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Becoming The Man Of Steel

Side by side comparison of Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel vs my Cosplay

Becoming The Man Of Steel


So it took me long enough (about ten years) of being a cosmaker for other people, to then converting my skills to do actual cosplays for myself, and I’m excited to do one of my favorite comic book characters as one of my firsts.  I loved the newer Superman design that has been portrayed since the 2013 release of The Man of Steel with Henry Cavill as Superman.  The colors, the chainmail texture, the metallic muscle shading undertone and the “no external underwear” appearance.

Now I know I just said applying my skills, but I’m here to tell you I was just introduced to the other side of cosplaying that doesn’t involve the armor building I’ve been accustomed to.  The different techniques were in changing my appearance drastically with body building, growing my hair out, changing my hair color and removing the gray, shaving off my goatee, filling in my eyebrows, anti-wrinkle cream, and the list goes on…

Once I decided to make it happen, the research on the best suit that I liked was on the hunt.  Since I have no experience with textiles and sewing, this would be a costume that I would have custom made to my size.  And the best Super suit in my opinion is from YoungKnight Props Studio.

Receiving The Super-suit

Measuring chart for custom suit fabrication

After contacting the maker of the suit, they e-mailed me a list of instructions on what they needed from me (besides the money of course) before they would start the suit. One option was if I were to get a muscle suit to be underneath the super-suit. I opted out of this because the cost of adding a muscle suit was nearly doubling the cost for the whole job. It would have been worth it, but I couldn’t afford it at the time and I’ve seen some examples without the muscle suit that looked really good as well.

The most important thing I had to do was measure my body specifically according to a measuring chart they provided in the email. I was to give measurements in centimeters which gave me the clue this costume would be coming from overseas.  I also had to provide how long the cape needed to be to end at my ankles from the base of the back of the neck.

The waiting time for arrival was promised at 6-8 weeks, but it took a little longer since I ordered the suit to arrive before Halloween.  I understood the delay completely since this is the busiest time of year for any costume maker.

Unpacking the super suit from YoungKnight Props Studio

Christmas came early for me as I received the suit on a Monday the day before Halloween. So the suit did come right before Halloween, but I knew there was a lot of work to do before it can be worn complete. All the trim/armor pieces made of urethane were to be superglued to the suit and it had to be done as I was wearing the suit since I don’t have a mannequin of myself, yet. (I fully intend to make one for myself for future cosplays).

I recruited my friend Dave (Thanks Dave!) to glue down most of the trim pieces that I couldn’t reach. Since I didn’t get the muscle suit, the trim pieces were from a mold of a muscle suited costume and, therefore, were too big for my body so the pieces were strategically cut to fit.  There was an important, specific process recommended to do when supergluing the urethane pieces on.  The parts and suit where the piece would be laid had to be primed first with this and then glued down with this.

The suit did not come with a hard under sole for my feet, so I had to provide my own foot protection for walking around in wearing the costume.  I chose a size 12 woman’s thin sandals to be cut apart for the sole.  Since I wear a size 13, a woman’s 12 would stay hidden or undetected under my foot after painting it red.  The red paint I used was Rustoleum Sunrise Red gloss spray paint.  It’s important to note that the surface that was to be glued was masked off so as to not have the paint cover any of the area where the adhesive was applied.

The cape was probably the easiest thing to attach as all I did was locate the proper placement of the cape to the suit and added a Velcro system.  The Velcro on the suit was superglued the same way as the urethane trim pieces and the corresponding Velcro piece was hot glued to the cape material.

Changing My  Normal Appearance

As I am getting up there in age, and I’ve always kept my hair buzzed cut and maintained a goatee, just putting on the Man of Steel Super-suit wouldn’t pass as a recognizable Superman.  So I made some drastic changes to pull off a successful, but far from perfect cosplay.  This was a six month process as I had to grow my hair out and work out regularly to get in shape and lose some weight.

As it came time to don the suit and do a photoshoot I had planned with Vicarious Cosplay for my write up on her  in the Featured Cosplayers section to this site, here’s a list of extra things I did for my appearance:

  • coloring my hair to remove the aging gray evidence with product Just For Men dark brown.
  • getting my hair styled similar to the film’s (my hair still wasn’t long enough, though)
  • filling in empty (or bald) spots on my head with the product Toppik  dark brown
  • adding styling gel to hold my hair in place
  • shaving off my goatee
  • filling and coloring  my eyebrows with Maybeline mascara
  • temporarily eliminating my wrinkles with the product Plexaderm
  • Sucking in my gut, raising my ears and swallowing as a photo was being taken to reduce any sign of the droopy aging process…lol

These pictures were taken just 3 weeks apart from eachother

The Man of Steel Photoshoot with Photographer BriLan Imagery

Taking The Man of Steel to Holiday Matsuri 2018

Fun comparison to comic book where Poison Ivy successfully seduces Superman; picture taken at Holiday Matsuri 2018 with the amazing Alyson Tabbitha

Soon after the photoshoot with Vicarious Cosplay I got the chance to debut and test out my Super-suit at Holiday Matsuri 2018 at the Orlando World Marriot Center and I had an amazing time. This became one of my favorite cons I’ve ever been to because of the excitement of the people, the many terrific cosplays there and the Holiday atmosphere cause it’s no secret I love Christmas! The Hotel was decked out perfect for the season and parking was a breeze. Maybe parking was easy because I went early on the first day, Friday, but the line to receive an entry pass was incredibly long…even if one pre-paid.

I met so many incredible people and Cosplayers there and took several pictures to preserve the memories.  I particularly tried to find DC Cosplayers to have my picture taken along side for a fun instant collaboration.  My biggest highlight was meeting the great and sweet Alyson Tabbitha as she was a special guest invited to be there.  In fact my primary reason for a Friday appearance was because Alyson was showing up that day in her epic Cosplay of Uma Thurman‘s Poison Ivy from Batman and Robin.  I had a plan to have her help me re-create a theme from the Superman comics where Poison Ivy actually seduces Superman for awhile.  She truly is a wonderful person to her fans and all those who want to meet her!  I, of course, sounded and acted like a nervous goofball when it was my turn to get a picture with her.  Perhaps one day I’ll get the opportunity to do an interview with her here for my Featured Cosplayers page.

One drawback to this costume, especially if I’m alone as I was at Holmat with no handler or friend, is that the zipper is in the back to get in and out of the suit, and it’s tight and form fitting, so if I need to use the restroom I would need help.  I anticipated this as I stayed away from beverages until half way through the day and didn’t eat anything until I was ready to leave.  I also preemptively took some immodium pills just incase (if you know what I mean…lol)

Soon I will be taking my suit to do an outdoor photoshoot to include action shots and recognizable poses from the comics and movies.  As soon as this happens and I get the pictures back I’ll be posting a gallery of photos here, so stay tuned and thanks for reading.

#3 Victoria Bradley of Vicarious Cosplay

#3 Victoria Bradley of Vicarious Cosplay


I am excited to introduce you to my next Featured Cosplayer here and she is no surprise to those who read my last write up on Khal of Atlantis.  She is Victoria Amanda Bradley of Vicarious Cosplay and she is a true Gem!  When meeting up with Pepe of Khal of Atlantis I was pleasantly surprised to find Victoria by his side as the two are a serious couple.  And what a perfect match they make.  More later on these two together, but for now I want to focus on the many wonderful attributes Victoria brings to the cosplay community.

Snow Buddies…Victoria in DC’s Killer Frost makeup with her “Fur-Baby” Kali

Let me just tell you right away that she loves what she does and has the biggest passion for the art of Cosplay more than anyone I have met before and I’ve been doing this for ten years now.  Her zeal is infectious when being around her and I find myself wanting to do more and be more ambitious in the field just talking to her.

So you’ll be shocked to hear that she’s only been cosplaying for about a year and a half now from the time this article is published.  I would have never guessed it by seeing the vast amount of quality, intelligent and fun examples of her work that she’s shared on her social media platforms and that I’ll be sharing here as well.

This girl is on fire and is non-stop, “pedal to the metal” achiever with plans I couldn’t ever imagine for myself.  I’m sure it helps having a terrific cosplayer as a partner who she can feed off of, and as exciting as she is, I’m sure Pepe is getting motivated himself.

I’ve seen her passion first hand, not only by following her Instagram and Facebook pages, but when I invited Victoria and Pepe to dinner during my research on his interview.  As I sat across the table from her, I watched as her eyes lit up whenever she told me about her experience at some of the Cons she went to and meeting and seeing some of the best influential cosplays like the incredible Lycans by @brenachs_props while she was sporting Selene from Underworld.  And as she shared with me her future cosplays and upcoming events.

