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Trooper Survival Guide


Welcome to the 501st Legion. You have chosen to become a member of the largest StarWars Imperial Costuming Organizations. Congratulations. This guide will help you understand what you can expect from the Legion, and what the Legion expects from you. This book is a compliation of many of the tools and procedures that have been available in various forms on the 501st Legion web site and forums. Where possible we have endevored to include examples and screen shots.

Kris Kuipers

Legion Commanding Officer (2011)


Letter from Albin Johnson, Founder of the 501st Legion

The real story behind the name “501st” is rather unremarkable. I wanted something that sounded military, had a big number, and ended in a “one” to give it a little authenticity. I also wanted a number that would be alliterative if used in a motto, and I’ve always liked the motto “Fighting SeaBees” from WWII. Either 400 or 500 sounded good, because both began with a “f” sound. I liked 500 better, just because it’s one of those nice round numbers. So 501 worked when I added the “1”. The only problem was that, at the time, Levi’s 501 jeans were still popular and I was taking a risk that we’d have that joke haunting us. But, luckily, I only heard us being called the “Button Fly Troopers” only once!

As for the “Legion” moniker, that’s a different story. The original website was dubbed “Detention Block 2551” and was a simple little geocities site for folks to send in their pictures in stormtrooper armor to be displayed. After we got enough people in there, it seemed like a good idea to make a fictional military unit, just as a laugh. My dad being a graduate of WWII airmen school, I liked the idea of a Squadron of fighter pilots. I always liked looking through his graduation book and seeing rows and rows of pictures of cocky pilots with their leather jackets and their rakish grins. But since stormtroopers are ground-pounders, the term “Squadron” didn’t make sense. I truncated it to ‘Squad’ since that was an infantry term. I figured we’d always be a small, intimate group of hobbyists so I stuck with the small-scale unit name instead of something that sounded massive. Not long after that, however, it became obvious that we were getting way too big to be a Squad.

So I started thinking about what term we could use, but two problems existed concerning contemporary military unit names. Firstly, I didn’t want to choose a unit name that would pigeonhole us at a fixed size. Secondly, I didn’t want to disrespect the real military by putting on airs we were a real regiment, battalion, etc. My solution was to do what Lucas always did: tap into historical source material. Not only did it have the advantage of sounding more ominous, but it enjoyed the ambiguity that the passage of time lent it intuitively. I liked the idea of the old Roman Legion. It was very old word, sounded very distinguished, and even though it did have a fixed number it wasn’t readily obvious in the contemporary context. When I re-watched ROTJ and noticed that Palpatine mentioned two of his “finest Legions” were on Endor, I knew we had something that had roots in the Star Wars universe. Problem solved! (...except for the fact that the Legions we see ended up being only about 3 score men—not an incredible number for a final battle! I’ve always wondered why Lucas re-did the trilogy without adding a thousand computer generated troopers in the Endor battle. Go figure.)

Lastly, I wanted a name for our regional chapters. I knew this club wouldn’t survive long if everyone was paying tribute to the bigger club all the time. Eventually, local preferences would win out and independent-minded people would want to strike off on their own. The Legion would have a definite expiration date then! So I went back to the Roman Empire model of occupation and, considering we’re pretending that the Legion is occupying puny little Earth, I felt that Garrisons would describe regional units created to occupy territories. The first three Garrisons were pretty simple: East, West, and Central. But they weren’t called Garrisons until the map was divided a little more into big chunks of the U.S. The original Garrisons were: Eastern, Southern, Central, Midwest, Southwest, and Northwest as well as a European Garrison overseas. As you can guess, these units were carved up into more practical units quickly, although Central and Midwest remain to this day and Southern became an Outpost but will probably stay that way in name only now that it is of Garrison size.

Squads were resurrected as units of very local orientation. And the term Detachments (lifted from Vader’s speech aboard the Tantive IV) was used to describe theme-based groups within the club. Since the detachment Vader sent to the surface of Tatooine probably consisted primarily of desert troopers, it made sense that a detachment would have a specialized orientation. Outposts made sense for remote areas. The outpost on Dantooine was referred to in ANH as well, so again we lucked out with a term from the trilogy.

So there you have it. The 501st Legion naming convention history in all its glory. I hope you’ve all stayed awake long enough to enjoy.

For a fictional history of the 501st Legion please see

Albin Johnson TK-210, Founder of the 501st Legion

The Mission of the 501st Legion

The 501st Legion also know as “the Legion”, “the 501st“, and “Vader’s Fist” is a Star Wars fan club dedicated to celebrating the Star Wars universe through costuming; specifically the costumes and characters of the Stormtrooper and other Imperial forces, as well as non-affiliated villains and denizens. The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work.

The Legion recognizes it holds no claim over the costumes and characters it portrays, and that their use is a privilege extended by Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL). The members of the Legion acknowledge and accept that while in costume, we represent the Star Wars brand and will do so professionally and responsibly at all times.

