#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!

 

 

 

 

The Making of a “Die Hard” Star Wars Fan

Hasbro Vader, Battle Droid Blaster Rifle, Dark Horse Comic collection, badge, scrapbook, misc…

Star Wars is KING!  Okay, so I know I’ve upset half the readers already.  I don’t necessarily believe that.  I’m a Battlestar Galactica guy as you can see from my previous blog posts.  However, I want to introduce you to a good friend of mine, Tim,  who believes Star Wars rules and after hearing him and the way he talks about theories, news, and obscure facts, I get excited and almost jump on the Star Wars train myself.

This is a blog post about, as the title says, the making of a “die hard” Star Wars fan. You’ll read and experience how he became a fan and how long his passion has been constant, maybe even grown with the excitement of the many installments and how vast the Star Wars Universe has grown as well.  I have hand picked much of the merchandise and collectibles shown in the images here, which is only about half of what he owns and shares with his boys.  I know there are a lot of serious collectors out there that may not be to impressed with what is shown here, but Tim is the kind of collector that doesn’t keep things on display in it’s original packaging anymore (he used to), but each piece in his collection has a specific memory and even a story that he connects to his life somehow.

 

So how big of a fan is he really?…you might ask.  Well, he never misses every Thursday nights installments of The Jedi Council on YouTube.  At his wedding he had the groomsmen march up the aisle first to the opening epilogue theme music right after In a galaxy far, far away…  He named his youngest Luke, and those who know him may debate if Luke is the biblical name, since he’s a man of faith, or the Star Wars Luke because of his zeal of the subject.  I’m gonna play it safe and say it’s a little bit of both.  He organized for me and several of our friends pre-sale tickets to the first showing of the last three films which was a day before their official release dates.  Now me, being a regular Con goer, just knew I had to make sure he would get the experience of a Star Wars Celebration adventure which was an experience he will never forget and also a new tradition he will never miss.  I know he can’t wait to take his boys with him next time. For one of his boys 5th birthday party he had an authentic life size working R2-D2 from the R2 builders Club rolling around the party with a 501st imperial officer and a non 501st, but well made, Sandtrooper cosplayer hanging out too.

R2-D2, R2 builders club

Is that red eye or light saber reflection in Tim’s eyes?

So how did it all get started?   In Tim’s words…”I became a fan when my dad took me and my brother to see ESB at the theatre as a young kid when it first came out.  At some point after that I watched ANH on television with commercials and then the regular format.  They re-released ESB to get us pumped up for “Revenge” of the Jedi later to be called Return of the Jedi.  So I went back to watch ep.5 again in the theater and then ROTJ.  I’ve watched these so many times I have lost count.  I’ve watched all six first episodes back to back all the way through in one day.  I’ve also watched all six all the way through with the commentary.  I kept going back to the theatres to see the digital re-mastered and new scenes for  4,5, and 6 right before they released the prequel trilogy (which ep 1,2, and 3 I didn’t enjoy as much).  3D was a must see for me also not long before Disney bought Lucasfilm.  Since ROTJ I’ve gone to all the films’ opening nights.  I’ve seen all of The Clone Wars cartoon and Rebels animation thus far.  I’m giddy with great anticipation for Solo: A Star Wars Story and ep.9.”

You can get a feel for Tim’s passion and a little more history of the foundation and connection he has to Star Wars in this video we shot together as I went through and picked out some of the non conventional merchandise not usually seen or talked about with other fans I’ve come across.

If you watched the video in it’s entirety you would have heard some of the questions I asked him like, …”Out of all the things in your collection, what would be your favorite?”  He surprised me with something that is new in his collection that his boys wrapped up for him for Christmas last year.  It was the sun shade for his car that features the cockpit scene in Episode IV with Han, Chewie, Luke and Obi wan. (…”that’s no moon…”).  He told an emotional story about losing his dad recently and seeing one of the exact same sun shades on the day his father passed and before he received his. Not telling anyone he liked it or even saw it–made it an amazing  coincidence, or some might say a sign, when he opened his on Christmas morning two days later.

