2017 Star Wars Rebel Challenge – Half Marathon

Don’t forget to read about the runDisney expo experience and my recap of the Star Wars 10K

After running the 10K – and all-out racing about half of it to beat the time cutoff after nearly 45 minutes of character photo stops – I woke up at about 3AM Sunday with sore legs. But I geared up in my deconstructed BB-8 costume and we headed back out to the starting line for the half marathon, taking our time now that we knew what to expect.

After milling around and watching the pre-show (most of the same patter as the day before, but with a Vader appearance instead of a Jedi show), I kissed Mike goodbye and headed into the Corral G where I met up with a Twitter/IG friend Alex (who I’d met in person for the first time the day before at the We Run Social meetup)!

Just like the 10K the day before, the half started on almost the same course through California Adventure then Disneyland for the first 4.5-ish miles, and had character stops along the way. I had decided to not stop for any long lines, so I ran past the long line for BB-8 and skipped Chewy because I knew he’d be in the park. There were a few other stops for Rebels and I think an R2D2 stop again, but I DID stop for a few fun little things that took only about 2-5 minutes each, with almost no lines:

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Had to stop for just one of the Mile signs

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Stormtroopers found me!!

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I found a speeder! Wish I could have stolen it to finish the race.

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Alliance Starbird sighting on the roller coaster!

I also had to stop at around Mile 2 when I noticed the words scrolling along the marquee of a theater in California Adventure:

Yes, it says “May the force be with you, Princess Leia Organa”, and yes, I openly sobbed and had to catch my breath before I started running again. I was wondering if there would be a tribute to Carrie Fisher, and this was a very sweet, subtle way that still took my breath away. Well done, Disney.

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After we left the park at around Mile 4.5, the rest of the miles were out on the streets of Anaheim. I was prepared for this with my headphones, and also knew from previous runner’s race recaps that there would be a lot of on-course entertainment. BOY they weren’t kidding! Local marching bands, color guards, spectators, cosplayers – TONS of cosplayers! – at basically every step of the way there was something to dance to, smile at, take a selfie with, and generally enjoy.

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Like a random “halfway-ish point” sign that someone made and took our pictures with!

When we got to the cosplayers around Mile 7, I had a blast.

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Kylo Ren was the first person I ran into, and after taking a selfie and telling him to smile, he punched himself in the stomach to summon that anger in response. The Leia a few feet away from him was laughing as I got to her next. I asked her, “He’s your son, can’t you get him in line??” to which she replied, “I just can’t do a damn thing with him.” We had a good giggle at that:

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Beyond that, I stopped at SO many points for a few seconds to selfie with these folks – they were TRULY happy to be out there giving out high fives and taking photos. Some people even tricked out their cars!!

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The energy on the course was like nothing I’d ever felt. Everyone was laughing and cheering and calling out character names, having a blast, and I swear when I passed the first section of cosplayers, my cheeks hurt from smiling so hard.

And just when I thought it was over, another wave of folks had lined up around mile 8! Han, Lando, a pack of hysterical Rebel pilots, Jyn Erso – even Finn came out to cheer us on!

These people gave me just the boost I needed to get through the double digit mark. Around Mile 10 I ducked off course for my third port-a-potty stop of the race and finally decided to stop at the medical tent nearby for some Imodium. My nerves were wreaking havoc on my belly (as they tend to do during big races) and while I ate light that morning, the cramps I was experiencing when I started to run again after every walk stop were getting to be very painful. Hey – running isn’t all glamorous selfies and happy fun time! But luckily the pill worked and within minutes I felt much better in time for the final 2 miles.

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I was feeling tired by this point, and I’ll admit I walked a little bit every half mile. The pain of re-starting my run though was a bit much so I decided to shuffle along without stopping once I hit the final mile. All the bathroom and photo stops had brought my average pace to around 13:40/mile so while I knew I wasn’t in danger of being swept, I also wanted to give it my all.

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Once we hit the Mile 13 marker, I took off. The crowds lining the finish chute were SO excited, and the energy was contagious. A few kids even yelled out “BB-8!!” when I passed and made me laugh.

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With the finish line in sight, I started to well up again (god I’m a huge softy), and crossed with a huge smile.

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And just seconds after I crossed, the confetti canons went off!

