The empire is strong in Queensland, Australia! No less than 9 times have Stormtroopers invaded Dreamworld, a theme-park on Australia's Gold Coast, just south of Brisbane.
Once a year since 2010, Australian members of the 501st Legion, LucasFilm's preferred global fan-based costume group entirely devoted to the Star Wars universe, have gathered there to raise funds for charities, give visitors a great experience, and not least have a great time doing it all.
BrisBricks, a recognised LEGO User Group based in and around Brisbane, have attended since 2014. We have supplemented the dressed-up Star Wars characters with Star Wars themed LEGO displays.
On June 23-24 it was the 9th time the event ran. As usual the event attracted thousands of visitors in the otherwise quiet Southern hemisphere winter season.
The event originally coincided with the international Star Wars day “May the fourth (be with you)". However, as it rarely coincided with weekends, the reference to May the fourth has been increasingly inaccurate: firstly being moved to a weekend near that date, then a weekend later in May, and this year it was the end of June. Hence, it has recently simply been known as the Stormtrooper Weekend.
For visitors, this is two days of Star Wars fun, with heaps of Star Wars characters roaming the theme-park, and a huge parade every day. There is also the opportunity for kids to join the Jedi academy to learn some cool lightsabre moves and use these against the Sith.
BrisBricks had it largest presence ever with 10 tables of displays. These covered Ultimate Collector Series sets, a huge Star Wars minifig collection, smaller dioramas and larger displays covering the Battle of Endor and Watto’s junk yard at Tatooine.
The newly released rollercoaster also featured in a theme-park display, appropriately converted to the Star Wars theme. Overall, there was something for all ages and interests. There was also a play area next to the displays.
For BrisBricks it has been a great way to engage with LEGO fans across South East Queensland.
Since its start in 2010, the event has continued to grow. For years, it has been the largest annual gathering of 501st members in the Southern hemisphere. This year 350 members attended from across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Some years have had attendees from US and Europe too.
Steven Kocsis, a long term member of both 501st and BrisBricks, says “For 501st, the Stormtrooper Weekend is by far the event most members have been looking forward to. It is great catching up with members from local to around the world and have some fun together, as when the Scout troopers go on the Motorcoaster rollercoaster together in full outfits. Saturday night we have our “Mixer” social night and Sunday after the event, a trade night for everything related to 501st and Star Wars in general.”
This year 501st were raising money for TLC for Kids, an Australia charity supporting sick kids and their families. After the event, 501st deposited $10,593.40. BrisBricks is proud to be part of events like this.
Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers may be part of the dark side in the Star Wars universe, but the fascination it brings to kids and adults around the world means that these bad guys are excellent for fundraising; hence the motto often used by 501st: “Bad Guys Doing Good”.
All good things will eventually come to an end. It may be the case for the Stormtrooper days too. For 501st to facilitate the arrangement between Dreamworld and Disney, it has lately been increasingly difficult. Alternatives are being considered so we might hopefully see another gathering of Stromtroopers in the region in 2019.
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