Free Comic Book Day 2016

So another annual staple of the Geek calendar has been and gone. What does Free Comic Book Day mean to you? To me, well obviously it’s a welcome opportunity to score some free comics, whether that means a few more gratis pages of franchises and characters I already know and love;  the chance to sample something new (or at least new to me); or just a one-off wildcard, it’s a fun way to expand my comic reading horizons. It’s a day to celebrate comics, yes, but more than that, it’s a day to celebrate the geek community in general and to have a little fun while supporting local businesses. I love going down to my local comic shops on Free Comic Book Day, more for the atmosphere than for the freebies even – since so many other people make a point of doing the same it’s a great way to catch up with old friends and make a few new ones a long the way.

Not just free comics, free cake!

Not just free comics, free cake!

The Guardian newspaper ran a preview feature on 10 of the best places to enjoy Free Comic Book Day in the UK. The event we attended, at Exeter’s Moving Pictures, actually came in at number 8 on the list, so that was pretty exciting (especially given the typically London-centric focus of that particular publication). It was also pleasing that the article mentioned Exeter’s “big cosplay community.” Those three words are all deserving of equal weight: for a fairly small city we are big on cosplay here and there’s definitely a big sense of community spirit, something for which I’ll always be grateful. Saturday was a prime example of this in more ways than one….

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Rodimus and Brainstorm go to Optimus Con, Bristol

The weekend of April 9-10th was Optimus Con, held at the UWE Exhibition and Conference centre in Bristol. B and I went along for the day on the Saturday and had a great time. Our original cos-plans for this event had been to give a second airing to our Borderlands Tannis and Salvador costumes, but that was before I got utterly obsessed with working on our Transformers MTMTE-inspired human(ish) Rodimus and Brainstorm cosplay. These only really needed to be finished in time for TFNation, which isn’t until August, but once I started building and sewing these I got so into the project that I just wanted to work until they were done. So I figured I’d set myself an earlier deadline and get a few wears out of them before the Summer’s big robot party. And hey, what’s an event called Optimus without some good old Transformers representation anyway?

MTMTE Brainstorm and Rodimus, cosplay by Addaltmode

MTMTE Brainstorm and Rodimus, cosplay by Addaltmode

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Off to Optimus…

Hi folks! It’s been a while hasn’t it? We had such great plans for this blog at the start of the year and precisely none of it has come to fruition. Apologies for that. The truth is I’ve had a few health problems this year and I just didn’t have the energy to blog for a couple of months so I had to give myself a break. Sometimes in life you just have to admit that you can’t do it all and give yourself permission to take a step back. It’s a healthy thing to do but – if your personality is anything like mine – often a very tough call to make. I’m doing a lot better now, though, and am keen to get typing here again so hopefully our normal geeky service will resume here soon.

I may not have been blogging, but I certainly haven’t been idle in the past couple of months. Rather, it’s been full steam ahead when it comes to cosplay creation. I’ve been working on our humanised Transformers More Than Meets The Eye costumes. These are really for TFNation but I figured it might be fun to finish them well in advance of that gathering and take them out to a few other events too…. starting tomorrow. So if you’re heading to Bristol’s Optimus Con on Saturday then do watch out for B and I as we début our Brainstorm and Rodimus respectively. These cosplays are a bit more stylised than my Slipstream or Arcee costumes but I had a blast making them and I hope they’re true to the much-loved characters if not to every aspect of their design. I’ll be posting photos and also a bit more of a ‘cosbloggy’ write up on the trials and tribulations of #ProjectMTMTE after the event.

But in the meantime, if you’re heading over to Optimus do watch out for us and come and chat if you see us! You never know, I may even award you a Rodimus Star

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Yes I have spent most of the past week brandishing scissors and sticky-back plastic!

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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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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Countdown to Auto Assembly: His and Her Thoughts

Next weekend is our wedding anniversary. We’ll have been married seven years and we’ve been saying for most of that time that one year we ought to celebrate our wedding date with a weekend away in a nice hotel somewhere. Well, this year we’re actually going to do just that: we’re off to the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham. But we didn’t just randomly pick that destination out of a tourist guide. No, in a lucky stroke of perfect timing it just so happens that this year our wedding anniversary weekend coincides with Auto Assembly, Europe’s largest Transformers convention! What better way to celebrate our love than in the company of plastic robots and hundreds of other Autobot and Decepticon enthusiasts?

Official logo of Auto Assembly 2015

Official logo of Auto Assembly 2015

This will be our first time, not only at Auto Assembly but at any large residential convention on this kind of scale. Although hopefully it will be the first of many big convention experiences for AddAltMode, sadly, when it comes to Auto Assembly, it’s going to be our first, last and only, since it has been announced that after 15 years the event will be bowing out after this year.  At least we will have got the chance to experience it once. Let’s make sure we take lots of photographs and make it count!

We’re both hugely looking forward to the convention, but as first timers and self-confessed socially-awkward introverts we’d be lying if we said we’re not nervous about it too. In this jointly-penned post we’re going to discuss some of our hopes, excitements, expectations and anxieties about the forthcoming event.

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Let’s talk about…. Geekdom and Introversion

I recently finished reading Susan Cain’s non-fiction bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It’s a powerful read: extensively researched yet chattily written and full of real life stories. And it deals with an important topic. As Cain writes in her introduction:

Our lives our shaped as profoundly by personality as by gender or race. And the single most important aspect of personality – “the north and south of temperament as one scientist puts it – is where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum.

I’m fully aware of where I fall on that spectrum. What about you?


Please do fill in the poll because I’m interested to see the results. Seeing as our followers here are mostly fellow geeks, I’m going to hypothesise that more of you will identify  as an introverts than extroverts.

But whether or not my theory is correct, I know I’m certainly an introvert, although over the years, a few of my more casual acquaintances have been surprised to hear me describe myself that way. After all, I enjoy public speaking: I’ve happily given lectures in the past, as well as leading talks and training sessions at work, and oh yeah there’s that small matter of me leaping at any opportunity to parade around in public in very tight leggings dressed as a robot. Those are not things a stereotypically shy person does with relish, but then Cain’s book makes a really important distinction: being and introvert and being shy are not the same thing. Quiet is a celebration of introvert power, and reading it has really helped me understand better why I behave the way I do sometimes and how some of the seeming contradictions in my personality aren’t in fact contradictions at all. I think the insights in this book could be helpful to others too. Indeed, although Cain doesn’t talk about Geek Culture specifically, a lot of what she has to say feels particularly relevant to us as a group of people who like nothing better than to get together at a collector’s fair or convention but who also frequently describe ourselves as socially awkward and find it hard to break the ice with new people.  Today I want to share a few more thoughts about these factors…

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Cosplay Double Trouble: Slipstream and Arcee together!

This weekend we attended Unity Sci-Fi family fun day. This was a nice little local event, providing some geek-themed fun for kids of all ages, and also raising money for an extremely worthy cause: the mental and emotional wellbeing charity Mind.

I was one of the costumers with a collection box. Unable to decide whether to be Slipstream or Arcee, I took along both of my Transformer costumes and changed from one to the other halfway through the day. It was the first time I’d worn both outfits at the same event, and through the magic of Photoshop B has been able to combine a couple of the shots taken of me to make this composite image:

Transformers cosplay by AddAltMode R: Decepticon Slipstream and Autobot Arcee

Transformers cosplay by AddAltMode R: Decepticon Slipstream and Autobot Arcee

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I found I did more collection-tin-shaking as Arcee and more pretending to shoot at and be shot by small kids with toy weapons while dressed as Slipstream! It was fun to give both of these costumes another outing before I get fully stuck in to the next project!