I’m (Finally) a 501st Legion Member!

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When I first started my foray into Star Wars costumes a couple of years ago, the thought of joining the 501st Legion or Rebel Legion was just unfathomable. I know my limits as a costumer, and I have a LOT to learn and a lot of room to grow. That said, I really wanted to do more with my costumes than just attend conventions…but I knew none of my costumes would fit the strict standards of the Legions.

I was then told about the Minnesota Force, which is a Minnesota-based Star Wars fan club that has multiple facets: gaming, a book club, a collector’s club, a makers group, and an art and illustration group. The makers group (which consists of people who make Star Wars costumes) does a lot of charity events in costume in conjunction with the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion. There’s a lot of crossover with the Star Wars costuming groups in Minnesota: the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion get along and do events together, and the majority of the events those groups are invited to are also extended to the Minnesota Force. I joined the Minnesota Force at the end of 2016, and I started volunteering in costume. Things picked up momentum pretty fast. I was doing at least two events per month (usually more), I started working on more Star Wars costumes, and I became friends with so many of the members of the group. A lot of the members are also members of the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion. As I got to know everyone better, I started thinking that maybe I could make joining the Legions one of my goals.

I decided that my first Legion costume goal would be to get General Hux approved in the 501st Legion. I had my temporary costume (Version 1 that I wore for almost a year) and ended up commissioning a proper costume because I knew my skill level was not at the caliber I needed to make a screen-accurate costume myself. I received my costume a couple of weeks ago and submitted my application last week. Last night, I received a response that said I was accepted to the 501st Legion as the Central Garrison‘s very first General Hux. I’m incredibly happy to be part of a great volunteer organization, and I’m so excited to continue trooping with them, the Rebel Legion, and the Minnesota Force.

When you join the 501st Legion, you choose a member number that stays with you forever. When I chose mine, I decided to honor my mum by choosing 40138 – her birthdate was April 1, 1938. My mum was always so supportive of my creative endeavors and put up with my silliness as a child when I would wear my Halloween costumes months after Halloween was over, or when I would take old clothes and come up with some ridiculous “monster” costume and try to scare everyone, or when I’d make her wear whatever Halloween costume I wanted to put her in (like the Statue of Liberty, or a punk rocker). And, in recent years, she would ask to see photos from my volunteering events, and of my progress photos, and hear about whatever project I was working on. Last summer when she was in her last few weeks of life, she told me to keep volunteering at events (even though I told her I would cancel and spend time with her, if she wanted me to). She thought what I did was “so cool” (her words) and so I promised I’d keep volunteering and I’d keep making costumes. She knew how much I wanted to be part of the Legions, and so I wanted to honor her by choosing a number that would always make me think of her.

My next goal is to join the Rebel Legion (hopefully with Admiral Ackbar, or maybe Poe Dameron if I finish up a few things in my costume), and eventually make a costume to submit for 501st approval. But, for now, I’m just going to bounce around my house with excitement for achieving one of my goals.

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General Hux – Star Wars: The Force Awakens/The Last Jedi

This costume has had two distinct versions: Version 1, which is what I wore for nearly a year, and Version 2, which is my “proper” version of the costume and the version that is 501st Legion-approved. I’ll break down both versions.

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Version 1

I started putting together Version 1 around March 2017.

Tunic: The tunic was purchased from CosplaySky, and required a lot of modifications, both in fit and in certain details that were really inaccurate. I did initial tailoring and modifications, and then did additional tailoring later on. (Photos can be seen here and here.)

Trousers: The trousers were part of the whole set I bought from CosplaySky, and I didn’t make any modifications to those.

Greatcoat: The greatcoat was also part of the set I bought from CosplaySky and is actually pretty nice quality. I still need to take it to a tailor, but otherwise it’s decent. I did a couple of modifications to the greatcoat, though, like removing the rank insignia bands from the right cuff and replacing the rank insignia bands on the left cuff.

