What is the 501st?
If you’ve seen Stormtroopers or Darth Vader at a movie premiere, sports game, or your local library, that’s us! The 501st is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work.
We want to promote an interest in Star Wars. While a growing number of people are experiencing a reawakening of their Star Wars fandom, new generations are seeking ways to celebrate their passion for George Lucas’s modern mythology. The 501st Legion brings these fans together, reinforcing the enduring longevity of the Star Wars saga.
We facilitate the use of costumes. Some fans are content to collect action figures…other fans want to be action figures. Nothing professes your passion quite like building your own detailed costume replica of a classic Star Wars villain, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling that comes from bringing the characters of Star Wars into the real world and sharing the magic with others.
We want to contribute to our communities. While our organization was founded to simply provide a collective identity for costuming fans with similar interests, the 501st is proud to put its resources to good use through fundraising, charity work, and volunteering.
In 1997, Albin Johnson founded the 501st Legion, also known as “Vader’s Fist”, as a way for like-minded Star Wars enthusiasts to come together and share their common interest to wear Imperial Star Wars costumes. Initially, this was all Imperial Stormtroopers, which is why he chose the name “501st Legion” as a way to represent a fictional unit of Imperial Stormtroopers within the Galactic Empire.
As the Legion quickly grew, it began to include other types of Imperial costumes and galactic villains, such as Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Boba Fett, Jango Fett, sand-people, Imperial officers, TIE fighter pilots, etc. To ensure that all costumes worn by 501st Legion members and potential members are movie-accurate, the Legion established costuming standards known as CRL’s (Costume Reference Library). Thus, before someone can join the 501st Legion, he/she must be at least 18 years of age and have created a wearable, Legion-approved costume that meets the basic CRL requirements for that costume.
While there are some commercially-available Star Wars costumes available from various retail outlets, commercially-available costumes rarely meet the costuming standards expected by the 501st Legion. For this reason, the Legion strongly discourages anyone wanting to join the 501st Legion from purchasing a commercially-available costume. Instead, the costumes worn by 501st Legion members are costumes that the members have made themselves. Any costume that the general public sees a 501st Legion member wearing is very likely something that took that member several months to create and at his/her own expense.
Why do we do this, you may ask? This can best be answered from Article I of the 501st Legion Charter:
“…The [501st] Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work…”
Members of the 501st Legion are never paid for their appearances or charity work. Everything that we do is purely voluntary. When requested to make an appearance, we ask the requester to make a donation to a charity on behalf of the 501st Legion.
Because the 501st Legion is comprised of several thousand active members worldwide, the Legion has established local chapters, known as Garrisons and Outputs, within specific geographic areas. A typical geographic area may be a state, a province, two or more adjoining states, two or more adjoining provinces or an entire country. Each Garrison and Outpost is responsible for conducting events and appearances within their respective geographic boundaries.
The state of Washington is the geographic area of the Garrison named Garrison Titan, Havoc Squad members are located in Spokane, and other areas of the state. If you are a resident of the state of Washington and are considering joining the 501st Legion, you would be assigned to Garrison Titan after your membership has been approved. If you are in the state of Washington and request an appearance from the 501st Legion, members of Garrison Titan, if available, would be the members to do the appearance.