#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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#2 Pepe Bozzo is Khal of Atlantis

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.


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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!


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Skull Knight from Berserk Manga, Armor Build, Full Tutorial

Skull Knight full costume, fiberglass

Skull Knight from Berserk Manga, Armor Build, Full Tutorial


I’ve seen some other cosplay attempts at Skull Knight and they were okay, but I’ll tell you right away here that the secret to the success of this armor build and what sells it is the form or tight fitting of the skull helmet on the head.  The others were too large because their helmets were designed to put on over the head, so it had to be large, like a motorcycle helmet so it gave a bobble head effect.  I made my helmet hinge at the top with the natural seam down the side where SK’s (Skull Knight’s) rivets show up giving a slim skull effect like the pages of the manga.

This post is a complete tutorial on building a full armor costume for the Berserk manga series by Kentarō Miura.  It is different than my other tutorials where, here, I tell you how I did it instead of instructing you what you should do.  I freely confess that this is the more difficult, time consuming, and more expensive way of going about it.  So I know most of you wanting to build your own may not go about it this way.  The way I chose to build it is how a production company would go about it, maybe, and gives it a higher quality with durability and control of detail.

The costume was conceived out of the Life sized bust I and @berserkstatues of skullknight.net collaborated on and produced as a collectible statue.  One of the recipients of the bust commissioned me to make the full armor costume build for him to cosplay in.  Fortunately for me I had the privilege to test fit it and cosplay myself at a few cons to get the kinks out.  Fun Times!

Skull Knight Bust from Berserk Manga

Reference from the pages of Berserk manga of Skull Knight

So I’m going to start this tutorial from the skull down since that’s how it began. I’ll update my Instagram account with posts promoting each section as I complete it. If you clicked on a link that took you here and I’m not finished, follow me if you have an Instagram profile and you’ll get updates as I complete each section. I’ll also be sharing on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

Skull Helmet

Skull Knight from Berserk manga WIP clay sculpture

As a trained special effects makeup artist and prop maker I immediately knew that I was going to sculpt the skull and most of the armor out of clay first and then make molds to give me maximum control of detail and function.  Again, I know this is not the efficient and least expensive way that most cosplayers would taught about, but it is the way I know best as a professional.

I began by studying the manga and receiving a small scaled statue from Derek of @berserkstatues for reference material and made measurement conversions to life size.

To begin sculpting, I mounted a realistic looking skull prop, as an armature, on a board and began wrapping clay on it keeping some of the shape intact to help me keep defining the skull.  However, it took a lot of clay to get the scaled measurement that the armature skull detailing only helped at the beginning.  Plus, SK has defining character features, like his brow, that’s separate from a real skull.

Another recognizable aspect to SK is the spikes on his forehead, which I used a different type of clay, known as Roma #3, that is more rigid and holds detail better.  I had to wrap the clay around stiff gauged aluminum wire to maintain the spike shape and stab it into place on the clay forehead.

Once I received approval from Derek I then proceeded to the molding stage of the helmet.  I wanted to begin molding right away so I could then cast a rigid piece from the mold to use for fitting and sculpting the spiked collar, because I know I would have damaged a clay sculpture otherwise.

I carefully removed each of the nine spikes from his forehead and made a two part poor mold. (see pic below)

For the skull helmet, I decided to use my case molding skills as I believed it was the best method of molding this type of plug (original sculpture to be molded). If I haven’t done it yet, I fully intend to do another tutorial on case molding alone soon.  See pictures below for the case molding method.

Once the mold was finished and I removed the sculpture from the new mold, I was able to cast a rigid (fiberglass) piece to have for the spiked collar build.  A hard piece was important to keep from damaging a clay, delicate, sculpture had I used it.

I want to take a little time giving the formula I used for casting fiberglass pieces from molds.