Organizational Structure

Legion Command

The Legion Command is the chief administrative and management group of the 501st Legion It’s roles are encompassed by the elected officers who fill the offices of:

  • Founder (permanent):TK-210 Albin Johnson
  • Legion Commanding Officer (LCO) - Elected by the general Membership
  • Legion Executive Officer (LXO) - Appointed by Legion Commanding Officer
  • Legion Membership Officer (LMO) - Appointed by Legion Commanding Officer
  • Legion Captain of the Guard (LCOG) - Appointed by Legion Commanding Officer
  • Legion Public Relations Officer (LPRO)– Appointed by Legion Commanding Officer
  • Legion Merchandise and Branding Officer –(LMBO) Appointed by Legion Commanding
  • Officer Legion Web Master (LWM)- Appointed by Legion Commanding Officer
  • Legion Charity Liaison (LCL)- Appointed by Legion Commanding Officer
  • Other Officers and Staff as required or Appointed by Legion Commanding Officer

Question: What role do the Legion Officer’s fill, and how do they help me as a trooper?

Answer: LCO: The Legion Commanding Officer is the chief executive and administrative officer of the Legion. The LCO coordinates the Legion as a whole and sets the agenda for the Legion Council.

LXO: Assists the LCO with all Duties as assigned

LMO: In charge of all things membership related including the approval of new members to the adjudicator of costume types and characters. The LMO is also the primary advocate of the membership with the Legion Counsel and the Command Staff in matters of membership.

LCOG: Works with the LCO/LXO/ Garrison Commanders to resolve issues that are not able to be resolved on the local level.

LPRO: Responsible for the public face of the Legion. Manages publications, media, and pod casts. The LPRO is responsible for celebrity, charity, press, and fan group relations.

LMBO: Manages and maintains the 501st Legion brand as it relates to club merchandise, outside use of the 501st images, logos, and material. The also LMBO approves monitors and oversees the creation, sale or distribution of 501st branded merchandise.

LWM: Coordinates, manages amd maintains the Legions WEB presence and forums.

Legion Council

The Legion Council is the chief legislative body and is comprised of Legion Command Officers, Garrison Commanding Officers and their Executive Officer’s or appointees referred to as Second Council Seats. Each Garrison has two representatives on the Council and each Outpost has one council seat.

The function of the Legion Council is to provide a body that communicates the activities of the Legion Command to their local members.

The Legion Council also debates and discusses major polocy and charter issues to present before the membership.

Garrisons and Outposts

Garrisons and Outposts are the local units that are the gathering of the troopers in their geographic location. They are responsible for ensuring that events are staffed etc. Outposts are located in geographic locations where there are not enough members to form a Garrison. Garrison’s and Outposts are staffed by a central elected authority (Commanding Officer) and his or her appointed staff. Garrison Officer’s are comprised of:

  • Commanding Officer (GCO or CO) - Elected by Garrison or Outpost Membership
  • Garrison Executive Officer (GXO or XO) - Appointed by Garrison Commanding Officer
  • Garrison Membership Liaison (GML) - Appointed by Garrison Commanding Officer
  • Garrison Web Liaison (GWL) - Appointed by Garrison Commanding Officer
  • Garrison Merchandise and Branding Officer (GMBO) - Appointed by Garrison Commanding Officer
  • Garrison Public Relations Officer (GPRO) - Appointed by Garrison Commanding Officer
  • Garrison Captain of the Guard (GCOG) - appointed by Garrison Commanding Officer
  • Other Offices and Staff as required or appointed by Garrison Commanding Officer

Question: What role do the Garrison Officer’s fill, and how do they help me as a trooper?

Commanding Officer: Coordinates activities and members of the Garrison.

XO & SL: Assists the GCO and coordinates activities and members of the Garrison.

GML: The primary contact for new members at the Garrison Level. The GML is in charge of costume reviews for new members or new costumes for existing members.

GWL: Manages and maintains the membership profile images and assists in Garrison WEB operations.

GPRO, GMBO, GCOG, GWM: Perform the same duties as their Legion counterparts only at the local level.


Squads are sometimes formed in larger Garrisons to facilitate the administration of the Garrison, cohesion and enjoyment of members who are too spread out within the geography of the centralized Garrison, enabling their members to troop, become active on the central Garrison boards and to facilitate the overall enjoyment of the Garrison experience. Squad Officer’s are comprised of:

  • Squad Leader (SL) – Elected by the Squad Membership
  • Squad XO- Appointed by the Squad Leader
  • Other offices and Staff as required or appointed by Squad Leader


Detachments are the costuming units of the Legion. Their role is to assist new and old costumers alike in the understanding, formation and build¬ing of costumes. Detachment Leaders and their administrative staff assist the LMO and GML’s in understanding unknown or misunderstood basic standards for costumes within their category of expertise. Detachment Officer’s are comprised of: Detachment Leader (DL)– elected by the detachment Membership Detachment Executive Officer or assistant detachment leader(DXO)-appointed by detachment leader

  • Detachment Leader (DL) – Elected by the Detachmant Membership
  • Detachment Executive Officer or Assistant Detachmant Leader (DXO) - Appointed by Detachmant Leader
  • Detachment Public Relations Officer (DPRO) - Appointed by Detachmant Leader
  • Detachment Captian of the Guard (DCOG) – Appointed by Detachmant Leader
  • Detachment Web Master – Appointed by Detachmant Leader
  • Detachmant Forum Moderators – Appointed by Detachmant Leader
  • Other offices and Staff as required or appointed by Detachmant Leader

What is the Role of the Detachment Leader?

