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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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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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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Mismatch: A figure custom inspired by Transformers Universe: Part 3

A long time ago, I posted about customising a toy into Mismatch, the cannibalistic Decepticon from defunct MMO Transformers Universe. I’d been too involved in other projects to make much progress, but recently I’ve been back to it. Here’s a fresh picture before I go into the final stages.

At the back, you can see another TFU-related project underway...

Mismatch in car mode, mostly painted. Inset: Mismatch’s custom head.

Mismatch in Car Mode, from his trailer.

Mismatch in Car Mode, from his trailer.

Actually, it’s been a bit of a struggle to get all of the yellow parts covered: Not all of them are easily accessed without extensive dismantling. Some customisers prefer to do this, and I’m beginning to see the wisdom in this method.

Another thing that became apparent when as I worked on this project was that I could have made a better choice of starting figure: there was a black re-deco of this mould released as “Night Shadow Bumblebee“. If I’d planned better from the start, I’d have picked up one of these along side the yellow mould that I did get, and used the grey parts from standard Bumblebee with the black parts from the Night Shadow version, I’d have only needed to paint the green bits. Still, this was my first heavy customisation project, so it has been educational.


Mismatch is well on his way to completion: I’ve just got to paint a few more areas, ink in a few details, push his new head into place and give him a faction symbol (sticker) a quick coat of lacquer. I’m hoping to finish him in a couple of weeks.

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 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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Mismatch: A figure custom inspired by Transformers Universe: Part 2

I should really get around to reading MTMTE...

This is the image result I got from Googling “Transformers Robot Education”.
…I should really get around to reading MTMTE…

So, I posted a while back that I’d be working on a modded toy to represent Mismatch from Transformers Universe. Having 3d-printed the parts, built the rollcage from plastic rods, and removed some no-longer-necessary Bumblebee parts, I’m beginning to see some results. All that really needs to be done is to paint it all and put it together. The process has been educational.

I’ve learned quite a lot about the craft of toy customisation, (mostly about paint, to be honest) which I’m going to share alongside sharing the photos of the work in progress.

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TFA Slipstream Cosplay work in progress 2: Blasters!

What have I been up to on the costume-making front in the past couple of weeks? Quite a lot actually! So let’s talk guns shall we?

Now we're talking!

Now we’re talking!

Guns, blasters – you might have noticed I was calling them null-rays in previous posts on this topic. Null-rays are the iconic Seeker weapon and the guns that Starscream and all his clones – including the lovely Slipstream – are packing in TFA look pretty similar to how the null-rays look in other incarnations of the franchise, such as in the War for Cyberton game. But, having done some digging, apparently it’s not confirmed that the TFA guns are null-rays. It’s one of those (many) inconsistently signposted Transformers things. As TFWiki summarise it:

There is some confusion as to precisely what weapons Starscream has… His toy packaging declares that he has “twin sonic shock blasters” rather than the null-rays of his Generation 1 counterpart, while a bio on the Hasbro website declares that Animated Starscream does have null-rays… while otherwise being a direct copy of the press release text, which doesn’t mention them anywhere.

So yeah, confusion, controversy. “Twin sonic shock blasters” just doesn’t roll off the tongue like “null-ray”does, But whatever the hell these things are called, I needed to make some for Slipstream, and here’s how I’ve been getting on!

Slipstream gun unpainted build

Slipstream gun unpainted build

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