Tory Laitila: A stormtrooper in paradise

June 1st, 2009  |  by  |  Published in People

Tory Laitila in partial stormtrooper costume

Tory Laitila, BA in art history ’97 Mānoa

Career: Arts registrar, Honolulu Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts, responsible for maintaining city-owned artwork from the “Iz” bust in Waiʻanae to murals at Hanauma Bay
Club: Pacific Outpost, the Hawaiʻi chapter of the 501st Legion
Philosophy: “We can’t all look like Han Solo, but we can sure look like a stormtrooper!”

E. Tory Laitila’s closet contains custom garb that transports him to other times and places—from the Renaissance to the Revolutionary War. Fitting for someone who studied costumes in college and participates in historic reenactments.

Laitila has played a role in small local affairs at the Tropic Lightning Museum, U.S. Army Museum of Hawai’i and the Falls of Clyde. He was one of 3,000 participants at the 225th Anniversary of Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey.

But one of his greatest joys is being a Pacific Outpost member of the world’s definitive Star Wars imperial costuming organization. After Laitila assembled a Star Wars scout trooper costume for Halloween 2002, he met a few local stormtroopers and outpost members in Waikīkī. Since he had a professional quality wearable costume, a requirement to be a member, he joined the group.

“It allows me to partake in one of my passions while contributing to the community by making charity and public appearances in costume,” he says. “When we don the masks and suits, we take audiences out of the everyday and transport them to a galaxy far, far away.”

While the cumbersome-looking stormtrooper costumes are actually comfortable—custom fit and made from light fiberglass with fans and cooling units built in—they require “a lot of sweat and tears to make,” he observes. The process can take from two weeks to two years, depending on the amount of time and money put in.

Owning a suit is a bit of an investment, he adds. It requires maintenance, like a suit of armor. His collection includes biker scout, stormtrooper and imperial officer costumes.

Laitila attends conventions where he can meet others who share his zeal for costumes. One of his favorites is the Dragon Con in Atlanta, where he can enjoy TV, movie, comic, film and music pop culture 24/7. He’s also been to Wonder Con, Comic Con, Kawaii Kon, the Creation Entertainment Star Trek gathering and the Star Wars Celebration in Hawaiʻi.

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