Category Archives: Cosplay

#8 Meredith Mills is The Lost Princess Cosplay

#8 Meredith Mills is The Lost Princess Cosplay


I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to be bringing you my next Featured Cosplayer.  They’ve been all terrific and each uniquely imprinted with me, but this one is something special as we have been building each other up and providing mutual encouragement during a most discouraging time in human history.  This interview has been taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 and also during some backlash of civil unrest throughout America.  Cosplay has been an uplifting and positive thing to look forward to and Meredith Mills of The Lost Princess Cosplay has been and will always be a shining example of what the Cosplay community should be all about.

I want this tour guide to the Spider-Verse, please! Black Cat just chillin’ by The Lost Princess Cosplay

The rule I set myself to, when conducting an interview, is to meet up face to face and get to know the new found friend on a more personal level.  Unfortunately, the circumstances of 2020 didn’t allow for this.  It’s a good thing, however, our first encounter was meeting each other at MegaCon 2019 and running into one another everyday on the Con floor and fawning over our cosplays together.

I’ll never forget that first moment that stopped me in my tracks as I saw the PERFECT Rey posing with the cutest little child princess Leia and small baby X-Wing fighter.  She was at the Rebel Legion booth and when it was my turn for a photo op with her I nerded out and asked to have her be my first test subject on my new phone to film in super slow motion.  I kept going back to the booth and asking her about her costume and her 3D printed quarterstaff as I was making one myself.  I was hoping I wasn’t embarrassing myself as I was thinking she may feel I was stalking her in my Nerd Herd Jeff Barnes cosplay from Chuck, lol.    

We began following each other on each of our social media platforms and stayed in touch quite frequently.  I was pleasantly surprised that she was reading my blog without me pushing it and we found out we were alike and excited about the same things, like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and even Cosplay opinions. 

She has been so supportive of everything I’ve done and even though her following is taking off she still finds joy in encouraging beginners and getting inspiration from anyone with the same passion for Cosplay that she has no matter the numbers of likes or followers anyone has.  

The Journey of a Great Cosmaker

Meredith’s journey took her from Washington to Florida, to chase her dream, where she graduated from Paul Mitchell The School Orlando and is a licensed cosmetologist in Florida–hair and makeup skills…check.  Our paths here are the same, as I journeyed from Ohio to Florida to achieve a goal towards my dream as I attended makeup school in Orlando.

A cosmaker’s journey is not just where they came from, but the journey in acquiring new skills and learning about new medium to work with.  Looking at the work-in-progress pictures immediately below you can see the different types of materials and tools she’s used to fabricate a successful cosplay with.  I also know she’s eager to learn about every kind of technique for pulling off a new character. 

She has a refreshing take on cosplay, that I embrace, which is that you sometimes don’t have to make it and it’s okay to purchase a completed cosplay that may need altering, but if you’re excited about a particular character and can’t wait to make it, by all means get it if it doesn’t break the bank.  There’s a lot of funny MEMES out there we share with each other about cosplayers not finishing one cosplay before starting and dreaming about several more…lol.  It’s funny because it’s incredibly accurate as every cosplayer I know is always working and/or thinking and planning about more than one cosplay at a time.  Buying a completed cosplay can satisfy the craving of getting into character and having a photoshoot with new content to share and be happy finishing a goal.

And now let’s just get “lost” (pun intended) in the many gorgeous faces of The Lost Princess Cosplay:

Gallery of Photos of The Lost Princess Cosplay

One thing I haven’t told her yet is how incredibly impressed I am with her photography and editing skills.  She takes all her own photos and sometimes plays with them with cool and relevant backgrounds and effects with editing.  Most of these pics are taken with a Nikon D5100 with a swivel screen and remote so she can see herself and take a pic when ready. She just recently changed to a Canon 800D.  Here, editing is done by Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom.  She has a few funny stories about throwing the remote just before the frame snaps or sometimes you can see her still holding the remote, inconspicuously, lol.

