Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Catch-Up Time

I haven’t written a blog in forever.  Sorry about that.  This one will just be a mass update on everything that has happened since the last post, and a lot has happened.

First up, completed builds!

Colonel Stars and Stripes Ol’ Hickory of Justice from KickAss 2

This was a lot of fun, and thanks to the fellows over at the RPF, I was able to get a lot of good details and ideas before the movie was out.  This started as an ax handle, but was too long.  I cut it down and then glued it back together.  The stars in the field of blue were masked off using foam star stickers from Jo Anns, and then red and white electrical tape to finish the handle.  I added a line of parachute chord under the tape just to improve the grip.


My finished Stars and Stripes costume.

I also continued my Team Fortress 2 build kick.




I named the grenade launcher Brienne and the sniper rifle Shelia.

Brienne was for my Demoman cosplay, and Shelia was a commission for my friend’s Sniper cosplay.


Around this same time, I was commissioned to build a 22 shot, double barreled pistol.


I named her Grace.

Grace then inspired me to build Mercy.  A quad barreled shotgun pistol.


Mercy will be a big part of my Post Apocalyptic Mad Hatter at DragonCon 2014.

I also really got into the anime Soul Eater, and have even caught up on the English translated manga of it as well.  As such, I needed a Dr. Stein cosplay.

dr__franken_stein_s_coat_and_shirt_by_tn_scotsman-d6r36su  death_scythe_from_soul_eater_by_tn_scotsman-d6r36t7 dr__franken_stein_s_bolt_by_tn_scotsman-d6r36sj


One of my new favorite costumes to wear.

For the bolt, I used a hair band that I can wear under the wig, and then rare earth magnets to hold everything in place.  This also allows it to turn.

DragonCon 2013 happened, and I needed a Bioshock costume for my wife and myself.  None of the Infinite characters really appealed to me, but my wife came up with the idea of a female motorized patriot, so this happened.


And this,



We marched in the parade in these and it was a blast.  Yes the barrels of the peppermills turned.  I’ve actually rebuilt one to make it lighter and more stable, and I’m working on the second.

Another friend of mine commissioned me to make her a set of classic Disney Maleficent horns. 


I sculpted the horns out of pink insulation foam, and again used a head band and rare earth magnets to hold everything in place.

I’ve been on a Deadmau5 kick lately.  I really like how everyone just comes up with an original spin to the standard Deadmau5 head.  So, I created Subject Delt@mau5, a Bioshock 2 Subject Delta inspired mau5 head.


And a Ruckus Service Radio

I’m making 4 more mau5 heads.  Two are commissions and two will be used at DragonCon by me and my wife.  This is one of the completed commission pieces.  They requested the ear and eyes to light up.

Deadmau5 Head 1 Collage

You can see a video of the LEDs in action over here.

I think that about catches up on everything that I have built since the last post.

Other happenings since the last post:

My Motorized Patriot won Fall Showcase Male over on Southern Cospitality, and then shortly after that, I was named Prop Builder of the year by Southern Cospitality.  Two massive highs in about a week.

Currently, I’m participating in the Days ‘Til DragonCon podcast series over on Word of the Nerd.  Its an awesome little series that follows nine cosplayers as we build and sew our way to DragonCon.  What’s it like to be a cosplayer?  Watch and find out!

As such, I’ve got my DragonCon 2014 line-up pretty well set this week.

Thursday Night – Kevin the Awesome Now with More Awesome and Less Fat
Friday Day – Dr. Stein
Friday Night – Post Apocalyptic Mad Hatter
Saturday Day – Peach Wilkins from Bioshock and marching in the parade again.
Saturday Night – DeadDaftMau5Punk
Sunday – Destro from G.I.Joe

I’ll try to post more as things go along, or at least not wait 9 months in between posts.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sonos Wireless HiFi – Mini-Review


About a month ago, while watching Sunday afternoon football, I saw this commercial:



Now, I had heard of Sonos before, and I knew their price-point was high, and their equipment clunky looking.  However, the equipment in the commercial looked good, and the ability to stream different music to each speaker at the same time had me totally hooked.

I started researching Sonos, and found they had a pretty good reputation and their new Play series was looking good.  Plus, at the time, they were giving away a free bridge with a Play speaker purchase.  That was always the catch for me; to make the expensive speaker work, I had to purchase another piece of expensive equipment just to make it work.  Now that it was free, I was very interested.  I just needed to hear them in real life.  Would they sound like they do in the commercial coming from my home theater system, or would they sound like tin cans, like every other portable speaker ever.

