Whether they come from the US, Sweden or Australia, many of its 14,000 members have gathered in east London for the Star Wars convention which will welcome 60,000 people until Monday.
Between parties, group photos and the exchange of “goodies” (franchise objects) “we meet people we have known for years on the Internet”, explains the “commander” of the French Garrison (French Garrison), Romain Rousse, which 230 have members
“No matter where you go on the planet, you can find people in the 501 to have a bite to eat or tour the area with,” added Quadra, dressed in a jacket and a T-shirt in the colors of the club he joined in 2004, his white Stormtrooper. Failure to bring suit. “Covid has done me no favors, the armor has shrunk,” jokes the IT consultant who lives in the Paris region.
Stormtrooper 1,000 euros
Created in 1997 by two American enthusiasts, the 501st Legion is built to very demanding standards. To enter it, you must be 18 years old and design a costume that respects the established rules for each villain in a reference library. Not to mention his time and money, a stormtrooper can exceed 1,000 euros, Darth Vader climbs up to 5,000.
Not enough to slow Cristian Villalba, who is almost 50 years old, having five of these costumes, as this Brussels banker explained, while one of his comrades tattooed his calf in homage to his beloved saga.
The professionalism of their costumes is such that in 2005 for the screening of “Revenge of the Sith” some stormtroopers were called to reinforce the steps of the Cannes Film Festival for scenes from series like “The Mandalorian” or Romain Russo. But the 501st volunteers come together mainly during conventions or events to cheer and honor the second pillar of their club, charity.
Always posing, they raise funds for charities or visit children in hospitals.
for good reason
Even after the acquisition of Lucasfilm Studios by Disney in 2012, Romain Russe believes, “it’s this good-natured and non-commercial aspect that means we’ve never been banned from directing”.
That’s what convinced Ben Connolly, a 33-year-old British stormtrooper, to join the adventure. “It’s nice to find something that aligns with my values and gives back,” he told droid builders outside booth 501, where Emperor Palpatine sits. “I attended the Christmas party at London Children’s Hospital, the children were really excited and happy,” says the estate agent.
“There are people from all ages, from all businesses, from all walks of life, but we only have 20% women,” laments Romain Roos. “It’s not too bad for the world of macho geeks,” he quipped.