The Steampunk Yule Ball 2015

If real life had achievements the same way many video games do then last weekend I would definitely have unlocked some good ones! Participate in a massive Steampunk conga line? Check: achievement unlocked! Get up onstage and dance alongside the legendary Professor Elemental? Check: very fun and happy achievement unlocked!

These antics are all courtesy of local alt-rock / steampunk band, The Mysterious Freakshow, who for the past three years have organised annual Yuletide Steampunk extravaganza at Exeter Phoenix. This year’s event took place last Saturday and it was bigger and more enjoyable than ever, lining up an eclectic array of performers (and proving that Steampunk is one of the most enjoyably eclectic of genres), spreading some seasonal cheer (including plenty of yuletide spirit of the alcoholic variety) and of course, offering a wonderful excuse to get really dressed up. There were some wonderful costumes and everyone was welcome from the very finest bustled Victorian ladies, via crazy mad scientist looking-types, to military gentlemen and even a steampunk Mandalorian (none other than our pal Exeter Cosplay).

The evening's programme of entertainment

The evening’s programme of entertainment

Two of my favourite social activities are going to geek conventions (especially when in cosplay) and going to gigs and music festivals. The Steampunk Ball is one of my favourite nights of the year because it feels like the place where these two wonderful things collide. It’s a music event with some really interesting and talented bands performing, but it also has a bit of a nerdy convention feel to it too…

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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

Pandora comes to Plymouth: Borderlands Tannis and Salvador Cosplay at DEVCON

Here you go then, the finished results of our Borderlands Tannis and Salvador costumes, which we wore yesterday to day one of the October DEVCON in Plymouth:

Borderlands cosplay by AddAltMode

Borderlands cosplay by AddAltMode

What do you think of the finished result?

Although this was our third DEVCON it felt like a first for me because previously I’ve always gone either as Arcee or Slipstream so this was the first time I had a costume that actually let me see properly and move freely! It was the also the first event for a long time where B had suited up and cosplayed alongside me. My favourite thing about Borderlands is what a great co-op experience the games provide, so it felt right to be sharing the guntastic Pandoran love as part of a pair! B enjoyed being a Gunzerker although by the end of the day his mouth was hurting from continually pulling Salvador’s manic feral grin everytime someone asked for a photo!

Thanks to our pals Sadie and Maysie for taking the photos. More after the break…

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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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Transformers Animated Slipstream: cosplay photos from Auto Assembly 2015

To round off our week of posts about Auto Assembly 2015, here are the official photos of me cosplaying as Slipstream, taken by the talented Dean Stead Photography.  I’m really happy with how these came out; they’re probably the best shots I’ve seen so far in terms of showing off the costume.

AddAltModeR as Decepticon Slipstream. Taken during the cosplay parade at Auto Assembly 2015

AddAltModeR as Decepticon Slipstream. Taken during the cosplay parade at Auto Assembly 2015

More photos after the cut…

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Convention Review: Auto Assembly 2015, Part Two

This is the second of three jointly-penned posts about our recent, amazing, experience at Auto Assembly, Europe’s largest Transformers convention.

This part predominately features Transformers art and artists, lots of cosplay, and the convention’s Saturday evening entertainment.

Drift, Slipstream and Optimus Prime

Drift, Slipstream and Optimus Prime

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Borderlands Cosplay work in progress: Patricia Tannis part 1

We are hoping – no, let’s be firmer than that – we are aiming to get our Borderlands 2 costumes done for October. AddAltMode B is going to be Salvador and I’ll be cosplaying as this wonderful crazy lady, Dr. Patricia Tannis:

Dr. Tannis: screen shot from Borderlands 2 Mr Torgue's Campaign of Carnage DLC (the best DLC!)

Moi? Dr. Tannis: screen shot from Borderlands 2 “Mr Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage” DLC (aka the best DLC!)

Mostly so far we have just been gathering the materials we’ll need for these projects but I have done a bit of sewing and gluing already. As with Project Slipstream, I’ll be blogging my progress throughout the construction, so here’s how things are shaping up so far…

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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!

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Chell cosplay by AddAltModeR

More pics and commentary after the jump…

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