Rey Cosplay From Star Wars: The Force Awakens
2B Cosplay from the Video Game Nier Automata
 
Spider-Gwen Unmasked Cosplay from Into the Spiderverse  
Spider-Gwen Masked
More Spider-Verse Cosplays
Merida Cosplay from Disney’s Brave
Elsa from Disney’s Frozen and Frozen 2
Classic Disney Princesses
Disney’s Tinkerbell
Captain Marvel Cosplay
Anime/Manga Cosplays
The New Spooky Queen (just try and change my mind)

 

Out of Cosplay

Beautiful Out of Cosplay photo of The Lost Princess

As this is my eighth interview I’m finding a pattern of similar interests with all the Cosplayers and Meredith falls right in line with the cool life outside of cosplay.  Like the love for films and videogames.  Which sometimes I wonder if maybe these should count as part of cosplay as I know the movies and games are where they find their passionate characters to cosplay and research.  But for now, technically they do these things outside of being in cosplay, but as you may have seen above in the gallery we caught Meredith playing video games in a comfortable super hero costume. Ha Ha, busted!  

As for movies some of her favorites are The Lord of the Rings trilogy including The Hobbit, Alita: Battle Angel (this one is a hint for later in the interview), Star Wars, and just almost anything Disney.  The experience is the best by actually going to the theatres and seeing all the new super hero movies and any new release on the big screen according to Meredith as she is a proud AMC A-lister so she would go at least once a week before STUPID Covid.

Her videogame obsession includes playing Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier Automata, and Fortnite  solo and squads.  

OH, and she’s an Anime nut too.  As you can tell with some “tight” cosplay representation above.

Disney theme parks were another favorite pass time for her.  When Disney opens back up full capacity and you happen to go one day, keep your eye on the lines to the meet and greets as she loves to take pictures and talk with the characters.  

Photography and photo editing has proven to be one of Meredith’s strong attributes.  She may be too humble to agree, but I believe her attention to detail, composition, lighting, background and mood is captured wonderfully in every photo she’s taken and shared.  And again, she takes her own cosplay photos using a remote and timing techniques on a high quality camera with some touch up help on her editing programs mentioned above.  I’ll be encouraging her to start another page on photography and editing and even encourage her to find a way to turn it into profit somehow.

The Cosplayer Connection

I’ve witnessed a beautiful phenomenon as a cosplayer myself and it seems to have strengthen during the pandemic. That phenomenon is the connection of cosplayers staying in touch, becoming friends and rooting for each other during life goals that are attempted to achieve and not just future cosplays either.  Cosplay is a real organic community now which hasn’t been around all that long.  Maybe it has for the Trekkies who started it all and who took the brunt of the jokes in the beginning for us, but cosplay has now become a well respected, fun outlet and even sometimes a serious business. 

I’ve also witnessed Meredith’s heart, towards me of course (hence the interview), and towards other cosplayers she’s met and has become close friends with.  I’ve asked one particular new found friend of ours that I met through Meredith to say something about her.  Like “how she has inspired you and what you may have learned from her during live virtual joint events and the many messages I’m sure you two have been engaged in.”  This is Morgan of Morganite Cosplay and here is what she said:

So Meredith has been one of the most supportive cosplayers I have met through here [Instagram] since the beginning.  She is always supportive of others and I can always reach out to her with questions or to vent.  That means a lot to me as I was very overwhelmed and intimidated at first.  She is wickedly talented.  I am always blown away by her cosplays.  She has been able to hit on a wide variety of fandoms and characters and her passion shines through all of them.  Her friendship means so much to me and I am very thankful that I have been able to get to know her.  Anxiously waiting for the day that I will be able to meet her in person.

