At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, seven Star Wars fans became iconic characters from a galaxy, far, far away for a day.
With the help of renowned prop designers and builders, who had volunteered for Magic Wheelchair, a nonprofit organization that creates costumes for kids in wheelchairs, the seven young fans enjoyed the time of their lives.
The design team volunteers included Tom Spina Designs, Adam Savage and the Tested crew, Fon Davis and Fonco Studios, Michael McMaster and Echo Base, Gordon Tarpley, Pixologic, Monster City Studios, Dangling Carrot, Massivit 3D, Sean Fields and Project 842.
“Our mission is to build for every kid in a wheelchair,” said Magic Wheelchair founder Ryan Weimer at the organization's Comic-Con panel. The non-profit has been making wheelchair-bound kids cosplay dreams come true since 2015. This year’s lucky participants were Maddox, Aubrie, Vedant, Kaleb, Nate, Liam, and Liv.
Fonco Studios and Tested, who have worked on all the Star Wars prequels, designed a Jedi Starfighter for Nate. The replica, made from plywood, was designed for the boy to hang it on his wall after the event.
Aubrie received a Porg Island chair with animatronics. Though the young girl is unable to verbally communicate, she can use her hands to push buttons, making the porgs flap and squawk. The porgs were created by Rick Lazzarini at The Character Shop.
Maddox was suited as Commander Cody Riding a Boga, a massive CNC build, featuring sound files donated by Lucasfilm. Maddox’s Boga opens its mouth and the young boy carries a 3D-printed gun. The prop was designed by Monster City.
Kaleb was the proud recipient of Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer, which was set on a steel frame and featured 3D-printed details. The silencer was a joint collaboration between McMaster Robots and GT Props.
Tom Spina Designs is the team behind the Rancor Liam enjoyed. The team specializes in monsters, and Riley Replicas, so they wanted to create a prop that would cover the person pushing the wheelchair.
Pixologic Inc. built an enormous 10x10 foot X-Wing from 3D printed parts for Vedant. And Project 842 designed a Droideka for Liv. “I had pieces being printed from every large format printer in a 50-mile radius,” said Sean Fields.
The young kids immediately fell in love with their props despite the day’s soaring temperatures. “A Jedi is a Jedi no matter the temperature,” Nate said. “These kids live in a world not built for them. All these people took time to make these costumes for them,” his dad added.
Magic Wheelchair is currently looking for designers and builders that can contribute to Halloween and convention props. If you’d like to participate, or donate, visit the Magic Wheelchair site.