The Detachment Leader Facilitates the Costume Reference Library in conjunction with the Legion Membership Officer assists members in finding the right information for their specific costumes, assists the Garrison Membership Officers with coustume reviews and coordinates and directs Detachment operations.

Honorary Members and Friends of the Legion:

Honorary Members are individuals who through their participation in the creation of the Star Wars Universe have been invited and inducted into the Legion in an honorary capacity.

  • “The Maker” – George Lucas
  • “Honorary Leader” – David Prowse

Friends of the Legion are celebrity individuals who through their enthusiasm and interest in the Star Wars Universe have contributed to the advancement of the awareness of Star Wars and the goals and mission of the 501st Legion.

  • Erich Kunzel – Conductor
  • Dr. Michio Kaku – Futurist / Physicist
  • Seth Green – Creator of Robot Chicken

A complete list of Honorary Members and Friends of the Legion can be found at

Joining The 501st

How do I get started?


The first step in preparing to join the 501st Legion is research. You need to decide, if you haven’t already done so, which costume you wish to pursue in your quest to the Dark Side. There are many resources and tools available to you on the web and in the various books, comics, films and television series that comprise the Star Wars universe. The first three resources you should acquaint yourself with are the Legion Costume Reference Library (CRL), your local Garrison and the 501st Legion Detachment that serves the costume category you wish to make.

The Costume Reference Library (CRL) is an ongoing project to categorize and provide basic examples of Legion costumes and components. The CRL is maintained on the Legion website and can be found here. I should be noted that the CRL is an on going endeavor and may not include all costumes currently accepted so don’t get discouraged if the most recent Clone Commander from The Clone Wars television series isn’t listed it doesn’t mean that it will not be approved just that either no one has submitted it for approval yet or that the CRL has yet to be compiled for that character. However, it is recommended that you pursue an established costume character for your first 501st costume.

Through the Detachments you can see other member’s costumes and build threads (WIP Threads), research and locate sources for costume components, learn how to make various components yourself and learn how to assemble components supplied by the various armor makers associated with the Detachments. A list of detachments and the costumes they support is located in the Appendix. You may also find contact information for the Detachments on the web here

Signing up for the forums at your local Garrison will put you in contact with like minded folks in your geographical area. Typically a Garrison will have programs to provide assistance and mentoring for you as you build your costume. The Garrison Membership Liaison (GML) will be your primary contact once you are ready to submit your costume for approval to the legion. A list of Garrisons and Outposts is located in the Appendix. You can locate your local Garrison or Outpost here

How can I join?

If you own a high-quality costume representing any of the characters listed Costume Reference Library (CRL), just follow the steps below. There are no fees and the only requirements pertain to age and costume quality. The 501st is simply a fun, all-volunteer group of fans honoring the characters from the Star Wars saga. For further information regarding our mission, please read Article I of the Legion Charter.

Do you qualify for membership?

Do you own a professional quality costume representing a well-documented canon villain from the Star Wars films or Expanded Universe? Note: Rebel or Jedi costumers should join the Rebel Legion, our sister organization.

Are you at least 18 years old?

NOTE: Star Wars costumes that are commercially available may not be acceptable for membership! It is recommended that you contact your Garrison Membership Liaison or the Legion Membership Officer, before purchasing a retail costume.

Question: What is screen accurate? Answer: The term “Screen Accurate” is tossed about very loosely these days. There are two sides of the field on this topic. One side will tell you that Screen Accurate can only be from Screen used items, or Linage. The other will tell you it’s in the details and craftsmanship, or build.

Question: What does canon mean? Answer: The term canon refers to what we see on screen as well, only this time it refers to what is seen more films, not the expanded LFL universe. Examples of canon characters are the four main Sith Lords, Darth Sidious, Darth Maul, Count Dooku and Darth Vader. Canon also refers to parts, as seen on TV and films. To be canon as possible is to strive to look just like the screen used Costume.


Fill out the 501st Legion application form to apply for membership. APPLY (English Only) All information submitted will be kept confidential and will be used only for 501st Legion registration and communication purposes, except information you designate as “public” which will be visible on your member profile page.

