The Midwest Garrison is the Illinois chapter of The 501st Legion, a Star Wars Imperial costuming club. The 501st is dedicated to the movie-quality costumes of the “villains” of the Star Wars universe.

The MWG provides a means for Star Wars fans to meet and network with each other to engage in the hobby of building and improving Imperial costumes from the Star Wars movies. All of our costumes are scratch-built or “fan-made,” whether through the arduous process of building molds and vacuum-forming, or assembling costumes from found objects.

The majority of our costumes are not available through retail channels. LucasFilms, Ltd. prohibits any mass sales from unlicensed vendors. To become a member of the 501st Legion, one must build and own a costume of the highest quality and as close to appearance in published Star Wars media as possible.

In addition to providing a network for fans to meet, MWG is committed to the community. We offer support at charity events, fundraisers, and social functions by appearing as film-authentic Star Wars characters. While there is no cost to engage our services, we encourage donations to charity on our behalf instead.

Some notable charities with whom we’ve worked include:

History of the MWG

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original logo by Thomas Spanos

During the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, a growing number of people experienced a resurgence of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Arturo Delgado, Michael Washko, Luis Bolieve, Javier Esqueda, and Scott Holder who were members of the “Imperial Squad”, began making appearances in theaters across the state of Illinois. It’s needless to say that the fans were very excited to see real Stormtroopers walking around. In the summer of 1999, during “Wizard World Chicago”, Arturo, Michael, Luis, and Javier decided to form the “Midwest Garrison” bringing more fans together. Scott was not present at Wizard World but he is still a founding member. Doug Fesko, Robb Roidt, Damian Jorgensen, and others quickly joined and by the end of 1999, the Midwest Garrison had over 25 members across its original states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Although all the original states have expanded and formed their own Garrisons, the Midwest Garrison continues to grow with over 200 active members in Illinois.

About the “Imperial Squad”

During the release of the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi on March 14, 1997, Albin Johnson and Tom Crews donned Stormtrooper (TK) armor to celebrate this exciting event. The reaction of the fans in the theater was so thrilling that it gave Albin & Tom an idea. The website “Detention Block 2551” was created, telling the stories of TK-210 & TK-512 and the Imperial Unit named “Vader’s Fist.” Within months, Star Wars fans from all over the world began joining what was called the “Imperial Squad” which later became the “501st Legion”.