  • First skim coat inside empty mold, 1 part polyester body filler (bondo) mixed with 1 part polyester high building sandable primer, catalyzed together with each respectable hardener.  Allow to cure until gloss sheen is replaced with a dull matte surface.
  • A putty with a pudding like consistency made of polyester fiberglass resin mixed with cabosil/aerosol micro-balloons.  WHERE A MASK WHEN MIXING!  The putty after mixing and adding methyl ethyl ketone peroxide for hardening is brushed in to smooth out the hard lined detailing of the mold to inhibit air bubbles when laying down fiberglass matte.
  • Polyester fiberglass resin catalyzed with the same methyl ethyl ketone peroxide above wetting fiberglass matte sheets and forcing it to lay over top of the inside of the mold with no air between layers.

The reason I like to use my mix of bondo/polyester primer first instead of the popular gel coat method is because once I “pop” a fresh piece from the mold  I can sand smooth any imperfections from the casting or even my sculpture if I didn’t get all my fingerprints out of the clay sculpt before molding.

Spiked Collar

I chose to sculpt the collar and spikes out of foam because most of the surface is symmetrical, smooth and the shapes could easily be captured more efficiently with foam.  See my blog post on sculpting to see the benefits and tools used for working with foam.

Even though I was able to achieve quick results with the foam, I was immediately slowed down by having to fiberglass and bondo over the foam to get the smooth, hard shell needed for molding.  Anyone who has bondoed before knows how much sanding has to be done…this took forever, it seems, bet well worth it to get the desired outcome. The spikes were to be silicone poor molded, where the collar, I chose to do a hard fiberglass mold. I only molded one of the spikes, since they are all the same.

Skull Knight life sized bust fiberglass sculpture, pre-mold, pre-paint

Introducing Trent the Mannequin

I’d like to introduce you to Trent, a main contributor to the project.  He’s slim and strong and never complains about anything, even when he’s been “taken apart at the seams…”

Trent the mannequin from Barr Display supply for Skull Knight build

Having a mannequin to build off of is probably the first thing I thought of using to be able to create this costume fully.  It was important because I could work on other parts of the costume independently from other sections while some armor parts were occupying areas of the mannequin that were being molded.  It was also nice to have someway of assembling the costume onto a subject seeing how it would look and function all together.

3D reference for sculpting armor. Art of War’s 1/10 scale Skull Knight statue

Before I show my progress on the armor any further I thought I’d give you a shot of the new reference I used for scale, shape and style for the costume.  I can’t believe the client trusted me with this VERY rare Japanese Toys R Us Exclusive. The statue was never sold directly through Art of War, which goes to show the dedication to the success of the project.

Breastplate Merger With Spiked Collar

Clay can get extremely heavy when building up it’s thickness for any sculpture, particularly whole body armor, so I began bulking up the mannequin armature with plastic wrap and duct tape to reduce the amount of clay I had to use.  Clay can also be quite difficult to remove as it leaves behind a smooth layer as you would try to scrape it off, especially during a hot Florida summer as the clay becomes softer and more sticky.  So a pleasant surprise I had by using plastic and duct tape first insured a clean mannequin when complete.

As you can see from the pictures above, I included the fiberglass collar as part of the breastplate and back shoulder armor to eventually be molded as one unit.  The stomach and back scale armor is part of the solid unit, but after casting it all as one out of the mold, you’ll see how I separated it all as a movable unit.

Brush molding with silicone was my choice of capturing the sculpture.  See pics below.

I casted the part out of fiberglass using my formula from above.

What’s nice about armor builds that may require aging and/or hammered metal look is that the surface doesn’t always need to be perfectly smooth.  Sculpting out of clay can leave fingerprints and imperfect surfaces and tool marks during the sculpting process.  This was my plight and I was able to sand a lot of it off after casting, but I purposefully left some visible for that weathered look which helped me with the paint job as well.

Arms and Legs Armor

Again, having a mannequin to work off of was a great advantage for me.  I was able to disassemble him and work on different parts of the costume as other parts occupied his main body.  The mannequin’s arms, for example, were small enough that I could work with the sculptures and molds on a table top for ease and comfort.