Getting Noticed

It was only a matter of time before this gem was going to get noticed and it is happening quickly and continuously.  It seams every time I go on her profile she has another 1,000 followers.  Of course, I would like to take the time to emphasize the NON importance behind how many followers and/or likes one has as an inspiring artist and I know Meredith would agree.  Just do what you love and share your passion with the world as you so choose and don’t try to fight the suppressing algorithms that are squashing your reach.  It will come in time if you don’t let it consume you.  However, Meredith has become some of an Instagram guru and she has played with hashtags and tricks to try and bust through and she is most certainly gracious enough to share it with anybody.

This is what it’s all about. Meredith at a Costumers With a Cause charity event

Her imprint across the cosplay spectrum includes: 

Meredith being featured in Cosplayzine May 2020 issue with her Rey

Probing Deeper

It’s always fun trying to figure out or guess what is behind the alias of a cosplayer’s chosen name they go by, but I confess I was at a complete loss figuring hers out.  It turns out to be eloquent and quite fitting for Meredith as “the Lost Princess” refers to both Rapunzel, being a lost princess (and we learned Mere is a Disnerd), and Sailor Moon (a childhood favorite anime of hers) is also considered a lost princess.  It’s a mysterious name that keeps the viewer in a suspenseful or in a quandary of a state to attract a deeper response. 

Asking a cosplayer their first cosplay is important because here is where you find out how it all started and what forever captured an ongoing obsession for more.  Meredith’s story is no different in that she caught the “fever” after going to her first Con dressed as Disney’s Merida from Brave:

I really was not prepared for all the attention and kindness people showed, especially looking back on my first cosplay!  So many people asked me for my picture, and I came out of my own shell when I saw people with amazing costumes and asked them to get a picture together.  I had a photo op with Elijah Wood and he recognized my cosplay and told me he liked it.  It really was such a little thing that meant so much to me!  At the time, I had never made any prop before, and at the convention I got a picture with another Merida who had a bow.  After the convention, I decided I *needed* to have her bow.

So off to the races she went making props to enhance her cosplays and experience as the characters.  She and her partner made the bow so well that she started selling them to other cosplayers.

Dream cosplays are what is always on any Cosplayer’s mind even while successfully working on a current costume unrelated to a future goal and The Lost Princess has a beautiful continuous thought to eventually do Arwen from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Tauriel from The Hobbit.  They are two gorgeous and adventurous elves in the world created by J.R.R Tolkien.  I’ll be bugging her constantly ’till she makes it happen because I believe she will make the Perfect Rivendellian.

There’s a question I always ask my Cosplayers as it is a loaded question which can help sum up cosplay in there lives and that is “What has cosplay meant to you and why do you love it?”  I’ve received some wonderful answers along the way and Meredith took this question very seriously and responded really well that’s unique to her and yet an answer I can relate to:

There’s so many reasons I love Cosplay!  It’s a wonderful creative outlet that allowed me to pursue and develop creative skills I probably wouldn’t  have before!

It has helped me connect with people who have similar interests.  As an introvert this has been hard for me, but cosplay has made that so much easier.

Cosplay also helps me connect with my favorite characters in a way that is strengthening and healing for me.  There are so many characters that have traits that I admire.  Even if I’m having a bad day, I can “be” that character for awhile, and I can connect to them in that way and see those traits that I admire, not only in them, but it gives me the opportunity to see them in myself.

Two Sci-Fi nerds posing together. Meredith and I at MegaCon 2019

Now comes the hardest part, sometimes, whenever I do an interview and that is choosing my favorite cosplay they’ve done.  I would be tempted to pick my absolute favorite cosplay (spoiler alert for a top ten blog post) of 2B from Nier Automata and Meredith nails it…but I’m going to go with the one that has the most emotional attachment, as well as being on point, and that cosplay is her Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  This was the first Cosplay I saw her in, in person and had me do a “rubber neck” gaze that influenced me to reach out to her.  Her Rey is so impressive and she’s even started working on doing her makeup to transform her to look more like Daisey Ridley (see reference above).  I made her an NN-14 pistol that Han Solo gives her that she can add to her repertoire.  I want to encourage her to do all forms of Rey, like Resistance Rey from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the white threads from TROS.  OH yeah, and definitely  Dark Rey from TROS as well!

