MCM London – October 2016

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October 28th-30th – the weekend where thousands of people flocked to London to celebrate everything from games to comics to costumes and more! And with good reason too: it was pretty darn awesome. In the past I’ve been to the London MCM for just a day, which was split between a lot of time travelling and usually being crushed in the Saturday crowds while trying to do my shopping. This year is the first time I’ve been in London for the whole weekend, and it was pretty awesome!

As far as costumes went, I wore Zatanna for the Friday and Supergirl made an appearance on both the Saturday and the Sunday (that’s how well she went with people!) I managed to rework my SG cape in time for the weekend, which made it all the more epic (and swooshy, as we decided!) It was a great weekend for pictures too, with quite a few being taken and a pretty epic Deadpool buddy, and fantastic for catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. The weekend itself was certainly an experience, having never been in London for more than half a day before, but it’s one that I’m eager to repeat. Roll on the next expo!

So to celebrate this epic weekend, here’s a few pictures that I particularly love (along with my shiny new Facebook cosplay page, where I intend to spam many more!)

Oh, did I also mention that I got to meet Michael Rowe? ;p

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AWildZippy/ (please give it a like!)

A Little Costume Positivity

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Cosplay has really exploded these past few years. Famous people do it, people have made professional careers out of it and there are some people who literally just make costumes or props, which is awesome! Sadly a lot of people, either with less skill or people who are simply new to making costumes, get deflated with their early attempts when compared to these professionals, or more experienced cosplayers. Got to admit that I’m guilty of this: my Facebook is full of cosplay groups with epic costumes, my Instagram shows awesome armour builds and weapons and even Pinterest has started throwing “make better costume” pages at me on a regular basis, which leaves me feeling a little crummy about my own costumes. This leads to the inevitable scrapping of ideas, pushing them back in the hope that I’ll magically learn that skill or asking people on a frequent basis how my costume looks (or, rather, how I look in it, which is the big worry). Sorry bout that friends!

This is why articles like this fill me with small, fuzzy feelings, because all the good cosplayers had to start somewhere: http://www.sharemycosplay.com/2016/10/19/share-my-cosplay-everyone-starts-somewhere/

It’s pretty much common sense that everyone starts somewhere, no matter what you’re doing, but when you see more good pictures than bad it’s kind of hard not to feel a little self-doubt.

On the plus side, pretty much anything I make from this point on will be better than the first costume I ever wore to a Comic Con, which is honestly an insult to the lady I went as….

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to figure out how to wear wigs properly and get ready for London MCM in 10 DAYS!!! (50% hype, 50% terror I think).

Cosplay 02: The Always-Lovely Zatanna Zatara (a.k.a I needed a reason to wear my Top Hat)

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Wow, so I’m not exactly sure what happened on the Internet yesterday but somehow we managed to get 40 views! In one day! (Hey, it’s a big record for a site with basically very little on it!) It’s an extremely small start, but it’s definitely something!

On the slight high from that good news, I’m reasonably proud to show off my second costume: Zatanna Zatara! Despite my original worries, she’s actually been pretty easy to put together (the hardest parts were the ‘pants’ and finding a decent wig that wasn’t cheap or blue, but more on that in a little bit). Zatanna is a kick-ass stage magician and actual magician, who can cast spells by speaking words and sentences backwards. She was a great choice for me not only because I conveniently had a Top Hat hanging around in my wardrobe, but also because my dad was a pretty awesome Stage Magician and Entertainer too! (Little known fact there).

After a lot of research I decided to go with this version of her costume (a more classic look I’d say):

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The outfit composes of:

  • Black tailed-jacket (a Ringmaster jacket works perfectly here)
  • White long sleeved shirt
  • Waistcoat (I went with a black one for now as white was a real problem to find)
  • Bowtie (I chose black to compliment the waistcoat, plus I already owned one)
  • Black Top Hat
  • White gloes
  • Black ‘pants’/bottoms
  • Fishnets
  • Boots/heels/flats of your choice (depending on your comfort level I guess?) – For my version I’m wearing a pair of black heels I already own, with flats as a backup for when they inevitably kill my feet!
  • Black wig

Funny how much of that I already owned. The Black Ringmaster jacket I bought from eBay (ended up going to 2 sellers as the first never showed) and the gloves were bought from a costume shop. The hardest part to buy was probably the bottoms – in this version she basically wears a leotard underneath (that’s the closest way I could describe it) and there’s no way in HELL I’m walking around with my butt out that much. I eventually found some black waist-shaping shorts that went over the shirt nicely and didn’t look too bad for a first version.

