Vader's Fist: Joining the 501st Legion

#Cosplay #Star Wars #Stormtrooper #3d Printing

A few years ago, I went with some friends to see The Rise of Skywalker in theatres. Before the show, in the lobby, there was a member of the 501st Legion in their Stormtrooper armor taking pictures with everyone. Far be it from me to pass on that opportunity.

After we took that picture, I mentioned to him that I'd been thinking of joining the 501st. He reached for his belt and pulled out what looked like a baseball card with his picture, name, biography, and TK number.

For those unaware, the 501st Legion is a Star Wars costuming group that does charities, parades, children's hospitals, and so much more all in the name of brightening people's day. They've even been called in to be screen extras! It felt like a worthy cause and I also get Stormtrooper armor out of it? I was sold. I kept that card as a reminder and before very long I pulled the trigger on my very own set of armor. A few months later, a huge box showed up on my doorstep.


Building stormtrooper armor is no small feat. There are very specific requirements that your armor needs to meet in order to be elligible for admission. The armor I purchased is specifically from Rogue One. As such, I have to follow the CRL (Costume Reference Library) for this armor in order to get approved. Did I mention the requirements are very specific? Because they are very specific. As an example, there are three levels of certification and this is one of the helmet requirements for Centurion approval:

There is a small bump in the right eye socket (when worn) under the lens as an intended flaw to pay tribute to the original trilogy designers.

Now admittedly, that is for Centurion approval which is the highest level of approval. However, the fact that they require you to put a flaw in your armor to pay homage is just wild (and accurate!), and I love it. See if you can spot the flaw on my (now mostly finished) helmet:


Going from what you see on the workbench above to that last picture is quite a lot of work. You can buy finished armor, but I opted for an unfinished kit to build it myself since, well, that's what I do apparently. The process involves quite a lot of steps. The first in the journey is trimming the ABS down to its needed size and shape. The ABS comes with a lot of excess material so that it can accomodate different sized troopers. Once its cut to size, fitting it to your body is the next step. This involves creating a lot of strapping to hold the armor in its place and then iterating on that until it fits your body and looks correct according to the CRL. Oh, and at some point in there you need to buy all the needed softgoods and any extras you want like your gloves, undersuit, balaclave, boots, padding, helmet audio accessories, helmets fans, etc.

It's a long process.

I say that because I am still not done with mine. That's mostly due to some home projects that were more important. I'm aiming for having it done in the next couple of months now that I have a place to work on it again. I'll be posting an update once I actually get approved, but in the meantime here is the current state.

I'm pretty proud of it.

Almost done!

Almost done!

To be continued...

James Miller