Have I mentioned Fan Expo recently? (I have a suspicion that I have, in fact, mentioned the approach of Fan Expo more than once or twice.)
And here it is, the three-day event that I have been aiming at with all of the Derek upgrading.
This year the three days of Fan Expo began on a Saturday, and we had designated the first day as reconnaissance. Except for Middle Kid, who had arranged to meet some friends in Cosplay as Lucius from “Our Flag Means Death”.
Not having prepared a cosplay for myself, I threw together a Ninth Doctor outfit, but that has the disadvantage of looking like…regular clothing. I mean, not regular clothing that I would wear, but it’s tricky to spot that I’m dressed up, unless you know me. Look, here’s the real thing:
I looked just like this, except for the Christopher Ecclestone bit. No one noticed. As you might expect, the Saturday was busy, and we were glad we hadn’t brought Derek – there wasn’t room for him to move around the hall. I checked out the Droid Builders’ club.
I always forget how big R2 units are in real life. Definitely not building one of those.
Another great stand was the one for Bucketheads, a fan-made tv series about a group of Stormtroopers – Nova Squad. After visiting the stand, I was lucky enough to run into Victoria Souter, who plays Sgt Nomi Coven.
You can catch the first episode of Bucketheads on YouTube, but I would recommend checking out the Prologue and Episode Two as well. The series is made on a voluntary basis – no one is getting paid, they’re all giving their time and expertise out of love of the story. They’re film industry professionals, not surprising, given that we live in Hollywood North. They also use local 501st members, which means the armour is SPOT ON.
Day Two : Day of the Derek
I have this terrible paranoia about arriving at places like the Vancouver convention center and not being able to park. So we were supposed to leave early and rendezvouz with the rest of the family at 9.30. Of course, we left late, but we had all the pieces of Derek, and all of Mrs Dim’s costume, AND we met up in the parking lot where there WAS a space.
Five years ago, Derek threw a wheel on his way into his first ever convention. This year he rolled into the convention center under his own power, with sound effects playing at random on a track specially prepared by Middle Kid.
We had to stop over and over again, even before we got inside:
Just as people had been reassuring me all this time, no one noticed the myriad of small imperfections that were nagging at me. People flocked to see Derek, to laugh as he waved his plunger at them, to ask over and over “Is there someone in there?” Up to now, I haven’t really had a good answer to give to that one, but this I could say “Why don’t you ask Derek?” People did, and Derek said “No.”, which was perfect.
Sunday was just busy enough to have plenty of people coming through the doors, but quiet enough for us to roll down the aisle that had all the celebs signing photographs. That meant we got to see the big name visitors, like Sean Gunn, Sean Astin, Anthony Daniels, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner and so on, and they got to see us (which is really why they came, after all.)
Although we’d arrived mid-morning and hadn’t expected to stay more than a couple of hours, it was past 4pm before we were ready to pack up and go.
I was done, really, because nothing was going to top the previous day’s fun. However, Youngest Kid had not had a chance to air their cosplay, and they needed someone to go with them because visibility in the headpiece was limited:
Unfortunately, the sword was made from too much baseball bat for the security check (we only used the handle, but that was too much) but once again, people didn’t care. We didn’t stay very long, having only a couple of things to pick up, but we stopped for a lot of pictures. I only got the one.
For a long time I’ve been heading towards Fan Expo, avoiding thinking about other things because I wanted to make sure I got all the stuff done on time. Now that it’s done, there’s time and headspace for all the other things – taxes, planning vacations, maybe even try writing something.
When the dust has really settled, there are a few more tweaks I’m thinking of for Derek, but maybe we don’t have a deadline closer than 17th Feb 2024 – the next Fan Expo Vancouver.
It’s my day off again, but with Mrs Dim going back to work, there’s no lazy lie in for me. And that’s a good thing, because FanExpo Vancouver is only two weeks away, and I have a lot to do. Most of Mrs Dim’s costume is done:
This photo is actually a little behind the times, since I have completed and painted the toe caps (the white thing in the front of the picture) and I also managed to produce the apron/skirt thing:
If all this is looking a bit weird, maybe I should post the picture of what we’re aiming at:
I’m left with the belt and boot tops to produce (the gauntlets came in the post the other day, and can be used for gardening after Fan Expo is over, much to Mrs Dim’s delight.)
