Jun 20, 2012

Disney's Star Wars Weekends - Part 1: In The Park

This year I was able to experience Disney's Star Wars Weekends not only as a 501st member, but also for the first time as a park guest. Which is where I will start. This year I had a couple tickets left over to take my son, Gavin with me. We got there early enough to get fast passes to meet Jake Lloyd who over the past has gained a stubborn reputation but I found him a really cool guy. He chatted with Gavin about being nearly his age when filming Phantom Menace and asked if he ever thought about being in a movie. Then he saw my 501st shirt and laughed, telling me that he had friends in the Rebel Legion and in the Mandalorian Mercs, but thought we were a little too snooty with costumes. I had to reply take it up with Lucasfilm, they want us to be as screen accurate as possible.

If there is one thing that SWW is well known for is their Swag! They have huge store set up named the Darth's Mall where many exclusive items are sold plus some really cool Star Wars items like the Wampa hat below and a whole store set up inside for Her Universe. There was also copies and original fine art on sale, and yes one with a Wampa.

Another benefit of showing up early is being able to participate in the Jedi Training Academy, where they teach you the ways and moves of being a Jedi and they bring out Darth Vader and a second badie, this time Darth Maul, sometimes Asajj Ventress to test out their skills. Gavin got to challenge Darth Maul, but later said he could take them and their moves are too slow! Got to love the confidence of a 7yo.

Also we got to watch the parade from the crowd this time, and getting to hear and watch the fans from the sidelines is a totally different experience than being in the parade. When marching especially in bad guy armor, you have to be very stiff and militaristic. This time I got to cheer on the bad guys and boo the rebels! Where normally I hear the opposite. Disney really lets everyone know through their shows and employees that they are always rooting for the good guys and the bad guys, just like many Disney villains are just that bad guys. So through the day I enjoyed poking fun at any employee that gave a fun  little mocking jab in return at my 501st shirt calling me a Empire Sympathiser.

As for all the extra goodies and shows that they had in the park, I really wanted to attend some of the Q&As but my son being 7 didn't quite get the concept of sitting and listen to someone talk. So I let him do what he wanted to and ride rides and go see other features like one of his favorite spots in the park, the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream exhibit. I think it is really cool that he enjoys museum type exhibits and loves history. 

We ended the day watching the Hyperspace Hoopla which is the big show at the end of the day, the hoopla is the dance battle between good and bad and it is crowd voting on who wins, when we were there the Empire won, which was awesome. My son loved Palpatine and the punching bag. 

Part 2 coming later this week.. 

May 18, 2012

Star Wars Weekends 2012 starts TODAY!!!

It's that time of year again, one of our favorite troops of the year. Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Every year the 501st is invited to be part of the Star Wars Parade and we come out strong. This year over 200 troopers and rebels will be there to march in the 4 weeks of the event. Star Wars weekends is usually the last 2 weekends of May and the first 2 weekends of June and happens Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Included with your park regular park experience is enhanced meet and greets with your favorite Star Wars characters played by Disney cast members, even their own take on some characters like Jedi Mickey and Darth Goofy. You can meet actual Star Wars Stars and get autographs and watch Q&A sessions with them. This years guest include hosts Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka) and James Arnold Taylor (Obi Wan) voice actors from the Clone Wars.

  • May 18-20, 2012
    • Ray Park (Darth Maul - Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
    • Jerome Blake (Rune Haako/Mas Amedda - Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
    • Dee Bradley Baker(voice of Clone Captain Rex and Clone Commander Cody - Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
  • May 25-27, 2012
    • Andy Secombe (Watto - Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
    • Ray Park (Darth Maul - Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
    • Tom Kane (voice of Yoda - Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
  • June 1-3, 2012
    • Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker - Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
    • Silas Carson (Nute Gunray/Ki-Adi-Mundi - Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
    • Catherine Taber(voice of Padmé Amidala - Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
  • June 8-10, 2012
    • Michonne Bourriague (Aurra Sing Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
    • Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett - Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)
    • Daniel Logan (Boba Fett - Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones)
    • Nika Futterman (voice of Asajj Ventress - Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Also a bonus is the SWW enhanced merchandise. Every year there are great exclusives in the park when it comes to toys, clothing and pins. Ashley Eckstein will debut her latest designs from her Her Universe line with these awesome Ahsoka hoodies for girls, as well as a new Katie Cook design. I know I am a guy but I think her line focusing on fan girls is really freaking cool and I am a big fan of some of the designs they come out with.

