So it’s been a month since I last did one of these work in progress updates, and if you saw my recent post of tips for surviving what I call The Cosplay Doldrums then you’ll know that during that time I encountered a few difficulties with this build and that my motivation took something of a nosedive. Still, the focus of that post was overcoming cosplay fatigue, not succumbing to it, and by the time I published it I’m pleased to report I’d started making progress on the Slipstream costume once again and most importantly, I’d started having fun making it again. I’m really pleased now with how it’s all beginning to come together although there’s still a way to go yet.
This post is going to focus on the progress I’ve made designing and building her boots / leg-plates and her iconic Seeker chest piece.
For these I decided to build foam leg-pieces over some black ladies boots. I had to buy some boots especially as I needed heels and I don’t usually wear them. Fortunately my friend Sadie (of Aim For Fabulous) is something of a boot expert and managed to source some boots in my size with exactly the right heel shape, all for a bargainious £10. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!
So I had a good starting base but the foam outers proved such a challenge! I thought they’d be OK because Arcee’s boots were quite straightforward to build and Slipstream’s don’t even have wheels to contend with. How wrong can you be? But then again, with Arcee, I had a physical toy and lots of very clear and consistent screenshots to work from. With Slipstream I have neither: as she is a much more minor character there simply aren’t that many shots of her legs to work from. The only way she really differs from the other Starscream clones is around the chest and waist so I decided I could probably get away with using the feet of any TFA Seeker for source material which helped a little. But the art style of TFA itself is problematic from a cosplay perspective: its cartoony, almost anime-esque styling allows for a great deal of variation between screenshots. Sometimes the Seeker boots seem very chunky and blocky, other times they look much sleeker and more rounded.
In my first attempt I went for chunky, because the thought the angles would be easier to calculate. But I had a lot of problems, not least walking in the damn things and getting them to stay on my feet! I’m already resigned to the fact that this is not going to be a remotely practical costume to wear but there are still limits as to what I can function in and what I can’t. I didn’t take any pictures of my first attempt at the boots – another sign I should have understood more quickly than I did that I just wasn’t happy with them – so I can’t show you how terrible they were, but trust me they were not good.
Eventually I decided to scrap those boots and start afresh, this time going for a slightly more rounded design that I could at least walk in. With a costume like this there’s a constant balance to be maintained between stability and portability. The more pieces it breaks down into the easier the costume will be to transport, but the less wear and tear it will take. The chunky boots were comprised of numerous pieces that strapped and velcroed together but they started bending even with me just wearing them round the house. So my second attempt is more of a wrap around effort: they won’t pack flat but they’re stronger and things can be stored inside them at least. They are foam with velcro straps underneath. The fins are a stronger foam fixed on with permanent tabs.
The triangle detail on the foot I achieved with a separate piece These are elasticated and strap over the boot first before the main leg guard goes on. They seem to hold in place pretty well. I haven’t tidied these up yet, I’ll do that before I coat them in PVA, so forgive the glue strings at this stage!
B gave me a lot of assistance designing the chest piece as it was difficult to measure and while also fitting it to myself. The Seeker chest with its jet nose and cockpit is so iconic. Even though I’m doing a TFA costume, it’s pretty G1 looking in his respect (although Slipstream didn’t exist prior to TFA) although it’s amusing how the vent stacks on her chest are angled just that more to make her appear more feminine. Basically, she has robot boobs, or “ro-boobs.”
Using real plastic vent pieces on the helmet seemed pretty effective so we decided to repeat the trick here for the vents on her chest. I built an angled foam frame around these which was then glued to the central chest frame. We decided to make the front one piece for stability but the extremities like shoulder pads will attach separately. Again, movement is a factor to consider. With the blasters on my arms too the shoulder pads need to have a bit of lift and give so that I can raise both my hands forward to do the “you just got blasted” pose (this is important!) So rather than having the plates fixed on the top as in the screenshot, I decided they could velcro onto the side. The overall look is not much different (even less so I think when the paint goes on) but the repositioning will allow me much greater movement in my arms, and the velcro should be up to the job as the shoulder pieces are incredibly light!
The cockpit caused me a fair amount of anxiety when I first began planning the costume, but in the end it wasn’t too difficult to create. It’s based on a Pepsi bottle (with my bitter lemonade blasters it seems there’s a lot of fizzy drinking involved in becoming a Decepticon!) The bottle is sliced in two then reassembled at an angle. I couldn’t source any cellophane or acetate in the colour I needed, so to get the translucent teal glass effect I wanted I wrapped the bottle in plastic cut from a teal coloured document wallet. The bottle is then wrapped in a thin foam and secured in place with ridiculous amounts of glue and tape.
The chest piece as a whole will secure to me with straps at the back. The weight of the piece is all held by my shoulders so it’s pretty secure. The straps come from the shoulder to the side pieces cross style and secure with plastic clips I salvaged from a battered old rucksack. These should be completely hidden when the back piece goes on with the wings.
Confession time: I’m a bit nervous about tackling the wings and back piece (it’s definitely a case of saving the most challenging piece until last) so currently I am making the gauntlets instead. But I will get there! I can see this project coming together now and it’s a good feeling!