Monday, June 12, 2017

My 501st Legion 9th Anniversary

Nine years ago today (June 12, 2008), I became an approved member of the 501st Legion and participated in my first troop! And a year ago yesterday (June 11, 2016), I completed my 200th 501st Legion troop. It has been an incredibly fun and rewarding experience thus far. The 501st does a plethora of amazing things which have a positive effect on so many people, and so many communities, throughout the world. I am truly honored to be part of such a great organization. As a member of the 501st, I’ve had countless great experiences, on both a charity/community level, as well as on a Star Wars level. Through the Legion, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and form relationships with awesome people, locally and across the globe. I’ve been lucky enough to have been a part of troops/events that have raised money for multiple charities, and help to create smiles and memories for countless kids, families and adults. And lastly, I’ve had opportunities to serve the Legion, my garrison (Central Garrison), and my squad (Wolf Pack Squad), in various elected and volunteer positions and roles.

Next year, for my 10th anniversary, I’ll share my full 501st Legion story, post my 501st resume, release a ‘The First Ten Years’ video, as well as a few surprises. But for now, I’ll just keep it short and sweet.

501st for Life!

To learn more about the 501st Legion, please visit

Sunday, June 11, 2017

This Week in Manifesters History

June 5 – June 11, 2017

1st Anniversary of Far Beyond
On June 9, 2016, Australian producer, Oxcyde, and I released our debut EP, Far Beyond. Our first album together was a project that was eleven years in the making. In 2004 I received an email from an Australian emcee named MC Cejas out of Melbourne. He had come across Manifesters/Versifier online and was digging our sound. Cejas and I then traded emails back and forth for a while and began discussing a collaboration track. Before we could get a collab together off the ground, Cejas asked if I’d be interested in doing a verse on a song for his crewmate’s (Oxcyde), debut LP.  Oxcyde was an up-and-coming emcee at the time, and hadn’t started producing yet. I was all about it, so Cejas put me in contact with Oxcyde. Oxcyde and I then began emailing back and forth. In 2005 Oxcyde sent me the beat for his song, Global Poets. So I wrote my verse, went to the studio to record it, and then emailed it to Oxcyde. The song turned out great. In fact, to this day, it’s one of my favorite all-time verses I’ve ever written! A few months later, Oxcyde released his album, The Second Coming, which featured Global Poets. Over the next two years, Oxcyde and I recorded a few more tracks together. Although none were ever released in an official capacity, a couple did make it onto BandCamp and SoundCloud for a brief time period. The coolest thing about these tracks was that they were all done remotely, via email and DropBox, with Oxcyde in Melbourne, Australia, and I in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As the years went by, Oxcyde and I remained in contact via email. Oxcyde had transitioned away from emceeing and into producing. In October of 2014 Oxcyde emailed me and was like “Yo, how do you feel about you and I doing an album together?” I was completely with it, so we began planning. The album was to be a seven-song EP featuring Oxcyde’s beats and my rhymes (plus a guest feature from Hypnose). We decided to go with a 90’s NYC Boom-Bap sound and feel, with a modern twist reflecting both of our styles. The entire EP was produced and written throughout 2015, and was recorded, mixed and mastered in 2016. Oxcyde would produce and format the beats in his home studio in Australia, I would write and scratch track in my home studio, and the recording and mixing was done by Big Jess at his studio. Early into 2016, Oxcyde and I also managed to squeeze in a side project. We collaborated with Australian vocalist, Joel Imber, on his single, Walk Through The Night. Walk Through The Night featured production by Oxcyde, vocals, guitar and bass by Joel Imber, lyrics by me, violin by Doug Coghill of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and mixing by Big Jess. The single was released on March 31, 2016, and is a fantastic song!

By late May of 2016 all seven tracks of the EP were mixed, the album was mastered, Master Wong had completed the gorgeous cover graphics and art, and online promotions for the EP had begun. Then, on June 9, 2016, Far Beyond was released on iTunes, Spotify, Oxcyde’s BandCamp, and Manifesters’ BandCamp, with releases on Amazon and Versifier’s BandCamp the following week. The album turned out great and was a lot of fun to make. It’s always a blast working with Oxcyde.

