This Weekend: MAGFest 13!

MAGFest is quickly becoming our favorite convention. There’s fun to be had in every single corner of the con space and VIDEO GAMES, MAN.

We’ll be arriving sometime tomorrow in the early afternoon and here’s what we’ll be wearing all weekend. Please say hi if you see us! :D

Friday (POSSIBLY): Biker (Nate) & Jacket (Heather) – Hotline Miami (depends arrival time)
Friday PM: Trevor Philips (Nate) & Michael De Santa (Heather) – Grand Theft Auto V
Saturday: Pots (Heather) – Jet Set Radio series
Saturday PM: Michael (Nate) & Henrietta (Heather): Goth Kids – South Park
Sunday: Matt Miller (Nate) & Kinzie Kensington (Heather) – Saints Row (Gat Out of Hell! Birthday party spacesuits!)
Sunday PM: Biker (Nate) & Jacket (Heather) – Hotline Miami

Who else is going? We hope to see you there! We also hope to play a massive amount of video & tabletop games, yesssssssss.

Costumes – Star Wars: Expanded Universe – Tenel Ka Djo (Young Jedi Knights)

This post is originally from September 2012 but since then I’ve updated this outfit and added some new things so I went ahead and added more to the post and edited the post to reflect that!

After finishing up the Tenel Ka Djo fanart-inspired outfit for Dragon*Con 2011 (the NJO armor from the fanart by Todd!), I was inspired to remake an old TK costume I had made a number of years before – a version of the Young Jedi Knights armor! I say “a version” because I know whatever I came up with wouldn’t look exactly like any of the official art of the armor that has been drawn (I am not that skilled, lol). For Dragon*Con 2012, I was finally able to finish it and wear it! There were a few things I wanted to fix/change a bit, but overall I was very excited to have made another version of this armor.

Tenel Ka Djo costume - Dragon*Con 2012

I had fiddled with both scales and wonderflex thanks to the fanart outfit and the Tempest cover outfit and knew I wanted to incorporate at least one of these things in the new YJK costume (I thought the aluminum scales might not be organic enough for this outfit, so I’ll be using them on another TK outfit I’m working on :D). The first couple versions of this costume were basically the shorts, bodysuit and two boleros of differing sizes layered on one another (I had absolutely no idea how to attack that armor). When I started costuming, Tenel Ka’s YJK outfit was one of my dream costumes and I never had any faith that I could pull anything like it off so when I actually was able to put something together for the first time, I was really proud of myself! Now I wanted to challenge myself again and try it once more (I’ve wanted to do so for a couple years now, I just never got past the planning stages, haha XD). She is definitely a favorite character of mine from any form of media and has been since I was a tweenbot derp reading the Young Jedi Knight books. This is probably a duh thing though since I always gush about her when the topic of Star Wars comes up and I keep making costumes relating to her, whether it’s a new Queen Mother outfit or a really obscure jumpsuit that’s mentioned once in one book. I can’t help it! She’s the tough, brave girl I always wanted to be when I was younger! :3

When I started looking at redesigning the outfit, I knew I wanted to use the same green fabric I used for the shoulder armor in the fanart-inspired outfit. I loved the shade and the texture was perfect. It’s never really said where she’s made (or received) her armor from, but it’s been described in a couple of places as lizard-hide and/or rancor-hide, depending on sources. So I sort of went with both. I figured the texture of the green fabric would work with the lizard hide thing – I had a copperish-brown fabric that was the same texture so looking at the images of her armor, I planned on putting the copper on the green together. These colors resembled the image of her armor on the cover of Young Jedi Knights: The Lost Ones.

The Lost Ones

When trying to decide on what shape to make the armor, I debated between a few things – from the pointed shoulder pieces of the image from the Essential Guide to Characters, to the rounded ones of the Lost Ones cover, and even checked out some medieval armor, trolling numerous websites and looking at old school Top layer of armor.defense and protective covering. The one thing I knew I was going to do was have the two layers – the top copper and the bottom green – and then have the top layer wrap around my neck and then spread out over my shoulders. With the fanart-inspired outfit, the top layer of the armor went all the way around the neck and rested comfortably on my shoulders. I aimed to do something like that with this one as well. The bottom layer of the armor (the green layer) is built into the green bolero, like the image of the armor from the Essential Guide to Characters.

Tenel Ka

I made the bottom layer a bolero with Wonderflex under the shoulders to give it some stiffness, then the whole top copper part is a piece of Wonderflex that’s slightly smaller than the copper fabric over it. For the shape of the shoulders, I ended up going with something in between the two shapes I debated between, having the edges a bit rounded and the tips pointed. The fanart-inspired outfit I did had round edges all around, as does The Lost Ones image, but I did like the way the pointed ones in the EGtC looked. I made sort of an indent in the copper shoulder pieces and cut out scale shapes in a different reptile-textured fabric, using them to fill in the cutouts in the shoulder piece.

When designing the shape of the top set of copper armor and Nate was helping me pattern/cut it out, he mentioned it going down further in the back. It would give more protection in between the shoulderblades, plus give me a place to use all the extra scale shapes I cut out! The back of her armor has never been shown so I figured it would be cool to have some fun with it! The fabric I originally used for the scales started out green, but I painted it with three different shades of spraypaint to begin with, then went over the edges in rust and copper colored paint. You can’t really see the detail on them unless you’re close-up, but I had a lot of fun making them and painting them. I also went through a lot of glue to keep them all on!

