Last week at San Diego Comic-Con, seven special Star Wars fans were gifted with an experience that would transform their wheelchairs into an essential part of their cosplay. Well-known prop makers and builders volunteered for Magic Wheelchair, a nonprofit organization that builds epic costumes for kids in wheelchairs.
Build team volunteers included Tom Spina Designs, Adam Savage and the Tested crew, Fon Davis and Fonco Studios, Michael McMaster and Echo Base, Gordon Tarpley, Pixologic, Monster City Studios, Dangling Carrot, Massivit 3D, Sean Fields and Project 842.
“Our mission is to build for every kid in a wheelchair,” said Magic Wheelchair founder Ryan Weimer at their Comic-Con panel. The group has been creating cosplays for kids in wheelchairs since 2015. This year’s recipients were Maddox, Aubrie, Vedant, Kaleb, Nate, Liam, and Liv.
The Jedi Starfighter was designed to be lightweight enough to hang on Nate’s wall after the event. It was built from plywood, with laser etched details. The team behind it, Fonco Studios and Tested, had worked on all the Star Wars prequels.
Aubrie’s Porg Island chair is unique because it contains animatronics. She is non-verbal but she’s able to hit buttons to trigger different effects and make the porgs flap and squawk. The porgs were designed by Rick Lazzarini at The Character Shop.
“Commander Cody Riding a Boga” was a massive CNC carved build. Lucasfilm donated sound files, and the creature’s mouth can open. Maddox’s gun was 3D printed. The build was done by Monster City.
Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer for Kaleb was built on a steel frame, but used 3D printing for many of the smaller details. The rest is made of foam. It feels like a giant shopping cart to drive around. The build was a collaboration between McMaster Robots and GT Props.
Liam’s Rancor was designed by Tom Spina Designs, which specializes in monsters, and Riley Replicas. They wanted to make something that could hide the person pushing the wheelchair.
Pixologic Inc.’s X-Wing was built entirely from 3D printed parts for Vedant. It was a massive build that came in at 10×10 ft.
Liv’s Droideka was built within one month by Project 842. “I had pieces being printed from every large format printer in a 50 mile radius,” laughed Sean Fields.
The kids were in love with their new costumes, despite the soaring temperatures that day. “A Jedi is a Jedi no matter the temperature,” Nate had said, according to his dad, Scott Green. “These kids live in a world not built for them. All these people took time to make these costumes for them.”
Magic Wheelchair is actively seeking makers who are interested in donating their skills for Halloween and upcoming conventions. If you’d like to help, or donate, visit their website!