As I completed a clay sculpture section of the arms, like the forearm gauntlet, or the boot armor of the legs, I would immediately mold them and cast a solid fiberglass piece before going on to the next section of the appendage.  This was to avoid taking the chance of damaging the finished clay sculpture, had I kept going with clay all the way up.  Another words I took it one step at a time.  See various stages of the sculpting and casting below in pics.

Even though most sections of the armor build started off in the clay stage, I sometimes went with a different material for the original sculpture like I did for the beginning of the spiked collar build.  Another section I chose to use something other than clay first is the gauntlets for SK’s arms.  White EPS foam gave me a quick shaping, but then I foiled and fiberglassed and then bondoed the surface hard and smooth for molding.

EPS foam beginning sculpture of Skull Knight gauntlet build

The knee guards were fabricated by using generic knee guards I found at a thrift shop in the tool section. Once I had a mold for the spike coming off the back of SK’s boot, I used multiple castings of that spike for the knee guards. A mold of the completed knee guard was then made for fiberglass reproduction.

Sword And Shield Fabrication

Once again I took the 1/10 scaled measurements of the statue and converted it to 1:1 scale for the sword and shield in this case. Zero clay work for these parts, but after fabricating each piece I made a mold, of course, for both of them.  I had success with making only half or one side of Guts’ Dragon slayer sword and molding it so I was able to cast two parts and put them together, therefore, I repeated the same concept with Skull Knight’s sword. The hilt for the sword and the build up down the thickness of the shaft of the sword was a foam base fiberglassed and finished with bondo.  The thorns on the hilt was added with Apoxy Sculpt.  See pics below.

The shield started out as EPS foam.  Once I had the right shape and size, I glued aluminum foil with spray adhesive over the foam to protect it from the resin melting it away during the fiberglass process. After the fiberglass fully cured and hardened, I bondoed and sprayed high building polyester primer over the finished sanded bondo and sanded, sanded and sanded even more to get it perfectly smooth.  The thorny rose emblem on the center of the shield was added with Apoxy Sculpt.  The shield mold was a fiberglass hard mold instead of silicone.  I just had to wax the heck out of it and made sure there wasn’t any “locks” in the sculpture.

Fitting The Armor

I took my experience of making a complete Star Wars clonetrooper suit and applied it here with SK’s armor.  Much of the same concepts, materials and applications were used to make Skull Knight a successful cosplay.  Below is a simplified drawing of the strapping system used on both the clonetrooper and Skull Knight.

Strapping system for Skull Knight costume. Identical to Star Wars clonetrooper

The blue straps represent 1″ non-roll elastic (black).  The black straps are 1″ black webbing.  Red and yellow is for 1.5 ” heavy stretch elastic (black).  The belt made of the black 1″ webbing material is fitted with a parachute buckle and the end straps have the female portion of 5/8″ metal snaps where the male snap sections are epoxied to the cooresponding inside surface of the armor where the strap connects.  The stomach and back scale armor is worn being held up by suspenders made out of the 1″ non-roll elastic.

The spiked collar and the connected rib cage not represented her is just a slip-on over the head, resting on the shoulders with foam for comfort to inhibit the weight.

Other materials used to facilitate functional costume fabrication were as follows: super glue, Velcro, epoxie glue, cushion foam for padding, hot glue, rivets, grommets,string laces, and leather belts.

Another very important part of selling this costume is with the very first thing the cosplayer will put on before any of the armor and that is a full BLACK one piece lycra spandex bodysuit with hood and jaw cover so that any exposed body part not covered by armor appears black and unnoticed.

But first before the armor gets fitted on a real body, Trent the mannequin gets the honors of putting on the suit of armor for the first time.

Let The Painting Begin!

I’d like to share with you one of my favorite tricks when I go to surface armor builds before painting.  It replaces the use of primer and leaves a good hammered/weathered effect to the costume.  The product is called rubberized undercoating for automotive use.