It’s going to be hard to look back at 2020 as anything other than a horrible year, and I know I’m not alone, but my time getting to know and write about Meredith is an immediate positive outlet for me.  I know 2021 will be better just by knowing her now and looking forward to what she’s going to do as an artist then, too.

One interview tradition is on hold for now until we can get together and that is our shared photoshoot as a group/couple cosplay.  I left a hint in the interview on what it’s going to be and I purposefully left out any of her cosplay photos of her character she’s done.  Which means you’ll have to go to her profile link above to find it and I highly recommend you do and start following her.  

Thanks again for hanging out with me and Meredith and a big thank you to The Lost Princess for opening up to us and sharing some of her passionate life here at JP’s FX Creations.  Feel free to comment below with any questions you might want to ask me or Meredith.

Coming Soon, Our Shared Photoshoot With Premier Photographer BriLan Imagery 

Becoming the T-1000 Terminator from Terminator 2 Judgement Day

T-1000 TERMINATOR Cosplay from Terminator 2 Judgement Day side by side comparison


Becoming The T-1000 From Terminator 2: Judgement Day

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The plan to become Robert Patrick’s advanced Terminator from Terminator 2: Judgement Day came from my desire to do a shared photoshoot with a Featured Cosplayer I was working on here on my website. The cosplayer Justin Grubb of Turbo Time Cosplay does a terrific Terminator and the T-1000 was the perfect character to go along side his. I wanted to think of a cosplay that wouldn’t show my age, or show my hair that I’m trying to grow out, and of course one that I would enjoy doing as well. So the motorcycle cop version of the T-1000 with the helmet and mirrored shades was a brilliant and fun one to do. [Interesting fact: my father-in-law’s name is Robert Patrick].

I was also learning an important aspect of Cosplay that Justin does so well, and that’s the research and sourcing part of building a character to portray. I had watched the movie again and again, googled images and read several forums on this very character to find everything I needed. There was some building and crafting I had to do which is my specialty which I’ll be showing you throughout this article. Thanks to Justin of Turbo Time Cosplay for all his help and for just being and all around “Cool Cat” to hang with.

Acquiring and Modifying the Helmet

Second step, masking to apply the black

The first thing that I immediately started to research and try to acquire was the motorcycle helmet that really makes or breaks the appearance of the character. And after several attempts at possibly finding the exact one for sale I ended up purchasing a motorcycle helmet that I was going to have to seriously modify. The driving force to this decision (and most decisions for this cosplay) was the budget and trying to keep it as low as possible. So here is where you can purchase a good helmet cheap to modify.

The primary modification is of course the paint job to give it the screen accurate Los Angeles Highway Patrol uniform approved appearance. I work for a sign company so I had access to the good sign and automotive paint and tools to make it happen. I began by removing the visor and then sanded the existing finish with 220 grit sandpaper for the new paint to have “tooth” to adhere good. I masked off the inside of the helmet and painted the whole outer shell with two coats of white. After about 2 hours for the paint to dry and cure, I taped off the top of the helmet and prepared then painted two coats of black to the bottom half. I then removed the tape on the top covering the white and sprayed a satin clear coat over the whole helmet. I chose satin for photography reasons and not a high gloss sheen as you see with most helmets.

One serious obstacle with the helmet was trying to acquire a police helmet badge to make it official. It wasn’t long until I gave up the search, so I used my resources from work again and had one printed out of vinyl from a high resolution photo I found online.

