A long time ago(1980?) in a shopping mall far, far away (in Macon, GA), I got to meet Darth Vader and Boba Fett. It was prior to the release of The Empire Strikes Back, so it must have been a marketing push to make people aware of the sequel. How silly does that sound now? But back then, there was some fear associated with sequels of blockbusters. Oftentimes, they were outright flops. Sequels just didn’t work in the 70’s so I’m sure that Lucasfilm, who had financed the most expensive indie film ever, were more than a little nervous.
The funny thing is how nervous I was on the afternoon leading up to the big event. I had bought a roll of film and had my camera prepped and ready. Unfortunately, I was a very conservative photographer in those days, so I only got a few shots, but I’m very happy to have them now.
Even then, I used my four shots wisely in an attempt to document costumes that I planned on building later. No, my own suits wouldn’t be 501st quality for years, but I still wanted to get it right. Those were the days when the only pics you could see were in the magazines like Starlog or Famous Monsters or in the official books that were on the market (and cost much more than my paltry allowance). Accurate shots of details were rare at best. Most of the time they just didn’t exist at all, at least not in my world.
Anyway, I just wanted to share these pics with you. As far as I can tell, these are really the movie costumes. Vader’s is from ANH and Fett’s is from TESB. Note that Boba’s belt is on backwards, probably because the LFL rep that dressed him had no idea how it all went together. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about these tours and I figure that the guy in the Vader suit is very likely Kermit Eller. Kermit was THE toursuit guy for LFL’s Vader outings for quite some time, even putting his feet in the cement outside the Chinese theatre here in LA.
I stood in line and got autographed pictures, but those have long since vanished. What remains are these four pictures of which I am very proud. I remember it like it was yesterday, and even George Lucas’ disastrous revisions of the OT can’t diminish those memories. Oh, and by the way, these are the costumes I made: