I’d like to say that we, personally, came up with this crazy-awesome gift guide for the Harry Potter lover on your Christmas list, but sadly.. we did not. Luckily, someone out there loves you because WB did. And it sure is amazing.
Bringing together a collection of products from a host of renowned licensees, including The Noble Collection, MinaLima, Insight Editions, Rubie’s Costume Co., Bioworld, Elope, Hallmark, and more, the Harry Potter Gift Guide offers shoppers the chance to find the perfect gift for their favourite witches and wizards in one place. Harry Potter-inspired products ranging from wizard wear and accessories, to collectibles and home décor, are all available at the click of a mouse, with each product image functioning as an intuitive hyperlink that directs users to the purchase point.
“The Harry Potter Gift Guide brings fans the perfect tool to click their way through the items on their wizarding wish list,” said Karen McTier, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “From discerning collectors to new fans waiting for their Hogwarts acceptance letter, the gift guide makes buying presents easy.”
This year’s catalogue offers a host of new items, including the Harry Potter Remote Control Wand from The Noble Collection, which allows the user to magically control any IR device with the flick of the wrist. Also newly available is the United States Postal Service Harry Potter Limited-Edition Forever stamp collection – perfect for stocking stuffers and for all those looking to send their holiday cards the Muggle way. Leggings from boutique fashion label Black Milk, fresh Hot Topic-exclusive apparel from Bioworld, a limited-edition Hogwarts castle ornament from Hallmark and more can also be found within the guide.
The Harry Potter Gift Guide was designed by MinaLima, the creative team behind the graphic design aesthetics of the Harry Potter films, including the Marauder’s Map, the Daily Prophet, and The Quibbler. MinaLima, now also a licensee of Warner Bros. Consumer Products as The Printorium, is also featured in the catalogue with their fine art print of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
——– Now to the Fun Stuff ———
To celebrate this release, Warner Bros. is giving us a reeeaallly cool gift basket (valued >$60) to give to one of you!! This is seriously one of those times where all of us here at NiB are incredibly jealous that we can’t enter our own contests. If you or someone on your gift list is a Harry Potter fan, you WANT to enter this.
This is what they just might be sending you:
Harry Potter Collectible Wand
2014 Harry Potter Wall Calendar
Horcrux Bookmark Collection
Here’s how you enter:
Post a comment below telling us who your favorite HP character is and why. That’s it.
Get a bonus entry:
Link this post on twitter and include the hashtag #hpgiftguide13 as well as mention @NerdsinBabeland, and you’ll get a second entry into the drawing. (note: you have to be following us on twitter for this, otherwise we won’t be able to DM you).
How long you have to enter:
About four days. This contest is now open, and will close Thursday, Dec. 12th at 6pm, EST.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email at jackie(at)nerdsinbabeland.com, or on twitter at @jackietherobot.
The Walking Dead is back! This is reason enough to celebrate, but it’s even more exciting now that we have seen the premiere episode from new showrunner Scott Gimple. The season 3 finale was packed with super-intense drama, but this new season isn’t picking up directly after the showdown with the Governor at Woodsbury. Instead, it seems like a month or two has passed since the end of the Woodsbury settlement with the Woodsbury survivors blending with Rick’s group. Everyone has a role in this expanded society at the prison and it seems like things are going pretty smoothly (for once). Instead of Dictator Rick, we have a ruling council that discusses the issues facing the survivors. Additionally, the roles that people have been assigned seem to suit them. Their manufactured society is functioning well, which takes pressure off of the individuals. There are enough adults so that not everyone is needed for high-risk ventures into the outside world. Glenn and Maggie talk about the possibility of having a child and a life at the prison, now that the environment is more stable. Even Carl is doing kid things like playing, reading comic books, and talking to other children.
The two big plot points of the premiere are Daryl’s group expedition to the big Target/Walmart type shop and Rick’s encounter with a stranger in the woods. It seems like Daryl’s competence is making the group more confident in their outside world maneuvers. The group’s trip to the store for supplies seems to go really well until newcomer Bob Stookey confronts his alcoholic demons a little too harshly in the booze aisle and causes the wine rack to come crashing down on him. Unbeknownst to the survivors but knownst to us, there are a good number of walkers on the roof of the store, along with a fallen helicopter. The crash of the wine rack attracts the horde and the roof gives up, causing the walkers to fall from the sky into the store. There is lots of head squishing, skin peeling and other awesomely gory gore. The cutie that Beth was flirting with gets eaten because that’s just how it goes. The crashed helicopter on the roof finally falls into the store basically ruining the good thing the survivors had going with this seemingly fully stocked warehouse store.
Back to Rick, who is now pursuing simpler goals like becoming a good pig farmer. He is taking care of Carl and baby Judith, still healing from Lori’s loss and his temporary loss of sanity. He encounters a woman while gathering things away from the prison. She’s a lone survivor and begs Rick for help. Rick, thankfully, is a lot more hesitant to help a fellow survivor than perhaps he would have been pre-Woodsbury. I don’t know why he chooses to follow her at all, but Rick is Rick and so he demands that if the woman and her husband want to come back with him, he has to meet her husband first. Big shocker: the woman is actually crazy and was just looking to feed Rick to her now zombified husband. Rick gets away and back to the prison where he reflects on how close he came to her fate. It makes sense that Rick would take pity on the woman and let her have her wish, which was to be with her husband as a walker. She was so obsessed with her husband’s fate that she gave up living for herself – literally – she kills herself in front of Rick. Rick realizes how close he came to losing it completely in the last season, and while he still can’t seem to catch a break, he seems to be more conscious of his health and his role in the group.
What I guess will be a major plot in this upcoming season is the mysterious disease that first took the pig and then the bespectacled youth. I don’t know why there wasn’t a scene with Herschel the vet checking out the pig before it died. This disease seems to act very quickly, within a day, starting with flu-like symptoms that worsen until the infected is dead. How this disease was introduced to the prison group should be interesting. Maybe it is a tool of the Governor, who is still lurking about. Maybe it involves the CDC somehow. Either way, I predict we are going to lose a lot of friends. I also predict that some characters will be conveniently immune to this plague.
This first episode sets up a lot in its 43 minutes, from subtle exposition to new dangers to our favorite group of survivors. I appreciate the showing rather than telling that is going on in terms of more subtle storytelling. I feel like the Walking Dead has become more intellectual in just that first episode and I sincerely hope it continues the trend. Lori and Andrea are gone, Tyrese is a member of the prison (and one of my favs from the comics), Carol and Daryl have the most adorable relationship ever, and Michonne has a cool horse and more screen time. I feel like it can only get better from here.
This is a follow-up post about how female geeks are making comic conventions their own in different ways. Obviously SDCC has been over for awhile, but there are still plenty of other conventions coming up this year (NYCC!) and these women can serve as inspirations for what can be done within geek and pop culture by individuals. In this post I talk with Jenn from justJENN Designs & Recipes. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting her table at SDCC or don’t follow her on twitter, you should!… but in the meantime the links to her websites are listed below.
Jenn has been blogging about her family’s adventures in Los Angeles for 10 years, creating unique family dinners and geeky baking for her food blog www.justjennrecipes.com. She recently launched www.homegeekonomics.com where she features crafters and creators, bringing the best of geek to home and everyday life. She was Her Universe’s fangirl of the day and her award winning recipes have been featured on StarWars.com, LATimes online, The Today Show blog and most recently the cover of Food Network Magazine.
A contributor for Geek Mom, King’s Hawaiian and First5LA, she also has been a guest panelist at San Diego Comic Con, WonderCon and Geek Girl Con.
1) First thing’s first, tell me about JustJenn Designs and JustJenn Recipes and your career in the geek world.
I started justJENN designs on the side when I was working at an architecture firm. I was working 60-80 hour weeks and while it was killing me I still wanted something that was all my own. So I thought an online business was a good idea because then I could just fill orders from home.Years later I had my kids and I was suddenly compelled to make sure they only ate healthy food and I wanted to make everything from scratch. I started creating recipes and putting them online so that I could access them at all times without dragging recipes with me or having to turn my computer on. Smart phones and my own website made keeping track of my recipes much easier.
2) The combination of foodies and geek culture makes perfect sense and you do an amazing job combining the two. I love your Ultimate Star Wars party! Where did get your initial inspiration to combine the two?
Food and geek recipes came together again, because of my kids. As they grew up they started having fandom fascinations with things that I loved as well. Everything old was new again…to them! So Star Wars, Transformers all the things I grew up with and loved they were taking an interest in and I love the idea of encouraging fandom in kids. I think it opens them up to creative thinking. I decided to incorporate that into our meals just for fun. When I posted the party and recipes I didn’t think anything of it until I started getting a lot of adults saying how great it was and then I realized it wasn’t just me that loved all that geek culture reinterpreted, everyone wanted to recreate their childhood fandom in an updated way!