Disney has a whole line of pins and merch based on their new Darth Maul Donald which I think is cool as hell. I will want to get something with this before I leave. I will be there for the 1st, 3rd and 4th weeekend. So if you see a short Stormtrooper or Emperor Palpatine marching along be sure to shout out Hey WampaDude!!

May 17, 2012

Sexy Jedi Bubblebath! Saber 2: Return of the Body Wash

The second in the Saber Series has been released, and included is one very lucky Wookiee! I gotta give love to the furballs out there. Now only if I could get the Galactic Groomers to come over and wash up the Wampa.... hmmmm!


May 8, 2012

Creating Original Star Wars Armor with Andrew Ainsworth

"One day a good friend of mine had an enquiry for a futuristic military character. He was a scenic artist and he had no concept of how to achieve armies of slick, three dimensional characters. He was, however, an excellent artist with an enviable outlook on life and with a common passion for motor cars. When he asked me if I could make him something workable, I didn't think twice..."
Andrew Ainsworth talking about how he became involved in making the original props for ANH.

This is a quote from Andrew Ainsworth, who in 1976 with his friend Nick Pemberton were hired to create some of the most iconic characters ever to grace the silver screen. The Imperial Stormtroopers. Along with stormtroopers he also created many other helmets seen in these videos. He was able to use parts like a US army helmet and some floating pieces to make many different helmets such as the Jawbone (Death Star Gunner), the Cheese Grater (Imperial Navy) and various Rebel helmets. Got to love his names for them. Watch the video above to see how he came up with some of these helmets.

His Vacuum Forming techniques for armor has become a staple in the 501st these days, including my stormtrooper armor. It is lightweight and easy to build and wear. Other options for armor, especially helmets are resin and fiberglass. While those are heavier, they are much more durable. Vacuum forming is even the technique used by our own Darth Maul to make the stencils for his face paint. We used a pull off of a lifecast created right here at the Wampa Pen Workshop. While we use the at home oven technique, his set up is something prop builders drool about.

in 2004, Andrew claims to come across some of the original molds and was selling the copies. Sure enough Lucasfilm sued in 2006 for copyright infringement. US courts ruled in Lucasfilm's favor starting a legal war back and forth between countries. But the latest ruling in 2011, the British Supreme Court ruled that the Stormtrooper helmet was an industrial prop, and not a copyrighted sculpture,This shortened the copyright protection in the UK to 15 years from the date of first being marketed. Since this ruling, Andrew to start producing props again. But with the heat with Lucasfilm and the US rulings, my guess is this is why his site will not sell the Stormtooper parts to the US.

Check out more about the armor and history over at http://originalstormtrooper.com/

May 1, 2012

Happy 501st Day everyone!

Well folks, it is May 1st, better known to costumers as 501st Day. Deciding to join the 501st was one of the greatest decisions I have made and would recommend it to anyone. We are often mistaken as a bunch of nerds and geeks that can't get women and like to prance around in costumes and play with our pew pew plastic guns, I have seen the news stories. But that would be the furthest from the truth. I have found a new family within the Legion, a group of super creative craftsmen and women who share the love of a movie franchise, but also have huge hearts that take the time to volunteer their time and resources to bring smiles to children's faces.