Tenel Ka Djo costume - Dragon*Con 2012

One of the main things I wanted to keep in mind with this outfit was comfort – the first version I made of it was a breeze to wear and I had a lot of fun in the woods getting goofy Yavin IV shenanigan photos. I knew that it would be more difficult to keep that aspect with this outfit, since it would be more detailed/made out of harder fabrics – but I was determined! Comfort is a huge aspect when I make most costumes because I goof off a lot in costume (if you’ve seen The Derp Collection on our Facebook page, you are aware lolol). XD That leads me to the shorts! With the fanart-inspired outfit, I made the shorts out of a shiny snakeskin vinyl sort of material. It was a bit stretchy but they didn’t breathe well. With the fabric I used for the armor, I knew I would have the same problem. In the EGtC image of her armor the shorts match the bottom piece of the armor/bolero… so I knew I wanted to try to find a way to match them. The material used on the armor is upholstery fabric and doesn’t stretch or breathe one bit (naturally, since it’s upholstery fabric! XD) — so I had to be very careful when patterning/cutting them out and then sewing them.

I had originally made them all out of the green fabric and they fit well enough, but I wanted to add some color in somehow. I ended up making uneven panels (I was going to make them even first but figured just randomly cutting the fabrics and putting in two panels down the sides of differing sizes would add to the organic/cobbled-together-lizard-skins look) and cutting the side seams of the green shorts, then sewing in the panels. I liked having the copper color in somewhere besides just the top armor (plus I had more of that fabric sitting around!) and figured that would be a good place to work it into the shorts.

My original plan for the bottom of the shorts, after adding the copper panels, was to do the same thing I had done on the top shoulder armor – I was planning on making a cutout on the outsides of the shorts and adding some of the cut scales in, but once I cut the shapes out, I thought they would work better as “vents” of a sort and I ended up stabbing some holes with an awl and lacing them up with extra suede cord I had (after using it on the stick and necklace, which we’ll get to in a bit!)… it might not seem like a lot but the vents were extra helpful with keeping my legs somewhat cool!

Jacen Solo & Tenel Ka Djo costumes - Dragon*Con 2012

Other big details include the bodysuit/leotard and the hair. The leotard was a dark gray one I had for the original version of this costume – I ended up wearing another one I had (more of a earth-tone one) then but decided to switch to this one for the new version of this outfit. It matched the EGtC image better and broke up the green and copper and brown better than the other one. A friend of mine, Bria (of White Hot Room), had learned how to do fishtail braids a month or two beforehand (due to us nerding around on a hairstyle site one day, hehe) and practiced when she was over for BasementCon II a couple weeks before Dragon*Con 2012. She came over to our hotel room the Friday morning of con and did them again (which I am extremely grateful for)! <3

The bag is the second bag I had made for an earlier version of this costume. I kept it for this one and made a new belt out of a fabric I thought looked slightly rancor-ish in texture. I need to fix up the belt since hers gets smaller up on her waist and bigger behind the bag (somehow! XD)… in the EGtC picture she has some sort of cord or rope on her belt on the side without the bag, so I actually ended up tying bits and pieces of suede cord I had used on different Tenel Ka costumes I had made in the past together and attached them to my belt. Kind of a nerdy callback to other TK costumes I had worked on, plus the fact that they were all rugged and worn made it look like the rope/cord had been used for jungle shenanigan climbing stuff, hehe. I made some last minute shinguard pieces from the same fabric I had used for the scales on one side and the same fabric as the belt for the other. I had originally planned to use a pair of boots that went up my legs more, but the shorter boots gave my legs more air, so I went with those instead. Plus, the shinguards I made ended up fitting them perfectly! Got lucky there!

I had a few different pieces I could’ve used for the focal point of the necklace, but I went with a green stone piece that matched the armor colors somewhat. I strung the piece on more of the suede cord that I had used on the short vents, holding the faux closure on the bag and wrapped around the stick. The stick was one I found in the woods on a walk one day and I wrapped more cord sort of around the places she had cord wrapped on hers in the EGtC image. I used a lighter cord on the upper part where I would be holding it most of the time (to look more worn since that would be the most used “handle”) and darker parts around the two prongs and the lower handle, for when she used the stick two-handed like on the cover of The Lost Ones. As far as the lightsaber, there’s a whole post on that! ;)

I knew I would be wearing this for the first of two Outlander Club shoots at Dragon*Con 2012 and I was really excited because there would be a Teneniel Djo and a Ta’a Chume at this shoot as well – as you can see above! They are both absolutely darling people and amazing costumers and I was honored to be able to get number of “three generations of a family that is really uncomfortable with each other” group shots!

TK stick detailJesse, the Teneniel Djo, made an awesome beaded necklace with a giant carving-covered tooth she gave to me (momma to daughter Dathomirian gift, b’awwww) and I put it on the stick and kept it there throughout the shoot. It is my favorite thing from D*C 2012 and is hanging up near my computer where I can nerd over it every day! XD

It was also a lot of fun taking photos of the Jedi Academy kids we had there – Tenel Ka, Jacen Solo, Raynar Thul and Tahiri Veila! There were a lot of shots of us throwing– err, “LEVITATING” rocks with the Force. ;) You can find all of our Outlander Club photos here and check out the OC site!