See gallery below of the WIP for the helmet:

Guns and Belt Accessories

To move the progress along I was always on the hunt to find and order pieces to the costume that were ready to wear and finished upon receiving like:

These were all ready to go except I had to modify the rifle to look like an MPK-5 submachine gun that the T-1000 is seen using a lot as the motorcycle cop. See pics below as you’ll see I had to cut the barrel, eliminate the stock and add a longer banana clip mag that I cut out of 3/4″ black sintra PVC board:

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Making the Police Scanner Radio

This was simple and fun as they were all parts from a surplus electronics store and I was again imploring my new found technique of printing on vinyl to achieve an impossible item in two dimensional fashion and succeeding.  I also took the belt clip off of an old large tape measure and applied it to the back middle of the finished prop for functional belt attachment.  See pics below. 

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The Infamous Liquid Metal Bullet Wound Puddles

This was the best part of the whole job, other than wearing the finished costume at a Con, was the making of the Bullet wounds that are so prevalent throughout the film as the T-1000 gets shot.

My process was the same process I almost always do something with a specific shape and that’s sculpting what I need out of clay, making a silicone mold and then casting it out of a desired plastic.  Having a mold means I can make however many bullet wounds I desire.  I ended up with three different sizes and made about three of each size.  

What sold these pieces the most as being incredibly effective in presentation was the paint I used to make them look metal.  I used a chrome spray paint from an aerosol can by Dupli-color. 

When casting these pieces out of a liquid substance in the mold, right before the material would harden, I dropped a large zinc plated washer that would be a permanent part of the back surface of the bullet hole.  This was so I had an iron surface that a good strong earth magnet could be attracted to as that was how I was to attach them to the patrol jacket.  I therefore, had as many options for bullet placement as I wanted.

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Police Uniform: Jacket, Pants, and Boots

What makes the character authentic is the uniform and having him be a believable police officer.  All these parts of the jacket (including the patches), pants and boots were all purchases I made separately:

The only thing I had to do was to put all the patches on the jacket shoulders and I used hot glue instead of sewing which worked really well with the texture of the jacket for maximum adhesion.

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Left Arm Spike Protrusion

Another important characteristic of the T-1000 terminator is his ability to take any shape, which includes turning any part of his body into a weapon, so I wanted to repeat the left arm spike he makes to stab a truck driver who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I thankfully, of course, used my resources made available to me from my place of work at Vital Signs of Orlando, Inc.  We had some reflective, mirrored plastic material left over from another job and I had a file made to have 4 pieces cut from the CNC router table to then be glued together and make a four sided spike.  See pics below of the process:

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Ready to Have Fun

Costume complete, full layout

After putting it all together I was ready to test fit and schedule a photoshoot with Turbo Time Cosplay and photographer BriLan Imagery.  It took me a total of three months from the time I decided to do this cosplay to when we had our photoshoot to incorporate into the article I published on Justin.  I always seemed to be waiting for something to arrive and I spent a lot of time on eBay, not just for the items I ordered, but to sell some of my nuggets from the past to be able to afford everything I needed.  It was a never ending cycle it seemed and I still haven’t received my LAPD Police badge from China which is still stuck in customs.  I ended up borrowing Justin’s from his Jack Slater Last Action Hero Cosplay for our photoshoot.

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Taking The T-1000 To MegaCon Orlando 2019

In the presence of the best @alysontabbitha always delivers…The T-1000 is humbled

I was pleasantly surprised on how well my motorcycle cop terminator was received by all those who attended MegaCon on the Saturday (the busiest day) at the Orange County Convention Center.  Maybe it’s because I was the only one, but I think it is a rare cosplay and the memory of the T-1000 is seared in many peoples minds as it was a revolutionary film technique at the time and still holds up today.  I was stopped everywhere I went and kept hearing “T-1000…can I get a picture with you?”  I, of course, happily obliged and even got some pictures together with my camera phone with some of my favorite Cosplayers.  It’s a tradition of mine to get a picture with the Sweet and Talented Alyson Tabbitha whenever she makes a Guest appearance at a local convention.

