Air Expo 2017

On July 15, 2017, I joined the Minnesota Force for day one of the Air Expo. Pilot characters were requested, so of course the best pilot in the Resistance had to be there!

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Costumers, from left to right: Amanda Fineran, Katherine Hickman, Kris Heding, Alex Hall, Lindsey Rae, Phil Glover, Aaron Weiss, Nick Hickman, James Douthitt, and Steve Fuchs.

Our group!

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Costumers, from left to right: Lindsey Rae, Kris Heding, Katherine Hickman, Nick Hickman, James Douthitt, Aaron Weiss, and Alex Hall.

The pilot of this plane wanted a photo of us, so we obliged, of course!

One of the coolest things was being able to sit in the cockpit of a couple of older planes. I’ve never sat in the cockpit before, and it was AWESOME.

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Costumers: Lindsey Rae and Kris Heding.

Lindsey and I had a blast taking photos inside the cockpits. Maybe we’ll see Rey and Poe co-piloting in “The Last Jedi” or Episode IX? (I hope so, at least.)

It was a really fun event, and seeing all of the cool vintage airplanes was incredible.

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CONvergence 2017

Are you ready for an onslaught of posts? I hope so, because it’s coming. I’m playing catch-up from my hiatus, and it’s gonna be a doozy!

CONvergence was AWESOME, as usual. I was really busy this year, and while everything I did was fun, I’m not sure I’ll pack my schedule so tightly next year.

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Thursday, I dressed as General Hux. The “Generally Angry” ribbons were a huge hit, and people were very excited to tell me why Kylo Ren is a punk-ass bitch.

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Coffee, blacker than Hux’s heart. (Just kidding – I drank it with cream and sugar.)

Thursday night was my first time working in the Mos Icee Cantina party room (hosted by the Minnesota Force). I was in charge of grinding up the ice for sno-cones. I donned a very cute apron, too. It was a lot of fun working in the cantina! We were really busy.

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Costumers: Paul Haga and Kris Heding.

Hux is not putting up with Kylo’s crap.

Friday was the “Ladies of Star Wars” panel, which I think went pretty well. We had a full room, which was awesome!

After the panel, I changed into my Poe Dameron costume and headed to the Star Wars meetup. The photo on the left is all three Poe’s that were there (photo by Annalie Munnings Morgan), and the photo on the right was a shot of the Good Guys (photo by Pari Bailey). We had such a huge group, it was nearly impossible to get everyone in the shot.

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Costumers: Bri Kerschner and Kris Heding.

My friend Bri debuted her Hera Syndulla costume! It turned out awesome!

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Costumers: Kris Heding and Paul Haga.

And I had to try and take out Kylo Ren, of course. (Bless Paul’s heart – he’s always willing to take stupid photos with me.)

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I found a tasty beverage in the bar over at the Sheraton.

Saturday was Rebel, Rebel Princess day, and also masquerade day! I woke up early for orientation, and then headed back a couple of hours later for pre-judging. Then it was back to the hotel room for food and a nap.

Masquerade was really fun, even though I was a nervous wreck. Everyone was so awesome and talented! I didn’t win anything, but that’s okay…I had a lot of fun and the experience was awesome. Lots of cool photos were taken of my time on stage, but the above three are my favorites. Top left was taken by Catherine of the Sea Photography, and the other two were taken by Peter Verrant.

After masquerade, it was time to meet up with friends!


Sunday I had planned on dressing up as Scarlet Witch, but I was just too tired, and we needed to get checked out of the hotel. Before I left CONvergence for the weekend, I found out that the Minnesota Force won an award for “Best Use of Theme” in the party room competition for the Mos Icee Cantina! It’s funny, because we’ve had the same “theme” for many years. Still, it’s nice to win something, right?

I had so much fun, and I can’t wait for next year.

 

MSP ComiCon (SpringCon) 2017

I’m posting this so late – sorry!

A couple of weekends ago I attended MSP ComiCon (SpringCon) at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. It’s a fun two-day convention that’s focused on comics and collectibles, and I volunteered at the Minnesota Force table off and on over the weekend.

