Star Wars Running Costumes

This year with Disney’s purchase of the Star Wars franchise, Disneyland hosted the inaugural RunDisney Star Wars 5k, 10k, and 1/2 marathon. It was a full weekend of Star Wars themed runs through Disneyland. In my opinion, the runs were pretty expensive, and it was obvious Disney was milking Star Wars fans and runners for every penny and ounce of publicity for these runs. For a 10k, the run was pricey and the start time was really early. My guess is that they wanted to finish the run before the parks opened so they would not lose any money on admission from the general public. So did I give my hard-earned cash to the Galactic Empire (aka Disney)? You bet I did.

StarWarsHalfA group of us (fans and non-fans) signed up for this run, and I was determined to have some kick-butt costumes. For any other run, costumes are great, but not ultra-important. However, a STAR WARS run is my home territory. I could not call my self a good fan if I had some half-hearted costume. For months, I began researching and planning. I wanted something eye-catching, recognizable, respectable (by other fans), and very functional for running.

Disney had some cool backdrops for photos at the pre-run expo.

Disney had some cool backdrops for photos at the pre-run expo. Here we are onboard an Imperial Star Destroyer before we make the jump to hyperspace.

My mind raced through a bunch of characters, but I knew most of the runners would go to standard characters for costumes. I wanted something different. Plus, we were running with 10-12 people, and the costumes had to look good when we were together. Star Wars fans get excited for any cool costumes, but I feel like they especially respect things that are less “pop”. For example, a Princess Leia costume is always cool, but a character with less on-screen time (like Boushh) is a tad more interesting. I think fans also appreciate thought and ingenuity. A clever homemade costume is better than something off-the-rack.

I am opposed to plastic mask costumes at this point in my life.

I am opposed to store-bought plastic mask costumes at this point in my life.

The costumes also had to be very functional. Only about half the group were real fans, so I knew the non-fans would not want anything too crazy. We even had a friend who had not seen the movies (preposterous, I know)! Whereas I would be willing to run with, let’s say, a complete AT-AT costume, I knew others would not. If these costumes were too big or restricted movement too much, I would not have full buy-in from our group.

Considering all these factors, I decided to go with a squadron of TIE fighters. I knew our heads could be used as the ball-like cockpit, and we could attach the hexagon solar panels to the sides. I began drawing up a few different plans. One was to use a headband and attach crocheted solar panels over the ears. Another plan was to crochet the whole thing into a hat. The final plan used grey beanies with plush solar panels. When constructing a TIE fighter costume, I figured there were a few crucial, iconic elements of the costume that would make it recognizable by the majority of the SW fanbase. To me, these icons were: 1) the hexagon solar panel wings, 2) the round cockpit “ball”, and 3) the octagon cockpit window. I also wanted to take the design up a notch and add either lasers or the twin-ion engines using LED lights. If we represented these elements well, people would instantly know what we were. If we failed, the costumes would be a waste of time and money. I told the group to wear black tops and bottoms to represent space. I had a few black SW shirts for our family already. SCORE.

The TIE fighter. The non-fans in our group kept referring to these as "the spaceships of the bad guys". sigh.

The Imperial TIE fighter. The non-fans in our group kept referring to these as “the spaceships of the bad guys”. sigh.

I started planning with Tina (our best crocheter) and Steph (our best seamstress/crafter). We drew up a general plan, and started buying supplies. With shipping, the entire costume was a little under $10/person. The bigger the group, the cheaper it got. Here’s a supply list:

1. grey beanies – blankcaps.com for $2.50/hat

2. grey fabric – from Steph

3. iron-on printable paper – Amazon for about $10

4. LED body lights – Lite Bright Raves for about $1.30/light (minimum order required)

I found some pictures of TIE fighters online and used photoshop to make a printable template for the solar panel wings and the cockpit window. Then we had a TIE fighter production night, and a few of us printed, sewed, and stuffed to pop out the Imperial starfighters. We ended up with this:

Our TIE Fighter.

Our TIE Fighter. Not as fearsome, but definitely warmer.

Since some of our group didn’t know much about Star Wars, I gave them these instructions.

For rookies, the TIE Fighter is the basic starfighter of the Galactic Empire (bad guys) in the Star Wars saga. They are called TIE fighters because of their “twin-ion engines”. They were fast and maneuverable, and traveled in groups with larger ships. It might seem a bit geeky to know all this, but fans may take offense if you don’t know what a TIE fighter is.

I told the group that people will get MAD if you don’t know what your costume is, so if someone asks, best not to reveal your ignorance. One of our friends ran into this situation, and told the fan she didn’t know what a TIE fighter was… the fan scolded her and told her to take off the hat! I partly agreed with the fan, but this friend actually ended up really enjoying the costume and its functionality (she was the only one to wear the costume ALL day), so her blasphemy is forgiven.

Tina from Tinamadeit.com gave me this amazing UCLA Star Wars shirt. I felt doubly proud wearing it for this.

Tina from Tinamadeit.com gave me this amazing UCLA Star Wars shirt. I felt doubly proud wearing it. I made Fara wear a SW shirt from Uniqlo. I think she was doubly embarrassed.

I was happy to witness how well-received the costumes were among the fans. As soon as we started walking toward the start line, fans started shouting “a squadron of TIE fighters!”. Throughout the race, people would come up to us and tell us how cool the hats were. We even got a few runners asking where they could buy them. Mission accomplished. My wife was shocked at how many people recognized our costumes. My reply to her: “I know my people.” haha.

The flashing LED lights were a hit when we lined up for the start at 5am! I put another pair of lights on the back of the hat for the ion engines.

The flashing LED lights were a hit when we lined up for the start at 5am! I put another pair of lights on the back of the hat for the ion engines.

There were a ton of other amazing costumes at the race. My personal favorite was a George Lucas costume. There were also a few other TIE fighters, all of which were very cool. Disney went all out for this, with theme music, decorations, and tons of SW characters along the race course to take pictures. Fan-runners were so excited about the SW characters, there were HUGE lines along the course where runners would stop to take pictures! At first I was skeptical about the cost of this run, but I’m a believer now. It was a blast. I can’t wait until next year. Time to start planning the costumes!

A post-race group shot of our squadron. Today, the Empire won.

A post-race group shot of our squadron. Today, the Empire won.

If you try this costume idea, let me know how it turns out! And may the Force be with you.

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2 responses to “Star Wars Running Costumes

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