I was handed my half marathon medal and started crying for real now – I had done it! 19.3 miles in two days, plus extra from walking around the park too. It was a huge scary goal that I’d set for myself months ago with a slight bit of fear that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish it. But I had done it, and I was still standing and smiling!

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The runDisney staff made it super easy for me to get my Rebel Challenge medal, calling out that challenge runners were to take a right to have our photos checked (they photographed us at bib pickup) and to receive our medals. I didn’t have to wait at all, just walked over and was handed my medal and wished congratulations. Then we had the option to take Rebel Challenge photos (yes please!) and walked out of the finisher’s area with my second runDisney snack box of the weekend to meet up with Mike.

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It was a beautiful morning, and after shuffling back through Downtown Disney to get to the bus, we made it back to the hotel for a quick shower and got back out to Disneyland for our first day in the actual park – and to show off my new bling!

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Overall, it was an incredible experience, from start to finish. I was so impressed with the way the race was managed that I upgraded from the Dark Side Half Marathon to the challenge as soon as I got home!

Stay tuned for my final post about my Disney trip, in which I eat all the Star Wars themed things and get the best hug of my life from a real Wookiee!

2017 Star Wars Rebel Challenge – Light Side 10K

After Day 1 of the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend, it was time to finally get to the RUNNING part of the show! On Saturday morning our alarm went off at 2:45 and we were dressed and out the door by 3:30.

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By staying at a hotel so close to Disneyland, we had access to the free shuttle that came right to our hotel door every 20 minutes and dropped us off at the entrance to the park. So convenient! Also, the start was at the far end of Downtown Disney, where all the bakeries and coffee shops had opened early especially for the races. Which meant we got to take our time and sip some tea (and I got my pre-race fuel on!) at a nice warm Starbucks at 4am.

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The pre-race staging area was… I’m just going to say it… awesome. It was relatively empty by the time we got there at 4:15, and with the start more than an hour away we had time to wait in short lines for fun photo ops like the Wampa Cave on Hoth, and the Trash Compactor scene!

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Listen to them, R2 – they’re dying down there!

In addition to some warmup dancing, the race announcers did their little patter and I was all in.

They played trailers for the movies and had cast members as Jedi do a little lightsaber show that I know is meant for children but I still cheered for and shed a tear or two because I am a huge baby. Come on, they’re JEDI!

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Soon it was 5am and we had to herd ourselves into the corrals. I said goodbye to Mike and easily found my way (after a little bit of people traffic) to Corral D. Huge balloons with our letters on them were stationed all along the road and cast members directed us by reading our assignments on our bibs and pointing us in the right direction. Easy-peasy.

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Easy-peasy, times a MILLION

I made a new friend in the corral (what’s up, Ali!?) and we chatted to pass the time before the prompt 5:30am start time. By 5:45 we toed the start, and finally the horn went off!

We started on a slight uphill, and immediately I noticed: it was COLD! I had expected California to be warm, dammit, but it was in the 40’s at the start. But we charged through the first half mile in the dark, along a service road and into California Adventure where we were treated to cute Star Wars mentions (logos projected on the sides of buildings, the theme music playing throughout the whole park, etc).

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At one point right before Mile 1, they played the audio of the scene where Rey and Finn steal the Millenium Falcon, and I had a good laugh when me and another Rey on the course both decided to yell out, “The garbage will do!” together.

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At Mile 1 I stopped for a quick photo op with my namesake and was pleased to discover runDisney perk #4,281: photographers that use YOUR camera! At every stop the Disney folks were true pros, taking TONS of photos for free and handing your camera back so you can take off running. I was so excited to learn this – but also sad to see the next photo stop was R2-D2 and C3PO, and the line was LONG.

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It was ok, I reasoned with myself, I only planned on stopping for the one character I knew would be there: BB8. Knowing it’s the Light Side, I expected R2 and 3PO but I’m not SUPER crazy about them. I also figured Chewy and probably Vader would be on the course, but knew I could get pics with them in the park, so didn’t want to waste time there either. BB was the only must-do I knew of. Until a certain Master of the Knights of Ren showed up and threw a monkeywrench into my plans. But more on that later.

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From Mile 1 we continued on past Paradise Pier and backstage – because it was the first time I’d seen any of this, I could feel myself welling up at some of the really amazing sights:

From there we continued backstage to the 5k point where I found the line for BB-8 and made my first stop. A 25-minute long stop!