Windshield sun shade from ep. 4 Millennium Falcon cockpit.

If I were to pick any favorite pieces from his collection after seeing and hearing about all of it I would have to say any of the toys that made sounds like the At-At, Millennium Falcoln, or Blasters.  Those sound effects and recorded dialogues took me immediately back to when I was a kid growing up and  the memories I had enjoying countless hours playing with these same toys and watching the movies.  Mine is the classic story of losing all my toys because my mom sold them at yard sale without my consent.

I found a fun questionnaire on Tumblr @thedisneyunderword that I’ve asked Tim to fill out for me and you can have fun coming up with your own answers as well.

1. Favourite Star Wars movie? (Episode 1-R1).  Tim: Episode V
2. Favourite Star Wars era?  Tim: Rebellion era
3 Favourite Star Wars trilogy? (Originals, Prequels, Sequels).  Tim: Originals
4. Jedi or Sith?  Tim: Jedi
5. Empire or Rebellion?  Tim: Rebellion
6. Bounty Hunter or Clone/Strom/First order Trooper?  Tim: Bounty Hunter
7. Rebels or Clone wars?  Tim:  Rebels
8. Favourite Star Wars book?  Tim: Heir to the Empire
9. Favourite Star Wars Comic?  Tim: Darth Vader #1
10. Favourite Star Wars game?  Tim: Star Wars Trivial Pursuit
11. Top 5 favourite female Jedi?  Tim: Mara Jade, Ashoka, Rey
12. Top 5 favourite male Jedi?  Tim: Luke, obi-wan, yoda, Kanan, Ezra
13. Top 5 favourite Bounty Hunters?  Tim: Boba, 4 LOM, ig88, bossk, cad bane
14. Top 5 favourite Sith?  Tim: Vader, palpatine, plagueis
15. Top 5 favourite Droids?  Tim: R2, 3po, k2so, bb8
16. Top 5 favourite Troopers?  Tim: Ct-7567, cc-3636, cc-5576-39, cc-2224
17. Top 5 favourite Senators?  Tim: Bail, the asogian
18. Top 5 favourite Republic/Rebellion ships.  Tim: x wing, y wing, b wing, a wing, cr70 corvette
19. Top 5 favourite Separatist/Imperial ships.  Tim: Shuttle from vi, Tie advanced X1, tie fighter, Devastator star destroyer
20. Top 5 favourite planets?  Tim: Hoth, bespin, kamino, takodana
21. Where would you live in the Star Wars universe?  Tim: Takodana
22. Who would you be in the Star Wars universe?  Tim: Episode VI Luke
23. What ship would you own?  Tim: the Falcon from IV
24. What Droid would you own?  Tim: R2
25. Would you have a team, or would you work alone?  Tim: Team
26. If you where a Jedi, would you be a Knight or a Master?  Tim: Master
27. If you where a Jedi Master, would you have a Padawan?  Tim: Yes
28. If you where a Sith, would you be the Master or Apprentice?  Tim: Master
29. If you where a Sith Lord, would you have an Apprentice?  Tim: No
30. Married, in a relationship, or single?  Tim: Married (as a Jedi Master)
31. Top 5 favourite species?  Tim: Human, snivvian, arcana, duros, kaminoan, bith, ithorians, gamorrean, sullustan, rodian, jawa, sand people/Tusken raiders
32. What species would you be?  Tim: Human
33. What species is your type?  Tim: Human, togruta
34. Who would your best friend be?  Tim: Han
35. Would you customise your ship?  Tim: No
36. Would you customise your Droid?  Tim: No
37. What colour skin/eyes would you have?  Tim: Brown/blue
38. If male, beard or no beard?  Tim: No beard
39. 1 lightsaber, 2 lightsabers, double lightsaber, or 2 double lightsabers?  Tim: 1
40. What colour would your lightsaber(s) be?  Tim: Kentucky Blue
41. If you’re a Bounty Hunter, what armour would you have?  Tim:  Mandalorian
42. Would you customise your armour?  Tim: Yes
43. What colour scheme would your armour/robes be?  Tim: Blend of KY Blue and black, charcoal, and grey
44. If you where a Droid, what Droid would you be?  Tim: K2so
45. What colour would your droid self be?  Tim: Charcoal
46. Pod racing or ship racing?  Tim: Ship
47. Space battle or ground battle??  Tim: Space
48. Would you have survived order 66?  Tim: Yes
49. Where would you go after order 66?  Tim: Jakku
50. What would you do after order 66?  Tim: Connect with rebel cells
51. Do you have any Star Wars Pop Vinyls?  Tim: No
52. Do you have any Star Wars collections?  Tim: Yes
53. Do you have any Star Wars art?  Tim: Yes
54. Do you create any Star Wars art?  Tim: No
55. Do you like/read any Legends/non canon stuff?  Tim: Not anymore
56. Top 5 favourite Legends character?  Tim: Was thrawn but now he is canon

