One of my favorite duties while at CES was leading official 501st Storm Troopers and Darth Vader into a nightclub.
Let me set the stage. Game developer Namco Bandai (creators of PacMan) hosted a party at Blush, the boutique nightclub in the Wynn, for their summer release of Soul Calibur IV. The big soon-to-be-announced news was that two new character additions were being made to the game, Darth Vader on the PS3 version and Yoda to the Xbox edition. Just before the trailer was played and revealed the Jedi masters as new characters, I slipped away through the kitchen and down the service elevator to bring up five storm troopers and Darth Vader, two of which marched in costume last year at the Rose Bowl. The crowd went wild after seeing the new characters in the trailer and went photo crazy as I entered with the storm troopers and The Sith Lord behind me. I guess that would make me the emperor, a non wrinkly female version that is ;)
As the party went on, I'd continue to check on the storm troopers and Darth to see if they needed a break since their costumes were quite warm. While on break with the dark side, I discovered that these men were doing all this for free. They don Star Wars costumes because they are fans and in lieu of money they request a donation be made to Make-A-Wish foundation instead. How honorable, here they were with families waiting at home and spending four hours in bulky costumes and posing for pictures. While chatting, they shared stories of appearing at fashion shows, parades, LucasArts events, past CES shows and yes even weddings! Although I dressed up as Leia for Halloween once and I do love the original trilogy, I'll pass on the wedding appearance though.
One 501st said that they did an event when it was over 100 out and steam emitted when they took off their helmet since it was even warmer inside it. Yikes! Apparently there are over 4,000 members worldwide, Germany having a large presence (who knew?) and they are hoping to plan a group cruise trip in 2009. The group is so popular that George Lucas added their group name into the Star Wars cannon by having new franchise books name the storm troopers the 501st. Pretty cool that they influenced their influencer. So be sure and think of "hiring" your local garrison for your kids birthday or next corporate event, they were a hit at this one.
After the news, the party goers and press got to play a demo of the game. Unfortunately, I got my ass handed to me by my colleague, twice. It was a lot of fun though. Even Darth Vader played a bit:
Oh and I randomly ran into a guy I went to high school with, he now writes about the gaming industry for Siliconera and was part of the attending press.
Here's the game trailer (Darth and Yoda come in at the end):