What can drive someone so much with this stuff?…’cause I love it, too, but I don’t have nearly the amount of energy and enthusiasm to cosplay as she does.  Is it that it’s all brand new and exciting to learn for her or is it taking in all the many different worlds she imagines being in with a good cosplay?  I do know one of the answers for sure and that’s the people she has gotten to meet and become dear friends with.

Friends That Cosplay Together…Stay Together

So I have a list of Cosplayers that I’ve compiled as the next ones I would like to feature here on my blog and the way I found them was by association with the previous Cosplayers I’ve wrote about here.  The next few happen to be local for me here in Florida and they’ve all worked together before, which gave me the perfect opportunity to find out how special Victoria is to them or how they might know what makes her tick.

The common theme as these cosplayers answered me about her was how much of a Sweetheart she is and that they love how she totally gets into character especially with the little ones.  I’ve also learned and seen for myself how she’s full of energy all the time and how much effort she puts into her costumes.  Everyone I talked to also acknowledged how much charity work she does which is a way for her to give back and share the love.

I can tell you first hand how good of a friend she makes as she is genuinely interested in what and how I’m doing. She’s one of the only followers that responds to my stories on Instagram and cheers me on with what I’m working on.

 

 

Just Go To The Source

It kind of sounds like I’m making her out to be a mystery when all I have to do is…well…ask her why she loves Cosplay so much.  And that’s just what I did in the question, “What has Cosplay done for you?” This is what she said:

“Wow, cosplay has done so much for me.  Right before I started cosplaying I was going through a divorce.  I was down, maybe not depressed, but down.  It helped me through the almost year long process.  I have built so many friendships and relationships.  It has even brought my family closer to me.  It has even made my little brother and I closer.  He has even asked me to make his first cosplay for him.  Not to mention I found my soul mate.  Without cosplaying I don’t think any of these things would have happened.”

“Tailor Made” To Be A Cosmaker

I like to give attention to my Cosplayers’ skills in crafting, building and cosmaking their costumes since that is where I have spent most of my time in the field and, therefore, I have a great appreciation to what goes into making a good Cosplay.  There is so much I still need to learn and everyone has something to offer.  Like Victoria is a terrific seamstress and tailor, which I have almost zero knowledge in sewing, but would love to remedy that.  Her grandmother is credited for teaching her how to sew among other wonderful traits as she was raised by her.  It’s important to note that Victoria can do much more like makeup, styling wigs, prop making, sculpting and molding.

 

 

One question you’ll always find me asking as I add more of my favorite Cosplayers to my blog is what was in picking the alias or title name of your Cosplay persona?  And Vicarious Cosplay is a real good one…here’s her explanation into why the name:

“I was having a hard time figuring out what I wanted my name to be and then I asked a couple friends what they thought and they gave me some suggestions and one of my friends stated that I should use vicarious, the reason being the definition of it is [experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person].  I thought this fit pretty well because it pretty much embodies what we do…as in Cosplay we pretty much divulge ourselves.”

So let’s get started with my favorite pics of Vicarious Cosplay put into multiple iconic categories:

Disney 

 

DC Comics Cosplays

 

Marvel Comics Cosplays

 

Selene From Underworld Cosplay

 

More Favorites From Vicarious Cosplay

 

Power Cosplay Couple

Khal of Atlantis with his Darling Vicarious Cosplay as Disney’s Jafar and princess Ariel for Costumers With a Cause Fourth of July Parade event.

If you catch a glimpse of one of these two at a con, chances are the other half is right there with him/her and you’ll be witnessing an Epic couple themed cosplay.  These two have won several awards already and they’ve only been at it for only a year now from the date this is published.

It’s important to note, however, that each one can stand on their own with incredible individual cosplays and artistic talents.  It may be tempting not to be able to think of one without the other, but as I’ve come to know them and ask about each of their lives, they certainly are their own unique person…which happens to compliment the other in a wonderful relationship.

They met at a Con of course, Spooky Empire 2017, Pepe as Predator and Victoria as Greta from Gremlins 2.  The funny thing is they have been at some of the same events and in pictures together without really knowing eachother, but being Facebook friends as just “following a good fellow cosplayer.”  She was drawn to his cool skull bandoleer as part of his Predator costume and was talking to a man in a mask.  Later that night while saying goodbyes to other friends she saw him without the mask and they ended up hanging out together the next con day.  Clues on mutual interest were being dropped throughout the day and at the end of the event she was the one who had to nudge him and ask him, “so when are you going to ask me for my number?”

For Pepe’s interview I asked Victoria to say how important she is to him and since this is my writeup on Vicarious Cosplay I asked him to tell me why she is important to him.  This is what he said:

“She means the world to me, since the moment I saw her I felt the connection with her that I’ve never felt before.  And now that feeling evolved into something more deep than love.  There is not a single moment of the day that I don’t think about her.  There is nothing brighter in my life than the light that she shines.  I can positively say that I never met anyone like her.  And my love and feelings will always shine.”

Get a load of these two:

 

 

Out Of Cosplay?

Abby from NCIS Cosplay…Channeling her inner Abby at work.

It’s hard for me to think of her out of cosplay sometimes since she’s so in-tuned to it and that most of what we ever talked about had everything to do with the craft.  Plus I know she’s thinking about it all the time, because I know I am and she is way more passionate about it then me.

Not only does she have the coolest hobby in Cosplay, but she also has one of the coolest jobs that I could imagine and that’s a crime scene technician.  Many things begin to become clear after learning this fact, like why she was drawn to Pepe in his Predator costume by noticing his real animal skull bandoleer before even seeing his face and some of the way she approaches her cosmaking.  Which led me to the question that revealed her career…”What do you do for a living and do you use any of your skills and knowledge from work that helps you at all in cosplay?”  This is what she said:

“My official title is a crime scene technician.  My duties are to observe, document, collect and preserve the evidence while also providing my testimony if needed in court. Funny enough, I am attempting to try to make a face mold with the plaster we used to collect shoe and tire impressions.  This is something I’ve been looking forward to doing within the next month or so.  I plan on taking sand and putting it in a bin and pretty much faceplanting [my head] into it, setting it with hairspray and then casting it with dental stone.”

I’m jealous of the toys, materials and techniques she gets to deal with on a daily bases.  I of course asked the stupid question that I already kind of knew the answer to and that is “Is your job anything like it is on the CSI TV shows?”  A chuckle and then a… “No, however we did get the firearms training, but never really use it unless we go to the range.”

Pepe, their dog Kali, horror movies, trips to the theme parks with family and friends and charity events are just some of her favorite things to do outside of cosplay even though some of those things she would go full costume in as well.  These tidbits of her life I learned just by catching her stories on Instagram which is always a treat to watch following her and Pepe.

A Heart of Gold

Victoria Bradley from Vicarious Cosplay cosplaying Disney’s Ariel Princess for a Costumers With A Cause Fourth of July event for kids

As talented as she is I believe I found something she is better at and more experienced in than Cosplay, which is her extensive work for charitable groups and her appearances at events where she can show her full support for.  Which being a terrific Cosplayer can be a bonus as a way to put a smile on the faces of those who could use some sunshine.

A true humanitarian was a common theme from her friends as I asked them about her and as I have noticed myself.  Some people would not want the attention as a charitable host, and even though Victoria doesn’t need the acknowledgement, she would readily share her experiences only to bring awareness to the multiple causes she supports.  She’s so passionate about it and infectious that I’ll be asking her how I can get involved.

These are the many causes I asked her to provide me with that she has supported in the past and as a Trooper for CWC National (Costumers With a Cause):

“As a Cosplayer for Costumers With a Causes I have had the honor of working with Make-A-Wish Foundation to make kids dream come true, Nathaniel’s Hope, fundraise for many charity organizations and done hospital visits just for those who are there at the moment.  As a person out of cosplay, I have done charity with Habitat for Humanities and Ronald McDonald’s House.  I am also an advisor for the Young Explorers program at my agency which is to teach those at a young age about law enforcement in crime scene which I have done numerous guest speaking at elementary schools to college.  Before Cosplaying and when I was in college I did several fundraising for my chapter 4 cancer as well as Cystic Fibrosis.”

So Much More To Vicarious Cosplay

I can go on forever about her…so I will. Maybe not forever but for at least another segment here.  If I had to describe her in one word I would say Magnetic…because you can’t help but be drawn to her with her lively spirit and zeal for life and Cosplay inparticular.  I know she’s thinking about cosplay a lot and wonder if sometimes she looks at strangers walking by and thinks to herself…”OOH, I bet he/she could do a great cosplay of __________…”

In her short time as a serious Cosplayer she has been invited to be a DC Bombshell Model as you’ve seen above with her Killer Frost, she’s made countless friends in the community and I am honored that she calls me a friend, she’s met her soul mate in Pepe, helped put smiles on the faces of many children, and has learned some new and wonderful techniques to help improve her skills.