Select your Legion ID: You will need to select a Legion ID number (a 4-digit number which is not already in use). The 2-letter prefix will vary depending on your costume. For example, TK-#### would be a Stormtrooper and TB-#### would be a Biker Scout. For further information regarding our club costume prefix designations, please consult the Costume Reference Library. It is recommended that you choose a few (approximately 5-10) to submit to your GML with your costume images.

Prepare your photographs.

Upon submission of your application, the 501st Legion Membership Team will be made aware of your request to join. Your local Garrison Membership Liaison (GML) will contact you to verify your qualifications and will most likely ask for pictures of you in your costume for validation. See the 501st Legion Garrison Listings to identify your local GML. 

Submit pictures of yourself ALONE against a PLAIN BACKGROUND (no convention photos, please). We will need photos with your helmet on and off (if applicable). Please make sure to include a full-length view of your costume (head to foot) from the front, back and both sides. Also be sure to take your photos with adequate lighting and at a high-resolution to help us inspect the details. For further information regarding the organizational structure of the 501st, please read Article III of the Legion Charter.

An explanation of high resolution images: High resolution images are images taken at the highest setting for your camera. An example of this would be (for an 8 megapixel camera) settings should be on 8 megapixels / fine. This should produce an image that is approximately 2448x3264 pixels. 300 dots per inch. See your camera manufacturer’s manual for more information. The images must be well lit but not so much so that that all detail of the costume is washed out.

Question: What should I remember when I take my pictures for approval? Answer: Make sure your pictures are taken with a good quality camera in a well lit environment. Indoors unless it’s a studio usually produces pictures that are too dark to see any detail.

Wait for communication from the 501st Legion Membership Officer.

If your application is approved, you will receive confirmation via e-mail. You will get your Legion ID assigned and your record marked as “ACTIVE” in the 501st Legion member database. Please note that the 501st is an all-volunteer organization and application can take several weeks to review. 

If you are not validated for membership, your local GML will work with you and provide recommendations and resources that can assist you in improving your costume to meet Legion requirements.

For the 501st your costume must look professional, and that requires a good build, fit and function. If your costume has soft parts (Material) make sure to iron or dry clean your costume before taking your submission or any other official Legion photographs. Remember, the real costumes were built for a movie, not really to stand the test of time. To mimic every detail may be within your realm, but it may not wear well. As HD screen caps and photos become available, parts are getting better and better, making costume builds far easier than ever before.

Screen accurate is a term that is used most often on the large auction site, mainly to attract buyers. Doing your homework, reading up and taking time before a build is always a better way to get the ball rolling in the right direction the first time up. Remember… Take your time there’s no rush.

Remember, the 501st is a costume origination that has its standards at a reachable level. To take your costume to the next level is purely choice. The Costume Reference Library is built around the basis that anyone with the desire and the dedication can make and wear a Sith Costume of his or her choice. It is possible.

When you submit your finished costume, make sure you have some one who is helping you take pictures ensure that your costume is free of lint, and is appropriately placed on you. Just pretend you are getting ready to do a major event for Lucas Film. If your costume and the lighting look their best... so will you. Most GML’s usually require front-Back and both sides to be taken.

Stand normally; this is not the time for those action shots. Normally when you troop, you will be required to wear your helmet at all times, but for your submission photos don’t forget to do one with the helmet off if you are doing a costume that requires you to wear one, and make up off if you are doing a costume that requires you to wear make up and a hood. Hope this helps! 

Question: How long does it take to get my costume approved? Answer: The answer is based on some factors. Is the costume up to 501st Standards? Yes? Good... Factor in the current workload of your GML (Garrison Membership Liaison) (Example- How many costumes they have to look through for your Garrison). So let’s say your GML is not that busy and on the ball, you’re looking at a 24-72 hour turn around time. However it could take up to 2-4 months for larger Garrisons.

Other factors that may cause a delay is the approval of your costume by the Legion Membership officer who has the final say for all costumes and approves costume characters that are new to the Legion and have not been submitted before for approval. The same is true for your GWL (Garrison Web Liaison) and your profile pictures. Keep in mind that these officers are all volunteers and are also always doing something for the Garrison. So your time may vary. Be patient, the day will come when you will receive your ID #.


What the Legion and the Garrison Expects of you

Ok so you’re a trooper now what? The first and most obvious answer is get out there and troop.

As a member of the 501st Lesion there are certain rules of decorum you agree to follow during your career. They are fairly simple and if followed will guarantee and long and enjoyable trooping career.

As an active member of the Legion you are:

  • An ambassador of Star Wars™ the 501st Legion and your Garrison.

When trooping your goal should be to spread joy and wonder to the public and other fan based clubs and organizations by portraying your character in an upstanding and professional manner.

  • Maintain your Legion Profile

Your Legion profile is your face to the world and provides contact and costume information for the Garrison and Legion staff. As a member you are required to manintain you profile to make sure it is accurate and complete during the annual online census, typically held in October.

