Pandora’s (dress up) Box: Borderlands Cosplay project is go!

So, Project Slipstream is over. Time, methinks, for a new cosplay adventure. Having done two, largely foam-based, Transformers costumes in a row now, I’m keen to do something quite different: something less foam based and more easily packable (which probably means cosplaying a human character), and someone who would fit nicely in a paired cosplay with AddAltModeB. Hmm, human – or “humanish” – part of a group or shared world with other cosplayable characters. That doesn’t limit my options much, or indeed at all. But the golden rule of cosplay or should be: follow your passions. I chose to dress up as Arcee and Slipstream because I love Transformers and those characters in particular. What else have I been heavily into lately? Let’s assess the evidence…

CaptureAll paths lead to Pandora. Yes, 2015 is the year B and I have been obsessively playing the Borderlands franchise. We already finished Borderlands and its DLCs and recently completed our first run-through of Borderlands 2, which I think just might be my favourite game ever. I love the space-dieselpunk aesthetic, the dark humour, and the great multiplayer experience, which is ideal for us to play through together. The recent Steam Sale helped me seal the deal by buying all the remaining BL2 DLCs as well as The Pre-Sequel, Telltale Games’ Tales From The Borderlands and um, Poker Night 2 (which features CL4P-TP; although that wasn’t the only reason I bought it). So yeah, when I’m into something I tend to go big or forget it, so Borderlands cosplay was probably only a matter of time…

And that time has come! You may have see B’s recent post where he talked about why and how he plans to cosplay the Gunzerker, Salvador. I’ll be assisting in that endeavour too, and as you may also have spotted from a close reading of B’s post, I’ll be working on giving Salvador some insanely smart company in the form of…

Screenshot from Tannis' intro in Claptrap's Robot Revolution

Screenshot from Tannis’ intro in Claptrap’s Robot Revolution

Now for the inevitable thought dump about the why and how of Project Tannis…

Why Tannis?

Let’s face it, Borderlands cosplay gets done a lot, so there’s no sense in trying to go for anyone just to be unique, they’ve all been done and will be again. Fortunately, with a big multiplayer game like this, that doesn’t matter at all and is only part of the fun. Just as with Team Fortress 2 (another game close to my heart) I love seeing gaggles of the franchise’s cosplayers all together, and it really doesn’t matter if that group contains multiple Mayas, Axtons, whoever. I’ve seen a few Tannis cosplays online already (although less than many other characters from the game, and none in person) but I’ve chosen her to do for the following reasons:

1. She’s such a great character: I love her dialogue and how she can move from crazy / smart / expository to something either gut-wrenchingly sad, worryingly immoral, or just all-out bizarre, sometimes in the course of the same breath. That’s Borderlands flavour in a nutshell. I also love how she (highlight for spoilers): flat out rejects  Marcus’ romantic advances. 

2. I think I look more like her than some of the other BL characters. Looking at player characters, well… much as I love Gaige (because hello, Robot!!) I think I’m probably a bit too old to do a convincing job as her. I adore the beautiful, otherwordly look of Maya and I guess she’d pair more logically with B’s Salvador but my main reason for not choosing her is less my own corresponding lack of beauty (though that’s a factor) and more just the fact that I don’t tend to play her much in game, so I don’t feel as much connection. My go-to player character is actually Axton because he really suits my play style. With the “roguish renegade” head, Axton is also pretty easy on the eye (I probably would…) but I would prefer to cosplay a female character overall.

The main NPCs in Borderlands are really well developed and integrated in the plots, so any of them would stand fine alongside the player characters. Moxxi is probably the most iconic, of course, but she doesn’t really suit my style and er, let’s just say, I feel I’m lacking certain assets. Tannis is a lot more me, physically and to some extent emotionally. I’m not a crazy or immoral experimenter (I promise) but I am bit socially awkward; the social confidence cosplay gives me is partly why I like to do it in the first place, so Tannis is a fitting choice in a way, don’t you think? Also, she wears steampunk goggles and I LOVE wearing goggles.


Tannis: screenshot from Borderlands 2 Mr Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage DLC


3. I’m qualified to be her, since I’m a Dr too! Did I mention before that I have a PhD? Well, I do!  Not in an archaeology, it’s true. No my PhD is in English Literature – not the most vocational choice (and don’t I know it) but hey, that still makes me more of a real doctor than a certain someone else, right?

Have you heard the legally obligated one about  him not being a real doctor?

Have you heard the legally obligated one about him not being a real doctor?


Things I am going to need for this costume include:

Tannis model from game

Tannis model from game

A wig: short hair in reddish brown – or at a pinch black as she is sometimes depicted with black hair. Shouldn’t be too tricky.

That coat: this will be the biggest challenge of the costume. Its cut is really unique and it’s unlikely I could buy anything even similar to modify. I am planning on modifying a pattern and sewing it from scratch with burgundy/red leatherette. Most sewing I’ve done before has been very simple stuff or modifications so this will be a new kind of challenge and a learning experience. Fortunately, my Mum is pretty experienced with crafts and a needle and she has agreed to assist. Hooray for family! This will also be the most expensive piece of the costume as heavy fabrics like this aren’t cheap per metre. but I think it’ll be well worth it. To be honest I’d wear a jacket like that for non-cosplay purposes too!

Trousers: stone/brown/ grey? Further scrutiny is needed, but I’m sure these can be bought and the relevant details added.

Tops: the grey vest is pretty straightforward and the brown short top can be made from scratch possibly from the material I buy for the patches.

Straps, belts and backpack details: I’ve made various Steampunk outfits in the past for Wave Gotik Treffen, I reckon I can handle these details.

Boots: again, further research and screenshots are needed before I can make a firm plan here. I’ve plenty of foam left over from Slipstream, so making leg-guards from that to wear over existing shoes or boots could be an option.

Things I already own that will be useful:

Black leather fingerless gloves: I bought these quite recently, and I confess Tannis was already in mind when I did so. But they’re pretty cool anyway.

Goggles: the ones I wear with steampunk outfits have brown frames and will suit nicely. I just need to make the lenses look yellow.

Borderlands echo device

Borderlands echo device

Accessories? I think B is pretty much going to have the accessories sewn up with the two huge Salvador guns we’re planning to do, but it would be fun for Tannis to have some sort of accessory too. One option would be a small gun of my own. She doesn’t wield one in game but it’s Pandora, everyone and their Grandma is packing guns (especially Mr Torgue’s Grandma). So something fairly restrained, like a Dahl pistol, wouldn’t look out of place, and would be a lot of fun to pose with. This could be made easily enough from a modified nerf or other toy gun. Dahl is also the most appropriate brand for Tannis both stylistically (their stuff is fairly plain) and in terms of the story since she was originally employed by the Dahl Corporation.

Another accessory option would be to make some kind of Echo Recorder device to carry. Tannis is first introduced via a sequence of echo logs that players have to find in the first game and she uses them a lot to record her notes, so this would be really appropriate. Not quite sure how I’d do this yet, but there’s plenty of time yet to figure that out!


So yeah, decisions to make, lots to plan, and definitely a few challenges ahead but hopefully some good results in the end and an enjoyable journey getting there. We’ll keep you updated on our progress with both Tannis and Salvador of course!

5 thoughts on “Pandora’s (dress up) Box: Borderlands Cosplay project is go!

    • Now that would be commitment to cosplay! I rather enjoy having long hair most of the time, but who knows if I get a wig for Tannis and it really suits me perhaps I’d consider it. Short hair would certainly make wearing other wigs (and, uh, robot helmets) more comfortable! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Funnily enough, for a secret cosplay project, I had considered growing out my hair for the character… And (non-permanently) dying it… Bright pink.

        … I wish I were kidding, sometimes.

        As always though – You’ve given another awesome look at why you like a character and how you’ll be going about making the costume too! Best of luck 🙂 And good luck to B for his first!


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