Belt: A belt came along with the CosplaySky set, but it was not very good quality. I commissioned a belt from Vanya Yount, and it’s perfect.

Hat: I commissioned an absolutely lovely hat from Katie Keith. The First Order pin came from a really crappy First Order hat I bought off of Amazon. The pin was really nice quality, though – metal and enamel. (Photos can be seen here and here.)

Boots: I ordered a pair of Funtasma “Captain” boots from Amazon. (Photos can be seen here.)

Gloves: I ordered a pair of black leather gloves from Kohl’s (they no longer sell them, unfortunately). (Photos can be seen here.)

Blaster: I purchased the Nerf First Order Stormtrooper blaster and modified and painted it. (Photos can be seen here.)

Sideburns: I made reusable sideburns using crepe hair and liquid latex. (Tutorial can be seen here.)

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Version 2

Version 2 was finalized in April 2018, after a year of improvements to the costume.

Tunic: I commissioned the tunic from Vanya Yount.

Trousers: I commissioned the trousers from Vanya Yount.

Greatcoat: I’m still using the greatcoat that was part of the set I bought from CosplaySky until I can commission a nicer one.

Belt: I’m still using the commissioned belt from Vanya Yount.

Hat: I’m still using my commissioned hat from Katie Keith. I replaced the old First Order pin with a more accurate pin that I bought from Short Supply.

Boots: I bought a pair of Lauren Ralph Lauren Stara boots from eBay and took the tabs off of the shaft of the boots.

Gloves: I’m still using the black gloves from Kohl’s.

Blaster: I painted a 3D printed version of Hux’s blaster. (Photos can be seen here.)

Holster: I commissioned a Hux blaster holster from Mad Props Cosplay.

Sideburns: I’m still using my reusable sideburns method. I replace my sideburns whenever they start to look a little shabby.

General Hux’s Blaster (3D Printed)

As I do with practically all of my costumes, I go through each part and upgrade it when I can. General Hux’s blaster was no exception!

A friend printed off a First Order SE-44C blaster pistol for me that is much more accurate than the Nerf repaint I was using – both in size, and in details. This is how it looked after it was printed and assembled:

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I received this back in January 2018, but I couldn’t really work on finishing it until the temperatures warmed up (downside to living in Minnesota, I guess). I did do a little filling with Bondo, but not much because I couldn’t really open the windows to ventilate the room, so I used some modeling paste medium to fill in the larger seams. When we had some warmer temperatures in February (35 degrees!) I took the blaster outside and applied several coats of Rustoleum Filler Primer. I then used more modeling paste medium on any parts that still needed to be filled in. Then, I sanded everything and got it all ready for painting. Here’s what it looked like all primed and prepped:

Blaster-Primed

I used Liquitex Basics acrylic paint in Mars Black to paint the entire blaster. It took two coats. Then, I used my trusty DecoArt Dazzling Metallics acrylic paint in Shimmering Silver to paint the silver area. After that, I sealed the matte finish areas with matte Mod Podge and sealed the glossy areas with glossy Mod Podge. For the screws/bolts details, I used various sizes of scrapbooking/paper crafting brads and glued them on with super glue and E-6000.

Here it is all finished!

I think I’m going to do a little bit of touch-up work to it to try and get a smoother finish, but for now it’s at least decent.

Campaign Against Cancer

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Costumers: Nick Hickmann, Jennifer McNitt, Madeline Anderson, Chuck Visger, Alex Hall, Pari Elizabeth, Trevor Bailey, Amanda Fineran, Paul Haga, Kris Heding, and Eric Hanson.

On April 7, we attended the Campaign Against Cancer event at Fantasy Flight Games Center. Those who wanted to compete in the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures gaming campaign would pay an admission fee, and the fee was donated to the American Cancer Society. Pretty cool!

