by Fleetfang on Tue Sep 23, 2014 1:50 pm
What started out as a simple request to have someone recognized as an honorary member of the New England Garrison (www.501neg.com), which represents the 501st Legion in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, quickly evolved into something much greater. Two months ago they received an email from Kathleen Tokarski, a social worker with Home and Hospice Care of RI. Kathleen told the story of Peter Allen, a lifelong Star Wars fan in her care that has ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). After spending more time with Peter and learning more about him, she discovered that he was working towards joining the 501st Legion at one point and was building a TIE Pilot costume. Unfortunately, as time went on and his condition worsened he was unable to finish his work on it.
Enter members of the NEG, who after hearing Peter's story would not settle for just making him an honorary member of their garrison. They made a decision to secure Peter's unfinished costume from Kathleen and complete it for him so that he could finally, and officially, join our ranks. Once they had Peter's costume in hand, lots of members pitched in to help. From donating items needed, to making some modifications to the flightsuit, to painting and detailing his helmet, this was a team effort. Over the course of a month, they were able to finish Peter's costume and made sure that it was up to the Empire's exacting standards.
But they didn't stop there. In addition to the call for help with the costume, a second call was put out to Legion members all over the world asking for patches, trading cards, stickers and more to help welcome our newest member and start him on the road to gathering his own personal collection of official 501st merchandise. Packages arrived from as far east as Germany and as far west as Hawaii. This helped to truly make the endeavor a world-wide effort.
After months of planning and preparation, the day finally came, Peter's day, the day he would join a family that is now 7,000 members strong. Peter, who is paralyzed and requires assistance with breathing, was brought by medical transport to a local function hall where he was surrounded by close to 100 of his family and friends. A squad of troopers and pilots were led by Darth Vader as they entered the hall. They gathered around Peter and presented him with his newly-completed TIE Pilot uniform. The look on his face when the helmet was revealed said it all.
Peter was also presented with a new armor bin, signed by members of the New England Garrison, welcoming him to their garrison, and a commemorative certificate marking the day, signed by both the Legion Commanding Officer, Aimee Jorgensen and his Garrison Commanding Officer, Michael Brunco.
Do you think these dedicated troopers were finished there? Of course not! There was still one more thing left to do after they had a chance to pose for some pictures with Peter and his guests. A handful of the troopers, who were joined by Kathleen Tokarski, arranged to participate in the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" that has swept the internet over the past few months. The troopers, most of which were still in costume, headed out to the parking lot where large pots of icy water were waiting for them. Members of Peter's family helped out by dumping the frigid water onto their heads. What a great way to finish off the day, and we are so very proud to welcome Peter into our ranks!
- Report by Michael Brunco, IC-7796
New England Garrison Commanding Officer
To read a preview story about Peter you can follow this link: http://www.thewesterlysun.com/news/latestnews/5567900-129/star-wars-fan-to-achieve-his-dream.html
To read the follow up story, which includes pictures and video, you can follow this link: http://www.thewesterlysun.com/news/latestnews/5630327-129/dream-comes-true-for-star-wars-fan.html
Here is a link to the pictures taken by the Westerly Sun (taken by Jill Connor, Chief Photographer for the Westerly Sun): http://thewesterlysun.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=1847915&CategoryID=45005
by Fleetfang on Sun Jun 01, 2014 7:33 pm
The Lucasfilm Story Group recently announced that all Expanded Universe novels, video games, and other materials are no longer officially Star Wars "canon." (http://tinyurl.com/LegendsAnnouncement) Elements from the stories that they have dubbed "Legends" may eventually prove to be part of the official timeline, but for now, the “official” fate of anything beyond The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, and the films is uncertain.
This uncertainty has understandably raised some concerns among current and prospective members of the 501st, because for years many of the costumes of the villains from these stories have been eligible for Legion membership.
The Legion Command Staff would like to make this clear: The reorganization of the Star Wars continuity will have no impact on the Legion’s costume roster, past, present, or future. The current Membership Team and Legion Command Staff would never consider retroactively removing characters from our lineup because of it.
