Friday, June 30, 2017

WE WANTS THE REDHEAD... Turned Into A Pirate?

Warning: this won't interest you AT ALL unless you're a Dizgeek, peeps. More specifically, a Disney theme park geek.

If you are of the House of Mouse, then you already know about the big change coming to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride Disney announced yesterday.

Well, I SAY "big change," but it's really just to one iconic scene: the one with the redhead.

Go read about it here on Inside the Magic if you need to catch up, but in a nutshell, next year they'll be changing the infamous "Bride Auction" scene in both Disneyland and WDW...

...into a more generic "Loot Auction," with the iconic Redhead turned into a pirate herself:

"We wants the redhead!" is arguably the most famous line in the entire ride, so I'm guessing (but just guessing) Disney will keep that audio in - only now in the context that she *isn't* for sale, and that's why the bidders want her.

The original PotC ride over in Disneyland has had this painting in it since the beginning, so I could totally see a fun back story coming together to explain the new lady pirate:

However, this is change. At Disney. Not only that, it's change to one of their most beloved and iconic rides ever.

So people. Are losing. THEIR MINDS.

I'll be honest, my first reaction was dismay, too. Nobody likes having their favorite childhood things messed with. Then I read the articles, looked at the ride pictures with fresh eyes, and (oh yes) I read the comments.


The arguments against this change are already so vitriolic, so "THE END IS NIGH," that I have to say something positive. HAVE TO. So let's break down the most common arguments I'm seeing, and I'll tell you why I don't think it's all quite so bad, k?

Argument #1: "Stop re-writing history!"

Ok, but PotC isn't a history lesson. This isn't Epcot, it isn't trying to be educational; it's a silly pirates-themed ride to make you smile, not an exposé on the horrors of real-life piracy.

What's more, do we really think pirates bothered with "brides?" Let's face it, that's sugar-coating what they really did to women, so how is it historically accurate now?

Argument #2: "Our children will be pansies! STOP BEING A BUNCH OF PC SNOWFLAKES."

Again, theme park ride. I understand that uncomfortable things can provide "teachable moments," but is that really a conversation you want to have with your kids at Disney?

Argument #3: "But there are also guns! And torture! Why not take THOSE out?"

That's a fair point - especially the well scene - but here's what I've got: Everything in PotC is portrayed as upbeat and cartoonish - no one is screaming in agony or bleeding out on the street. HOWEVER, at the "Bride Auction" the women are sobbing into their handkerchiefs. Doesn't that tone strike you as off? A little too real?

The red head is NOT crying, presumably because she knows she's the best looking and will fetch the most money? Honestly, that part's never made much sense to me.

Argument #4: "But it's a classic!"

So were a lot of things in the 60s. Times change.

Argument #5: "This is how Walt wanted it!"

Maybe back then, sure, but what Disney wanted more than anything was progress. He famously said the park would never be finished, but would continue to grow. Today that growth means promoting stronger female role models for kids.

In fact, that's going to be my final counterpoint to all the rending-of-robes and gnashing-of-teeth going on over the coming change: this is good news for girls. Disney's "Pirates League" already gives makeovers to boys *and* girls now, and there are female pirates in the PotC movies, but the ride only shows pirate men. So how cool will it be to have at least one awesome lady pirate in there?

Fellow Dizgeeks, I understand that initial disappointment, I do. It took me a little reading and considering to come around myself. (Shout out to my friend & Epbot reader Traci for being the first to help me see this in a positive light, btw.)

So if you're still upset, maybe try to see that Bride Auction through the fresh eyes of a child - through the eyes of your daughters and sisters and nieces. Or just imagine if Disney unveiled a brand new ride that only showed women as victims and property. Wouldn't you rather have little girls leave a ride excited to dress up and go on swashbuckling, make-believe adventures? Because that's what this is about, after all: feeding kids' imaginations, and having fun.

