with lipstick stains on his arm and butt! I learned not to take it out with drunk chicks!

In December we participated in the Pinellas Park Holiday Parade. To be safe, I opted to stand in the back of a pick up truck without the stilts on. Little did I know it would lead to big black streaks across the fur from the Rhino Lining. It has been a long process to get this out, and I don't know if I will ever get it ALL out, but it is looking better. Thanks to suggestions I have been using dish soap and a bottle brush. It has taken off some of the yellow and brown paint, so I will probably need to repaint it once I am done.

(cleaning the arm, before and after)

So, on to plans for 2011. Our big trip with the Wampa will be to Motor City Con, where we have been invited up by Great Lakes Garrison to the Detroit Metro area to participate in their annual convention. We get to reunite with one of our favorite troopers HYPER! 

I will be making my first appearance at MEGACON in Orlando in March and might even be able to convince the wife to let me go to DragonCon in Atlanta.

As for the suit and trooping, I have always considered on keeping the Wampa as a specialty costume for big events, but in order to do that I would need a secondary costume. Within the next week I will be placing my order for TK (Stormtrooer) armor and should have some armor for events like Walks, Hospitals, Star Wars Weekends and other troops that I can't do in the Wampa and by the end of the year I should have my Palpatine in my collection of costumes to use!

We were pirates at the The Disney Dream Christening!

The 501st was asked to help launch with the christening of their latest cruise ship the Disney Dream. 66 of us dressed as pirates and acted out a skit with Captain Jack Sparrow.

This is the amazing thing about the 501st. Although it wasn't an official event for them, Disney thought of us to be their crew of pirate baddies. Not every day you get a chance to be part of a 700 person cast with the top brass of Disney right there in the crowd. I could not pass this once in a lifetime opportunity.

There was a lot of secrecy when it came to this event. We got very little info from Disney and that was understandable given the surprises involved in the show (like Jennifer Hudson's appearance). We had no idea what we would be dressed up like. Were we going to be Capt. Hook cartoony pirates, are we going to be generic Disney pirates, or dirty realistic Pirates of the Caribbean pirates. We lucked out and got the PotC costumes, and boy was there a variety. My costume was interesting and a little miss matched. I had the shirt and pants of a deckhand and a long captain jacket. I had to find a belt and hat from the extras table. Genna had a wig that more resembled Joan Jett than a pirate wench. Others actually involved fruit with their outfit for comedic effect including Duck and his pirate pear!

Our task was to run on stage carrying props, mine was a black pirate flag, and pose while we got audio cues from Capt. Jack, which most of the time we couldn't hear, not until we saw the video did we finally get the plot. We would laugh at his jokes, point to the ship and then change positions. Then throw little foam doubloons to the crowd and then duck for cover from him firing his cannon. At the end of the finale we would also come out with a big ladder and do our cheesy hand waves with the music and then pose as they cracked the giant bottle against the ship. Now we aren't really in the video because we were all the way on the far right side of the stage but it wasn't really about face time on tv or for the cameras. It was more to say to the grand kids that you helped launch a cruise ship.

After we were done we got, I got to see one of the funniest moments of the event. Redboy down in Everglades Squad has been begging to wear the wampa. I thought he was just crazy enough to try on the wampa stilts. I have seen many people try my stilts on for the first time, and they get wobbly kneed and give up after less than 5 minutes... Redboy was no different, in his own words, he fell in slow motion! Once again, I think I proved the point that noone is crazy enough to wear the Wampa other than me.

Introducing The Jolly Wampa - The Official WampaDude Logo

For a while I felt that I needed a brand for myself and this roller coaster ride that has been my experience with the Wampa and the 501st. I have seen many individuals withing the group marketing their alias with patches and shirts and since the Wampa seems to become a popular costume, I felt  the need to come up with a symbol that represented myself and the costume. In the past years my logos revolved around the simple pirate jolly roger design. The TampaBayDrunks logo consisted of a skull and cross beers and for some reason this never clicked until the pirate event we attended for the launch of the Disney Dream.

So here is the design, a Wampa skull and cross bones dubbed the Jolly Wampa. I pondered changing out the bones with lightsabers, blasters or something a little more Star Wars but when it came down to it, I settled with the bones when one of the scenes has him gnawing on a big bloody leg bone of the Tauntaun.

I have had a few people already say they would buy anything I put this logo on, and here are some lofty ideas including a shirt, a patch and for some reason I like the idea of it as a biker vest logo. I plan on trying to submit them to the daily t-shirt sites first like TeeFury and RiptApparel and may consider doing a run of the patches for conventions and on the boards.