While in the 501st I have participated in many events that involved sick children including Autism, Cystic Fibrosis, Hydrocephalus and even met some Make-A-Wish kids at Star Wars Weekends. These troops can be very difficult because can be hard to stay in character when meeting these kids. It is always humbling knowing that your day to day issues are nothing in comparison to their struggles.

Like I mentioned before we are one big family thousands strong around the world. When we hear of a fallen trooper that has succumb to an illness or was in an accident, you feel it as if you have lost a close friend. The same when you hear of one of the kids you met have passed. It can really get to you, but it just drives you more to want to participate and get more creative and move on to the next best costume.

I have been part of the Legion since 2010, right before Star Wars Celebration V and now we are on the eve of Celebration VI. When I started I only had the wampa, attending a convention knowing very little people in a big costume I felt like I was on my own in a way in a organization filled with people in armor. Now going into CVI, I have 5 costumes planned. Plus I will get to meet up with all the new friends I have made in the past years. It will truly be a family reunion of sorts. I really look forward to seeing my Stormtrooper mentor Hyper, and the rest of the Great Lakes Garrison who brought me up to Michigan last year for a troop. They were the ones that really opened up my eyes with the legion beyond Florida.

Plus there is no better place to see creativity on display then Celebration. 501st members from all over the world will be meeting in Orlando this summer, and expect BIG surprises from some garrisions. Trust me, I have seen what the Belgian's have been up to!


Apr 27, 2012

Check out the Star Wars Celebration VI commercial

Check out some of my fellow 501st buddies in the national commercial with Mayor Teresa Jacobs as Princess Leia welcoming people to Orange County to visit Star Wars Celebration VI. Tampa Bay Squad members include Tim as Darth Maul, Jason as Tarfful, Mark the Royal Guard, Brian as Darth Vader and Gaines as an Imperial Officer. Also included a handful of other 501st and Rebel Legion guys and girls to round out an even amount of good and bad. Great job guys!

Apr 25, 2012

Wampa Sightings: SModimation - SModwars

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big fan of Kevin Smith and when I found out that they did one of his SModimations based on Hoth and included the Wampa I had to share it.

Kevin has been animating sections of his podcasts over the past few years and this time it was his Smodcast with him and Scott Mosier discussing some unfortunate pilots including Dak and Porkins.

Check out more of his podcasts over at smodcast.com

Apr 23, 2012

Becoming Sidious

 Here is the fantastic webisode that was also on the Episode 3 DVD, goes behind the scenes with Ian McDiarmid with the prosthetic applications and the saber fights. Also it does reinforce my fun argument that Palpatine is the best villain in the Saga, George says it himself "Now you created the Arch Villain of ALL TIME". Ya hear that? Suck it Vader!!!!!

Apr 20, 2012

The Latest Sith Lord in the 501st! I have been approved!

Yes folks, my latest costume was approved this week, and this has been one of my dream costumes since joining the 501st. I am now SL-2638, representing the Sith Lord Emperor Palpatine. The biggest bad guy in the entire Star Wars Saga. (well not including Jar Jar Binks, but that would be a topic that would fill an entire post.) I am a big fan of good ol' Palpy. It all started as a kid when I got one of these in the mail.

Kenner made Palpatine one of their mail away figures. To a 9yo kid this was one of those things that blew your mind. I got this guy and he is special, he was the one that was Darth Vader's boss! Sure we saw the monkey faced version of him in Empire, but once Jedi came out that was it, he was the real bad guy. Watching Vader act like his lapdog and unable to resist, he really scared the crap out of kids. But why would I want to scare kids..... oh, well because it is fun. With a face like this, you do get double takes from the little kids.

 But that really isn't what we are supposed to do in the 501st. So what approach do you take when playing the character. Some folks stick with the stoic approach. The senator that rose to power to control the entire galaxy without whining about his dead family (take that Anakin!). Sure that is a good approach, but after watching the movies as many times as I have I see another character. A cocky smartass that is drunk with power. Just watch as he snubs and toys with the Jedi in the prequels, watch as he mocks Luke and belittles Vader all in one breath. And being the smartass that I am, I have a lot of fun playing with the kids, and nobody helped that character develop into a fun one to play to the kids than Robot Chicken.

