YOU can clearly tell that Daniel Wong is no ordinary Star Wars fanboy – not everyone is willing to fork out RM3,000 for a Stormtrooper costume, and then use it for charity.

But that’s exactly what the international organisation 501st Legion is all about. The group is dedicated to promoting interest in all things Star Wars by building high-quality costumes, and using them to help local charity and volunteer work.

Wong, 26, is one of just 19 members in the Malaysian Outpost.

He first discovered 501st Legion back in 2010 and was immediately intrigued.

“I got in touch with the local group (it was the Malaysian-Brunei Outpost at the time), and they invited me to become a minder (volunteer) at an upcoming event,” said Wong.

He liked what he saw – the community, costumes and all the members’ passion for Star Wars. But to become one of them, he would first have to get a screen-accurate costume, and that took him an entire year to complete.

“Costumes are very expensive. I had to save up, so it ended up taking quite a while to finish. Over the course of that year, I spent about RM3,000 on my Royal Guard costume.

“I actually wanted to be a Stormtrooper, but the whole kit would cost RM3,000 in one go, and I just couldn’t afford it at the time,” he said.


Fortunately, that dream finally came true last October, when he bought a fan-made Stormtrooper kit from Canada and assembled the costume on his own.

The kit was mostly just pieces of plastic, which still required some work to mould and put together.

“It’s so much more satisfying building the costume yourself, compared to purchasing (a ready-made costume) off the shelf,” he said.

But what’s even more satisfying for Wong is the charity work he gets to do with the Malaysian Outpost. They’ve visited hospitals and appeared at countless events. In 2012 alone, they managed to raise around RM17,000 for various beneficiaries.

“People have told me I should just use the costumes to make money, but that was never my intention. The reason I joined 501st was to give back.”

His parents weren’t too happy initially with how much he was spending on his costumes. But after learning more about the organisation, they slowly started accepting his hobby.

“Money was indeed a factor, but I didn’t let it stop me,” he said.


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