Tag Archives: cosplay

A Trooper’s Point of View: Costume Malfunctions

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You’ve researched for weeks, you’ve stayed up late every night finishing it before the upcoming convention, but you have finally done it.  You have made your very first costume.  It’s time to wear it out to the show and join the costuming and cosplay fun you’ve seen online.  What do you do if a piece fails or your glue wasn’t fully dry?  How do you deal with a complete costume failure?

In addition to having made several costumes for the 501st Legion, I have made costumes for some of my other fandoms including Ghostbusters, Doctor Who and more.  I’ve also more than once been in the awkward situation of having to deal with a complete and utter costume failure.  There really isn’t anything more heartbreaking than to pour yourself into something and then to just watch it as it all slowly falls apart in front of you.

No matter how much time you put into a costume, you never fully understand how it all works until you’ve worn it several times.  Trying it on at home and wearing it for a few minutes is never quite the same as fully dressing out and wearing it in public for hours at a time.  You can never account for everything that is going to happen in the real world.

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That is why it’s so important to be prepared for what is going to happen.  I store my 501st costumes in a plastic rolling tub, and inside my armor tub, I always have my tool kit.  It has snaps, velcro, extra material for straps, a rivet gun, and the most important, a roll of duct tape.  Remember the boy scout motto, be prepared.

Early in my time with the Legion we attended a local convention.  The convention did not provide any changing space for us and since it was only a few minutes from my house I didn’t bother getting a room at the hotel.  This meant that I was forced to change in the parking lot.  Not much of a big deal, any sense of modesty is quickly lost when you join the Legion.  Unfortunately, it started to snow and it was then that I learned that the glue holding my armor together does not respond well to freezing temperatures.  Very quickly I noticed things failing and pieces literally starting to fall off of me.  It was then that I learned the importance of duct tape, for the rest of the weekend many of my pieces were being held together by duct tape (thankfully most of it was where you couldn’t see it) and sheer will.  Since then I’ve always been more careful about where and how I store my armor in the colder months of the year.

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I had played with making costumes prior to joining the 501st in 2008, but those were mostly glorified Halloween costumes, worn only once or twice and never thought of again.  Since then I have taken a different approach and really embraced the costuming and cosplay hobby.  But, it’s not without heartache.  I’ve learned several important things that I never would’ve known and had to adapt quickly to deal with them.

My toolkit also saved me when we were scheduled to make a TV appearance.  While changing in the backrooms of the TV station I heard a pop as a rivet holding my belt together broke.  With only minutes to spare before a live TV appearance, I was able to redo the rivet and get my armor back together.  Without the proper preparation, I would’ve missed out on a fun, high-profile event.

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It’s because of these and other similar events that I will never leave my toolkit at home as you never quite know what is going to happen.  In fact, I have noticed a new trend at some of the larger conventions there are now groups that specialize in cosplay repair and help for those who encounter similar problems.  These people are amazing helpers and proof of the power of a community who works together to help each other.  It’s important to work together and help each other.  The community is best when we all work together.  You can’t stop all of the problems before they happen, but if you plan and prepare accordingly you can catch it and fix it in time to avoid the heartbreak.

A Trooper’s Point of View – Building a TIE Fighter Pilot Part 2

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Previously, we discussed the basics of trimming the armor kit.  This time, we are getting into more of the fun stuff.  Now I’m beginning to assemble pieces and it’s actually starting to take shape.

I have to admit that my anxiety around this build has been pretty high.  I think it’s two-fold.  First, I gave myself such a short time frame to get this kit to be wearable.  Second, I haven’t been able to locate as much in the way of tutorials as I have for previous projects so I’ve been having to figure a lot of it out on my own.  This isn’t a very hard build, but it’s been stressing me way out and I am constantly in fear of screwing it up.  While a few pieces have not turned out exactly the way I wanted them to be, there isn’t anything that is beyond fixing.

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After cutting the pieces to the correct sizing, you have to sand the edges smooth.  Most of your time working on armor is either spent sanding or waiting for glue or paint to dry.  Measure, compare to your reference, measure again, cut, sand, sand, sand, sand, sand, sand and sand some more.  Then you get to line up the pieces and glue them.  You will need to clamp the pieces while the glue cures.  Depending on the piece, you may need to get creative with how you clamp it by using magnets or even tape in addition to the regular clamps.