3) When was your first SDCC? Can you tell me a bit about your history with the convention (ie did you start off in Small Press or as an attendee, etc)?
My first SDCC was a long time ago as an attendee. I can’t even remember the year but I can tell you I got into Hall H easily if that means anything. Years later when I had the online stationery biz I thought, ‘how great would it be to be here as a fan, but also sell my creations to people as well?’ Small Press seemed like a good first step and I honestly haven’t moved from there in the past 6 years.
4) This year you were able to participate in the first major panel for foodies at SDCC, ”A Feast For Your Eyes: Creativity In Comics and Cuisine.” What was that panel like? What were some of the highlights?
I was very excited to participate in the ‘food and comics’ panel since they are two things that I love and incorporate into my art as well. It was great to see a whole room filled with people who love those things too. Food and comics are very connected and we talked a lot about our inspiration and how we came into fields that we made uniquely our own through food.
The highlight of the panel for me was the other panelists! Everyone had unique food stories. I am a big fan of Food TV and watched both Brian Malarkey (@BrianMalarkey) and Justin Warner (@eatfellowhumans) on their shows. I have been ‘twitter friends’ with C.B. Cebulski for a long time and his posts about food and travels always make my day. I learned a lot from Amy Chu (@AmyChu) and Nacho Cervantes (@pizzaportbeer) about their inspirations. And I felt like Rosanna Pansino (@RosannaPansino) had a real geek girl connection, which is always cool when you meet someone who had the same interests as you and is a great person.
5) Do you think this panel signals the growth of foodie-related geekdom at SDCC? Other than the panel, what were some other geeky food-related fun stuff that you saw at SDCC this year (including your own activities)?
I think food and geekdom go hand in hand, both can be creative and inspirational. There is definitely a growth in this field, you can see it in the new food centric graphic novels that are coming out, but honestly it’s been around for a long time. As a kid I always felt connected to the comics I read that featured families cooking, or food somewhere in the comic. It made it relative and made me happy. I think that’s why food tv and food graphic novels are so popular now, because people like that familiar connection that food gives them.
6) I know you recently published a Mochi cookbook. I just got my copy and I’m really excited to try making some! What are some future projects you have coming up?
The mochi cookbook was fun because it updated old traditional recipes that didn’t think it was possible to modernize. My comic cookbook that I drew about my Grandma’s family recipes is still popular and I would like to do another one of those and delve into more of our family recipes, with humor of course.
7) Finally, silly question. I know you’re a huge Wolverine fan. If you had unlimited resources and were hired to throw a surprise party for Wolvie himself, what would some of the dishes be?
If could throw a Wolverine party I would make a lot of things on skewers and probably incorporate Canadian Bacon and Maple syrup to give props to his homeland. Basically whatever you ate would make you live forever, obvs.
Heroes of Cosplay is the SyFy channel’s new series about cosplay competitions at conventions. The show follows a select few cosplayers behind the scenes of the competition into their homes, studios and their creative processes. Each episode centers on a different convention, and the cosplayers must create a new look for each competition. Cosplay, for those who might not be familiar, is short for “costume play” and it is the act of wearing a costume to portray a character from a work of fiction. These costumes are often hand made and they can cost hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars and hours to create. Some cosplayers like to get into character by acting like the character they’re representing. Other cosplayers merely create and wear the costumes. Either way, the cosplayers are judged on “presentation” during the competition, as well as detail and craftsmanship.
The cosplayers the series follows are mostly professional and semi-professional costumers. Chief among them is the well-known costumer Yaya Han, who appears as a guest judge at each of the competitions in the series. She is introduced by her self-chosen title, “the Ambassador of Cosplay”, and she often shows up to give our cosplayers some (seemingly unsolicited?) advice, like a costumed fairy godmother. When I spoke with Yaya at SDCC, she stressed that the competitions were not rigged in any way to favor the competitors. Indeed, in the past two episodes, only one award has been given to any of the show’s stars (it was to Holly and Jessica for “best team” for their Dungeons and Dragons costumes). We see some of the creative process, though a lot less than I had hoped. There were some cool shots of Jesse vacuum forming his Steampunk Stormtrooper helmet, and a harrowing scene where Holly makes a head cast of Jessica to help sculpt her Tiefling horns. Most of the show focuses on (surprise) the drama and stress that goes into creating something on a too-short deadline for a competition.