For Tiny Weasel, I have to produce the character pictured at the top of the post. That’s Hollow Knight. Tricky as it may seem, I already have the helmet, made for a past Fan Expo but never used. I also made the sword. Today’s real task is coming up with the cloak. I had a plan for that, but then I decided to do my research properly and I’m having to rethink things. At rest, the cloak looks like a leaf:
But in motion, as at the top, it’s lots of separate…what? Tentacles? Strips? Anyway, Tiny Weasel has had the material and the sewing machine for a fortnight and hasn’t touched either of them, so I guess it’s down to me. Luckily, Derek the Dalek looks like this:
He has a working voice box, sound-reactive undersill lighting, and a compressed air canister to squirt out of his gun. He doesn’t need any more work, just a test run when Eldest Weasel comes over for brunch on Sunday.
For once, I’m glad I don’t have a costume to wear. Life is busy enough!
It feels like the last fifteen years have been filled with positive messages about failure. My generation seem to have arrived at our peak (ahead at work, senior in many things, making decisions for our communities) and taken time to reassure one another that failure is a part of the process. That if you’re not failing, you’re not trying.
As a juggler, I’m very familiar with that kind of mindset. We used to say “A drop is a sign of improvement” and “a touch is as good as a catch” and other such encouraging things. We meant them too.
But it occurs to me now, sitting in my job’s break room, thinking about the debt I have tied up in my house, that we only risk failure willingly when the stakes are not high. No one was forcing me to learn to juggle. Although I tried to make it into a business, nothing major hung on it. I wanted to make a living from juggling, or teaching juggling, but when I couldn’t, I went out and got a regular job. You MIGHT say I failed
Following my own logic, then, I should be willing to risk failure in my hobbies. Eager, even, since there are no real consequences, and no one to disappoint. I can carry on mucking about with upgrading Derek the Dalek and no one minds if it takes ages and goes off the rails from time to time. Right?
Well, no. There’s me. Although the stakes may not be high in terms of life or death, lose the house, bankrupt the family, I DO feel there are stakes involved. Derek earns nothing for the family. We have fun parading him around, but every dollar I spend on him is a sunk cost. The next stage of the upgrade is making a cast of the 3d print I just did of the front half of his shoulders (see picture above). If I get this bit right, we can replace the wood and hardboard construction of his shoulder section with lighter but just as strong fibre glass, giving Laurel much more room inside to work his various functions. But the gear for casting has cost $150. Just making the front half on the printers has cost at least $60. I’ve never done any casting before, and right here is where I am suffering my greatest fear of failure. The next step I take might wreck some of the supplies. I might use too much and have to buy more. I might even get as far as producing the mold, and then get the casting bit wrong. There are SO MANY opportunities to get this wrong and waste money I don’t have, and yet the outcome if it all goes right it just people going “Hey, that looks pretty much the same from outside.”
Mrs Dim sometimes says she doesn’t understand why I have hobbies that make me angry or depressed, but the truth is, it’s not the hobby, it’s ME. I want to do this thing, like fitting Derek’s speech box, and I muck it up. I might not even know HOW I mucked it up, but I do know I’m not learning anything from the experience other than that I can’t trust myself to get these jobs right. I’m fifty now, and I think the real fear of failure is that I can’t learn a new skill, can’t master something I didn’t spend time on before.
I don’t want to be afraid of trying, but I really, really don’t want to screw this stuff up.
So far we haven’t taken Derek out of town. The Vancouver FanExpo is small but mighty, and we have loved the two visits Derek has made there. In the background, however, was this idea that maybe we should be looking to keep moving up, with the eventual aim of going to the Mother of All Comicons, San Diego.
Just a couple of hours across the border, Seattle hosts the Emerald City Comic Convention. This year they announced that David Tennant was going to be attending, along with Billie Piper. A few years ago, the Weasels went all the way out to Edmonton to get a photo with David Tennant.