My new wig also showed up today, which looks pretty good although I’ll need to sort the bangs out and get used to wearing it inside! All that’s left really are sorting out the props, and I already own a wand.

Ready for a picture? Everyone say Abra Kadabra now…. 😀

Ignore the red face and derpy pose! >_< The second is the new wig I got today, which looks a lot better and is nowhere near as tangled. See what I mean about the fringe though?

Anyway I like it, Zatanna is awesome and I get to wear my Top Hat in public! Hopefully there will be some better pictures come October time…

As usual leave me a comment if you want, or if you’d like to know where I got anything from 🙂

Mass Effect M-8 Avenger Assault Rifle Build

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I’ve had a LOT of free time lately and, after scouring Pinterest a bit too much, decided to do something productive and give making foam props a try! What can I say, making my own costumes is giving me a whole bunch of new skills (and injuries, but more on that soon). While I’m waiting for the finishing touches for Moxxi and Supergirl, I decided to make a prop for another costume on my wishlist – the M-8 Avenger Assault Rifle. First off let me say that I REALLY underestimated how much detail went into this gun (seriously if I hear the word “bevelling” after this, I might snap) – so let’s give a big round of applause to the modelling team over at Bioware!

So here’s my first-ever foam crafted weapon so far!!! (Drumroll please…)

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Ain’t she Shiny?!

I’ve actually done quite a bit more work on it since this point: I’ve finished adding the details to the handle itself (out of lovely coloured foam), I’ve managed to score most of the detail into the sides and round the shapes off a little bit more, and (most importantly) the gun actually has a TRIGGER and BARRELS!!! WAHOO!!!

I carved it out of a piece of housing insulation foam (scrap – don’t worry, I didn’t take apart my house for this or anything…) and then spent an excruciatingly long time shaping it with sanding paper. To get the correct thickness for the base shape I actually cut it out twice and glued it together – this is something I will definitely change with my next project, because getting the two layers completely level has been a real pain! The details were all etched in by a combination of sand-paper, craft knives and metal files, and I used extra foam pieces to add anything that extruded from the base model! The vents were added with foam and are glued into place – I thought this was easier than trying to carve the by hand, considering how precise they are!

Oh something I should add at this point actually: the entire thing was done by hand, no tools!! (Something I’m actually proud of, considering I REALLY disliked Design & Technology back in school…) True, it means that the edges aren’t precise like a tool might create, and it’s caused more problems than probably necessary, but I happen to enjoy using 10 fingers and have a distrust of tools.

Ok, let’s have some progress shots!!!

It’s not perfect, I agree with you there. And it’s obviously nowhere near finished yet! Currently it’s sitting on my freezer drying with it’s first coat of Mod Podge (also the first time I’ve ever used this, but so far it hasn’t impressed me…) My next task is to try and sand everything level, straight and into the right shapes ready for a few sealing coats and then (eventually) painting!!

It’s not perfect, which kind of irritates me, but I’m pretty impressed with how it’s turned out! (If you don’t believe me just check my social media profiles, which have been flooded with progress pics – sorry friends!) Here’s to progress!!! So what do you think? Anyone have any experience with making foam props…?

X

Mad Moxxi: Belt And Holster

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Borderlands 2 Banner

Here’s a little factoid for you: I freaking LOVE Borderlands. I love everything about the series, from the gorgeous cel-shaded artstyle to the crazy characters. And the ladies in Borderlands are pretty badass, none more so than Mad Moxxi, the Hostess of The Underdome and owner of far too many bars. She’s sassy, she’s crazy and she doesn’t take trouble from anyone. I decided that I HAD to cosplay her at some point (I worked at a bar at the time, which seemed perfect!), so I scoured the internet and bought myself a competitively-priced purple Mad Moxxi outfit from Borderlands 2. It was gorgeous and, at the time, perfect. I never actually got the chance to wear it.

I’ve been working on fixing up my Mad Moxxi for 3 years now, but never really made much progress. After almost finishing my Supergirl costume (and seeing how well that turned out when I put my mind to it) I decided enough was enough, and that the sultry Moxxi had to come out and play eventually. I say fixxing up because the costume is actually pretty terrible, and had a lot of inaccuracies. I decided to start with two of the easier parts: Moxxi’s holster and belt.