Off to Target!  Just so happens that my local Target carried Sonos equipment and had a demo display set up.  Now I could answer the last question: How do they really sound?  Short answer: Awesome.  In the big open area of Target, the sound was impressive and surprisingly immersive.  The bass response from the Play:3 and the Play:5 was above what I expected.   The Play:1 was about what I expected.  It tried, but just couldn’t make it.  However, being resistant to humidity and very small made it perfect for someplace like the kitchen.  You don’t need super audio quality while banging pots and pans together, just some background noise.Now, being the kind of person I am, I left Target after my successful trial run, and placed and order through Amazon for a Play:1, Play:3, and a Play:5.  Amazon was also providing the free bridge with purchase.  2 Days later,


The setup of this system couldn’t be much easier.  First thing you install is the Bridge unit.  It hardwires into your home network and can be placed next to your router or anywhere with a cable drop, if your house is wired for Ethernet.  Our Bridge sits on the video game storage cabinet in the living room, and you’d never notice it.

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Plug in the power and it does the rest. 

Next you need to download the Sonos app.  There are iPad, iPhone/iPod, and Android versions of the app, making it pretty universal.  Once the app installs, it asks you to press the button on the Bridge to establish a connection.  Then that’s it.  Your Bridge is ready for speakers and the app is ready to control them.

Speaker setup is just as easy.  Plug in the speaker, tap the Add Speaker button in the app, press a button on the speaker, and done. 2013-12-11 12.33.27
Sonos Play:5 in our living room.

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Sonos Play:3 in the master bedroom

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Sonos Play:1 in our kitchen.  This one also comes with me down into the basement/lab when I’m working down there.

Sonos even pushes out firmware and other updates the same way.  The app alerts you to an update and the push goes from there.  This was so simple, it’s a technology I’d consider giving to my parents.

In the store, I was impressed with the audio performance of these speakers.  At home, I was blown away.  The Play:1 has the most incredible bass response I’ve heard from such a small speaker.  The Play:3 fills a room evenly and beautifully with well balanced music.  If anything I’d say I was the least impressed with the Play:5.  To be such a large unit, the smaller two really outshine it.

The app is also really easy to use.  You can connect it to your Pandora, Amazon Cloud, Spotify, or even home media server quick and easy.

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iPad interface

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iPhone/Android interface

Q&A Time

Is the Sonos system a little pricey?  Yes, but in my opinion, it is worth every penny.

Does the Sonos system pass the spouse test?  With flying colors, yes it does.  My wife loves this system.  Once of the really cool, kind of hidden features is the sleep timer and alarm clock features in the app.  This is getting a lot of use in our house.

Would you buy more Sonos pieces?  Yes.  I really want at least a Play:1 in every room of the house, and am working toward that too.

Once you set them up, can you move the speakers?  Yes.  You just unplug the power, move it to another room, plug it in and go.  Over Thanksgiving, we moved the Play:3 into the dining room and had music as we ate.

The only true downside I can find with the Sonos system is the cost, but so far, its been well worth the investment.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Heroes of Cosplay – A Lesson in History


On Tuesday, August 13 at 10:30PM eastern, I attempted to watch the Sy-Fi channel reality TV show “Heroes of Cosplay”.  I made it about a third of the way through the episode before having to turn it off for my own health.  The show was causing a spike in my blood pressure and sent me ranting all over the house.  By the way, cats do not care about my opinions and will not listen.  Once I calmed down a little, I noticed something.  This anger that I was feeling was somehow familiar.  Like I had felt it before, but when and over what?  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I had been here before.

If you would, please set your WABAC Machines for 1975.  We’re going to join in on a quiet little revolution: Skateboarding.

Skating started as a means of individual expression.  It wasn’t a team sport.  You didn’t compete against anyone.  You just rode for you.  Kids would band together in support of this idea and would ride together either down streets or in abandoned pools (or at least empty ones).  Then an observer took notice and offered a prize to the one that could pull off the sickest trick.  The skateboarding competition was born.

Kids went from being kids to being rock stars overnight.  They were touring the world on their skateboards.  Some took fame well.  Some, tragically, didn’t handle it well.  However, through them and their skating, the popularity grew and grew.  Also, keep in mind, this is before the Internet.  We learned about things via word of mouth or in print media sources.  So, the growth was slow compared to how things take off today, but for this time period, the popularity was exploding.

With all popular things, there is a group that sees it as a trend, and trends make money.  Enter the corporate sponsored competitions.  Now we could watch Big Air competitions on low level ESPN channels.  Street competitions were getting brands slapped everywhere.  Suddenly this means of individual expression had become a sport.  Skateboarding even had its own public face in the form of the great Tony Hawk.  A truly talented skater, but one that many regarded as a sell out.

