Cosplay Family Spotlight: Vollmer Family

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Cosplay is becoming more and more popular around the world and at conventions. I’ve personally found a lot of joy and personal confidence doing cosplay at conventions, and the number one reason I started was as an activity with my son. After seeing a great panel about Cosplay Families at Rose City Comic Con, I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk to parents and families who cosplay and spotlight them here on GeekDad!

Cosplay Family Spotlight is a new recurring segment where I interview and spotlight a cosplay family. This week, I interview the Vollmer Family (and GeekMom’s own Patricia Vollmer).

Interested in participating? Leave a comment here or reach out to me on twitter @billythebrick.

GeekDad:
How many members of your family are involved in cosplay?.
Vollmer Family:
The two times my family has cosplayed in public, it was my husband, me, and our two sons, who are now 14 and 12. We last stepped out as a family in costume in 2015. We are hoping to get out there again at our local Denver Comic Con this coming June.
GeekDad:
How did you and your family get in to cosplay and prop/armor making? Did one particular member start it or did you all jump in together? What was your first cosplay?
Vollmer Family:
The whole “cosplay” thing didn’t really start out that way. You have to rewind about 20 years to when my husband and I were at our first military assignment and we ended up in a circle of friends who enjoyed Civil War reenacting. It was a really popular hobby in our little pocket of western Louisiana, and thanks to Mom teaching me how to sew, I was able to put together numerous dresses, from flannel campsite dresses to full-fledged ballgowns, even made of drapery upholstery (I’m not making this up!)! After about five years of reenacting all over the United States, we stopped when our sons arrived.

Then in 2011, I had the challenge of coming up with a fun, running-functional costume for the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World. My absolute favorite Disney Princess in the whole wide world is Mulan, since she’s a military brat (me) who surprised everyone by running off to the military herself (again, me). But no, I didn’t singlehandedly save my country… While most folks think of Mulan in her pretty long dress, there was no way I could run in an outfit like that, so I found an easy solution with those shorter running skirts. I wrote all about constructing that first costume for GeekMom back in 2012.

As soon as I had finished that first Disney race, I immediately proclaimed to the family “You HAVE to do a Disney race weekend!” And right away, we knew exactly who to be all together.

The Incredibles.

We weren’t quite set up to be the Parr Family. After all, I have two sons and no daughters. None of my kids were infants. But we decided we could roll with it just the same. My youngest, with his dirty blonde hair, immediately claimed “Dash,” which left my dark-brown haired oldest son to be a male version of Violet. He didn’t mind.

The plan was to prepare the family cosplay for the February 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend, but we were presented with an opportunity to attend Dragon*Con in Atlanta in summer 2012, so we accelerated the schedule and made up the costumes early.

GeekDad:
Do you have a favorite cosplay of yours? A favorite group cosplay you’ve done as a family?
Vollmer Family:
The Incredibles was most-definitely our family’s favorite experience. All four of us feel that way. Since we were at Dragon*Con, which by design doesn’t have many kids, we got a lot of attention for being a cosplaying family. There was apparently another cosplaying family floating around, a rendition of the Weasley family from the Harry Potter series. So many people asked if we had run into each other yet. By the end of the day, we had.

The other family cosplay we had done was at Denver Comic Con in 2015. We were characters from Big Hero 6: Hiro, Fred, Aunt Cass, and Dr. Callaghan. We thought we looked great, but not enough people recognized who we were. So the kids didn’t feel the same joy as in 2012.

My oldest son gives an honorable mention to his Harry Potter cosplay, which earned him an honorable mention in the Dragon*Con Harry Potter cosplay contest. Oh he was so cute! And that earned all of us VIP access to the Dragon*Con Yule Ball event!