My first step before painting any weathered armor effect.

It sprays on black with a bumpy texture and dries quickly so it doesn’t run or drip.  The adhesion is incredible and paint sticks to it as well as a good primer.  The texture is that of a hammered metal look and helps with the dry brushing step in the paint job.

A total of only four colors was used to achieve the finished costume (with the exception of a few more colors for the sword and shield).

  • Modern Masters Iridescent Silver (opaque formula) – First coat sprayed on over entire armor.
  • Acrylic latex Burnt Sienna and Black with a touch of the Iridescent Silver mixed with 65% water – A brushed on dark “wash” in sections immediately wiped off with cotton rag for dark recess accent appearance.
  • Acrylic latex White mixed with the Iridescent Silver – Dry brush technique accenting high points and hard line detail.

Skull Knight armor painted and test fitted

Cape And Kilt

I found a terrific drapery material at Joann Fabrics that was light and had a good texture that matched the SK model I used for reference.  It was important that I ripped and fringed the bottom of each the cape and the kilt to give it a worn, aged look.  I had to tear it and not cut, because cutting with the scissors is too obviously square cut and clean.

Both the kilt and cape were cut to size and female snaps were installed several inches apart at the top inside of the fabric and the male receiving snaps were superglued at the corresponding points inside the armor for installation.  I used thin black liquid leather dye to darken the drape fabric.

Fitting The Costume On A Person

A VERY important step when getting ready to fit the armor on a person with this particular costume, made of fiberglass, is making sure it’s clean and devoid of any sharp burrs of glass and fiberglass dust.  OUCH and ITCHY!

The Cosplayer sporting this armor has to have a handler with them.  The legs and arms are easy enough by themselves, but the collar and rib cage with attatched shoulder spiked armor has to be carefully slipped over the head.  The opening of the rib cage/spiked collar armor is large enough for the person to have put the helmet on first, but if he so chooses to wait until after slipping on the chest and shoulders, the helmet will need to be put on by the handler.  Arm reach is limited with everything on.



Light It UP! Upgrade your Costumes and Props With LEDs

LEDs for lighting the eyes on Skull Knight.

Light It UP! Upgrade your Costumes and Props With LEDs


I love how cosplaying is getting more and more popular.  There hasn’t been a better time to be a fan of the comic/sci-fi/anime world then now.  I remember a time before the term “cosplay” was coined and one would have been considered a nerd or geek for going to a Star Trek convention in full uniform.  Now it’s all celebrated and very mainstream which could have some disadvantages, but the fun and excitement will always supersede.

So with the great competition–there’s no better way to succeed than to “Light It Up!”  If you’re costume calls for electronics–DO IT!  It’s somewhat simple and incredibly effective and will definitely turn heads.  We’ll also talk about how lights and electrical effects turns up the WOW factor for your collectible props display as well.

I’d like to start off featuring my favorite ensemble in my collection which is my Battlestar Galactica flight suit and Viper helmet, which both happen to have cool lighting effects.  The suit was made by Geoff Gay of Midwick Armory. He does an amazing job by using the same material the BSG production used on the show which makes his suits screen accurate.  The electronics for the suit is the O2 (oxygen sensor) on the left lower arm sleeve of the suit.  It’s a circuit board with 5 LEDs that can change color from green to red.  These circuit boards are made and provided to Geoff by Dana Gassar of Anovos Productions. They have a 3 stage pressure switch run by a 9V battery.

Viper Suit O2 Sensor LEDs by Dana Gassar of Anovos Productions

The Viper helmet, which is made by me, is a fiberglass reproduction from a mold and is painted with automotive paint and has a custom PETG plastic vacuum formed lens.  The helmet features two separate lighting systems, one inside the helmet and the two on the lower outside.  Both systems are turned on by the same switch, but have their own power source.  The two LEDs on the outside are run by a 9V battery and the inside forehead lights are run by it’s own 9V battery.  The internal forehead lights were purchased at Autozone.  Auto parts stores like Autozone and PEP Boys are a great source for all kinds of lights and electronics.