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I even made friends with line mates like this woman who wanted a picture for her granddaughter because “Rey is her favorite!”

We chatted with each other as the line crept up, and after about 15 minutes I realized catching up to my old pace after this stop was going to be brutal. My legs had gone cold. My knees started to lock up. It was OK, though, I told myself. This was my only stop. Right before I got up to take my photo, a woman behind us announced that her friend ahead of her just spotted Kylo Ren on the course at mile 3.7.

::cue record scratch and breaking glass::

Say WHAT? I had no idea he’d be out there! I HAD to get a photo. Would I be able to make it? I looked out at the course, where folks were still moving at a moderate pace, but a lot of walkers were in there too. I could do it, I reasoned. I HAD to. I asked the cast member as we prepared for my BB8 pic: Kylo is the next stop, isn’t he? He nodded. How fast am I going to have to run to catch him? This cast member, bless his heart, merely took my phone from me, closed his eyes and said solemnly, “Really fast.

Well that settles that. Take my pic and let me RUN!

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And run I did! No, really: I glanced at my watch as I sprinted the next .6 miles and saw an 8:12 pace at one point. I wasn’t messing around. And sure enough, right at 3.7, there he was: Kylo Ren. Along with a line that looked to be about 34 miles long.

But I didn’t care. I jumped into the line and it turns out the line wasn’t THAT long – after standing for about 5 minutes, we’d moved almost halfway through the line. I even had time to snap a photo of another runner dressed as Kylo Ren, complete with his flowing raven locks (a hysterical wig):

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Another 5 minutes later, a cast member announced that the sweepers were only 10 minutes behind us. 10 MINUTES?! Panicked, I counted 5 people ahead of me. I could do it. I had to chance it. If I jumped out and sprinted and missed my photo op, I’d hate myself. So I stuck it out. And I am SO glad I did. Because Mr. Ren seriously enjoyed sassing me. And judging by how I reacted in the photos, I enjoyed it too! Observe:

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Stage 1: You aren’t so tough.

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Stage 2: Oh my god you’re actually kind of tough and getting all up in my personal space with your face and your finger, please stop, or maybe don’t, also is that Dolce & Gabanna cologne?

Stage 3: this is where I actually started asking the cast members what to do, because Kylo was still monologuing about how he could teach me the ways of the Force and blah blah blah and I had to get running because the sweepers were on their way.

The funniest part of this whole interaction was that the cast members just rolled with it. No one was like “OK, great! You’re done!” They just let me flounder helplessly as they snapped pictures of me looking right at them, begging them for help. That’s commitment!

Finally, I was able to grab my camera and I  TOOK OFF. Knowing the sweepers weren’t too far behind, I wasn’t about to stick to my leisurely 12:xx pace for the last 2 miles. I knew it would shred my legs before the half, but I had no choice now. But that didn’t stop me from having fun:

 

Yes, I did airplane arms through Tomorrowland.

I couldn’t help it, I was riding the high of nailing both character stops and the unexpected excitement of getting to hang with Kylo Ren! But by now we were now in Disneyland proper, and it was CROWDED. I fought my way through crowds and weaved where I could, wanting to make up some lost time but still managing to snap pics of some Stormtroopers and Captain Phasma as she stood on a bridge and watched us all go by.

With less than a half mile to go, I slowed down; my legs were TIRED from all the sprinting, and I knew the half the next day wouldn’t feel so easy if I pushed straight through. So I walked and jogged to keep my pace, and had a huge laugh when I ran into a crew of Matt the Radar Technicians:

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Bonus: I think I now have my costume for the Dark Side 10K in April!

As I neared the finish I got a burst of energy: all the folks lining the finish area and cheering for us were SO excited, calling out our character names and even finding our names on our bibs to cheer us on that way. It was truly incredible to cross the finish line and finally get my BB-8 spinner medal!

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After getting my medal, the finisher’s chute led us through a tent where I picked up a bottle of water, snack box and banana, and then I found Mike easily near the stage. I breathlessly told him all about the race, we all wandered through Downtown Disney back to the buses, surrounded by the ::clink clink clink:: of everyone’s medals as they walked, and we made it back to the hotel for a quick shower before the We Run Social meetup at Trader Sam’s later that afternoon (and a churro).

It was SO incredible to finally meet all the folks I’d only ever chatted with online – the running community is the best. Once the excitement settled down, we headed to Tortilla Jo’s for a victory lap of guacamole and wine, and some yummy fuel before the half marathon the next day!

