Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lady Vadore at Star Wars Celebration

Friday afternoon John and I headed out to Star Wars Celebration VI for my first-ever big cosplay debut. (We dressed as steampunks last Dragon*Con, but that was really minor in comparison!)

Getting there in one piece was the biggest hurdle, since my costume has a lot of accessories with fragile components, and my corset doesn't make for a comfortable car ride. We ended up ducking into an empty corridor and putting most of me together after we arrived at the convention center.

I planned to dress up Friday because the crowds are lighter then than the weekend. That said, even at its most crowded on Saturday SWCVI still had plenty of space on the perimeters of the hall and beyond to get away and take a break. It's also HUGE. Here's the main floor on Saturday afternoon, just above the droid race lanes:

Anyway, within ten steps of donning my mask and goggles I was stopped for photos, and all that practice posing was immediately put to the test! I was stopped about every twenty feet or so, on average, which set a nice leisurely pace.

I've had a lot of people ask about my anxiety combined with the mask & goggles, and whether or not I felt claustrophobic in it all. The truth is I found the head covering extremely calming. It's a kind of  sensory deprivation chamber, which allows me to feel pleasantly detached and safe from my surroundings.

That said, the mask does limit my vision, and I have almost no peripheral. I compensate by turning my head a lot, which made my hair a snarly mess. I'm planning on wrapping the top of my pony tail with ribbon at Dragon*Con to keep it together better.

There weren't too many steampunks there, but we found as many as we could:

Actually, these steampunk Rebel Pilots found me - and quickly surrounded me for a photo.

Steampunk Jedi (on the right above) and Storm Trooper.

Another thing about having no peripheral vision is that I never knew how close someone was beside me. And if both of us had helmets on, this resulted in some pretty funny spacing issues:

John asked to take our photo together, and within seconds we had a small crowd around us, clicking away. (Talk about strength in numbers - even two cosplayers together doubles the crowd.) One woman exclaimed, "Oh, you guys are so perfect together! Are you together together?" Which made us look at each other and laugh. (Later the Scout pulled out his camera & asked John to take our picture.)

After we'd been on the floor about an hour on Friday, I found myself standing in front of a backdrop and surrounded by a small crowd with cameras. Flashes went off all around me as about 8 or 10 people took my photo all at once, and I stared out at it all, wide-eyed, and thought, "Ok. This is surreal."

A little over an hour later, my mask lights went out. (ACK!) It turned out the condensation from my breath collected in the cracks, and the moisture shorted out the wires. John and I were both pretty disappointed, and so decided I would come back again in costume on Sunday.

Sunday I was back with newly water-proofed wiring and black tights, since I decided I didn't like my white knees showing. This time it started pouring just as we were walking in from the parking lot, which meant I had to sprint a good 30 yards in a tightly laced corset. (Not something I recommend.)

After that I felt edgy and uncomfortable, so within a few minutes of donning the mask I took half a Xanax to calm my nerves. It's the smallest dose possible, but happily that's all I needed.

From there we set out to get all the photos we missed on Friday:

I had to stay in the seat an extra few moments after John was through, for all the other cameras.

This one is fun; it makes you look like an action figure!

Or in my case, a really short action figure. :)

The reactions I encountered were, without a doubt, the best part of the whole experience. So many people took the time to really look at and appreciate all the details in my costume, commenting on each in turn, and the sheer delight in some of their faces was the best compliment of all.

I also discovered that no one thinks I can hear in that helmet, which meant I caught all KINDS of private remarks as I passed through the crowd. Not a single one was negative, though. Most were along the lines of, "Ermahgerd! STEAMPUNK!" and profanity-laced compliments. I might have walked a little slower to hear them all, and with a giant grin on my face. :)

I was especially nervous around members of the 501st, since I figured if anyone might be the kind of purist to find my invention insulting, it might be them. At one point early on John & I were walking down a long narrow bridge, and there was a single Storm Trooper coming towards us. I braced myself as he was passing, but instead of a cold, disapproving silence, instead I heard the click of his microphone and, "Nice costume!" The next Trooper we passed gave me a thumbs up with a head nod.

It was a special honor to get compliments from other cosplayers like that, and by the end of the day my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. (I also kept forgetting no one could see my face, so I'm pretty sure I smiled for every single photo. Ha!) I even had the famous "Pirate Pimp Vader" & Boba grab a photo with me:

This gal also insisted on a photo together when we approached to ask her for a pic:

We look kind of perfect together, right?
I thought I might scare the kids, but instead I had a bunch want their picture taken with me. One little girl was so excited to see "Darth Vader's wife," and when I made a point of waving at every wide-eyed kid I passed, I got a lot of shy waves and smiles in return.

And then...this happened:

I'll explain.

I was standing in the aisle posing for photos, when suddenly a woman with a clipboard appeared in front of me and asked if I would do a quick introduction on camera. I recognized her as the same woman who'd been directing Jennifer Landa the day before. "Sure!" I said. I'd just had a guy record me wishing his wife a happy anniversary on his iphone, so I guess I was feeling confident?

I had about one minute to reflect on what I'd just gotten myself in to (and start to shake), and then there was a microphone in my hand and a camera panning up my costume to pause about 8 inches from my face. "This is Lady Vadore at Celebration VI," I squeaked, "And you're watching Star Wars dot com!" A pause, and then the sound guy asked if we could do it again. This time I tried to squeak lower. Then they thanked me and moved on, while I looked around in a daze and realized my friend Tony had been filming the whole thing, and John had taken tons of pictures, and Steampunk Boba Fett John and his friend Lauren (the steampunk lady Han Solo I posted on Thursday) had also been standing there watching. (You can just see them behind the camera.) Of all of them, I definitely felt the least qualified to be on camera.