Even though there were things I wanted to fix on this costume, I didn’t get around to playing with it until Spring of 2014. Some friends of ours were planning on having an afternoon in a park for photoshoots. It was a wooded park with little streams and small waterfalls and stuff and I thought Tenel Ka would be the Painting the new scales!perfect costume for it – I could finally get GREENERY SHENANIGAN PHOTOS! I went back to the costume and looked over it, trying to decide what I wanted to do with it for the shoot. I knew the biggest thing I wanted to change were the scales so I cut scales out of Worbla and replaced the fabric scales on the shoulders and back part of the armor with Worbla scales then I painted those with a few different colors of paint and tried to make them look worn. I also built up the edges of the under part of the shoulder armor with paperclay and added a few greens to that as well as added a lace up cord to the front of the armor. It helped it stay on better and tied it into the shorts more stylistically as well!

Here are some more shots of the updated costume!

Holiday Recap!

And by recap, we mean here are some ridiculous cards we put together for this holiday season. We did this in 2012 and in 2012 we were able to set more stuff up for the photos and all that jazz. This year from Thanksgiving to Christmas we were both pretty much out of it for good with matching sinus infections (A NEW TREND?) and just a general lethargic feeling about everything due to the sickness. We were excited to get these together at all! But we had ideas and we didn’t want them escaping us! We also didn’t want to wait until the holiday season this year.

So just like the post from 2012 – here are the three cards we made and the descriptions we included when we posted them on our Facebook and tumblr!

We have ideas for a couple holiday related card-things this year but we’ve both been sick with sinus infections so we’ve been sort of slow (slower than normal hahahah) with everything in general. We might get to them – hopefully we will!

But for now here is a Persona 4 card! We’re bringing Summer Kanji & Naoto to Katsucon 2015 but found it easy to throw together Persona 4: Golden (The Animation!) ski lodge pajama-time fun Kanji & Naoto too — those might be coming with us to Katsucon as well since they’re so comfy.

“If you’re looking to ring in the New Year in New York, there’s only one place to go. New York’s hottest NYE club is BACK IN MY DAY. Located in the back alley behind that dive bar your dad liked to frequent, this festive trash pit is run by everyone’s favorite family member during the holidays — Drunk Uncle! This club has everything: organic wi-fi, Instagram crackers and baby Jesus doing pilates.”

Is everyone ready for 2015? Here’s another card from us for the holiday season! Stefon and Drunk Uncle have been two of our favorite correspondents on the Weekend Update of Saturday Night Live and we figured we would throw together a card with them – especially since the holidays are when you get to see family members! The ones you love and the ones you kind of tolerate since they’re your family.

We busted out Nate’s Stefon costume and Closet-Raided something Drunk Uncle-ish for me. PLUS THIS WONDERFUL “LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST” HALLOWEEN WIG.

Happy New Year from Zhobot!

We figured The Glitterati (from the Dance Central series) would make a good New Year card because they are fabulous and sparkly and two of our favorite characters ever, hehe.

We had a Christmas card with them in 2012 and besides their three main outfits we’ve also made one concept art outfit, one original outfit and a Saints Row version outfit (our bosses in the Saints Row series have basically been Kerith and Jaryn XD) of them. Our hearts kind of belong to these beautiful jerks so we wanted to show our love for them at the beginning of this new year. <3

We were gonna do the drinks and such like usual w/ Glitterati shots but we figured the snark was good enough for this — there’s also some shots of the eating of the magical RuPaul candy bars we got for Christmas and one of Kerith hiding behind his scarf because Riptide or Lu$h or someone walked in the club on NYE. Those might be posted sometime soon too. ;)

We might have a “Coming in 2015″ post up here in the near future (with costume plans, con plans, project plans, etc.) so keep your eyes out for that. We hope everyone is having a great 2015 so far! :D

Gaming – LD31 Compo Faves

Update: I started writing this post a few weeks ago but didn’t finish it until the ratings were just about out.  Talk about snail speed!  And I was right about Orion making it into the top 10!  Check out the winners here!

It’s that time of year folks.  Masses of people.  Last minute decisions.  Weird bugs that get written off as features.  That’s right, I’m talking about Ludum Dare!  You thought I was talking about Christmas?  I guess you could consider flying reindeer capable of toting a fat guy and thousands of pounds worth of presents a pretty bad physics bug.  Dec 5th through 8th hosted the 31st competition this year.  Sadly I did not get a chance to compete in this one either.  A combination of me still learning a new game engine and having outside obligations due to a new job held things up.  Hopefully next April will look better.  Anyhow, lets move on to some of the games that caught my attention this time!

orionThe theme for this competition was: entire game on one screen.  This wasn’t exactly a thought provoking theme in and of itself, however there’s potential for clever application.  Orion immediately jumped out to me as being exceptionally clever.  You man the cockpit of a spacecraft trying to break the Earth’s orbit destined for…er, space?  I’m not sure because I was too busy picking my jaw up off the floor.  The audio and visuals are nothing short of astounding for a 48hr game, and I have no doubt it will make it into the top 10.

untraveledNext I discovered Untraveled, a minimalistic puzzle platformer with some really interesting game mechanics.  The premise is built around a groundhog day type of scenario where you’re trapped in an endless loop.  In particular the last puzzle is really unique and as other reviewers mentioned it could become really awesome fleshed out as a full game.

finishyourprojectAnd then I found Finish Your Project.  In this game you play a mouse who’s trying to complete a project of some type while trying to balance his other wants and needs.  As the description might suggest its a resource management game.  It also falls under the category of “so meta it hurts” as the main character struggles with many of the same issues that might plague participants of Ludum Dare itself.  I would agree with the other reviewers that this game was a bit long in the tooth (most LD games finish in 5-10 minutes, I spent at least 20 on this one and my project was not even half finished!), but the concept is novel and has potential to convey a very meaningful narrative.