GeekDad:
Speaking of group cosplay, do you always try to cosplay together? Or do you all do your own thing?
Vollmer Family:
Our sons absolutely love the idea of us all cosplaying together, although we have each spent some time “doing our own thing.” My youngest enjoyed being a Steven Universe, a Jedi knight, and Jack Sparrow, while my oldest most-definitely cashed in on his young Daniel Radcliffe haircut and presented as Harry Potter for several years.
GeekDad:
Do you have a favorite piece that challenged you?
Vollmer Family:
To be honest, I end up doing most of the legwork for our costumes. My husband is great with the ideas and problem-solving and definitely has the tool shop for his model railroading, which is great for working on emblems, jewelry, and fine accessories.

The Mulan dress was definitely my favorite, although it isn’t really accurate. I think I got enough of the details in place for other racers to know which princess I was representing.

GeekDad:
What’s your favorite “medium” to work in (sewing, EVA foam, resin casting, etc.)?
Vollmer Family:
I’m a not-so-bad seamstress, having worked with Civil War uniforms and mid-1800s ladies’ fashion before we had kids. Since most of our cosplay has been of humans in regular clothing, the sewing machine does most of the job for us.
GeekDad:
Most of our readers are parents and, like me, want to share their geeky interests with their kids. I’ve been doing father and son cosplay with my son since he was born. Do you have any suggestions on how parents can get their kids interested and involved with cosplay and fabrication?
Vollmer Family:
My sons were great with the ideas when they were younger. For example, when my oldest expressed interest in his Harry Potter cosplay, he helped us find accurate glasses and didn’t want his costume to look too much like a Halloween costume from Party City. My youngest has been more imaginative, and more likely to follow his own passions. In past years he has asked us to help him make up an accurate Finn (Adventure Time), and, as mentioned above, Steven Universe.

Now that they’re approaching their teen years (my oldest is 14), they’re beginning to gravitate towards more unique looks. I predict my oldest might start exploring Call of Duty-type cosplay, and he’s going to have to do a lot of that research on his own.

GeekDad:
Something along the lines of “Being a geek isn’t about what you love but how you love it,” is sort of the new geek mantra. Do you have anything, besides cosplay, that you consider yourself a geek about?
Vollmer Family:
Dave is a Trekkie through and through. Not necessarily traveling to cons, but as a physics professor, he truly appreciates how well the Star Trek world adheres to science. Dave and I frequently argue about the science of Star Trek vs. the good vs. evil tropes that define Star Wars. He also geeks out about trains, and part of why we have maintained a 21.5 year marriage is the space he gets to truly geek out with his model railroads in the basement. He’s about to embark on his 7th or 8th model railroad since we’ve been married: he can’t decide what he likes the best, so he has tried all kinds of times, locations, and genres.

I (Patricia) am a huge Star Wars fan, thanks to my Dad’s influence when I was growing up. In fact, my Dad introduced me to so much science fiction as a kid, but Star Wars has always held a special place in my heart. In addition to science fiction, I enjoy literature of all kinds, and lately have been reading dystopian-themed books along with my sons. I also used to be really involved with fiber arts–knitting, crocheting, and sewing–but as of late it’s been focused on working on cosplay components. Which reminds me, I guess I should be preparing for Denver Comic Con soon!

Our sons enjoy a variety of geekery: both of our boys love video gaming, especially first-person shooter games, but they also love playing Minecraft, building with LEGO, and going outside for Nerf blaster games. My oldest son enjoys building, and has dabbled in our local maker community through robotics clubs and Science Olympiad. Our youngest loves solving Rubik’s Cube and has been working on his 3×3 time, trying to get it below 30 seconds. (He’s so close!)

GeekDad:
What upcoming conventions do you have on your schedule that people could see you at?
Vollmer Family:
We are planning to be at the 2017 Denver Comic Con at the end of June. We haven’t started planning for this year’s family costume yet. We’ve discussed attempting something nuanced from The Simpsons for several years. Maybe this is the year we’ll give it a shot!
Advertisements

Get the Official GeekDad Books!