Here’s the turning point…
What you have to understand is that prior to Sunday 26th August 2007, I had no interest in the folk in the Star Wars suits. Sure, I was a Star Wars fan, and I’d met them before outside various events, but I had no desire to own or put one on.
The troopers that day entirely changed my mind.
I was most certainly not there to see them by any manner of means, but tagging along behind them in-between celebrity talks really opened my eyes. It got to the stage that while sitting on the talk panels I found myself wondering what they were doing that I wasn’t around to witness.
But why, when I’d always considered them to be sweaty nerds sitting around pointing out continuity errors between scenes from the original trilogy, was I having witnessed them close up for the first time suddenly finding the whole idea so fascinating?
Firstly, there was the response to them from the public.
Adults and children alike, there must be very few people who don’t respond to the sight of a Stormtrooper in some way, be it cracking a smile, praying that they don’t pick them out for attention or simply bursting into tears.
Secondly, when those helmets go on, boy do they get away with murder. Don’t get me wrong, those guys were consummate professionals in public, a credit to the UKG, but you imagine just walking up to someone in t-shit and jeans and demanding they get down on their hands and knees or open their bag for you to search. You’re as likely to get a slap as the response you were looking for, but not, from my point of view that day, if you happen to be wearing a white helmet. Also, the anonymity for the person inside seems to turn otherwise reserved members of society into domineering figures of authority.
Little had I realised the power of the dark side.
By the end of the day, I was prepared to buy the Biker Scout costume I’d been following around if it came up for sale. A few weeks later I’d be working on a set of armour of my own, a month or two on again, I’d have the Scout armour for myself and a couple of months beyond that, a life-size, working, R2-D2, but that day there, that was the epiphany…