While for many of us collecting is confined to action figures but here at Sandtroopers, we search for creativity and originality in our Star Wars universe. When invited by the Midwest Garrison to help promote Action: An Adventure in Movie Making, it was hardly and invite we could turn down. The officials at the Museum of Science and Industry asked the 501st to help spark some interest in the event. A similar promotion was done a while back and Staff told me it was the best gate they ever had since the exhibit was on display. While all the goodies were on the inside, dustrho and myself photographed and interviewed several of the members involved. We got to go behind the scenes into the Midwest Garrison ‘locker room’ and see how much dedication these people put in to entertaining a crowd. In the moments before the festivities began, it really amazed me to see how much intricacy goes into these costumes. There were many non-Star Wars characters on hand too like Indiana Jones, Captain Jack Sparrow, and Nightcrawler from X-men that would help draw in the minority who have not seen Star Wars. The Garrison was divided into three groups that were strategically placed around the venue to attract attention to the event. While they worked the entrance to the Museum and adults and children alike were in awe. By mid-afternoon, droves of fans were lining up to take pictures with their favorite costumed characters.
Even Fox News Chicago had a camera crew in place to cover this event, showing again what a spectacle this was.
The 501st members were very kind and friendly to dustrho and myself. While the cost to make one of these outfits is pretty high, the experience and brotherhood of the 501st pay for themselves. These people are true collectors and assets to the hobby. It takes quite a tough Trooper to stand in one of those things the better of an hour. The behind the scenes exclusive was interesting to see how rough it is to be a member. Sweating bullets is an understatement and not every Trooper had fans built into their helmets.
What turned out to be a great day turned out even better as one of the members even proposed to his fiancée! To top it off, she even accepted. Congratulations Commander Mike Washko and his new bride-to-be! Mike a.k.a. TK895 gave the armor a break and played the role of Beetlejuice. This guy was simply amazing, if he had been around during a screen test Michael Keaton may not have played the part.
Overall it was a very impressive day. What was more amazing than the costumes is the atmosphere of family these people have with each other. Giving perhaps “United We Find” an extended family. We hope to continue to cover events with the 501st. We would like to thank Commanding Officer Kathy van Beuningen, John Duffy TK737, and the rest of the 501st crew as well as the Staff and Volunteers at the Museum that were very helpful and appreciative of our efforts to help spread the word about this great event. We hope the many Troopers will make way to the Windy City for this exhibit. I guarantee if you like Star Wars you will not be disappointed.
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