So you’ve decided to join the Empire? And you live in Sweden so you’ll be joining the ranks of the 501st Legion’s Swedish Garrison. That’s great! We are a close-knit, fun family who love Star Wars costuming. Being a force for good by doing a lot of work for children’s charities is just the icing on the cake.
Before you can join us you need to make sure you meet the basic requirements of the 501st Legion. You must:
- be at least 18 years old
- own a professional quality Star Wars bad guy costume
If you prefer to join the light side of the Force then you should visit the Rebel Legion’s Nordic Base.
So how do you get a costume that will be up to the high standards of the 501st Legion? The first step for you is to set a budget. This is not a cheap hobby! Obviously the choice of costume is a key part of setting the budget. A rough guide is that the more complicated or rare a costume is, the more it will cost to make. A standard stormtrooper will cost upwards of €1000 and Darth Vader or Boba Fett can cost more than triple that price! Many people start with a simpler costume, such as a Reserve TIE Pilot and then add more complicated and expensive costumes later. Others just dive right in at the deep end. There are over 400 costumes available with new ones being added every time the Star Wars universe expands. For a full list of approvable costumes, please visit the Costume Reference Library (CRL).
Once you have done that, begin your research. There are two main places you should look. First is the Nordic Legions forum. Although not a part of the formal application process, we highly recommend that you register there. You will be able to introduce yourself, ask for advice on what parts to buy and where and, just as importantly, what parts you should not buy. There are a lot of people out there selling costumes that they claim reach Legion standards. Unfortunately the truth is that they are often far below our standard and result in people being declined for membership. You can also find out about local armour parties where we meet up to build costumes and help each other. If you’re lucky you might even find someone whose costume you can try on before buying.
The other great source is the 501st Legion detachment for your costume. While the Swedish Garrison members will be happy to help you, it is the detachments where you will find the armour makers and the real experts for each costume. You will find the correct detachment for your chosen costume here.
Building costumes is a load of fun but can also be quite stressful as you worry about getting the details right. Here are a few simple rules to help you get it right first time:
- Measure twice, cut once: If you cut too little off, you can always cut more. If you cut too much then it’s very hard to put things back together!
- There are no stupid questions: Everyone had to start somewhere. We have all made mistakes and wished that we had asked more questions. We won’t make fun of you if you ask an obvious question and it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
- Set a sensible goal: Expecting to buy a costume this week and be finished building next week is not really realistic. Take your time and get it right. At the same time, aiming for a particular event is a good way to keep your progress steady.
Complete an application
Once your costume is complete and you are happy with how it looks, decide what you would like your TK-ID to be. This number will be your identifier within the Legion. As we have a large number of members, many ID’s are already taken. You can see a full list of which ID’s are currently available here. Choose several in case your first choice is taken while your application is being processed.
The next step is to fill in the 501st Legion application form online.
Please note: We all work as volunteers so it may take some time for us to get back to you. Please do not start asking about why you have not been contacted until at least one week has passed after you submit your application. Thank you.
Prepare your photographs
Your application goes to the Garrison Membership Liaison (GML), the person whose job it is to check that the costume you have built matches the requirements from the CRL. Once he/she has looked at your application, they will contact you to ask for photographs of your costume for validation.
In each one you should be alone with your full body visible. A good tip is to use a plain background that contrasts with your costume, for example, do not take stormtrooper pictures against a wall that is painted plan white or Vader against black curtains. Make sure the photos are well lit, preferably outside in indirect sunlight and that they are in focus. Higher resolution is better and most modern phone cameras are plenty good enough.
We will need six pictures:
- Helmet on, taken from directly in front, standing at attention looking straight into the camera
- Helmet on, taken from the right
- Helmet on, taken from the left
- Helmet on, taken from the back
- Helmet on, standing in a suitable pose
- Helmet off, standing in a suitable pose
These pictures will not only serve as your verification for the membership officer, but will be edited and placed within an Imperial frame, for use on the Legion and Garrison websites (click here to see Legion founder Albin Johnson’s record for an example of what your pictures will end up looking like).
Send your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wait for an answer from the GML
After looking at your photographs the GML will decide if your costume meets our standards or not. If it does not then the GML will send you a list of what you need to alter to be approved. This process may go through several iterations before all issues are solved but do not become discouraged. We do this to make sure that you end up with a great costume that you can be really proud of.
Depending on your costume and the quality of the pictures sent in, this can either happen within a week or take several weeks to sort out.
If everything looks good then your application will be passed to the Legion Membership Officer. In some cases the LMO will have a second look at your costume and verify that it meets our standards. Normally this is not a problem but occasionally they may suggest further improvements before finalising your membership.
Once your application is approved, you will receive an email confirmation, your TK-ID will be assigned and your record is marked is ‘ACTIVE’ in the Empire’s database, and you will bea a soldier of the Empire!
Congratulations, you are now a member of Swedish Garrison. If you have not already registered for the Swedish Garrison forum then do that now. Once your user has been approved, make a post in this thread to ask for higher level access. You will then be given access to our members only section where you can sign up for events, join in merchandise runs and lots more.
For further information regarding what we do and how to join, please read the Legion charter.