To this day, despite two valiant attempts during Oxcyde’s two trips to the United States, Oxcyde and I have never met in person. So our (now) thirteen year working relationship, which has yielded an EP and a handful of collabs and singles, has been built and maintained from two opposite corners of the globe. However, be it in the US, Australia, or some other country, Oxcyde and I do plan to meet one day, and hopefully even perform together. Looking ahead, we are planning a remix of the track Melbourne to Minneapolis which would feature multiple emcees from both locations. Oxcyde is producing beats for some upcoming projects of mine, as well for the debut DayBreakers (Hypnose and I), EP. And we have thrown around the idea of a Far Beyond sequel…!

Download Far Beyond here:
Or on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Manifesters’ BandCamp or Oxcyde’s BandCamp

Follow Oxcyde and Versifier on Twitter at @OxcydeAndVersifier

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Star Wars 40 For 40 - Collectibles

Star Wars 40 For 40 wraps up with my list of top 40 collectibles!

Of the five Star Wars 40 For 40 lists I created, this one took me the longest. How in the galaxy was I supposed to pick just forty pieces out of the thousands of items in my collection? Well, in all honesty, I couldn’t. Thus, I selected forty pieces that fell into one or more of the following categories; emotional attachment/value/memories, great story, most usage/enjoyment, great “the hunt” story/memory, gift from someone special (family or Star Wars world), or just really cool pieces. The list has a little bit of everything. It’s a little Ahsoka, Vader and Stormtrooper heavy, but really, what did you expect? Haha! I kept having this nagging feeling like I was forgetting something however. Unfortunately, since the vast majority of my collection is in storage and/or has yet to be photo archived, I wasn’t able quell the feeling. So if I was to do this again in a year or so, it might be somewhat different. Nevertheless, here’s the list!

Mike’s Top 40 Favorite Star Wars Collectibles
[items from my collection only – in alphabetical order]  
1. 501st Legion Stormtrooper Action Figure ( Exclusive) [Hasbro – The Saga Collection]
2. "Ahsoka" Ahsoka Tano Print (signed by artist Grant Gould)
3. Ahsoka Tano #CW44 3-3/4" Action Figure [Hasbro - The Clone Wars]
4. Ahsoka Tano 6" Action Figure [Hasbro - The Black Series]
5. Ahsoka Tano ARTFX Statue [Kotobukiya]
6. Ahsoka Tano Disney Infinity 3.0 Figure
7. Ahsoka Tano TCW Electronic Lightsaber Hilt (signed by Ashley Eckstein) [Rubies Costume Co.]
8. Anakin Skywalker EPIII Force FX Lightsaber [Master Replicas]
9. Anakin Skywalker EPIII Stunt Replica Lightsaber Hilt [eFX Collectibles]
10. Biker Scout Electronic Blaster [Kenner - Return of the Jedi]
11. Biker Scout on Speeder Biker 6" Figure [Hasbro - The Black Series]
12. BlasTech E-11 Replica Blaster [custom]
13. Celebration IV Commemorative "Padme Saga" Print (signed by artist Jason Palmer)
14. Celebration V Commemorative "Captain Rex" Print (signed by artist Lee Kohse)
15. Darth Plageius Hardcover Novel (one of James Luceno's personal advanced copies, given to me and signed by author James Luceno)
16. Darth Talon Mini-Bust [Gentle Giant]
17. Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano Poster (signed by Dave Filoni)
18. Darth Vader on Mustafar Cinemascape Statue [Hasbro]
19. Darth Vader Special Edition 500th Figure [Hasbro - The Trilogy Collection]
20. Darth Vader Zip-up Hoodies (Star Wars Celebration IV Store Exclusive)
21. Ewok Village Playset [Kenner - Return of the Jedi]
22. Framed Anakin Skywalk / Darth Vader Dual Photo (signed by Hayden Christensen) [Official Pix]
23. George Lucas (in Stormtrooper diguise) 3-3/4" Action Figure [Hasbro - The Saga Collection]
24. Han Solo as Stormtrooper 3-3/4" Action Figure (Kellogg's Mail Away) [Hasbro - Power of The Force II]
25. Han Solo DL-44 Electronic Blaster [Kenner - Return of the Jedi]
26. Han Solo DL-44 Replica Blaster [custom]
27. Imperial Shuttle (Target Exclusive) [Hasbro - The Saga Collection]
28. Life-Size Darth Vader Standee Display with Celebration V Trip Giveaway Ballot Box
29. Luke Skywalker EPVI Replica Lightsaber Hilt [custom]
30. Millennium Falcon [Kenner - Return of the Jedi]
31. Padme Amidala "Courage" Statue [Hasbro - Unleashed]
32. Princess Leia & R2-D2 Animated Statue [Gentle Giant]
33. Shaak Ti (The Force Unleashed) #BD61 3-3/4" Action Figure [Hasbro - The Legacy Collection]
34. Shae Vizla Mini-Bust [Gentle Giant]
35. Star Wars Celebration IV Backpack (Celebration IV Store Exlcusive)
36. Stormtrooper Mini-Bust [Gentle Giant]
37. Super Articulated Clone Trooper 3-3/4" Action Figure [Hasbro - Revenge of the Sith]
38. The Clone Wars Launch Captain Rex T-Shirt ( Exclusive)
39. The Jedi Path Deluxe Edition (given to me by, and signed by, author Daniel Wallace)
40. TIE Fighter [Kenner - Return of the Jedi]