The show has stirred up controversy in the cosplay community. The initial excitement for a reality show based on cosplay and featuring some of the cosplay community’s most talented names has faded since the show first aired and has been replaced with… resentment, mostly. It’s what happens whenever an unelected elite minority is chosen to represent a population: rebellion. The show was marketed as a documentary style, and it does catalog events and interviews like a documentary, but it is basically another competition reality TV show. It was not made for cosplayers, it was made for the large, existing reality television audience. From what I have seen so far, it’s modeled pretty closely after TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. This isn’t a bonehead move for SyFy, since Toddlers and Tiaras is a massively popular show. It’s also not a show that was made for its subjects. I don’t know how the child-beauty-pageant-going community reacted to Toddlers and Tiaras, but I bet it wasn’t all positive.
The strange thing for me is that this is the first time I have been familiar with the work of reality TV stars before the show aired. I know some of these people, or have met them at conventions. I follow them on Twitter and Facebook. I know what some of them are really like. Watching their personalities edited to fit the reality TV model is totally fascinating. To say that the drama is all manufactured is as ridiculous as saying that everything on the show happened exactly as it seems. There is inherently drama that surrounds competitions, and cosplayers are no different. However, some of the perceived cattiness is definitely a result of editing out of context remarks together. Most of the time it’s pretty transparent.
I don’t identify as a cosplayer, but I do consider myself part of the community. The cosplay community I know is mostly a welcoming, largely inclusive bunch that will tell you to wear whoever you want as long as you’re having fun. Cosplay competition is a very small part of the activity. You definitely do not have to have ever been judged in a competition to be considered a cosplayer. That the show is focusing on competition just makes it easy to package and market, and makes more relatable for those unfamiliar with the hobby. It kind of explains to the layman why anyone would spend the kind of time and money that our cosplayers spend creating a costume. I will tell you a secret (spoiler alert: not actually a secret), you don’t spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and hours creating something for a cash reward that might very well be less than the total cost of your costume and trip to the con. You do it because you love how you feel when you dress up as a favorite character: powerful, sexy, magical. It’s the process and the reward of a job well done. It’s the attention from children who believe you’re actually who you’re dressed up as and the “May I take a picture with you?” from excited fanboy/girls. Sadly, this is what the show is lacking so far.
We still have more to see from Heroes of Cosplay. Perhaps there are some redeeming surprises in store. The second episode aired recently and featured a couple of new faces. Heroes of Cosplay is on at 10pm on Syfy. You can find them on Facebook at (www.facebook.com/HeroesofCosplay) and on Twitter at (twitter.com/HeroesofCosplay).
Are you tired of buying those boring sexy shirtless firefighter calendars year after year? Don’t you wish there were something new, different, and perhaps a bit geeky? Wouldn’t it be cool if “Mr. November” was dressed up as Commander Shepard? If the answer to any or all of those questions was “heck yes!”, then you need to check out this Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/954587867/men-vs-cosplay-2014-gaming-calendar-project).
The Men vs Cosplay Kickstarter project aims to produce a 12 (or maybe 18 month!) calendar featuring some of the best the male cosplay world has to offer. There are several high profile cosplayers participating in the calendar, such as Sylar Warren, Bill Doran, and Cap Santiago to name a few. At this point, the project is fully funded, but there are reach goals set. There are several backer levels, but $20 will get you a calendar. The funding period closes on Sept. 6, 2013.
You can find Men Vs Cosplay in a lot of places around the internet, including:
Their website: http://www.menvscosplay.com/
and Tumblr: http://menvscosplay.tumblr.com/
Aside from the Kickstarter project, they’re a pretty fun bunch to follow because of the constant high quality male cosplay photos.
This past Sunday, all of Hollywood Geek-Royalty gathered at the Avalon Theatre in Hollywood for the 1st Annual Geekie Awards. The entire event was dreamed up by the ever-talented Kristen Nedopak who was looking for a way to support indie geek art. While many of the smaller awards were announced ahead of time on their website (http://www.thegeekieawards.com/), several of the larger awards were given away in a live ceremony that live-streamed across the world. Plenty of geek celebs were on hand, including Stan Lee himself who received the first ever Geekie Award and serenaded the crowd with a song he wrote about being a geek for life.
