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Cover Story: A Strong Force

Westsider lands official Star Wars fan club presidency

By Mike Breen · February 14th, 2007 · Cover Story
  Dustin Roberts
Dustin Roberts

Dustin Roberts

Name/Organization: Dustin Roberts, President of Hyperspace, the official Star Wars fan club

Years as President: Not even one (became president in June 2006)

How did you get the position: The presidency was awarded to Roberts because he signed up the most new members to Hyperspace.

Duties: "I'm occasionally asked to speak at engagements such as conventions, but it's more or less an honorary title," Roberts says. His first job perk? Getting sent to last year's huge Comic-Con convention in San Diego.

Salary: None. ("I wish," he says.)

Trusted second in command: R2D2 was Roberts' running mate. "He's more than up to the task should I fall," he says.

How many people do you boss around: None. (Roberts says, "I try, but nobody listens.")

President Bush gets "Hail to the Chief" played when he walks in a room; if your position had a ceremonial song attached to it, what would it be: "The Imperial March," of course

Not that long ago, in a galaxy ...

well, in this galaxy that we all live in, a 34-year-old man from Cincinnati's West side of got the phone call of a lifetime. Well, the phone call of a lifetime if you're fanatical about the Star Wars franchise and everything associated with it.

Dustin Roberts is a System Tech for Cincinnati Bell by day. But when he's not working, he's surrounded by Star Wars, be it his rare collectibles or his presence in some of the many Star Wars online fan and collector communities.

Roberts was a "huge" fan of the original trilogy as a child -- "I guess you can say I'm from the Star Wars generation," he says -- but when Cincinnati-based toy maker Kenner reintroduced its Star Wars toy line in 1995 his interest skyrocketed. The son of a U.S. Air Force officer who moved around a lot as a child, Roberts -- coincidently -- moved to Cincinnati in 1996 for a job.

Last year, Lucasfilm announced it would be holding a membership drive campaign to decide the next president of Hyperspace and whomever referred the most new members would win the title. Roberts and his ringer of a running mate, R2D2, took home the honor.

Even if he hadn't won, Roberts would have had plenty of Star Wars activities to keep him busy. At r2d2central.com, he runs a site dedicated to his assortment of collectibles related to his favorite character and current VP. He also volunteers at two other large Star Wars fan Web sites -- Rebelscum.com and TheForce.net -- where he publishes news, rumors, photos and anything else related to the film series.

Roberts says his involvement with these sites exposed him to the huge community of fellow fans, leading him to "go above and beyond 'regular fan' status."

There are a few other hints that Roberts is far beyond "regular" when it comes to his love for Star Wars. On his MySpace site, there's a link to photos from his recent wedding featuring Stormtroopers and other characters from the films mingling in the background. When I ask about his "Star Wars wedding," he's quick to point out it was only a Star Wars-themed reception.

"It was a blast, and for the next two weeks we kept hearing things like 'That was soooo fun!' and 'I'll always remember your wedding!'," Roberts says.

So how does his new wife feel about having Darth Vader at her wedding reception? "The new First Lady of Star Wars isn't quite as hardcore as I am when it comes to Star Wars," he admits, "but she does enjoy them."

Roberts' term is up later this year, but don't expect him to retire peaceably to the Skywalker Ranch with his Princess or begin breaking ground on his presidential library in Alderaan. Roberts is already eyeing another campaign run.

"I believe my term is up around the summer of 2007," he says, "just in time to start my campaign for President of the Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club this fall."

To quote a certain black-masked villain with audible respiratory problems, "The Force is strong with this one."

Check out Roberts' fan club at starwars.com/fanclub.



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