antiplaneMy attention was immediately drawn to Antiplane, quite possibly because the author lists it as a 2D version of Antichamber.  I’ve you’ve never played Antichamber, the best way to describe it is as a 3D puzzle game similar to portal, except that the world and laws of physics change based on your actions.  Antiplane captured this behavior very well, and the transitions between world changes as you went back and forth across the 2D single camera world were extremely smooth.  This is another one I suspect may make it into the top 10 compo entries.  I did find the almost complete lack of sound bothersome, as it took away from the superb mood of the game.  The author has already mentioned he is going to make a full game of it, so hopefully some nice ambient background music will be added!

glcAll of the games I had played so far were quite serious, so I thought I’d finish on a silly note.  Gay Love Cop fills that note well.  It’s a simple visual novel style detective game where you interrogate a number of murder suspects based on some clues.  The game itself is quick to beat, however the graphics and writing are hilarious.  Never did I think it would be so easy to ask people about their pubes!

Anyhow its been a fun LD and I’m excited to see the winners in each category announced!  I swear I’m going to participate one day…

Props – Star Wars: Expanded Universe – Tenel Ka Djo’s Lightsaber

This is an old blog entry I wrote in… 2011, maybe? But I’ve gone through and updated it a bit due to a couple of broken links and so on! I also added a photo to the top which wasn’t at the top of the entry from 2011 because the photo was taken in 2012– OR WAS IT? /cue record scratch and gasp

Jacen Solo & Tenel Ka Djo

A shot of our Young Jedi Knights Jacen Solo & Tenel Ka costumes from Dragon*Con 2012!

Tenel Ka Djo has been one of my favorite characters for well over a decade and I’ve always adored her lightsaber (the one after her accident!) – she made the hilt out of a rancor tooth because she is pretty badass. There’s also the fact that she’s half-Dathomiri and it’s part of her heritage and all that jazz, but it’s mostly because she’s a badass. XD

When I was first going to do a Tenel Ka costume at Celebration III in 2005 (the NJO/Strike Team version and the first Queen Mother version seen at the bottom of the Tenel Ka costume page), I knew I would need to figure out a way to make something that resembled a tooth. I had absolutely no idea how to do this though. There hadn’t been any pictures of her saber released at that point and I wasn’t good with anything prop-related (not that I am now, lol). Enter my sister and a trip to Home Depot. We fiddled around in various sections and ended up getting some bits and pieces, a length of pipe and some spraypaint that made whatever you’re spraying look like stone. It was a tannish-beige color and I thought it could pass for a tooth well. My sister helped me throw it all together and I was pretty proud of what came of it. It didn’t have a point at the end (it had a decorative little swirly trinket that was actually a drawer handle XD) – but the texture and leather-wrapping and stuff gave it toothy/Dathormiri-ish sort of feel, which I was happy with at the time.

Fast-forward to a couple years later, when I had the urge to make another version of this saber! I ended up with another thin piece of pipe and gray stone spraypaint this time, along with black leather wrappings. I had a plastic replica of a T-Rex tooth that was cut and whittled down to fit into the pipe and I loved this version as well. It was after I finished this version that Tenel Ka got her own book cover (Legacy of the Force: Tempest)! And look, her saber! Besides that image of it, another one popped up in The Essential Guide to the Force. I was so giddy that there was more art of her as well as her saber. That was when I stumbled across Nocturne Armory! They had made a version of her saber that looked exactly like the one in the The Essential Guide to the Force and I fell in love with it and emailed them about ordering one. This one actually had a blade and lit up too! They had toned down the blue and added a bit of yellow to give it a more turquoise shade and I was so nervous every time I was in costume with it cause I was afraid I would mess it up (I am so clumsy, it’s not even funny). It is definitely a prized possession of mine since I am a huge nerd. ;D

Old sabers! To the left are the three versions I have had in the past, two made (top – 2005, middle – 2006 and one ordered in 2008). :)

In the summer of 2010, the stupid bug bit me again about making another one (I don’t know what it is with me). And I was told about! Nate was looking for a saber he could use for his Jacen and/or Caedus costumes and my brain started working at a way to make a Tenel Ka lightsaber myself by modifying one of the ones from the site (even though the closest they had to her blade color was bright blue). The idea hadn’t really formed, it was just sort of hanging in the back of my mind – but when I saw a few weeks later that they had two new blade colors, one of which being Sunrider’s Destiny (which was a lighter, slightly more greenish shade), I knew I had to go for it. I had a vague idea of what I was going to try so I bought all the supplies I would need and then ordered the Rifter hilt from Ultra Sabers (a hilt which is no longer available on the site).

When it arrived, I played around with it like a dork (you know, the norm: making lightsaber noises, hitting furniture, the whole nine yards) and then detached the blade and started to attempt to figure out how to get the idea that was in my head out. I used paperclay to cover the hilt and start shaping a sort of tooth texture. I knew that I wanted to keep it as thin as possible – I knew it wouldn’t be as thick as the picture from the The Essential Guide to the Force – because I am short and have small hands, hehe. I wanted my hand to be able to fit around it comfortably, but besides comfort I didn’t want it to look SUPER GIANT when I was holding it. XD I knew it would be longer than the images as well, since I had to cover the whole hilt and then add on the tip of the tooth at the end. I was fine with that though, as long as it wasn’t awkward to hold.