For those lucky audience members sitting in the tables near the stage, 3D printers were working all night making custom art. I was able to see them printing away all evening and they provided people with a lot of entertainment (except for the “party table” up front who broke theirs early on).
I was privileged enough to be invited to attend as a cosplayer and even got to be onstage in my steampunk Maleficent costume to hand over the award for the Best One Shot category with Chris Gore and Keahu Kahuanui. There were plenty of amazing cosplayers on hand to entertain the crowd, take photos with and add further geek cred to the evening.
There were plenty of logistical issues throughout the evening, but considering this was a large-scale first year event, things went reasonably smoothly and the crowd seemed to enjoy the evening overall. The biggest gaff of the night came from the young (and very excited) Winner twins while presenting the award for Retail Stores and Websites. The nominee package and category name were skipped entirely, but thankfully the winners from the Nerd Machine stepped in and filled in the blank for the audience.
The pre-filmed skit that kicked off the evening and the videos preceeding each set of nominees were spectacularly done and added a real professional air to the evening. The inclusion of Best Webseries nominees the League of S.T.E.A.M. throughout the evening was also quite entertaining, especially when they used their famous net get to snag a zombie coming after host Alison Haislip.
Kudos to all involved with the evening and the events leading up to it. I for one will be curious to see how the show evolves in the future and hope that next year’s event will be even better!
San Diego Comic Con International 2013 has been over for a few weeks now. Attendees have finally recuperated from the chaos and excitement that is SDCC. As exhausting and chaotic as the pop culture convention is, the experience is also an extremely rewarding one for many. One of my favorite aspects of SDCC is the sense that not only are you part of a massive geek/nerd community, but you can also create your own world within that community. Whether you love steampunk cosplay or consider yourself the ultimate TV geek, there are different experiences for any fan at SDCC, you just have to make it. This is the first post in what I hope to be a couple of interviews with women who helped create their own personalized mini-universe within the zeitgeist that is SDCC.
Lady Steam (aka Dina Kampmeyer) is a co-founder of the League of Extraordinary Ladies and a self-described steampunk aficionado. This year Dina moderated two panels on steampunk at SDCC, The Witty Women of Steampunk and Steampunk 101, in addition to cosplaying as a steampunk Luke Skywalker. If you are interested in hearing more about Dina’s involvement with the League of Extraordinary Ladies, you can read her thoughts in a previous interview NiB had with her (and other LxLers).
1) How did you first get interested/involved in steampunk?
Dina Kampmeyer (DK): I started dating someone that was a steampunk and I had absolutely no idea what it is, but I was instantly drawn to the aesthetic. I jumped in with both feet and wanted to meet other people in LA that were into the same thing. The community was a bit disorganized, so I started volunteering my time to start planning occasional events and moderate the two FB pages that were already up and running.
2) What was your first steampunk costume?
DK: It was a pseudo-military look. I bought this great jacket online and went crazy modifying it. I cut off the sleeves, laced up the sides and added a ton of trim, buttons, epilets, etc. Then I added a bunch of ruching to this old skirt I had from college. Added a straw hat from the Renaissance Faire and boom, (not so) instant steampunk.
3) One thing I particularly love about SDCC is the feeling of belonging while at the same time creating your own reality/dream. Steampunk seems to fit into this idea perfectly. Why do you think steampunk has gained so much interest/traction at SDCC and other conventions?
DK: I think there are a lot of reasons why steampunk has become so popular in general, but in terms of conventions, I would say people just love the aesthetic. It’s so playful and it really allows costumers and cosplays a degree of freedom that they don’t usually have in other areas. Most cosplayers are looking to recreate an exact costume, but with steampunk, you don’t do that. You’re not dressing up as someone else’s character (in general), but rather creating a brand-new work of art. I think more people are getting into the genre now through this new trend of steampunking out existing pop culture characters. This is an easier way for them to explore steampunk while working with an existing product, but with an amazing degree of
creativity and freedom.
4) What kind of advice can you give someone who is looking to create their first steampunk cosplay costume?
DK: Try not to be intimidated. I hear so many people who are interested in steampunk worry that they don’t have the “right”
clothing or accessories. There is very little right and wrong in steampunk and we LOVE to help out new people, give them advice and heck, even loan them clothes. Come to steampunk events even if you’re just starting out, take a look at outfits that you like, and ask people how they created things. Go to local thriftshops and try and use your imagination. You’ll be surprised at how much you can create with an old dress and a sewing machine (or some safety pins and tape if you don’t sew).