For glues, I like to use E6000 on most pieces.  It’s an industrial strength adhesive, but when it dries it has a little bit of a rubbery flex to it which can be very helpful in certain areas.  Unfortunately, it also takes approximately 24 hours to cure, which means once you get glue on your pieces you have to let them sit for at least a day.  That is one thing that can slow down the process.  Some people swear by CA glue (think really hard-core superglue) or using epoxies.  I tried CA glue when I first got my original Stormtrooper kit, but I didn’t like it and I ended up redoing almost everything I had glued.  Epoxies are great for some parts, but I don’t like that most of them make a permanent bond.  E6000, for good or for bad, can be undone by extreme temperatures.  I learned that the hard way when I stored my armor in my car during a con in the winter.

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Painting the greeblies

The 501st Legion is a great community of people.  Unfortunately for me, I was spoiled when I was working on my Stormtrooper and Sandtrooper armor because these are among the most common armor types and there is a wealth of information and various tutorials to follow.  However, the TIE pilot community is smaller and since there is less armor involved, a lot of the armor makers offer to sell it already assembled.  Thus, there are fewer tutorials to follow.  This is part of the reason I always try to document everything I’m doing.  It helps to show my progress and to give others a guide to follow.  Obviously here, I’m just giving a highlights and overview.

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My deadline is fast approaching.  I want to have it wearable by this Saturday.  Yes, this whole process for me has been done under pressure and with an unrealistic timeline.  I feel confident that I have some of the major pieces finished and some of the hardest work is now behind me.  Now it’s just a matter of getting all the separate assembled pieces together to create a cohesive whole.

Lego Star Wars Show coming, Costuming, and life size BB-8 with The Real McCoy – CCC Ep. 037

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Michael is manning the Casino alone this week but James Clarke is joining him to discuss some of his costuming and website work.

 

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They also getting into some of the Toyfair news such as the life size remote control BB-8 coming from Spinmasters and the newly announced upcoming Lego Star Wars series.

Updated Information for Dragon Con 2015

RECORD CROWDS EXPECTED IN DOWNTOWN ATLANTA FOR DRAGON CON 2015

Cosplayers, Gamers and Pop Culture Fans Return for Annual Fantasy, Sci Fi & Gaming Convention

More than 400 Actors, Artists, Authors and Creators Will Give Talks and Meet Fans.

http://mediarelations.dragoncon.org/2015/08/19/record-crowds-expected-in-downtown-atlanta-for-dragon-con-2015/#more-1572

More than 65,000 people are expected to pack downtown Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend as Dragon Con, the internationally known pop culture, sci fi, fantasy and gaming convention, returns for its 29th consecutive year.

Dragon Con fans will travel from every state in the nation and a few foreign countries to participate in the four-day convention, where they can meet their favorite actors, artists, authors and creators, and talk about the stuff they love.

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Star Wars: The Next Generation “Midnight Madness”

Star Wars: The Next Generation
“Midnight Madness”

As a young father with limited resources, my Star Wars toy habit was on hiatus when the prequels were released.  Admittedly, I would peruse the toy aisles in Wal-Mart and Target when the family was shopping, and the Star Wars aisles at Toys ‘R’ Us and Kay-Bee were always my first place to browse when we went to the toy stores.  But apart from some Playskool Star Wars toys for my daughter and Galactic Heroes and Jedi Force figures for my son, it wasn’t until the release of Revenge of the Sith around my son’s third birthday that my Star Wars collecting was reborn.

That being the case, I had never considered going to Star Wars events (other than the movies) when my children were very young.  I certainly wasn’t going to any “Midnight Madness” releases of Star Wars toys I couldn’t buy anyway.  All that changed in 2008 when, in anticipation of the release of The Clone Wars in August, Toys ‘R’ Us stores hosted a “Midnight Madness” event to release the new line of Star Wars figures and toys.  Fortuitously, we were visiting family in Atlanta when the day arrived, so we headed up to the Kennesaw store at about 10:00 to get in line.

I didn’t know what to expect from something like this.  Apart from keeping the kids up way past their bedtime, I wasn’t concerned about taking them to Toys ‘R’ Us for this event.  After all, Star Wars fans are well known for their kindness and cordiality, so I was certain that everyone would be on their best behavior.  My wife, on the other hand, was sure that our younglings (small even for their ages) would be trampled by maniacal fans storming the store in competition for a big Millennium Falcon or V-19 Torrent Fighter.  Once we saw other families with their children there and talked to the folks near us in line, her concerns were lessened.