The paperclay worked so much better than I had hoped. It was lightweight and dried on its own (I wouldn’t have been able to put it in the oven to dry since it was around the saber). After the initial part of the hilt was covered, I had a grand old time trying to figure out how to make the tip of the tooth and then be able to remove it to replace the batteries when they ran out of juice. I finally settled on making the tip out of paperclay and fashioning the other end to fit into the opening where the batteries were. I covered the end in felt so it had a snug fit and then made some touch-ups with leftover paperclay to the main part of the hilt. I also added some details here and there – scratches, marks, wearing, etc.

(Note from the reposting of this entry in December of 2014: the first set of batteries still hasn’t run out yet. ;D)

Unfinished saber!

The saber before the painting phase!

The three blue crystals I added above the switch are for decoration (and fall in with the whole half-Hapan thing as well, since there was talk of gems of Gallinore when she made her saber – even though those were the focusing crystals, hehe) and were chosen for their colors. I thought they matched the blade well and I sort of fell in love with them when I found them. In one of the images of her saber, there is a dark orange gem near the blade, but I ended up going with blue because none of the orange ones I looked at caught my eye. Plus, if I had an orange gem then I would have orange/blue (in the blade) and those were my high school colors. Somehow in projects I always subconsciously avoid putting those together because it just reminds me of high school. XD I just ended up going with all blue. I added the crystals while the paperclay was still moldable and then waited for the whole thing to dry.

After that came the part I was REALLY worried about. I’ve never been good at painting things!

I had three shades of acrylic paint I was planning on using to paint the hilt: Unbleached Titanium, Raw Umber & Raw Sienna. The one I ended up using the most was the Unbleached Titanium shade. I gessoed the whole thing first (main part of the hilt and the removable end) and I used a small brush to paint the whole thing with the titanium shade. Then with sponges and other brushes, started adding little details in the scratches and ridges and so on. I didn’t really have a plan on what parts to paint specifically, I just kept adding some here and there until I thought I needed to change colors and so on. When I had finished painting it late one night, I set it down and went to bed not really thinking about it. That seemed like the best thing to do though because the next day when I looked at it with a fresh eye, I really liked how it looked. For a project I had been so worried about (who am I kidding, I worry about every project), I was really proud of the way it turned out.


The completed saber!

Click the photo to go to the dA page!


There are definitely a couple things I would like to fix – keeping the tooth tip more secure and snug in the main hilt would be at the top of the list! But I am very proud of it nonetheless. :D

Halloween: That Time of Year

Orange Pumpkins

Tomorrow is Halloween! Even though we’re too old to Trick-or-Treat it’s still one of our favorite holidays. We love it so much that as of right now we have ourThe family. wedding date set for October 31, 2015! Why do we love it so much? There’s a number of reasons. Obviously we have a ball dressing up as people/things we love – which, sure we do that at conventions, yeah, but ARGH!this is a time when everyone’s dressing up as well! It’s a giant costume party (with candy!) from neighborhood to neighborhood. We also have always been a fan of spoopy spooky things. Especially me. And I think that is the fault of my Mom and sister – who you can see in the photos accompanying this paragraph, hehe. They taught me well as I grew up (Stephen King, as an example) and encouraged me to explore very dark places (like Silent Hill, which I played while peeking out from behind the couch while my sister cackled at me).

Back sometime in the 90’s (’93 maybe? ’95? Somewhere back there…) my Mom and sister decided they were going to make a big image to put in the front window of SO SPOOPYour house for Halloween. A couple weeks ago when Nate and I were cleaning the basement and going through boxes we found it and it made me think about how all-out my family went for Halloween from then on. TheSHRIEK front yard would become a cemetery every Halloween, covered in spiderweb and bathed in weird lighting. We started putting things in all the windows – a Bates Motel sign, a brain in a jar of green fluid, a Styrofoam head covered in what looked like dirty bandages – all kinds of stuff. We’d scare kids, give out (and eat) candy, greet our friends, compliment costumes – all that plus the fact that 90% of the time (aka when it wasn’t raining) the fall weather was perfect.

When Nate came into the picture in 2009, I warned him about how Halloween was Super Serious in our household. He was excited because he enjoyed the holiday Me and Momtoo. He told me a story about Wee Tiny Nate and howErin & Ronnie! he saved up his money to buy a scary wolf mask one year. I knew he would fit right in after that. Before this he was in that stage where you were too old to Trick-or-Treat but too “meh” to find anything to do on the holiday itself. He started dressing up again for Halloween in 2010! THE HOLIDAYS ARE MAGICAL. …He would’ve dressed up in 2009 but that year we were leaving for vacation on a very early flight the next morning so Halloween was cancelled. :\ He had to wait a whole year to experience Halloween the way I always did. AT FULL SPEED.

I’m excited for this Halloween because we’ll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of one of our favorite ridiculous and perfect movies with our costumes – Napoleon Dynamite. We’ll have to make sure we shove some tater tots into Nate’s pockets. Besides that, it’ll also be my nephew’s first Halloween! Basically, I will get photos of tiny adorable nephew in a tiny adorable baby costume. Also, candy. And all this purple, orange and black around go smashing together. See, Halloween is great for a number of reasons. The sights, the activities, the costumes, the candy, the parties, the creppiness creepy things. We’ll also be excited because a year from this Halloween we’ll be having a giant party celebrating our Hallowedding!