 

Next is the full armor Skull Knight costume I made which has a lighting effect with LEDs in the eyes.  I managed to strategically place the lighting so not to hinder the vision of the cosplayer inside.  Here I am at DragonCon 2011 where you can see the glowing effect in the eyes. This is a daylight shot, so you can imagine if the lights in the Marriot (where this pic was taken) were dimmed.

Isis (Damaris Degen of Mystiques World of Cosplay) and Skull Knight at DragonCon 2011

Lighting doesn’t have to be the sole enhancer to your outfit.  Sound effects is a good  way to surprise onlookers to get their attention.  I am always in awe when someone in  stormtrooper armor adds the voice box to their helmet, so when they talk it sounds just like the movie.

Before we get to lighting up props, there is one more quick electrical thing I’ve done before, which I highly recommend when wearing a helmet for an extended period of time, is putting in little fans or a cooling system.  It may not be noticeable for the crowds, but it will keep you marching on.

Miniature electronic fans for internal cooling.

Here is where we venture off into the world of props to give them a boost with lights in your collection.  The props I made that will be highlighted here are my 1:1 scale Cylon bust display with it’s sweeping red eye effect, 1:1 scale Guts Berserker armor helmet and decorative base from Berserk manga, and the 1:1 scale bust of Skull Knight from Berserk manga as well.

The Battlestar Galactica Cylon’s LED circuit board was made and provided to me by George from Timeslip Creations.  It’s run by 2 AA batteries and I had to convert it to run the switch down onto the base rather than the board.  I just used alligator clips connected to wire to run down the inside of the neck to a toggle switch at the back of the round base.

 

I put window tinting on a sheet of white copy paper and cut out the shape and stuck it to the back of the plexi glass lens to dissipate the lights so you don’t see the harsh definition of each LED.  It created a smooth sweeping effect.  My first attempt of the eye sweep before asking George to make the boards for me was I bought the Custom Dynamics Night Rider scanner lights.  It was an okay start and it looked cool, but it was way to fast and it looked like the Cylon was on steroids.

Knight Rider scanner bar. Too fast for Cylon.

Lieutenant Margaret “Racetrack” Edmondson played by Leah Cairns photo-op MegaCon 2008

The Berserk prop entry of the Berserker Armor and Skull Knight bust was a carefully well thought out collaboration with a friend I’ve come to know through these projects.  His name is Derek and I talked about him a little on the Home page.  He is the moderator of the Berserk merchandise at skullnight.net forum.  We turned the project into multiple runs (about 30) for fans of the manga to purchase.  Derek was the driving force and designer of these pieces including what to do with the lighting.

For Guts Berserker helmet I used the same style of lights I used on the inside of the viper helmet for the “Z” shaped eyes.  For the base I found a nice little gem of a small circuit board with red LEDs that had seven different action settings.

Guts Berserker Armor Bust Display with red LEDs and pulsating circuit board LEDs on base

Guts Berserker Armor Bust Display with red LEDs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skull Knight was a little more complicated with the small space I had to work with inside the skull and I had to cover any gaps or voids in the helmet skull so the light would only penetrate through the eyes.  I just hot glued black jersey material from behind, inside the head where the light shined through.  The switch for Skull Knight to turn on the lights is located right behind the inside back of the chin so I didn’t have to run any wires down to the base.  All the electronics are localized in the skull.

 

 

So if either you have an awe inspiring costuming impression or a prop room display that you and your guests want to hang out in all day it will be because of the extra effort you put in by adding lighting and electronics.  This can be a great tribute to the fandom culture by representing what you are mimicking with complete accuracy and detail.

Thanks for hanging out here for a little while and I intend on doing complete tutorials on hooking up LEDs to batteries, resistors and switches in the near future so keep a look out here for updates.

ENJOY planning your next adventure!