5) You recently moderated a panel at SDCC called “The Witty Women of Steampunk.” Can you give a general synopsis of the panel for those who were unable to attend SDCC (or the panel)? What was your favorite moment of the panel?
DK: I was very lucky to have this panel accepted by the lovely folks at SDCC for the 2nd year in a row. Basically, I put together an incredible group of female creators and just let them talk about why they love steampunk and what about the genre appeals to them as a creator. We talked comics, alternate history, video games, costuming, multiculturalism and more.
6) Why “Witty Women” of Steampunk?
DK: Part of what is so appealing about steampunk is a return to the Victorian ideals of the pursuit of knowledge and civility. People were very interested in improving both themselves and the world around them. I think we all long to return to a time when wit was a prized possession and my panelists all fit that bill.
7) You also moderated a panel entitled, “Steampunk 101.” Based on discussions at that panel (and of course your own thoughts), what do see for the future of steampunk in popular culture?
DK: Excellent question. The popularity of steampunk has positively exploded over the past couple of years and we expect to see more and more of it in popular culture. It’s been huge amongst the convention crowd for a long time, but Hollywood is slowly starting to take notice. Fox just gleenlit a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen TV-pilot, so we’ll see if we finally get a big steampunk series. There has yet to be a big steampunk movie and the panelists (and audience) were all interested in seeing one. Steampunk-literature is popping up all over the NY Times bestseller chart, so I think it’s only a matter of time before we see a big film coming out. Until then, we can keep ourselves occupied with all the fantastic literature and webseries that have directly explored the genre.
8) This year you cosplayed as Steampunk Luke Skywalker. What prompted you to do a gender-swap steampunk cosplay?
DK: Well, I have wanted to do a steampunk Star Wars group for several years and I finally managed to do it. I always intended to be R2D2, but time snuck up on me and we were missing a Luke from our core group, so I thought, why not? He was quite a challenge to find a way to make him distinctive since his outfit isn’t that unique and I was already going to confuse people by crossplaying. I hope that I succeeded and we’ll be building up this group for future conventions and adding some new characters.
Chrissy Lynn is a CA native who began costuming at a very young age. With a major interest in comics and scifi growing up she attended her first comic convention in 2004. She’s always had a passion for the arts; be it charcoal, make-up, costume design or music. She’s used her talents and skills to help fundraise for many non-profit charity organizations and enjoys cosplaying, especially her signature cosplay, Catwoman. Since her first Cosplay at Comicon in 2010 she’s been involved in 6 Cosplay groups, two of which she organized including the DC Steampunk group which debuted at SDCC in 2012. She was introduced to Steampunk in 2007, being a fan of HG Wells, Jules Verne and other scifi authors during the turn of the century she adopted the Victorian science fiction motif and made it apart of her daily style and Cosplay medium of choice. This year at San Diego Comicon she was invited by a good friend to join a Steampunk Star Wars group which turned out to be a hit and will be back at this year’s Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo.
1) Your DC Steampunk cosplay group is amazing! How did that come together?
Chrissy Lynn (CL): It all started with having a passion for both the DC Comics universe and Steampunk Culture. I simply started piecing together the idea shortly after Comicon 2011 and thats when I called upon my very good friend Johnny Bias (Steampunk Riddler), from there we reached out to our close friends who we knew would be interested,and could all work together to make these costumes cohesive and photograph well. We all have a hand in something on everyone’s costumes, it’s a team effort that has grown into a family, some cosplayers retire their character and are replaced with other awesome cosplayers. I couldn’t be more proud of this group, we all did this together.
2) Did you all work together on your costumes? If so, which costume did you find the most challenging to put together?
CL: We all came from different skill sets, some of us are tailors and seamstresses, leather workers and some of us are FX and prop fabricators, or geniuses with industrial glue guns. So far what characters you haven’t seen in the group yet are our most challenging. But I’d say, my occasional challenge is doing our Two Face’s makeup because he is unfortunately allergic to latex, so next time I may need to work with silicone!
3) If you had unlimited resources, what would be your ultimate steampunk cosplay (group or individual)?
