July 31, 2008

Welcome to the Dark Side

This article just came in from Tulsa World:

Welcome to the Darth side

by: MIKE AVERILL World Scene Writer
7/31/2008 12:00 AM

Why would Sam Bell choose the Dark Side? "Ask anybody who the best villain is. Even people who don't know 'Star Wars' know who Darth Vader is," Bell said.

Sam Bell always loved the Storm Troopers in the "Star Wars" films. Growing up, he watched the movies and played with the toys. "Now," he said, "I'm my own action figure."

Bell is the head of the Oklahoma Fire Team of the Star Garrison, part of the 501st Legion, or Vader's Fist — an organization whose members dress in costume as members of the Empire. Bell and other members of the 501st Legion will be decked out this weekend at DefCon 7.

"The conventions are for fun," he said. "If I can make one kid smile, I don't care how much I spend on armor. That's all I care about."

Members of the 501st Legion will check for admission badges at the entrance to the convention and will also have an information booth.

"And we want to make sure that no rebels are acting up," he joked.

Bell purchased most of his outfit on eBay and assembled it with hot glue, foam and Velcro. His blaster is hand-made through resin casting. He said his outfit cost about $600, but some people spend up to $1,200.

"I saved up my money and bought everything piece by piece," he said.

The 30-piece uniform is lightweight plastic.

"The disco boots are the heaviest part of the outfit," Bell said.

He declared that the 501st Legion is George Lucas' preferred group.

"We pride ourselves in being as close to the movies as possible. We're not extremely strict, but we are portraying people's childhoods and hopes."

So why does Bell align himself with the Dark Side instead of siding with the Rebel Alliance as a member of the Rebel Legion?

"First, it's simply cooler," he said. "Second, I've always been attracted to the shiny armor."

And there's the fact that the Storm Troopers are led by one of the best villains, Darth Vader.

"Ask anybody who the best villain is. Even people who don't know 'Star Wars' know who Darth Vader is," Bell said.

Bell's been a "Star Wars" fan since his father took him to see "Return of the Jedi" at a drive-in theater.

" 'Jedi' was the first movie I'd seen. I remember loving seeing things that I never could imagine were possible. The biker scouts zipping through the forest hooked me."

He also enjoys the Star Wars films because they have a story that other movies try to live up to.

"It shows humanity at its best," he said. "There's turmoil and overcoming that turmoil and delving back into it. And I'm simply just a geek."

About the 501st Legion

The Oklahoma Fire Team has nine members, one short of being a squad, and the Star Garrison — which encompasses Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma — has 170.

The goals of the 501st Legion are to celebrate the “Star Wars” movies through the wearing of costumes, to promote the quality and improvement of costumes and props, and to contribute to the local community through charity and volunteer work, its Web site says.

The 501st Legion has more than 4,000 members around the world, even in Antarctica.

For more information on the Star Garrison and how to join, go online to tulsaworld.com/stargarrison or e-mail info@stargarrison.com

Source: http://www.tulsaworld.com/lifestyle/article.aspx?articleID=20080731_17_D1_hAbout389210

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