Posts Tagged ‘501st Legion’



The 501st Legion’s Star Wars Toy Story

Albin Johnson | March 18, 2014

 

Star Wars has a rich legacy of firsts. When it first came out in 1977, A New Hope was wholly different from any science-fiction story ever told and it broke the mold. Not only that, but it recast how the business of movies could be run by revealing the power of merchandising. Nowadays every big kids’ movie has an obligatory toy line, but Star Wars was the first to see its potential. As a corollary to that, the 501st Legion was the first Star Wars fan club (or fan club of any franchise, really) to see itself plugged right into the product line of the very universe it sought to celebrate.

It’s both exciting and humbling to witness. Here is a fictional universe that one man imagined and countless millions have enjoyed. Thousands of artists, authors, and editors have contributed to populate it to George Lucas’ standards. But to imagine the fans themselves being welcomed into the canon is just inspiring.

The story of how the 501st became Star Wars canon is a story for another blog. Since 2004, Lucasfilm has owned the rights to the 501st Legion name and I couldn’t be happier. Every so often I browse a toy store or a convention floor and out of nowhere there’s 501st merchandise for the offering. Wow. So here’s a quick and incomplete list of the cool items I’ve seen come out. If you’ve seen more feel free to contact me and we’ll add it to the list.

Japanese Star Wars clone trooper action figure called Vader's Legion

At some point in late 2005 / early 2006 a blue clone trooper figure appeared in Japan stores featuring the title “Vader’s Legion.” This may seem a coincidence, but the bottom of the package left no room for doubt: amid the Japanese lettering, it read “501″ in the description. I can only guess they had not secured permission from us yet to use our name and found this description a good compromise.

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The History of the 501st Legion: Founding of the UK Garrison

Albin Johnson | February 19, 2014

The 501st Legion of Stormtroopers in 1998

 It was December 1998 and the 501st Squad was growing. Fast.

Following the blunders at DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia, I was puzzling over the destiny of the group that gathered on the website Detention Block 2551. It made quite a show, all those pictures of Stormtroopers on the web. But where was all this headed? Would a grassroots fan club catch on with fans worldwide?

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History of the 501st Legion: DragonCon, Part 2

Albin Johnson | January 9, 2014

The 501st Legion at DragonCon

The first-ever meeting of the 501st was not the epic moment one would think from such a large and tightly-knit organization it is today. Like a lot of success stories, the first tenuous steps were lurching, staggering, anxious ones. DragonCon seemed the perfect place to bring together the first pioneers of organized Star Wars costuming. But lumped in with the wildly diverse energy of the con was… well, wildly diverse energy!

The Florida group that showed up was large and in charge. It was happy to troop with the rest of us, but it was more for the sake of a themed costume group than anything else. And for anyone who’s been to DragonCon enough times, costume themes are short-lived bursts of excitement. They wandered the halls, taking in the sights and having fun with it. And no one could blame them. After years of being at Dragoncon, I now know it’s one big party. But at the time I was new to all of that. I was serious about making a real go of a club. I was on a mission. But the excitement I heard on the internet was a far cry from what folks wanted to do when together, it seemed. Rather than lead the pack, I ended up following the group carrying my little sign and wondering if I’d been fooling myself.

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He Kidded That He Was “Almost Famous,” But in the Hearts of Many Fans, Jerry Treiber Was a Shining Star

Steve Sansweet | January 6, 2014
Jerry Treiber's Facebook page header

Part of Jerry Treiber’s Facebook page header, with the infamous lightsaber.

I first became acquainted with Jerry Treiber nearly 20 years ago. I was Los Angeles bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal at the time, my first two Star Wars books had been published, and I had started my six-year stint as a sidekick on QVC Star Wars Collectibles shows. I was in my office editing a story when I heard a worried voice.

“Steve, is anyone working on a story so hot that someone would want to send a bomb to the office?” asked Inga, my very-worried sounding admin. She got my attention quickly. When I approached her desk I saw a half-opened cardboard box addressed to me with a clearly written return address. Buried in the packaging material I could make out what looked like a hand-made cylinder; it looked far too nice to be a bomb.

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Behind the Scenes with the 501st at Star Wars Weekends

Dakster Sullivan | May 31, 2013

For the past 10 years, the 501st and Rebel Legion costuming groups have brought their costuming expertise to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for Star Wars Weekends. I’m proud to say I’ve participated in the past three years of the event and I’m excited to share with you a little behind-the-scenes knowledge of what it takes to march and what we go through to make it happen.

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