chell cosplay

Dallas Fan Expo 2017 (and yes, I finished my cosplay)

On Thursday, March 30, 2017 – two days before the convention – I finally finished my cosplay.
What happened between my last post and now wasn’t all that interesting. We (me and my dad, who has power tools and a greater knowledge of industrial materials than I) got the boots put together, painted and bolted on the heels, made sure I could walk around in them (I could), riveted on the straps, fixed up any little cracks in the paint, painted the details on the sides of the boots, and got ahold of all the clothing. Ironically, the tank top was the most difficult part of the whole cosplay, including everything I did with the boots. The first time, the t-shirt transfer burned when I ironed it on; the second time, it immediately tore when I tried to put it on (that’s what I get for buying a nearly transparent tank top for three bucks at Walmart). The jumpsuit, which was tied around my waist, felt basically like a pair of nice sweatpants. From the knees up, it was probably the most comfortable cosplay I possibly could have done.
Fast-forward to April 1 – yesterday. My nerd crew and I – which consisted of my two best friends, my little sister, both of my parents, and both of one of the two best friends’ parents – drove all the way to Dallas, Texas for this year’s Fan Expo convention. I don’t live in Dallas, but it was closer than the big daddy ComicCon in California, so we decided it would do.
Last year, I went with one of my friends and my mom, and it was crowded enough. That year, I wore my ugly hand-me-down athletic shoes instead of my standby green Converse, fearing that my feet would hurt after walking around all day in Chucks.
This year, it was doubly crowded, and I went for just short of six hours wearing a pair of six-inch-tall torture devices on both feet.
My feet still hurt too badly to walk normally, but it was totally worth it.

The three of us on the cosplay red carpet, sans faces, because internet safety is good.

All nine of us cosplayed, and only one of us did it halfway. I was Chell, of course. My little sister was Daenerys Targaryen, which was appropriate, because she has a dragon obsession beyond any dragon obsession I’ve ever seen an eight-year-old have. The friend on the right of the picture above, henceforth referred to as Tall Friend, was Princess Elizabeth from Seven Deadly Sins, a Netflix original series that isn’t actually an anime. The friend on the left, Short Friend, couldn’t decide who to be, so at the last minute she decided to be Random Star Trek Personnel in Jeans and Chucks. My mom, who is not into cosplay (or most fiction in general), also went generic as a Dharma Initiative security officer, complete with a walkie talkie. My dad was Obi-Wan Kenobi, whom he kind of looked like already. Tall Friend’s mom was Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games, and she looked so perfect it was kind of scary. Tall Friend’s dad also went Hunger Games-themed, because he went as Cesar Flickerman, but he was also wearing a Deadpool mask and gloves, which worked out a lot better than you would expect.

Baby Daenerys got her picture taken with Big Daenerys. They were wearing the same dress. It was adorable.
Also, yes, Short Friend is holding a painting of Daredevil.

To get an idea of the scale of this thing, I might add that both Stan Lee and Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker, for the plebeians who have to ask) were guests this year. I didn’t actually see either of them in the flesh, because the crowds were absolutely insane, but I got to watch the friend in the Star Trek shirt shake hands with James Marsters (Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) twice.
We started out with a little bit of shopping, as one does at a convention. I got my picture taken beneath a giant inflatable turret. I was so afraid of overspending that I ended up buying nothing except a grab-box-type-thing, most of which I will probably be Ebay-ing before long, but it was a great opportunity to make my way around the convention center and see as much of it as I could.
I lost count of photo requests around 6 or so, but there was no shortage of stares and the odd “Whoa, look at those boots! What’s she from?” Tall Friend, aka Princess Elizabeth, got quite a few as well. Once, she encountered these two little girls, both about ten or eleven, who were literally squealing and jumping up and down, they were so excited to see their favorite character come to life. I got my picture taken with a tiny little kid, about six or seven, who was dressed as a Black Mesa security guard. It just goes to show that any barrier can be overcome by a common fandom.
We went to the panel featuring two of the voice cast members (Josh Grelle and Trina Nishimura) for the English dub of the anime Yuri!!! on Ice. I’ve never even watched the anime, but I found the panel quite interesting. The Q&A portion of the panel was special, to say the least. I’m not going to repeat it exactly, because this blog is rated G, but I’ll just say that it involved non-canonical ships and a weirdly specific innuendo that was straight out of a bad fanfiction.
Tall Friend, the anime lover, stood in line for an hour and a half to get Todd Haberkorn’s autograph. I’m not certain who he is, but I know he’s from Fairy Tale.
Short Friend, who also loves anime (but not Fairy Tale) stood in line for forty-five minutes to get James Marster’s autograph. Since she had the food, I went with her.
This was at about 3:30 p.m. We arrived at the convention at about 10:00 a.m. I had been wearing those rock-solid boots, with the two-inch platform, the six-inch heel, and the insane springs on the back, for about five and a half hours. By comparison, a playthrough of Portal 2 generally takes me about two to four hours, depending on the seriousness of the gaming. I had officially been wearing those suckers for WAY longer than they were meant to be worn. The seven-dollar dress boots I used for the base had next to no ball-of-foot support, and I felt like my ankles were about to collapse.