Just some food for thought, the next time you see your friends (or my friends, for that matter) saying how awful and pandering Disney is for being "too PC" with this change. Maybe it is too PC. Maybe it's even unnecessary. But you know what? At the end of the day we're swapping a "Bride Auction" for a sassy, strong lady pirate - and I'm good with that.


Now let's announce some art winners!

The winner of the Avengers poster is SilverIvy

The winner of Alien vs Predator is Annette (the one who said she wants that print) 

And the Wildcard winner is Emily Robin

But wait, there's more! 

My new winners for LAST month are:

C (of the blog Autistic in Alabama) gets the original Robot

and Lewis B gets the Wildcard!

Congrats, everyone, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June Art Roundup: Cute Cryptozoology & Warrior Women

It's time to ART!

And thanks to MegaCon last month, I have lots of new goodies and fun styles for you to ogle:

First up, Jellykoe Studios:

This is a husband-wife team that produces everything from plush toys to prints to t-shirts. And while their fandom section is massive, I think I like their original stuff even better! Check out the online store to see the rest.


Stephen Najarian makes fantasy fine art - the kind you put in nice frames out in the living room, because even non-geeks will appreciate this goodness:

This one is calling my name.
Stunning, am I right?


Ash Evans paints the most delightfully whimsical animals:

I think this is my favorite - but then look at this fox!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Our DIY Death Star Shelf Changes Colors! Come See!

Here's something fun John and I've been meaning to build for a while now:
A Death Star Funko Pop Shelf!

This wasn't actually for us - no WAY we have that kind of free wall space - but for our friend Steph, who is cuckoo for Funko Pops. She gets new Star Wars ones every month, and initially fell in love with this shelf from The Sew*er, The Caker, The Copycat Maker:

Isn't it gorgeous? That one requires soooo many cuts, though - super labor intensive - plus John and I really wanted to incorporate some lights for that extra wow factor.

So instead we decided on a simple silhouette with jagged sides, which we would then back light with color-changing LEDs. The whole thing took a day and a half to build and paint, and cost about $60. More than half that cost was for lights you can find cheaper online, though, so your cost should be closer to $45.

John's mounting system holds the shelf away from the wall a few inches, which allows room for the lighting hardware and that glorious glowy goodness. 

Sadly I don't have a template to share with you, since John made this up as he went along, but I can walk you through the build photos and show you how to make your own.


- (1) 4x8 sheet of 1/2 inch MDF, cut in half. (One half will be the Death Star silhouette, and the other will be the shelves.)
-  (1) 16-foot LED light strip with remote, like this one:

These are the same kind of lights we used in our steampunk circle shelves. They're only $15 on Amazon, but we were in a rush, so we paid $35 at the local electronics shop. (Boo.)

You'll also need:
- Wood glue & short wood screws
- Hot glue gun & hot glue (to attach the lights)
- Painters' Tape or masking tape
- Table saw 
- Jigsaw
- Router
- Primer & gray paint

Since we had to transport the unit in the car, John built ours in two pieces, with the seam behind the middle shelf. If you're building yours onsite, though, you can keep your circle in one piece.

So, start by drawing a 46 inch circle:

Friday, June 23, 2017

Jen's Gems: The Smallest HufflePuff Room, Rainbow Roots, and Cosplay To Make You Cry

What's that? You want to see more of my favorite internet finds?


I would so watch this. :D

And while we're talking Wonder-full things, you know how I'm always going on about aging your plastic toys to bring out the detail? Well look how gorgeous the new Wonder Woman toy sword turned out by Nerfenstein Blaster Mods & Props!

You can watch her Youtube tutorial here. (She completely repaints it, but if you're not up for that, try just brushing on and wiping off some black paint to make the details pop.)

I found the toy sword on Amazon for $20, so I assume it costs the same or less at Walmart or Target. Anyone spotted these at their local stores?