What are you doing this Halloween? What are you being this Halloween? ;)

Con Report – Magfest 8.5

Magfest 8, the last Magfest in Alexandria’s Hilton Mark Center.  Some say that was the height of its greatness.  Others (myself included) believe the space was rapidly becoming too small.  Actually I know this, as Magfest 8 was the first and only Magfest to enforce an attendance cap.  The National Harbor’s Gaylord was an excellent choice for attendee AND arcade room growth!  But I heard some attendees raved about the glory days, and desired to relive the memory again.  Enter 8.5, a reboot of the “glory days”.

gameroomWe arrived Friday evening and quickly ran into one of the issues of a smaller venue: parking.  I was lucky enough to snag a spot in the garage from someone pulling out, but I suspect others had a hard time.  Registration was easy, and the lack of elevators didn’t pose too much of a problem.  Naturally we had to check out the games room first!  The console room was ample as you would expect from Magfest, though I thought the arcade side was a bit lacking.  The arcade rhythm games were housed on the console side and to my surprise there were some new things there I hadn’t seen before:

  • NeonFM: I’m not going to lie, this was probably the highlight of the whole video game room.  Its a fast and fun indie developed rhythm arcade game with an excellent soundtrack.  Unfortunately there aren’t too many of these machines in the wild.
  • Reflec Beat: An interesting pinball inspired touch-based rhythm game.  Ok so someone set it up on a Dell computer and touchscreen monitor instead of the actual arcade machine…close enough!  It was a lot of fun.reflecbeat
  • Sound Voltex: This one was right behind Reflec Beat.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to play it but uh, it looked really cool!  Also set up on a Dell machine instead of the real thing.

flamewarIf memory serves correctly we headed over to the tabletop room to check out their wares.  The room was packed, but thankfully we found some chairs and used one of the plastic game storage boxes as a makeshift table.  We ended up playing a quick(ish) card game called Flame War, had some laughs, then headed back to the room for alc…er…soda pop.

The next day I went to my one and only panel on indie game development.  I didn’t learn a whole lot, but I listen to some interesting stories from indie devs.  One of the indie devs in question worked on NeonFM!  After the panel I headed back to the room to witness Heather become one with the animatronics!  By that I mean put on her Five Nights At Freddy’s costume.  Next I believe there was a lot of mulling around between the video game and dealer rooms for a few hours.  Then back to the tabletop room for more fun in the form of Betrayal at House on The Hill.  betrayal  This was one of the few board games I’ve played that is more co-op that free-for-all (although there is a traitor in the midst).  The estimated on box playtime is 1 hour, but I’m pretty sure we broke the 2 hour mark.  The way that things unfold mid-game is really interesting and should add to a lot of replayability.  Heather already went ahead and bought it!  I think we went to the game room for a few minutes before heading back upstairs for more “soda pop” and the next game, aptly titled “We Didn’t Playtest This at All”.  This is quickly becoming one of my favorite large group games right behind Cards Against Humanity.  Its extremely simple to learn, fast paced, and fun can be multiplied by an increase in “soda pop” intake.  The box claims its for 2 to 10 people, though I wouldn’t play it with less than 4 (or at least 3).  The more the merrier!  Did I say merrier, I meant maddening.

So that about does it for Magfest 8.5.  Did it live up to the hype?  I still prefer the mainline Magfest due to its larger selection of arcade games, panels, and general events, but 8.5 was well worth the money.  If they can find a bigger area for the arcade section (or use part of the console room) they’ll be on the right track.  If they can demolish that crappy parking lot I’d give them a high five.  Whoop whoop!

Costumes – Toy Story 3 – Barbie & Ken

We get a lot of questions about these costumes, especially around Halloween so we thought we’d edit this older post with more info on the process and bump the date up to now so it can easily be found by anyone who might want to be Barbie & Ken for Halloween this year! It’s is coming up fast! :) The con photos on this post are many thanks to the lovely Katsuya Weller! <3

NOTE: This year we are selling parts of these costumes because we need room and funds to work on new costumes/get to cons! If you have any interest in either the Barbie or Ken costumes or other costumes pieces that we might selling, check out our shop!

In front of a toy store~ XD

For Halloween 2010 & Katsucon 2011, we had the awesome opportunity to make and wear Barbie and Ken costumes from 2010’s Toy Story 3. We had the idea after the second time we saw the movie in theaters, but didn’t think we would be able to pull it off. Once October 2010 rolled around, we decided we’d go for it and started to get things to work on to try to get the outfits all put together. Here are some of the behind-the-scenes things (from a post on my really old blog) in case anyone is thinking about making their own Barbie and/or Ken costumes!

The first thing we focused on were the main parts of the outfits – I ordered a turquoise bodysuit from River’s Edge Dancewear and found a pink belt on ebay. Making the Ken shirt.

Nate’s outfit was proving to be a tiny bit more difficult. We found a pair of blue shorts at the thrift store and a very flashy gold belt on ebay, but we knew a blue leopard-print shirt wouldn’t be as simple to just stumble across. We already knew that we would have to make one. We had a pattern for the shirt but the only leopard-print fabric we could find (after scouring the internet and a couple stores) was either faux fur or a very floaty see-through silk. The fur just wouldn’t look right (and was way too thick) and the silk wouldn’t work right for the pattern we had for the shirt (and was also a little darker blue than what we needed). We bought the silk, thinking that it could possibly be fudged, then realized what we could do. We took a light blue, short-sleeved button-up shirt and basically attached pieces of the blue leopard-print fabric around/over the shirt. We had six pieces to attach – the collar, the two sleeves, the two pieces on the front and the piece on the back. The pieces on the front covered the buttons/button holes, but we figured it didn’t matter since Ken clothes never have real buttons anyways (it’s usually the plastic snaps or velcro – which is what we used to keep his shirt shut). XD

Ken's shoes! Barbie’s shoes were simple – I ordered a cheap pair of hot pink heels (that are a bit painful to walk in!). Nate had to find blue slip-on shoes. That was easier said than done. He ended up getting a pair of slippers and painting them with blue fabric paint. The best part is that they have fake fur inside so they were very comfortable and warm, especially when it was a little chilly on Halloween.