They looked pretty sick, though.

I put on Converse and I felt much better.
We did some pretty awesome stuff, such as posing for photo ops with all manner of cosplayers much more experienced than us (all of whom were first-timers), but we had our fair share of shenanigans as well. Cesar Deadflickerpoolman, as we started calling him, sneezed inside his mask, which was as unpleasant to watch as it must have been to experience. Tall Friend, whose cosplay showed a couple of inches of thigh, got recruited by a professional photographer to be photographed holding a sign that said “Cosplay Is Not Consent.” I guess that’s a passive-aggressive way of telling someone to put some clothes on.
Even though it hurt like heck, I had so much fun. Honestly, it feels great to have the deadline over with. I don’t have to worry about meting out my free time to allow for cosplay work anymore. All that work was completely worth it; I saw exactly one other Chell at the convention, and she was wearing a normal, boring pair of black leather boots. I had an awesome time hanging out with my friends and convening with fellow nerds of every kind. It was way too much fun to laugh at really horrible cosplays, most of which incorporated far too much Spandex in places that should never, ever be covered with anything so tight (but not to the cosplayers’ faces – I’m not that mean). No one’s cosplay broke, no one got injured, and no one got stolen from; from where I’m sitting, that looks like a pretty successful day to me.
I can’t wait for next year.

Portal 2 Cosplay: Finished with the first pieces!

It’s been, like, four weeks since I last posted, and you may think I’ve kind of forgotten about this. Not so! I’ve been working on it so much I actually threw off NaNoWriMo (which I ALWAYS do) to work on it.
And I’m glad to say that the first pieces are finished, painted, and glued in place!
Here’s pretty much how it went: Bondo, sand, Bondo, sand, fill, sand, glue, sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, paint. My hands were so raw from all that sanding that the fingerprint reader on my phone stopped accepting my fingerprint, and my hands are still stained Bondo grey.
Nothing of interest happened during the sanding phase, so here’s a picture of what my porch looked like shortly after I finished shaping the pieces.

I'm still getting the filler dust out from under my nails.

I’m still getting the filler dust out from under my nails.

Once I sanded them, my helpful dad and I primed them. They were so smooth, it brought figurative fangirl tears to my eyes.
Like a baby dolphin.

Like a baby dolphin.

I spray-painted them white, cut the boot to the way I needed it, and marine-sealant’ed that sucker on, with some assistance from my helpful cosplay dad.
And they smell like a car shop.

And they smell like a car shop.

The bad news is I can no longer actually get them on in a reasonable amount of time, since they aren’t as flexible as they were before they were covered in auto body filler. The good news is, I can fix that with a zipper on the heel, and OMG I ACTUALLY JUST FINISHED A WHOLE FLIPPIN’ PIECE.
Are they perfect? No. Who cares? This is my first cosplay, and, considering I didn’t just say “screw it” and painted a pair of leather boots, I’m doing pretty well.
My next step is to do the same thing to the bands that go around the ankles. It won’t take me nearly as long, since they’re much smaller. After that, I’m going to get to work on the heels, attach them to the back pieces, Bondo those as well, and then attach everything together. (That makes it sound so simple. Sanding is not fun.)

Anywaaaaay, thanks for checking me out!

Portal 2 cosplay: Making the boots’ first Worbla pieces

Hey, cosplayers, gamers, and fiction enthusiasts, and welcome to Teen Fiction Girl! In this post I’ll be making pieces based on the patterns I created in my last two cosplay posts. I’m going to stop linking every previous post, because as this post goes on the list is going to get really long, so I recommend you (if you haven’t already) click on the “Portal 2 Cosplay: Chell” category on the menu up there. ^^
Also, an advance warning: since most of the cosplay process detailed in this post involved me using heat guns and struggling to form plastic and foam before it cooled, there are very few pictures of the process. I’ll do my best to describe it to you, or provide an alternate tutorial/demonstration where I can.
Before I get started on the process, I think I’d better cover the materials I’m using.
Everyone knows what craft foam is, but the key component of these pieces is a material called Worbla. Worbla is a thermoplastic, which means it has a low melting temperature and can be easily heated up and molded. It’s about a millimeter thick, flexible, and a key component in many professional cosplayers’ wardrobes.

The first thing I did was slightly alter the pattern for the toe piece. It was large enough to fit the boot, but it didn’t wrap far enough around the back, and it was going to cause some weird gaps if I didn’t fix it. I made it a little larger by tracing it onto a piece of posterboard, drawing on the extra width, cutting it out, and taping it on.

I was worried that I might not have enough Worbla for the new, larger pieces, but they turned out great.

I was worried that I might not have enough Worbla for the new, larger pieces, but they turned out great.

