Humanised characters? Cosplay ponderings

So what are your thoughts on humanised cosplay? Seen frequently within fandoms such as Pokémon, My Little Pony and – recently – Five Nights at Freddies, this is the phenomenon of creating a human – or at least humanish – version of a non-human character. In the anime scene I believe this often called Gijinka (擬人化), the Japanese term for “humanoid”, “personification”, or“anthropomorphic.”  I have mixed feelings about it. Just my personal opinion, and call me a prude if you will, but I’ll admit I’m not much of a fan of the kind of humanised cosplay that is just a thinly veiled excuse to be wear a swimsuit or parade around in lingerie. I’ve no problem with sexy cosplay where the character themselves is sexy or skimpily dressed in the original designs. But let’s face it, we’re not exactly lacking in choice of characters who fit those criteria, so I’ve never quite understood the need for a furry bikini Chewbacca, or a swimsuit Ivysaur either. But where the point is to re-imagine a character and try to capture their essence rather than just recreate the whole look, I think humanised costumes can be a really interesting and creative form of cosplay.

I am planning to do another reasonably bulky “full rig” Transformer costume for 2016, hopefully building on what I learned while making Slipstream and coming up with something even better. I also recently obtained some Worbla for the first time, so it’ll be interesting to have a go at using this (expect lumpen disaster photos in the not-too distant future). I’ll talk more about the character I’ve chosen and start chronicling my progress here another time. But alongside the big project, I’ve also been pondering having a go at some more “humanised” cosplay. Why? Various reasons really…

I've been sketching and scheming! See below for the results...

I’ve been sketching and scheming! See below for the results…

This post is going to be a bit of a thought dump as well as the chance to share some sketches and plans.

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Devcon Exe: podcasts, poses and purchases

Last weekend was DevCon Exe (the local convention formerly known as ExeCon), this was a two day event held, this time, in the Great Hall at the University of Exeter. The University was a great venue: well lit and with some interesting backdrops for photographs, plus much more spacious than this event’s previous home at St George’s Hall in the city centre, so although it felt like the place was nicely buzzing on the Saturday at least, things never got too cramped and as someone in a costume with wings I was grateful for that!

B had to work on the Saturday and couldn’t make it along, so our original plan had been that I’d go as Slipstream on the first day with some of our friends to lend me a hand getting in to the costume, and then both halves of AddAltMode would make an appearance in our Borderlands gear on the Sunday. For various reasons, the Sunday plans went awry so Tannis and Salvador didn’t get an airing, but Slipstream had a fantastic time there on the Saturday. I’m still slightly awed by how popular Slipstream is and how much love there is for my costume, both from people encountering her for the first time and from folk who were happy to see my Decepticon alt-mode again.

AddAltModeR as Slipstream, photo by We Shoot First

AddAltModeR as Slipstream, photo by We Shoot First

Read on for my highlights of the day and a few great sites and people for you to check out…. Continue reading

Borderlands Cosplay sneak peeks

Hi there! We’re a bit behind with our posts here this week: blame work and cosplay. I work in the Higher Education sector, so this current period – the start of a new academic year – is always the busiest in my working calendar. Cue plenty of long tiring days, after which I just want to veg out. Unfortunately the start of the new academic year also signals the busiest time in our local convention calendar with quite a few events lined up in the next month. So much as I’d like to veg out, there Aint No Rest For The Wicked if we want to get our Borderlands cosplays ready in time for DEVCON this coming weekend. B is going as Salvador the Gunzerker and I’m going to be Dr. Tannis. We’re pretty much there now, just a little more detailing to finish off. But the projects haven’t left much time for other things, including writing blog posts.

So rather than a full work in progress post for these cosplay projects, here are just some sneak peeks of details from the two costumes…

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Borderlands Cosplay work in progress: Patricia Tannis part 2

I hinted in my last post that I was making good progress on my Borderlands Dr. Tannis costume but I really should back up the claim with some evidence. I confess I’ve probably been a better cos-maker in the last month than I have a cos-blogger; as I’ve just been motoring on with the costume rather than pausing to take as many work in progress shots as I probably should have done along the way. But I think things are going pretty well…

Tannis coat, vests and backpack: front view

Tannis coat, vests and backpack: front view

Tannis coat, vests and backpack: rear view

Tannis coat, vests and backpack: rear view

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Cosplay from the Vault: Portal 2’s Chell

Something from the vault today! And no it isn’t a Borderlands final boss. Here are some photos of one of my much older projects: a cosplay of Chell from Valve’s Portal 2. This dates from 2011 and was probably my first “proper”costume attempt. It was very much trial and error: there’s so much that I’d do differently were I to attempt this costume again now (including working out; which is something I do regularly now but didn’t back then – and sadly it showed!) So it’s not great, but I thought I’d share it anyway for two reasons: (1) I’ve always found it quite interesting to see how other people’s cosplay efforts have evolved other time (2) I’m still pretty proud of what B and I achieved here with only a limited idea of what we were doing and an even more limited budget!


Chell cosplay by AddAltModeR

More pics and commentary after the jump…

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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…

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TFA Slipstream Cosplay final work in progress update: wings, jetpack and putting it all together!

Better late than never? OK, so my Transformers Animated Slipstream costume has been finished for a while now (since early May), and if you’re an AddAltMode regular you’ll probably already have seen photos of the finished ensemble, which I wore for Free Comic Book Day and for Plymouth’s DevCon. But as a Cosblogger as well as a cosplayer, I do want to finish the work in progress story.

So this is the final chapter, which will look at the process of making the wings and jetpack, as well as painting and putting it all together. Big thanks to those of you’ve shared the ups and downs of this costume build journey with me. Honestly, your support and encouragement has meant a lot.

A sofa full of Slipstream!

A sofa full of Slipstream (l-r top): under top and arms (with attached hood), leggings and hotpants. (l-r, lower): greaves, blasters, helmet, gloves, wings (jetpack attached here), gauntlet, shoulders, gauntlet, make up (silver facepaint & purple lipstick), chest piece, toe-guards, boots, corset.

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TFA Slipstream Cosplay work in progress 4: Gloves and Gauntlets

Time for another work in progress post about my Transformers Animated Slipstream costume. The first thing to say is that she’s really starting to come together!  In this post I’m going to talk about the fabric components of the costume and about how I made the pieces I’ll be wearing on my hands and arms, which currently look a little like this:


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TFA Slipstream Cosplay work in progress 3: Chest and Boots

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.

Chest piece and shoulders

Top down view: Slipstream chest piece by AddAltModeR

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.

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Geek Fashion project: Steampunk Decepticon bag

I love working on cosplay stuff but Transformer costumes are pretty major undertakings. Sometimes it’s refreshing to take a break from large scale craft projects and make something that can be completed in a single weekend. Here’s a little something I finished recently…

What do you think is missing from this bag?

Obligatory before pic

Obligatory ”before” pic

If you said “a Steampunk Decepticon logo” then you’re clearly on my kind of wavelength!*



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