Featured Trooper: Spencer Schachtel
What is your background / what do you do for a living? What are your hobbies?
Unlike a number of my fellow Garrison members, I don’t come from an art or creative background. I come from a Social Sciences background. After University I spent a few years working in group homes with developmentally delayed and behavioral youth and adults. After doing that for a few years I ended up getting a position with government and have been doing that since. I’ve sort have been into all the nerdy stuff since as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved most things Sci-fi/fantasy related. I spend a good portion of my free time reading various books, building random things, playing video games. I also spend a good portion of my free time outdoors as I live in the interior of BC and have some beautiful trails and paths around where I live.
When did you see Star Wars for the first time and where?
The first time I saw Star Wars was at home with my parents. I think I was 6 or 7 at the time. I remember it was on an old VHS tape that my parents taped when it was playing on cable. I’m not even sure how many times I watched it on those tapes, but it felt like hundreds of times before I was given a VHS box set for my birthday.
What is your favourite Star Wars movie?
This is really hard for me to answer as the all of the OT movies have always been important to me, it’s like having to choose between three things that are all equally awesome. If I absolutely have to make a choice I think it would have to be ROTJ. For me ROTJ always has stood out. I think it is a mixture of the costumes, space battles and the completion of the story that started with ANH. I think whenever I read, or watch anything related to Star Wars I seem to default compare it to ROTJ
What is your favourite costume and or prop (any franchise)?
Well this one is sort of easy for me. I would have to break it down into favorite costume I own, and favorite costume that I don’t. I don’t think it’s going to be any surprise to my fellow Outer Rim Garrison members, but my favorite costume I own has to be my Bith (Cantina Band) Musician. Every time I look at it, wear it, or even think about it, I start to laugh. It’s just a very fun costume. For favourite costume out of any franchise, I think it would have to be the Master Chief from the Halo Universe.
What costumes (SW related or otherwise) have you made before?
Since joining the 501st, I’ve managed to get 4 costumes approved. So far I’ve got a Stormtrooper, Tie Pilot, Bith Musician and a Tie Reserve. I’m currently working on a Sandtrooper, Revan, and Scout trooper. My first Star Wars costume I ever made was a Jawa when I was in high school. I remember buying a black balaclava and tucking in two flashlights on the side of my head to act as the glowing eyes.
What inspires you creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
I’ve never really been good at conceptualizing my own unique things art or otherwise. For me the biggest thing is seeing other peoples’ amazing work which puts the biggest creative fire under me. Every time I read/see someones build threads, or completed costumes, or props I just get the urge to build and create. I’ve always enjoyed building things, and what I love the most about this hobby is using everyday items to make something which has nothing to do with its original purpose. For example, for my Bith Musician, I used a bunch of random plumbing parts, shower curtain rings and black hair elastics to make a musical instrument prop. Every time I go to a hardware store, I’m constantly thinking on how I can use each item in a way that it originally wasn’t intended.
How did you first find out about the 501st Legion?
I can’t really remember about how I first heard about the 501st Legion. I’ve always been a huge Star Wars fan, and I had heard about them through various websites and articles I had seen online. It wasn’t until I was bored one day and was looking around for Stormtrooper costumes that I stumbled across the First Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment (FISD). Once I came across the FISD, I really started looking into what the 501st was and the things that they do. The more I read, the more I wanted to be a part of it.
What drives you to stay trooping in the 501st Legion?
For me, it’s not just a single thing, but a combination of things. From the reactions of fans young and old, the work we do on behalf of some amazing charities, and my fellow 501st members. I don’t get to make it out to many events due to where I live and my work schedule, but every time I make it out I always have such great time. Knowing that dressing up as a plastic spaceman can make someone happy and raise funds for charity is just a really great feeling. The work we do with the charities is super important. My very first troop was the Children’s Hospital Miracle Weekend – it meant a lot to me as I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 2 years old and spent a lot of time when I was a child at the children’s hospital.