Tag Archive: costumes


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By Art Schmidt

I was having lunch with a friend the other day and we were talking about comic book movies and the slow transition of the formulas for the ones which have succeeded to television format. My friend was grumbling about the lack of costumed heroes on popular shows such as Arrow or the new Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  I have to admit, I hadn’t really noticed the lack of costumes in those shows, loving the first season of Arrow despite very few folks with traditional comic book costumes, and enjoying the first couple of episodes of A.O.S. (can you acronym an acronym?).

But the more I thought about it, the more puzzled I was.  Why weren’t there more costumes in Arrow?  Certainly Deathstroke’s mask was a pivotal prop in the series, and the Dark Archer had a cool getup, but they weren’t costumes so much as work attire fitting the villain’s nature.  And of course A.O.S. is a show about normal people, super spies and highly-skilled to be sure, but not superheroes.  And certainly without costumes outside of May’s black leather suit, akin to Fury’s normal wardrobe and the attire seen by many personnel aboard the Heli-carrier in The Avengers.

Speaking of which, The Avengers is a perfect case in point.  The evolution of the superhero sans costume.  I’ll get back to that in a minute.

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Heroes of Cosplay competition

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

Last week Syfy premiered its new reality series, Heroes of Cosplay, which follows a group of hardcore hobbyists on the convention and competition circuit.  borg.com readers will know that cosplay (costume play) is a branch of the costuming hobby that’s all about dressing up as your favorite genre characters, from fantasy, sci-fi, gaming and especially anime.  Frankly, we were a little skeptical—another reality competition series? And, will they make the costuming community look like buffoons?  But we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed it.

As is the norm with reality series these days, the pilot featured a fair amount of drama, melodrama, psychodrama, and a little bit of cosplay.  Filmed at Wizard World in Portland, Oregon, this February, the episode offered tantalizing glimpses at a number of recognizable and wish-we-knew-what-that-was awesome hand-crafted character recreations.  The culmination of the episode was Wizard World’s first cosplay competition, featuring our intrepid stars and some unidentified cosplayers from the con, and their amazing and prize-worthy work.  The wonderful, giant My Neighbor Totoro costume (which made third in the competition) was not by one of the cast members but may just have to be added to the borg.com list of best ever cosplay costumes at a Con.

Judges and Merida on Heroes of Cosplay

The main cast is made up of a number of hobbyists and aspiring professionals, and helmed by famed professional cosplayer (yes, evidently there is such a thing!) Yaya Han.  The inclusion of Han, now a judge instead of a competitor, offers a much-needed stability and authority, and she seems to fill the role of unofficial series host.

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Independents Day 2013

The first ever Independents Day was a big success Saturday at Elite Comics in Overland Park, Kansas.  Hundreds of comic books fans turned out, and you could find Seth PeckTerry Beatty, Darryl Woods, Nathen Reinke, Bryan Fyffe, Stephen Smith, and several other writers and artists on-hand for the day-long event.

It was a Day of the Daleks, with both the awesome cyborg Red Dalek, a costume and movable robot attempting to exterminate visitors:

Red Dalek

and this static Dalek, shown here taking on Indy-pendents Day’s Indiana Jones:

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After a crazy day of an insane volume of fans storming Bartle Hall in Kansas City Saturday for the biggest Planet Comicon event in more than a dozen years of events, it seemed like everyone came back Sunday for Day Two with aisles jam-packed again.  And for fans of all things borg like us, it was a banner day, meeting up with the original Bionic Woman herself, Lindsay Wagner, and the current writer on Dynamite’s Bionic Man series, Aaron Gillespie.

First up–Bionic Man cosplay.  The idea was inspired by my own large-sized action figure as a kid.  Originally planned by DW and me for SDCC 2012, it seemed a great fit for a borg.com tie-in, too.  Always looking for something original for other fans to enjoy, we’d never seen anyone re-create Steve Austin, the Bionic Man, at any convention ever, or posted online anywhere.  As the idea developed we decided it needed something more–and we moved from the character to the 1970s action figure itself.  With bionic eye, inserted arm circuitry, a pair of classic red and white striped Adidas Dragons, the classic red track suit, and the key identifier–the patch that was used as the official fan club badge and stuck on the chest of every Bionic Man action figure, which makes sense for the toy but would never make sense on the show–we had all but one thing left.   Decades ago you could find plastic hair at costume or theatrical shops but go searching and you’ll come up empty.  So we searched for full face masks that could be altered and came up with a JFK mask that could be cut and repainted, which seemed to do the trick.  Add some spirit gum (which may never ever come off my face) and temporarily lose the goatee, we found contact lenses from a UK retailer, made the patch from transfer paper using Web images and interfacing, and temporary tattoo material, and we have the Six Million Dollar Man large-sized action figure.  We got some good reaction to it at the Elite Comics Halloween event last year, and when we saw Lindsay Wagner as a guest of this year’s Planet Comicon it was obvious I was going to wear it to the show.