Mrs Dim and I decided we might head out to Seattle, take the photo with us, and get our picture taken with their picture, and then challenge them to get another picture holding our picture…. Well, it was a great plan. Unfortunately, once the Weasels heard about our plan, they decided they should come too, and bring Derek…
Derek has been upgraded somewhat, thanks to the 3d printers and the Raspberry Pi, but we hadn’t had more than a brief try out with all the kit in the basement. The biggest addition was the hoverboard that Mrs Dim found, which allowed Eldest Weasel to move Derek around without having to flap her feet like Fred Flintstone.
With Derek taking up the whole of the back of Magda the Mazda, the Weasels has to drive themselves to Seattle, but we managed to arrive at the same car park beside the convention center. Assembling Derek as easy, thanks to experience…
But then we ran into an issue that we’ve not had to deal with before, which Seattle may need to look at. To get to the elevator for the convention center, Derek had to go down some stairs. Derek can not go down stairs. Despite the fact that we were parked next to a disabled parking spot, the only access to the elevator without stairs was down the “NOT FOR PEDESTRIANS” ramp. Only to find we couldn’t get into the convention center that way. We had to go find an employee to point out the ADA compliant entrance.
It’s a good job we don’t believe in omens. We trundled Derek into the center itself and stacked him up with Eldest Weasel in the driving seat.
Try as we could, we couldn’t position the speaker in a way that prevented feedback whenever we tried to use the Raspberry Pi voice-changer. The Pi worked, but the feedback drowned the dalek voice. We disconnected it, and hooked up a phone with pre-recorded phrases instead. Voice changer next time. The hoverboard was working, though, so we trundled forward, into the convention at last.
Derek was a sensation. From the moment he rolled into the the first hall, he was mobbed by people admiring him, asking for photos, for details of construction, for confirmation that someone was inside.
Eldest Weasel makes Derek come alive, but even when she stepped out for a chance to tour the halls and Derek was simply standing sentinel, he attracted admirers. It was just so much fun to see people genuinely light up when they saw him.
When Eldest Weasel returned we had our biggest challenge: We had to make our way from the convention center to the Hyatt Regency. Out on the actual streets of Seattle.
All the photo sessions were taking place in the Hyatt, so we were making our way there along with other convention goers, and passed by others on their way back to the convention. We were stopped for photographs as we went, and Derek’s hoverboard proved equal to the challenge of the streets. Even so, Derek’s driver found the process quite tiring, and was relieved to unstack in the Hyatt for a bit of a rest.
Even after everything we’d seen that day, the look on their faces as we rolled through the curtain – well, Derek rolled – it was amazing. So much so that I apparently nearly forgot to get into the photo myself.
Derek made it to Emerald City in style, and he wowed the crowds and the celebrities. We still have more upgrades planned, more work to do, but as he is, Derek is just fine.
You may be familiar with Derek the dalek from earlier posts – he’s a project I embarked on thanks to my eldest kid, who has always been the chief Whovian of the family. We built Derek for a Vancouver Fan Expo, and he nearly worked. Then we rebuilt him for the last Fan Expo before the Great Pandemic, and he was something of a triumph.
But, like a lot of the things I have built over the years, he has his issues. Assembled from scrap wood and bondo and papier mache and more bondo and lots and lots and lots of paint, he’s really HEAVY. He’s hard to pack into the car, even though he comes to pieces, and he’s hard to wheel around. Mrs Dim has been suggesting for ages that we make him lighter, but I simply didn’t know how.
But then, the other day, we were talking about how to store Derek somewhere less obtrusive than the basement. Maybe he could go out in a shed? I immediately designed a TARDIS that would accommodate him, and would cost a couple hundred bucks less than the cheapest shed, but Mrs Dim said no. So I went to the Project Dalek Forum to look for alternatives.
I didn’t find any. I find a complete set of files for a life-size 3D printed Dalek, the same model as Derek.
WHAT IF WE REPLACED SOME OF THE HEAVIER PARTS WITH 3D PRINTS?
See, I have TWO 3D printers, thanks to an accident of fate.
Neither has a particularly large print bed, and I’m stingy with buying PLA, so I rearely have more than one full roll at a time, but still…
I decided to start with the dome, printing a new bottom edge to sharpen up the lines on Derek’s dome.
This looked like it was going to take ages! But once I had a few of those blue edge pieces printed, I couldn’t resist printing the next part up, just to see what it would look like. The red part in the picture took 8 hours to print, and wiped out the last of the PLA I had for that printer. But it looks great!
Which is where I am now. That hole you can see should be filled tonight, and then I need to order more PLA so I can continue. Two more edge pieces and one more curved piece, and I am halfway round the dome! Slow going, yes, but faster than the way we built the original dome, and way, way, waaaaaay lighter!
I want to complete the dome, print a new neck section, and preferably a new set of shoulders too. All of those are heavy elements, and none are weight bearing. If we can trade them for 3d printed versions, they’ll make Derek lighter and easier to move, as well as being more accurate and having cleaner lines.
3D printing a life-size dalek sounds crazy, but so did building one when I didn’t have access to a 3D printer. We did a great job with Derek Mark 1, and a better job with Derek Mk 2. This is just Derek Mk 3, the same axe with perhaps a new handle and a new head, but the same axe nonetheless.
Publicity is a tricky thing. A lot of social media is people carefully trying to sell you their stuff, without looking like they’re trying to sell you anything at all. Influencers call this “your brand”, or your “author platform”, and some people are better at it than others, like most things in life.
My own experience with selling my stuff (ie, plays, ebooks and whatnot) online is that I am not good at talking myself up. I like the things I have written, am often quite proud of them, but it just doesn’t feel right to shout “My stuff is great! Buy it!” without at least adding “Of course, you may disagree, and there’s lots of other great stuff out there which may suit your needs better, I would perfectly understand if you want some time to compare and contrast and make an informed decision…”
This is NOT a great advertising strategy.
The trouble is, if you’re going to build a brand online, you need to be consistent. If you’re going to be consistent, you have two choices. The first is to invent the person you’re going to be, and stick rigidly to that persona whenever you post ANYTHING AT ALL. The second is to be yourself, and admit that sometimes that might not be great for everybody. This is why we see actors or authors get slammed for having political opinions online. We think we want to get to know the real person, but often there are doors we don’t want opened, or illusions we want to keep intact.
Part of who I am is the self-deprecating, anxious, uncertain person who feels it’s wrong to brashly boast of your brilliance. Certainly you won’t find me quoting reviews of my stuff on Twitter where I refer to myself in the third person (I have seen authors do this, and it looks weird.)
Anyway, this is a roundabout way of saying, when I finally got “Even More Cosplay Disasters” fixed for the third time and published for the second time, I was all out of enthusiasm for doing any publicity at all. I’d done a little for the first publication, and luckily it had fallen flat, because the book had NOT been properly published, and anyone who bought it would only have been able to download the cover.
I thought I might try and interest the local papers, but writing a press release is really just talking about yourself in the third person again, so instead I wrote directly to the reporter for the local paper (Janis Cleugh of the Tri City News) and asked if she might be interested in the story of a playwright who builds strange helmets and props with his daughter. She was, and she came round to interview me and my Eldest Weasel, as well as taking a very nice picture. She was kind enough to mention the books, as well as being very thorough in her questioning (best of all, she didn’t ask “Why the hell do you bother with all this tosh?”, which is Mrs Dim’s favourite question.)
Sales of the books have not gone through the roof, so as an advertising stunt, it hasn’t achieved its aim. On the other hand, I did take a positive step towards marketing, and it was a different one to the ones I’ve done before. We got a nice picture out of it, if nothing else, and the article seems to have spurred Eldest Weasel on to fixing up Derek the Dalek for the next Fan Expo.
Even though the last Fan Expo Vancouver was only in October, they decided to do it again in March. So, the chances of us renovating poor old Derek the Dalek in time were remote. I had already ceded the job to Mrs Dim and Eldest Weasel, but the latter wandered off to New Zealand for a month, and the former had great ideas but no time. Maybe we’ll take Derek along to Fan Expo 2020. MAAAAAYBE.
