How did I get into cosplay? Well, friends, buckle in. It started in elementary school. In a really roundabout way. I’m sure I could write a novel about where the geekery started, but I’ll spare you (for now). TL;DR Version ahead!
Alison and I reconnected at Planet Comicon in Kansas City in 2017, and decided to become real-life friends again after several years of casual con-friendship. She was deep into the local cosplay community, and I’d always appreciated the art form, so she convinced me to create my first cosplay. It took me awhile to decide on a character, but one day epiphany struck and… I decided to do a super femme version of Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 1)! He’s little, he’s sarcastic, he’s bossy AND a badass. And he gets to carry a huge gun! All good things, right? Man, I couldn’t have been more wrong. But, let’s start at the beginning.
Being a feminine plus size woman, I usually avoid overly garish or frumpy outfits– so Rocket’s neon orange space shoulder-to-knee bulky jumpsuit was the perfect costume choice, huh? Enter me, ridiculous designer extraordinaire.
I bought a white leotard off of Amazon, a few yards of white spandex from Jo-Ann’s, and a couple bottles of RIT Synthetic Dye in “Apricot.” After that nerve shredding experience (I’d never dyed fabric before and these were expensive), I had officially set upon the road to the orange glory that is Rockette Raccoon. But then came the gun.
Oh. My. Lawd. That gun. I had never built anything before and I chose what is probably one of the biggest guns in the cosplay world. It was awful. And wonderful. But mostly awful. I absolutely destroyed our living room with foam, glue, paint, and sobbing. I whined to Alison and my new friend Joe incessantly, and constantly asked for their opinions. I hated that stupid gun. I was in over my head and I knew it. But they were gracious, and kind, and the effervescent cheerleaders of my dreams. With their guidance, I finished it. And it was alright.
This sucker is nearly 4.5 feet long and almost 6 inches wide. For the record, I barely clear 5’0 on a good day.
Also, I’ll have you know, the building was actually the easiest part of this whole process. As dramatic and time consuming as it was for me, in hindsight it was a breeze. I thought I was in the clear after the last piece was glued down until I realized I still needed to paint the damn thing. I’m not so good with the paint.
Using the above photo as a reference for palette, I picked up a handful of metallic paints from Wal-Mart and got to work. After several coats and missteps, I ended up with a moderately okay piece of foamy machinery.
I recognize now that I should have taken better progress photos, but I was a distraught mess at practically every step of this build. That’s more or less the final form of the gun. I added more coats to various parts and sealed the whole thing with a shiny spray varnish and Mod Podge. Next was finishing the costume itself and building Rocket’s back piece.
The back piece was the easiest thing to build. It’s two flat pieces of EVA foam, cut to shape and size, with a hole carved out in the middle for a $1.50 closet “tap light” to be glued. I painted the light a semi-gradient blue, added hole-punched foam rivets, and slapped some coordinating paint on the whole thing. Add in parachute strapping for the piece to harness onto and I was done!
The first thing I made for this costume was actually the tail, which was tufts of multicolored yarn that had been brushed into silky smooth submission with the aid of a spiky metal dog brush. I used the same process to make ears, which I attached to felt backing and hair combs. Now that the props had been constructed, all that was left to do was finish creating the skirt and altering the leotard to better fit my vision. Naturally, that meant I was up sewing panels on to the leotard at 7am the day of the cosplay’s debut at O-Comic-Con in Council Bluffs, Iowa. But I got it done and here we are!
Also, Ben Nye creme foundation pots are a god send. Buy them all.
So, there you have it. My first cosplay. It was a helluva battle getting it all built, but I had a great time with a great friend. I’ll update this post with links to tutorials I followed and products I used if people are curious. I have a lot to do on this cosplay before I ever wear it again. I need to make the thigh holsters, readjust and reattach the shoulder pads (my Velcro popped midday and made for a treacherous safety pin situation), and add the brown/black detail panels onto the skirt. A snap crotch would also make bathroom breaks way less labor intensive.
I hope you enjoyed reading along with my first cosplay adventure, and that you stick around for my next project (which a little birdie told me is bit of a ~fishy~ affair).