MAD and ROBOT CHICKEN's Kevin Shinick to be Inducted Into 501st Legion at Meltdown, 2/27
Kevin Shinick, MAD, Robot Chicken, 501st Legion, Meltdown Comics
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The 501st Legion began in 1997 as a simple fan website called Detention Block 2551. Today, the term "501st" yields nearly one million results in a Google search. Among the 501st's most notable events are annual appearances at Dragon*Con, San Diego Comic-Con, and Disney's Star Wars Weekends. All 501st members operate on a volunteer basis, donating countless hours of their time to charity fundraisers throughout the world. The 501st Legion's extensive list of Honorary Members includes the likes of Mark Hamill, James Earl Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Seth Green and George Lucas himself. In 2002, the 501st Legion appeared on stage during a No Doubt concert as the band played their own striking rendition of the "Imperial March." Among the biggest collectors of 501st t-shirts are Star Wars actors Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). Every 501st member is assigned a unique Legion ID number for life. Some members even have their number tattooed to show their passion for the Legion. Although Stormtroopers make up the majority of 501st members, other acceptable costumes types include villains such as Tusken Raiders, Bounty Hunters and Sith Lords. The 501st Legion's worldwide ranks are organized into distinct units called Garrisons, Squads, and Outposts. An independent documentary film called "Heart of an Empire" premiered in 2007 chronicling the life and times of the Fighting 501st Legion. The 501st's ongoing charity work includes such notable beneficiaries as the Ronald McDonald House, the Special Olympics, Toys for Tots, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The 501st Legion takes great pride in making dozens of hospital visits each year to brighten the lives of sick children. In 2005, LucasArts paid tribute to the 501st Legion by making them the central characters of the video game Star Wars: Battlefront II. In October 2005, starwars.com added the 501st Legion to its growing databank of officially-recognized characters with behind-the-scenes details recognizing the original fan organization. In 2006, Toy manufacturer Hasbro immortalized the 501st in plastic by producing an exclusive 501st Legion Stormtrooper action figure whose packaging was designed around the group's popular trading card series. As early as 1998, the 501st Legion's ranks included several female members dispelling the notion that a Star Wars costuming club would have a predominately male base. Today's Legion boasts a 24% female membership. In July 2007, Lucasfilm and Hasbro produced an action figure of R2-KT, a pink Imperial droid honoring the memory of Katie Johnson, daughter of Legion Founder Albin Johnson. Subsequently, $100,000 was donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make dreams come true for sick children. Emphasizing the fact that the 501st is a global organization, the Legion had an active member on each of the Earth's seven continents in 2007---including a trooper stationed in Antarctica.
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