Anyway, I’d built a “Tobias Beckett” from “Solo” costume, including sewing the coat from scratch (well, from bedsheets, but you get the idea.) Eldest Weasel spruced up her Time Lord outfit, Middle Weasel made her own mask to go as SallyFace (Look, I have no idea, and every time she explains it, my eyes glaze over and I can’t bear it.) Tiny Weasel had two ideas she worked on for a month, then on the morning of the event, she changed her mind and chose Vanya Hargreeves from ‘The Umbrella Academy”. She looked great, too.
We arrived far too early (I was paranoid after parking trouble last time) so the halls were very sparsely populated. That made for excellent opportunities to check out the vendors, and as always there were some fantastic artists and creators there.
But this year I took the plunge and went and had my photo taken with the 501st. They have nice backdrops and awesome costumes (hence the helmet envy of the title). I don’t think I’ll ever apply to join – they work really hard for charities, and their outfits cost a lot of money, but they are a lovely bunch of people.
As is traditional, I’ll close with all the other photos I took – just a fraction of the wonderful costumes people wore. Looking forward to the next one – with Derek in tow, I swear!
Back in February or March, my Eldest Weasel said “Hey Dad, can we build a full-size Dalek to take to Fan Expo?” It didn’t seem like a completely crazy idea, because the Fan Expo is usually in November, and with Eldest helping me, it would be a breeze.
Since my usual efforts in building don’t go beyond the odd helmet (some of which are very odd…)
..Maybe I would have to actually…you know..do this properly. To that end, I got in touch with the Project Dalek Forum.
The PDF is a great group of builders who make daleks from every era of Doctor Who, including the movies. They have plans that have measurements for every aspect of the build, and within a few days of registering with them, I had a complete set of plans myself. Yay! Here we go!
But I know me, so let’s start out simply, using cardboard. After all, building a life-size dalek is going to take a lot of materials, and I want to know I can get it right.
Cardboard is easy, and it gave me a false sense of security. I knocked up the base and the panels in no time, and because they only had to be secured with duct tape, it was easy to do. Then we decided to make the real thing out of wood.
I measured the base on a piece of wood. Eldest came home and measured it again, correcting my measurements. Then I checked hers and changed them again. Then we took an average of the three measurements and cut it out.
Well, that looks fine. Let’s stick the wheels on it.
Brilliant! Except, of course, you have to make the bit with the wheels on separate from the “skirt”, because the bit with the wheels on is called the bumpers, and it’s the widest. If you make it detachable, you can fit your dalek through doorways, which is important.
So we have to make another base for the skirt. But we don’t have another piece of wood big enough. Never mind, we’ll use these planks. There has to be a hole in the middle anyway, so Eldest can get her feet through and pedal.
Yeah, not as pretty. Then we cut out the panels from some kind of plywood. It was not successful. We decided to ignore the results, and use foamcore board, which we could cut to size in place. And stick together with tape. First, we have to get the top of the skirt fitted at the right height. That involved math.
Before we clad the skirt, I had a brainwave and installed a small seat, because who wants to shuffle around inside a dalek without taking a break now and then?
Once the panels were on, it started to look quite convincing.
Of course, the problem was that this was pretty good. And the next bit was the shoulders, which were very complicated. I needed a good whack of free time to build them, and yet the phrase “I need time to work on my dalek” cuts absolutely no ice in this household, I can tell you. I tried making a mock up in cardboard, but ended up making a muck up in cardboard. A lot of useful time passed.
When the chance came along, I made the base plate for the shoulders, and the circular plate for the top. Then I had to cut out the four pieces that would delineate the slope of the body. I looked at the plans. I looked at the wood. I looked at the plans. I went away and looked in the fridge for more beer. When there was no more beer, I had to just go ahead and cut something out.
And this, believe it or not, was the easy bit. Because the next bit was cladding the shoulders, and for that we had to soak two enormous sheets of hardboard, and then clamp them into place so they dried in the right shape. This was not easy.
See those clamps? They are almost all the clamps I own, and the only ones the right size for doing this job.
While I had been wrestling with the shoulders, Eldest Weasel had been adding the bumpers to the bumpers, so we could stack up the bumpers, the skirt and the shoulders, and stick a weasel inside. Not bad!