Seth Green and his bunch saw Palpatine the same way I did. I personally think Palpy stole the show in all 3 of their Star Wars episodes. With him, I knew I would have to talk to people in this costume, and well I don't have the accent of the great Ian McDiarmid, I would have to find a voice for the character. It only took one time for someone to walk up to me and give me the "My Lord" from the clip above to know thats what I have to do. The first troop I did in the prosthetics, I couldn't shut up. I had kids surrounding me asking me questions like I was the Dark Lord of the Sith wondering who trained me, why did I chose Darth Maul, Dooku and Vader. I was having a blast. By adding a little bit of Robot Chicken Palpy, my vast knowledge of Star Wars, and coming off listening to the Darth Plagueis novel, I had all the answers which actually had the parents starting to ask questions. It is fun having Darth Maul at the troops being able to try to recruit new young apprentices  getting down to their level and saying "oh that guy gets cut in half" or pointing to Vader and giggling and saying "Ohhh I miss Padme". Oh and the laugh, boy is that fun. So expect to see more of Palpatine around the Tampa Bay area, Star Wars Celebration VI and maybe even marching in Star Wars Weekends Parade at Disney's Hollywood Studios!

Mar 19, 2012

New at RedBubble: 4 New Clones!

Clone Wars Arc Trooper, Commander Colt. One of the coolest clones to come out of the Animated Series. This one was by request from one of my fellow Florida Garrison Brothers. I got a feeling now that the body is done, I will be getting requests from all the other Arcs in the state!

How can I do these shirts and not do one dedicated to the 501st trooper. The are the best of the best!

One of the first varients requested via Twitter,  here is the Shock Trooper. I always thought these were pretty damn cool!

And you can't make any of these variants without doing the plain white grunt. I will be honest, this was the hardest helmet to do so far.

Mar 12, 2012

New on RedBubble: Really? Sandtrooper

This one is out there for all the guys that don't care to keep clean and shiny. The Sandtrooper, lovingly called the Sandy's are also a very popular choice within the 501st. That being said, somehow I forgot them when doing the stormtrooper! So last night I put together this dirty little mess and I am pretty sure there are some clean freak wives out there that really despise this character. So here it is, and like I said before, there are  many more to come. Keep watching Redbubble.com 

Mar 11, 2012

New on Red Bubble: AotC Clone

This was the first of the clones made.And the best thing about clones, is with a little colorization you have a great variety of characters (just see the previous Captain Rex post). Up next, the Phase II (RotS) Clone.
Keep watching for more updates at RedBubble.com

New On Red Bubble: Really? Captain Rex

How can you do these shirts without addressing the Clone Wars series and what better place to start than the main clone himself Captain Rex. More clones to come! Redbubble.com 

New on RedBubble, Tusken Raider (Sandman)

Next on the list for the Really? shirts is the Tusken Raider, or for those old school Star Wars fans, the Sandman. This was one of the first requests made and I got to tell you, it was not easy either. I still have a handful of designs on the table still including Clones, Mandos, Royal Guard and Palpy and even the Dark Lord himself, Darth Vader. So keep watching and I will keep posting them on RedBubble.com 

Mar 8, 2012

The Return of Darth Maul! In More ways than one.

Since Phantom Menace, the fans have been asking for more Darth Maul, a character that had a huge impact for someone who had so few actual lines on screen. On top of that Lucasfilm Re-Released Phantom Menace in 3D and teasing us all year with commercials like the one above. Well this week we finally get to see him return on Clone Wars this week. Personally I can't wait, because over the past in comics we have seen Maul resurrected to fight Darth Vader, and with the cybernetic legs to hunt down Obi Wan. But now, it looks like that what if style comic book has grown some legs.... the robot kind.