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James Bond memorabilia auctioned off by Christie’s auction house yielded $2.6 million on October 5 and continuing online through October 8, 2012–“Global James Bond Day”–in an invitation-only charity event commemorating the British spy’s 50th anniversary on the silver screen and the release next month of the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall.  The auction took place at Christie’s auction house in London, and was attended by former Bond Roger Moore and the current M, Dame Judi Dench.  Bidders from more than forty countries also participated in online bidding.  At only 52 lots, a small number for a major entertainment or franchise auction, it was a pretty big haul.  Some high-end prop and costume buyers were in 007 heaven.  The catalog, available for download here, is one of the best film auction catalogs to date, and features at least one piece of screenused costumes, props, or rare books or marketing material from each Bond film.

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Earlier this season Hollywood Treasure, Syfy Channel’s “reality” series about auction house Profiles in History, featured the Dreier family collection of screenused props, costumes and nostalgic toys.   Back in June we reported that the auction house had announced the first part of the Dreier collection would hit the auction block July 28.  Chad Dreier and son Doug had amassed a broad collection of costumes and props after Chad’s company Ryland Homes was successfully turned into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. The collection itself covers a lot of bases of primarily movies from 2000 onward, with some key pieces from the 1970s and 1980s.  Saturday the first part of the collection resulted in a few good buys but mainly showed that the economy is doing fine for those with a lot of money.

So how did the lots that borg.com projected as key pieces fare?

First off was an exquisite original Chewbacca head/mask from the original Star Wars.  It had an auction estimate of $60,000 to $80,000 and I expected this would sell for at least triple that. Profiles called this “the finest screen-correct Chewbacca costume head from the Star Wars trilogy known to exist.”  So was I right?  The sale price including fees was $172,200.  Almost three times the estimate.  But this was an exception as most items in the auction sold in-line with auction estimates.

The Dreiers appeared to purchase everything they could get their hands on related to Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from 1971. Their collection includes Wilder’s key outfit and hat and a bunch of lesser known but recognizable props and production ephemera. Wilder’s hat was expected to fetch between $20,000 and $30,000 and the costume $60,000 to $80,000.    The hat sold for $33,825  and the costume for $73,800.  An Oompa Loompa costume carried an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.  Selling for $30,750, it showed how popular these characters still are today.

A Bob Keeshan costume from the 1960s had an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.  It sold for $36,900.

An easily identifiable jacket of the type worn by Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller carried an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.  It sold for $36,900.

The Dreiers were also fans of Christopher Reeve’s Superman from 1978.  One of the hero Reeves suits expected to sell between $60,000 to $80,000.  It sold for $79,850.  We featured the rarer costume worn by his father Jor-El, played by the great Marlon Brando, in our Comic-Con coverage here.

It had the same estimate as the Reeve suit, and sold similarly at $73,800.  Both fell in line with expectations.

The auction catalog cover featured an original set of cylon armor from Battlestar Galactica.  The suit carried an auction estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  It sold for $46,125.

This outfit from the original series had an auction estimate of $12,000 to $15,000.  It sold for $17,220.

We also reported on this slick Wolverine costume in our Comic-Con coverage.  It had an estimate of $25,000 to $50,000 and sold for $49,200.

One sleeper item I noted was the original comic art for the Battlestar Galactica oversized comic book. With an estimate at only $2,000 to $3,000, I expected it to exceed $10,000.   Although it sold over its estimate, it didn’t make my prediction, selling at $4,305.

One other key piece sold at Profiles Saturday of note–a complete Star Trek: The Next Generation mannequin and costume of The Borg.  It was not ever for sale at auction before Profiles auctioned it in a recent auction of ex-Paley costumes, but was created by Michael Westmore’s actual production team for a museum collection once owned by The Paley Center.  It had an auction estimate of $8,000 to $12,000 and sold for just under $16,000.  I know of only three of these that are almost entirely complete and have heard a fourth example exists, but know of only one other complete from-head-to-toe version like this one.  These are the classic costumes of The Borg, not the later costumes that have deterioration problems and don’t look half as cool as these versions from “Best of Both Worlds” and “Descent”.  So it is awesome that one of these has surpassed prices for Star Trek captain uniforms, including, as in this auction, a Captain Picard costume worn by Patrick Stewart himself, which sold for $13,530.

Congratulations to the new owners of these great pieces of entertainment memorabilia!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

By C.J. Bunce

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Green Arrow, and in advance of watching the preview to the new CW Network series Arrow and seeing the actors on their panel, I gawked at the new Green Arrow suit at the DC Comics booth at the San Diego Comic-Con.  The nicely polished display cases made it difficult to get great photos because of reflections.  I tried with two cameras but ultimately perfect shots would have only been available after the crowd dispersed after hours.  But, for the benefit of any cosplayers, here is what I was able to get:

The Green Arrow suit was designed by Academy Award winning costume designer Colleen Atwood.  The costume features a great choice for the shade of green and a combination of both fine suedes and more rugged, practical fabrics.

Close-up detail on hood of new Arrow costume.

Detail of bow carvings and boot from Arrow suit.

Detail of arm darts on new Arrow suit.

Deathstroke villain mask from new Arrow series.

