Ever since I became a member of the 501st Legion, I've gotten all sorts of questions from people across the globe that want to know more about this costuming organization and how to become a member. Since it's become tedious to reply to every email, tweet, and Facebook message individually, I thought it would be best to gather up the most frequently asked questions and answer them here.
What is the 501st Legion?
Rather than reiterating information that's already been published online, check out the 501st Legion's official mission statement on their website by clicking here.
How did you get involved with the 501st?
I first heard about the 501st Legion at Disney's Star Wars Weekends when I was a child. During the daily parade at Star Wars Weekends, Disney would invite 501st members to march in the parade to help fill out Disney's scarce selection of Star Wars costumed characters. I remember seeing these troopers and learning more about the Legion from my older brother who was already interested in joining when he was old enough. My mom created a Jawa costume and joined our local garrison, The Florida Garrison, in 2012 and my brother followed soon after in his clone trooper armor. At this time, I was only 16 years old so I couldn't officially be a member, but I volunteered with them at troops almost every weekend. A few months before my 18th birthday, I started working on my shadow scout costume and submitted it on my birthday. Since then, I haven't created many more costumes for myself, but I've assembled and helped with dozens of other outfits for friends in the Legion.
How much do these screen accurate costumes cost?
An accurate costume that is 501st approvable can cost anywhere from $300 to $5,000 or higher. Tusken Raiders are known for being inexpensive, but when you get to characters like Boba Fett or Darth Vader, you're definitely looking at a few thousand dollars. That's insane, right? Well, yes. I don't own too many costumes myself because of the expense, but I will say that every penny spent on these creations are 100% worth it when you're able to make a difference, make people smile, and raise money for charity.
Where can aspiring members find information on how to build armor?
If you're interested in joining the 501st Legion, my first word of advice would be to find your local garrison's forums. You can discover what garrison you fall under and find their forums by clicking here (go to their website link and then click forums). Once you've found the forum, make an account and post a thread in the new members section that introduces who you are, where you're from, what costume you'd like to make, and if you need help building the costume. After that, go to the 501st resource gallery (click here), find the forum that pertains to the costume you'd like to build, and start researching. Every forum has tons of inform on where to buy armor, how to assemble it, and more details. I'll tell you right now that I do not like getting questions from people that don't do their own research. There are so many great resources available online these days; all you have to do is put in your own effort and seek them out. If you've already done some research and you still have questions, ask away! That's perfectly fine. I'd also like to note that 501st members are extremely gracious and willing to help just about anyone!
I don't know how to build a costume. What should I do?
Like I mentioned above, do your research. Obviously it still takes some skill to put these costumes together, but most garrisons host events every so often that we call "armor parties" to help out new members with their costumes. If you see an armor party is being hosted near you, definitely sign up on your garrison's forums to attend. It's great to meet members in your garrison and learn techniques on how to build armor.
How do I submit my costume for approval?
Once your costume is completed and you think it's ready for approval, you need to submit full body pictures of your costume (front, back, side, helmet on and helmet off) to your GML via email or the private message feature on your forum. You can find the GML of your garrison by clicking here. If everything looks good, then you can fill out this application form and you'll be an official member after the GML approves it. If your costume isn't accurate enough, no worries. Your GML will let you know what changes to make before submitting for approval again.
If you want more information on costuming in general, check out the Costuming Comlinks series that I did last summer by clicking here. I covered all the basics of costuming from choosing the right one to completing it and adding the finishing touches. I hope this helps! If you have any more questions related to the 501st Legion, feel free to leave them in the comment section below and I will reply as soon as I can.