  • Stay in touch

Contact is typically maintained by monitoring the Garrison or Outpost forums and participating in trooping events.

  • Vote

As an active member of the Legion entitled to vote in polls and elections related to Legion, Garrison, Squad and Detachment Operations. As with any democracy participation is the key. You are encouraged to participate in local forums, the Legion forums and your Detachment forums.

  • Eligible to hold Legion, Garrison, Squad or Detachment offices.

While several positions are elected, as outlined above, there are many opportunities to serve the Legion and the public through appointed staff positions, charitable opportunities, and mentoring and assisting your fellow members and new people interested in joining the Legion.

  • Eligible to acquire and produce 501st Legion swag and merchandise.
  • Instantly a member of a tight knit “family” of Star Wars™ enthusiasts.

As with any family there will be politics, disagreements, squabbles and tensions. As a trooper you may need to remember from time to time that “we’re all adults who dress up in plastic and spandex and go for a stroll in public”. It is expected that you will treat your fellow Legion members with respect and courtesy in all things.

It is always important to remember why you joined the Legion and to also recognize that your reasons and goals my not always be identical to your fellow members respect and personal integrity are the key to achieving enjoyment and fulfillment during your Legion career.

What you can expect from the Legion and your Garrison or Squad

The 501st Legion is an inclusive, equal-opportunity fan club and will not tolerate discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, sexual orientation, religion, or body type. The only requirements for membership are “ownership” of an accurate, complete, and professional-quality costume celebrating the Imperial (Dark Side) characters from the Star Wars films or its expanded universe sources, that the member is able to wear said costume(s).

Upon admission, members are assigned a unique four-digit identification number following in the tradition of the stormtrooper character, TK-421, mentioned in A New Hope. Preceding this number is a two-character prefix code denoting the costume of the member. The prefix codes and what costumes they identify are listed below. Members owning more than one costume still have only one identification number but are referred to using whatever prefix codes are applicable. Identification numbers will be maintained by the Legion Membership Officer and are permanently assigned. If members convert to inactive status, their numbers will be retired until such time as the member returns to active status.

The Legion

The Legion command is the international face of the Legion. It is there to manage and assist the local garrisons and troopers in coordinating and managing events and projects that transcend local boundaries. The Legion command is also responsible for maintaining the Legions focus and mission.

From Article I of the Legion Charter
“...The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work...”

  • Promote Interest in Star Wars.A growing number of people are experiencing a reawakening of their Star Wars fandom, new generations are seeking ways to celebrate their passion for George Lucas’s modern mythology. The 501st Legion brings these fans together, reinforcing the enduring longevity of the Star Wars saga.
  • Facilitate the Use of Costumes.

Some fans are content to collect action figures...other fans want to be action figures. Nothing professes your passion quite like building your own detailed costume replica of a classic Star Wars villain, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling that comes from bringing the characters of Star Wars into the real world and sharing the magic with others.

  • Contribute to the community.

The Legion was founded to simply provide a collective identity for costuming fans with similar interests, the 501st is proud to put its resources to good use through fundraising, charity work, and volunteerism.

The Legion cannot exist without the members. All that is required of you by the Legion is that you maintain the enthusiasm that brought you to the Legion and support the mission of the Legion by being an active and participating in your local garrison with professionalism and respect towards your fellow Legion members. Since the Legion is an entirely volunteer organization you may be asked to utilize your talents to help support and promote the mission of the Legion. As outlined earlier there are many opportunities within the Legion to serve the Legion, your local Garrison and your community.

Garrison, Squad, Outpost

Garrisons, Squads and Outposts are the local “chapters” of the legion. Garrisons and Outposts are typically set up along regional boundaries. Squads are sub-units of a garrison. A Garrison or Outpost will be you primary unit within the Legion, you may also chose to be affiliated with a squad if one is located in your area.

The Garrison structure is similar to that of the Legion with a CO, XO, GML, GWL, GPRO, etc. and their roles are identical to those at the Legion level only focused on their local area.

Squads are an administrative sub-unit of the Garrison in regions that are either geographically vast or where there is a high concentration of troopers within a Garrison. Squads are led by a Squad Leader who is a member of the Garrison Command Staff and reports to the Garrison.

Outposts are similar to a Garrison but are in regions where there is not a sufficient membership to form a Garrison. Typically Outposts only have a CO who performs all the administrative duties for their area. These units exist to facilitate the mission of the Legion and to assist you in your goals as a Legion member. The Garrison command is responsible for the organization and coordination of events and the promotion of the Legion at a local level. As an active trooper you should expect to be treated with respect, asked to fill supporting roles in the garrison as needed and to be contacted regularly by the Garrison command, either directly or through the garrison forums about events and activities in your local area and the regions around your Garrison. You should also expect to be kept up to date on Legion level activity and issues being discussed at Legion level.

