Welcome to the second installment of “Heeding the Call,” in which I recount the history of the Mandalorian Mercs fan group. (And a big thanks to everyone who commented and wrote in about part one.) Let’s resume our flashback to 2007, shall we?
After the initial troop at AdventureCon 2007, we were all filled with energy to get this group off the ground. Back then there were no Mandalorian Mercs clans, but I had made contact with several Mandalorian costumers across the US and UK through various online websites and forums. Two websites were invaluable to our initial recruitment efforts in the beginning. One site in particular called The Dented Helmet and a second (now closed) called Heroes, Villains, and Mandalorians would be our initial staging points for member recruitment. Most of us spent a good deal of time on these sites, talking to people who were working on their own costumes as well as convincing veteran Mandalorian costumers that our idea was sound. I also made it a point to find as many local events and conventions to attend as possible, so I could spread the word.
We were very lucky to be starting this endeavor when Mandalorian fandom was surging after the release of the first Republic Commando novel in 2006. This book helped open the door for costumers to realize there were more Mandalorians in the Star Wars universe than just Boba and Jango Fett. More and more individuals were popping up on the aforementioned websites wanting to make Mandalorian costumes. At this point it was decided that a website and forum specifically for people interested in the Mandalorian Mercs should be created, so we could help each other with costume builds and event organization.
My local efforts began to pay off, and soon there were four of us who were attending conventions and events along with the local 501st Garrison (Carolina Garrison). It was at this point I started to think about the future of having local “chapters,” and how we could handle all that. After sitting down and really giving it a lot of thought, I felt like we should keep the Mercs organization rooted as firmly as we could within the canon descriptions of Mandalorians. With that in mind, North Carolina because the first Mandalorian Mercs clan which I named “Talon Clan” after my Mandalorian character in Star Wars Galaxies. We were a small group, but we were also passionate about our love for Mandalorians and the costumes we wore.
In July of 2007 the nomadic nature of Mandalorians would prove itself to be true when Mandalorian costumers in New York founded “Falco Clan,” the second Mandalorian Mercs chapter. Where there was one, now there were two, and soon there would be even more. Falco Clan also had the honor of inducting our first “honorary member,” Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett in Episode II and Star Wars: The Clone Wars) in early 2008.
Once we had a second clan, I knew the idea of Mandalorian Mercs was no longer going to be confined to just a handful of Star Wars fans. I really began focusing myself on finding more pockets of Mandalorian costumers, and selling them on the idea of Mandalorian Mercs. My immediate goal was to work on increasing the Mandalorian population at the biggest convention on the East Coast: DragonCon!
DragonCon 2007 was the first convention where we were able to muster a large Mandalorian character presence. We had Mandalorian Mercs members arrive from North Carolina, Florida, New York, Missouri, Ohio, Georgia, and even Canada. Our presence was large enough to have a spot of its own in the DragonCon parade through downtown Atlanta, and we waved our flag high with the realization that four people had quickly multiplied into 20 in just a few short months. One of the great traditions that was started at DragonCon 2007 and still continues on to this day is our “DragonCon Dinner.” Our first dinner in 2007 had two small tables of members at a local restaurant. At DragonCon 2013, we filled an entire restaurant — so many people that it was difficult to get around and speak to everyone.
Before the end of 2007 we would make an even bigger leap across the Atlantic to the UK, and our third clan would begin to take shape.
It was somewhat surreal to me when our first overseas clan formed, because I still had not realized just how many Mandalorian fans there were around the globe. There comes a moment when you have to act on that famous Latin phrase: Carpe diem, “Seize the Day”, and that moment came for me when Vok’Chi Clan formed in the UK. While we were still a very small organization, I could tell Mandalorian costumes were starting to become more mainstream as the amount of events we attended increased. It wouldn’t be long until 2007 turned into 2008, and that year held some new surprises and milestones for Mandalorian Mercs that we can talk about in our next installment.