I can say, flat out this is the best hobby I have ever been involved in. I have built cars, raced lower level NHRA, built and modified computers, dabbled in competitive cycling, photography, among other things but by far being Darth Vader has been the most incredible journey.
Looking back its a pretty long story and Ill not be to windy but this really all started out with a kid in a theater. I was just born for ANH, so I remember ESB as my first film. Most say that you don't remember three years old but I still vividly remember Star Wars and the promo tour for ESB. The tour stopped in a neighboring town and we went to see it and like most kids I wanted to be a storm trooper when I grew up. I told my Dad over and over and over...
So I did in late 2006. I bought an FX kit and built it while under way in the south Pacific. So there I am, on a Navy war ship with Storm trooper armor.
Yep, that is an official US Navy Photo. Went in our cruise book. Bad helmet paint up and all.
I found the 501st. Who knew a costume could do so much? I joined late '06 and away we go.
Stormtroopers are great, but hey.. the saga is about Vader. I want to be Vader. I started down the road already in the 501st and where sadly many start with the Rubies supreme. Looked good on the box right?
Not in person however. So one outing and it was well... out.
So then begins the process of upgrading. I have many pics of the various stages, but really I have just been solid upgrading this costume even as I type this. So I will show my main show Vader costumes.
My first Con ever, Celebration Japan. I had no idea a Con could be so cool!
I spent a total of 12 hours in costume each day for 3 days. I was a rock star in that suit. Thousands of pictures taken. I was one of only 2 Vaders and for two of the days the only Vader on the floor with the 501st. What a ride.
Shortly after, still upgrading mind you... I was offered a chance to work with LFL Japan and the Sankyo ad campaign. Another wild ride of fandom.
Entire sets built for the filming, and I have to admit, I was emotional. I am still just a fan, wearing a costume... doing what few have a shot to do. Great memories.
Most of the CM's are here, follow the link below.
The next year, the phone rang again, this time for Docomo. Another opportunity to be Vader for Japan. Far bigger campaign, but in ways much different. I am on most of the printed flyers and posters here. (well at that time...) Further upgrades even still.
All the official stuff is great, and pushing the Vader level of accuracy is as well, but nothing is as cool as the kids. There is a huge difference between "nice costume" and "Holy crap that is Darth Vader!" I love the kids and costuming for them is where the rubber meets the road.
So here is my Vader today as I type this.
I am honered to be able to wear it and I hope to add to it in time spent. Money on the costume has exceeded what many consider sane for things like this but its more a gift that a purchase. I am able to break down cultural doors and really give back to kids and adults with it.
The proudest thing I have to this suit is the incredible people I have met in it. From the sick child that is still hanging in to the common passer by with a camera its really about the people and kids. I have learned so much.
Next stop... C6. Have Vader, will travel.