However your membership is in the Legion. Garrisons and Outposts may not enact local rules or regulations that are in conflict with or more restrictive than those established in the Legion Charter or by Legion Counsel Resolutions or Legion Command policies. If you feel you are being treated unfairly by your local command you have the right and responsibility to bring the matter to the attention of the Legion command staff through Legion Membership Officer, the Captain of the Guard or directly to the Legion Commanding Officer or Legion Executive Officer.


From Article III of the Legion Charter:
“Given the diversity of costumes encompassed in the Legion’s collective costume repertoire, special themed units called Detachments may be created to improve the quality and awareness of a specific costume category in the Legion’s CRL. These units serve as a resource for costumers both in and out of the Legion. Accordingly, their websites and forums may contain both public and 501st-only areas. …”

Detachments are non-administrative sub-units of the Legion. They have a command structure similar to the Legion with and elected Detachment Leader and typically a Detachment XO, Merchandise Officer, Web Master, and sometime an Armorer.

Detachments are virtual units that have no physical or geographical boundaries. Detachments provide a place for Legion members and the general public to research, discuss and find assistance in acquiring and building their costumes in a manner that can lead to approval in the 501st Legion. Detachments also assist the LMO and the GMLs in the assessment of membership applications to help ensure the accuracy and quality of the submitted costume.

Detachments do not approve memberships or costume submissions or set policy regarding which costumes are eligible for Legion membership. However they are often tasked to give advice to the Legion Membership Officer and Garrison Membership Liasians regarding specific costume submissions.

Detachments may also have a 501st Member only section on their forums where they may produce and provide Detachment / 501st related merchandise to their membership.


Trooping Guide

Ok you’ve got you armor and are ready for your first troop, or you 100th troop. Here is a compellation of the words of wisdom from your fellow members of the 501st Legion. It has been compiled from many posts on the Legion forum as well as personal experiences and anecdote heard throughout the years.

There are many reasons for trooping with the 501st Legion, raising awareness for a cause, promotional appearances, assisting in fund raising for charities, and just plan having a good time. There are typically two event classifications, canon and non-canon. A canon event is an event where the requesting organization requires a specific group of characters. Typically cannon events are either Original Trilogy (OT) or Prequels (Clone Wars). For an OT event only screen accurate original trilogy characters will be allowed to participate in the event. For a canon Prequel event only screen accurate Clone Wars era costumes from the movies or television series will be allowed. Screen accurate means unmodified armor, no custom paint schemes, no added badges, palderons, or overt identification or tags on the armor. Special note for Expanded Universe (EU) characters: Expanded universe characters are characters that are only documented in non-movie or television sources such as books, conics, graphic novels and video games. EU characters may be excluded from canon events at the request of the event promoter or the garrison command staff. How a troop is orchestrated: Trooping opportunities come from several sources both official and unofficial. Official troops are frequently generated through the Garrison or Squad command. They consist of events that are requested through the Legion request an appearance web page, direct requests from individuals and organizations to the command staff or direct requests or events organized by the Legion itself.

Legion Events are typically multi-garrison or large regional events such as national and international promotional events like the Cartoon Network Clone Wars television series or DK Star Wars book releases. National events often require a coordinated effort across many garrisons and will be locally coordinated by the garrison command staff. Frequently final event details are still being arranged up until a few days before the troop so don’t loose heart if you think things are a bit vague Most troops will typically be posted on your Garrison Web Forums. There may be specific call requirements for an event, set by the requesting organization such as 1-Vader, 6 Stromtroopers, arrive at 5:30 pm troop from 6:30 until 9:00pm…. Etc.

Or an event may be a general call for as many troopers as the garrison can muster your garrison command staff should list all the requirements in the event posting.

Typically for new events the garrison staff or event captain will post an interest request post it is important that you respond to these posts especially if you are interested in trooping the event. The interest post is used by the Garrison Command Staff to determine if the troop will be viable. If little or no interest is expressed by the Garrison Members than the Command Staff will likely decline the event request and tell the event requester that the 501st Legion is unable to appear at this time. If there is sufficient interest the staff will typically request confirmation that you are defiantly able to troop the event. Important note: DON’T commit to doing an event if you don’t intend on doing the event! Conversely if you do commit to doing an event make every effort to attend, we all know stuff happens and unforeseen emergencies can arise that may prevent you from attending, however once committed the reputation of the Legion and Garrison are now on the line to provide the confirmed troopers for the event.

Know The Code

Trooping is intended to be a fun and rewarding experience. It gives us all an outlet for creative expression through the construction and creation of our costumes and the development of our personae as Star Wars characters. It important to note that although we are all in this for fun we are representing the Star Wars universe to the public and should behave in a professional manner at all times when in costume. The Legion code of conduct is the guideline for behavior when in character and as a member of the 501st. community.