I was aiming to make a pair of legwarmers that looked like hers with a pair of plain white ones and three colors of bias tape, and they looked good while they were in the process of being made but the white ones I had were weak and didn’t hold shape very well so they stretched and sort of stayed that way, so at the last minute I ended up using a regular pair of legwarmers with colors that matched well enough (there were a couple extra colors in the ones I used). The best part though is that they looked really good and instead of hunting for more later, I’ll probably just stick with the ones I used on Halloween. I love when stuff like that happens.

As for hair, I looked through a bunch of wig sites and on Ebay. I found a specific “Barbie” wig that was in a ponytail and sort of a dark blonde. But the ponytail was a little lopsided and it was super expensive. I ended up finding a lighter blonde wig on ebay with a detachable ponytail that was $30 cheaper! I ordered that Barbie's wig one and cut the bangs past my eyes. I was going to cut off the little curls on the side too, but I ended up liking them too much and they helped cover up my own hair by my ears — my hair is really frizzy and BIG and always a pain to keep under wigs.

I sewed the pink sash that goes in her hair (and sewed Nate his ascot, haha!) and the makeup was simple eyeliner, pink eyeshadow and pink lipstick. Hot pink nails too, of course. >D

For his hair, we fiddled around with the idea of making a plastic headpiece, but figured if we just used a product that could make his hair rock hard then it would work just as well. Then he wouldn’t get “hat head”/sweat profusely in a plastic hair piece. We used lots o’ hairspray (still not enough!) and used a little bit of hairspray color to make his hair more of a reddish-blonde.

We loved the costumes so much after wearing them on Halloween that we decided to bring them to Katsucon in February (along with our mini-Lotso!)~ The con wasn’t too far from us and we were familiar with the location, meaning I wouldn’t have to wander around in those crazy shoes trying to get to con-space! Those things hurt like a mofo – it wasn’t even the height, but the pointy toes. -_-

With Jessie! :D

This has to be the most colorful costume we’ve worn and the most bubbly characters we’ve dressed up as! ;) Draetheus was lucky and had a pair of super comfortable slippers he painted blue. The inside was toasty warm and had some support. He also got to hold little Lotso, which we (and everyone around us) snorted all night cause he smelled like strawberries.

Please feel free to ask any questions you might have about the costumes so we can help out if we can!

Costumes – The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead starts this Sunday! Have you been counting down? We have! We’ve also been counting down to American Horror Story: Freak Show which is a whole ‘nother thing (clowns, y’all). In celebration of the upcoming season 5 premiere, Denis joined us as Glenn (and Roger as the photographer!) for a trek around a nearby abandoned prison in the Daryl Dixon and Carol Peletier costumes we haven’t had a chance to wear much.

Besides the bugs and the smell of an outhouse that we walked by, the day was nice! The weather was finally cooling off and this place is only a short drive away. We’ve wanted to take Walking Dead photos here for a while and we’re glad we finally got the chance to. Many, many thanks to Roger for putting up with our dorkery and taking the photos. :D

There’s still a couple things we’ve been meaning to do to these costumes – for example, this Carol wig doesn’t have very dark roots yet. I had to get a new one since the other one was too short to hide the lion mane I have on my head. Speaking of hair, we commented to Nate that his hair looked too clean to be roughing-it-in-the-woods Daryl. He apologized for washing his hair that morning.

Obviously we couldn’t get on to the actual grounds of the prison, but the area around it is a park with some trails. The recreational area outside the walls (but still on the property/behind the fence) was actually turned into a little league baseball field also. So traffic and foot traffic around it isn’t that rare. There are a couple security guards who drive around the park as well. We got a couple of slow drive-bys from them as we wandered around with toy guns, machetes and a crossbow. We just sort of smiled at them and Roger held the camera up near his face so the guards could see what was going on. Not that we were doing anything wrong, but I’d be curious too if I saw all this fake weaponry happening and I wasn’t invited to the party.

Are you excited for season 5 of The Walking Dead? Will our survivors head to D.C.? Or will Terminus be the end of them? Will Coooraaal Carl ever take that hat off? WE MAY NEVER KNOW. Let us know what you hope to see this season here or over at Twitter or Facebook!

Con Report – Intervention 2014

From August 22 – 24, in Rockville, Maryland, the 5th Intervention Con took place. Over a month after the convention and I’m finally able to sit down to write how our experience at it was this year! This is our third year attending this convention and each year it’s been getting better and better. Normally around that time of year we’d be getting ready for Dragon Con and freaking out about finishing costumes and packing and driving and all that jazz, but since we haven’t been since 2012, Intervention has been a very welcome replacement for both of us for an “end of the summer” con. (MAGFest 8.5 was too, look for the report on that soon!)

We headed up to Rockville on Friday night and checked into the hotel, which always goes smoothly – this Hilton knows what they’re doing when it comes to this event and T-MODE, which is also held there in the spring. Getting badges was a breeze and we got to take a souvenir ball from the registration table’s ball pit (which was a big basket full of plastic ball pit balls, of course). After cackling about that and scribbling on our badges, we wandered into the convention area and checked out the board game room, the video game room and of course MAGFest’s arcade cabinet room.