Watching skating turn into a professional sport; seeing kids get into it just for the sake of making money; watching competitions become more and more cut throat was heart breaking.  It made me very angry.  This thing I loved, this punk movement, had gone and gotten a suit and tie.  It had changed into something new that I didn’t like.  Or had it?

That was the anger I was feeling from Heroes of Cosplay.  They were taking cosplay, and making it into something else.  Something ugly.  Something that does not represent cosplay’s heart and spirit.  Just like what they had done to skateboarding.  Now this is not about skating or cosplay becoming mainstream.  Please don’t think that.  I want more and more people to see and do cosplay.  Everyone should at some point.  This ager is over the perverting of the heart and spirit:  Taking forms of individual expression and turning them into high pressure competitions for fame and glory.

Alright, not set your WABAC Machines for the year 1999.  By this point, my anger had subsided, and I had just resolved myself that this was the way things are now.  I had even taken to watching the X-Games.  The 1999 X-Games is one I will never forget.  It was the best trick competition and Tony Hawk was riding.  He was putting on an amazing show and was leading up to the then Holy Grail of tricks: The 900.  In a 900, the rider spins 900 degrees around in the air.  That’s two and a half full rotations in the air.  A lot of us thought this was impossible, but you could see Tony trying it.  His timer ran out before he could pull off the 900, but he didn’t stop.  He kept trying.  The TV cameras didn’t turn off.  No other skaters went to file a protest that Hawk was taking up their camera time.  The announcers didn’t question what they were watching.  “Just let him have another try” was all that was being said.  Then it happened.  After regulation, when it technically didn’t count, Tony Hawk landed the first 900, but it didn’t count in the competition.

The celebration that came after was amazing.  Everyone had been cheering him on, not hoping he would win, but wanting to see the trick.  That’s when it hit me: Skateboarding hadn’t actually changed, at least not at its heart.  Sure it had corporate sponsorship now and a cleaner haircut, but that spirit was still there.  Skateboarding hadn’t really changed at all.  So, if skateboarding can survive, so can cosplay.

Ultimately, the entire geek universe and culture is going through a really long growing pain.  We’ve won mainstream support.  We’re getting big flood lights pointed into our shadier areas.  A lot of things are changing; some even for the better.  Evolution can be painful, but we will survive.  Stuff like Heroes of Cosplay has happened many times before and it will happen again and again.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Harley Quinn’s Hammer–The Batsmasher


It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog update.  I’ve been busy, I promise.  Just too busy to sit and write a build log.  So, in the spirit of playing catch up, here is The Batsmasher.

This is the second of, what I hope to be, many commissions from the talented ~RedxHarlxoxo.  Harley has many weapons, and one of my personal favorites has always been her huge hammer.

When I was asked if I could build that, well of course I said yes (I always do, don’t I).  How hard could it be?

The core construction was easy enough.  A large concrete forming tube and a section of pipe running through the middle.  This pipe was to guide and secure the wooden handle.


The handle slid right in and simply screwed onto a bolt at the top.

This kept the whole thing light. 

I sealed the whole tube with a few coats of fiberglass resin.  This helped to hide the spiral running down the tube.

There was some confusion with the paint, that led to the first of several set backs.

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Please not the color says Kona Brown.

Opening the can revealed:
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Turned out this was one of those voodoo/witchcraft paints that goes on purple and dries brown.

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To cap the ends, I used EVA foam that I carved a wood like pattern into and glued them in place.

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Now for more purple/brown paint.


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And I now have a giant Tootsie Roll.  Great.

Several hours with the airbrush later, I was getting something that looked more wood and less candy.

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After a while, I finally got the paint right, only to screw up parts of it later.

Next we have the tension bands and rivets to hold it in place.  This was a fun little trick that turned out better than I expected, but the glue ruined some of the paint.

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Some touch up and repaint, and it looked much better.

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And I really need to get a better shop camera.  Sorry.

The next set back came for the ^$%@&$*$%^!!! handle.  It was too long to ship in one piece.  Making a sectional wooden handle is not something I’m good at, and proved again when I busted the wooden handle trying to fix it.

I didn’t want to, for various reasons, but I had to go back to my old friend PVC pipe.  It could be sectional easily, but I had to keep it from looking like pipe.

I took one section and permanently installed it inside the hammer, leaving a coupling section out for the rest of the handle.  The other two pieces were also joined with a coupling…a heavily modified coupling.




In the end, I am really pleased with how this turned out.  Yeah, I’d do some things differently if I built it again, but that’s true of almost everything I build.



Did I mention I came in just under 6 feet tall?