I always ask my Cosplayers what their dream cosplay would be and hers is incredibly ambitious and can’t wait to see and watch it happen.  That cosplay is the Queen Alien from Aliens.  I actually have a dream cosplay for her that when we very first met I messaged her super early in the morning the next day excited to tell her.  Somehow I can see her as doing an incredible Mavis from Hotel Transylvania. I hope she’ll do it so I can see first hand or at least prove that I’m right…lol.

Our Shared Photo Shoot With Premier Cosplay Photographer BriLan Imagery

 

 

#1 Pumpkin Carving

3D pumpkin carving jack-o-lantern

 

Pumpkin carving is easily the most popular or most practiced tradition for Halloween in my opinion.  At least it is for my family and throughout my lifetime.  The aroma of the fresh pumpkin after cutting into one and pulling out the pulp and seeds always brings me back to exciting memories of Fall and Halloween growing up.  My mother would wash and bake the seeds to be snacked on while we carved our classic jack-o-lantern designs, to then be placed outside on our front porch for the spooky season.  I grew up in northern Ohio so the cool weather allowed for early October decoration with the pumpkin art to last all month.  Now that I live in Florida, carving a pumpkin has to happen nearest to the October 31st date to ensure that the pumpkin will not rot in the heat.  They also need to be kept inside the air conditioning until just before Trick or Treating happens and then the jack-0-lanterns can come out to greet the eager candy hunters.

The Progression of My Pumpkin Designs

I’ve only just recently documented the last several years of my pumpkin carving, but I felt there is just enough to fill a post here for the Halloween Traditions page.

As much fun as I have doing them and as important as I felt the design would be, I would begin researching ideas starting in August.  Some of the designs ended up being what my daughter wanted it to be as a little girl.

So here is a gallery collection of past Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween:

 

3D Pumpkin Carving

I was always impressed with the 3D pumpkin carvings/sculptures and since I’ve done many clay and foam sculptures in the past, it was only natural that I would attempt one of my own.  So this year I was ambitious enough to try my first 3D pumpkin carving for Halloween.  I chose the classic skull design and thought it would be neat to make a time lapse video of the progression.  My daughter had fun editing the video with spooky music and the 70’s style film filter. (see video below)

First here is a picture gallery of the steps taken to achieve the skull coming out of the pumpkin:

 

 

My Top Ten Reasons I Love Cosplay

My Top Ten Reasons I Love Cosplay

My Top Ten Reasons I Love Cosplay


 

Here’s a fun post I wanted to do on why I love cosplay which will be tough to limit to just ten points.  Yeah, I’ll probably reveal much more, but I’m still calling it a “Top Ten” to go along with the other Top Ten posts in the group.  Another challenge to this post will be ranking the reasons from 10 down to 1.  I think from 10 to 3 can almost be in any order, but I know the last two ranks will reveal just how important cosplay is to me.  So here we go…

 

#10  It’s Just Down Right Cool

Action pose BSG Viper Pilot, photo by Brilan Imagery

If you have the desire, and are motivated to do a good high quality cosplay of a character you love, my advise is to go for it.  You’ll be one of the many “Cool Cats” at a Con and be the life at any party that calls for it.  You’ll also have some great conversation topics as you show off pics of your last adventure.  You’re Facebook and Instagram profile will never be the same again.

 

#9  A Great Way To Stay In Shape

Damaris Degen from Mystiques World of Cosplay pumping iron

Nothing is more motivating to get in shape better than to be ready for cosplaying a particular character you’re about to portray at an upcoming convention or event.  Forget beach season, Con season can be an all year anticipation.  Dieting is a must, but toning the body through working out becomes paramount to give your character the look and confidence needed.

 

#8  As A Trained Makeup Artist And Prop Maker It’s Only Natural

Painting Viper Helmet for a Battlestar Galactica Cosplay

It was only a matter of time after I learned techniques in makeup and prop making that I would translate it all into tangible costuming for myself.  It started as me just doing it for others as primarily a cosmaker for profit, but saw all the fun everyone else was having that it soon evolved into a hobby for myself.

 

#7  As An Introvert, I Can Break Out of My Lonely Shell

Lindy Rose (Ciri), Vincent Vix (Geralt) from the Witcher and Me (Viper Pilot) at MegaCon 2018

It’s a lot easier to approach someone at a Con when you’re in a good costume…at least that’s my confidence booster since anyone who knows me would tell you how quiet and reserved I usually am.  It may have something to do with “hiding behind a mask” or that I’m already connecting to those with the same passion or interest in cosplay that breaks the ice.  Either way, I’m busting out of my comfort zone and meeting some terrific people along the way.

 

#6  Good For Self Esteem

Viper Pilot photo shoot; photo by Brilan Imagery

This can go either way, and does in my case somewhat…I have to be comfortable with myself enough to reveal the side of me that isn’t afraid to put myself out there in costume and be takin’ seriously; or is it maybe I’m not happy with myself that I want to be somebody else and hide who I really am…?  This is a riddle only I can solve, or if you get to know me you can help me figure it out…lol.

 

#5  Best way To Show Excitement For The Fandom Culture

Great Justice League photo from DragonCon 2017

I love it all!  Comics, manga, anime, film, television and video games (of course, if you ask me which is my favorite game it will reveal my age…hehe).  So by putting a lot of time, effort and funds behind a project will tell you just how much I truly love this stuff.  Getting into character in a good cosplay takes it that much further than just having all of something in a collection.  However, I do confess being a cosplayer does not monopolize me being a bigger fan at something than anybody else.  Some people just aren’t cut out or willing to even think about cosplay even for Halloween, which is perfectly fine.  If everyone was a cosplayer, it would take away the awe and mystique behind it.

 

#4  I Get to Feel or Get That Much Closer To The Industry

Leah Cairns and I after she signed my Cylon Bust from MegaCon 2008

It all started when I moved to Florida to attend makeup school and try to become the next Hollywood sensation in SPFX; not so easy as I dreamed it to be.  It seamed everyone I met had the same idea and my plans shifted to set and prop making for the several theme parks in Orlando.  I tap into that old dream each time I get all masqueraded up with the next character I want to portray at a Con and see several celebrities during autograph sessions for us fans.  Depending on how good the cosplay is I get treated a lot kinder than I should by those same fans saying how close, good, or how I was mistaken for the real thing (okay, that last part only happened once…lol).

 

#3  So Many Choices, So Many Options

Just a few I’ve taken on so far, and in the works

It’s like being a kid in a candy store trying to choose what I want to be next.  I do pretty much know what I’m going to do in the near future, it’s just choosing when and in what order I will do next.  As I’m writing this now I’m thinking a lot about The Man of Steel, or maybe Batman, but Wolverine is trying to creep in first…lol.  Either/or I need to diligently refer to #9 on the list which is getting in shape.  I’m seriously going to need to bulk up to pull any of these off well, cause I can’t afford a muscle suit undercoat.

 

#2  Experiencing and Seeing the Response of Those Reacting to a Good Cosplay

Victoria Bradley from Vicarious Cosplay portraying Disney’s Ariel Princess for a Costumers With A Cause Fourth of July event for kids

It’s great to feel how all that hard work and money spent is justified with an “OH WOW”, or the question, “Can I get a picture with you?” from onlookers and other Con patrons responding to your costume.  But nothing beats the look on a child’s face when they see their hero in the flesh.  I can only imagine how the princesses at Disney feels every time a kid goes running up to give them a big hug.  I can never get tired of it.  I admit I do the same when I see a good cosplay, where I move in for the same hopeful picture together.

 

#1  The People I’ve Met and the Friends I’ve Made

Friends Made at DragonCon and The TCF (The Colonial Fleet)

This is definitely what it’s all about.  The people you meet and the friends you make.  I know the authenticity of the friends I’ve made because when I stepped out of it for awhile and came back it was like I never skipped a beat and they all welcomed me back as if I never left the scene.  And the new people I’ve met are genuinely excited and interested in anything I have to say or do.  I am the same at reciprocating the friendship.  Somehow dressing up like someone else translates into pinpointing exactly who you are inside.  It could even be just itching for fun and the next good time to be had, and doing it alone makes no sense.


Comment below with some of your reasons you love cosplay…I’d love to read them!

 

#2 Pepe Bozzo is Khal of Atlantis

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Thanks for the overwhelming response you all gave me with my first featured cosplayer I did on Mystique’s World of Cosplay.  I’m happy to introduce you to the next pick I made of a talented artist to be highlighted here on my website. Say hello to Pepe Bozzo who is Khal of Atlantis.

