- Where can I get one of those (ie. armor, uniform, etc)?
Mostly, we make them, whether through vacu-forming their own molds or sewing their own patterns. You can occasionally find some stuff on eBay here or there, but do a lot of research into them before leaping at the first thing you find because there are a lot of unscrupulous sellers out there that are trying to jack up prices beyond reasonable levels. Visit the 501st Legion Detachments Directory for more details.
- How much do your costumes cost?
The costumes tend to start around a few hundred dollars, but we are all constantly tinkering and upgrading all the time, so it's not uncommon to spend upwards of a thousand dollars for a Stormtrooper costume. Darth Vader can easily go beyond $3,000-$4,000 in total cost of assembly, and Boba Fett can cost upwards of $4,000 by itself.
- What if I have a good guy costume?
Good-guy costumes are welcomed in the Rebel Legion. The 501st and Rebel Legion work very closely together, since ultimately, we're all just a bunch of Star Wars geeks. We are very fortunate to have a very good working relationship with our brothers and sisters in the Rebel Legion in this area (the Great Lakes Base covers Michigan and Ohio).
- What's the cheapest costume?/Who makes the cheapest parts for XYZ costume?
There really isn't one. The armored costumes can start around $400 just for the plastic parts alone, while the all-fabric ones can be around the same, depending on your skill level with sewing fabrics. Not only that, but the costumes also require additional accessories that might require some hunting at flea markets or eBay, which then have to be further modified to be as close to accurate as possible.
Secondly, in conjunction with the other answers, this is not meant to be a "cheap & easy" hobby. The 501st and Rebel Legion both emphasize quality over speed. A hastily thrown together costume looks like it, which is why we encourage taking your time, and saving up your money. This is not a cheap hobby, and it was never advertised as such.
- I have a custom bad-guy character (custom Sith, custom Mandalorian); can I get in with that?
Costumes that qualify for the 501st have to have some sort of official LFL-approved publication that shows that character in as much detail as possible, since our mission is to duplicate those existing characters. Custom costumes are always cool to see, but for official 501st membership, the costume must have official visual representation.
Custom Mandalorians are invited to check out the Mando Mercs.
- What about complete costumes from certain licensed manufacturers?
Some costumes made by a well-known costume company are accepted into the 501st, but others are not. The complete Darth Vader and Stormtrooper kits that are currently being sold through retail outlets are not admissible straight out of the box in the 501st without a lot of upgrades and modifications. This company's TIE pilot helmet or the biker scout helmet are accepted with a few modifications and repairs. But it's always a good idea to ask around first, before plunking down your hard earned money on something that might not be accurate or acceptable. Ask first, spend later!
- Where can I find more in-depth information about a specific costume? or Where can I get [part x] for [costume y]?
The 501st Legion has several focus groups called Detachments that consist of 501st members who are considered to be experts in a particular costume, or want to learn more about making specific costumes more accurate, comfortable, cost-effective, etc. while maintaining the high level of quality required for 501st Legion membership. Detachments focus on one to three (sometimes more) specific costumes like the Stormtrooper, TIE pilot, or Royal Guard, for example.
Detachments are also the best sources of information for specific components.
The Detachment directory is listed here: 501st Legion Detachments Directory
- How do I join?
Every member of the 501st Legion must own their own costume of a villainous character from the official Star Wars universe. Costumes must be of high quality and as accurate to the published sources as possible.
This is set in stone. The 501st is a costuming club, not a come-one-come-all fan club. Our primary focus is on the costumes and their construction. If you are looking for a Star Wars fan club without a costuming obligation, check out Fan Force.
- OMG I need to get into the 501st as soon as possible!!!! PLEASE HELP!!!1!11!!!!
Slow down! Costuming is not a rush hobby. Because our aim is to get as accurate to the movies and other LucasFilm sources as possible, we take our time. The 501st is likely going to be here for a long, long time, so take your time in putting together your costume. Do your research because in the end, you will know your costumes the best -- how it fits, how it looks, and how it feels. Rushing will only produce a substandard product that you might even regret, so take your time.
- I don't have a costume. Can I still help out?
Absolutely. We can always use non-costumed support personnel to act as spotters, assistants, and wranglers. Costumers are often in situations where extra eyes and help are necessary. If you would like to volunteer to help out at a larger public event, it's a great way to meet us and get an in-depth look at how our costumes are built, what is involved in maintaining them, and what we do at events. In the Open Channel forum, there is a regularly updated list of upcoming events -- if you are interested in helping out at one, please post in the OC and we'll see what arrangements we can make for you.
Note: We do, however, request that NCS staff -- whether new people or veteran members -- please remember not to abuse the privilege of being NCS. It is not considered free admission to an event, or as a trooper's personal entourage. If you are volunteering as NCS, you will be expected to work for the good of the group, not just for "your buddy who got you in for free." NCS staff who regularly abuse this privilege will not be invited back to act as NCS at future events.
Also note that this generally applies to the larger, more public events. Smaller, private events rarely require spotters.
- How often will I get to troop in my costume?
That will depend on the costume(s) you have. Most events only require one Face Character (i.e. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Commander Bly, Darth Revan, etc.), so if more than one member has that costume, you may have to rotate events with other members. On the other hand, if you choose a generic costume (i.e. Stormtrooper, Biker Scout, TIE Pilot, Clone Trooper Grunt, etc.), you should be able to troop just about any event you want too. On rare ocassions, we are invited to events where the event host requests certain characters or groups of characters for their event. In that case, only members with the requested costume(s) will be allowed to troop the event. When all else fails, we always welcome members to participate as Non-Costume support (space permitting, of course), so that you can still be a part of the event, even if you are not in costume.
- Can I deduct the expenses of my costume and traveling to events as a charitable donation on my taxes?
The 501st Legion is not a charity organization in the strictest sense. Legally, we do not hold 501(c)(3) status. While we work with charities and community organizations, we are still a hobby group. Attempts to deduct the cost of your costume and travel expenses is solely the responsibility of the individual and the 501st Legion cannot support or assist in your individual tax filings in any way.
In plain language, the spirit of the law does not include tax deductions for what we do and what we do does not technically qualify under the guidelines of charitable donations or charitable volunteer work on the order of working for Meals on Wheels or the Salvation Army. If you want to try it, you're on your own for dealing with the IRS and state treasury if they come asking questions.
- How do I get my membership photos updated on either the Legion Web site or this one? The process goes like this:
- Submit membership photos as requested by the Garrison Membership Liaison (GML). This may be separate from your costume review/approval pics, as the membership photos will require a headshot and probably an action pose in your costume.
- The GML will upload your photos for the Garrison Photo Editing Team in a special forum we have here. This is a group of members who specifically edit photos to Legion specs, including inserting them in the frames provided by the Legion.
- A member of the photo editing team will claim your photos and begin work.
- Once your photos have been edited, the member who was working on them will upload the completed photos.
- The GML will send that to the Legion's Web site where they'll be displayed on the unit page on 501st.com. The Garrison Webmaster will upload the same photos here on this site for display on our member roster. Remember that these are two completely separate Web sites, and the Garrison Webmaster is not necessarily the Legion Webmaster. The Garrison Webmaster also does not have any direct influence on the Legion Web site.
Note: All troopers, recruits, and NCS should read the Trooper Survival Guide. The Trooper Survival Guide has essential information that everyone can benefit from.
- Can you come to my event (child's birthday party/store opening/wedding reception/etc.) on mm/dd?
While we try to accommodate as many requests as possible, we are all volunteers who do this as a hobby, not as a profession and sometimes, we simply cannot meet all requests nor can we take the responsibility of seeking out alternative characters or entertainers for your event. The greater the lead time before the event, the greater the chance is that we can make something happen for you. Please fill out the 501st Legion's Event Request form.
- Can I rent your costumes out if your people can't make it to my event?
Members do not rent out their costumes. The costumes are not only personal and private property into which each member has invested their own time and money to create, but renting out the costumes for someone else to wear would be like borrowing someone's underwear, considering the many form-fitting parts of many costumes.
- Can you come to my event if I pay extra?
Again, the 501st is not an entertainment company. 501st members are Star Wars fans who pursue costuming as a hobby, and the community/charity work that we do is strictly voluntary. Most of us have job and family obligations that come first. 501st members donate their time and efforts on behalf of charities and the community, and we are not paid to do so. While we strive to accommodate as many requests as possible, sometimes previous obligations are unavoidable, and it is sometimes simply not possible to fulfill ALL requests.