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Mike Koehler wants to build an AT-AT (sigh)

5:34 AM EDT on April 15, 2011

I hate publicity stunts.  They are cheesy, contrived and about the only thing they really accomplish is feeding some publicity seeker’s ego and wasting the time of innocent people.  Naturally then, I loved this story about former Oklahoman sports editor turned social media "guru" Mike Koehler:

An Oklahoma City man wants to give people a new hope in these dark times.

How does he plan to do it? By building a massive, earth-crushing Imperial Walker from "Star Wars."

The self-professed geek is aiming to raise funds to create a fully functional, life-sized version of an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport).

Fans would know the behemoth - estimated to realistically stand about 73-feet high - as a weapon of the Empire that trampled through the snowy plains of Hoth in "The Empire Strikes Back."

"I thought this would be a good rallying point to make us feel good again," Michael Koehler told the Daily News on Tuesday.

It is his hope that by constructing the mechanical monstrosity, he will bring together sci-fi lovers from around the world. And so far, he may be doing just that.

Koehler is already accepting donations via his tumblr website - atatforamerica.tumblr.com - and will shortly be accepting more donations via kickstarter, a website that allows artists, filmmakers and inventors to raise money.

He acknowledges that the out-of-this-world project could require a galactic amount of time and money, but Koehler's taking things piece by piece.

"Based on our rough plans, we would split it up into several build teams around the country," he said. Different parts could be built in different places, and then assembled at his Oklahoma home.

The former newspaper man-turned-social media consultant hopes that, if the Force is with him, he'll have the project completed within a few years.

Yeah, I’m sure that Mike Koehler is just a humble guy who wants to build an AT-AT to make the country feel better, and that this story is in no way a self-serving attempt by him to feed his ego and promote his social media consulting firm.  I’m also sure that The Phantom Menace was the best Star Wars movie and that Sally Kern dressed up like a Jawa for Halloween.

Seriously, what a cheesy publicity stunt.  I wouldn’t mind this at all it if he had actually done something cool, like you know, built an AT-AT or cloned a Tauntaun or something…but he didn’t.  He just dreamed up some absurd idea, sent press releases to the right people, called some newspaper buddy he had in college, and bam, he’s now on the short list of people Renzi Stone calls when some state agency needs to develop a Twitter campaign.

Instead of writing about publicity hounds, I wish the media would focus on people who have actually accomplished cool things. For example, take a look at this guy.  He’s from Oklahoma and is an uber nerd like Koehler.  The main difference is that he didn't have an idea, he actually acted upon it.  What did he do?  He built a replica of the Delorian Time Machine from Back to the Future.  The damn thing even has a flux capacitor and plutonium gauges.  You don’t see him being featured in the news.  Then again, he built the time machine because he wanted to build it, not because he wanted to be in the newspaper.

All that being said, I do hope Mike actually gets the AT-AT built.  For one, it would be cool to have one available for use during an ice storm, and two, it would be interesting to see how Jedi OKC honors him.  They'd probably give him a nerfherder and petition Mayor Cornett to name an alley in Bricktown after him.

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