That white blob on the skirt was a hemisphere of styrofoam. They are light, cheap, and easy to attach. But you can’t spray paint them, because they melt. If you coat them with, well, almost anything, you get the results pictured above. We needed to find sixty hemispheres that would NOT do this. But not right then.
The next job would be building the gun boxes. Some people build them as one unit, but because of the way I’d built the shoulders, it made more sense* to build them separately. My issues with measuring came to the fore again (or the three?), and required a lot of filling, sanding and re-cutting to try and get the gun boxes to be any kind of accurate. Since the next logical thing would be to cut into the now dry and shaped shoulders to fit the gunboxes, I decided to build the dome.
The dome is not a perfect hemisphere, so I got Eldest to cut multiple silhouettes and form the dome that way. Then we covered that with card, then paper mache, then wallboard filler. Later, we slapped some fibre glass on there too.
Now we had the dome, it became necessary to build the second most complex part of the dalek – the neck rings. There are three rings – one sits right on top of the shoulders, then two more are suspended by eight uprights, and the dome sits on top. At the intersections of each ring and the uprights are neck blocks – so, 24 of those. Cutting out the rings was tricky, as was cutting all eight uprights to the right length, but this was nothing – NOTHING – compared with trying to glue those uprights in place. because, you see, all three rings slotted into cutouts on the uprights, and the rings decrease in diameter as they go up, so you can’t put one on and then do the others. All eight uprights had to be glued to all three rings at once. How did I do that? I have no idea. And, unsurprisingly, there are no photos of me doing it because I didn’t have enough hands to do the job, let alone photograph me doing it. Here’s the damn thing done:
Ok. So now we see how big the final thing is. And it actually looks like a dalek. In this picture, you can also see the upper collar at the top of the shoulders. Professionals used more damp hardboard for this and the lower collar, but I tried that. After being smacked in the face by damp hardboard three times in a row, I cracked and bought two camping mats from the dollar store and used them (they’re made from thin EVA foam, smooth to the touch and easy to glue.)
See the lower collar in place here.
Now the lower collar was in place, there were no more excuses for avoiding putting the gunboxes in. And let me skate lightly over the process for that, because if fitting the neck cage together was the hardest thing ever, putting the gunboxes in comes a close second. It should have just been “cut two holes and slide ’em in”, but no, the shape of the holes got weirder and weirder to accommodate the gunboxes, and eventually I got them seated, but had lots of tidying up to do. The logical response was to paint the whole area with some spare housepaint to try and get it to look like one unit.
I’d love to say that this was where we began to sprint for the finish, but the honest truth is that this is the point where we had six weeks of visitors, and dalek production slowed to a crawl. I mean, they were great visitors, and we even put some of them to work producing Derek’s ears:
But it was slow going. We produced a lot of “slats” from EVA flooring foam, then glued them in place.
We made lots of neck blocks and sprayed them the right colour.
We bravely cut into the dome and built the “cowl” to house the eyestalk. The parts we needed for the eyestalk were too tricky to build ourselves, so we go them 3d printed and sent to us.
That left putting together the two most iconic parts of the dalek, the plunger and the gun (or egg-whisk, if you prefer). The gun was hardest, requiring wire bending and stuff…
The plunger arm was an old shower curtain rod, or something similar, and I made the plunger itself from EVA foam. I don’t know why. Perhaps, by this point, I just felt the difficult way was the only way to do things.
And that was the main work done, right?
Well, not quite – we bought a LOT of DIY Christmas Baubles from a craft store and sprayed them, and glued sticks inside them to attach them to the skirt. There is a rotation mechanism inside the dome, but it was rudimentary and did not work smoothly. The eyestalk was raised and lowered by means of ( I kid you not) a piece of string. Dalek dialogue and sounds were on an MP3 player with a separate speaker, and the ears lit up because they were LEDs stolen from two flashlights and wired up using Dim’s Patented Home Electrics Method (not recommended to anyone, ever, under any circumstances.)
Derek was ready for the Fan Expo, which was a good thing, because the Fan Expo was the very next day!