Pre Troop Briefing

Before trooping you need to make sure everything is in working order. Look for wear and tear, dirt, stains, scuffmarks etc. Clean and polish as necessary. Stock up on extra batteries, bottled water and repair supplies, in general just do a basic check of your kit. Try on your armor before your first troop. Wander around try the stairs. You will quickly discover what fits and what doesn’t and learn the meaning of the term “armor bite”

Create a packing list, laminate it and keep it in your armor bin. Check you armor kit the day before. (make repairs as needed) Always have printed or written directions of where you are to meet. Share cell phone numbers with you fellow troopers. Take care of your feet! Wear insoles for those long troops. Check you repair kit, restock what ever is missing.

Remember: The longer you’re in the armor, the hotter it gets. Testing out your armor at home for 15 minutes is not the same as trooping for two hours. Even in air conditioned locations, heat can be an issue.  Used black permanent marker or other permanent label method to discretely write my TK id# on the inside of ALL my armor parts. If you drop during the event or forget anything while packing up it will increase your chances of return from a fellow member.

If you are on special medication or require special medication due to allergic reactions, be sure to share that with those around you and let them know where they can find it for you and how to administer it in an emergency. Let them know the warning signs.


Trooping is why we are all here, the important thing is to have fun, entertain the crowd and stay safe and healthy. There are two potential dangers that can easily be overlooked while trooping, Heat Exhaustion and Hypothermia. Heat exhaustion occurs when your body gets overheated and can no longer support its natural cooling mechanisms, See side bar for more information on the symptoms and treatment of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Hypothermia, although less common for a trooper that heat exhaustion is a potential danger in colder climates or at outdoor events in a cool, wet and windy environment such as a parade, see side bar on the symptoms and treatment of hypothermia.

Arrive Early

Check in with your fellow Legion Members and the event coordinator when you arrive at the event. If you are the first trooper there, check in with the event sponsor or venue point of contact. If possible, before you suit up, walk the venue or area you’re going to be trooping look out for potential hazards, choke points, and blind steps.

  • Use bathroom BEFORE getting into armor. 
  • Don’t troop if you are sick, dizzy, tired or under special medication.

If you are on special medication or require special medication due to allergic reactions, be sure to share that with those around you and let them know where they can find it for you and how to administer it in an emergency. Let them know the warning signs.

Hydration is Important

Make sure you have enough food and drink during the whole trooping time (as trooping is quite exhausting, especially for beginners). 

  • Always behave as a stormtrooper is expected to, don’t force public to do things they don’t want (being prisoners... and so on). 
  • Watch out for kids, they are short and our field of view isn’t the best. You don’t want to hit them by accident
  • Be polite 
  • Always carry extra batteries for your fans. 
  • If you had been asked for something you are not sure about, always send them with your officers! Do not invent an answer!!! 
  • Always make reference to your local unit website and 501st website 
  • Remember: We DO NOT SELL anything!!!! We make our own costumes.
  • Never troop alone! always have some friend with you (cases where you are a lone trooper in your area) 
  • DO NOT expect ANYTHING in return. Don’t expect free parking, don’t expect food, don’t expect gifts, they may happen but don’t expect them. 
  • Remember to take a break every now and then.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings

Even if you are in costume and not a handler, be mindful of your fellow troopers and if you notice someone badgering them, get a handler or step in yourself and discreetly move the trooper out of the situation. 

  • Always walk with a wall behind you (don’t think anything funny guys ), because there is always THE idiot willing to look smart in front of his friends to sneak behind and grab the detonator or steal your gun in the holster (breaking the whole belt by doing so). 
  • Watch out of people who are too enthusiastic... they could be dangerous for your costume. Over friendly hugs really hurt when in full costume  
  • Try to get a spot in front of the equestrian units in your local parades. 


The handler or Imperial Support Staff is a vital part of any successful troop. You are the eyes and ears of your fellow troopers. It is your job to keep everyone safe, on time and damage free. You will likely be asked questions about the Legion and be asked to take photos of people with the troopers.

  • Be the eyes and ears of the armored troopers: 
  • Watch out for children that get underfoot easily, so they don’t get stepped on or whacked with a blaster or backpack. Children are a big part of any event, since they love storm troopers, and are usually a little too overjoyed to see them. (Some adults act the same way too)
  • Stop the troopers when someone wants a picture and you have time, if not try to play ambassador and let them know you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. 
  • If the event has specific times and places for things “herd” the troopers to where they need to be when.
  • Be the time keeper, keep the troop on schedule. Often troopers will need to be somewhere specific at an event. If the troops need to be somewhere keep an eye on the time, at a reasonable time before they need to be there, politely inform the people around the troops that they need to go and escort the troopers to their new destination. You might want to add some extra time because invariably they will get stopped along the way for “just one more picture”
  • Remind the troops of breaks and make sure they take them. From time to time, about every half hour or so, check in with your helmeted characters to make sure they are doing ok, this can be a simple as a look and a “thumbs up sign” or discreetly stepping up and asking how they’re doing. If the troops need a break politely let the public know that your trooper needs to go for a few minutes and escort them back to the pre-event staging area / dressing area.
  • Act as a buffer / body guard for the troop. (Someone always wants to push Vader’s Buttons or try to “steal” a nice E-11 Blaster, hijack a thermal detonator, or stick stickers on the armor.)