Wedding Reception

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Costumers: Jeff Allen, Madeline Anderson, Diana Patraw, Tatiana Allen, Leonard Patraw, Erich Schwab, James Douthitt, Jeffery Knotz, Jordan West, Doug Smith, Jeremy Horn, Mike Giralico, Kris Heding, Matthew Bastyr, and Amber Rae.

On March 31st, we were invited to attend a wedding reception. We don’t get asked to do this very often, and it was my first time attending a wedding reception in costume. The bride wanted to surprise her husband, so we had to be super sneaky when we arrived.

During the wedding party’s first dance, the Dark Side stormed in to the Imperial March and Darth Vader “confronted” the groom. The look of utter surprise on his face was priceless! Then, the Light Side came in, and Leia told Vader to leave the couple alone – they just got married!

The couple were so incredibly kind and they were really fun to work with. We had a blast at the reception! A few characters busted a move on the dance floor, and a few joined the newlyweds in some photos.

The Darth Vader ice sculpture was definitely awesome.

Costumers: Doug Smith and Kris Heding.

Photobooth props are fun! Costumers: Mike Giralico and Kris Heding. Photo on the right was taken by Tatiana Allen.

General Hux doesn’t know what to do when it comes to dancing. Costumers: Kris Heding and Jordan West. Photo on the left was taken by Tatiana Allen, photo on the right was taken by Madeline Anderson.

Minefaire 2018

We were invited to have an information table at Minefaire on March 17th and 18th. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and surprisingly there were a lot of people who stopped by our table to talk about the various Star Wars fan and costuming clubs. By the end of the day on Sunday, we were pretty much cleared out of the trading cards and brochures we brought along. I’d say it was a successful event!

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Just pretend we’re in the same movie. Costumers: Madeline Anderson and Kris Heding.

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Force Fighting. Costumers: Madeline Anderson and Kris Heding.

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Preparing for battle! Costumers: Kris Heding and Madeline Anderson.

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We were going for a “Last Jedi” throne room fight scene, but I’m not sure if we nailed it or failed it. Costumers: Kris Heding and Madeline Anderson.

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Joining forces, for a little bit, I guess. Costumers: Madeline Anderson and Kris Heding.

Scarlet Witch Hex Powers (Tutorial)

A week before going to MarsCon I decided to come up with something to look like Scarlet Witch’s hex powers (not really sure what to call this particular prop: Hex powers? Magic orbs? Glowing chaos magic?). I’m not sure why I always decide to do these things at the last minute, but there you go.

To my surprise, they turned out pretty well, and so I thought I’d share a tutorial with you all!

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Photo of the Hex Powers in action! Photo by Scott Saniti.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 red battery-operated LED tea lights
  • 2 clear tea light candle casings
  • Red tulle/netting (about 1/3 yard)
  • 2 sheets of 8 1/2″ x 11″ red cellophane sheets
  • 1/2 yard of red gathered lace trim
  • Mod Podge
  • Red glitter
  • 2 ring blanks
  • Piece of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper
  • Black Sharpie
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
  • Small paintbrush
  • Dressmaker pins
  • Sharp scissors

Most of the items I had on-hand because I hoard craft supplies, but I’d say all of these could be found at any craft supply store (with maybe the exception of the LED tea lights).

The first (and potentially optional) step is to add glitter to the LED tea lights. I did this so that they blended in more, and also to reflect some of the light from the LEDs. The LED lights I purchased were in a pack of 36 from Amazon. They’re really bright, and the color is good! They’re about the size of a US quarter, and run on two cell batteries (included).

Using a small paintbrush, paint a coat of Mod Podge onto the top of the LED tea light (avoiding getting any on the bulb part of the light, if possible). Sprinkle red glitter over the Mod Podge and shake off any excess. Allow the Mod Podge to dry and add another coat of Mod Podge and glitter if you think the tea lights need more coverage. After the Mod Podge is dry, coat the glitter with a layer of Mod Podge to seal in the glitter. I used the Extreme Glitter Mod Podge because I like the extra sparkle. Allow the Mod Podge to dry.