For those playing along on Twitter, what are your favorite collection pieces?   

Previous articles in this series:
Star Wars 40 For 40 – Coming 5-25-17
Star Wars 40 For 40 – Characters
Star Wars 40 For 40 – Movies/Episodes
Star Wars 40 For 40 – Novels
Star Wars 40 For 40 – Fan Experiences

Star Wars 40 For 40 - Fan Experiences

Star Wars 40 For 40 continues with my list of top 40 fan experiences!

When Return of the Jedi hit theaters in 1983 I was three and a half years old. It was the first movie I ever saw in theaters. It’s also the moment I mark as the start of my Star Wars fandom. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to have some incredible Star Wars experiences. Be it simply as a fan, as a collector, or as a 501st Legion member, it’s been an amazing ride thus far! And while the list below only begins to scratch the surface of the experiences I’ve had over the past thirty four years, each one holds many great memories and stories. Maybe one day I’ll write a book about it, but for now, enjoy the list!

Mike’s Top 40 Favorite Star Wars Fan Experiences  
1983 – Return of the Jedi in theaters
1983 – Starting my Star Wars collection
1984 – The network television debut of A New Hope
1987 – Star Tours at Disney World
1991 – Star Tours at Disney World
1997 – A New Hope Special Edition in theaters (opening night)
1997 – The Empire Strikes Back Special Edition in theaters (opening night)
1997 – Return of the Jedi Special Edition in theaters (opening night)
1999 – The Phantom Menace in theaters (opening weekend)
2000 – Star Wars: The Magic of Myth exhibit at the Minnesota Institute of Arts
2002 – Attack of the Clone in theaters (opening weekend)
2005 – Revenge of the Sith in theaters (opening weekend)
2007 – Star Wars Celebration IV in Los Angeles
2007 – Seeing the first-ever The Clone Wars trailer during The Clone Wars Panel at Celebration IV
2008 – Becoming a member of the 501st Legion
2008 – James Luceno 501st Legion Honorary Member induction dinner
2008 – Photos of my Star Wars collection featured on
2008 – Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit (premiere night with Anthony Daniels)
2008 – Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota
2008 – The Clone Wars Movie in theaters (advanced screening)
2008 – The Clone Wars / Legacy Collection Toys R Us Midnight Release
2008 – The Clone Wars TV premiere
2009 – Fanboys in theaters (opening weekend)
2010 – Dinner with Troy Denning, Daniel Wallace and Gerald Home
2010 – Lunch with Jeremy Bulloch
2010 – Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando
2010 – Interviewed for a Star Wars documentary during Celebration V
2010 – Star Wars in Concert
2011 – Daniel Wallace 501st Legion Honorary Member induction dinner
2012 – Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando
2012 – Being ten feet away from George Lucas during The Clone Wars panel at Celebration VI
2012 – Smuggler's Gambit live radio drama at Celebration VI
2012 – The Phantom Menace 3D in theaters (premiere night)
2014 – The Clone Wars "Lost Missions" debut on Netflix
2015 – Force Friday Toys R Us Midnight Release
2015 – The Force Awakens in theaters (premiere night)
2016 – Cecil Castellucci 501st Legion Honorary Member induction dinner
2016 – Rogue One in theaters (premiere night)
2017 – Star Wars Celebration VIII in Orlando
2017 – Ahsoka Lives Day at Celebration VIII

For those playing along on Twitter, I can’t wait to read about your favorite fan experiences!   

Previous articles in this series:
Star Wars 40 For 40 – Coming 5-25-17
Star Wars 40 For 40 – Characters
Star Wars 40 For 40 – Movies/Episodes
Star Wars 40 For 40 – Novels