Can you tell us about yourself?
Hi, my name is Andrew King. I’m 21 and currently work as an HR Administrator for Capita. I am a massive geek, and I wear that title with pride, with a passion for fantasy and sci fi. In my free time I like to go to the gym, listen to my music, play on my Xbox or watch tv/anime.
When did your passion for Star Wars begin?
That’s a tough one. I don’t remember the exact date but it would have been roughly around 1998 when I first saw A New Hope.
What made you decide to take the leap into costuming?
When I joined the 501st it was because of the armour. I have always wanted to get my own costume and figured why not go one step further? Besides, I knew that the 501st would be able to help me with assembling and referencing. Which they did…and then some.
You’re a Stormtrooper. What is the appeal of that character?
It’s a Star Wars statement. If you know Star Wars, you know them. They’re popular with the public and, as I soon learnt, very photogenic.
I used the internet, posters and advice from 501st members.
How did you become aware of the 501st?
I’ve known about the 501st for some time but never really did any research into it as I figured it was America only. I found out about the Ireland Garrison at Belfast Comic Con 2014 when I was “arrested”. After that I visited their website and their Facebook page and eventually joined.
Were you aware such costuming clubs existed before joining?
I was, but at the time didn’t have any real interest in joining.
Which has been the most difficult in putting together?
Most of it really. Needed a lot of work.
What about the weapons and accessories?
Yes, I have a toy replica of the Stormtrooper blaster that’s been painted to look like the real thing.
Is it a costly hobby?
Without a doubt.
Why do you think people love seeing Star Wars characters? What is it about them?
Star Wars is the icon of the Golden days, the characters are so memorable and cool. For children they are cool. For adults they remind them of when they were children.
What has been your most memorable troop to date?
The troop to the Ulster Hall when the Ulster Orchestra played music from star wars. It was as if my first troop was being christened.
What was your first troop and was the reaction everything you expected?
Yes and no. It was way better.
Has becoming part of a Star Wars club opened your eyes to how widespread costuming is?
Yes. I never realised how big the 501st was, as an example, until after I joined. Then I was introduced to other groups, many Star Wars related as well.
What’s the buzz you get from trooping?
Its hard to explain. At first you feel all serious, as if you were one of the cast or actually the character itself, but when you are asked by the public if it’d be alright for them to get their picture with you, you feel all giddy and bubbly.
501st Garrison troop for charity. What charity is closest to your heart?
Due to my granddad having Alzheimer’s, research into it is one that’s close to my heart.
What surprized you the most from your troop and the public reaction?
I was surprised at how well we are received. People are genuinely happy to see us, especially if we’re helping out a charity.
Has it made you want to make other costumes? What would be your ultimate costume?
Without a doubt! That’s half the fun. My ultimate goal would be to make a set of space marine armour from Warhammer 40K.
With the increase in popularity in sci fi, has the public gained more respect for costumers do you think?
It all depends on the costume and franchise but in most regards yes, I’ve certainly seen more from my friends and family.
Why should everyone experience a Star Wars troop?
There’s a certain magic to it. I know that’s cheesy but its also the best way to describe it. I certainly feel that I’m in a group that understands me completely. Then there’s the public, they get to see us and interact. It’s a great feeling on both sides.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from putting the costumes together?
You need to make sure that everything fits properly. There is no point in rushing to make sure it’s ready for a big troop if the armour doesn’t fit properly as you’ll most likely be there for a few hours. You’ll want them to be comfortable.
Any new costumes on the horizon?
I’m thinking about getting a Darth Vader cossie together.
Can anyone join the 501st or are there certain criteria you have to meet?
Anyone can join but its recommended that you’re a star wars fan else you might not enjoy it.
Do you get to interact with other garrisons around the world?
Yes, sometimes members from other garrisons can even troop with another garrison if they’re in their country for a visit or to go to that specific event.
Are you excited about the new movies?
Yes, I’m excited to see where Disney will take them. They’ve made Marvel a box office powerhouse so this should be good.
Where can people find out more about the 501st Garrison?
They can go onto the main 501st website or if they know the name of their local garrison/outpost they can find them on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/501stIrelandGarrison?ref=ts&fref=ts
Andrew thank you very much!