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The next step is to create a template for the tulle and cellophane. I basically just folded a piece of 8 1/2″ x 11″  paper into fourths and sketched out a spiky design, and then cut it out. This can look however you like, but the above photo is how mine looked.

I bought a pack of multicolored cellophane sheets from Amazon, but I only needed the two sheets of red cellophane for this project. Lay the red cellophane over a piece of white paper (it makes seeing what you’re doing a lot easier) and then lay the template over that. Use a black Sharpie to trace the template (it doesn’t need to be super accurate). Cut out the template and make sure to trim off any of the black lines from your tracing. Repeat the process for the second cellophane sheet.

Next step is to cut out tulle from your template. The tulle I used was glittery, but you can use regular tulle. I folded my tulle in half and used dressmaker pins to pin the template to the tulle, and then cut it out. Again, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Repeat the process again, and when you’re finished you should have four tulle “bursts.”

Add a small dot of hot glue to the center of one cellophane burst and then lay one tulle burst over the dot of glue, but slightly askew. Your goal is to sort of “stagger” the tulle and cellophane so that the spikes are not perfectly lined up. Once the glue sets, flip over the cellophane and tulle. Add another dot of hot glue and lay the other tulle burst over the dot of glue (again, slightly askew). Once the glue sets, you should have a cellophane burst sandwiched between two tulle bursts. Repeat this process for the other set.

For this part, you’ll need some sort of shallow, clear, plastic container that’s just a little bigger than the LED tea light. The ones I used were plastic “casings” from some tea candles I bought from Target (like these). I took out the candles, and then washed the plastic casings with soap and water to remove any wax residue.

On the bottom of the casing, add a dime-sized dab of hot glue in the center, then place the casing onto the center of the tulle and cellophane burst. You’ll basically be covering up the dab of hot glue from the previous step. Allow the glue to set.

Add a strip of hot glue around the base of the casing and then bunch the cellophane and tulle around it until the glue sets. This will adhere one layer of tulle and the layer of cellophane to the casing.

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Add a couple dots of hot glue on the cellophane layer and press down the outer tulle layer and hold it in place until the glue sets. Rotate, and repeat the process until the outer tulle layer is tacked down to the cellophane layer.

The next step is to add red gathered lace trim along the bottom edge of the casing. The pattern of the lace is not important – but make sure it’s gathered lace and not flat lace. Add a line of hot glue along the bottom edge of the casing and gently lay the lace along the glue. Try not to press the lace down with your finger because the glue might seep through. Continue until the lace is glued all around the bottom edge (and overlap about 1/2″) before trimming. The purpose of the lace is to keep the tulle and cellophane upright, and it also hides any flaws in the gluing process from the previous steps. It also looks really cool, I think.

Ring blanks are basically rings that have a flat metal piece attached to the top where a stone or other object can be glued to create jewelry. For this, the shape of the metal piece isn’t important, so use whatever kind of ring blanks you want. I used these.

Add a glob of hot glue to the flat metal piece and press it into the center of the underside of your casing. Hold it in place until the glue sets.

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Unscrew the top off of the LED tea light and remove the two batteries. Because you’ll be attaching the bottom piece to your casing with hot glue, it’s a good idea to remove the batteries beforehand so there’s no chance of the batteries exploding. (Safety first!)

Add hot glue to the underside of the bottom piece of the LED tea light and press it into the inside center of the casing. Allow the glue to set, and repeat for the second casing. Once the glue is set and cooled, the batteries can be inserted and the top can be screwed back on.

You now have hex powers! Having the LED tea light inside a casing allows you to turn the lights on and off, and also replace the batteries when necessary. Because the hex powers are on rings, you can wear them and move your hands however you like (go crazy and wave your hands around!) and it looks super cool.