Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Passers-by like Richard and Aubryanna Lopez stopped to get their picture taken with some hard-core Star Wars fans dressed in movie accurate costumes for a fundraiser for the Make a Wish Foundation this weekend.
"We're bad guys doing good things," said Chris Jackson, who was dressed as Jango Fett.
The local Star Wars fans are members of a worldwide charity group known as the 501st Legion. They all have normal day jobs, but try to make a difference in the lives of less-fortunate children on the weekends.
They take just as much pride in their costumes as they do in their charity work.
"We actually turn people down if their costume isn't perfect," said Jundland Wastes Squad Leader Dustin Dial, an officer with the Tucson Police Department. The Jundland Wastes squad is a subgroup of the Arizona garrison known as the Dune Sea garrison.
Darth Vader stood alongside a fellow storm trooper to wave to people driving by the GameStop at 5620 E. Broadway Blvd. on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 14).
"We almost cause wrecks sometimes," said Brian Petty, a meat-cutter who acts as one of the group's Darth Vaders.
Their costumes can take months to complete and can easily cost more than $1,000. The group is constantly under pressure to upgrade their costumes so that they are as life-like as possible.
The charity events of the Dune Sea garrison include a St. Joseph's hospital visit and visits to both Tucson Medical Center and University Medical Center. The international costuming group can also be seen during the annual Howl-O-Ween festival at the Reid Park Zoo.
"My favorite part is seeing the kids' eyes light up," said Joe Ngo, store manager for GameStop, who was dressed in his red-and-white costume that indicates to other fans he is a clone trooper.
Members of the Tucson squad known as the Jundland Wastes squad teamed up with GameStop to sponsor a charity event to raise money for Make a Wish and to raise awareness for the new Star Wars video game, Star Wars: Force Unleashed which was scheduled for release on Tuesday, Sept. 16.
"I reserved my game two years ago," Ngo said.