This is when a handler is really needed. They should step in between the costumer and the child and the costumer should then turn their back and walk away. You don’t want to touch the child if you can avoid it, but you want to become a barrier between them and the costumer.

First Aide NoteYou should only be providing medical care in certain situations.
  • You are a family member of the afflicted individual and you know what their condition is, and are authorized to assist.
  • You are a qualified individual, i.e. First Aid/CPR certified.
  • Some of our members are military corpsmen/women, police officers, or firemen/EMT’s. These folks are qualified to assist.
  • If you are not a qualified individual, please stay with the injured member and immediately send another bystander for help.
  • Street Sweeper / Pack Mule:
    • Pick up various random pieces of armor that may fall off during the troop.
    • Carry look after, wallets, watches, cell phones etc.
    • Purveyor of Water (giver of life)
  • Act as “official” garrison photographer:
    • Take lots of trooping shots.
    • Offer to help take shots for the public. “hey would you like to get in the picture too?”
  • Dresser:
    • Help people armor/de-armor if needed.
    • Carry a fix-it kit.
  • Garrison Ambassador
  • Answer questions on the Garrison / Legion, why we are there, etc so the people in costume can act that character...
  • Hand out PR stuff like stickers, temporary tattoos, business cards, flyers, etc.

One part of being a handler, beyond all of the standard helping out here and there, is to be mindful of where you are at. When we make an appearance, those in costumes should be up front and center. You want to make sure when your a handler your not “in the shot” when people take photos of video. Group shots for us are different obviously. However, when walking in parades or mingling at events, you want to stay behind those in costumes so you’re not blocking someone’s shot or having someone try and figure out why that trooper is hanging out with someone in civilian attire.


Parades are special cases. Frequently a parade organizer will set specific rules and limits on non-costumed support personal. In a televised parade you may be requested to march on a specific side of the troopers so as to minimize the possibility of you being in the television shot. Parade duties typically include taking photographs of your troopers, picking up bits and pieces of dropped armor (watch for hand back plates and thermal detonators) and herding cats. Troopers like to interact with the crowd and my have a tendency to slow down or get side tracked by photo requests, Keep them moving.

If you are a photographer at any given event:
  • Ttry to cover as much of the event as possible, taking pictures of as many of the costumers as you can.
  • If there are multiple photographers, split the venue/workload in half for more coverage.
  • The expectation of a photographer is that they record the event to the best of their ability, with fairness and equity, and provide the photographs within a reasonable amount of time (a week or two at best).
  • With that said, the first duty of any wrangler is to the costumers, photography is secondary.

Care and Feeding of Your Costume

Pre Troop Briefing

  • Unpack everything.
  • Inspect your Armor, and or Hard props
  • Ensure that your armor is free of cracks, dents, large scratches
  • Fans are working inside your helmet
  • Hard parts are clean and polished
  • Inspect your footwear, make sure the sole is securely attached and the entire boot is presentable.
  • Inspect your soft parts for storage damage. Iron or dry clean your soft parts where applicable.
  • Repair any damage.
  • Re glue things.
  • Replace Velcro.
  • Buff scratches.
  • Touch up paint dings.
  • “Magic Erasers” are great for removing marks on TK armor.
  • Plastic polish.
  • Ensure that you have everything packed and ready to go before your troop. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.

Post Troop Briefing

  • Unpack everything.
  • Clean your armor and under suit!
  • Wipe out the inside of your armor with Clorox Wipes or other mild cleaner. Dry thoroughly. There is nothing worse than stink moldy armor.
  • Put you bucket on a bucket stand or mannequin head. Make sure there is plenty of air circulation.
  • Vader’s (and other leather suits) turn your suit inside out and hang on a padded hanger to dry. You may want to give “problem areas” a quick spay of Febreze or a cheep vodka to help eliminate odors.
  • Set shoes or boots out to dry. You may want to invest in a pair of shoe or boot trees they will help with drying and help the boots maintain their shape.
  • Repair any damage.
  • Re glue things.
  • Replace Velcro.
  • Buff scratches.
  • Touch up paint dings.

Leadership and Discipline

Good leadership and discipline go hand in hand. As a member of the 501st you are expected to abide by the rules. The rules have been thought about and debated by your leadership teams from the inception of the Legion to current day. These rules encompass behavior, trooping and costuming standards. Some are simply not written in stone because we expect you to understand the basics of good stewardship and behavior.

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The 501st Legion is a worldwide Star Wars costuming organization comprised of and operated by Star Wars fans. While it is not sponsored by Lucasfilm Ltd., it is Lucasfilm's preferred Imperial costuming group. Star Wars, its characters, costumes, and all associated items are the intellectual property of Lucasfilm. © & ™ Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.