CL: I’ve been in talks with several individuals who want to do Disney Steampunk, I was honored to recently be a part of this year’s Star Wars Steampunk group with Dina, and I have to say I’d stick with the DC group, only make it BIGGER. However I wouldn’t mind doing a Steampunk X-men group, just sayin’!
4) Any advice to anyone else trying to put together a cosplay group (steampunk or otherwise) for a convention?
CL: YouTube is filled to the brim on HOW-TO’s and DIY videos, if you are a visual learner check those out, otherwise do what we all have done, trial and error. If I knew 5 years ago what I know now with today’s skill set I would have made ALL the things, at least better. But like any other trade it can take years to master, you don’t always need a sewing machine or unlimited funds, I have a gift for deconstructing pre-existing materials into other objects to fit my cosplay needs. So I encourage everyone to try and remember cosplay is just that, it’s costume play, so play and have fun no matter what!
DC Steampunk Photos by Mike Rollerson
Star Wars Steampunk Photo by Jerry Abuan
Steampunk Malificent Photo by Justin Davidson
A couple of weekends ago I had the great privilege of hanging out with the crew of the USS Loma Prieta (http://usslomaprieta.org/), a Star Trek-centered science fiction fan club based out of San Francisco. I attended their Battlestations event, which was a fundraiser for the club featuring game play of the Artemis star ship bridge simulator (http://www.artemis.eochu.com/
The event was held at WeWork Labs in SF, which was a nice space and perfectly suited to the event. The space allowed for two full Artemis crews to work together and co-op a mission. There was also a set up for a training bridge to help people new to the game get acquainted with the controls. The Artemis stations are very similar to the standard Star Trek bridge stations: Captain, helm, science, weapons, engineering, and communications. Each game takes 6 players on networked computers to work together with both their consoles and their physical communications to beat the game.
The simulation is awesome. That is actually the best word to describe it. Each console UI looks very different from the rest, and the game play itself is very realistic (based on my experiences as an actual starship captain). I suppose the next step in making it even more realistic would be to sync the Artemis game with a motion simulator under the bridge to simulate ship movement and enemy hits. Each crew member has a different, yet important job. Just like a real starship voyage, the crew is conducted by the captain.
One of the missions I played had my crew protecting our space stations from enemy attacks. I manned the communications station, and shouted incoming messages to the Captain through a microphone. I also participated in the Artemis version of Star Trek‘s “Kobayashi Maru” training exercise, which if you’re familiar with Star Trek, you will know is a no-win scenario. Needless to say, we didn’t win. My crew did last 7 minutes against the enemy ships, though!
The USS Loma Prieta puts on these events periodically for the public, but they also run Artemis sims as well as other Trek-related activities at their meetings. You can follow the USS Loma Prieta on Twitter at (https://twitter.com/
If you’re interested in the game but want to play at home or aren’t located in the Bay Area, you can purchase Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator for yourself! There is a free demo available on the Artemis website as well (http://www.artemis.eochu.com/
For the curious, here is a video from last year interviewing some of the USS Loma Prieta crew and showcasing some Artemis game play. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Today’s kids and collectors enjoy playing with (and hunting for) DC Universe or Marvel Legends action figures. But back in the 70′s and early 80′s, the Mego Corporation was the undisputed giant of the figure world. According to the MegoMuseum website, founder D. David Abrams started the company in 1954 as a manufacturer of 88 cent promotional toys and dime store novelties.
In the early 1970′s, Abrams’ son Marty began working for Mego and was responsible for much of its subsequent success. During his tenure, Mego launched the toy line which changed the childhoods of so many of us for the better: the World’s Greatest Super Heroes (made from 1972-83). They looked a bit different from present-day figures.
Mego heroes were 8″ tall instead of the 3 or 4 inch height typical of modern action toys. Despite their curious construction of rubber bands inside a plastic body, they were quite poseable and could stand upright. Each had a removeable costume consisting of a cloth unitard and footwear, usually boots in a matching color.
Megos had only four basic body shapes, making them easy to mass produce. This was handy for the consumer as well. If something happened to the toy, you could simply place the head on another body. This also applied to many of the costumes. A big part of Mego play was carefully peeling off the unitard, then placing it on another figure for a droll or bizarre effect.
Another cool feature was the fact that Mego manufactured both DC and Marvel characters. Some of the more popular toys included Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Spiderman. There were also villains such as the Joker, the Lizard, the Green Goblin, and Silver Age Superman foe Mr. Mxyzptlk.
