No matter what costume you’re building, there are some pieces of advice that will serve you well to keep in mind.
1. Store-bought costumes are not going to cut it.
Any mass-produced costume, even a Rubies Stormtrooper or “Supreme Edition” Darth Vader is simply not accurate enough for Legion membership. While someone with an untrained eye might say, “Sure, that’s a Stormtrooper!” when you see a Rubies next to the accurate armor of the Legion, there really is no comparison. If you want to do this, you want to do it right. Don’t waste your money on mass market stuff.
2. Research, research, research.
The Web has a wealth of information if you’re willing to take the time to look for it. There are video tutorials, helpful tips and tricks of construction, and comparative analyses, all out there to be found. Many Detachments have collected these in one handy place, or they will have specific links to point you toward. Asking a Detachment Leader for some direction in this regard is a great move.
3. Stay away from eBay.
Let’s repeat that so that it sinks in: Stay. Away. From. eBay.
For the most part, what can be found there will be poorly constructed, overpriced, or just plain unacceptable when it comes to Legion standards. There are a few regularly-sold items that are passable (some Imperial “jumpsuits”, for example), but there are many that are NOT acceptable (many Imperial belt buckles, for another example).
From time to time, there may be an auction that comes up with quality goods or a complete costume, but these are far, far rarer. Always get a second opinion from someone who knows the costume (by asking someone in the appropriate Detachment forum or on the forum of your local Legion unit) before purchasing anything.
In addition to knowing what you’re buying, know who you’re buying from. Find out all that you can about the maker or seller before sending them any money. Some people will claim to be a member of the 501st. If so, ask them for their Legion identification number and what Garrison they belong to. Then put the number into the member database (here: 501st.com/members/searchform.php) to double-check. Most genuine members of the Legion won’t be put off by your looking into their credentials. They know as well as anyone else that eBay is full of illegitimate sellers.
4. Measure twice, cut once.
This is good advice both figuratively and literally, when looking at potential purchases or when physically constructing a costume. Double-check what you’re buying before you buy it. And — whether fabric or plastic — always double-check what you’re cutting before you cut it. You can always take off more. Adding material back on isn’t so easy.
5. Be patient.
When you’re bitten by the Imperial costuming bug, it is tempting to rush to get accepted, but take your time, both in the build and in getting a feel for the Legion. Many would-be or new members don’t realize just how much research and effort goes into some of the uniforms, and at the end of the day, it’s about having fun with your hobby and your comrades. Don’t get frustrated in the process; enjoy the journey.
6. A costume is never “finished.”
The Legion has fairly high standards for what is acceptable for each costume, but often a member will set even higher standards for him- or herself. Remember that no matter how finished a costume is, there will always be other tweaks and additions you can make to it. Perhaps you want a better neck seal, or more comfortable gloves, or even a more accurate helmet… that’s great, and very understandable. But there will be plenty of time to add the “bells and whistles” to your costume after you’ve been approved for membership. And it will all be much easier to do it once you’re a part of the Legion community.
So don’t wait to submit your application until you’re 100% satisfied with your costume. That day may never arrive. If you meet the Legion standards, there’s no need to put it off!
Get approved, and get out and troop, trooper!
There are more than 300 different characters and costumes that a recruit like you might join the 501st Legion with. Explore the possibilities at 501st.com/databank/