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Stay tuned for my half marathon recap!

2017 Star Wars Rebel Challenge – Expo and Bib Pickup

It’s no secret that in addition to being a Star Wars fan, I’m an avid runner. Back in 2017, I ran both of Disney’s Light and Dark Side Challenges on either coast to complete the Kessel Run Challenge. While you may not be into running, you’re sure to get a kick out of the costumes and Disney fun I had, so get ready to dive into the 2017 Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend in Disneyland with Day One: Expo & Bib Pickup!

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This was my first runDisney weekend, and while I was a newbie, I still had high expectations. The race fees for these things are borderline obscene at $330 for the Rebel Challenge (10K and Half Marathon), and I expected to get my money’s worth. I’ll ruin the surprise for you: I did. The runDisney folks nailed every aspect of the weekend and then some. Crowd management, security, entertainment, course support; everything was impeccable. And with more than 12,000 participants in the half marathon, that’s quite a feat.

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We flew out Thursday, thinking our 4pm arrival time would give us plenty of room to get to the expo before it closed at 8pm. Unfortunately the weather had other plans and with all the rain-related and rush hour LA traffic, we didn’t end up getting to our HOTEL until 8pm, famished and exhausted. So we scrapped our perfectly planned day 1 and instead stuffed our faces with burgers from the Carl’s Jr. around the corner and passed out by 9:30.

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WORTH IT. SO WORTH IT.

On Friday we woke early and headed into Downtown Disney to get breakfast and kill time before the expo opened at 12, and I might have gone into Disneyland overload.

See, I’ve never been to Disneyland before, and while I’m not usually one to go ga-ga over the whole Mouse and pony show (see what I did there?), it’s hard not to get swept up into the Happiest-Place-on-Earth mania when you’re in the middle of it.

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Especially when they’ve got BB-8 Mickey ears.

We wandered through shops and grabbed some sandwiches, then headed over to the expo at about 11:30 where I was treated to my first glimpse into the runDisney machine: the LINES.

When we walked down the ramp, we were directed to go “left for bib pickup, right for merchandise”. Thanks to my diligent research (reading 1,482 blog recaps from other runners), I knew that merch would be my best bet as they frequently sell out of hot-ticket items, and I didn’t want to miss out on scoring a fun jacket or whatever else struck my fancy. So we were herded into the right side of the basement with what soon felt like about three thousand other people. I was ready to be disappointed by a 2+ hour wait after hearing about other people’s experiences, but was surprised when they opened exactly at 12 and we were moved back up the ramp and into the hotel for a short line around the merch tent itself.

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We only had to wait about another 20 or so minutes as people filtered in and out, and soon we were in the hallowed hall of gear where I snagged a Rebel Challenge jacket, hat, headband, magnet and tank. The jacket was my favorite thing, as I had seen previous year’s versions and got super jealous when I saw folks wearing them around.

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While I scoffed at the prices on some things ($36 for a thin cotton t-shirt?), the semi-outrageous prices made it easier for me to pick and choose the things I really wanted instead of going overboard. After leaving the merch tent and being herded to another quick line to pay, we were released into the wild again. And while I thought I’d have to go back on that crazy basement line for my bib, I walked RIGHT up to the counter for my bib and was told to go pick up my shirts in the expo!

The expo was a little crowded, and I was relieved to find that my Women’s Large shirts fit just perfectly. Knowing I had a long two days ahead of me, we opted to skip wandering through the whole expo and grabbed a quick bowl of soup then headed back to the hotel. But not before I serenaded Mike and everyone who watched my IG stories that day with my rendition of the Star Wars theme song that played as we left the park:

I also managed to snap a pic of a bus that matched my BB-8 mickey ears too perfectly:

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Clearly I needed a nap. So after relaxing a bit at the hotel, we walked across the street to Roscoe’s House of Chicken n Waffles for an early dinner.

It was there, halfway through my Carol C. Special of a breast and a waffle, that I decided to move to Anaheim and become a professional Disney runner. Not really, but you know what I mean. I was pretty blissed out on a day filled with Star Wars and running fun and was ready to do anything it took to make it last.

Fun story to end Day 1: When we got back to our hotel, we stopped at the gift shop to pick up some snacks and water, and I discovered an impossible treasure trove of Star Wars toys that I promptly took off the shelves, blew the dust off, and went insane over.