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General Hux sees you’re not using a coaster. Photo by Shane Erickson.

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The Dark Side: GRRRR. Photo by John Neitz. (Costumers: Kris Heding, John Neitz)

Saturday night the Minnesota Force was supposed to make an appearance at the St. Paul Saints Star Wars Night, but the game was canceled due to the rain. It rained nonstop all day, and it was so cold. It would have made for a miserable time for everyone, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t sad that the event was canceled. It’s supposed to be rescheduled, so hopefully it will happen sometime in July or August.

On Sunday, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to recreate the photo of Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron sitting in his X-Wing drinking coffee, so I attempted to put on my “If you can’t beat the First Order, seduce them with your wily charms” face and held up my coffee. I’m an idiot.

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Rey and Poe: READY TO KICK ASS. Photo by Lindsey. (Costumers: Lindsey, Kris Heding)

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I love this photo so much. Photo by Lindsey. (Costumers: Lindsey, Kris Heding, Eve Zabronsky, Phil Glover)

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Hanging out with Jedi, like you do. Photo by Ryan Christensen. (Costumers: Kris Heding, Pari Elizabeth, Ryan Christensen, Eve Zabronsky)

I bought fun things, too: General Hux and Captain Phasma “Black Series” figures, a pair of purple Lego lightsaber earrings, and a set of Jabba the Hutt and Salacious B. Crumb plushies. Oh, and a stack of Catwoman series 2 comics. Fun times!

Poe Dameron Wig

There’s a downside to having short, red hair: it doesn’t work with very many characters.

Up until very recently, I went without a wig when I cosplayed as Poe Dameron, which didn’t really sell the character very well. It looked more like General Hux stole Poe’s clothes. (Maybe he did. I don’t know. Poe’s generous with giving people his clothes.)

I found a wig on Arda Wigs’ website that was definitely a good starting point – the Benny Classic in Natural Black.

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Thankfully, Arda Wigs sells wigs that can be heat-styled, so I went to Target and bought some foam rollers and other supplies since I haven’t really had to buy any hairstyling stuff since I was a teenager. I guess that’s what happens when you have short, straight, boring hair.

This is what the wig looked like when I received it:

Definitely more Sherlock than Poe at that point.

The best part of this project was finding reference photos.

Poe DAMNeron, amirite? Ahem. Anyway…

The first thing I did was use a curling iron to kind of straighten out the couple of big curls in the front, since I knew I’d have to curl the hair differently anyway, and it was just easier to start with all of the hair pretty much straightened. Then, I started from the nape of the neck and up, and used the smallest foam rollers to curl the hair. I actually used my Jamberry mini-heater to apply heat to the hair since it’s small, quiet, and doesn’t blow everything around like a hairdryer does.

The wig took really well to the heat, and the foam rollers worked perfectly. It was a long process to curl the hair, but the end result was pretty decent.

When I tried on the wig, though, it looked a little bit like I was an old lady who dyed her hair black. Not quite the look I was going for. I made a few adjustments to the wig by trimming it a little and taming the poofiness in some areas, and ended up with this:

It definitely looked a lot less old lady-ish after that. When I tried it on again, it looked a lot better, but the part was too far over, so I did a little more work to get it just right.

Much better! I did a quick test run with the upper half of my costume just to make sure I looked Poe-ish enough (please disregard my normal cat-eye makeup):

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Not bad. Here’s the before and after:

And here it is in action!

Still has a little more volume than it probably should, but I think it looks pretty decent. It’s weird to see myself with dark hair! I kinda like it.

Wizard World Comic Con Minneapolis 2017

Well, I had a busy weekend attending Wizard World Comic Con in Minneapolis, that’s for sure! I had a pretty great time and got to see a lot of friends and familiar faces.

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All shall bow to the First Order! (Costumers: Kris Heding, Aaron Lilyerd)

On Friday, I worked at the Star Wars booth where we were representing the Minnesota Force, the 501st Legion, the Rebel Legion, Mandalorian Mercs, and Costumers for a Cause. I wore my General Hux costume and Aaron wore his First Order Stormtrooper costume. It was fun!

