‘Star Wars’ fans boast elaborate attire at annual celebration – Orlando Sentinel
Adam Beasley is quick to admit he isn’t handy, but that didn’t stop him from spending a year designing and crafting a custom costume he wears to “Star Wars” fan events around the country.
Beasley and Ashley Wellons, of Port St. Lucie, built their Mandalorian costumes — a mix of soft parts and metal — by hand out of 14-gauge aluminum.
“It’s a little bit thinner than aircraft sides,” Beasley said. “It’s actually basically the same thickness as you see on a road sign.”
Many of the estimated 55,000 in attendance at the 40th annual Star Wars Celebration this weekend at the Orange County Convention Center donned elaborate handmade costumes, portraying Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Chewbacca and others favorites.
Mandalorians are characters based on Boba and Jango Fett, and cosplayers have taken creative liberties in adding their own individual flare to the race.
Beasley and Wellons traced the metallic parts out on sheets of aluminum, before cutting the armor out and denting it with hammers to mold it to their desired state. Beasley said he settled on light blue with yellow and white accents while shopping for paint colors at a Wal-Mart.
Wellons’ had a more personal touch.
A University of North Carolina alumna, she modeled hers after black uniforms the Tarheels wear for basketball and football, complete with the team’s argyle design.
“I’m pretty crafty, but there are a lot of errors, bad words and frustrated tears,” Wellons said. “But, it all comes together.”
They further customized their outfits by adding Easter bunny ears and baskets full of Easter eggs, which they used as props in photos with children.
Mandalorian ensembles can be complex, as Sarasota native Robert Winkle learned as he created his.
“I started out thinking this was going to be easier than building a storm trooper,” said Winkle, whose metallic armor was black and red. “Little did I know.”
Fans from around the world travel for the annual convention, which was held in London last year. The Orange County Convention Center has hosted three times, the most of any venue. Scattered throughout the convention hall were movie props, themed-vehicles, photo backdrops and other memorabilia.
Thomas Whaley and Luke Wolters flew in from Edmonton, Alberta, for the entire four-day celebration and managed to be in the front row for a talk with creator George Lucas and actor Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo.
Wolters purchased a Chewbacca costume that he wears to various Canadian cosplay events.
“I’m kind of Chewbacca under the costume too,” Wolters said. “It’s been an ongoing joke forever. I’ve got the height; I’ve got the attitude.”
Whaley’s mother helped craft a Darth Vader costume out of a modified priest Halloween costume, which is made out of a black burlap material. He repainted a black matte helmet and removed the voice changer to modify the helmet. He also carries a light saber he purchased.
In some cases, preparing a costume is only half the battle.
For Libina Borgeouis, of Port St. John, her day began at 6 a.m. to begin her makeup. About four hours later, she was painted red from head to toe, with dark horns protruding from her head.
Complete with a black leather costume, she was a spitting image of Darth Maul.
She came with a group of friends who travel the area regularly for cosplay events, but waited until Sunday to come to the celebration in order to dodge sizable crowds from previous days.
“This is the only day for us,” Borgeois said. “We knew yesterday was crazy.”