One draw back to this costume is the heat generated by wearing a coat, helmet and knee high boots (which happens to be a common problem with about any cosplay).  Walking around all day with tons of other bodies close by can be an exhausting experience dressed up in a full patrol uniform.  It also didn’t help wearing sunglasses indoors as my vision became somewhat hindered.  The sacrifices we make for the love of the craft.

 

 

#4 Justin Grubb of Turbo Time Cosplay

#4  Justin Grubb of Turbo Time Cosplay


One of my primary reasons for starting this page of Featured Cosplayers is to learn how I can become a good Cosplayer myself and I’m not getting any better without finding out what makes this next guy successful.  He is Justin Grubb of Turbo Time Cosplay.  He is another fortunate find that happens to be local for me and connected to some of my past chosen Cosplayers I’ve come to know.  As soon as I checked out his profile and many examples of his work, I knew immediately I needed to get in on his secrets.

Justin at the 40th Anniversary of John Carpenter’s Halloween in Pasadena, CA.

Well, not really secrets because he freely shared any knowledge that I was curious about with how he did any of his cosplays.  He has a wonderfully “fresh” approach to Cosplay with his humor, his focus on research for the character he wants to portray, and the “no care” attitude towards popularity of the Cosplay and/or the obscurity and recognition.  Another words, he’s gonna do what he wants to do and love…period.

I always make it a point to meet and get to know my Cosplayers before I publish an article.  I could have easily just emailed and messaged questions and that could be alright, but I’m hoping to give the reader a better experience with reading about someone I like a lot. This is a bonus for me as I’m making new friends and one thing I’ve learned for sure is that the Cosplay community’s primary focus is the support given to each other and the friendships made.

Justin is terrific.  He agreed to meet with me during a somewhat low time in his life, as he just recently lost his cat Binx to a mystery disease, but we had a great encounter sharing both of our passions with Cosplay and what makes us tick.  Three hours at an Applebee’s booth with two fellas swapping Con stories and tricks of the trade produced a wealth of knowledge that became a story to be told in itself, here, too.

Laugh Out Loud Funny

The absolute characterization I noticed first that drew me to him was the humor and his ability to make me laugh immediately at several of his Cosplays.  His most recognizable character, and he’ll be the first to tell you, is Biff Tannen from Back to the Future where he has done every version of Biff from all three films of the trilogy.  They are hysterical!  He captures all the mannerisms, facial expressions and poses that are synonymous to Biff.  A very rare character to be cosplayed, but Justin pulls it off so well, it’s his signature role or the one probably talked about the most from his work.

While he was at the 40th anniversary convention in California for John Carpenter’s Halloween, Justin took advantage and also got to check out some of the film locations from Back to the Future and was resourceful enough to make this great video montage of Biff:

Some other funny characters that Justin has cosplayed I’ll be showing you later down the page are: Howard from Jingle All the Way, Marv from Home Alone, more Biff, Fletcher from Liar Liar, and Ted from Bill and Ted just to name a few.

Research is the Key, and Even More Research, Too

Justin finds a more screen accurate material to improve his “alternate timeline Biff” Cosplay

Justin’s specialty as a Cosmaker is all the research he does to satisfy his obsessive compulsive approach to getting a particular Cosplay screen accurate.  Everything from all the shopping and artist websites he’ll browse, to watching scenes over and over again of a movie or show, visual reference, comparing what others have done, to even contacting costume designers from the actual movie his character is from like he did for Back to the Future II’s costume designer Joanna Johnston.  He was looking for the right material for alternate reality timeline Biff’s robe.  She didn’t seem to remember as the movie is 30 years old, but she did seam to approve what he came up with, only later he managed to find a better material so he’ll be making a new robe for MegaCon Orlando 2019 as all the main cast members will be there from the movie.