Expanded Universe characters have had the support of Star Wars fandom for years, and they have all of the necessary references to bring them to life. Even if the continuity team at LFL changes the timeline, or if the coming films and television shows negate parts of our collective "history," these characters will still exist to us, the fans. Characters like Mara Jade, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Kir Kanos, Darth Revan, Delta Squad, Death Troopers, and countless others will always exist in the Star Wars body of work.
This is not a matter of only "grandfathering in" the particular members who have already been approved with these characters’ costumes. To be perfectly clear: Expanded Universe costumes will remain eligible for 501st approval now and in the future.
Likewise, if there are suitable visual references and the costume meets the high quality that the Legion has come to be known for, then new-to-the-Legion costumes from the Expanded Universe will still be eligible for inclusion in our Costume Reference Library. If there is reference material for a character, it is eligible —and will remain eligible— both for characters currently listed in the CRL and for others that may be constructed in the future.
The Expanded Universe characters that are being moved into the “Legends” category will always have a place in the 501st Legion, no matter what the Lucasfilm Story Group ultimately decides.
Yours in the Empire's service,
- The 501st Legion Command Staff
by Fleetfang on Thu May 22, 2014 9:19 pm
After two months of planning, more than 100 members of Italica Garrison assembled at the Roman Colosseum for Star Wars Day. Joined by members of the 501st Legion's German Garrison, the Rebel Legion, and the X1 TIE Fighter Project, made it a May the Fourth to remember for thousands of Star Wars fans, young and old.
The celebration began the night before, with an assembly of troopers for a huge group photo under the stars.
In the morning, the troops returned for the main event. They made a glorious parade around the Colosseum and arrived on the hill in the shadow of Vader's TIE Fighter.
They took countless photos there, and several Jedi from the Rebel Legion organized lightsaber duels to the delight of all the fans behind the barriers. Members met up with the younglings, shaking their hands and taking selfies and photos with everyone there.
When time ran short, Vader gathered up his retinue and returned to his TIE Fighter, another mission successfully completed for the glory of the Galactic Empire!
As AR-17992 relates, "If you’ll ever ask a 501st Italian member what will remember most from this event, be sure that the answer to that will be one and only one: 'The happiness of little younglings and adult fans was a blast for all of us!' Nobody in the Italica Garrison & Rebel Italian Legion never felt such a strong feeling. The tears of happiness of the many kids I saw trough my visor will forever be in my thoughts and will be among the best memories in my voyage into and with the 501st Legion."
Congratulations on a successful mission, troopers! "The Fourth" was definitely with you!
Check out more of the official photos and video from the event HERE and HERE.
by Fleetfang on Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:59 pm
Legion members are all volunteers in the service of Vader's Fist, but we also work everyday jobs as professionals in industries like marketing, photography, and advertising... like Florida Garrison PR Officer Rob Semos. When he isn't patroling Mos Eisley as Sandtrooper TD-5085, he works as a Senior Art Director and Video Editor at St. John & Partners, a full-service advertising and public relations agency, but he doesn't let that stop him from lending his talents to the promotion of the 501st!
The Legion's last 'ad campaign' (entitled "I HAVE..." and developed by Rob, Legion PR Officers Dean Plantamura (TK-899) & Brian Troyan (TB-8968), and SJ&P's Kristen Bankert in 2011) had over 100 different versions and formats and was translated into 5 languages.
"Empire's Finest," our new campaign, was conceived as an evolution of that campaign, with a tighter focus on having the copy relate to Star Wars canon events and showing off more of the great detail that is captured by the screen accurate costumes worn by 501st Legion members. The images of Darth Vader here are merely the beginning of what will be rolled out over the coming year.
Development on Empire's Finest started back in January of 2014. Finalizing the look and feel of the images and developing copy for the first set of ads took several weeks. And the photo shoot for the first 4 ads to be released spanned over two solid overnight studio sessions. Experimenting to get the perfect lighting set-up took several hours the first night.
The Legion would like to thank Kristen Bankert for her help during the shoot and all of her creative development input. Special thanks also go out to Troy Reichenbach Photography and SJ&P for supporting the 501st and its mission to promote costuming, celebrate Star Wars, and give back to the community!
Commander Cody: CC-9356
Design: TD-5085, with TK-899 & TB-8968