Star Wars News
Tell us a bit about your group
We are CENTRAL LEGION, a non profit making costume group with costumers from Star Wars and other areas of fantasy and sci-fi.
Where are you located?
In the West Midlands primarily but we do attend events in the surrounding areas.
How long has the group been going?
Since July 2017
How did you start?
I, Mel Johal (founding member) had been a member of a few groups but being based in the West Midlands I found that local events were difficult to organise and get support for and if a local charity needed costumers it would be myself and maybe one or two others who would attend. I wanted to find a way for Star Wars costumers in the West Midlands to come together and for local events to get a good turn out. It was set up as a Star Wars group and we called ourselves Central Stars but a friend suggested be open it up to other genres of costuming and the group is now a mix of costumers under the Central Legion banner.
How many members do you have and are you looking for more?
We have around 40 members of which about half are Star Wars costumers.
How many events do you roughly attend a year?
In the last six months we’ve attended 20 offical Central Legion events!
Is there a particular charity that your group supports?
We would like to aligned to one or two particular charities but so far we’ve supported Acorns, MacMillan, Cancer Research, Dementia UK as well as local charities The Charlie Ramsey Research Fund and The Olivia Alice Foundation.
What characters are in your group?
We have Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Stormtroopers, Rebel Pilots, Leia, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Mandolorians, Jedi and Sith characters, but no real lean toward one area of Star Wars.
Do you have Star Wars canon/non-canon (Legends) characters?
Both Canon and Non canon. We encourage diversity and creativity with Star Wars costuming. It is interesting that some of our non-Star Wars members have found their own Star Wars character and have truly gone the distance with it.
What entry requirements do you have?
We invite costumers of all ages although anyone under 18 will be required to have parental consent. All costumers who wish to join would be required to submit clearance pictures. Screen accuracy is not essential. For us the costumes must be of a high standard and be a good representation of the character. If we can impress the organisers of events, the general public and upon each other as members then our costumes have done their job.
I always say that if a dad and his 10 year old son want a picture with you they truly aren’t going to be bothered about the stictches in your shirt or the space betwen your cape and the floor!
What do you love about Star Wars and cosplay?
I was 10 when I saw the original Star Wars in 1978. It provided me - and millions of others - with a fantasy of other worldly characters and situations where anything was possible. As I got older I appreciated the cool spaceships and weapons. By the time I was an adult I recognised the classic storyline elements of good versus evil, of the heroes journey, of friendship, determination and romance. I finally got a Stormtrooper costume well into my 40’s when I was past all the toys, books, collectables, etc. Costuming took my fandom to a whole new level and I’ve made so many new friends who also dress up as Star Wars characters.
Cosplaying is the ultimate acting out of your childhood Star Wars fantasies and you are never too old to do that. I love that so many others enjoy it too. The reaction you get from the general public and especially children when they see you is just so rewarding and you get that sence of awe that you felt seeing The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 at the Odeon. I also tend to exercise my creativity with cosplay photography ranging from artistic images to silly and surreal poses.
What’s the best thing about cosplaying for charity?
It feels just so good to generate donations from your dressing up. Cosplaying for charity, especially for local causes where you might be in contact with particular individuals close to the charity is so humbling. It also gives you a sense of purpose and motivation in what you are doing. As a group leader I insist upon staying focused on charity support and instill that approach to fundraising amongst our members.
What advice can you give for people looking to join a costuming group?
Do some research prior to joining. Every group has a website or facebook page so get a sense of what they have been up to and what they stand for to see if it is right for you. Groups have varying entry levels - ie, some will be more strict than others about the quality of your costumes. Be prepared for group rules and procedures. Even voluntary groups have to be organised and regulated. As with most new experiences don’t be worried about being the new member. We’ve all been there and I’m sure they will welcome you as the newbie! Once you’ve fulfiled all the entry levels enjoy for yourself as well as part of the team.
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