Saturday, October 15, 2011

Star Wars Cosplay, part 1

As you have seen I took a couple weeks and smashed together some reasonably alright Star Wars costumes for the family.  While cosplay is as much being the character as it is the costume, the threads are vitally important to selling the character.  So in addition to watching Star Wars (the three real episodes) and me deciding to go in my internet persona (that's pretty easy to play), we scoured the web for detailed pictures, cosplay ideas, and accessories to bring Princess Leia and the jedi we would portray to life.

First off there is always one thing you never think will be that big of a deal to find and it always ends up being the biggest of struggles.  With so many costumes there were a few of these moments, but the most universal was the weapons.  You wouldn't think it would be hard, after all Star Wars is a major title.  There are mounds of Star Wars kids items, right?  Well, yes and no.  You see it's all "Clone Wars" now, not actual Star Wars and the variety of things that are offered are almost pathetic enough to make a long time fan cry.

We needed at least two blasters, one for each Leia.  My husband needed a lightsabre, and so did I, preferrably in my signature purple (which would be a Mace Windu blade).  Lightsabres were everywhere after the prequel releases, and we picked up a few, but never got the purple one.  I eventually found a "for costume" one on Amazon, but it doesn't lock closed, so I've resorted to masking tape to hold it locked.  My husband scored an Obi-Wan lightsabre at Walmart that locks closed, but doesn't light up.  You can never get it all.

The blasters were even harder.  For starters, the classic black blaster that we all played with as kids, yeah they don't make those anymore.  In fact NONE of the weaponry is black.  Seriously, if you are trying to use guerrilla tactics with modern toys, well lets just say it's not the safety orange that will be giving your weapon placement away.  We eventually started ignoring the colors and focusing on the shape.  We needed one storm trooper blaster and one blaster that looked like the gun Leia uses on Endor.  The storm trooper blaster was doable as it's still used in Clone Wars, but the second blaster was a lot trickier and when we thought we found a winner, the item that was shipped had pretty much nothing in common with the item pictured and was way too big to be used by a 6 year old girl anyway.  I ended up keeping it as my blaster since it would have cost too much to ship it back, besides my jedi persona is unorthodox and she can get away with carrying the extra ordinance in my mind at least.  We eventually found a small nerf Star Wars gun that was the right size, if not the right shape (too round) that we were able to add an elongated blaster nozzle to.

This is supposed to be Han Solo's blaster, it's definitely "adult sized" and ended up being my blaster. Note the added orange scope, it was not present on the item we ordered!

This is a Nerf Star Wars blaster for some Clone Wars character.  We took the basic gun here and add an elongated nozzle to give it a classic Star Wars look.  Unfortunately we can't do anything about it being "round."
As opposed to this!

And hopefully making this!

Obviously, what we have to work with is a far cry from where we need to be and not just because everything is white and orange, including the other blaster which you will see in a moment.  After a bit of online research and finding out that half of the crafty people who work in retail in our home town are all cosplayers, it was decided that to solve our weapons dilemma we needed some spray paint, some tape, some sandpaper, and some modeling paint.  I would like to add it would have been great to have a garage or other "craft space, but alas, we ended up in the yard.

No stormtrooper in with any shred left of dignity would carry this position declaring firearm.
First all parts of the gun that wasn't "going black" or needed to be handpainted black because of the proximity of electronics was taped over using the leftover painters tape from this summers house painting project.  The orange tips were also covered as GeekGirlCon requested all cosplay firearms have orange tips, and I believe it is a city of Seattle rule too.  Anyway, tips stayed orange.

Next the gun was lovingly rubbed over with sandpaper.  This not only added cool scratching effects when you got too carried away, but I'm assured it helped the blasters to accept their new black overcoats.  It also resulted in a lot of off-gassing.  I think I had a headache for two days from rubbing down the guns.  Seriously, facemasks next time.  And can you believe we let kids play with those????

After every square inch of exposed blaster was roughed over by the sandpaper (including underneath the sites), it was time for the black spray paint.  First off, with spray paint you get what you pay for, so I was very thankful my husband got modeling grade paint at the local hobby store.  The next thing to know is the more upright you paint, the more even the coat, unless of course the wind is blowing then it's anyone's guess as to where the paint will land.  Thankfully I was able to prop up the guns on a box covered with paper and paint in the horizontal instead of top down.  I did manage to turn my hands black as well, but at least I didn't have to worry about ruining my wedding ring!

Since they smelled we put them in a car we aren't driving right now and let them dry for a couple days.  In fact we had a few other accessories that got painted which joined them.  I painted the other side as well and in the end they looked so much better with just a simple color change.  That didn't mean we were done though.  Next the tape came off and we did take a moment to admire the coolness we had on our hands right before I got out the brushes and the silver, black, and leather brown to add those finally little touches that just make the blasters look so much better. 

There was also a special accessory for Leia's Endor blaster.  It needed more nozzle.  We cut a dowel rod to the length we felt looked good.  Since it was a nerf blaster, the dowel rod fit nicely into the dart chamber.  A little tape wrapped around the dowel insured it wasn't going anywhere (and as of this writing it's been pulled innumerable times from it's holster without so much as a wiggle.) It also got doused with black, and detailed out with a silver tip to make it look more like a the blaster Leia is holding.

I didn't paint exactly to the images, but took a more creative approach - necessary since all the blasters have scopes which aren't present in the film footage. The end result, I think, was a very useable blaster that didn't look out of place with the movie based costumes I created, which I will write about in part 2.

And this is after a weekend of hard use!

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