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Saturday I wore my newly-updated Poe Dameron costume with my new pants, shirt, belt, wig, and blaster! I’m really happy with how everything turned out. The pants are still not quite the color I want, but I think they work just fine. Only downside to the wig is that I wish my actual hair was as thick and voluminous as the wig. Sigh. I attended the Peter Capaldi and John Barrowman Q&A panels, and both were highly entertaining and made me love both of them even more than I already did.

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I got a huge kick out of the action figure packaging backdrop. I’ve always wanted to be an action figure!

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On Sunday, I wore my Scarlet Witch costume, which I’ve only ever worn twice (once at MetaCon last year, and once on Halloween) so I figured I should wear it. With all of the Star Wars costuming events I do, I don’t very often get to wear my other costumes. Anyway, they had giant Hulk and Iron Man statues that I had to take photos with. Because reasons.

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Imagine cool red swirly magic happening between my fingers. I look a lot cooler that way.

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Fighting crime, or just doing some sort of synchronized dance routine? Where’s Star-Lord? We should have a dance-off.

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Again, use your imagination for the cool magic swirly stuff.

All in all it was a great weekend! Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello when I was working at the booth!

Poe Dameron’s EL-16HFE Blaster

When I started putting together my Poe Dameron cosplay early last year, I searched everywhere for a way to make his EL-16HFE blaster, or for someone whom I could commission to make one. I found nothing. Granted, at that time not many people were even attempting to put together this particular costume, but I wasn’t able to find anyone who could track down a blaster, either. That’s why when I’ve worn the costume previously, I’d either go for “post-interrogation/pre-crash on Jakku” Poe with the bloodied-up face, or I’d drag around my little BB-8 with me. But, really…I just wanted to have the blaster so badly.

The search never stopped, and I did find someone on Etsy who was selling 3D printed blasters, but they didn’t have photos of a finished product, and that left me pretty wary. I found a couple of other people who made blasters but they weren’t quite what I wanted, so I passed those up. Finally, I found that Do3D started selling 3D print files of the EL-16 and EL-16HFE blasters (sold together) so I bought the files and commissioned JGPenland Props to print out the blaster for me. He was awesome and sent me update photos all the time showing the progress of the printing (which, for a blaster of this size, took about a week) I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, and I was like a little kid on Christmas. I was so excited to finish it!

Since this was my first major 3D print finishing project, I took the advice from some of the more seasoned prop-finishers in the Minnesota Force and they recommended Bondo Glazing & Spot Putty and Rust-Oleum Filler Primer to smooth out the printing ridges and fill in gaps. I also bought sandpaper in several different grits, and used a couple of metal files I had.

This is how my blaster looked when I brought it home:

Pretty straightforward. Gray. 33″ in length. (I told you it was giant.)

I picked out any pieces of flash that were remaining (not much, though, since Jonathan did a great job of prepping it already) and used Bondo to fill in small gaps and areas where the printing ridges were a bit more severe. I sanded off the extra Bondo and this was how it looked:

Progress!

Over the next couple of days, I sprayed several coats of filler primer on the blaster. Since I live in a rental unit, I don’t have a garage and I can’t really leave things unattended outside because of the neighborhood kids, so once the blaster was no longer tacky, I brought it inside to fully set. Let me just say that even with the windows wide open, the fumes were terrible and I got really nauseated from it. I really should have done a couple more coats, but I just couldn’t deal with the fumes anymore. I used a little wood putty to do a few more touch-ups after the filler primer dried. This is what it looked like after the filler primer and wood putty applications:

All ready for painting!

So…painting! I wasn’t quite sure what colors of paint I’d end up using since the blaster is kind of a mix of various metallic hues, so I went to Michael’s and bought pretty much everything. I’m not kidding:

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Heh. Well, at least they’re pretty inexpensive. The first thing I did was paint the entire blaster with a coat of DecoArt Dazzling Metallics in Shimmering Silver, since that seemed to be kind of the “base” color of the blaster.

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Then, I basically just used a few of the colors I bought:

I thought I’d use more, but those three seemed to do the trick.

