Cosplay Family Spotlight: Douglas 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. My goal is to talk to parents and families of all configurations and skill levels 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 Douglas Family.

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

GeekDad:
How did you and your family get into cosplay and prop/armor making? Did one particular member start it or did you all jump in together? What was your first cosplay?
Douglas Family:
My wife and I have always been geeky. We attended conventions, built armor, and did plenty of crafting. Ten years ago, we became foster parents, and through that program, we’ve adopted four amazing kiddos. Our oldest child’s birthday is November 1, so every year that birthday party made Halloween an even bigger deal for our family and nearly always included costumes. As the younger kids came into our family, they saw past costumes and wanted their own. Soon, I was taking requests in June/July, so I could get everyone’s Halloween costumes done on time!

The kids are competitive with each other about who has the year’s coolest costume and they are definitely my most critical fans. They have no issue pointing out errors in screen-accuracy or the fact that Iron Man’s suit actually flies and mine didn’t.

GeekDad:
Do you have a favorite cosplay of yours? A favorite group cosplay you’ve done as a family?
Douglas Family:

Seven years ago, I had my four-year-old old son approach me a week before Halloween and ask to be Iron Man. I really wanted to try my hand at a build of that complexity, so I talked him into being a ninja that year. Two weeks after Halloween, I started work building him a Mark III suit. 11 months later, I had completed his suit. That suit raised the bar and future years saw us build costumes ranging from Predator, Hiccup, Hulkbuster, Ghostbusters, and the Armored Batman.
GeekDad:
Speaking of group cosplay, do you always try to cosplay together? Or do you all do your own thing?
Douglas Family:
The kids all put in their own requests for costumes each year. So far they haven’t picked characters from one genre/film/show. Because of that, we haven’t done any group cosplays.
GeekDad:
Do you have a favorite piece that challenged you?
Douglas Family:
I think each costume my kids pick for Halloween represents its own challenges. I feel like that’s why I enjoy this hobby so much. It challenges me to try new materials, use new tools, and attempt different techniques. The fiberglass helmet I built for my son’s Iron Man costume was the first time I worked with those materials. I’ve now worked with Pepakura, fiberglass, EVA foam, PVC, wood, metal, electronics, 3D printing, etc.

But my biggest overall challenge coming up is a nine foot tall Iron Giant costume for a friend to wear. It will be my first costume design for an adult, and I really want it to showcase a lot of the materials and techniques I’ve been using over the years. But just the scale itself is a HUGE challenge for this build. It will be a very fun project to work on!

GeekDad:
What’s your favorite “medium” to work in (sewing, EVA foam, resin casting, etc.)?
Douglas Family:
EVA foam is by far my current favorite medium to work with. It’s easy to use, lightweight, and cheap. Anyone that wants to test out costume or prop building should give it a try!
GeekDad:
It’s been awhile, but I used to do quite a bit of scale model building and I see a lot of similarities in techniques between small-scale building and prop and armor building. Have you ever done any scale modeling or smaller scale builds?
Douglas Family:
I’m working on a pair of folding wings for my son’s Falcon costume, and I’m using FoamedPVP. I’ve never cut so much styrene-like materials before and the tips of my fingers are all bruised now from bearing down on the Exacto knife for hours. So, while I don’t do model work, I have a whole new appreciation for what you do!
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?
Douglas Family:
While I build their costumes, the kids have their own space in my workshop with materials, tools and even a video game console (so they feel comfortable working/playing with me as I construct their suits). I’ve been amazed at their creativity and desire to build and make things. Kids learn by watching, and I think that’s a wonderful thing about building things for your kids. Being involved in building and making things models creativity, problem-solving, and perseverance for your kids which are all wonderful attributes for them to emulate.
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?
Douglas Family:
I’m big fan of Star Wars and Tolkien, but also a space nut. I probably get that from growing up as Voyager was passing through our solar system.
My oldest is an artist and avid player/fan of World of Warcraft. My sons are both into Harry Pottery and anime (they even prefer the subtitled versions, so they can hear the original voice talent). And my youngest daughter hasn’t really landed on her own thing yet. She currently enjoys following all the other kids in their favorite fandoms.
GeekDad:
What upcoming conventions do you have on your schedule that people could see you at?
Douglas Family:
We just attended Fan Boy Expo in Knoxville. We had a blast and were honored to have some of my Special Effects heroes admire my seven-year-old’s Baby Groot costume. Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis were both awesome and even took a short video of my daughter dancing in her costume. That video went a bit viral and now has over 8 million views. So as an added bonus, we got a teachable moment out of this as we talked to each of the kids about how to deal with the attention that comes from the internet (both positive and negative). It’s important for our kids, who are growing up in a very digital age, to understand both the weight and responsibility of their actions online, as well as the importance of keeping real life in perspective.

We will likely be attending our local TriCity con in November and Fan Boy’s 2018 Summer Expo, and IF the Iron Giant is ready we might go back to Dragon*Con in the Fall of 2018.

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