The 501st Legion
The 501st Legion, also known as Vader’s First, is a fan-based organization of Star Wars enthusiasts who create authentic costume replicas from the movies. The Legion has outposts, garrisons and squads all over the world who work to promote interest in Star Wars in local communities, and also volunteer their time for charity.
Signature Coins has had the pleasure of working with a number of different groups of the 501st over the years, creating unique challenge coins, patches and pins for fundraising and promotional efforts. Nicholas Harrison, a member of the Outer Rim Garrison in Canada, is one of our favorite contacts in the 501st. Harrison is a professional fight director, actor and stunt performer on television. In his spare time, he volunteers with the Outer Rim Garrison, making appearances as Darth Vader with his other squad mates.
In a feature interview on the Outer Rim Garrison website, Harrison was asked why he loves being a part of the 501st. He said the reason is, “Bringing smiles and creating magic for everyone. I really enjoy how people react to seeing these film characters come to life and being able to interact with them.” We had the opportunity to help Harrison and the rest of his Garrison create this kind of incredible experience with a set of personal Gemma’s Squadron Coins.
Harrison contacted us with an idea to create a custom coin for a little girl named Gemma, who was the spark behind a fundraising effort for Muscular Dystrophy Canada. The proceeds from selling these coins at the event would all be donated in Gemma’s name. Harrison and several other members of the Outer Rim Garrison hosted the event at Toy Traders in Langley City, British Columbia, and raised over $2,400. Gemma received one of these coins, as well as a custom medal we made alongside the Gemma’s Squadron coins.
During the fundraiser, Gemma received the medal and a special certificate as she was inducted as an honorary member of the 501st. Harrison took the lead and contacted us about making both of these coins happen. We were more than happy to help and had a great time making his ideas come to life. When Harrison saw the Gemma coins for the first time, all he could say was, “I’m speechless!”
Spreading Joy With Challenge Coins
Harrison is constantly sending us his inspirations for new coin designs. His mind is always racing with new ideas, and we are always excited to see what he comes up with next. But not all of the coins we make for Harrison are for fundraising. He sent us a quick email that said, “Ok - I know I have been doing lots of coins with you guys - you are amazing - I finally think I need my own coin - it is a challenge to see if you can make it work.”
Challenge Coins are extremely popular in the 501st, and Harrison’s Outer Rim Garrison is no exception. Members usually have a unique coin from their squad that they carry to shows and volunteering events. Harrison wanted a personal coin that he could trade and hand out whenever he was in costume. “I love tiki,” said Harrison, “a few years ago I entered a photo contest and even roped my family into posing for it - we came in 2nd. Since I depict Vader in the legion, I thought a fun Vader coin would be cool.” Not only did Harrison love the final product, but the Tiki theme started to spread like wildfire! We made Tiki coins for other members of his squad, for different events, and it didn’t stop there!
Peter Mayhew got his hands on one of the coins Harrison had designed with us and was inspired to get a coin for his foundation. Harrison sent us a quick email that said, “Well, it seems that Peter Mayhew wants a tiki coin! I've been asked to do up a proof for them - and it will be going through Signature Coins!” Harrison had a ton of ideas for what the coin would look like, and we got to work making it happen. He said, “I'm excited that this will be used for their foundation fundraising!”
Peter Mayhew is the actor who played Chewbacca in all of the Star Wars films up until the latest Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. The Peter Mayhew Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works closely with organizations like Make a Wish Foundation, Toys for Tots, Wounded Warrior Project and the 501st Legion. At Signature Coins, nothing makes us happier than knowing our products are going out into the world to spread joy and help others in need. Organizations like the 501st and the Peter Mayhew Foundation work tirelessly to create magic, as Harrison puts it, and we are excited to be a part of their efforts.
Making Custom Designs With Signature Coins
At Signature Coins, our job is to help you bring your ideas for a custom design to life. All we need to get started are a few ideas on what kind of artwork you are looking for, and we will jump into creating something unique based on your inspirations. Harrison is always bouncing ideas off our sales team for different events and fundraisers. When asked about his experience working with our sales team, Harrison said, “Jeff and his team at Signature Coins are amazing to work with. I had a deadline fast approaching, and Jeff went out of his way to accommodate me. The service was impeccable and the product was fantastic. I’m already thinking of several other projects to bring to Signature Coins.”
Our latest project together involved making these beautiful Star Wars themed Christmas ornaments. The holidays are always an amazing time of year for creating something unique for family and friends, and our Christmas ornaments are the perfect way to give them something that will brighten the holidays for years to come! These ornaments are designed for use in the 501st, and Harrison was sure to order a design for the Empire, the Mandalorians and the Rebels so people could choose a side to support!
Harrison is one of our most active customers. Usually, his projects start with a simple message to our sales team like this: “Oh please stop me - I had another Tiki coin idea: The ‘Mandalorian Makahiki Mahalo!’ Perhaps I am just going crazy. Please let me know if that's just too bizarre.” He always makes sure to describe what he is looking for in the overall layout of the design. We create proofs and send them back for revision. Harrison is always happy to give us feedback and suggestions for improvements or changes.
“Guys, you are amazing, and the designs we are doing seem to be triggering lots of interest and attention,” he said after receiving another proof of artwork based on his ideas. Working with Harrison is always a rewarding experience for our team because we get to see how our products spread excitement and joy around the community as well as raise money for good causes.
For anyone looking to promote their organization, raise money for charity or simply share a little piece of their own personality with the world, Signature Coins is ready to help! Send us your crazy ideas and see what our team can create for you! If you need a little inspiration, take some time to look at more of the funny ideas from Harrison that have spawned coins.