I like to watch crafty Youtube channels to help me fall asleep at night, and here's this week's latest find:

Cute dollhouse builds by The Hollycopter! I like how she modifies an existing kit - especially her using printable fabric to make the bedding and curtain. If you like this one, check out her Dollhouse Miniatures playlist for half a dozen more rooms, including Toy Story, Pikachu, and Disney TsumTsum themes!


Over on Instagram, I started following HairByMissKellyO - a wizard colorist who specializes in pastels, rainbows, and all things that make me wish I wasn't so lazy with my hair upkeep:

 Rainbow roots!
Sooo prettttty.


If you're not already a fan of The Bloggess, do yourself a favor and go read her latest post. Only Jenny can make terrible news absolutely hilarious. (I was reading parts of it aloud to John yesterday in the car.) Also, spoiler: she just got diagnosed with Hashi's, too. Is there something going around? 

Oh! And did you know Jenny made a coloring book called You Are Here? It's a weird mix of deep thoughts, quasi-poetry, affirmation, and brilliant silliness about whales with handguns - all combined with her gorgeously intricate ink drawings:

I've been too afraid to color in mine yet, but there are some beautiful examples floating around online.

And finally, while this isn't new, Charles Conley's story crossed my feed again last week (thanks, Celia!) and it is SO worth sharing and reading and re-reading.

Conley is an incredible cosplayer - his armor skills are drool-worthy - and after debuting his Batman armor at Dragon Con last year, he shared this story on Facebook:

"I was walking around posing in my Dark Knight when I happened upon a little (POC) boy in a black and yellow batman costume. He couldn't have been more than 5 or 6. With him was his mother. This little boy saw me approaching and immediately stopped dead in his tracks, tugging at his mother's hand. I could see him point at his hand (the skin) and then pointing to me. I approached and he was a little intimidated at first as any little kid is when meeting a lifesized armored character. I knelt down and reached out my hand for a high five. With all the force he could muster he slapped my hand, with the biggest smile on his face. He told me he wanted to ask me something so, still kneeling I leaned in with my ear. "Batman" he said timidly "You're brown, just like me! Does that mean that I can be a real superhero someday too?"

Now here's the part where I bawled:

"I then ignored my #1 batman rule and removed my cowl so he could see my face. His face lit up and I teared up even more. I looked this kid dead in the eye and said "you can be any superhero you want to be and don't ever let anyone tell you different. Being a brown superhero is a very special thing and I know you're going to make a great one." 

There's more, so click over to Conley's original Facebook post below, where you can also share it on your own page. (Which you should.) You can also follow Conley's cosplay page, Ebony Warrior Studios. I hope I spot him at Dragon Con this year, so I can get my awkward fangirl on, maybe give him a fistbump.

You're making the world a better, place, Charles! Thanks for being you.


K, gang, your turn! What's the best thing you've seen online this week?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I Finally Started Playing Overwatch! SEND HELP.

I blame all the cosplay, really.

This past year almost every time I didn't recognize an amazing costume, it was from this game "Overwatch." I was intrigued, but once I heard you had to play online - you know, with real live human strangers, I was like, NOPE.

Then some of my friends started playing, and I kept reading more and more about it online, and my favorite artists were posting gorgeous fan art, and THEN I heard about a 2-week free trial on Xbox Live... and the time had come.

 (You can also play on PS4 and PC, if you don't have an Xbox One. You need an internet connection for all of them, though.)

So John and I rented Overwatch from Redbox (Fun Fact: you can rent games from Redbox!) and fired 'er up several weekends back.

About a month later, and I'm helplessly hooked. (HEYO ROADHOG PUN!) It was a bumpy ride at first, though; after the first few days I told John I didn't want to play again EVER, and it took some adjustments before I could really start to have fun with it. So I thought I might throw this review out there, in case any of you are thinking about taking the plunge.