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I’m not talking original trilogy holy grail type stuff, but Episode 1, late 90’s things that I’m pretty sure Liam Neeson wishes would disappear:

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Look at our matching faces!!

After Mike pried me away from the gift shop, no toys in hand, I laid out my gear for the 10K the next morning, set my alarm for the impossibly early hour of 2:45AM (what the HELL), and we were asleep by about 9.

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Stay tuned for my recap of the 10K, where I cried in happiness twice, had my personal space invaded by Kylo Ren and nearly got swept off a race course for the first time in my running career!

Jedi in Training: Building Resistance Rey

Before I even had my Rebel Legion approved Jakku Rey finished, I had already set my sights on my next costume:

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Resistance Rey

When I first saw this costume at the end of The Force Awakens, I immediately gasped and thought: THAT is a costume I want to wear. But having been a member of the Rey Cosplay Community on Facebook for a few months, I’d seen the struggles these ladies went through while trying to get their vests and gauntlets just right.

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But thanks to Jakku Rey, I had a LOT of the parts for this costume already: the staff, belt, boots, leg holster and even the blaster (which was totally a “tipsy on Etsy” purchase that I DO NOT REGRET). I needed, essentially, just a few pieces:

  • vest & gauntlets
  • gray gauze wraps (for under the gauntlets)
  • wrap shirt
  • pants

Considering I’d done my share of research and – let’s be real, creeping – on the folks who had built this costume before me, I was fairly certain I’d be able to commission most of it and give the pants a try on my own.

I didn’t dwell on it too often though; my Jakku Rey build took up most of my time, and my initial rejection after my pants were too green (more on that later) left a sour taste in my mouth for a minute. But instead of being a Petty Betty, I continued to watch and admire all those beautifully crafted vests and gauntlets from talented seamstresses in our group and thought “Maybe if I hit the lottery.”

Well, turns out I didn’t need the lottery – just a surprise bonus at work and a grateful Scavenger Sister who discounted her work to nearly half the usual price!

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Wendy of Chic and Geeks is a real life ANGEL, you guys.

Seriously. Just look at that detail:

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Not only did she NOT reach through the phone and slap me silly when I went bananas trying to figure out my measurements, but she created the vest, gauntlets, AND bag for me at an incredible price – AND she even threw in the gray arm wraps for me at the last minute!

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They are so far beyond anything I could have created myself – seriously, my plan was to just wing it with gray gauze fabric and hope for the best. Instead, she wrapped, stitched, and color matched these babies to the whole outfit so I don’t have to waste another month of work on that “tiny” detail.

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And don’t even get me started on the bag, and the gauntlets. Seriously. The attention to detail she has is second to none. I drool just looking at these things. Knowing that they’re here waiting for me just gives me the happies.

So now that I’ve got roughly 75% of the whole costume done, I’ve just got the shirt and the pants to do! The shirt I’m looking at commissions for at the moment, and the pants… well… let’s just say I have approvable pants and I’ve started on them. More on those in another post if and when I’m successful!

Basically I went from dreaming about wearing Resistance Rey in May to possibly having a Rebel Legion approved build by the time I head to New York Comic Con in October!

How about you: what are you currently working on? Share in the comments! 

Making a Scavenger: Rey’s Staff

The part of my costume that I’m most proud of, by far, is Rey’s staff. This is easily the first thing that every single person, old or young, male or female, notices when I’m trooping. I absolutely delight in the looks of awe when people ask to see it up close and hold it.

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When I first planned my costume, I had considered not even building a staff; it isn’t technically required by the Rebel Legion for costume approval, after all. But after seeing photos of other badass Reys wielding their staffs at troops, and, quite frankly, realizing that I wouldn’t have anything to do with my hands, I decided to take the leap. And I am so glad I did.

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Clocking in at about 6’4”, my staff is made of a 1” wooden dowel core, 3D printed pieces, spray paint, leather and fabric. It took me hours of painting and gluing and sawing spread across about four weeks. It’s solid, heavy, and thanks to the weathering technique I discovered when I sponged bronze paint onto the finished edges, looks super realistic.