So, we took him to pieces and stuffed him into the car.
We got hm to the Expo and assembled him on the sidewalk outside and were immediately mobbed by people wanting to take his picture and ask “Is it real?” I honestly had no answer prepared for that.
Next, we decided to move towards the entrance and disaster struck. The front wheel snapped off. Derek came to pieces and got moved inside the convention centre, where we made repairs and people once more gathered around him.
When we went to move Derek further into the hall, the wheel failed again, and this time it could not be fixed. Derek stood guard just past the Prop Check area and made a lot of new friends. We have some serious repair work to do, but for now we’re proud of our newest family member, and glad to have had the chance to share him with Fan Expo Vancouver 2018.
*In as much as any of this makes any kind of sense.
Yes! It’s finally launch day for my new e-book, “More Cosplay Disasters”!
In this follow-up volume to “My Cosplay Disasters”, I lay out the method I failed to develop properly to build another four helmets. This time I ruined:
A Captain Rex Clone Trooper Mod
A First Order Stormtrooper Helmet from “The Force Awakens”
Handles the Cyberman Head from Doctor Who
A Deathtrooper helmet from “Rogue One”
Each disaster is neatly laid out (which is more than can be said for my workshop) with accompanying photographs and a detailed account of where I went wrong (often, simply starting the project.)
There are many authors and makers out there who are keen to tell you how to do things right, but I’m pretty much the only person showing you how I do things wrong, thus proving that YOU could do a better job than me if you put your mind to it. Also, that I should have a different hobby.
There’s little doubt that 2016 has been a grim year. We’ve lost folk heroes, rock stars, and a little bit of belief in the fundamental goodness of regular folks. But yesterday we set aside our fears and doubts, and dressed up as someone else for a day. We went to Fan Expo Vancouver 2016.
If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll know we try to go every year. I always intend to dress up, and I never do. Time and again, the Weasels have outshone me with their brilliant outfits, and been photographed over and over.
Gandalf, Pippin and Aragorn save the day!
The same goes for this Nightwing.
My 11th meets a pretty good 4th.
This year, I was ready. Having spent only a short period of time building s Doctor Strange outfit for Halloween, I had spruced up the Shakespearean Vader suit that I built so long ago. I shortened the cloak so I didn’t trip on it. I added extra bling. I was ready.
We didn’t rush in this year – there would be no queuing! Eldest Weasel had booked a photo shoot with her personal Doctor Who idol, Alex Kingston, and that wasn’t until mid-afternoon, so we had a leisurely drive in to downtown, and then we gathered outside the convention centre while Mrs Dim figured out how to exchange our tickets for the wristbands that would get us inside.
Eldest Weasel’s friend came along as Kaylee from Firefly, while Eldest herself had really gone to town on improving her Time Lord Headdress.
Middle Weasel was Quicksilver (somewhat ironic, given her tendency to avoid moving whenever possible) and Tiny Weasel was Frisk from Undertale. You know, Undertale? the Game? No, me neither.
Attending Fan Expo in costume was wildly different from going in regular clothes. For one thing, I was stopped quite often so people could take photos of or with me. For another, I couldn’t actually see very much. My breath fogged up the eyepieces after about four minutes, and Mrs Dim had to guide me through the halls. I was glad she’d chosen a white jacket for the day, as it was easy to follow the white blur. Only once did it turn out to be the WRONG white blur….
From an atmosphere of fear and hate (through the internet news and the reactions of friends and family) we found ourselves in a place of acceptance and encouragement. Fans can be sticklers for details, vocally critical of the film industry when details are altered for a movie, or when a beloved character is treated badly for plot purposes. But I heard no criticisms of any of the costumed characters at the Expo. There was open admiration, compliments, applause, and , of course, photographs. Prominently displayed in the convention centre and the nearby hotel were signboards with the “Cosplay is not consent” policy clearly laid out. Some female characters wear skimpy outfits, and those that chose to dress as those characters could have no fear that they would risk assault for that choice.
Respect. Inclusion. Honest fun. Pursuit of interests for the joy they bring, not the financial gain.
It was a delight to step into this world, and imagine the one we live in coming back to these values one day.