The first thing you should know about Overwatch is it's hella confusing at first. There's a laughably simple "tutorial," then you're on your own in a maze of character and play options. Like most games nowadays, you just have to muddle through and learn as you go. Fortunately it doesn't take long to get up to speed, though.

In a nutshell, Overwatch is a tournament fighting game. You're placed on one of two teams, then instructed to either attack or defend an objective during a timed match. There's no story to follow, no mystery to unravel; you just fight. Obviously this requires FPS (first person shooter) skills, but if you're not great, there are ways to practice outside of the "real" games. More on that in a sec.

The second thing you should know about Overwatch is that you die. A lot. Sometimes over and over and over, in fact. That's not just my lousy hand-eye-coordination talking; everyone dies a lot. It's part of the game. You immediately respawn, though, so dying just means the inconvenience of running all the way back to the fight. Well, that and the frustration of being soundly trounced for the eighth time in a row. :D

Which brings me to the third thing you should know: if you can get past the frustration and rage-quitting stage, Overwatch is insanely fun - and even more addictive.

The secret is in the enormous cast of characters, or Heroes, you can play. You can fight with everything from a bow and arrow to ray guns. You can fly, leap tall buildings, turn invisible, turn back time, or clomp around in an enormous robot mecha. The variety feels endless, and every character has unique abilities to discover, which adds to the fun.

Most players settle on a few favorites and stick with them, but since I'm new I've been switching up my character a lot, just to try them all out. I've been surprised how often I end up really loving a character I wouldn't have picked otherwise, and hating others that are really popular.

The game locations have a lot of variety, too; you could be in a space-age industrial factory, a quaint Mexican plaza, or pretty stone ruins in a German forest. It's all beautiful to look at and incredibly detailed:

As a reward for the battles you gain medals and experience points, plus "Loot Boxes" filled with customizations for the characters. Each character has maybe 20 different "skins," along with different things they can say or do, so collecting all the goodies is a real incentive.
In fact, here's the Bastion skin John's saving up for:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mailbag Show & Tell: Labyrinth Bots, Fairy Crowns, & Super Wonder Wombs!

It's time to dip into my Folder of Awesome Reader Stuff again! This is where I try to save all my favorites of your project photos shared on the Epbot Facebook page, or over on Fans of Epbot if I get permission. So let's check out a little of what your fellow readers have been up to!

First, the Labyrinth/Epbot mashup my heart always wanted:

Look closely; Kristi O. turned them all into bots! AAA! How cute is Ludo with rivets? And I am MELTING over Ambrosius' antennae ears. MELTING.

Even though you shared this ages ago, Kristi, I really DID need it this week. Thank you.

(P.S. Kristi doesn't have an art store yet, but sooooon.)


Here's a brilliant idea from my friend Melanie for displaying all the little toys you can't find a spot for:

 She put them in these stackable glass blocks from Michael's! It's like "Where's Waldo" in real life, right? So fun to look at. (I spy a Doozer!)

Mel has four so far on her desk:

These would be perfect lined up like a backsplash. Ooh, or stacked to make a low divider?

Shanon L. made the most STUNNING fairy flower crown:

Isn't it gorgeous?

Then she goes and makes it sound almost easy:

"So it's actually a metal laser cut mask, and I used a metal saw to cut the bottom half off under the eyes. Then I did a wash of gold over it, added flowers and stuff and tadaa!"  

I've seen these metal masks in costume and craft shops before for just a few dollars, or there are tons on Amazon around the $10 mark. There are so many cool designs, I'm seriously tempted to try this sometime!


Sophie B. is a big Welcome to Night Vale fan, so when she found a decorative microphone at the thrift shop she knew EXACTLY what to do:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

10 Crazy Cute Purses For Your Inner Toddler Grandma

I'm really falling for all the quirky novelty purses out there, you guys. 

First it was the T-Rex purse by Kate Spade:


But even on sale (WAIT IT'S ON SALE??) it's like $227, and the most I've ever spent on a purse is... let's see... maybe $30?

