In honor of Jim Henson’s birthday, 501st members Mike Lica and Derek Lane-Waters paid homage to their favorite Muppets with these hilarious modifications to their armor while attending Detroit Fanfare!
StarWars.com chats with Mike and Derek about their Muppet-tastic Stormtrooper costumes!
What made you want to dress up as a Muppet Trooper?
Mike Lica: Before Star Wars there were the Muppets . I was 9 years old when the Muppets came out and the Muppets were still a big hit when Star Wars arrived. These were the two things all kids talked about and then it happened — Star Wars and the Muppets meet on The Muppet Show. This was great because back then you really looked forward to Star Wars characters appearing on shows like the Muppets, Donnie & Marie show etc. One day Derek and I were talking about this project and knew it would be possible if the right planning was done and after month’s of preparation we finally made it a reality. I look forward to the next time we can make another appearance as Muppet Troopers.
Derek Lane-Waters: I grew up watching Star Wars and the Muppets. I have always connected with both, especially when Frank Oz performed as Yoda. Plus my favorite episode of The Muppet Show was the Star Wars episode with Luke, Chewie, C-3PO and R2-D2.
How did you make your costumes?
Mike Lica: Our costumes are a joint effort. Everything that we did involved a phone call, an email, or a visit to make sure we were keeping things consistent. It was important to stay together on this if we were to pull this off without looking different. Most of it was pretty easy. We purchased the masks and made several modifications. We added fans inside to keep cool in case we needed to wear them for an extended time. And good thing too, once the guests at the Fanfare saw us they just stopped what they were doing and ran over for a picture. There were times we didn’t move for a long time.
Not only were the guests excited to see us but also the vendors, the ushers and the volunteers. We also made other modifications to allow more air to enter the mask and small details to make them look more realistic. We wanted to look like we had something other than just a Halloween costume. Since we are both 501st Stormtroopers, we already had the armor, so that was the easy part. Other changes were Muppet color under armor, some crazy Gonzo shoes (or frog feet for Kermit) and we finished it off with a new blaster. We didn’t feel the regular Stormtrooper E 11 blaster was animated enough so we made some changes to some Nerf style dart guns that seemed perfect enough for protecting the Muppet Empire.
Derek Lane-Waters: Green body-suit (LOL!), customized Kermit mask, with built in battery operated fans, Green gloves and feet. The blaster was a customized soft-dart gun.
How would Star Wars be different if Muppets were under all the stormtrooper armor?
Mike Lica: I don’t see how any Rebel could shoot at a Muppet so I think Muppets would use this to their advantage. Also, they would probably stop and sing a song every once in a while and the Rebels would stop and join them. As soon as the song was over, they would go back to battle but I don’t think any blaster fire would ever hit anyone. I picture a lot of blaster fire going by with nobody ever falling to the ground like in Star Wars.
Derek Lane-Waters: The Darkside wouldn’t have been so dark, and wouldn’t have been as prone to being shot at by those pesky Rebels!
How has Jim Henson influenced you?
Mike Lica: Jim Henson created something new at the time in my life when we watched re-runs of Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Tom & Jerry etc. We liked these cartoons but it seemed like something was missing. The Muppets came on TV my whole family would watch it together. It was something on TV, at night, that everyone liked. The next day at school, that is all people would talk about. Some of us had Muppets that were either purchased or handmade. We would take them to school and recreate the scenes from The Muppet Show with our friends. Later I turned into a class clown, I became a Stormtrooper, and now a Muppet Trooper! Jim Henson created something that was just needed in this world that everyone can enjoy. I have met a few people that never seen Star Wars. I have never met anyone that hasn’t seen the Muppets. Everyone can tell you who their favorite Muppet is.
Derek Lane-Waters: I have always loved the Muppets and Sesame Street, but and later on enjoyed The Dark Crystal. Being English and growing up in the ’70s, I learnt a lot of American words from these shows, ie learning that ‘Zed’ is ‘Zee’ and you play on a ’sidewalk’ not a ‘pavement’… and ‘Cookie Monster’ would have been ‘Biscuit Monster’ had he been from the UK!
Mike Lica: It is exciting having the blu-ray release, a new Muppet movie and Jim Henson’s 75th Birthday all coming together within a short time. This was an opportunity for us to get a little creative. I am proud to be a member of the Great Lakes Garrison, and the 501st Legion. I have been a member for a little over a year now and I have met a lot of people, done some amazing things and proud to say I am part of a group of amazing people responsible for raising millions of dollars for various charities. Without my new friends, and a wife that supports my new crazy lifestyle, none of this would ever have been possible.
Derek Lane-Waters: My grandparents lived in North London, and we would sometimes go to Elstree, past the studios where Star Wars and The Muppets were filmed, I remember looking out the window of the car, desperate to catch a glimpse of any Muppets or Star Wars characters, but was never so lucky! I go by the forum name of “Muppet-trooper” in the 501st. With it being Jim Hensons 75th Anniversary and the re-launch of the Muppet brand with the new movie coming out soon… now seemed a good opportunity to unleash the Muppet-troopers on the public!