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

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!