The Great Jawa Build

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Photo by Kevin Shirley
Photo by Kevin Shirley

What does a “snarky” Facebook post get ya? The largest contingent of Jawas as part of the 501st Stormtroopers Legion.

The 501st Legion is an organization for passionate Star Wars fans with a desire to serve others, now in its 21st year. You’ll find Georgia Garrison members not just celebrating Star Wars at conventions but working with organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Autism Speaks. When the 501st marches in Saturday’s Dragon Con parade, there will be a group of dancing Jawas, but that’s only a fraction of what is now a record-setting group.

Photo by Kevin Shirley
Photo by Kevin Shirley

According to the 501st member “TK Peggy” (Peggy Eisenhauer), the great Jawa build began as a Facebook post. A conversation about Jawas and the garrison with the largest number became a challenge to create the largest contingent right here in Georgia. A little research revealed that Germany held the record with more than 100 registered Jawas. The Germany garrison has more than 3 times the members of Georgia (899 as opposed to 250), but that didn’t deter the Georgia legionnaires.

In the quest to become No. 1, a massive build program ensued that included members from across the state, and build locations ranging from historic Savannah to a Masonic lodge in Alpharetta. Build teams were organized into a production line with designated teams producing masks, bandoliers, or robes. The builds took place over the course of a year.

An important element of the build was the economy of scale. Bulk orders and bulk processing helped reduce the per-costume cost significantly. That did not, however, undermine quality. Some 1,600 yards of fabric, ordered directly from the mill and custom dyed to meet exact color specifications, is just one element that reflects the garrison’s focus on attention to detail. The 501st is known for the accuracy of its Stormtrooper costuming. In fact, costumes and equipment used by Legion members must meet exact studio specifications. Because of the nature of the character, however, Jawa costume production can be a bit more flexible.

By March 2018 and Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, the 501st Jawa build had become a “horde.” As the Georgia garrison began registering an ever increasing number of Jawas, the German garrison began not only to notice but to add to their contingent as well. In the end, however, the Georgia garrison raced past the Germans. What’s left is a friendly rivalry. As “TK Penny” pointed out, the Georgia garrison appreciates and thanks Germany for the “inspiration.”

As we enter Dragon Con weekend, though, the Georgia Jawa Horde has far surpassed the German contingent and stands as the largest group of Jawas in the entire 501st.

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