Showing posts with label media coverage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label media coverage. Show all posts

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kanye Finally Lets Me Finish

A long time ago, on this very blog, I posted something nebulous about rapper Kanye West. Bear in mind that was prior to his notoriously career-killing racist rants and his "Imma Let You Finish" interruption of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards.

Some four years later, I can finally reveal what that was all about. Admittedly, this will be somewhat anti-climactic. Back in 2008, Kanye's stardom was something that the 501st Legion Star Wars costuming organization felt could be leveraged. Historically, any alignment with celebrities meant more publicity for the group, more legitimacy for the art of costuming and more interest in any charitable efforts. As such, when Kanye West's representatives approached the 501st with a request for a suit of Stormtrooper armor, we wanted to jump at the opportunity to associate our name with that of one of the best-selling and most-awarded musical artists of the time.

Once we had all of Kanye's measurements (5' 8" with size 12 shoes?!), Legion Commanding Officer Mark Fordham (SL-096) led the effort of acquiring all of the necessary components for a respectable Stormtooper suit, requesting donations of parts and funds from the volunteer membership on a very tight timeline. (Note: My personal contribution paid for the gloves.) Mark succeeded in delivering the armor on time and worked out an agreement by which the 501st would get the used armor back so that it could be auctioned on Ebay with proceeds going to a charity of Kanye's choice (the ill-fated and somewhat suspicious Kanye West Foundation). To recap: the 501st pays for and supplies the armor, Kanye wears said armor and autographs it and the 501st auctions it for charity. Aside from the fact that it was a complete Stormtrooper costume valued at around $1000 US, we figured it would fetch considerably more after it was worn by hip-hop superstar Kanye West, right? Fate, however, had a different plan.

Kanye toured and we did get the armor back with an autograph and some stickers indicating it was part of the production. Still, an auction like this would perform much better with some photographic evidence of Kanye in the suit. Despite numerous requests, no pictures were sent. Over time, our contacts with the West camp slowly dissolved until months of waiting turned into years of silence. Kanye's charitable foundation flopped with a bad rap (no pun intended). The man made a fool of himself in the media. The fans turned against him. At this point, we'd be lucky to give away the armor.

After letting the dust settle for a few years, the 501st decided there was no real reason to hold back the auction any further---the value of the armor had clearly already peaked and we needed to monetize it for charity as was the original intent and we chose our good friends at Make-A-Wish as the beneficiaries. Mark once again picked up the reins and posted the listing on Ebay in August of 2012, with hopes that Kanye would stay out of the public eye until the auction ended:

To promote the auction, we posted about it on Facebook. Public opinion was swift and to the point with comments like "Honestly I think him wearing it devalued the armor," "I have never wanted to destroy a piece of stormtrooper armor more than I do right now" and "Does it still smell of douchebag?" Fortunately, a single bid just prior to the auction's conclusion met the reserve of $1000 and this infamous piece of history went quietly into someone's personal collection, with proceeds going to Make-A-Wish.

Up until recently, we really had no idea just how the armor was used, except that he wore it on stage a few times while touring with N.E.R.D. back in 2008. However, an October 2012 tweet by Kim Kardashian led me to find that the armor was also (partially) used in the pilot episode of a failed "hip hop Muppet Show" titled Alligator Boots. Weird.

Hey, I bought those gloves for Kanye! Here's a link to the some behind-the-scenes video. Enjoy! Or not....

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Lucas v Ainsworth

Here's the Reuters article from July 27, 2011, that gives us an update on the lawsuit between Lucasfilm and Andrew Ainsworth's Shepperton Design Studios surrounding the rights to replicate Stormtrooper armor and helmets. Lucasfilm won in California courts, but was recently ruled against in the UK. This essentially means that SDS can't ship to the States, but will continue producing armor.

The thing that bothers me the most is the fact that the High Court doesn't consider movie props and costumes to be works of art. That's just a slap in the face to everyone in the film industry including Andrew Ainsworth.

It also bothers me (to a lesser degree) that the media likes to use stock images/video of the 501st Legion to illustrate these articles, although SDS armor makes up a very small percentage of the suits worn by Legion members, mainly due to the price point of SDS's unlicensed product.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Uptown Charlotte "Flash Mob"

Okay, so the term "flash mob" is a bit of an exaggeration. This early-morning 501st event in uptown Charlotte, NC, was a planned promotion for Star Wars Celebration V on behalf of Lucasfilm and Reed Expositions (the folks running the big summer 2010 Star Wars fan gathering). We were asked to help drum up some media coverage in regions outside of the Florida market to ensure that fans in the Southeast USA were aware of the August event. I created some picket signs with relevant phrases like "TO ORLANDO...HAVE BLASTER WILL TRAVEL," "THIS IS THE VACATION YOU'RE LOOKING FOR" and "STAR WARS CELEBRATION OR BUST!" David, TI-1626, even went shirtless as a vacationing TIE Pilot complete with swim shorts.

Jon Wilson of the local FOX Charlotte television early morning show, who has helped the 501st promote various events over the years, met us in front of the Omni Hotel at 6 in the morning with his faithful cameraman and we amused and confused passers-by and commuters on their way to work. The end result was about 10-15 minutes of teasers promoting Celebration V and the 501st Legion. Lucasfilm was pleased and I squeezed in another event for 2010. Not a bad result for a last-minute Friday morning troop. Thanks to David, Andy, Cher, Hope, Ken and Ryan for showing up!

Click here for video (not sure how long they keep the link active).

Friday, September 11, 2009

CowTrooper Victorious!

Amazing! Sensing the huge amount of support for the top two entries in the Chick-fil-A Cow Appreciation Day contest, the food chain decided to award TWO grand prizes. Both the Jobe Family of Boone, NC, and Noel (TK-8541) Green will receive a year's worth of meals. Noel, of course, has pledged to donate his winnings to his local New Mexico food bank to assist those less fortunate. As an added bonus, Noel reports that his local Chick-fil-A restaurant will be hosting a special day where a percentage of their sales will go to the same food bank charity! Thank you to all of you who supported this fun and worthy cause---it's astounding that people can make a difference like this when they combine their efforts. Here's the winning announcement from Chick-fil-A's official facebook page:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vote for TK-COW...and Do It Now!

The competition is pulling out all the stops in the Chick-fil-A Cow Appreciation Day competition and the 501st Legion's very own Noel Green (TK-8541) needs your daily vote from now through Monday, August 31st! Although fans were able to push Noel into the No.1 spot late last week with a surge of votes, the outcome is now uncertain. The CowTrooper respectfully requests that you do your part for the Empire (and remember that Noel has pledged his grand prize of a year's worth of food to feed those in danger of starvation through his local food bank charity)! Click here then click 'vote' and 'highest rated.' This is our most desperate daily and spread the word!

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."