Mandalorian Mercs at the Star Wars Premiere, from L to R: Courtney Bogigian, A.J. Blosser, Heather Blosser, Anthony Brown, Mark Zbornak

The rabbit hole is very deep for Star Wars fandom; that’s not news to anyone. Last week’s premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story gave fans young and old a fresh opportunity to dive once again into their beloved science fiction franchise. Many local Star Wars fans gathered at the Carmike Morgantown Mall 12 for the first showing last Thursday, joined local members of Star Wars cosplay (costume play) and costume clubs.

One of those costume troops is the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club. While casual fans may be familiar with the replica Stormtrooper outfits and Rebel pilot helmets from the movies, the Mandalorian Mercs stand out for putting their own creative spins on the Star Wars cosplay tradition.

“We’re the least known costume group because we’re the least represented in the movies” explains A.J. Blosser, Star Wars fan and member of the Mandalorian Mercs. “If you’re into the extended Star Wars Universe, the books, the comics, the Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows, that’s where you’ll find the backstory to our group.”

Viewers of the original trilogy may remember the secondary character Boba Fett from The Empire Strikes Back, who sports a green helmet, armor, and rocket backpack. Though Boba Fett only had a handful of speaking lines during the movie, his mysterious persona and cool demeanor with Darth Vader garnered him a cult following. As fans learned more about Boba Fett and his unique green Mandalorian armor, many began to create their own unique armors and helmets that expressed their individual tastes but kept the same basic design.

“If you look at all of us, we all have the same kits, we’re all clearly Mandalorians, but our designs are all unique. It’s different from the other costume groups, where you’re going for on-screen accuracy with your costumes. We still have some requirements, but there’s a lot of self expression here.”

In 2006, the Mandalorian Mercs formed as an official costume troupe and non-profit, with regional clans meeting up across the world. While most clans are in the United States and Canada, clans exist in Russia, Singapore, and Australia as well. West Virginia’s Black Mountain Guard Clan is most active in Charleston, Huntington and Morgantown, and the clan gathers for nearly 35 events a year. Aside from last Thursday’s movie premiere, the Mercs had four more appearances planned for the weekend.

“There’s a part of me that still can’t believe I’m seeing new Star Wars movies. And they’re good too!” shares AJ. “I’ve been a fan of star wars since I saw the originals as a tiny kid. And I was a fan of Boba Fett- I was really mad about him falling into the Sarlacc Pit too.”

Fans can learn more about the costume club at their website, and West Virginia’s Black Mountain Guard Clan on facebook.

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