Work in Progress: My Voltron Cosplay

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Voltron CharactersI wasn’t planning on doing a new cosplay for San Diego Comic Con 2016, especially since I have my recent Ashitaka cosplay that has only seen one convention. Then Voltron: Legendary Defender came out.

I was in love with Voltron: Legendary Defender from the first minute. Netflix and DreamWorks Animation have done an absolutely fantastic job of updating a show to make it new and fresh while still making it so nostalgic that it hit all the right buttons. You can listen to several of us GeekDads go in-depth about our love for the new Voltron on the Great Big Beautiful Podcast.

I decided exactly one month ago that I would do a Keith cosplay for SDCC. I knew I couldn’t build an entire suit of armor in a month, so I decided to focus on Keith’s plain clothes outfit along with his bayard and sword (because props are awesome). I am planning to do the armor for DragonCon 2016, though, so that will be coming in the future! I’m about 75% done with the cosplay right now with 4 days left until I need to get on a plane and head to San Diego–no problem!

Sword and bayard

VoltronCosplay-SwordMy first task was to focus on the prop–Keith’s bayard and sword–because I knew it would take me the longest. My first step was to draw out a close approximation of what I thought the size and shape should be. I then cut a really rough prototype out of some waste foam (just good old EVA foam floor mats). I tweaked the foam pieces a little bit here and there until I was happy with it, and then made new, finished paper templates based off of those. I like to color my templates in with Sharpies just so I can get a better visual idea of the parts. My son definitely approves!

VoltronCosplay-3DBayardI decided that I wanted the bayard to be a little sturdier since its going to get the most wear and tear, so I took my template, scanned it, then created a vector version in Illustrator. I took the vector drawing into 123Design and modeled it in 3D. I then printed it out on my Dremel 3D Printer and glued all the pieces together (it’s in 4 quarters). The size and shape matched up pretty well with my foam prototype! So far I’ve done a couple of rounds of Bondo and 2-in-1 Filler & Sandable Primer. I’m hoping to take the finished piece and make a mold of it so I can cast the final bayard, but I may have to use my master for SDCC.

VoltronCosplay-LEDsThe hardest part of the prop build, for me, is going to be the electronics. This is going to be my first prop that involves LED and lighting effects. Thankfully, my buddy Eric at Coregeek Cosplay and Creations tipped me off to these great little LED circuits. They are essentially little LEDs on a very malleable silver wire with a built-in battery pack. And the best thing, especially for a sword, is that its a very small form factor for fitting it into the prop. The paladin armor has a dozen or so lit pieces, so I’ll be using these there as well.

VoltronCosplay-AcrylicI then ran over to my local Tap Plastics and picked up a small sheet of transparent light blue acrylic. I’ll be cutting this up to make the light up pieces of the sword. I roughed it up a little with sandpaper and put some white tissue paper behind it to help diffuse the light. I really like the way it came out, and its the perfect color!

Boots

VoltronCosplay-BootsKeith has some pretty distinct, black, red, and white boots. I went to a couple of secondhand shops looking for old boots before I gave up and decided to just use a pair of old motorcycle boots I already owned. While they aren’t the perfect match, I think they worked out really well.

I started by figuring out where all the lines on the boots were and then making templates with my craft paper. I then cut out the pieces with 2mm craft foam. I used red foam for the red parts and white foam for the white parts. Since they got sealed and painted, I could have used any color, but I like to try to match foam to final color so if there is any paint cracking or chipping during wear, it’s not as noticeable. All the foam pieces were glued on with  Barge. Then I masked and painted the red and white parts with PlastiDip. I’m really happy with how these turned out despite not being the perfect boots.

Jacket

VoltronCosplay-Jacket1Keith’s jacket is also unique, so I knew from the beginning I’d be making it from scratch. I started off with a muslin prototype based on an Uncle Sam pattern I found–it was the only men’s half jacket I could find. I bought all the fabric while I was there–cotton twill seemed heavyweight enough for a jacket but also cool enough to wear to SDCC and DragonCon. As with my prop templates, I like to color my fabric just so I get a better idea of color and shape and proportion. Once I was happy enough with the first prototype, I sliced up the single pieces into the specific color blocks that I’d need to piece together.

VoltronCosplay-Jacket2I then cut all of my new pieces out of muslin, adding in and taking away where I’ve marked on the original prototype. I also had to add in new seem allowance anywhere I needed to join two differently colored pieces together. Once I had the final prototype jacket done (with a few minor tweaks), I took it all apart again to use as my final pattern.

VoltronCosplay-Jacket3All of the pieces are cut, and I’m mid-way through assembly. So far everything is going well, but that’s all the pics of the jacket for now.

Dagger and Sheath

VoltronCosplay-SheathI didn’t even remembering Keith having a dagger from my initial watch-through until I was hunting for some more reference photos. I quickly grabbed some left over PVC foam board from my Ashitaka sword sheath, cut it down to size, heat formed it to the right shape, notched the back so it could slide onto my belt, and then drew the pattern on it. The sheath looks like it’s a combination of leather and metal, so I added the “metal” bands using 2mm craft foam (glued on with Barge). I then used some leftover black PlastiDip to seal everything up. I decided to leave the black PlastiDip body as is as it looks a lot like leather. I then finished off the sheath with some Rust-oleum Metallic spray paint that I had left over from my Hylian shield.

I still have a lot of work to do on the dagger. So far I just have a very rough cut foam prototype. I think I’m going to finish off the prototype with my Dremel, seal and paint it, and then call it good for now.

The Rest

For the rest of the costume, I bought a grey t-shirt, black pants, a brown webbed belt, and a couple of belt pouches to finish the look.

I’m anxious to get Keith all done for SDCC next week. I’ll have another write-up of the final pieces of the build along with pics from SDCC after I get back. Will you be at SDCC? Are you planning to do any cosplay there? Say hi if you see me!

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