At the time I made these components, I had a 15″x19″ piece of Worbla that I’d bought previously just to play with. I also had an enormous roll of craft foam, which is the first thing I used. I traced the patterns onto the foam (once for the ankle piece, twice for the toe piece – you’ll see why in a minute) and cut them out.
I laid each foam piece out onto the Worbla, about an inch apart. I measured 3/4″ all the way around them, traced my new, larger line, and cut it out. (That’s another awesome thing about Worbla: it cuts just fine with scissors.)
Next came the first somewhat dangerous part. Yay, danger!
I got ahold of my trusty heat gun (actually, it’s usually rather unreliable, and extremely hard to turn off – but you get what you get) and heated up the Worbla until it was floppy. I centered the foam on the melted plastic and wrapped the plastic around the edge. I now had three pieces – one ankle piece, two mirrored toe pieces – that looked as though they were made of thick Worbla, when, in reality, they were foam with little Worbla hats on top.
I'm really sorry for the weird stripey shadows; lace curtains and photography don't really mix.

I’m really sorry for the weird stripey shadows; lace curtains and photography don’t really mix.

My next step was to make the flat pieces into components of the boot. Remember how I was confusing everyone by talking about the piece that goes on the “bottom”? You’re about to see what I meant.
I grabbed the boot I was going to use and stuffed it with plastic bags again. I took one of the mirrored toe pieces and conformed it to the side of the boot. (Sorry I don’t have any pictures!) I took the other piece and did the same, but on the other side of the boot. Now I had two halves of the shell that was going to go over the foot part of the boot. It was sort of like those phone cases where the front piece snaps onto the back piece, if that makes any sense.
My next step was to join them. I heated up both pieces, sandwiched them back onto the boot, and connected them along the front of the foot, so now, instead of having two halves of a “boot case”, I had one “snap-on” one.
This was the final product. Don't worry about the weird bubbles on the side; I smoothed them out later (and made the Worbla fit more tightly as well).

This was the final product. Don’t worry about the weird bubbles on the side; I smoothed them out later (and made the Worbla fit more tightly as well).

If this step was a little hard to understand, I’m sorry. Kamui Cosplay has (to the best of my knowledge) never made a pair of long-fall boots, but Svetlana made a pair of bracers using almost the same technique, so, if you want, you can watch this video to better understand what I did.

Now that the toe piece was squared away, I got to work on the ankle piece.
Since I’d done this one a hundred times with the posterboard version, this one was super easy. All I had to do was wrap it around the foot of the boot and connect the parts that needed to be connected.
There were just a couple of hiccups: one, the part that attaches across the front of the foot was slightly too short. When I made my patterns, I hadn’t realized that it was going to be wrapping around the toe and ankle piece, which is a lot thicker than just the boot. It was really easy to make a little foam-and-Worbla square to connect them in the center.
The hardest part was keeping the ankle piece and the toe piece from sticking together. To keep both pieces removable (which was vital at this point, seeing as I hadn’t sanded or painted either piece yet), they needed to stay separate.
When the Worbla cooled, the result was this:

I'm not actually sure what that red thing on the floor is. I think it's a lid of some kind.

I’m not actually sure what that red thing on the floor is. I think it’s a lid of some kind.

As you can see, the piece wraps around the front and bottom of the boot, with two tabs sticking up (one on each side) for the back piece to attach to. And it goes over the toe piece, which is what I meant when I said that the toe piece would be the lowermost one.
I haven’t done the back piece for a multitude of reasons. I was originally going to use Sintra (a low-density PVC plastic; it smells nasty, but you can heat it with a heat gun as well), but it proved far too industrial for my uses: I couldn’t cut it without power tools, it was nearly impossible to mold, it wouldn’t stick to Worbla (which is kind of vital), and it lets off some pretty nasty fumes when you heat it. I could have used more foam and Worbla, but there were a few things wrong with this too. Firstly, I’d used all my Worbla on the other two pieces, and I didn’t want to buy more without knowing whether my idea was going to work or not. Secondly, I can’t forget about the brace on the back that’ll take the place of the heel: it’s going to have to be strong enough to hold up all of my 110 lb., and there’s no way I’m going to be able to attach something so heavy-duty to something so flexible.
My dad and I did some scheming, and this is the plan we came up with.
We’re going to make the braces out of aluminum bars. The back piece will also be aluminum, with a reinforced piece where the brace will attach; it’ll be riveted to the back part of the toe piece (thank goodness I made my pattern bigger!) and covered in Worbla so it can be easily painted and attached to the appropriate tabs on the ankle piece. Since aluminum is a lot harder to shape than foam (and since my pattern was slightly overlarge anyway, since I forgot to account for the thickness of the finished pieces), I cut a slit in the back of my back piece pattern.
I'll bend the pieces inward to close the gap in the back, and it'll make a nice curve.

I’ll bend the pieces inward to close the gap in the back, and it’ll make a nice curve.

My next order of business is to buy more Worbla and make identical pieces for the other boot. Next time, I swear I’ll take more pictures!!
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates on this project!