Then I fell into the Betsey Johnson Wonderland of novelty purses:


But while not as pricey as Kate Spade, still kinda pricey, you know? Especially for something that's not an everyday bag.

Which is how I ended up stalking Amazon for crazy cute bags that were mega cheap - or at least under my $30 mark - that still had decent reviews. And I actually found some!

Plus, this could totally be my everyday bag:

Happy rainbow clouds go with everything, right?

Any of you Dizgeeks want to go 'bounding as a Dole Whip? 
Because I have JUST THE BAG FOR IT:

Not digging the chain strap (how is that comfortable?), but at least that's easy to replace.

In fact, after a while I noticed chain straps are everywhere:

Unicorn Tears Cross Body Bag, $22 (Also comes in pink)

But for a purse shaped like a Big Gulp of Unicorn tears? I think we can let it slide.

(A lot of these bags are bigger than they look, btw. If you click through to the listings you can see better size references.)

Here's one Ron Swanson would love:

All it needs is this bacon wallet.

I'm also loving that a lot of these have free shipping. If you have Amazon Prime like I do, then I think most of them ship free. Talk about the cherry on top of your cupcake purse:

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Sucker Punch I Think I Needed

The other week at MegaCon something kind of awful happened, early on Friday. Something that stuck with me, and lingered like a bruise for the rest of the weekend.

Still, I think it's something I can learn from. Maybe we all can? So I'm going to share.

Here's what happened:

I was on the hunt for costumes as usual, when I spotted a pretty girl in a big beautiful gown. I didn't recognize the character, but I zipped over and asked for a photo anyway.

As would happen many times that weekend, the girl's eyes flicked down to my prominent PRESS badge. Instead of getting excited or striking a pose, though, her face filled with fear. Fear, you guys.

"Um, what is it for?" she asked.

"Epbot," I said, trying to give a reassuring smile."It's a geek girl blog."

"Is it... is it one of those Costume Fails kind of thing?"

"What? No! Gosh, no!" I think I actually sputtered, I was so gobsmacked. "I...I only feature cosplays I like, good stuff!"

"Oh," she looked relieved. "I'm sorry, I just... I get really self-conscious."

John, who was beside me, immediately chimed in to say how great she looked - but she still seemed wary as I took her photo. I dug out a card to give to her, and quickly told her about you guys, and how you've formed this amazing, safe community of geeks who only build each other up. I hope I said it right, though, because to be honest, I was pretty shaken.

I wanted to cry, you guys. I wanted to hit things. I wanted this sweet girl to know the world *I* know online - the one filled with awesome people celebrating awesome things. I wanted her to take for granted that everyone was going to love her costume. I wanted to show her in advance how much you guys would like her feathered headpiece, how we ooh and aah over each other here, how we fangirl and act silly and that's all OK.

I've photographed literally thousands of cosplayers, and this was the first time someone thought I wanted to make fun of her.  Or no - scratch that. This was the first time someone said she thought I wanted to make fun of her. But what if others have thought the same thing? What if behind the hero poses and sweet smiles, they were wondering what kind of hate or ridicule was in store for them later online?

It felt like a sucker punch to the gut.

But maybe it was a sucker punch I needed - that we all need. Because we geeks still have a ways to go when it comes to bringing our online cheering into the real world. We can't just hole up in our safe spaces here; we need to get out there. We need to make more safe spaces, online and in real life. And we can't stop - we won't stop - until every geek in a dress, or a suit of armor, or a rainbow unicorn onesie feels only excitement about showing off the things they love.

I'm not going to post the cosplayer's photo here, because she didn't ask for this kind of spotlight. Still, I hope she sees this post, if only because it means she'll get to "meet" all of you. Plus I want her to know that she's made me want to try harder, to look deeper. If I ever do anything good in this community - if I ever make it a little easier to be YOU - it's because I've been there. Heck, I'm still facing those fears, every time I hit "post." Showing off the things we love is scary. Putting on a costume is scary. Sometimes just being ourselves is scary.

