An Angel With A Lightsaber

1 decade 1 year 10 months ago Monday, October 15 2007 Oct 15, 2007 Monday, October 15, 2007 4:45:31 PM CDT October 15, 2007 in News

John Hodges is a professor in the MU School of Social Work who's out of this world.

"I started collecting a figure here, a figure there, and it started evolving into obsessive compulsive disorder," he said.

Hodges now has about 2,000 Star Wars action figures still in their boxes in his basement. He bought most of them on sale or at yard sales, so he didn't have to empty his wallet.

"I do have many that are open as well," he said. "I do buy duplicates, one to open and the other to play with. Sometimes in class, I'll play with them while students are taking a test or something. I'll re-enact battles just to amuse myself."

"When they see the basement, they usually come up shaking their heads saying 'I can't believe it's for real,'" wife Melissa Hodges said.

Melissa is a librarian. She meticulously organized all of the display shelves in his basement.

"A lot of people say 'you must be a patient person to put up with his collection,' but I say it's what makes him happy," she said. "It's a pretty simple thing."

John and Melissa have their own little princess who trusts "the Force" from head to toe.

"I was trying to find a "onesie" it had a little Stormtrooper on it, and it said "stormpooper" on it," John said. "Which I just thought would be hilarious."

The armor he dons, however, doesn't work well with the summer weather.

"In Missouri it gets really hot in the summer, and you have to drink a lot of liquids so I modified my armor so it lifts up, and then I have a second zipper in my body suit," John said.

John paid about $800 for his movie authentic outfit. To him, it's not just a costume. John is part of the 501st Legion, a brotherhood of "bad guys" who travel the country doing good. They've participated in Walking for Cystic Fibrosis fundraisers and have visited sick children in the hospital.

"It's more fun for most of us to role play the bad guys because in our lives, most of us try to be good," John said. "Try to be decent people. George Lucas' whole vision for the Star Wars movies was good hearted. He had really good intentions and wanted to show that the power of human nature, even the ultimate bad guy, Darth Vader, could be redeemed by love."

Love that isn't just in a galaxy far, far away. Underneath John's bad guy armor is a good-guy volunteer.

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