The exciting thing for comics-loving girls was the inclusion of several female characters, among them Supergirl, Catwoman, Isis, and the aforementioned Wonder Woman. It’s hard for present day kids to picture how these female heroes stood out in the toy landscape, an oasis of girlpower in a male figure world. Sure, there were Barbie and her fashion sisters, and they were beloved. But it was also neat to have a tangible representation of the heroines you always read about.
With the success of the Heroes, Mego was able to expand and produce more figures, birthing a microcosm of pop culture in the process. They came up with toys based on the original Star Trek TV series and the Planet of the Apes movies. 1975 began the era of TV-based lines, such as the CHIPS and Happy Days characters.
Some of these (like Cher of the TV Starz series) were a bit taller than the standard Mego. Not surprisingly, the TV toys have become very collectible because of their appeal to 70′s nostalgia.
In 1977, a strange thing happened with the Mego company: they turned down the rights for a Star Wars toy line. Various reasons have been given for this, the most cited being that Mego became leery of making figures for every science fiction franchise that came along. MegoMuseum reports that it was a communications error; the basic pitch never reaching senior management.
In any event, Star Wars licensing went to Hasbro, who promptly turned quite the profit making 3-inch likenesses of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the rest. Evantually, the trend toward smaller toys with painted-on clothes and better joint articulation became standard in the industry.
But it’s hard to keep a classic toy down, and though the original Mego corp disbanded in 1983, the figures remain popular and very collectible. Several posts could be devoted to the subject of customizing Mego toys alone. As mentioned earlier, Megos are ideal for this due to their standardized bodies (easy to change and fit clothes to).
Before being cancelled recently, Toyfare magazine took customizing to a whole new level with their “Twisted Toyfare Theater” stories. These delightfully demented satires of comics and SF movies featured Megos and other toys as main characters, sending up everything from The Matrix to X-Men tales. It was great to read humor which featured toys one actually played with while growing up.
Though smaller action figures are the present-day norm, anyone who grew up with Megos retains a soft spot for them. After all, they were the embodiment of our favorite heroes. They fostered imagination without a single battery. In a tech-driven world, that’s still quite an accomplishment.
About a month ago, my friend asked me if I would be interested in learning how to play Magic: The Gathering with her. I excitedly said “heck yes!” for a couple of reasons. First, my friend is new to the nerd world and I’m delighted to show her around. Second, because I have wanted to play Magic for a LONG time.
Once upon a time when I was a little girl, I would hang out in my science teacher’s classroom during lunch. There was a group of boys who would play Magic in there. I would watch them sometimes. I liked the art on the cards and it looked like they were having fun. One time I suppressed my social anxiety enough to ask them if I could play. It was a big deal in that I was a seventh grade girl pioneering her way into this secret boys’ club. I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t think the answer would be anything other than, “sure, join us”. I was expecting the wedding scene from Fiddler on the Roof when the men and women started dancing together. What I got was, “No, that’s weird. This isn’t a girls’ game”. Yes, I’m serious. But, being 12 years old, I was only initially disappointed and then just took their word for it.
Fast forward to now, when basically all I do is sleep and play games of both the video and table top variety. Until a month ago, I still hadn’t played Magic. I had heard the unfortunate stereotypes of the players being angry rules-lawyers who spent way too much money and time on their hobby. I still kind of wanted to play, but I was worried that the rules might take a while to master (like Dungeons and Dragons) or that I would have to spend a lot of time studying strategy (like League of Legends). I didn’t have the time or inclination for any of that. My friend pointed me to the free Magic 2014 tablet game (also available on Steam), which actually taught me how to play really quickly. I like to describe the game play as “a more math-heavy version of chess with pretty pictures”. The full version of Magic 2014 is $10, but the free version is definitely enough to get you started. The tutorial was easy to get the hang of, and the game does a good job gradually increasing the difficulty as you play. After I’d become confident playing the tablet game, my friend and I went to our first Friday Night Magic draft.
There are a lot of comic book and game stores in the area who participate in Friday Night Magic. The reason we chose Space Cat (http://superspacecat.com/
Magic 2014 was recently released in card-form, as opposed to the tablet game, and I was able to draft with the new set this past Friday. There are some new creatures, some game-changing artifact cards, and a new group of Planeswalkers to get a hold of. It’s a great way to spend a Friday night, and I’m now on a mission to spread the good word of Magic: The Gathering to the rest of my gaming friends.