Becoming a Member of the 501st Legion

Welcome to our website, home of the 501st Legion’s – New England Garrison! There is a lot of information to take in when inquiring about joining the 501st Legion and sometimes it can be hard to find what you need. We have put together this list of “frequently asked questions” to try to make it easier for you to find the answers you seek. If you don’t see your answer here, please contact us directly at Someone will respond to your message and try to help answer any additional questions that you may have.

  • What is required to become a Cadet in the “Imperial Academy” of the New England Garrison?

First off, anyone interested in joining must be 18 years of age or older in order to register for an account on our forum.

Second, and this is important to know, you ARE NOT required to own a costume prior to registering for an account on our forum. Upon having your forum account activated you will be enlisted in our Imperial Academy program, which will supply you with the basics to research things like:
A) What costume you would like to build, if you have not picked one already.
B) Where to look for some of the parts needed to build a costume.
C) General “tips and tricks” that will assist you while building your costume.

  • How much time do I have to finish my costume?

There are no time limits on being enrolled in our Imperial Academy. It does not matter if it takes you 6 months or 6 years to finish. The 501st Legion has been around since 1997 and is not going away, so we will still be here when you are done.

  • Can someone help me build my costume?

The Imperial Academy does have a “Mentor Program”, which pairs up a Cadet with an NEG Member (aka: Mentor). The Mentor is available to provide the Cadet with assistance in building their costume and may do so however they can. While not everyone who enrolls in the Imperial Academy is assigned a Mentor right away, we do our best to make sure that everyone is able to get some help when they need it.

From time to time we also organize “group build days”, where everyone gets together and works on their costumes. These are a great opportunity to get some help and meet your fellow garrison mates!

  • Where do I find the components to build a costume (armor, helmet, etc)?

There are people within the costuming community that make and sell things like armor and helmets (aka: hard parts) to build a Stormtrooper or a Biker Scout, as well as people who make the fabric (aka: soft parts) for things like an Imperial Officer or Sith Lord. Unfortunately there is not a “Costuming Yellow Pages” to direct folks to who makes what. However we do have some of this information available on our forum, so once you have been enrolled into our Imperial Academy you will have access to some of these resources and their makers.

Once your forum account has been activated you will be able to make posts on the forum and send Private Messages to other members. So if you have a question and don’t know where to find the answer don’t be afraid to ask! Sometimes hours of searching different websites for part of a costume can be avoided by simply asking a question right here.

NOTE: Star Wars costumes that are commercially available in stores or online may not be acceptable for membership! It is recommended that you ask for some advice before purchasing a retail costume to find out if it is accepted or what modifications might be required. You can start a new thread and upload a picture for everyone to view or contact our Garrison Membership Liaison ( and ask them directly.

  • How do I build a costume?

Generally speaking our members build their own costumes; everyone acquires the components needed to build the costume and assembles them. The process behind building a costume can involve materials like fabric, leather and plastic and techniques like sewing, glueing and painting. Having some experience with any of these is helpful but is not required. Most of our members have learned how to do this stuff after joining our group, so you will be in good company here.

Sometimes a 501st member will sell a completed costume and place a “For Sale” thread on our forum. This does not happen that often but when it does it provides people with an quick and easy opportunity to add a new costume to their collection. The catch here is that the person selling the costume might not be the same size (height or weight) as you, so the work involved with re-fitting the costume might not be worth the effort.

  • How much does all of this stuff cost?

While being a member of the 501st Legion and owning a Star Wars costume is a fun and rewarding hobby, it can be an expensive hobby. The cost involved with building a costume will vary, depending on how much of it you make yourself versus buying components made by another person. For a basic costume you can expect to spend anywhere between $200-400, this would include something like a Jawa, an Imperial Crewman or Imperial Officer. For something middle of the road that includes armor you are looking at between $500-800+ for say a Snowtrooper or Stormtrooper. If you are looking at some of the more iconic characters like Darth Vader or Boba Fett, now you are up in the $1500+ range.

  • Are there certain guidelines for building a costume?

Yes there are. The 501st Legion prides itself on having members with costumes that appear as if they walked right off a movie screen. It is this level of dedication and attention to detail that has earned us the spot of being LucasFilm’s preferred Imperial Costuming group! The guidelines, Visual Guides, that are used for building a costume can be found on and are located in our Costume Reference Library. All costumes that are being submitted for membership must meet these guidelines. If you are unsure of how they work or have a question while using them to build your costume, ask questions before doing something. It’s always easier to ask a question beforehand than it is to change something after the fact.

  • How do I choose which costume is best for me?

To make it easier to get help with your desired project, the 501st Legion has formed detachments focused on particular costumes. Visit the detachments listing page on to find the right group for you! Once you’ve settled on a character it’s just a matter of heading over to that forum, signing up, and getting some additional help from those who have been where you are now.

The best way to determine which costume is best for you is to think about a few things first:
A) Take into consideration your skills with tools and general assembly techniques. If you take on a project that is too big and suffer a setback it can be a devastating blow to your motivation. Sometimes thinking a little smaller for your first costume is better, you can always build another one down the road (and most people do).
B) Think about the cost. Remember that the expense involved with this hobby can get up there.
C) What is your favorite character? Some people are drawn to the might of the faceless army of the Empire and choose a Stormtrooper, while others want to stand out from the crowd and go with Darth Vader.

  • OK, I have read through all of this and am ready to join. What is the next step?

That is easy! The next step is to click here and fill out the registration form. Be sure to read through the “Terms and Conditions” page, fill in the fields provided on the following page and hit the “Submit” button. This will send an alert to our Academy Dean, who will respond by sending you an e-mail with a questionnaire. After you answer all of the questions and return them to our Academy Dean, your forum account will be activated. A “welcome”thread will be created as well, so be sure to log in and say hi to the group!