Get to Know Your MI501st :: April, 2012

Derek Lane-Waters
Legion ID: 6778
Joined December, 2010

Derek's earliest Star Wars memory takes him back to 1978 when he first saw Star Wars. He would have seen it much sooner, but he grew up in England and they had to wait nearly a whole year to see any new movies from when they came out in the United States. During summer break, Derek's Mum took him to the local cinema to see “The Rescuers” but when they arrived and he saw that “Star Wars” was playing he convinced her that they need to see it instead of seeing "some lame Disney cartoon featuring an Albatross and a couple of mice!", explains Derek.

He remembers getting in line along with a lot of very excitable kids. "Everyone was talking about this exciting new movie, while holding their action figures and studying the movie poster and lobby photo’s outside. After what seemed like forever in line, we made it to the matinee showing…and the rest is history, my life would never be the same again! To this day, I have still never seen “The Rescuers”!" says Derek.

He has been a huge Star Wars fan ever since. "I have always loved Stormtroopers, so the next logical step was to eventually become one, it was just a matter of time, although it took over 30 years!", says Derek.

Since joining the 501st Legion in December of 2010, Derek has trooped almost 50 events! When asked if he has a favourite event, he replied, "That’s a difficult question! I think the most memorable are the charity events, like Make-a-wish, and the hospital visits. The most diverse event had to be Detroit Maker Faire last year, although I was out trooping in 95F heat! Every event tells a story, but whatever the event, I always enjoy seeing the public’s reaction to seeing a real-live Stormtrooper, whether wanting a photo or just to high-five me!"

"It’s always a thrill to see people’s reactions to seeing Star Wars characters in person", says Derek. In fact, he says it still gives him a buzz hanging out with Darth Vader and the rest of the gang! He has met some wonderful people through the 501st and Rebel Legion and it has changed his life as it has taken him places that he wouldn’t have ordinarily visited, whether it’s a sports stadium, museum, school, hospital or on stage with Weird Al Yankovic.

As well as being a regular Stormtrooper, Derek is also one half of the “Muppet-Troopers”, featuring Gonzo (aka 501st member Mike Lica) and himself as Kermit. "We have attended several events, including this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Detroit, to a crowd of 60,000… it isn’t easy being green!", says Derek.

Derek's nickname/forumname is Muppet Trooper. "While signing up on the forums, I asked my wife to suggest a good board name. She said “Don’t be such a Muppet!” The name stuck and I became “Muppet-Trooper”

Derek has always been a fan of the Muppets and there has always been a connection with them and Star Wars, since Frank Oz played Yoda. His grandparents used to live in North London and they used to drive past the studios where the Original Trilogy and Muppet Show were filmed.
Derek says, "I always looked out when we past the gates, in the hope of catching a glimpse of Darth Vader or Kermit"!

In 1982 Derek wrote a letter to the EMI Studios asking if he could visit the sets of Revenge of the Jedi. He got a very nice personalized letter back on “Revenge” headed paper, telling him that they do not allow the public on set, but instead they mailed him a pile of Bantha Tracks Fan Club magazines which he still cherishes. Derek says, "As an active member of the Star Wars Fan Club I got invited to a special screening of Return Of The Jedi, and as a special bonus, they first showed A New Hope followed by The Empire Strikes Back. I remember watching the first two movies, excited at seeing them on the big screen, but in anticipation of what we were told would be the last Star Wars movie ever!
I left the theatre thinking it was all over for Star Wars and as my teenage years kicked in, (dare I say it) my interest for Star Wars waned".

Derek's fondness for Star Wars was secretly there, and was re-ignited when the Special Editions were announced. "By the time 1999 came round, the hype into Episode 1 was in full frenzy, and I was well and truly sucked back in. Bearing in mind, The Phantom Menace was not released in the UK a whole two months after the US release date. So, not wanting to wait, myself and a friend of mine jumped on a flight to New York City, landing on Friday, saw the movie on Saturday near Time Square and flew back to England on Sunday. I will not comment on The Phantom Menace, all I will say it was a long flight home!" says Derek.

When Derek is not imposing the will of the Empire, he works as an automotive design engineer having worked in the automotive industry for over 25 years. Derek explains, "Working mainly in England, my job has also taken me to Germany, Belgium and Italy. In 2004 I was offered a job in Michigan. We only planned to come to the USA for a year… here we are 8 years later!"

Derek also enjoys collecting (some would say hoarding!) Star Wars memorabilia, attending concerts, listening to music and collecting vinyl records. "I also I have a 1978 MG Midget (the nearest thing you can get to owning a Landspeeder!) which keeps me busy in the garage. I normally drive my Mini Cooper convertible, which I regularly drive to 501st events and people are always are amazed to see that my huge tote containing the Stormtrooper armor just about fits in the back", says Derek.

Derek is married to Diana, and they have two girls, Emily and Katie. Katie quite often likes to attend events with him as a Jawa.

View Derek's profile...

All Featured Troopers:

Dec '11: Jerry Russell
Nov '11: Dave Raimondo
Oct '11: Dave Gates
Sep '11: Matthew Wolf
Aug '11: Michael Lica
Jul '11: Richard Clarke
Jun '11: Jay Shimko
May '11: Brooke Merva
Feb '11: Michael G Karp
Jan '11: Doug Fesko
Dec '10: Jesse McClear
Nov '10: Carl Nelson
Oct '10: Michael Arnold
Sep '10: Chris Brown
Aug '10: Justin Overholt
Jun '10: Rome Ohnui
May '10: Jackie Wagensomer
Mar '10: Aaron Combs
Feb '10: Martin Pondell
Jan '10: Amanda Raimondo
Dec '09: Rob Brang
Nov '09: Robert Amid
Oct '09: Tiffany Murphy
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. © 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.