But if you can't get enough then I would HIGHLY suggest picking up a copy of Darth Plagueis. For Die Hard Star Wars fans, this is a MUST READ. It could be considered Episode 0.5, because if you had any questions about Phantom Menace, everything is answered. Plus it tells a great back story on Darth Maul and Palpatine, how they met and began training. There is even a new book for kids out there by DK books, Darth Maul Sith Apprentice, so new media isn't focused solely on the dark stories for adults.

Mar 7, 2012

Wampa Sighting - Chubbs the Wampug Strikes Back

Chubbs, also known as the Wampug just finished up a photoshoot in the snow, go check out Chubbs' facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Chubbsthepug to see more of the photos. 

New on RedBubble.com - Really? Troopers

Not everybody has a spouse/girlfriend that quite gets why we pay top dollar to play dress up in plastic armor and run around with toy guns at events. My Wife is one of those types. She is the first one to mutter NERDS under her breath anytime she sees a convention on TV or photos of the 501st. But in her own way she asked me to design her a shirt that she could wear at events.. so here it is the Really? shirts.

The first one was a Stormtrooper, which is one of my costumes I wear. The next two are by request by other 501st members, and there are many more costumes being requested. From Tusken's to Clones and even Rebel Pilots, Vader and Boba. I got a feeling I will be busy making these for a while. Keep watching for more updates.


Feb 28, 2012

Wampa Sighting - Stuffed Crocheted Wampa Doll

Artist Beck "Beckadoodles" Seashols is a cartoonist and also does some great crocheted star wars characters. She posted this latest work over on her Etsy page (click the photo above to check out Etsy page).  

Beck as been a freelance illustrator/artist since 2000 with a style that is very kid friendly mixed with bright colors, bold lines and kittens. She has worked with Lucasfilm, Topps, Breygent, 5finity, Cult-Stuff, Target and rubber stamp companies as well as private collectors of all things cute and cuddly.

Feb 27, 2012

More photos with David Prowse!

Yesterday I got an email from the other Stormtooper participating in the ceremony, asking if I have seen the photos. Well that is the downfall of being in costume if you don't have your own dedicated photographer with you guys, you tend to experience the event but rarely see it as an observer. When George Lucas was being interviewed by Oprah, he gave a really haunting where he said he never got to see Star Wars (video below). 501st members can really relate to that when we are in costume. You see the look on peoples faces and the excitement and wonder, but we never really experience that feeling. But in return we get to give that to them. So there is a payoff.

Also involved in the ceremony Richard Leparmentier who played Admiral Motti. This was fascinating standing next to him talk about working with Peter Cushing and how classically trained he was. Also involved was Peter Mayhew who is no stranger to Star Wars fans, but if you are... that is Chewbacca!

George Lucas Discusses Star Wars

Feb 26, 2012

Megacon 2012 - Wampaless, but not void of Awesomeness!

Trooping with the Dark Lord (yep, that's me on the left)
Megacon is the biggest Florida con for the 501st (well that is when Lucasfilm isn't bringing Celebration to the same building 2 times in a row... woohoo!)  So for the Florida Garrison we use this event as our big showcase. But I had one goal in mind and that was to meet David Prowse, Darth Vader himself. For those who haven't been following it, David and Lucasfilm have been fueding, and his health hasn't been the best. But when it comes to being a fan, you can't pick sides, and I wanted to take advantage of the chance to meet him when I could. Not only did I get a great pic with him, I also got to participate in a ceremony in Stormtrooper Armor from one of the local costuming groups dubbing him Lord. This is one of those "once in a lifetime" moments for me. But at the same time, being in the 501st, this is almost getting to be the norm. While in costume now, I have been able to troop with David Prowse, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), meet Warwick Davis (Wicket)  and open Star Tours at Disney's Hollywood Studios with George Lucas.. not a bad resume, to start!

