Galactic Costuming is a feature that highlights members of fan groups from around the world who, literally, wear their love of Star Wars in the form of trooper armor, rebel pilot flightsuits, and much more.
Emily Schram can’t pinpoint the first time she saw Star Wars, but she recalls being impressed by the cantina scene in A New Hope. She tells StarWars.com, “I remember being fascinated by all the aliens and the music and the immediate immersion of the scene.” Though she admits she got Star Wars and Spaceballs mixed up when she was a kid, she definitely has them straight now and shows her Star Wars fandom through participating in costuming organizations.
Schram’s a member of both the Rebel Legion and the 501st Legion, specifically Terrapin Base and Old Line Garrison, respectively. She joined these groups five years ago. Her first costume to get approved was phase one Captain Rex. The Rex kit is unique because it can be part of the 501st Legion’s Clone Trooper Detachment and the Rebel Legion’s Clones of the Republic. She’s trooped as Rex at over 100 events.
Completing her Captain Rex costume was a journey. Schram says her first kit took her almost two years and a lot of help from others. But phase two Rex? She built it on her own. She explains, “He took a little over two months and over 400 hours to complete. The armor is made out of vacuum formed ABS plastic, while the helmet is a resin cast. Since clone armor is seamless, all the seams were filled with CA glue and Bondo and then heavily sanded. I also used rare Earth magnets to hold several pieces in place, like the pauldron and helmet back panel. The kama (skirt) is made of marine vinyl and was commissioned.”
Schram set a goal to finish her Rex costume before Star Wars Celebration Orlando, but she procrastinated long enough that she was forced to work outdoors in Maryland in February, which as you can imagine, was cold. That didn’t deter her from finishing the project. Schram admits, “I spent many hours outside in the snow trimming, sanding, and gluing.”
Luckily, other members of the Legion had armor parties — gatherings where members get together to work on armor and share resources and knowledge — and she used those events to work on sizing the armor to her frame. Schram says she leaned on advice from others throughout the process. “I was in constant contact with my ‘clone brothers,’ Andrew Simansky and Greg Butcher, both of whom were always willing to send me pictures of their builds or offer advice on how to fit the armor to my shorter, female frame,” she shares. “But the greatest assistance was from my husband, Andrew Schram. Even though he didn’t know anything about armor, he learned how to use Bondo and sanders so he could work on some pieces with me. He also helped me through the stress and melt downs as I sat teary-eyed in a pile of plastic from time to time.”
In addition to phase one and phase two Captain Rex, Schram’s making additional costumes. She’s working on a clone officer ensemble she hopes to get approved by the 501st Legion and a Chewbacca costume for the Rebel Legion. She’s also putting together an unofficial Willrow Hood costume.
As mentioned before, Schram, a.k.a. CC-9529 or Lady Rex, has participated in numerous troops. She’s extremely active in her groups, trooping several times a month. “Within the Clone Trooper Detachment, I have over 100 recorded troops, earning the highest rank of Living Legend,” she says. “I am the Commanding Officer for Old Line Garrison, two years running, and a member of the Rebel Legion’s Terrapin Base. I’m also on command staff for the Clone Trooper Detachment with the Merch & Branding Team and as the East Coast Regional Commander with clones.”
She can’t pick one thing about costuming organizations that make them so wonderful, but she summarizes: “At some events you feel like a rock star, posing for pictures or rocking out on stage with Weird Al. At others, you meet a child that shines with so much life and joy that you can’t help by smile for days. Still others remind you why you put so much money and time into the hobby as you hold the hand of child fighting cancer or stand vigil at their memorial service. Through it all there is one great thing that connects these memories: family. When you become a member and get to know your garrison and detachment mates, you also step into an international family. You can lean on these people and will always receive support, whether with armor or with real life. Clones have a saying, ‘Brothers in arms are brothers for life,’ and you definitely feel it.”
Amy Ratcliffe is a writer obsessed with Star Wars, Disney, and coffee. Follow her on Twitter at @amy_geek.