One of the big things we adore at Intervention is how chilled out the console video game room always presents itself (heck, the whole convention is like this and that’s A+). There are a number of systems scattered around the room and you go to the main table and let them know what you want to play (there are lists everywhere of what they have) – they come put it in the system for you and there you go, play to your heart’s content! We played Payday 2 for a bit since we had wanted to check it out and then Nate Rock Banded for a little while. This adorable girl came up and was the singer for a few songs – she just sort of hummed along with the words and it was all kinds of great. She drummed for a song also which was equally as magnificent. Then she took a break from being a musician and chatted with her fans… aka her and I talked about Frozen because Anna and Elsa were on her shirt. (I’m totally a fan though, she was definitely stealing the spotlight up there. ;D)

On the way back to the room, we saw Intervention’s amazingly perfect and detailed harassment policy, which delighted both of us. The video game room also had a big note on one of the white boards that basically said something to the extent of, “If you don’t feel comfortable with someone/something, let us know. We want everyone to have a great time.” I know it’s not as easy for bigger conventions to enforce this kind of thing but I would love to see it more.

Saturday was a day full of panels for us. We brought our new Napoleon Dynamite costumes to wear but we never even got a chance to change in to them since we were running around so much that day! (They’ll make an appearance on Halloween though, no worries.)

The first panel we went to was Aaron Teplitsky’s Introduction to Video Game Development Using Unity. One of the projects Nate would love to do in his lifetime is make a video game. With the tools to do so becoming more prominent and easy to get a hand on these days, he’s ready to jump in and try it. This panel was a great introduction to Unity and Nate was excited to see some of the basic procedures of the program. It really lets you focus on developing the actual game and story and not focus on learning a ton of tools and programs before being able to begin. Also, Aaron’s instructions were great because I have Absolutely No Idea What I’m Doing when it comes to this stuff and I felt like I might be able to actually pull off some semblance of a game if I tried now. It would be the most lopsided, wonky little game ever but I might be able to do it!

Second we hit up one of the workshops – Creative Coding: Doing Cool Stuff with Code. Bree Rubin, the woman running this workshop, was as informative and helpful as she was completely personable and funny. We broke into little groups and worked on Arduino kits she brought with her which ended up turning into a light pendulum with some instruction and tinkering. Nate wants to work with Arduino and Raspberry Pi and all that jazz more in the future and we were both also checking out the LilyPad Arduino online later – which is sewable electronic pieces. You know how we love clothing/pieces that light up!

Regular Zhobot guest Denis had joined us during that workshop and we showed him the chill wonders of Intervention after that. He joined us for the last panel of the evening also, Living the Dream: Planning a Sustainable Creative Career. This was a great overview of the kind of things you need to look at if you’re planning to make a career off of an artistic venture or thing you love to do. Rob Balder, the author of the webcomic Erfworld, was the speaker and his presentation was a giant mass of useful information. We were definitely interested in every second of it – of course we have no idea what either of us could do artistically for a living… but maybe we’ll figure something out one day?

There was another panel we wanted to make that covered custom vinyl toys but we were veeery hungry and needed to walk around. One of the things we really love about Intervention (and T-MODE) is the location. The hotel is great and the food options around there are even better. We always make it a point to eat at Rolls ‘n Rice with a side of Pizza CS and Ize’s Deli and Bakery (which we actually got breakfast at that Saturday morning) if we can fit them all in over the weekend! We ate at Rolls ‘n Rice for dinner, got some coffee-type drinks to keep us fueled and then returned and headed to the video game room!

This is where we found one of the most ridiculous – and actually pretty amusing – games we’ve ever attempted to play. It was on the Ouya and it was called Amazing Frog? Yes, there is a question mark there. I’m not sure why, maybe because there are so many questions you have while playing this game? Questions like, “What exactly am I doing?” and “Is my frog farting?” Your frog is most definitely farting and this gas is helping him get around. I started playing the game just to goof off while chatting with Nate and Denis but it became at least an half-an-hour ordeal where we traded controllers back and forth and tooted our way back and forth across the map. It most definitely held our attention and we have looked into it since Intervention.

Denis headed out after that and we wandered over to the Drink and Draw Artist Jam in the main panel room since some of our friends – the fabulous and talented ladies Megan of Cross’ Critters and Chrispy of Buttered Bun Studios – were going to be there. We met them in 2013 when we sold at T-MODE (we were all neighbor tables!) and we always make it a point to go bug them when we know we’re at the same con as them. We had already bugged them in the dealer’s room that day but were invited to bug them again at the Drink and Draw so naturally we did just that. Neither of us can draw, not by a longshot, but we can drink. So we were halfway there!

Megan gave Nate a piece of paper and he began to draw this snake thing. I think mythical creatures was the current subject of doodling at that time, so Nate’s started out snake-like and he wasn’t sure how to finish it so he just added a butt. Megan was very moved by this (and by moved we mean with giggles) and gave Nate a dollar for it. Even without a table, Nate made a sale at Intervention! Huzzah! Much fun was had at the Drink and Draw; drinking, drawing and catching up with everyone since we hadn’t seen them in a while. One of the main things I love about Intervention are the people and the fact that you can chat and network and make new friends so easily. We met a lot of amazing people in the dealer’s room alone not to mention all the people we met at the panels!

Sunday was sort of a lazy day for us. We made another round in the dealer’s room and this is where I found out I had won something I had bid on in the charity auction! It was an Archibald The Squid Plush from Lucky Squid Studios! I paid and placed him on my head as we left the convention. He also rode in the front seat with me all the way home. Look at this stud.

We’re definitely excited to go back to Intervention next year for their sixth year! We have a better time each year we go back so we’re pumped to see what’s in store for 2015.