One of the other things I got to do was take out my work in progress, Palpatine, while I was still waiting for the mask, Tim who does our maul INSISTED I walk with him around the convention with it. So here are some pics taken by Nathan Carter.

The 501st expanded their booth this year and there were tons of helmets and costumes on display, and included the Shoot The Trooper for charity again. There were some lesser quality stormtrooper helmets around too, but as you can see above, the rest of the costume made up for that.

We also gathered for our annual group photo, can you tell Phantom Menace is in theaters this year? The first 2 years trooping I saw no Darth Mauls, now we have 3 in the state! Plus now we have a Tarfful, which is the first of many wookies to come... Don't be surprised if you see a Attichicuk (Itchy) build thread coming up on this blog soon!

And how can I have a post from Megacon without the 501st dinner, good times as usual. 

Want to see more pics... click here to check out the full gallery. 

Feb 25, 2012

The Wampa Backpack and "Attack" - By Inksress

"Wally" the Wampa Backpack
Check out this awesome Wampa Backpack made by the Wampa Handler - Genna over at her blog Inkstress.net Since we were not able to bring the Wampa costume to Megacon this year, she decided to represent by wearing this backpack around the con. The backpack used a modified Celebration V exclusive Wampa with removable plush arm. On top of that she added to the backstory by adding some effects make up and showing that she was attacked while handling. You can read on how she made the backpack and how she did the make up over on her blog!

Feb 22, 2012

Next costume in the making: Emperor Palpatine - Part 1

As soon as I was accepted into the 501st I knew the next costume I wanted to do was Emperor Palpatine, he is after all the biggest villain of the Saga, and with Darth Vader at nearly every troop, why not include his boss too. The Stormtrooper and Wampa are fun, but there is a sense of comfort knowing all you have to do is slip on some robes and some prosthetics and you will be ready. Not to mention being told that I am too short for a stormtrooper, or going home with ice packs and hurting.  But for the longest time the only way to get approved is to have glue on prosthetics... that is until the Mr. Bungle mask came along. Check this thing out it is amazing!

I had to place an order for that mask, it was the missing piece of starting the costume. I soon afterwards started work on the robes, while they still need a little tweaking and another round of dye to get them darker, I am happy with the over all look. Below is a photo from the Phantom Menace 3D movie troop. Since I don't have the mask yet, I opted for the Pre-Scarring TMP version of Darth Sidious since I would be trooping with our new Darth Maul, Tim. He pulls it off better than I have ever seen.

Also completed so far is the Cane and Broach, and even my own solution to force lightning! But why post everything at once! Consider that a little teaser for Part 2 once the mask comes in.

Feb 21, 2012

Coming soon from Comic Images - Wampa Headgear

Check out this upcoming Wampa and Ewok headgear coming from Comic Images. The same folks that brought us the Wampa Rug, Backpack Buddies and how can we forget the Wampa exclusive from Celebration V.


Thanks to @JustinL81 for posting this

Check out this amazing Wampa costume!

Came across this costume today, it is a real shame I don't have any more info but I would love to learn the whole story.

Wampa Sighting - The Wampug!

The Wampug... Yeah I know I am late on posting on this, but for those that haven't seen it, here it is. Kristen from over at http://starwarschick.com/ made this awesome costume for her pug Chubbs.

Feb 1, 2012

Time for a little Plastic Surgery for the Wampa

This week I have started the modifications to the Wampa. For the longest time I have been unsatisfied with the bubbly shoulders. This was really noticible in the Adidas photo. So I am working on cutting a football size wedge out of the top of them and much like a tummy tuck, I am taking out excessive foam and fur. I also took out one of the support rings to reduce the size a bit and have a more natural and screen accurate shoulder.

I do plan on replacing the entire structure of the arms eventually, so this little cosmetic change is only a band-aid for now but I think it will be totally worth it! Below is a photo of it just pinned together. You can already start to see the difference below with the shoulder on the left and the shoulder on the right. More pics and updates coming soon when this mod is finished.