57. Who is your Star Wars role model?  Tim: Obi-Wan
58. Top 5 saddest Star Wars deaths?  Tim:  Boba, Luke, solo, yoda, obi wan, anakin in vi
59. If you could bring any Star Wars character back to life who would it be?  Tim: Boba
60. If you found out the Star Wars universe was real, would you move there or stay here?  Tim: Stay
61. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being very little, 10 being an absolute know it all) how well do you know the Star Wars universe?  Tim: 7

Okay, I believe Tim is being humble or modest with that last question…I would rank him an 8 or 9 easy with the knowledge of the Star Wars Universe.  My knowledge is a dismal 5, which means I get the thrill of learning about this incredible story line.  So get ready Tim for a lot of questions from me.

I had a lot of fun working on this post with him and seen that he enjoyed it as well.  This will probably be an ever changing and growing post and topic because Tim already wants to introduce me to another fan and acquaintance of his that has an impressive display.  He’s already sent me some teaser pics so check back here often with updates.  Until then, May The Force Be With You!

Tim and James

Tim and I with his favorite piece in his collection…Sun shade ep. 4

 

My Goals For Producing This Blog

Sculpting cylon head in foam

Case Molding

Before I finally decided to write a blog I was always toiling on the how, what and why to write about or what to say that people would actually want to come here.  I have been active in the past on some great forums on props and statues like therpf.com.

I would get many positive responses on my work and many questions on how I did several projects and the steps I took in getting to the finished product.  I was happy to offer any answers at anytime–no secrets here.  Then it dawned on me to just start a website and blog that would showcase my large body of work and continual projects.

So my goal is to offer future posts giving tutorials on molding techniques, sculpting tips and the different media like clay and foam to make your masterpiece from, casting materials like fiberglass or urethane plastic and painting recommendations.

Makeup and special makeup effects (spfx) was my first passion so you bet I’ll be talking about it and offering resources, and believe it or not, beauty makeup advice. Beauty was the first requirement I had to learn in the makeup school I went to at The Joe Blasco School of Makeup Orlando Facility.

At The Joe Blascoe Makeup Training Facility, Orlando

Final project in makeup school inspired by Hellraiser.

I’ve always had the passion for holiday decorating particularly Christmas (and, yes, Halloween) and since the inception of Pinterest to the internet I found myself hovering there for hours on end getting ideas and coming up with my own pins.  So future blogs will be pinned there of tutorials on my Life Size Nutcracker and other Christmas decorations I conjure up and future Jack-O-Lanterns I carve.

In conclusion, I’m not really selling anything here, but perhaps a final goal can be to write a few eBooks on mold making, sculpting and casting once I drum up enough blog posts on the subjects.

Until next time, I hope you enjoy browsing here for a while and feel free to contact me with any queries you may have. Bye!