John Wick Cosplay; photographer Brilan Imagery

I had always intended on being able to interview almost anybody I chose, anywhere, but I was pleasantly surprised to find local talent here in central Florida and quite abundantly, too.  This provided me with the unique opportunity to meet Pepe and insert myself into his life and get to know the real person.  I’m not a stalker…I swear…no, really. HA!  After the interesting write up I did on Damaris, by knowing her, I still want to provide my readers that kind of realism.  The best part is I made a new friend that shares many of the same passions as I do, especially with cosplay.  Do I see a future group cosplay in the making?

I got to tell you one thing which isn’t very friendly on my part is that I’m jealous of him and of that face!  The camera loves this guy and he looks like almost anybody he portrays, as you can see with just the few images shown so far.  I do, of course, give him credit as a terrific artist and as an actor and costumer, which helps him enormously with his accurate depictions of characters he chooses.

So it wasn’t hard to figure out why he chose the name Khal of Atlantis as his cosplay alias since Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones and Aquaman from Atlantis in The Justice League are his two most well known Cosplays.

I’d like to start by giving a shout out to all the Berserk manga fans out there who probably knew or hoped this was coming.  Pepe and I, before we knew each other, did the same cosplay which both got a lot of attention from the Berserk community.  That cosplay is of Skull Knight and was a difficult one indeed.  I did it the most time consuming and most expensive way, where Mr. Atlantis here absolutely nailed it under a time crunch and with familiar cosmaker methods of EVA Foam, Latex, paint and everything in between with a much lower budget.

 

Cosmaker Extraordinaire 

When I asked him to hook me up with some WIP (work-in-progress) pics for this writeup he regrettably told me “I don’t have many, I need to start taking more pics of the process.”  But as I scaled through his Instagram profile I found several well represented photos of cosplay builds in development that worked perfectly here.  I told him I had the same problem with lack of pre-shots of a costume fabrication and we both agreed to make an effort to take more.

EVA Foam is his main choice of media to work with as is many other cospayers, but Pepe seems to take it to a whole other level.  There were several cosplays I had to ask him what he used, and when he said EVA Foam I was surprised because the end result looked too perfect and I thought I should be able to tell, like his Iron Man and Iron Patriot full armor.  His (and now mine) favorite EVA foam supplier is TNT Cosplay Supply.  This is where most of the materials comes from to perform his magic.

An important part of a true cosplayer is the makeup test and wig fitting test that need to be done before a full reveal.  This is where I found several WIP pics I could use from Pepe’s collection of photos.  He understands the importance of knowing ahead of time exactly how to make a character happen by the multiple tests and fittings to get it right.  Nothing is worse than a wardrobe malfunction while trying to be in character at a Con.

 

This Cosplayer’s Inspiration is Everything

Judge Dredd comes to life straight out of the comics…

What inspires this Peruvian the most is…well…everything.  A good sign of a true artist is to take anything and everything he/she encounters or pursues in stride and being able to translate it all into their work.  I’m all about the visual aspect to my reference point, but as you’ll see a little later here, Pepe is also a musician as well as a visual artist.  I asked him where he get’s his reference from while planning and working on a cosplay and he told me “all of it”, from comics, to video games, manga, anime and movies.  I also asked him if what he does for a living translates at all into his artwork and he emphatically replied, “No…” Work is the last thing he wants to think about while performing his mad skills in a cosplay project.  As a computer technician, I would say that it does help him some, however.  One needs to be smart and tech savvy, as he is, to know how to attempt to put a hinge, servo motors and other electronics for his Iron Man helmet’s face plate to open and close and have lights.

So, let’s get started with my chosen pics that I’d like to present to you here:

The Best of Khal of Atlantis Gallery of Photos

Khal Drogo of Game of Thrones

 

Aquaman from The Justice League

 

John Wick Cosplay

 

Geralt From The Witcher

 

Jafar From Disney’s Aladdin

 

Cyborg Raiden From Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Video Game

 

Judge Dredd Cosplay

 

Predator Cosplay

 

Iron Man and Iron Patriot Full Costume Armor

 

Batman Beyond

 

“Spiderverse”

 

Group Cosplays

 

Out of Cosplay

 

Pepe and his Husky Kali

Dog lover, metal head, musician, video gamer, movie goer and fitness guru are just a few things that occupies Pepe’s time when not planning or creating his next transformation. I know, however, he must always seem to be thinking about cosplay as good as he is with the craft.

But for now let’s talk about these things listed above that are important parts of his life, and one of the most important is his dog.

Not just any dog, but a sweet girl husky named Kali that he had since a puppy.  Huskies are his favorite breed of dog and when I asked him why, he confirmed that they’re silly, fun, pack minded, and how great of pets they make.  Huskies are always trying to be included in everything which makes them terrific play mates and pets.  They’re bred to be sled dogs and bark the loudest to be noticed and get picked to be part of the pack that gets to pull the sled.  I love huskies, too, as they remind me of a friend’s husky when I was a kid as it gave me my first impression of how a good dog can be as a loving pet.

If you follow Pepe it’s no secret about Kali as he shares pics of her a lot on his social media platforms.  Kali get’s her own gallery of photos here too:)

 

Jammin’

His love for heavy metal music and him being a self taught musician combines two more out of cosplay attributes to his life.  You gotta hear him rip on the bass and also even hammer on the drums!  Multi-talented musician, indeed.  Him and I discussed some of our favorite heavy metal bands, and I connected the most to the classic heavy metal bands from my day like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Ozzie, just to name a few.  I couldn’t pinpoint his favorite band as he chuckled when I asked for him to tell me and he said, “…too many to count…”  I did find that Ne Obliviscaris, Amon Amarth, Napalm Death and Wintersun are bands important enough to see live and share on his Instagram account.

Being a gamer was no surprise as you can see through his cosplays, as he brought to life some of his favorite characters in Geralt from The Witcher and Raiden from the game Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.  Going online and playing games straight off his PC is a quick go to method to get his game on and he’s currently into MechWarrior and of course The Witcher for the 20th time.

Staying in shape by dieting and working out regularly at his gym is part of his weekly routine.  Exercising is nothing different or new as he used to be a personal trainer before he got into cosplay.  I’ll be picking his brain on how I can get into shape better, that’s for sure.  Personal trainers don’t only give you a work-out plan, they also include what to take into your body for maximum health and performance.  So our next meal outing together will need to be well thought out, especially if he’s getting in complete form and strength for an upcoming Con.

 

Near and Dear to His Heart

Pepe’s Sweetheart, photo from Mayhem Magazine

I could have mentioned her anytime during this article, but I feel she needed her own section because that is how important she is to Pepe.  This is Victoria Bradley who happens to also be a wonderfully talented Cosplayer as well.  Spoiler alert as to who my next Featured Cosplayer is going to be.  Her alias is Vicarious Cosplay and her passion for the art is uncanny!  These two make the perfect couple and have several couple’s cosplays to date and many more already in the works.  I asked her to tell me something about Pepe that I can relay to you all here, and this is what she said…

“Pepe has sparked hope in me when we first met.  He treasures our time together and makes me feel like a queen.  When he loves he loves full heartedly.  I always tell him he’s my weirdo, because we can laugh and do crazy things together.  For example there is this moment when he was taking a picture (what I thought was a picture turned out to be a video) I had a dinosaur head on and went ‘AHHH’…so ever since then we ‘AHHH’ to each other.  It’s these little moments that make me love him.  On top of it I found a Cosplayer.  His work is outstanding for being a procrastinator.” [I guess that means he loves the Con crunch being a procrastinator…Hee Hee]

Couple’s Cosplay

 

Khal of Atlantis Popularity Rises

Mayhem Magazine cover September 2017

It was only a matter of time that a Cosplayer this good would get picked up and featured in several publications and media outlets.

 

So Much More To Khal of Atlantis

 

Aquaman (Pepe) and Viper Pilot (me) at MegaCon Orlando 2018

I know I said earlier that I’m jealous of his face, but as you’ve seen with his Predator and Iron Man cosplays he has no problem covering his head up with a mask or helmet for an epic costume.  Anything to get into character, because the best part of cosplay sometimes is playing a role that a terrific wardrobe helps facilitate.  As fun and important as Cons are to attend, as an excuse to play, taking the time and expense for professional photo shoots are vital to a Cosplayers experience.  I learned that from going through Pepe’s photos as many of them I chose were from planned pics with talented photographers.  I’ll be taking lessons from Khal of Atlantis on how to get my name out there as a serious Cosplayer.  He’s so good with every aspect of being a talented Cosplayer including the attitude of just having fun and relaxing with it.  When you’ve done as many characters as he has, it should just come naturally like it does for him.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite cosplay of his, but if I absolutely had to I would pick his John Wick portrayal.  Something about the subtleness yet perfectly accurate job he did made it so effective.  A totally cool character to pick as well.  His poses and stern looks he gave for the camera were Keanu Reeves all the way!