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To start, I knew from the Rey Cosplay Community group on Facebook that my options for the staff base were either a 1″ wooden dowel or a PVC pipe. Some that had gone that route said the PVC was bendy, so I opted for wood. After learning they don’t sell 1″ wooden dowels over 6 feet tall (and also conceding that I should probably be able to break the thing into two pieces for easy travel), I settled on two 4′ tall dowels that I shortened and connected with a little ingenuity and some help from my papa.

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I’d seen many of my Scavenger Sisters succeed with 3D printed pieces from a variety of sources, and ultimately ordered my pieces from the father of one of the group members. Bonus: he lives near the talented woman who made all of my leather pieces, and she was able to ship everything together to save on costs! Sweet!

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I’d heard horror stories of other Reys having to sand the hell out of their printed pieces and/or their dowels in order to get them to fit, but by some miracle, I did not. They slid right on seamlessly. And after some checking and re-checking of the handy-dandy color coded guide (in the photo above) and creating a cat-safe space for my pieces to dry in overnight, I had Gorilla Glued all the parts on and moved on to connecting them.

In Home Depot, I wandered the plumbing aisle in search of a metal connector set that I could attach to either end of the break in the middle. When an employee saw my furrowed brow and asked if he could help, I told him what I was doing. To his credit, he excitedly explained that I should probably go for plastic connectors because they’d be easier to anchor into the dowel by Dremeling screws through them and into the wood. BRILLIANT!

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To start the process, I Gorilla Glued the connectors to the edges – they were 1″ connectors, but physics being what they are, of course they were larger than the dowel, and needed some stuffing and propping to keep from wobbling. The glue was really just extra insurance, after all, since I planned on using the Home Depot employee’s idea and also screwing them in. You can see the fabric stuffing sticking out in the photo above.

Once the glue had cured for a full day, I asked my dad if he could show me how to use his Dremel tool, and he obliged – in the half hour before we took him out for his birthday dinner! It was fun learning some new skills and working together with my dad to create this piece of my costume. He was so sweet, asking me if this was for “coz??” Turns out he’d asked his friends if they’d heard of this thing and misunderstood when someone explained to him what “cosplay” is. *squee*

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The result still looked kind of janky, but later that week the weather finally improved and I was able to move onto the next step: painting!

This is another place where I learned from the Reys that had come before me. I was totally unaware of things like textured spray paint until I joined the group, but after one helpful Rey took a snapshot of all the paints she’d used in the layers of her build, I literally went to the spray paint aisle with that picture on my phone and grabbed all three cans.

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I started with a black, then added a textured silver/gray, and lastly added another kind of textured paint with a dull sheen to it that ended up looking quite metallic.

To weather it, I experimented with some techniques before sponging bronze acrylic paint my father had lying around onto just the edges of the entire staff in uneven strokes. The result even had my mom asking me, “Wasn’t that wood a few hours ago? How is it rusted metal now??”

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I was over the moon excited to have it looking so great. The only thing I had left to do was add the finishing touches of fabric, leather and the strap.

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The fabric was just some were just some leftover gauze scraps I had lying around from my wrap dress and cutting the sleeves of my shirt. I used some movie stills as reference photos to find their placement within the 3D printed pieces and figured out a process of hot glueing the base, then wrapping, glueing, wrapping, and so on.

Note: The top fabric area conveniently hides the connector!

The leather was an easy find at AC Moore: two thicknesses of leather cording that I used the same process as the fabric: anchor, glue, wrap, repeat. Once everything was set, I busted out the eyeshadow and “weathered” the whole shebang by sloppily brushing brown and black eyeshadow all over the fabric.

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Finally, the strap was an Amazon purchase recommended to me – yet again – from other Reys who had been RL approved. The only thing I had to was paint the metal details on it with some black acrylic paint I had from old crafting projects, and purchased a pair of the handmade leather strap connectors from a fellow Scavenger Sister and *voila*!

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At my first troop, I walked into the changing area and found a handful of guys suiting up in custom-built Stormtrooper kits with dozens of pieces and insanely detailed craftsmanship – yet they stopped in mid-sentence when they saw my staff! These guys put weeks or even months into their armor, and they were oohing and aahing over my build? Talk about an ego boost!

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Even Leia had to get in on the quarterstaff action!

After that, every person who showed up to troop with me that day had to get a good look at it. Every shy child who was too scared for a photo turned into a beaming Jedi-in-training when I’d whisper “Would you like to hold my staff?” and they wrapped a little hand around it while I held it safely above without them seeing. At a slower troop last weekend, I got into more conversations with passing adults about how I made the staff than I took photos with kids!