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I used various sizes of paintbrushes, and watered down some of the applications depending on the look I was going for. I used paper towels to wipe off excess paint and to help create a weathered look. I used Q-Tips for adding some highlights. Basically, I just took it one section at a time and looked at the few reference photos I had to try and make it look as accurate as possible. It took me about four or five days to paint, but every moment was so much fun!

After the painting was complete, I sprayed the blaster with a couple of coats of matte clear acrylic spray and a coat of matte Mod Podge to help protect the paint. Hopefully that will do the trick.

I now present to you my finished masterpiece!

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Reference photo.

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My finished blaster!

I’m really, really happy with how it turned out. I didn’t expect it to turn out so well, so I’m kind of giddy over the whole thing.

Here are a bunch of photos of the finished project:

I also made a strap for the blaster. I bought some 1 1/4″ cotton webbing in “Moss Green,” a 1 1/4″ gunmetal slide buckle, and two 1 1/4″ gunmetal swivel hooks and made a basic strap. To give it an aged look, I soaked it in a tea dye bath, and when it dried I used small ink pads (like the kind used for rubber stamps) in dark brown and black to dirty it up a little. Then I washed it by hand with some dish soap to soften the look a little.

I actually made two straps – one in Moss Green and one in Khaki because I wasn’t sure which one I’d end up using. I used the Moss Green one, and the photo on the right is what it looks like after “aging” it.

Here it all is together:

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Well, there you have it! My labor of love, my pride and joy…my very own EL-16HFE blaster!

Poe Dameron Pants V2 (AKA Pantsgate 2017)

In the spirit of redoing almost my entire Poe Dameron cosplay, one of the pieces I wanted to redo was the pants. The pants I used originally were pretty close to the right color, but the style wasn’t quite right. I found a pair on eBay that were just about right after a few modifications and some dye. This is what they looked like before I made any modifications:

The things I ended up modifying:

  • Removed the cargo pockets from each leg
  • Removed the back pockets
  • Removed thin belt loops
  • Replaced the buttons on the fly
  • Removed the adjustable buckles on the waist
  • Converted the buttoned belt loops to regular belt loops
  • Created two new belt loops in the front
  • Removed the cinching ties in the leg hems

It sounds like a lot of work, but it didn’t take very long at all. It was mostly taking my seam ripper to everything, and just a little bit of sewing.

This is what they looked like after the modifications:

A lot less “stuff” on them, that’s for sure! That meant only one thing…DYE TIME. I used Rit Liquid Fabric Dye in Dark Brown, because I assumed (and this is where it will come back to bite me later) that the pants were 100% cotton. Why? I have no idea. Because of that assumption, this is what they ended up looking like when they were dyed, washed, and dried:

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The dye only dyed some of the fibers, and the rest were left khaki. If I wasn’t going for a particular color, they would have looked really cool, but…unfortunately they were all wrong. A comparison shot of the before and after:

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I immediately checked the listing on eBay to see if the fiber contents were listed, and it turned out the pants were actually 65% polyester and 35% cotton. Whoops. I purchased a bottle of Rit DyeMore in Chocolate Brown, which is meant for synthetic fabrics. That also meant I needed to borrow my mum’s giant stock pot for some intense stovetop dyeing fun. This is what they looked like after the second round of dyeing:

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Darker, but not quite the dark chocolate brown I was hoping for. Sigh. Here’s the comparison between the original pants, the first round of dyeing, and the second round:

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For the third attempt, I bought a packet of Jacquard iDye Poly in Brown and a packet in Black. I used the entire packet of brown and about 1/3 of the packet of black. I figured the black might help darken the brown a little. The result was more of a dark olive green than I expected:

I’m not really sure what happened. The dye coverage was definitely better with the iDye Poly than the Rit dye, which made me happy. Here’s a comparison of all four iterations of the pants:

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At this point, I’m going to call it good and go with this sort of brownish/olive/whatever color they ended up being.

The plus side of all of this is that the Rit DyeMore and iDye Poly dyes will actually dye plastic buttons and zippers, so I didn’t have to replace the zipper in the pants. I guess that’s something that turned out better than I expected!