Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We Love R2-KT

501st Legion Founder Albin Johnson started something incredible 10 years ago when he decided to show up at a local movie theater in full Stormtrooper armor just for fun. Although he would never admit it, Albin has an amazing sense of vision and his passion drives him to succeed. I would like to state now, for the record, that I think he's doing it again. The formula is similar to that which fuels the ever-growing 501st Legion, but replace the fans in costume with an army of good-willed robots.

The result is the story of R2-KT, the "Pink Imperial Droid with a Heart of Gold."

When Albin's daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with brain cancer, the network of friends that Albin had built over the years rallied around the brave little girl. The fan community showed a tremendous outpour of support including the construction of a scale remote control droid to watch over Katie while she slept (her sister Allie's idea). The droid was dubbed "R2-KT" (as in "Artoo-Katie"), and despite the loss of Katie, the pink robot now serves to educate, entertain, and bring awareness to pediatric cancer. She's even inspired Hasbro and Lucasfilm to donate $100,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

My prediction: R2-KT's robot friends (namely the R2 Builders Group) will join the cause. Awareness will spread amongst children's hospitals and charitable organizations across the world. More fans (perhaps parents of sick children) will be inspired to build replica droids for the same purpose. A new Legion will be born. In fact, with a trading card, embroidered patch, and Hasbro action figure already on the market, the future looks bright pink for R2-KT.

For more information about R2-KT, please visit

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rose Parade Audition Flashback

It's been one year since troopers around the globe were asked by Lucasfilm to submit videos of themselves marching in military-style formation. During the grueling summer practice sessions, troopers were asked to state their name, 501st Legion ID number, and unit affiliation. At the time, nobody knew just why Lucasfilm wanted the footage...was it an audition for the Star Wars live-action TV series? Was this an underhanded way of gathering names for a large-scale cease-and-desist order to all owners of bootleg Stormtrooper armor? Speculations ran rampant, but it was finally announced at San Diego Comic-Con that George Lucas himself wanted to recognize and reward the 501st Legion for their volunteer service as goodwill ambassadors of the Star Wars franchise by inviting 200 troopers to the Star Wars Spectacular in the 2007 Rose Parade. Many of the training videos can be seen on this YouTube playlist. The training I participated in on July 8, 2006, in Greensboro, North Carolina, happened to be one of the only times I've been captured on video skateboarding in my armor.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Now Featuring Polls and Frappr!

It seems Google's can't stop adding new features to make things easier for me. The latest addition is the ability to run polls on this blog so I've added one about how visitors find Please vote in the poll at the top of the right column to help me test this new feature. And while you're at it, scroll all the way to the bottom and map yourself!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Tega Cay 4th of July Parade

The community of Tega Cay, South Carolina, loves the 501st Legion! In 2006, the Carolina Garrison marched in this city's 4th of July parade and even had 501st Founder Albin Johnson as the Grand Marshal. The troops were such a hit, the Mayor invited us back this year and extended every courtesy imaginable including changing space at his own home office, a special 501st cake, a pre-parade dinner, breakfast, tickets to the afternoon fish fry, a personal trolley and parade vehicles...even a banner advertising our appearance posted at a major intersection! The best part is that the city is making a $500 donation to Make-A-Wish in the name of the 501st Legion. I'm not sure how many laws were broken during the 3.5-mile route, but standing in moving pickup truck beds and shooting spectators with a super soaker water gun was just too much fun. The neighbors (some with signs that read "Squirt Me!") shot back with their own water guns and even garden hoses! It's a good thing I didn't install my ROMFX voice amp system yet---the water might have ruined something. Maybe an E-Web water cannon is in order for 2008 (maybe I'll have a Snowtrooper costume completed by then). More photos can be seen here, here, and here.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Super Soaker Water Blaster

The upcoming Fourth of July parade in Tega Cay, SC, presents a unique opportunity to "blast" spectators with water as I ride in the back of a flatbed truck with other costumed participants. The organizers have given the approval to do this, and as a summertime event, the cool streams of water should be welcomed (and relatively harmless). I picked up a Water Warriors "TigerShark" super soaker water gun at Big K this past weekend for a sale price of just under $12. To make the colorful water gun look a bit more like a Star Wars weapon, I removed the stickers and used Krylon Fusion black spray paint which bonds with plastic and doesn't require primer before painting. I had fun testing range, power, and the longevity of the water supply with the kids in the backyard and this particular model seemed to be a good compromise between price and performance. The TigerShark even comes with a shoulder strap to support the weight of 67 ounces of water, although refilling will require an assistant (as well as a lot of water) along the parade route. The LED you see lit up in the photo is supposed to be a "ready light" that indicates how much air pressure you have in the super soaker, but it's more for show than anything else.