When we spoke with Chris Taylor about his new book, How Star Wars Conquered The Universe, the discussion focused on the role fandom has played and continues to play in shaping the Star Wars franchise. Immediately following the first film's release, Star Wars super fans were born:
Years later, the fans have only grown in numbers. Chris mentioned that Star Wars ushered in the tradition of waiting for days on line, literally camping out, in order to see the movie first. A hard core tradition that continues, for some fans, to this day.
Near the top of the hierarchy of Star Wars fandom is the exclusive group called the 501st Legion a.k.a Vader's Fist. A group that prides itself in painstakingly recreating Star Wars villains with movie accurate costumes.
We also spoke to a member of the 501st Legion: New England Garrison about his experience in the club and how he discovered his inner Vader.
Bob Gouveia has been a member since 2002 when he successfully completed the first iteration of his Darth Vader costume. Over the years he's participated in many events with the 501st, sometimes as Darth Vader, other times loaning the costume out for other members to wear.
Last month a friend, wearing Bob's Darth Vader costume, joined other members of the New England Garrison and surprised Peter Allen, a life-long Star Wars fan who had always dreamed of joining the 501st. Peter has ALS and became too sick to finish the costume he had been building of a TIE Pilot. Volunteers from the 501st joined forces to finish his costume for him and presented it to him along with his official membership into the club. You can see photos from their presentation at this link: 501st Legion Spotlight
Not only has Bob built a true to film costume for Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a Storm Trooper--among others-- he also worked with friends on a life-size animatronic Jabba the Hut. Jabba's tongue in particular is disturbing in its accuracy.
You can listen to Taylor's interview with Lord Bob Vader and see video of some of his work, below.
Here's a video from the 2007 Rose Bowl Parade when Bob marched as a Storm Trooper alongside George Lucas. Skip to 2:02 for the Storm Troopers:
Bob's R2D2 build.