When I was at San Diego Comic-Con, I had the pleasure of talking to some of the Mandalorian Mercs. I was intrigued by the idea of combining cosplay and charity, so I asked if a representative from The Mercs would like to do a guest post. Thank you so much, Sal Attinello Jr, for this post! All comments below the pic are his.
The Mandalorian Mercs is the brain child of Tom Hutchens. Tom loved Boba Fett and Jango Fett, the two Mandalorians from the Star Wars movies, so much that he made a set of Mandalorian armor that he could wear to conventions. He noticed other people also wearing Mandalorian armor and thought it would be great if people who felt the same way could have a place to get together and share ideas and stories. So in 2005, Tom founded the website www.mandalorianmercs.com with the goal of providing a place for those who love the Mandalorian warrior characters and culture that existed in the Star Wars movies, novels, and comics to share ideas and tips in building Mandalorian armor. It quickly grew into a large Star Wars costuming club, at which time the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club began attending conventions and charity events.
Today, the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club has grown to almost 1000 official members (an official member is a member who has built and completed a set of Mandalorian armor that meets club standards), and has become a full fledged 501 c (4) charitable organization, as well as being Lucasfilms licensed and approved. The Mandalorian Mercs have chapters, which we call clans, all over the world, and we attend pop culture conventions, but mostly, we attend various charity events of all sizes where we help local charities all over the world.
One of the proudest parts of being involved with the Mandalorian Mercs is all the work we do for children’s charities. The Mandalorian Mercs has visited children’s hospitals around the world, and our own charity, Little Warrior International, collects donations to help support those children that do not get enough to eat, or we supply clothing, school supplies, and even scholarship funding to those children around the world who could not have these things on their own.
Naturally, a big part of the fun in being in the Mandalorian Mercs is getting to wear the armor at all the events. After spending the time to actually build and create your armor, putting on the Mandalorian armor feels like a privledge and one definitely feels a sense of pride in the armor and in being a part of this club. Plus, getting to work with Lucasfilms at various events around the world is also lots of fun.
All in all, being a part of the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club is fun and rewarding in ways I had not imagined when I first joined. I have found that doing the charity work becomes a bigger motivation to put the armor on rather than just suiting up for the fun conventions. In truth, being a part of the Mandalorian Mercs has profoundly changed my life for the better. It has gotten me more involved in charity work, and has shown me the most rewarding things in life come from the giving of oneself to others.