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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Halloween Transformers Episode Appreciation 2: Thirst (Transformers Prime)

Part of AddAltMode's Creepy Countdown series

Part of AddAltMode’s Creepy Countdown series

IT LIVES! Time now for part two of our double feature exploring the creepiest cartoon episodes that the Transformers canon has to offer. Part one, which examines the origin story of Transfomers Animated‘s Blackarachnia, can be found here. Unlike that first pick, my second episode selection doesn’t overtly have a Hallowe’en setting. Nobody actually chooses a pumpkin or goes trick or treating here. Yet surely there can be no Transformers moments that more deliciously capture the spooky season’s general love of all things horror than “Thirst,” otherwise known as Transformers Prime does Zombies.

Starscream and Knock Out. Just look at those faces! There's definitely more trick than treat gong down in this episode. (Screencap from TF Prime episode 60)

Starscream and Knock Out. Just look at those faces! There’s definitely more trick than treat going down in this episode. (Screencap from TF Prime episode 60)

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Toy Review: Combiner Wars Leader Class Starscream

Hello my name is AddAltModeR  and I am a Starscreamaholic. The backstabbing Seeker is probably my single favourite Transformers character. I love the design of the Seekers in general and, having done a postgraduate degree in Renaissance Literature, I really have been primed to appreciate the theatrical — nay, positively Shakespearean — extent of his villainy. Here’s a character who can truly be relied upon to betray you; putting the “deception” into Decepticon time after time after time. Starscream toys are my weakness, and I have more versions of him in the plastic than any other character. In that respect, I guess I’m a bit like Megatron: I know full well that Screamer is bad for me but I just can’t resist keeping him around!

Coronation, Starscream? This is bad comedy.

Coronation, Starscream? This is bad comedy.

Hasbro’s new Leader Class Starscream has just been released as part of the Combiner Wars line although – like other Leader class figures we’ve picked up, such as Megatron and Ultra Magnus — he’s a standalone toy who doesn’t participate in the combining gimmick. Originally built for the Generations line as Jetfire (complete with some of the nastiest red metallised plastic weapons I’ve seen), the mold was remodelled for Combiner Wars and first released as Thundercracker. I was pretty sold on Thundercracker after reading FigureFan Zero’s great review of him; and seeing the blue Seeker in the plastic at Auto Assembly only confirmed those positive first impressions. It’s quite refreshing that Hasbro released Thundercracker first this time, giving the most intelligent Seeker a bit of love and some time in the spotlight.  But a red and grey recolour was inevitable and fangirl that I am, I decided to resist the temptation of Thundercracker and wait for another Starscream to add to my collection.  Was he worth the wait? Read on and see…

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Chiptune Tuesday: Starscream / Infinity Shred

Yes, it’s that time of the week again when things get bleepy and bloopy! But here’s a band that eschew the retro stylings of most chiptune artists. Rather than looking back to the 80s and early gaming technology that gave birth to their 8-bit instruments, Starscream/Infinity Shred have their sights set firmly on the future and on the infinite possibilities of space.

Starscream / Infinity Shred band logo

Starscream / Infinity Shred band logo

But first up, some disambiguation since this is a band who’ve had some identity issues. Starscream were founded in 2007, initially a two-piece chiptune outfit, comprising Damon Hardjowirogo and George Stroud, they were later joined by guitarist Nathan Ritholz. The band played and recorded under their Seeker-sational moniker until 2012 when they changed their name to Infinity Shred. The reason for the renaming wasn’t, as you might expect, a lawsuit from Hasbro, but actually legal pressures from another band, the Philadelphian rockers Starskream. The name change also signaled an evolution in the band’s sound, maintaining their signature downbeat science-fiction themes but beginning to move away from purely 8-bit/chip music to explore wider electronic soundscapes. They now describe themselves as Electronic / Rock / Post-Rock rather than  chiptune per se. Although I strongly encourage you to check out their whole back catalogue, I’m mostly going to talk about the band as Starscream not just because we find it hard to pass up a good Transformers reference here on AddAltMode (although we do), but primarily due to the fact that I’ll be focusing my attention on my favourite of their albums, which dates from the Starscream era, 2011’s Future, Towards the Edge of Forever.

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Toy Customisation: Beast Hunters Starscream to TFA-ish Slipstream

Hey there, it’s AddAltModeB here, and I’ve been at the workbench for a bit to make something a little bit special for our display cabinet of toy robots: something specifically for AddAltModeR, who I should remind you has been known to dress like this:

Photo credit: Damian Pudner

Photo credit: Damian Pudner

Now, regular readers will know that we at AddAltMode are very fond of Slipstream: AddAltModeR has been building a cosplay of the character for some time, and I felt that Slipstream’s absence from our toy-shelf was a glaring omission, made only slightly more excusable by her extreme rarity (the only released of this character is a collector’s club exclusive.).

I’d had my mind on this project for a while before starting it, but I decided I had to finish it completely in time for AddAltModeR’s birthday (today). The plan was to create a custom Slipstream toy out of a Starscream mold – preferably one that’s not already in AddAltModeR’s collection of Starscreams. I had a mold in mind, and I knew that the mold I was thinking of had already been used for this purpose by some fellow Shapeways users – who had done a great big chunk of the work for me already…

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Starscream Saturday!

If you were only allowed to keep and collect one single character from Transformers who would it be?

B got quite distressed when I asked him that question and said he couldn’t bear to think about it, but eventually he conceded if that if he had to go all Highlander and there really could be only one he would pick Ultra Magnus. B is a big Ultra Magnus fan. Me? I’d choose Starscream. At this point you’d be forgiven for wondering how the two of us have managed to remain happily married for almost 7 years when our world views are clearly a little disparate…. Let’s just say that opposites attract and that taste in transforming robots thankfully doesn’t map neatly onto real world behavioural traits.

Anyway, the nice thing about Transformers is how un-Highlander the franchise is. Even limiting things to just one character doesn’t mean you have to have just one figure or even one uniform look. One of the things I like about Starscream is that he’s had quite a few different looks in the various shows, comics and game lines but whether blocky or sleek he’s always unmistakably himself.

Team Scream

Team Scream: my Starscream collection

I don’t have a huge Starscream collection by any means, but he is the single character of whom I have the most different figures, and I just added a new one (new to me, but actually an older toy) Voyager Transformers Animated Starscream, so this seems like a good excuse to officially name this #StarscreamSaturday and talk a little about the figures I have got.

So read on for Screamery goodness…. or villainy, really, I guess. Which is like the opposite of goodness.

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The Many Faces of Starscream: Top 15 Expressive Moments in Transformers Prime

You there! Read this highly informative article.

You there! Read this highly informative article.

Ah, Starscream. Likeable? No. Loveable? Absolutely. I’m fond of pretty much all the incarnations of the Decepticons’ reluctant Number Two. Indeed, in terms of personality he’s a remarkably consistent character: the precise mix of ambition Vs cowardice and genuine Machiavellian scheming Vs overblown melodrama varies between incarnations but the mix itself is always there. I’d have a hard time choosing my favourite Starscream overall, but if I were forced to at null-ray point I would probably go with Transfomers Prime Screamer (brilliantly voiced by Steve Blum). Why? Mostly because Eyebrows! Uh, I mean, mostly because, as I’ve already noted, the detailed style of this show’s animation really allows the creators to have fun with the robots’ facial expressions. Starscream is surely the most emotional and dramatic of all Prime‘s cast and the show brings him memorably to life.

Let’s revisit this show. Here’s a list of his finest faces that I spent waaaay too much time compiling. Enjoy! WARNING: contains spoilers for all 3 seasons of TF Prime.

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