Local Star Wars fans out in force for annual celebration

During the lightsaber stunt workshop, children were brought on stage to learn to fight with the lightsabers.
PHOTO: The New Paper

It was a family affair as fans of all ages came together for the Star Wars Day (SWD) weekend festivities.

SWD is celebrated all over the world on May 4 ("May the fourth be with you" is the tagline).

This is the third Singapore instalment of the fan-driven, fan-organised celebration that will continue today from 11am to 8pm.

The inaugural event was held at the Jurong Regional Library in 2014 and has continued to grow in scale, with this year's SWD taking place at OCBC Square, Singapore Sports Hub.

Mr Hansen Khoo, 42, a professional event planner and SWD's main organiser over the three years, prepared a year in advance for this year's edition.

He told The New Paper on Sunday: "At the first event, we expected 500 people to show up but 2,000 came instead.

"And last year's turnout ranged from 5,000 to 6,000. We expect this year's to surpass that."

Kicking things off was a walk-in from the Singapore chapters of the worldwide Star Wars costuming organisations, the 501st Legion Singapore Garrison and Rebel Legion, for the opening ceremony.

Mr Herve Cotton, 42, who was the first registered member of the volunteer-based Rebel Legion in Singapore two years ago, dressed up as Luke Skywalker while his two sons Alex, 13, and Olivier, 12, cosplayed as Anakin Skywalker and a Padawan respectively.

The French national, who relocated to Singapore with his family from the Philippines in 2008, said: "There came a point in my life where I looked around and realised that I had food on the table and healthy kids, and it was time for me to give back.

"So I wanted to do it in the funniest and most fun way possible.

"Since I was a Star Wars fan, I knew about the 501st Legion, but I had always to be a Jedi. So I looked for the Rebel Legion in Singapore, but they did not exist.

"We started with three members and now we have 25."

Mr Cotton added: "(Being part of the Rebel Legion) is nice bonding time for my family.

"Not only going for the event but also preparing for it, as we make some of our costumes on our own so we sit down and discuss how we want it done."

Another highlight of SWD was the FightSaber stunt workshop, where children were brought on stage to learn how to fight with lightsabers.

Benjamin Scollon, nine, was one of the lucky few who got to learn some moves.

He said: "I've been a fan since watching (the 2015 movie) Star Wars: The Force Awakens (last) December and when a friend told us about the event, I knew I had to come.

"The fighting on stage was pretty cool."

Perhaps the biggest attraction, however, was the largest public display of Star Wars toys and collectibles in South-east Asia put up by fans.

One such fan and toy collector, Mr Paul Armory, a 43-year-old American who will be based in Singapore for the next few years, brought his entire collection from the US to keep him company during his stay here.

The display featured both a vast vintage collection between the years of 1977 and 1985, and a modern collection.

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He said: "We have variants of toys all the way from Mexico, the US, France and the UK.

"It is amazing because these haven't been shipped in or anything, they belong to locals who keep them in their homes."

Fellow toy collector Dan Ho, a 35-year-old IT professional, added: "It gives people who may not collect or are new collectors a chance to learn more about Star Wars, like 'Oh look, I've never noticed this thing or this person and there's a name to it, now I know.'"

Another toy collector, Mr Mohd Redwan, has attended all three SWDs and arrived this year with his wife and two young kids in tow.

All were decked out in Star Wars T-shirts, with his four-year-old son even donning a Darth Vader mask.

The 34-year-old chemist said: "I keep coming back because of my love of Star Wars and seeing the toy collection today is amazing - I'd like to own all of this one day.

"I love events like this because it is not just a chance for Star Wars fans to get our dose, but for others to get interested too."

natmeah@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 1, 2016.
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