One question I wanted to ask the most is what his dream cosplay would be and the answer was a good one and I think would be perfect for him…That cosplay is the dragon armor from Dracula Untold.  He has to do this and I’ll be pestering him constantly ’till he at least starts building it…hehe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Top Ten Favorite Movie Props

Top Ten Favorite Movie Props

My Top Ten Favorite Movie Props


Welcome to my second installment of “My Top Ten Favorites…” where I discuss my top ten favorite movie props.  This was tough for me to compile as I love props and there were so many I left out to get to only ten.  I had to come up with some guidelines to keep the list short like “no helmets” since I’ll probably do a list of favorite movie costumes and helmets are a main part of costuming.  Also, as much as I love lightsabers from Star Wars, the actual prop is the handle and visual effects are what make the lightsaber work on screen, so no props that need extra help on film.  I pretty much went with what I think looks really cool to me and works well for the purpose in the particular movie.

#10 Mick “Crocodile” Dundee’s Knife

Mick Crocodile Dundee Knife; Crocodile Dundee 1986

“That’s not a knife. This is a knife.” One of my favorite movie quotes where Dundee was talking about his famous knife that he always carries with him. He was being approached by a gang threatening him with a tiny switch blade knife when he spoke this line.

“The Dundee knife was created by an Australian gunsmith named John Bowring. He was approached by the studio that produced Crocodile Dundee film and asked to make an original knife for the Dundee character. Bowring agreed and produced the famous Dundee knife.”  (Survival Knife Mary)

#9 Doc Brown’s DeLorean Time Machine

DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future Trilogy 1985-1990

Yes, a whole car made my favorite prop list.  It probably helped that the DeLorean itself is one of my favorite cars anyway.  But by adding all the “bells and whistles” as a time machine catapults this car as a prop icon I think everyone will love.  The inside of the car with the “flux capacitor” and digital time display is an important memorable detail as well.

#8 LeMarchand’s Puzzle Box

LeMarchand’s Puzzle Box from Hellraiser films 1987-1996

The Hellraiser puzzle box is simple, but can also take on a complex shape when activated opening a gateway for Pinhead and the Cenobites to enter our world.  I love the design and overall look to the cube and still aspire to having one of these in my prop collection one day.

#7 Wolverine’s Claws

Wolverine’s Claws from X-Men and Wolverine spin off movies 2000-2017

A spoiler about Wolverine, perhaps, if I do a list of favorite comic book characters is that he would be #1.  Seeing his claws designed well as a workable esthetic prop on film is exciting for me.  It’s a simple design that I’ve seen used in cosplay a lot but looks real and very cool as the Wolverine’s signature weapon.

#6 Hannibal Lecter’s Prison Mask

Hannibal Lecter’s prison transfer mask from Silence of the Lambs 1991

Another simple design of a prop, but makes a huge statement on film because of the character (and acting performance) that wields the power of it’s use.  Hannibal “the cannibal” Lecter can’t bite anything but his own tongue wearing this.  What sells this mask the most is seeing the whole shot of him wearing the classic straight jacket for an insane person strapped to a dolly, as well, as he’s being transferred.

#5 Ghostbusters Proton Pack

Ghostbuster Proton Backpack from the Ghostbusters films 1984-1989

“Who you gonna call…?”  Such a cool concept piece especially as a whole with the gun and trap that is the perfect design for what it’s supposed to do on film.  And there’s four of them, too!  I loved the Ghostbusters and my favorite parts of the films is when the Ghostbusters show up trying to look tough and important in their jumpsuits and technical gear.  I’d feel important too if I were wearing it all.

#4 Raiders of the Lost Ark Fertility Idol

Raiders of the Lost Ark Fertility Idol opening scene from Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981

We get an introduction to exactly how the character of Indiana Jones is going to be like through the entire franchise of Archeology films starring Harrison Ford with this opening scene–and the lengths he’ll go for a priceless artifact, particularly this first one, is incredibly exciting.  I’ll never forget watching this film on the big screen as an eleven year old kid imagining being an archaeologist myself one day.  Of course that didn’t happen, but my love for art, particularly 3D art, is portrayed with my love for prop making.

#3 Colonial Marines Pulse Rifle

Colonial Marines Pulse Rifle from Aliens 1986

I love this movie and I love this gun!  Everything about this rifle is so cool…from the shape, the sound it makes on film, the badass marines who use it, it’s killing force against the aliens, and the digital countdown of ammunition.  I especially love the scene when Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) cocks it with one arm and launches grenades into alien eggs when approaching the Queen alien’s lair.  A close companion to the rifle is the scanner used alongside the rifle to detect movement when locating how close the aliens are.  “Game over, man!”

#2 Ash’s Chainsaw Hand

Ash’s Chainsaw Hand from Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness 1987-1992

“Groovy!”  How ironic that the very chainsaw used to cut off his hand becomes the extension to where his hand used to be.  I hope that’s not too much of a spoiler because the events of this movie and the way Bruce Campbell plays the role of Ash is something NOT to be missed!  The chainsaw is an iconic symbol for the Evil Dead series and rightfully so.  The scene in the shed where Ash constructs his defense with the chainsaw and sawed off shotgun is a filming and editing masterpiece.

#1 T-800 Endo Skull

T-800 Endo Skull from The Terminator 1984

This is definitely a must have in my collection!  So brilliant of a design and concept, and so awesome and cool to look at!  I can totally see and imagine flesh overtop of the chrome to get to the face of Arnold Schwarzenagger as the cybernetic assassin.  I list reasons why this is one of my favorite movies in my blog post on My Top Ten Favorite Movies, but I left out this one reason that the film houses my favorite prop.  “I’ll be back.”

And I’ll be back with more top ten favorites soon on makeup and costuming in film.  Let me know what you think so far with my favorites and comment here what some of your favorite movie props are.

Thanks again for hanging out and keep a look out for more content here with cosplay, prop and costume making.

 

 

 

 

My Top Ten Favorite Movies

Top ten favorite movies:

My Top Ten Favorite Movies


So I thought it would be cool to do a series of my top ten favorites like my top ten favorite movie props, or my top ten favorite comic book characters, etc…  I’ll start with my top ten favorite movies, which most of these are directly responsible in influencing my passion for makeup, cosplay and prop making.  I know many of you will agree that these films are quite good if you’ve seen them, but I’ll also be revealing my age since several of these films impacted me as a young lad finding my place in the world.  The countdown will start at #10 and work it’s way down to my #1 favorite movie of all time.  One criteria that I went by, when choosing these films, is that I could watch these movies over and over again and never get tired of seeing them repeatedly, which I’ve already done time and time again.

#10 The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal 1982; directed by Jim Henson

I could no longer watch the muppets the same after seeing what I believe to be Jim Henson’s greatest masterpiece.  Not only was the puppetry and special effects incredible, but the story line was well written and went along smoothly with the film’s intent.  The gelflings in the movie were almost human or lifelike enough for me, as a kid watching, creeped me out so much that it hypnotized me and I couldn’t look away.  Today when I watch it again and again, the skeksis are clearly the best part of the movie for me.  The sculpting and work that went behind them must have been intense for such an amazing design.  I am still in awe every time I watch it.

#9 Evil Dead 2

Evil Dead 2 1987; directed by Sam Raimi

There are several reasons this movie easily made the cut into my top ten and I’ll get to them in a second, but perhaps what stands out the most as the best part of this movie is simple…Bruce Campbell!  This was my introduction to the genius of Bruce’s acting and humor and even though he was in the first one, Sam must have held him back then, no holds bar on this performance of Ash for Evil Dead 2.  What a terrific treat.  Sam Raimi’s vision on technical film style and camera angles gets my next kudos for this film.  Several new and innovative shots were introduced here and we still see them today thanks to Sam Raimi.  In a time when I was obsessed with horror films I remember after watching this one that I had to get into the industry somehow and I left for Florida soon after to become a makeup artist.

#8 True Romance

True Romance 1993; directed by Tony Scott

Acting is king in this film and the cast is unmatched…just look at them all!  But perhaps the greatest performance, in my opinion, was Gary Oldman’s as Alabama’s pimp.  In fact I remember making the decision that Gary Oldman would be (and still is) my favorite actor after watching True Romance.  This film has everything from humor, elite acting performances, action, and best of all an amazing script.  Here is where I found out about the one and only screenwriter Quentin Tarantino.  Most of you know him from his work on Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Kill Bill.  The man is brilliant and interesting dialogue is his specialty.

#7 Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back 1980; directed by Irvin Kershner

There are several Star Wars films that could have easily made the cut since I am a big Star Wars fan, but this is clearly my favorite and can represent the Star Wars saga for me.  I picked The Empire Strikes Back mainly because of my childhood attachment to it.  One of the first biggest Star Wars toys I had, other than the figures, was the T-47 snowspeeder from Hoth.  I had countless hours playing the Hoth battle scene out with my friend who happen to have the large AT-AT introduced in the film as well.  I also started collecting trading cards and I remember trying to find all the cards and stickers in the set.  I’ve watched this movie the most out of all of them and I can say that even today I get excited and find new gems within the movie to admire.  The reveal of Darth Vader’s and Luke Skywalker’s true identities propelled the plot exponentially.

