The 501st Legion, Vader’s Fist, began right here at Dragon*Con in 1998. A popular part of the annual Dragon*Con Parade, the Star Wars fan group, begun by founder Albin Johnson, now has over 4,000 members in 40 countries. That’s a lot of white armor. But the Legion consists of far more than just stormtrooper clones.
Angela Mash, the 501st’s activities coordinator for this year’s con, said all the costumes are made by the members. You’ll see everything from Imperial Guards and bounty hunters to Sith Lords and Darth Vader, all with official 501st badges. Of her ten different costumes, Angela’s favorite is the Galactic Marine.
The 501st‘s mission? Surprisingly, they’re not out to crush the Rebellion and take over the universe. According to the Legion’s official website, Vader’s Fist is dedicated to celebrating the Star Wars Universe, promoting the development of costuming, and contributing to the local communities through charity and volunteer work.
Although the 501st is a fan organization not affiliated with Lucasfilm Ltd., they were once honored to march in the Rose Parade to support Grand Marshall George Lucas. Among the many honorary members are Hayden Christensen (Anakin/Darth Vader, Star Wars Episodes II, III), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, Star Wars Episodes IV-VI), and “The Maker” himself, George Lucas. The 501st is also actively promoting the new Clone Wars movie. The organization even has its own trading cards.
And best of all, The 501st Legion wants you! If you’re 18 years or older with a hankering to represent the Empire by creating your own costume and using it to do good in your part of the universe, you’re welcome to go to their website and join up. Stop by the 501st’s table on the bottom floor of the Marriot to find out more.
Congratulations, 501st, on a stellar first decade. Troop on!