In our "Insights" articles we go behind the scenes of the convention life. We talk to people who organize conventions, sell merchandise or DVDs, Cosplayers, Costume Groups and more like this. In earlier articles in these series we already talked to: KLZ Events (organizing conventions and fan events), Zeno Pictures (distributing films), Breezeeweezy Cosplay (Cosplay) and Ghostbusters Dutch Division (Costume Group). This time we talk about another Costume Group: 501st Legion - The Dutch Garrison. As you may know we are all huge Star Wars fans and one of my (Liv) favorite characters is Darth Vader, you know the bad guy with the black mask. Well, The Dutch Garrison is a Costume Group that focuses on the bad guys in the Star Wars Universe. At Dutch Xmas Con we spoke to some of the members of the Garrison and they kindly agreed to participate in an interview and gave us some contact information. So we contacted Puck Barendregt, PR officer of the group. And now sit back, relax and let us take you to the world of: 501st Legion - The Dutch Garrison.
Dutch Garrison: The group
Like we already said The Dutch Garrison (www.501st.nl) is a Star Wars Costuming Club, that focuses on the costumes of the bad guys in the Star Wars universe. The group is a part of the 501st Legion (www.501st.com), a worldwide Star Wars fan organization with more than 10.000 members from all over the world.
The Dutch Garrison started in 2002. At this moment they have got 120 members from every corner of The Netherlands.
Sounds exciting, right? We asked Puck to tell us some more about the group:
"We actually have two goals in our group: costuming and charity. You need a screen accurate costume to become a member. This does sound a bit elitist to some, but we really want to maintain a certain quality with our costumes. And of 120 people can get a screen accurate costume approved, so can you. With our costumes we attend different kind of events, including charity events. We try to raise money for charity, such as "Stichting Opkikker" (www.opkikker.nl) and we visit sick children to cheer them up. It is amazing to see the children laugh and be without worries. The children actually believe they are meeting a real Stormtrooper or the real Darth Vader! Everyone spends a different amount of time on the group. When you are a member you have to attend at least one troop per year to remain an active member. Some of our members are very active and attend many more troops per year. Our staff is probably busiest of all; making sure the club runs smoothly"
Conventions and meeting the actors
The Dutch Garrison attends a lot of conventions and (Star Wars) events. Like I already mentioned we talked to some of their members at Dutch XMas Con, but that wasn't the first time we saw the group at a convention. As we are also huge Star Wars fans it's always nice to see Star Wars related groups and items on conventions. We asked Puck to tell us some more about attending conventions:
" We try to attend most of the comic and movie related events in the Netherlands, such as Dutch Comic Con, Retrocon, Amsterdam Comic Con and Dutch X-Mas Con. Next to those we also get invited to a few smaller conventions.
It is always a lot of fun to visit these conventions with the Dutch Garrison. We have a booth were we talk to potential members and for us it is always a nice moment to meet up with friends.Our best convention memories consist of spending time with each other and having fun in costume."
Okay, so much for attending conventions. Like we already said The Dutch Garrison also attends a lot of other events and of course we are also interested in their charity events. So let's talk a bit more about that:
"We do attend many different kind of events. As mentioned before we do a lot for charity events. But we also visit Star Wars promotion events organised by DisneyNL. We also get asked for different television shows, such as Willem Wever. We do store openings, business parties, concerts and all kinds of fairs and conventions. But the charity events where we meet the children, are the most special and precious to us..."
Star Wars is and has always been very popular among the people that attend a comic cons. Because of this they often have Star Wars actors or actresses as their guests. Last year, for example, Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) attended Dutch Comic Con and it was great to meet him (like you can see on the picture). Of course we wrote an article about this great moment. We asked Puck to tell us something about the actors they met and which actors are on their wishlist?
"We do meet many Star Wars actors, which is really great. Some our members even become real life friends with some of the actors. The 501st Legion is very famous and all the actors know it. Often they want to get a picture with us instead of the other way around! Some of the actors we have met are: Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Ray Park (Darth Maul), David Prowse (Darth Vader), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and many many more. Most of our members are currently interested in meeting the new cast, the people from The Force Awakens and Rogue One."
Dutch Garrison: movies and merchandise
Now that we've mentioned Rogue One, let's talk a bit more about the movie. We loved it and we did a trio review about it in the article "Conmose goes Rogue". But what did Puck and the members of The Dutch Garrison think about this first standalone movie in the Star Wars franchise?
"We loved it! It really brings back the feeling of the Old Trilogy. And Darth Vader, do we need to say more?"
Well we couldn't agree more! At the moment everybody seems to love Star Wars, but what do you love about Star Wars?
"We love that Star Wars has brought us together in such a close community. It is a story that appeals to so many people and is very recognizable. Everyone can a find a character to identify with."
And what about merchandise? Disney bought the rights for the Star Wars franchise and also rebooted the supply of Star Wars merchandise. I for one love it, although a lot of it seems to be for children;it's not very easy to fit a children's cap on an adult head and certainly not on a head of my proportions. What about the members of The Dutch Garrison, do they buy/own a lot of merchandise and what are they most proud of?
"Although some of our members do buy merch, most of our money is being spend on costumes. Those are rather costly. And a stormtrooper action figure is nice, but the real deal, a life size Stormtrooper is way cooler. Our members are most proud of their costume."
And they should be, because they all look great! With this question we came to the end of this article. We would like to thank The Dutch Garrison for taking the time to answer our questions!
We hope you enjoyed reading the article and getting to know this group a bit better. Did this article make you enthusiastic and do you want to be a part of this amazing community, take a look at the website www.501st.com for more information (www.501st.nl if you live in The Netherlands or www.501st.be if you live in Belgium).