#6 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001; directed by Peter Jackson

Where do I begin with this one?  So many reasons why I love it, I can’t just name a few, but I will try for this entry.  Peter Jackson‘s commitment to keep the film as accurate as possible to J.R.R. Tolkien‘s masterful work from The Lord of the Rings trilogy of books helped him recreate the story with visual perfection.  Since the FOTR (fellowship of the ring) was the first one to see in Peter Jackson’s trilogy it would have the most impact in introducing the enormous undertaking of the project.  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King were just as beautiful as the first.  In fact these three movies were filmed at the same time over a period of three years!  I love watching the making of these films on the DVD’s extras menu almost as much as the films.  Props and SPFX makeup get me giddy here thanks to WETA Workshop.  New Zealand’s beautiful diverse landscape was the perfect choice to film the many different lands in Middle Earth, so set design propels the film even further.  If you’re a fantasy nerd like me and love stories and tales of medieval times J.R.R. Tolkien’s books are brilliant.  But even if you haven’t read the books these films are the ultimate eye candy and will give you the greatest emotional roller coaster ride a movie can offer.

#5 The Terminator

The Terminator 1984; directed by James Cameron

The script to this film is absolutely brilliant, which is why it was able to be so successful and launch several more well made films in the franchise.  When I tell folks why I love this movie I tell them about the story of the first time I saw it.  To keep it short, the highlight of the story is that I had absolutely no idea what it was going to be about because I never seen a trailer for it.  This is why, even today, I try to avoid too much pre-hype of a film and also try to avoid long trailers that give the film away.  Watching this film for the first time and seeing two (what appears to be) hostiles from the future, at the beginning, pursuing an unsuspecting damsel is captivating.  I’m sure most of you have seen this, but if not, I’ll stop there so I don’t spoil it, since not knowing about it wooed me.  I’ll be doing a list soon of my top ten favorite movie props and if you read this, you’ll get a hint of one of my favorite props which is the T-800 endoskull.

#4 The Matrix

The Matrix 1999; directed by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

Kung Fu, computers, leather and shades…doesn’t get any better than that…OH, except when you add a mind blowing story to go along with them.  The Matrix has an intense, brain-buster script similar to The Terminator, but, in my opinion, slightly better which is why it falls just one more closer to my favorite film of all time.  Visual effects reins supreme as well for technological reasons.  New techniques in cinematography were invented with multiple cameras and angles and editing that forever immortalized scenes in our heads…if you’ve scene it, you know what I’m talking about.  Pure magic!

#3 Manhunter

Manhunter 1986; directed by Michael Mann

Michael Mann is a master at creating the perfect mood and emotion using the soundtrack and composition of any scene.  I loved this movie precisely because of it.  I was a huge fan of Miami Vice TV show growing up and I was thrilled to see Michael Mann was involved with this film.  Here is where we get our first glimpse of Dr. Hannibal Lecter portrayed by Brian Cox.  Even though we remember Anthony Hopkins immediately for this role, Brian, who is just as much a high caliber actor as Anthony, played Hannibal first.  This movie is based off the book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris.  I don’t really know how convincing I can be and do the film justice, but it’s one you just have to trust me on and seeing is believing.  A true Masterpiece!

#2 Gladiator

Gladiator 2000; directed by Ridley Scott

Best “come back kid” revenge story ever!  This movie is sensational!  It has everything from being visually stunning, a captivating story, superior set and even beautiful costuming.  The main character Maximus portrayed by Russell Crowe goes through an amazing journey at every stage of power to near death to being hated and then being loved, which keeps you emotionally attached throughout the entire film.  Each action sequence is set up to be more anticipated and exponentially more exciting than the previous one.  An absolute must see again and again!

…drum roll…

…and the #1 favorite movie of mine is…

#1 Blade Runner

Blade Runner 1982; directed by Ridley Scott

So my top two favorite movies are directed by Ridley Scott.  Coincidence?…I think not.  The man is a genius.  So, if I were to have a list of favorite directors, he’d be number one also.  When I came up with the list and I was thinking of movies to consider in the top ten, Blade Runner and it’s position as number #1 was the only one I knew of right away. The movie is king of all of them and I have talked to a lot of people that agree with me that Blade Runner is their favorite movie also. (At least folks my age).  Even though I’m a visual guy, my favorite part of this movie is the soundtrack by Vangelis.  The soundtrack is a fluid merger of every stunning scene that solidifies the film emotionally.  I still get chills and hold back awesomeness tears every time I watch it.  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick is the novel that the film is based off of.  This film has an elite cast including Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos, Sean Young, and Daryl Hannah.  The story takes place in the future (well…the future from 1982) and what is so alluring about it is that it seems like a future I believe could really happen to some extent.

I hope I haven’t given away any spoilers if you haven’t seen any of these and I want to believe I hyped these movies up enough that you want to make an effort to view them for yourself or even see again if they’re already part of your library.

This was a fun list to make and there were several movies I considered to be in the top ten, but didn’t make the cut.  A quick list of these, and not in any particular order are:

  • Aliens 1986; directed by James Cameron
  • Goonies 1985; directed by Richard Donner
  • Labyrinth 1986; directed by Jim Henson
  • Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens 2015; directed by J.J. Abrams
  • Blade Runner 2049 2017; directed by Denis Villeneuve

…just to name a few…

Thanks for takin’ a gander at my opinion in films and please leave a comment on what may be some of your own favorites and/or if you agree with any of these films as a possible contender as your own favorites.

 

 

 

Steampunk Gauntlet on a Budget Tutorial

Finished glove with rub-n-buff colored gears add ons

Steampunk Gauntlet on a Budget Tutorial


List of Materials
  1. A pair of welding gloves (preferably used) where you’ll only be using one of them.
  2. Leather dye Drk brown
  3. Faux leather material 1/2 yard
  4. Thin gauge copper sheet that can be cut with scissors
  5. Paper fasteners package
  6. Choice of add ons (gears, gauges, fan blades, etc….)
  7. Rub-n-buff metallic rub on wax
Tools Used
  1. Scissors
  2. Exacto knife
  3. Tape measure
  4. Hot glue gun
  5. Hot glue sticks
Procedure
  1. Used welding glove to be leather dyed

    To keep the project on a strict budget, it helps to have found a pair of welding or thick barbeque gloves that are used already.  If you don’t have a pair, try finding some at a thrift store and/or garage sale.

    Depending on the color the glove is, you may have to dye it a color that will help blend in with a steampunk look.  I used dark brown to mask the blue that I started with.  Follow directions on the dye bottle.  It took three coats for my glove.

  2. Dyed leather glove with accessories to be added

    I was ambitious and thought I would fit everything on the glove you see in the photo, but once I saw it come together, I was able to weed out what I really needed to make it look proper. Sometimes less is more.  Plan out what you want to use ahead of time and it’s okay to have a lot in mind to start with, because you can always decide otherwise.

  3. Sections fabricated separately

    To make this glove look more the part as a mechanical gauntlet, you’ll need to cover it with as much of the copper sheeting and fake rivets (paper fasteners) as possible.  What made this a simple and effective build was making each section separately and then adding them on after.  The simplicity was with not having to go through the thick glove with stitching, cutting, poking, or threading to the inside.

    Measure how big of an individual section you want to address first and either mark the faux leather or cut a pattern and then transfer onto the faux leather the shape to be cut out.  Cut it out of the material.

    Next you’ll want to take the same shape of the copper sheeting, but smaller so the faux leather material has a boarder of 1/8″-1/4″ appearing behind the copper sheeting.  You should have a thin enough gauge copper to be able to use scissors for cutting.

    Center cut shape of copper sheeting over top of the faux leather material and plan, mark and space out where you want the rivets to appear along the boarder of the metal.  It’s not necessary to glue the metal to the material because the rivets (paper fasteners) will go through and fasten together the two shapes together, but you can if you want so the two don’t move before the process is finished.

    With the exacto blade, poke through and cut a small slit through both materials where the center of the rivet will be located. Then take a closed paper fastener and poke the shafts through the slit and then spread the shaft apart tightly against the back of the faux leather side.  Repeat for all planned rivet spots.  Try to plan the direction of where the feet of the paper fasteners will end after opening so they don’t stick out past the boarder of the faux leather material.  If that happens though the fastener’s feet are thin enough to cut out of the way.

  4. Sections added on with hot glue

    Hot glue assembled sections in place, concentrating on the edges.

  5. Begin finger wrap sections and test fit

    The fingers are a little more involved since you’ll be making many sections. Each finger has at least two “rings” or copper wraps between each knuckle.

