Author Archive



Remembering the Velvet Admiral, Richard LeParmentier

Albin Johnson | April 22, 2013

This week the Star Wars community bids farewell to a much-loved friend. On April 15 Richard LeParmentier, Admiral Motti from A New Hope, became one with the Force. To anyone who attended conventions Richard was the upbeat and always-friendly celebrity who was ready with a smile and a conversation. It didn’t matter who you were, the admiral always made time for the fans.

adam-johnsey Omegacon May 2008, Birmingham, AL

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Female Star Wars Fans: Strong with the Force

Albin Johnson | April 4, 2013

I’m a little late on this but March had me thinking about Women’s History Month and what it means to Star Wars fans. Just consider the huge shift in sci-fi fan (I hesitate to use the term “geek” but that’s what I’m really thinking) demographics that’s taken place since Star Wars came out. In middle school it was unthinkable to imagine a girl liking Star Wars and the only girl you could identify with the saga was Princess Leia, and she was pretty lonely in that cast of all men. Nowadays you can’t throw a dead mynock in the Star Wars universe without hitting a strong female character on either the light or dark side. And women not only embrace Star Wars and other fandom genres today but they’re dictating a lot of the way such entertainment is written and consumed.

Five figures out of 92 and all of the same girl. Not very girl-friendly back in the day.

Five figures out of 92 and all of the same girl. Not very girl-friendly back in the day.

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Making Star Wars Love Connections in the 501st Legion

Albin Johnson | February 14, 2013

Love is in the air and Valentine’s Day is here again. Aside from the irrational fear we might one day accidentally kiss our sister, Star Wars fans are full of romance just like anyone else! In fact, we’re coming into a golden age for fans. A love of Star Wars crosses every demographic boundary and thanks to powerful female characters in the saga, more and more women are proudly displaying their inner Jedi. As a result, it’s no surprise that fan clubs are becoming the new melting pot where eligible singles meet and make a love connection!

Looks like she got her man

Looks like she got her man

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The Innovations of Star Wars and How They Inspire

Albin Johnson | January 31, 2013

There’s a simple rule to most movies: Amputees are bad guys.

Almost without fail, if there’s a guy with a hook for a hand or one who walks with a limp or has a glass eye, then he’s a bad dude. It’s an easy metaphor to slide into movies and it extends past just amputated limbs. A character wears some disfiguring mark or bears the burden of some horrible malady, and you leave the viewer with the idea that there’s a dark past explaining it or some bad moral compass that led to it.

Tattoos and robot limbs make for a strong reputation.

Tattoos and robot limbs make for a strong reputation.

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Marching with the Maker: A 501st Legion Reflection

Albin Johnson | January 17, 2013

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The recent holidays brought back some very special Star Wars memories to me. It was only six years ago on a cold New Year’s morning that over 200 armored men and women were gathered outside a hotel in Pasadena, clustered in squads that waited anxiously as large tour buses came and went like Imperial shuttles to take them away for a very special mission. That was the year George Lucas was named grand marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade. And he had made it clear from the very start what he wanted as grand marshal. He wanted Imperial Stormtroopers to march with him in the parade. A LOT of Stormtroopers.

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Christmas Troopers: A Little Naughty, Mostly Nice

Albin Johnson | December 20, 2012
Santa Trooper of the Redback Garrison

Santa Trooper of the Redback Garrison

There’s something about this time of year that brings out the kid in all of us (which is great, because a guy in Stormtrooper armor isn’t fooling anyone the other eleven months of the year). The holidays are a silly time — one for crazy sweaters, sing-songy music, and wishlists of toys (figurative or literal). But it’s also a time of child-like wonder: seeing the world through new eyes, allowing ourselves to ponder the innocence that mankind is capable of, and being moved by the traditions that came before us. The trick is remembering we can learn a lot from kids. Judge them by their size, do not!

Fifteen years ago, the Ghost of Christmas Past paid me a visit. It told me the Star Wars trilogy was returning to the big screen and just like that my childhood flashed before my eyes. Suddenly I was back to being that eight-year-old waking up Christmas morning to find a Millennium Falcon playset. And as fast as you can say Tiny Tim I was buying my first set of armor with the crazy idea of being a kid again.

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The Saga Continues…

Albin Johnson | December 13, 2012

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Someone pinch me. I need a confirmation that I’m awake, because recently I read that new Star Wars films are in the works. I don’t remember finding an old lamp and rubbing it, and I don’t think my prayers from when I was 12 years old count, so I’m not sure how exactly my wish got granted for an extension on the single greatest saga ever. But here it is!

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The Birth of the 501st Legion, Part Five: Build It and They Will Come

Albin Johnson | November 20, 2012

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One day something unexpected happened. I got an email from a bloke in Canada named Scott McArthur. He said he’d seen my web page and loved it. In fact, he had a Stormtrooper costume of his own! A picture was attached, showing Scott in gleaming white TK armor standing next to a picturesque shore with a sunset behind him. I almost fell out of my chair. Not only was there another crazy armored fan out there, but he’d found my page. And his picture was awesome! Much better than Tom and me hanging around a Suncoast Video store.

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The Birth of the 501st Legion, Part Four: Detention Block 2551

Albin Johnson | November 8, 2012

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By the end of 1997 our adventures as Stormtroopers in a little one-tauntaun-town felt like they’d hit their high-water mark. The theatrical re-releases were done and gone, Star Wars merchandising was fading from store shelves, and events where a grown man in armor made sense were getting scarce. Like a watering hole in the desert, any sustaining power of the saga that kept Tom and me armoring up was drying up and leaving us feeling alone and awkwardly out of place.

So the armor went into storage. The helmet got put on display. The black unitard I put into hiding: I didn’t want to be accused of a secret love for interpretive dance.

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Armoring Up for Halloween

Albin Johnson | October 25, 2012
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Cartoon by Bobby Henley, 501st member Star Garrison

Nothing makes Star Wars fans happier than a chance to suit up and show off their costumes. Whether it’s Stormtrooper armor or Jedi robes or even a big box decorated like a Gonk droid, Star Wars costumes have always been popular. Fans my age will remember a day long ago when the only real option at Halloween was building Vader armor out of cardboard. Or wearing the sad little Saran Wrap gowns that said “Star Wars” on it when what you wanted was a faithful recreation of C-3P0’s torso.

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