Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A World Record of Sorts

This is actually some older news, but I wanted to document it on for posterity. The 2008 Guinness Book of World Records has declared the 501st Legion the world's "Largest Star Wars Costume Group." Page 174 of the annual guide features a write-up and photos of the Stormtroopers from the 2007 Rose Parade. Technically I'm not pictured (I think I'm just out of frame), but I'm still quite flattered by association. It lends an odd sense of credibility to the hobby when I can tell neighbors that dressing up in plastic en masse is now considered a world record category, and it was fun to do so at a recent party where I pointed to a copy of the book on their coffee table and said, "Hey, I'm in that!"
I haven't personally read the Guinness Book in quite some time, but it's apparently still popular with kids and it was, in fact, the Legion Founder's daughter, Allie, who first made the discovery that the 501st was included in the 2008 edition. Funny thing is that we have already gained more than 700 members since the publication date. I'd bet we also hold the world record for "Fastest Growing Star Wars Costuming Group."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Deal or No Deal

Tonight, 26 members of the Fighting 501st Legion will appear on NBC television's popular game show "Deal or No Deal" as custodians of the iconic mystery suitcases. The members involved with the production of this Star Wars-themed special episode have not been able to talk much due to confidentiality agreements, but we should get the behind-the-scenes scoop after today's air date. It's moments like these that make me think back to when it was a big deal to get the 501st name in Star Wars Insider magazine, let alone an hour on national television. Obviously, an appearance like this must be facilitated and approved by Lucasfilm, and I can't stress enough the importance of keeping up good relations with the hand that feeds you (or your fandom). I've said it before and I'll say it again: It is within the realm of possibility that you may see the members of the 501st in the upcoming Star Wars live-action TV series. Then all of us geeks can die in peace.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

AA versus GL

It's all over the news lately, and inevitably friends and co-workers will ask us Star Wars fans if we have been following the story. British propmaker Andrew Ainsworth, the man who produced the original Stormtrooper armor (as well as some other costume parts) for Lucasfilm back in the mid-1970s is being sued in British High Court for making and selling replica Star Wars helmets and armor through his site Shepperton Design Studios. This is the second case LFL has brought against AA---the first was a 2006 case resulting in a California court awarding Lucasfilm $20 million in damages. Ainsworth claims that he is producing props "from the original moulds" (British spelling) but this is a hot topic amongst serious replica prop fans like those on the RPF, who argue that AA is speaking in half-truths, and that many parts of the armor have been reconstructed to fill in for broken or missing components (some mention of this on the SDS site). Furthermore, Ainsworth claims to be the original sculptor of some pieces, and therefore the artist who holds the rights to further produce the props. This point is now in debate as some photos of prototype clay sculpts are supposedly being brought as evidence against SDS. My personal take is that anyone who has the potential for financial gain based upon the popularity of Star Wars should have stepped up a long time ago (like 30 years ago) to ensure they maintained their intellectual property rights. I also think that Ainsworth, like other propmakers, could have continued his operation if he kept it on the down-low without placing advertisements and opening a full-blown website complete with pricing. Why put Lucasfilm in a position where they are forced to take action against you? I'm no law student, but I'd love to be a fly on the wall of these courtroom proceedings if just to see the surreal sight of a line-up of original Stormtrooper, TIE Pilot, Navy Trooper, Death Star Gunner, Rebel Fleet Trooper and Tusken Raider masks in front of judge and jury (see if you can pick them out of the court artist rendering above). You can also click here for miscellaneous media coverage. An odd side effect is the media's lack of relevant Stormtrooper imagery which has resulted in a lot of 501st members getting pictured in the news lately.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

MR LE Helmet eFX Form

As reported by, the short-lived Limited Edition Master Replicas Stormtrooper helmet will once again be available through new licensee eFX Collectibles. When Master Replicas somewhat unexpectedly ended their Lucasfilm license to produce Star Wars items, they apparently short-changed quite a few collectors who had pre-ordered the helmets. eFX will be making good on some of those orders with an edition size of 500 new helmets, but with a new display stand and base. I assume this is a good thing if you were one of those who paid for product you never received, but honestly, you can get a better helmet for much less than $399 US through underground channels. What the true fans really want to see is an American release of the MR Collectors Edition Stormtrooper helmet which is a great alternative for the FX kit helmet at a budget-conscious price point of about $120 US. (If you do manage to get this helmet, here's a nice tutorial from the 501st UK Garrison for fine-tuning it.) You can click here to visit the eFX site and sign up for e-mail updates for future products. And be sure to visit for a great review of the LE helmet (MR version).

First Non-Promotional Rubies Pics

I blogged about the forthcoming Rubies Supreme Stormtrooper armor here, and you can see some of Rubies' official promotional photos on the excellent A fellow costuming fan happened upon the chance to see and feel a real prototype that's making the rounds at trade shows and here's a few photos they were able to snap before being asked to stop:

Does this off-the-shelf armor look warped to you? Well, the truth is that a lot of the armor in the Lucasfilm archives is warped, and as such, this Rubies suit isn't too far off from what you see in Return of the Jedi (with the obvious exception being the awful helmet). Our source says, however, that the material this suit is made from is very pliable and not the typical hard ABS, styrene or fiberglass that most fans are used to or would expect. What doesn't help Rubies' argument is the way this suit is poorly assembled and displayed on the mannequin. There are other issues with the belt, unpainted abdominal buttons, and drooping neckline on the chestplate, but the bottom line (so far) appears to be that this costume is not nearly worth the suggested retail of $850.00 US.