But I'm not gonna lie - it was so darn cool to be asked.

Ok, moving on...

I had a lot of you ask for a back shot of my costume, so here 'tis:

It's not much of a bustle - just four ruffles (two are overlapped) that I made by cutting a skirt in half and hand-sewing the two pieces in place. It helps add a little more shape to my silhouette from the side.

Oh, and I got to give out plenty of calling cards from my handy-dandy belt buckle! Anyone who stopped to gawk and ask questions got to see my "extra feature." (Whoah. That sounded dirty...)

K, I have to brag on John now:

Through all of this, he was constantly at my side, leading me through the crowd, making sure I was comfortable, watching all the guys who put an arm around me like a hawk (ha!), and basically taking care of everything around me so I only had to focus on what was directly in front of me. He even organized my costume pieces each day ahead of time, packing them up and helping me get dressed once we arrived. And the crazy part is that he claims all of that was fun.

John couldn't stop saying how proud he was of me, and how happy it made him to hear all these people praising my work - although I was quick to tell them it was our work. He would stand to the side, watching everyone take my picture, and just have this huge grin on his face. I never would have made it through either day without him, and I'll never know how I ended up with a guy this awesome.

(Plus, today is our 14-year anniversary!! Before you ask, I married at age 12. ;))

So... that was my big cosplay debut, guys! A little nerve-wracking, but a whole lot of awesome.

Next stop: Dragon*Con!

The Best of Star Wars Celebration VI, Part 2

(Check out Part 1 here.)

Time for round two of the most epic costumes from SWCVI!

Sometimes it was hard to tell the steampunks apart, what with all the leather and distressing around. (For the record: these two are not steampunk.) Either way, though, I like it.

Spaceballs in da house!! And the Troopers pic was taken with John's wide angle lens.

There was one costume over the weekend that reduced me to a raving fan girl, and that was this one:

THIS, my friends, is a Darth Vader based on artist Ralph McQuarrie's original concept sketches. (McQuarrie worked on the original trilogy.) There was actually a helmet produced based on his design in 2008, but it's slightly different than this one. The cosplayer told me he sculpted his helmet himself, which completely blows my mind. Ahhh - wait for it - MAZING.

That's a hard act to follow, but I think these three brothers are up to the task:

Some of you might remember my photo from two years ago of the oldest boy in the Wookiee costume. Looks like he's grown up and passed it on to his younger brother! (And I love how the little guy is peeking over from the side.)

Hey, look: it's Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan!

LOVE THIS SO MUCH. ("You are my density.") 

This gal was in a group shot in my last post, but I like how this pic turned out:

One thing about the Orlando Convention Center: it has fantastic lighting outside the main halls.

Two different styles of Gamorrean guards:

The big feet crack me up. I assume he's from an animated version?

A lovely Amidala:

This lady's head had an articulated jaw:

Just incredible.

And more incredibleness:

These two are from the video game, Knights of the Old Republic:
Also, for you steampunk fans, that's Steampunk Boba Fett (aka John Strangeway) on the left. He's practically the patron saint of steampunk, and though I've photographed him many times, this was the first time I got to officially meet him in person. He's just as nice as everyone says he is, too; I barely finished introducing myself before he wrapped me in a giant bear hug. :) He's promised me a photo of us together in costume at Dragon*Con, so look for that in my D*C posts!

Is it just me, or does this Twi'lek look like Kate on Castle?

And finally, a gravity-defying General Grievous:

It was positively eerie to watch his head move; so life-like! He was filmed for a clip with Jennifer Landa for, so hopefully they'll post it there soon.

I only posted some of my favorites here on the blog - to see the rest, head over to my Flickr album. There are tons more amazing costumes there, so believe me, it was hard to choose!

Also, check back later today for my big cosplay debut post. It's taken me a while to write, since there's just so much to tell! Plus we're driving up to Atlanta today for Dragon*Con, so I've been scrambling to add a few last-minute tweaks to my costume and, you know, pack and stuff.  I'm looking forward to seeing some of you there! (And don't worry; I'm bringing LOTS of Vader pins.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Best of Star Wars Celebration VI, Part 1

I've done my best to wean down my favorite costumes of SWCVI to a more manageable size, but this is still going to take a good two posts. So get comfy, and let's get to it!

On Saturday John and I both brought cameras, and he played around with taking fun distorted photos like the one on the right with a wide-angle lens. Most didn't turn out, but the few that did are pretty cool.

Here's another:

 It's a really neat affect when the cosplayer leans into the lens like this.

Check out these great AT-STs:
The feet were attached to their shoes, so the machines walked when they did!

Here's the most impressive (and only) two-woman costume at the entire convention:

Yes, there are two ladies in there, and my back hurts just thinking about walking around like that. When a child wanted to pet the Bantha, they were able to smoothly lay down, front first, so the girl could reach its face. It was truly amazing to watch.

Some impressive baddies:

These two were so much fun. The first day they were steampunk Leia & Luke...

And the next day, well....
He said he did it on a dare. Ha!

Time for some cuteness:

That little girl meeting R2 was so sweet. She had such a look of wonder on my face while he whistled and beeped at her - I honestly got a little choked up, watching!

 When I took his picture, he immediately said - in character - "Ah, a 7D! That is an excellent camera." Which was amazing, because A) he was able to see what kind of camera I had through that mask, and B) it makes perfect sense that C3PO would both know & comment on our electronics!

The 501st had a room outside the main hall with all sorts of fantastic photo sets. There was the throne room, the trash compactor (complete with foam trash for you to stand in), and a Frozen Han Solo set, among others. Here's the Emperor:

 And let's wrap this post up with a nice group shot:

 I still have lots more to come, including my favorite costume of the whole con, so look for part 2 soon!