    The same principle applies where you have a faux leather backing under copper sheeting strip with only 1/8″ boarder.  You’ll need to measure each section of each finger because the length around and distance between each knuckle changes frequently.  I did find, however, I was able to use the same measurements for some of the finger sections.  Most fingers have only two rivets except the thumb, forefinger and pinky because three sides of the finger are exposed, so I put another rivet on the side for visual stimulus.

     

    There should be at least an 1/8″ overlap where the two ends of the “ring” come together where you’ll need to poke the paper fastener through both ends (two layers of faux leather and two layers of copper sheeting).  Once you make the wrap held in place by the paper fasteners, you can slide the “ring” in place on the finger.  It’s good to have it a little loose with a gap between the glove and the wrap because once the finger is in place in the glove the space becomes filled.  I put a dab of hot glue on the underside inside any gap to hold the “ring” in place.

  6. Near completion, stiff enough to stand on its own

    Repeat step 5 until all the digits are filled.

  7. Finished glove with rub-n-buff colored gears add ons

    Add any gears, gauges, or cool steampunk related props to the glove for more esthetic purposes.  I like putting gears next to each other to give the impression that they are actually turning something.  I was able to choose gears that were compatible to my paper fasteners so they actually spin freely.

    I used Rub-N-Buff on anything that wasn’t metallic looking already which matches the steampunk theme.  Follow directions on the package.

 

Happy Crafting!  Let me know if you choose this method and comment below how you did…

Steampunk, Baby…Yeah!

Steampunk, Baby…Yeah!


I absolutely love anything steampunk.  I once saw the perfect, quick, definition for steampunk as …a time that never was, but one that we wish we had…

The actual definition from Wikipedia is [Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.]

What’s great about steampunk is that your imagination is the only thing limiting you on what you can do for any deco or cosplay accessories relating to this popular genre.  This means endless combinations and countess leather, goggles, gears, brass, copper, fashion and made up time travel device add ons to any project. Fun stuff!

I remember my exact first encounter where I fell in love with the theme and that was at DragonCon 2011 after the realease of the movie Sucker Punch.  I’m sure steampunk has been around since the real industrial revolution, but this movie seamed to unlock the fan base to explode in exposure.  I was at DragonCon 2010 the year before and I can’t think of any instances of steampunk that I could remember.  2011, however, every time I turned around I could easily spot brass and leather immediately.

So in honor of my love for steampunk, I’m dedicating this post to the three costumes I’m designing and making for me, my wife and daughter for MegaCon Orlando 2018.  Here I will be walking you through the design, fabrication and test fitting for our group Cosplay.

So, to start, I have to disclose the absolute driving force to this project besides my love for it, and that is the budget.  I’m trying (for once…ha, ha) to make everything as frugal and cost efficient as possible.  Which means I’ll be making almost everything from scratch and repurposing stuff that I may already have.

Our group cosplay is going to tell a story…I am a steampunk airship mechanic, my wife is just steampunk “bad to the bone,” and my daughter is a life sized windup doll we made because the narrative we’re pushing for is that we can’t have kids of our own.

I always like to start any cosplay with the props that will be used because I believe that is my specialty and is what I have the most control over.  If the prop making goes well then my confidence gets boosted and the rest of the costume making should be successful.  Earlier I wrote a post on prop weapons where I talk about how usually this is where I start a project, so naturally this is where we’ll begin.

As I mentioned earlier, budget comes into play as a dominate motivation and I just happen to have a prop gun that I can repurpose for me and a prop gun, perfect for my wife to use.  The only cost is with little accessories, paint, rub-n-buff, and materials to make a holster for Debbie’s flintlock gun.

My Prop Steampunk Gun

Finished steampunk gun from repurposed prop weapon of two other themes I made from before.

I’ve seen many cool steampunk guns during my researching stages of this cosplay and a lot of them were nerf guns painted to look the part.  I was impressed enough that I had planned on doing the same until I realized I could just take what I already have and modify it.  This gun started as an anime prop I made and molded from the mini series Gungrave. Then I turned it into a Zombie Apocalypse prop gun, and then to what it is now.  See the transformation below. The parts added to make it steampunk I found at a local surplus store called Skycraft where you can get just about anything dealing with electronics, motors, wiring, hardware, LED lighting, etc… I chose mostly small parts that made it cost efficient, especially when I started off with a free gun that I already had.  I used a product called Rub-N-Buff to color the gun the proper metallic steampunk look.  Rub-N-Buff is not a paint, but a metallic wax that you apply with your finger or brush and rub it in and buff to give it the metallic sheen.  You can make just about anything look steampunk with Rub-N-Buff.  The only new paint on the gun is the patina aging effect I gave it to simulate a realistic weathering effect to copper and/or brass.  This is taking a chance because the countless pictures witnessed during referencing, I saw absolutely no aging.  They were all brand new clean looking repainted nerf guns–which was actually still impressive, but I chose the aged look.

Prop gun transformation from Gungrave to Zombie Apocalypse to Steampunk

Turning an existing prop gun into a steampunk gun:

 

Debbie’s Flintlock Holster

I’ll begin here by emphasizing budget again.  I already had a flintlock replica gun in my collection that could be used for Debbie’s accessories.  All that was needed was a way for her to carry it without carrying it in her hand the whole time and that is making a holster.  All I used was faux leather material from Joann’s, 5/8″ push snaps, grommets, and some real leather strapping.  See pics below.

 

Steampunk Gauntlet 

Back to my costume…one of my favorite steampunk accessory invention is the gauntlet. It’s a perfect add on to my cosplay because of my mechanic status.  The gauntlet for my character gives him the ability to protect his hand from hot steam pipes, and offers the added strength as a gauntlet represents more power and strength for the hand that it houses.  See pics and video below on how I made mine on a budget.

 

 

Props Cut from CNC Router

I have the great fortune of working at a sign shop, Vital Signs of Orlando Inc, that has a computerized cutting table (CNC router) that can cut almost any shape out of almost any material real fast once it’s programmed in the computer.  I of course asked permission and used scrap material that was going to be thrown away.  I also was making something for myself and not anything I could potentially make money off of.

The few props highlighted here that are cut from this tool are my pipe wrench and Cassidy’s windup key mechanism with gears on her back, for her doll cosplay.  The material used was plastic board called sintra that keeps the props light weight for comfort and easy function.

Pipe Wrench-I knew as an airship mechanic I had to have some sort of tool on me and what better tool for steampunk is an oversized pipe wrench.  Nothing beats the real thing except, if you don’t have one and the real thing would be WAY too heavy!  So I made my own out of sintra and cut it at work using the CNC router table.

 

Windup Key Mechanism-Nothing says life sized doll better than a giant windup key protruding off the back of the subject.  To make the key at least turn manually I used the inner bearings out of a fidget spinner.

 

Here’s a quick video of the CNC router table in action cutting out the windup key:

 

Debbie’s Steampunk Girl Costume

Debbie’s MegaCon Steampunk Girl costume

Here again, I’ll refer to the budget and tell you that what a nice surprise to find my wife happened to have some threads like the undershirt and brown jeans along with boots that could be used perfectly to go with her steampunk girl cosplay.  Instant savings.

I freely confess that there are store bought items, but a major plus is that her goggles and corset were bought from a store closing sale at a Party City where  75%-90%  off everything in the store.

Other new, but reasonable priced items for her were the spats, pocket watches, and skeleton keys (0.50 cents ea).  I did buy some lace material at Joann’s and made her choker and bracelets.

The only store bought items for the steampunk girl costume

Finished Props and Accessories Ready For Test Fitting

 

My Steampunk Airship Mechanic Costume

Enough of the teaser photos, here’s the first test fitting of my cosplay.  I started to cheat a little with the budget and had to get a couple of things of mine on Amazon.  Time was running out and I couldn’t find my shirt, or suspenders at any local thrift store. I also bought my spats as well.

Airship mechanic first test fitting

 

Unforeseen Change of Plans

My original intent was to take these three cosplays to my local comic book convention, MegaCon Orlando, with my family and show them off there.  I had successfully finished the costumes and had tickets for all of us to go on Saturday of the con’s long weekend schedule.  But life sometimes throws you “curveballs” and forces a different direction with plans.  We had a friend of the family pass away suddenly and we wanted to attend the memorial service that was happening the same day.  Some things in life are more important and I didn’t hesitate to support our friends in mourning.

We’ll always have the costumes and I knew I was also going to take many good photos specifically for this blog.

 

Steampunk Family Cosplay Photo Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1 Damaris Degen of Mystique’s World of Cosplay

#1 Damaris Degen of Mystique’s World of Cosplay


Welcome to what is probably going to be the most popular page here on my website where I get to delve into the lives of some of the best Cosplayers I’ve come to know and respect for their craft.

