If you’ve been in the lobby of either the Marriott or the Hyatt, you can’t miss them. Imperial stormtroopers have entered the building. And, it’s not just stormtroopers. This year’s Dragon*Con is host to jedi, x-wing pilots, TIE fighter pilots, Boba Fetts (or is that Fetti?), and just about every other costume found in any frame of one of the Star Wars films. Well, I’ve yet to see a Sarlacc, but that costume may just not leave its room.
There are two organizations these Galactic Civil War reenactors belong to: the 501st Stormtrooper Legion for the Dark Side costumes and the Rebel Legion for those who prefer their Force Light. Twenty-six years after the debut of the first Star Wars, the 2,400 members of the 501st and the 400 members of the Rebel Legion don their costumes for more than battling for the fate of the galaxy and partying at Dragon*Con. They can be found assisting many, many charities including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Toys for Tots, and the Red Cross.
Joining either of these organizations is not a hobby for the faint of heart or light of wallet. Membership requires a film-quality costume, so “Obi-Won in terrycloth with red plastic flashlight lightsaber” isn’t going to cut it. The cheapest and easiest of these costumes will run you from $400-$600 and will take several months of research and creation. The stormtroopers can easily spend $1,200 and take years to build. Still, every member of the Emperor’s Finest or the Rebel Alliance this reporter has spoken to has said it is all worth it in the end.
If you are interested in seeing more of the troops on either side of the Galactic conflict, don’t miss the group photo session in front of the SunTrust building at 2:00pm on Sunday. The members of the 501st and the Rebel Legion will be assembling in the Marriott beforehand to march to the SunTrust building together. Don’t forget your cameras!