27 Oct 2014

Armageddon Expo 2014!

I've been to Armageddon Expo before. A few times, actually, when it was held at Aotea Centre. I used to go all three days, then cut it back to one. There wasn't that much content for me.

So this year I decided to cosplay, which is why I've been making a Korra cosplay this whole time. I thought it would be a bit more fun - an excuse to meet other cosplayers, and I might even get some photos.

I wasn't prepared for how much better it would be.

In the days leading up to the event, the Cosplay New Zealand Facebook group was on fire. Photos of people making last minute adjustments to cosplays, and some people just starting. Questions abounded, and advice was there seconds later. I loved sitting on the sidelines (so to speak) and offering encouragement and support. Every other comment was, "I can't wait to meet you"!

I woke up quite early (6:30? 7:00? Early for me, anyway) and laid everything out. I was ready to go out in public as Korra! I wasn't nervous though. All I've heard from the cosplay community are the positive messages from the Facebook group, so I put everything on and left the house like I was going to a friend's brunch party.

I only hit traffic once I got to the main road heading to the showgrounds. I was feeling a tiny bit self concious at this point - Korra's distinctive hair ornaments were waving in the breeze from my open window. I started seeing cosplayers though - droves of them, walking along the street. My spirits rose, and I waved out the window as Korra with Sunglasses.

Walking through the gates, all I could see were cosplayers. My jaw was dragging on the ground as I slowly made my way to the main entrance. I didn't know how to handle so much amazing in one place.

For some reason, for the past few Armageddons, this feeling had been lost. Something was different this time, but I don't think it was just the fact that I was dressed up. Maybe seeing all the other cosplayers, and noticing all the hard work they all put in to their outfits, maybe this is the sense of awe I could practically taste.

I started off by wandering around the jam-packed halls. Every now and then I caught a passing "Korra!", "That's Avatar Korra!", or sometimes "Katara!". Very soon I realised it would be impractical to walk through such a crowded area (there were over 120,000 attendees on Saturday) so I retreated to the foyer. I then ran into an old high school friend who won Dunedin's Best in Show - Courtney of Kayoss Cosplay. She was there with a Jinx with an amazing Fishbones prop, and a Demon Six tails from Naruto. I merged with the group and we became a very strange mash-up. From there we could barely walk a few feet without being asked for photos!

Saturday ended with a fantastic Avatar group and a hilarious cosplay parade. Ty Lee (Elishia) welcomed me with open arms (quite literally) and I was officially inducted into the world of cosplay.

Photo credit: Mustafa Qureshi
I was so completely exhausted that I slumped into bed at 8pm that day. Meanwhile, Courty Kayoss stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning sewing a huge sheep that doubled as a bag and finishing off her Astrid cosplay (How to Train Your Dragon II).

Somehow struggling to get out of bed at 7:30, I ran through the motions of becoming Korra. This time I didn't forget my armband. Did I mention that?

We got an excellent photo at the Hobbiton set. The rest of the photos I took were so lacking compared to the casual snapshot from the attendee of the stall.

There were no big events on Sunday apart from the great cosplay panels, but I caught the end of the League of Legends cosplay competition completely by accident. These guys were simply amazing, and the crowd loved them too. That would be a small teaser of the full competition I was attending the next day.

Monday was competition day, and by this point I was actually getting nervous. Seeing the calibre of the other cosplays was completely blowing me away - but I stuck to my guns and attended the call time regardless.

Our 11:30 slot contained an Ursula, Gamora, Stargate Serpent Guard, and a few other awesome cosplayers. Everyone was so supportive - by the end of the judging session, my nerves were completely gone. How could you be scared when you're performing in front of people who are rooting for you?

We had time to kill before the public display of the competitors on stage, so Six Tails, Jinx, and a Bucky Barnes we roped in slowly made our way to the V 360 photo set. It took us about 15 minutes there and 10 back, even though it was about 20 metres away. So many photos, so many wonderful people.

After the group competition shot, all 39 contestants/groups made their gradual way to the main stage, where we got to watch the SFX competition (which Courtney was competing in).

Since it's still the day of the competition, I haven't found any photos of the display yet. I'm happy to say Korra was a resounding success with the crowd, but not so for the competition as a whole. I'm so very proud of the contestants who won prizes, however. The Gamora from my call slot won a technical award with her very first go at making armour, and a Link who had a real Ocarina (and played it, too), busted out a hilarious skit, even though it was her first competition. She won the novice skit prize, as well.

Courtney once again was involved (she's a busy girl), as she had won Best in Show Dunedin with her Eowyn in armour cosplay (which was stunning!). Katniss took the Trans-Tasman cup with a mind-blowing performance and a dress that revealed another dress underneath. We tried to find Courtney after the show, but doubtless she was helping her SFX model out of the amazing makeup work she did.

And then it was over.

Reluctant to leave each other, Jinx (Georga), Six Tails (Courtney, not Kayoss) all said our "farewell"s and "well done"s and "congratulations", and went our separate ways, knowing that next year will be even better, and we'll all level up our cosplays for a mind-blowing convention.

11 Oct 2014

Korra Cosplay - complete!

The last piece of Korra's outfit was completed today - the armband.

Originally I was going to represent it as a tattoo, but the latest season of Korra shows her bare arm - so it is definitely not a tattoo!

I decided to make it out of craft foam I had lying around. The colours were close enough.

Triangles cut out of the foam

All superglued together

Painted spots on

Heat formed

Crappy closure thing. :\

Close scrutiny will betray the shoddy workmanship, but from a distance it looks kinda badass.