Mad Moxxi’s Holster:

The costume I bought came with a pleather thing that I’m pretty sure was meant to be the holster. It wasn’t bad, but it was extremely unstable and I wanted to use it as a bad for while I was out and about in costume (anyone who knows Moxxi knows she doesn’t exactly have a lot of pockets…)

At first I wanted to make the material sturdier, so I sewed some card along each internal side, which helped to stop the material from folding together. I then wanted to work on reshaping it a bit, and decided to use some lightweight foam to redesign the outsides (I used kids crafting foam from a £1 shop for this). I superglued it to the outside of the material, and then glued the edges together around it. For the moment I have only covered the front, sides and back (the bottom is still purely material).

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I only encountered one problem doing this: material bunches, which resulted in a slightly wonky edge on one of the holster sides (you can see it in the middle picture if you look closely). Luckily it wasn’t anything too major, and was fixed by adding a tiny piece of foam to cover the gap. I also made sure to leave room for the belt loop (which was actually a little pointless, but more on that later!)

I’m still not that used to documenting my entire process yet, so unfortunately I didn’t get many pictures of me painting the design layer by layer, but basically:

  1. Starting with the front cover, I coated the black material in a medium grey acrylic paint. I think I’m developing a new fondness for acrylic paints, since it not only spread well but dried perfectly!
  2. I mixed up a light grey and added the lighter detailing a little bit at a time. I also mixed up some mid grey and dabbed it around the edges, to make it look less like I splotched a light paint on it and more like a gradual cel-shade fade.
  3. Once this was completely dry, I used a black Sharpie to add the cel-shading detail. This included the black outline, the heart and kisses and the holster name: Ruby. This was then highlighted with an extremely thin paintbrush and white acrylic paint, to complete the cel-shading detail.
  4. Rinse and repeat for the sides (the back is still black for the moment!)

Once that was all done, it looked a little something like this:

Holster complete

Proud as pop with how that turned out! In fact, let’s have some side-by-side pictures!

Before and after

Before and after: the left is what I paid a fair bit of money for, and the right is the finished altered holster!

Side by side 1

Side by side comparison with my reference image.

I know that the actual shape isn’t right for 100% accuracy, but I’m pretty happy with the finished square holster for the moment! I’m thinking of adding a little pocket inside to keep my phone in so I can use it to carry my daily essentials while walking around, so that’s going to be interesting!

With the holster done (for the moment) it’s time to move on to….

Moxxi’s Belt and Pain-In-The-Butt-Buckle:

The belt itself was pretty easy. I managed to find a wide white leather belt in a charity shop (only cost £2.50) and painted it Moxxi’s brown using acrylic paints. I painted both sides, even though the back was a horrid material, so that the belt would be brown from any angle! I also touched up the edges a few times, to make sure everything looked A-OK.

Once the brown dried I grabbed my trusty black Sharpie and marked out where I wanted the lighter patches to go, as well as starting to add the cel-shading detail (like the outside black lines). I let this sit for a bit before mixing up some pale yellow and adding the lighter patches – at the moment it didn’t matter about going over the edges of the black because I planned to do another layer anyway!

I then added in the highlights with white paint and my extremely thin brush, and finished it off by going over the black detailing two more times (to make sure it was nice and dark). Maybe twice was a bit overkill, but it looks AWESOME.

It was at this point that I realised the belt wouldn’t actually fit through my old belt loop! I fixed this by using some of the old pleather from the original belt (which was black and extremely boring). I measured how much room I’d need, added in a few cms for extra movement and sewed the material in place (and only stabbed myself with the needle a handful of times). It fit together perfectly!

The buckle is the one part I’m still not happy with. I wanted to make a quick version that I could use for the moment, so I glued 3 layers of foam together and shaped it to resemble my reference images. I then painted it dark grey and used the Sharpie to draw on the triangle patterns (the internal pattern was left until last). I detailed the ‘metal’ using shades of light grey and white acrylic, and painted the inner portion a light blue. Finally I traced the geometric design and added it using a fine-liner.

I’ve read that a few people made the buckle using clay and painted it, which seemed to work pretty well, so maybe I’ll give this a try at a later date? For now let’s take a look when everything is put together:

I enjoyed making this so much that I might make more cel-shade belts, just for the heck of it! Hope you’ve enjoyed reading how I made the belt and holster (and I really hope you like the finished work, I’m extremely proud in case you haven’t noticed!) If anyone has any tips on how to improve the buckle I would really appreciate them! For now it’s time to move on to tougher parts…