Sunday, February 24, 2008

LASIK: The Ultimate Mod

Any respectable Stormtrooper is always tinkering with their costume, whether it's adding new parts or improving old ones. The colloquial term for a modification is "mod". I have a whole section of the old site dedicated to trooper mods that make things easier, better, or more fun. Well, in late 2006 I made the decision to make what I would call "the ultimate mod," laser eye surgery. While some troopers deal with wearing eyeglasses while trooping, they are not comfortable given the confines of a Stormtrooper helmet, and they can fog up easily. For five years, I endured the increasingly aggravating use of rigid gas-permeable contact lenses beneath my helmet to deal with my nearsightedness. I was always concerned with how long I would be in costume since I knew the lenses became more irritating with time, and the sweat that inevitably ran down into my eyes didn't help the situation. I inquired amongst some other trooper friends and coworkers and decided LASIK (or more specifically, IntraLASIK) would be right for me. Fortunately, my eye doctor concurred (note that not everyone is a good candidate depending on the shape and condition of your eyes). This was the first pre-meditated elective surgery I've ever had, but I don't consider it cosmetic as much as functional (pity my insurance company doesn't see it the same way). The outpatient surgery was much simpler than I thought it would be and after 20 minutes of slicing and burning my eyes (yes, there is an odor of burning eye tissue), my vision was corrected to 20/15. Surprisingly, the procedure was fairly painless and the painkillers took the edge off. However, I must admit that the first 12 hours after the surgery are not fun. Think sand in your eyes. Light...any blindingly painful and you need to force your eyelids open to administer prescription eyedrops. You may also experience some blurriness, starbursts, and halos around bright lights which can last several months. Even today, my eyes are dryer than they ever have been. While many would consider the procedure itself a bit unsettling, the end result was still the best $3000 I ever spent and just in time for my participation in the 2007 Rose Parade. Remember that LASIK is not for everyone so please consult one or more vision specialists before making the decision to have your eyes operated on!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Off the Shelf Stormtrooper Armor

My posts on various costuming message boards today began with "This is either the news we've been waiting for...or the news we've been fearing." You see, for over a decade, die-hard fans have been sculpting, forming and casting their own replica Stormtrooper armor in garages and basements around the world. And, frankly, we've gotten quite good at it. Scores of trooper experts spend countless hours debating over the minutiae of what constitutes a completely screen-accurate Stormtrooper. At a glance, we can tell you which Star Wars film a particular armor part comes from. It's a sickness. Well, now the corporate entity of Rubies Costume Company (who currently holds the license for Star Wars costumes) enters the scene with their $850 answer to every fan's desire to be a Stormtrooper. Although we grass-roots costumers hold no rights to the intellectual property of Lucasfilm, it kind of feels like someone just signed the deal to build a Super Wal-Mart next to our favorite Mom & Pop grocery, the difference being that the fan-made suits are much more accurate in appearance and generally less expensive. The jury will be out until we've actually seen and touched one of these Supreme Edition Stormtrooper costumes in person, but Rubies does not have a great track record for the discerning fans as witnessed in discussion threads like this one. Click here to take a look at what the costuming community is already calling a "craptastic" suit of armor.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Just Picture Them in Their Underwear

What do Stormtroopers wear beneath that shiny white armor? Even among the seasoned ranks of the 501st, that question makes for awkward discussion. Well, as an integral part of any trooper's wardrobe, I'm here to reveal my personal secret. First, let me explain that a black bodysuit is necessary to complete the proper look of a Stormtrooper where there are gaps between the armor. Second, I don't like to think that any troopers "go commando" beneath that bodysuit...not even if they are a Republic Commando. I've tried boxers, but they bunch up. I've tried briefs, but the cotton doesn't breathe well. I've tried boxer-briefs...the worst of both worlds. So, one day my wife and I were perusing a camping/outdoors shop and she recommended these Give-N-Go shorts that were supposedly made for high-energy outdoor activities. They are lightweight, moisture-wicking, odor-resistant and very travel friendly in that you can hand-rinse and air dry in a matter of hours (this works out great for multi-day trooping events where you don't want to pack too much luggage or do laundry on vacation). These Ex Officio Give-N-Go shorts come in boxer or brief styles, and they even have some for the lady troopers. So, if you see me at an event, and my menacing skull-like frown makes you nervous, just picture me in my underwear. For more about the bodysuits worn over the underwear, click here and scroll down to Bodysuit.

The 501stCast Won't Stop

Well, it would seem that we are cranking out 501st podcasts faster than I can remember to blog about them here on my own site! We're already working on 501stCast episode 9 now, and have also debuted a fun new game show called Stump the Trooper where we test the knowledge of our 501st members and give out prizes to our friends on The widget on the right column is your easiest way to listen from For the fastest distribution and notification, you can always subscribe to the podcast RSS feed through any podcatcher. Am I speaking a foreign language? The podcast feed is "Really Simple Syndication" which allows you to use a "podcatcher" or "aggregator" such as iTunes to automatically download each new episode as soon as it is posted. Here's a list of podcatchers (most, if not all, are free): Now go forth, and tell your friends.