So the next time I'm out photographing a con, I'll try not to assume every cosplayer knows how awesome s/he looks. I'll try to look up more, compliment more. I'll try to smile more. These are our safe spaces in the real world - or they should be -  and it's up to us to look out for each other.

If you've never been to a con, I hope you'll try one sometime. I hope you'll put on your most obscure geek shirt, or that crazy anime wig that's gathering dust in the closet, and go have fun. Nothing makes a place more welcoming than big smiles and a little silliness. And if you're a little shy or scared or awkward? Well, hey, at a con, so is everyone else. So go ahead and say hi. Compliment a costume. High-five a Deadpool. Take a chance and engage a little. Be brave.

Let's bring what we have here on Epbot and on FOE into the real world.

And hey, if you ever see a pretty girl in a big ballgown and a feathered hair piece, go say hi for me.


I needed a picture for this post so I googled "rainbow unicorn onesie" and it did NOT disappoint:

Saturday, June 10, 2017

This Fan-Made BioShock Doll Is Perfect For Snuggling, May Or May Not Murder You

If you've played BioShock and/or BioShock 2, then you know Little Sisters are anything but cuddly. They're these ghoulish children wandering around with stabby gun-pacifier things, their eyes glow, and they like to cheer on whichever Big Daddy is currently pummeling you into the ground.

But at the same time, they retain a sense of innocence, and - mild spoiler? - are really just victims themselves, waiting to be rescued and turned back into sweet little kids again.

Literally the least creepy screen-grab I could find. I've played both games multiple times, but I'm telling you, some of Google's pics and gifs are friggin' terrifying. Ha!

Which is why Kari Parham's custom Little Sister doll is both brilliant and gives me all the grabby hands:


Granted, my tolerance for creepy dolls is pretty high, but c'mon: this is adorable, right? Don't you just want to squeeze her? And then wake your husband up with her sweet little face RIGHT NEXT TO HIS?

PLUS, Kari made this incredible display for her! 

So perfect it looks photoshopped - but it's not! Kari just set her handmade display (the floor and cage-like walls) in front of the TV to give it that awesome window-to-Rapture background.

And what's the display made of? 

Foam, paper, and paint??

 My mind, it is boggling.

The world's most perfect night light. 

Just imagine the comforting glow of her eyes and blood syringe, lulling you to sleep each night.
 (Eh, John?)

And look, accessories!

I first thought the Big Daddy doll was the ThinkGeek exclusive from years ago (I have one, and it is a prized possession), but no, Kari made that all from scratch! (Wha whaaaa?) She also made the ADAM syringe - aka the stabby blood gun thing - which lights up. Both in a suitcase just like ones seen in the game.

And can we pause to appreciate the paint work and aging on that floor and trim? Because HNNNNNG SO GOOD.

 If the doll seems familiar, it's because Kari modified an old My Child doll from the 80s - remember these?


I asked Kari for the scoop on the glowing eyes, and she told me she sculpted them from translucent clay, then lit them from behind with LEDs. There's a push button in the hair bow to turn the eyes on and off, and the batteries are accessible through the top of the head, which opens up.

If all that sounds complicated, it's because it was. Kari said it took her over a year of trial-and-error - and more than one ruined doll! - to get it right.

But wow, did she.
I can't get over that perfect eye glow. Translucent clay - who knew?  Plus, serious skills on that dress!

Sadly Kari doesn't have a website or page we can follow, but she's working on putting together a Youtube video showing the whole build process, so I'll link that here when she's done. She actually shared all these photos through the BioShock Facebook page, so you can check out her original post here to ask her a question or to give her a virtual high five. (Plus it's a great page to follow anyway, if you're BioShock fan.)

In the mean time, anyone else eyeing old dolls they can retrofit with glowing eyes? Or is that just me?