Cosplay isn’t just the pictures you see on a particular Cosplayer’s profile, but I would submit to you, and Justin would agree, that the “play” in the word cosplay is one of the most important parts about doing the character.  Justin has several videos on his profile and even has a YouTube channel where he takes on each of his character’s mannerisms, accents, body language, and personalities.  This is where I believe he shines the most as where the countless reps of practicing Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s accent and Tom Wilson‘s voice and facial expressions pays off.  I remember asking him how he can keep a straight face when doing the funny parts of his character’s he portrays and he responded with, “I’ve said those quotes a million times, lol…

Justin’s Celebrity Photo-ops

My favorite stories Justin talked with me about, when getting to know him, are his many encounters with the celebrities he idolizes at the conventions he attends where he can get an autograph and picture with them.  And let me say not just any picture–Justin makes it a point to have the photo-op an experience he’ll never forget and that the targeted celerity will always remember, too.  Like when Justin got the chance to meet Mark Hamill who is the legendary voice actor for The Joker on Batman the Animated Series.  Mark Hamill, as you know, is also Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and he was coming to Florida for the Star Wars Celebration Convention.  Justin took advantage and even though every cosplayer at the con was in Star Wars attire Justin was the only Joker Cosplayer to surprise Mark with.  He even had the chattering teeth prop to have Mark hold for the pic.  Get a load of the several pics below of the photo-ops Turbo Time Cosplay gets with the chosen celebrities, and don’t spit out your drink looking through them, lol.

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So let’s begin showing off Justin’s gallery of photos to many of his favorite characters he’s done…

Turbo Time Cosplay Gallery of Photos

Biff Tannen From Back to the Future Trilogy

The Terminator T-800 Cosplay

More Arnold Schwarzenegger Character Cosplays

Michael Myers From John Carpenter’s Halloween

Additional Horror Themed Cosplays

DC’s The Joker and Gotham’s Jerome

Justin’s Niche (Rare, Cool) Cosplays

Group and Collaborated Cosplays

Cosplay doesn’t get any better than this…having friends with the same zeal for a story to be told through Cosplay of some of your favorite fandoms.  The Con experience is elevated and the fun translates to immediately thinking and planning for the next collaboration to be done.  It’s also a way to share each others talents to everyone else.  I’m grateful cause this is the very thing that led me to Justin, in the first place, through Pepe’s involvement with The Mummy Group Cosplay they did together.

Out Of Cosplay

Justin in his element

With a strong passion for Cosplay that Justin has, it seemed that almost everything he enjoys doing out of cosplay is, well, cosplay related.  Like his absolute love for movies, collecting action figures and even building dioramas with them, collecting movie props, shooting videos and playing video games.  I’m almost always guaranteed to connect with my new acquaintances with the same interests through the fandom culture.  I love a lot of the same movies and characters he does, as well.

When pinpointing some of his favorites he gave me ‘ties’ for first place in movies and video games.  For his favorite movie he says both Back to the Future 2 and the original 1978 Halloween, which he justifies as they are so different yet so good.  And favorite video game is split three ways between Grand Theft Auto Vice City, Batman Arkham series, and The Uncharted series.  He’s proved all these are his favorites as he’s done cosplays for every one of them listed.

Something else impressive he does, that is cosplay related, but I consider a non-cosplay talent is his ability to work with Photoshop and edit pictures to add to the composition and theme or mood that is being told through the photograph.  Several examples can be seen in some of his photos that I’ve added to his gallery above, like his Joker pic in front of the “added” Arkham Asylum background and his photo-op with Michael Biehn in front of an edited Tech Noir club sign from the original Terminator.  I also asked if he could play around with one of my Superman photos from my outdoor shoot with my wife as Lois Lane and what he did was incredible! See the photo of the original and then the edits below:

He does have a few other enjoyable activities he partakes with his friends like mini golf, bowling, board games, make dinners, go to comedy clubs and just hanging out.  I did reach out to one of his friends and they repeated to me these same activities that they like to do together.