I am so excited to run around Armageddon Expo in this thing. I might even enter the competition, because why not?

View the first post in this series where I begin my cosplay journey by making pants!

5 Oct 2014

Academy F4U-1 Corsair 1/72

It was a windy day today, but that didn't stop me from attempting to add the final clear coat to the Academy F4U-1 Corsair I bought a while back.

Since it is finally done, I thought I might compile my progress into one post.

I started with the cockpit and the engine (I don't think I got any photos of the instrument panel, ugh), then glued it all up.

Adding putty to the join between the wings and the fuselage
The fit was pretty good - it turned out to be a really nice beginner's kit. Cheap, too!

I borrowed my flatmate's airgun and had a go at spraying the paint on. Turns out a tri-colour plane might not be the easiest one to learn by, but it still came out fairly well.

The guy at the model store picked the colours out for me, but the dark blue was completely wrong - for one, it was gloss, and it was also the wrong blue. Argh!

I also did some weird masking, so there is a bit of a stripe around the cockpit where the medium blue (flat) showed through the dark blue (gloss).

The decals were fun to apply, but I think I needed to get them to settle a little better, as there were a few too many bubbles in them.

I did have a lot of fun with weathering, though. I used some panel-line ink stuff to bring out the detail everywhere. I shaved some artist's pastel onto a palette and used a big soft brush to apply it and draw it back from the exhausts. I rubbed some brown and black into the landing gear bays as well.

While I'm not one hundred percent happy with the final result, I'm certainly pleased with the experience I gained while making it.

You can see the difference in blues from the canopy to the main body of the craft, which had a flat clear applied.

I used some black-ish nylon thread as the aerial wire, which worked really well.

Somehow, during the build of this plane, I've picked up and started three other kits:

  • Academy B-17F 1/72 "Memphis Belle"
  • Academy Sopwith Camel 1/32
  • Eduard Spitfire Mk IX C (Early) 1/72

22 Sep 2014

Korra Cosplay - New wristbands and hair thingies

One of the most distinctive features of Korra's look are her hair ornament thingies. That's the technical term, by the way.

I found this tutorial on YouTube on a way to make Korra's hair pieces, and made mine based on that.

I managed to find the big straws for the front pieces, but couldn't find the cup for the main piece so I cut the bottom out of a plastic shot cup instead.

I didn't have any fabric glue, but PVA and superglue seemed to do the trick. I used white cord around the top and base to finish them off.

From the same video mentioned above, the technique for putting the things in is invaluable. You twist your hair and stuff as much as you can get away with into the tubes, then untwist your hair. Magically, the pieces stay in!

I found that the top one was a bit floppy, so I'll find a way to attach it using bobby pins so it doesn't fall out.

*serious face*
My hair is probably a bit too long and not layered enough to be exactly like Korra's but it gets the point across.

Initially I had made Korra's wristbands as bracers which looked pretty cool, but I couldn't lace them up by myself. I decided to remake them just out of fabric to save me time. They would be a little more accurate to the design that way.

I used some leftover white cotton/lycra that I used for the trim on the top, plus some of the blue fabric that currently lines the leather wrap.

I couldn't be bothered finishing the seams. I think that will come back to haunt me. Also, I only managed to sew one of the white bands on inside-out.

The result is pretty awesome actually. They are pretty tight, so I don't think they'll fall down.

I tried everything on again. I didn't know this was the most fun part of cosplay, but it is. By the way, this costume is comfy enough to lounge around in.

So what's next?

  • Remove the awkward tacking from the shirt
  • Fix the bit of the leather wrap I totally broke
  • Possibly make some more accessible pockets
  • Use velcro and/or snaps to keep the apron below the belt
  • Make a stencil for the upper arm tattoo (I'll use body/face paint)
I'm dangerously close to finishing this with about a month left till the actual con. I think I'm doing it wrong.

Next post: Korra cosplay, complete!

20 Sep 2014

Korra Cosplay - Boots

I still can't figure out which part of this costume has been the most daunting. Korra's top was a challenge in terms of drafting and construction, and the fur wrap was difficult as it used many new materials and tricky parts. The boots brought another challenge, as they had to stand up to a full three days of walking around the convention floor.

Trying to find a perfect match for the boots was a little out of the question. Most brown slipper-type boots with sheepskin inside would cost upwards of $50.

I had a look around for alternatives and discovered you could actually make a fabric cover for an existing pair of boots. I read through Sarcasm-Hime's bootcovers tutorial which was intended for stretch fabric, but would suffice for the application I was thinking of.

First step was to cut out all the pieces.

I had a vague idea of how it was going to be constructed.

Yes, that's corduroy. There was a sale on, $6/m, don't judge.

Looking good so far! The cover for the boot shaft was a little too tight around the top - I should have given it a lot more ease.

Next up was more sheepskin work.

After assembling the cuff, it was onto some very nerve-wracking gluing. The edge of the boot slip by the sole needed to be notched all around so it would fold under, then glued with contact glue (it took so long to get it all off my fingers).

The cuff was glued on as well, from the inside and the outside.

I gave that glue a workout after it had dried. The boots are a little small for me in that the ankle is quite tight, so it takes a lot of tugging to pull them on. I'm pretty confident the glue will hold. :)

I'm so glad I used sheepskin for the leather wrap instead of fur - it gives a better sense of cohesion this way.

I'm very close to finishing. I'm going to remake the bracers (so I can put them on by myself) and make the hair ornaments, then work on the finer details and adjustments.

Next post: Korra's hair ornaments and new wristbands