Ultimately though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am probably the least adept at tools, building things, and generally being handy. So this was a huge project for me and one that I’m super proud of. I’d wear the damn thing to work if I could. If I can build it, you TOTALLY can! Let me know how you fare if and when you take this project on, I’d love to see your progress!

Why Rey of “Sunshine”?

How did I get the name for my blog? Sure, Rey is a pretty obvious choice, and the pun on being a “ray of sunshine” always makes me giggle. But the name Sunshine has a double meaning for me:

Ever since I was a baby, my mom would sing me “You Are My Sunshine”, and it’s always reminded me of her. So much so, in fact, that it inspired my first tattoo:

Now, while my mom was around when the original trilogy came out, she never became a fan. But when The Last Jedi came out, she asked if we could go see the movie together, and I melted from happiness. I tried explaining that she might not know who some of the people were and it could get confusing, but she didn’t mind – she just wanted to go see the movie that made me “so happy”. Could you just squeal??

So after giving her a crash course in the new trilogy, we watched TLJ and loved every second of it. I caught her laughing and smiling along. The crowning moment of my life, though, came when Luke is training Rey on the ledge and she describes what she sees. When they briefly show a mama porg shielding her little babies, my mom went, “AWWWW!” right there in the theater. My mama porg ❤

After the movie, we went out to IHOP and I mentioned to her that my goal for 2018 was to join the Rebel Legion so I could go on troops at children’s hospitals and other charity events. She was thrilled for me, and even asked me how the costume was coming in the next few months.

Last week, she and my father finally came out to see me at a troop, and it all came full circle. As we walked through the convention floor, a little girl ran up to me for a photo. My parents stepped away and looked on as I told the little one to put her hand on my staff and we posed for the picture. Afterwards, my mom mentioned how cool it was that these kids get to see their favorite characters, and how happy she was that I got to do that for them.

That’s when it hit me: every time I strap on those belts and pull my hair into those buns, I can be a “Rey” of Sunshine for these kids. And that’s how I got the name for this little corner of the internet!

… in a Galaxy Far, Far Away (aka Cape Cod)

In May of 2016, I had my first intro to the world of cosplay in the best way possible: surrounded by friends and family who love Star Wars like me! My best friend since, like, birth celebrated her 10 year wedding anniversary with… get ready… a Star Wars Costume Party Vow Renewal – and I was her Matron of Honor!

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I could go on – and I will – but let’s just let the pic speak for itself for a minute, shall we?

That’s right: 10 years ago I got to be her maid of honor, and 10 years later I got to dress up as my favorite Star Wars character and walk her down the aisle once more. It was EPIC. Get ready for picture overload!

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The Emperor, Leia, Rey, BB8, and Yoda ❤

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Family Portrait time!

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All the Rey’s and BB8’s in one photo

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The Emperor gave a beautiful ceremony.

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Three Rey’s vs. one Kylo? No contest!

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Cutest. Topper. EVER.

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Rey + Kylo 4EVR

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The Rey’s getting ready for the ceremony!

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Leia and Rey share a moment ❤

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THANK YOU for dressing up, Hubby!!

They went all out on the theme, and it was so cool to see everyone get into it with their own home-spun costumes.

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I helped with centerpieces and the lightsaber decorating table – and Obi Wine Kenobi even made an appearance:

I spent a lot of time creating my costume pretty much from scratch, and I was SO excited to wear it that I didn’t want to take it off at the end of the day.

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The best part: they rented an inflatable gladiator jousting arena, where they held some of the most epic battles I’ve ever seen!

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The match ups were hysterical: Rey vs. Kylo Ren. Maz Kanata vs. Han Solo. Hoth Leia vs. New Hope Leia. Palpatine vs. Rey. Anakin vs. Obi Wan… and one particularly dirty Rey vs. Leia battle that ended in a TKO and so much laughter that we couldn’t get out of the arena and watched some battles tucked away in the corner:

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It was honestly one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. I love this chick with my whole heart – she’s been around for longer than anyone else in my life (except my parents) and it makes me sad that I don’t get to see her as much as I can. But getting to celebrate with her and her husband and the rest of the family was pure joy, and I can’t stop smiling just thinking about it!

How about you guys – would you ever have a Star Wars costume party? If you would… would you invite me? Share in the comments!