What makes up most of his life right now is his job working at the PHSC state college store and his schooling as he will be graduating December 2019 from USF with a degree in Mass Communications, focusing in Advertising.  I can already, in my mind, see how this might work well with his Cosplay life and I’m sure he thinks about it, too.  I hope to pick his brain on what I could do to advance my work with that type of knowledge he has obtained.  I’ll have to bribe him over his favorite food of Hawaiian pizza or maybe chicken cordon bleu if it’s after he graduates and becomes a professional, HA!

“It’s Turbo Time”

Little Finger is scheming something up in his mind…Lord Baelish Cosplay from Game of Thrones; photographed by TKirk photos

A guaranteed question I ask every time is how did one come up with their alias or Cosplay title name.  I like trying to guess first and with Justin I thought it was pretty straight forward, but I was only partially right.  I assumed the “Time” portion to his name was a reference to the time travel within Back to the Future with his Biff and The Terminator with his T-800.  However, he told me it is from the quote “it’s Turbo Time” from Jingle All the Way when Arnold (Howard) is in the life size Turbo Man suite and is getting ready to take off in the jet pack to save his son–a funny scene from his favorite Christmas movie.  Turbo Time is also the name of the arcade of Turbo, the villain from Wreck it Ralph.  He recently re-designed his logo to show much of what he is passionate about as it’s written in the Back to the Future font along with the clock tower face from BTTF carved on a pumpkin representing Halloween, as you may recall from above is both his favorite movies.

Turbo Time Cosplay Logo

When doing these write ups on my chosen Cosplayers I feature, I also like to pick a favorite Cosplay of theirs after studying their profile for awhile.  It was hard with Justin because what drew me to his profile was his Biff cosplays, but I think I’m going with Lord Baelish from Game of Thrones that he does.  He has an uncanny appearance already when he is donning the robe and mustache.  He also does the perfect smirk on his face when posing as Little Finger and when I told him, without skipping a beat he said it’s already a natural look he does anyway, lol.  It turns out that he won a cosplay contest with his Little Finger in a large Game of Thrones group cosplay for MegaCon Tampa 2017.  Another contest he won recently was at the Saved By the Ball: ’90s Party at Ybor City Ritz as Alan Grant and his friend as John Hammond from Jurassic Park.

Another important question that I want to include to give you an insight of the person behind the façade is “Why do you love Cosplay, and what does it mean to you…?”  Here is what Justin replied, “It started off as a way for me to connect to and show my love for movies and characters I like. Movies are like my favorite thing and I thought about being an actor when i was younger. I always loved Halloween (aside from it being my favorite holiday and time of year and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and pumpkin spice and scary movies etc) I always loved dressing up. Sometimes It was hard for me to find a place to go with friends and be dressed up, and I changed my mind for what costume I was wearing like 10x throughout the year. It was like I said a way for me to have a chance to be one of my favorite characters and act out some of my favorite movie lines and scenes. So in 2016 megacon came around and they had Christopher lloyd as a guest. Back to the Future being my favorite, that brought me to my first convention and I entered the world of cosplay. Suddenly, other exclusivities aside, I found out that it could be
Halloween all year. I was immediately hooked. Now, cosplay means so much more than that as over the small amount of time I’ve been doing this, comparatively anyway, I’ve met so many great people and have made so many wonderful friends because of it. Friends that I look forward to seeing every con and friends that I hang out with almost every weekend. Cons have become less about the con itself, and more a reunion to seeing everyone I haven’t seen since the last one. And I’m lucky enough to make new ones just about every time. Another aspect of that is not just making a new friend, but collaborating with them in a duo or group cosplay. Feeding off each other and getting hype over a shared love of something just takes it to the next level. I absolutely love this world.”

Our Shared Photoshoot With Premier Cosplay Photographer BriLan Imagery

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Here’s a little treat for those who stayed reading till the end as I put together some more of Turbo Time Cosplay’s funniest pics…Enjoy!

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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.

The Man of Steel Outdoor Photoshoot by Photographer Melissa Blyth


 

#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


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