Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cosplay Shennanigans Vs the World!

A few weeks ago, Crystal from Crystal Rose Creations told me, "I'm gonna be Ramona Flowers (from Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) for Long Beach Comic Expo!" and this was a week and a half before the convention.  She needed a hammer, and... (this really happened, I swear), there were streamers and a disembodied voice screaming "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!"

Of course, she already had all her clothes and wig, and Ramona Flower's hammer wasn't too difficult I suppose.  When I re-watched the movie and looked for reference picture, I realized that there was a slight complication.  I initially thought it was going to be a simple rectangular solid with EVA foam, and a PVC pipe handle.  I saw that the hammer was really a wedge shape, with the tip cut off instead.  The curved top made it a bit of a challenge, but I just used a thinner sheet of EVA foam, which used to be a cheap yoga mat, instead of the thicker floorboard ones I used for the rest. 

It's a wedge that's colored green and pink.  It's a watermelon!

I also figured that she was going to smack people around, so the PVC handle actually goes in and makes a "T" on the inside to stabilize the hammer more.  The painting process was pretty smooth, and I actually got to do the proper painting process of priming, painting, and sealing so something like this that's gonna be hitting lots of heads won't chip so much.  

It was a fun and quick cosplay that I finished, between teaching, and correcting papers, within half a week.  


EVA Floorboard Foam: $10.00 (but I only used half of it, so perhaps $5 dedicated to this project)
EVA Yoga Mat: $10, but again, I used a small panel, so I'll say $5 for this project
A whole pack of gluesticks: $5
3/4" PVC Piping: $2
Various 3/4" PVC Piping fittings: $3
Primer: $3
Gray paint: $2
Tan paint: $3
Paint sealant:  $4

Total: $35, if I was gonna actually go out and buy everything, but most of these things were lying around the house and garage from previous projects anyway.

Because Batman got tired of getting hit by Harley Quinn's mallet, he tried out Ramona Flower's hammer!

Then I realized that I need to make the matching weapon, Scott Pilgrim's flaming sword!  This gave me ideas.  If you've seen my articles in the past, you'll know I LOOOOVE GIMMICKS!  His sword combines the two previous gimmicks I've worked on individually, clear translucent effect parts and reflective vinyl (click on those articles for more of those materials). 

The result looks fun and awesome.  The reflective vinyl from the sword's blade shines through the translucent pink of the flame effect part, and even without flash photography illuminating the reflective vinyl, it still works.

"Scott gained the power of love!" (and it's very shiny!)

Here's a shot of the sword without flash illuminating the reflective vinyl inside.

I wanted this flaming katana to be able to pass weapons check inspection at cons, so I opted to go with a wooden bokken.  They were rather cheap on Amazon.com at $12, and free shipping with Amazon Prime.  I could not find one with white handles or wraps, so I had to grudgingly do it, myself.  Thank YouTube for tutorials because if this thing was not in motion, wrapping a handle like that would be ridiculously difficult to follow.  Sword wraps were also ridiculously expensive, so I just used a really long 1/2 inch width shoelaces.  The results are not perfect, but i was surprised at how much muscle memory set in after a few motions.  

The heart on the handle was made form EVA foam, with a laminated craft foam top layer.  That way, I didn't have to paint it red.  I also found out during my experiments with turning lamination sheets into effect parts that lamination sheets already have heat-activated adhesive, so the lamination does not need to completely wrap around the foam and close, it just needs to adhere to it.  I also found out the low setting of the heat gun can laminate thin craft foam pretty effectively if you are patient and do one side at a time, and that was the big deal about the heat-activated adhesive.  

I also made sure to stick a small wooden dowel through the heart and into a hole I drilled onto the handle of the sword.  that way, the structure of the heart has a bit more support that's in turn supported by the interior of the handle instead of just being glue-gunned on the tip of it.  

Shoelaces (especially since they come in different colors) make good sword-wrapping material.

Now comes the fun part, the blade!  First since the blade was black, I used white/silver reflective vinyl on it to give it some metallic property.  it may not look metallic, but it shimmers and reflects light like no other.  


Next, I used the same technique I used in my previous article, to make the flame part.  I was a bit afraid of the adhesive on the vinyl unraveling, so instead, I used a spare PVC pipe to hold the stuck together plastic cups while I blast the heat gun at it.  

Since the last article, I've learned more about this process.  The low setting of the heat gun is good to let the plastic melt into whatever shape is behind it, and i n this case, an oval or round cylinder shape.  it hugs the PVC pipe.intended sword blade a bit more, though it's not necessarily a vacuu-form-esque result.  

It's like that episode of Friends when Phoebe was in charge of cups.
After I got the plastic melted to more or less the right shape, and gave time for things to cool down since the PVC pipe in the center was starting to bend, it was time to use the hig setting.  the high setting makes the plastic contract, it makes it tear itself apart, it makes it warp, and it does all those beautiful organic energy-like shapes.  At the end, I just drilled a hole through he middle of the base of the blade and used a small white zip tie to tie the energy effect in place.  

Cost Breakdown:

Wooden Bouken: $12 with free shipping
White Shoelaces: $3
Pink Plastic Cups: $4
Silver Vinyl: $7

Total: $25.... not bad, right? 

It was a fun project. Am I going to do a Scott Pilgrim cosplay?  Maybe, but probably not.  Am I gonna be brandishing a flaming sword around everywhere I go? HELL YEAH!

John Garcia is a Professor of English, specializing in popular culture, comparative literature, and postcolonial studies. He is a convention goer and cosplayer since 2001.  He is also an artist and character designer for Smorgasbord Productions. 

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