I knew immediately who was going to be my first Cosplayer to be featured because she’s my favorite…and she also happens to be a friend…so yes, my choice is biased, but after you read my Bio here about her, and you see the artist’s work yourself, I think you’ll agree she is worthy of the praise!

I originally approached her with the idea as an interview, but then after seeing that she’s been interviewed before and I pretty much know the answers to all the basic questions, I decided to go for a more exciting angle to this article and introduce you to Damaris how I know and love her.  I’ll of course be incorporating several of the questions one would typically like to know within the write up from time to time.

Fem-Wolverine Cosplay for DragonCon 2011, 2013 and 2017

Like, I know she’s been practicing her craft for ten years now, which happens to be as long as we’ve been friends.  She’s not only an artist as you’ll see through her cosplays, but she also happens to be an artist professionally as a graphic designer and digital illustrator along with being an instructor in the design field.

Even though, I fully believe, she could easily make a living off of being a Cosplay sensation, it’s only a hobby for her.  Her other interests include body building, sky diving, racquet ball, painting, and anything Sci-Fi.

What sets her apart as a great cosplayer is that she can do it all.  She makes much of her own props and costumes and sculpts her body with body building to get into a particular character. True dedication!

If she has a deadline or a serious time crunch she has incorporated help before with getting her part ready like with sewing and electronics, but she is fully involved no-matter-what. I know this first hand because she approached me to help her with her Star Wars Commander Cody Clonetrooper armor she sported at Celebration V.  I had a lot of fun with it and with her as we crunched away in my garage getting it ready for Orlando’s first hosting of Star Wars Celebration in 2010.

Yes, she can do it all, but there are some things that one has to have help with, and that’s with body painting.  Here is a really cool shot of her getting body painted by the incredibly talented Nick Wolfe for her DC Killer Croc.

Quest of the Muscle Nerd Trailer, Killer Croc Cosplay body painting for DragonCon 2017 by Nick Wolfe

The Fun Loving, Lighter Side of Mystique the Comedian

Having fun is “A” #1 for her, which probably is what the secret of her success is as a premier Cosplayer.  Truly, it is one of my favorite qualities that I love about her.  I’ll let the gallery of pictures tell the story to how funny and witty she is:

 

This Great Cosplayer is a Great Cosmaker…Mystique Shares Her Knowledge

No secrets here.  She enjoys sharing how she does her magic with anyone who wants to know.  It’s a way of spreading the passion.  Some of my favorite pictures when I’m browsing through any cosplayer’s gallery of pics are the WIP (work in progress) shots.  Damaris has TONS of them.  In fact, if you’ve read any of my blog posts, chances are you may have seen me use some of her WIP pics already.  I need to convince her to maybe someday have a blog of her own…she has better and a lot more behind the scenes, WIP shots than I do.

 

True Dedication and Authenticity to the Character to be Cosplayed

Lady Bane Cosplay for DragonCon 2014

If you were to ask her which is her favorite Cosplay she’s done thus far she would tell you her Lady Bane that she successfully pulled off for DragonCon 2014 because of all the work she put into it and how well it paid off…like gaining 8lbs of lean muscle.

Because she’s a comic book junkie she’ll get most of her research just by what she’s read and knows exactly where to look for more information to study her desired character to portray.  She’s also addicted to the SyFy Channel, the latest Marvel or DC film that’s released, Star Wars, Star Trek, and the re-imagined series of Battlestar Galactica just to name a few, so she can easily get plenty of character reference to copy in her chosen cosplays.

But it’s her strength and perseverance through uncomfortable situations that a costume may require; like crazy contact lenses, heavy wigs or tight fitting corsets that has a straining effect on the body, which defines her dedication the most.

She does enjoy the body building portion, though…but who wouldn’t with the results she gets and the beautiful physique she has.

 

So without any further delays, my chosen picks that I give to you:

The Best of Mystique’s World of Cosplay Gallery of Photos

DC Comics Cosplays

 

Marvel Comics Cosplays

 

Star Wars Cosplays

 

Original Designs

 

Group Cosplays

 

Collaborated Action Poses

 

Out of Cosplay

Sons are the anchor to a mothers life.

If you were to ask Damaris what her greatest achievement in life is, she would say being a mother to two beautiful twin boys which is a forever, ongoing happy endeavor.  In her own words about Justin and Ethan, “The world did me a favor by giving me two of you. Although you are each unique, you share the same wonderful qualities that only twins share.  Ethan Degen and Justin Degen. Born June 1st, 2006 at 7:24pm and 7:25pm. I got double the blessing and twice the love!”

Twice the hugs, twice the fun, twice the laughs and twice the proud moments.  She needs twice the energy, too, to keep up with two boys…I can see where she gets her juices flowing to pull off three or four different cosplays for past DragonCons.  Maybe, it’s the other way around…she got twin boys because forces knew she could handle the glorious task of raising them in a fast paced modern world we live in today.

#whorescuedwho

Here are some of my favorite pictures and selfies of Damaris Out of Cosplay:

 

Earlier I told you one of her hobbies is painting…check out these samples of her work, including some sketches, I pulled from her collection:

So not only is she a terrific sculptor and 3D artist through her Cosplays…she’s a  great 2D graphic artist and painter as well.  Her background in fine arts she credits to her success with any artistic task she conquers.

There are times at a comic convention, believe it or not, that an Out of Cosplay experience happens more frequently then you’d think.  It’s mostly about the people and friends you hang out with and Damaris feeds off these times the most.

I don’t go to conventions just to show off my craft or to express my fandom with others.. What drives me the most is to be with people that I consider to be family.. like all these faces right here! THAT’s what conventions has done for me.

Our History Together: A Shout Out to The TCF!

DragonCon Colonial Fleet photoshoot.

Damaris and I first met on a forum for Battlestar Galactica fans called the Colonial Fleet Quorum, where we hit it off right away talking about props and her first and still planned attempt at her Borg Queen from Star Trek First Contact motion picture Cosplay she aspires to do someday.  It’s still my favorite makeup FX of all time and hers too.  We saw that we were local and met face to face for the first time at a TCF (The Colonial Fleet) gathering of the first Iron Man movie release in the summer of 2008. Since then, a few Cons, gatherings and 10th floor Marriot parties later, along with a Clonetrooper armor build together has been a complete pleasure being around this fun-loving friend and Queen of Cosplay.

She’s not the only true friend I made at the TCF…a dozen more immediately comes to mind when I think back at all the past events involving  these Frakkers.  I miss you all and I am soon coming back out of the shadows of lost time.

Here is what Damaris feels about The Colonial Fleet:

Today [December 9, 2017] is the 14th year anniversary of one of the GREATEST shows of all times, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA!! This show changed my life as a geek, introduced me to the best group in the FRAKKIN world AKA: The Colonial Fleet, as well as giving me the best hobby: costuming! It also brought me closer to my fandom and I got to experience many wonderful once-in-a-life-time events such as the BSG auctions ran by Propworx. I raise my Top Gun mug to all you frakkers that share the same feelings as I.. So Say We All..
Thank You Ron D Moore for BSG!

…So Say We ALL!

Notoriety and Publication Appearances

DragonCon2017 Co-hosting a panel on body building for costuming

I knew I had to include this section to my write up on her because it tells you just how well received she is in the Cosplay community. I’m going to include only a few of these because there is so many and also when I asked her to list them to me, she couldn’t remember all the different publications that have featured her in the past.

First I need to give you the link to her Facebook Fan Page here because it is definitely an important achievement, it’s her publication.

Next is her Instagram account here. Go and follow her if you have Instagram.  She’ll continue to update you on what she posts next.

Trailer for Quest of the Muscle Nerd where Mystique makes a cameo appearance with her Killer Croc Cosplay for DragonCon 2017.  She was also invited to be a guest co-host for a panel on body building for costuming, and a judge for the competition:  https://www.facebook.com/JayShettyIW/videos/1995740577407064/

Aside from a few calendars she’s appeared in, here is a few publications and links to past interviews:

 

Thanks for the Fun Ride, Mystique, We’re So Looking Forward to More!

Isis (Damaris Degen of Mystique’s World of Cosplay) and Skull Knight (me) at DragonCon 2011

One question I did ask her recently, which I was reluctant to ask because I thought I should have known already was why she picked the alias Mystique for her Cosplay name. The answer was really simple…Mystique is just her favorite X-Man…

I don’t know if she realized this when picking the name, or you as the reader figured out while reading about her, that Mystique is the BEST most PERFECT name for a Cosplayer.  Think about it…Mystique’s mutant power is shape shifting, and a really good cosplayer, as Damaris is, has the ability to change into any character she chooses…Bravo!  I can’t wait for the next adventure with Damaris at Mystique’s world of Cosplay!