Then the unexpected occurred.

dsc04088Out the front doors marched a couple stormtroopers, a Republic Commando, and a bounty hunter named Boussh.  My wife and the kids watched as others stepped forward to see the life-sized action figures.  With some coaching and prodding, I was eventually able to get my six year-old son to meet the members of the Georgia Garrison of the 501st.  Within a few minutes, we returned to our place in line as my wife checked to ensure the youngest shazling was unscathed after his encounter with the Imperials just in time for the doors to open.

As we entered the store, all the customers who had been waiting in line calmly took their carts to the display and began picking the figures and toys they wanted to purchase.  There were more than enough Millennium Falcons and AT-TEs to satisfy customers, though some of the more highly anticipated figures were disappearing quickly.  I made sure to get my Yarna — certain that she would sell out immediately.  Luke chose a Captain Rex and Darth Vader.  And I topped off our shopping list with a V-19 Torrent Fighter.  We weren’t going to be big spenders, but this selection would put us above the price point to allow us to get a free holographic General Grievous Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive.

By the time we made it back to the in-laws’ house, both kids were asleep and my wife was happy that (1) they hadn’t been trampled and (2) I hadn’t emptied the bank account.

With another “Midnight Madness” on the horizon, I thought it would be beneficial to make a few suggestions for parents who are considering a trip to Toys ‘R’ Us on September 4th.

Make sure the store you’re considering is Clock Midnightactually hosting this event.  Although official site for the 2015 “Midnight Madness” states that all locations (except for those in Paramus, NJ), my local Toys ‘R’ Us has told me that they will not be even participating in “Midnight Madness” this time around.  I live in a relatively small city without a large contingent of Star Wars collectors.  If yours is the same, you may have to drive a bit further to find a store that will be hosting Destination: Star Wars, the official designation of the event.

Check to see if the 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, or Mandalorian Mercs will be attending.  Part of the magic of events like this is seeing your kids’ favorite characters from the movies, television, and toy aisles come to life.  Through their websites, you may even be able to find out which characters will be at certain stores.  Even if your local Toys ‘R’ Us is hosting Destination: Star Wars, you may want to go to another location if you want to make sure to have some interaction with Star Wars characters.

Consider costuming.  You might want to join in the fun, too.  Most everyone enjoys dressing-up — especially kids.  Even if your kids don’t have a costume and you lack the ability to craft a screen accurate costume yourself, ask your younglings if they would like to dress-up as one of their favorite characters for the event.  Let them help put together a costume.  A robe, some plain pants, and a toy lightsaber can make a convincing Jedi.  Cardboard and foam sheets can become Stormtrooper armor.  Be inventive.  Your kids will always remember the time you let them go out in public in costume when it wasn’t even Hallowe’en!  And if you have the energy to put into it, think about becoming a character yourself.  Those present for the event will enjoy having a character along with them for the night, especially if none of the well-known organizations aren’t in attendance.

HanSoloShirtWear Star Wars items.  In 2008, I didn’t have a single Star Wars T-shirt.  It seems unbelievable to me now that I have several* in my closet and drawer.  Still, I had the wherewithal to pull out an old iron-on transfer from my collection to put on a white shirt.  (For those who are shouting about the audacity of actually using an iron-on from the ‘70s, never fear: I scanned it into the computer and printed it out on iron-on transfer paper for printers.)  With Star Wars in public awareness, you can likely find an inexpensive shirt at Target or Wal-Mart for the occasion.

Set aside some money now.  We all know that Christmas is coming in just a few months.  And while I was reluctant to make big purchases at my first “Midnight Madness” because I knew that Santa would be bringing one or both of the big vehicles to my house in December, as I think back to that night, it would have been an exciting impromptu summer holiday for my younglings had we brought home the big Millennium Falcon that night.  Even if you decide to limit your spending at this event, it’s best to prepare beforehand so you can budget yourself accordingly without taking out a credit card because you suddenly decide to get more than you had planned.  Knowing how much you are able to spend will help you choose what is most important to you on September 4th.

If you have other ideas or advice to add to this list, feel free to add it below in the comments or contact me @shazbazzar on Twitter.  Happy hunting on “Force Friday” this September!