Also at the DC Comics booth were Watchmen costumes, presumably advertising DC Comics’ current summer series Before Watchmen.  They showcased two costumes, the Comedian, and Nite Owl’s polar suit.  Both of these were worn by the actors in the Watchmen movie:

Warner Brothers featured some new costumes from the coming Superman reboot movie, Man of Steel.  Here is the hero suit from the movie:

Far across the convention center, I spoke with Joe Maddalena about his TV series Hollywood Treasure, which I enjoy watching for all the various props and costumes and owners that unearth them.  He had several costumes and props on display, including Marlon Brando’s costume as Jor-El from the original Superman film and one of Johnny Depp’s suits from Edward Scissorhands:

Profiles in History also had some screen-worn Star Wars costumes on display, including this Snowtrooper helmet from The Empire Strikes Back and a Stormtrooper helmet and rifle from the original Star Wars.

The Snowtrooper helmet in particular illustrates how time is not always kind to materials used for productions, never intended to survive much beyond the studio shoot.

Profiles in History also showcased a nice Wolverine costume from the X-Men films, worn on-screen by Hugh Jackman:

The guys from The Prop Store in London had a great booth again this year, attended by staff from both their London and L.A. offices.  The focus piece at their booth was this classic spacesuit from the original Ridley Scott movie Alien:

Finally, across the aisle from the Alex Ross art display was the giant display of Iron Man suits from Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and The Avengers. 

All of this led up to the later reveal of the new Iron Man suit to be featured in Iron Man 3.

Definitely impressive displays this year of screen-used costumes–something there for everyone.

It’s time again for our annual photos of the best cosplay costumes from the San Diego Comic-Con.  Lots of good costumes this year and we had no contender for worst costume of the show like we had last year.

How do you judge the best when anything goes?  You’ve got traditional Star Trek and Star Wars uniforms you will find at any pop culture convention.   You also have a huge following of video game and animated series characters.  I saw several people light up at many Korra costumes waiting in line for panels Friday.  Many others were from shows I never heard of.  What makes Comic-Con great is that there is something for everyone, no matter what your age and interests.  So another “best of” list from an attendee may be full of video game and animated series costumes.  The costumes below are just the ones that made me stop in my tracks.

First up is this brilliant idea–the crusader from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade who guarded the Holy Grail.  The classic line from the entire series is echoed in his placard “Choose Wisely.”  This is an example of a great idea using a relatively obscure yet instantly identifiable character I’d never seen portrayed at a Con before.

If you’ve read borg.com for very long you will recognize these two aliens from one of my favorite movies by one of my favorite directors: John Carpenter’s They Live.  If you’ve seen this movie you’ll know this man and woman nailed it, both with perfect masks but also with messages reflecting the symbolism throughout the movie.  Of course, I was not wearing my sunglasses so I walked right past these guys.  This photo was taken by my friends William and Sean from Elite Comics.  Star of the movie Roddy Piper was at last year’s show in a They Live shirt and I bet he would have loved these guys.

I would wager this furry fellow is from one of those anime or animated shows.  I have special affection for cosplayers who torture themselves for their art.  This guy had to be hot to the point of passing out.  Having worn only a prosthetic head last year I can say for certainty this guy was not comfortable, yet he was quick to perform beautifully for a kid in the hall.

The best subgroup of cosplay is the mash-up.  Nail a good mash-up and you’ll please two sets of fans at the Con.  This “leasure suit Boba Fett” takes the mash-up in a new direction and caused instant laughs.  I loved the red 1970s Adidas Dragon shoes.  You just couldn’t walk past this Mandalorian giving you a toast as you approached him.  Yeah, baby!

I’m a sucker for Muppets and Sesame Street characters.  I still have yet to run into Super Grover but keep looking.  Meanwhile this great Big Bird could not move three feet without being asked to get in a photo.  He couldn’t look any better.

Like the crusader above this human-sized walking Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters was a creative idea–exactly what you hope to see at a Con.  This outfit was nicely made and you couldn’t tell how this guy was able to breathe in this inflated suit.  Give him a hug, it’s OK.  Just don’t squeeze too hard.

I’m not sure if these two were at the Con together or just stopping for a snapshot but they sure matched.  I love Predator and this costume was as good as you can get at a convention.

I was stopped in a line for about 40 minutes across from this group.  They were so quiet, yet they harbored this vile little superheroine.  Hit Girl, from Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass comic book series.  This little girl actually looked better than the girl who played the role in the movie.  Nothing is more terrifying than creepy little girls, yet this group seemed pretty calm about it.

One thing you might not know about San Diego is that the entire town gets involved in Comic-Con.  Every other restaurant will have servers wearing some kind of homage to a comic book character.  Most have unique convention week menus with things like Captain America burgers, or as my friend Sean discovered, the Mighty Thor burger, complete with beef and barbecued pulled pork, or even gooey Iron Fries.  But this Spider-man at Starbucks was the only employee I saw over the weekend in full supersuit.  And he made a pretty good peppermint mocha.  Way to go, Starbucks!

As I said earlier this week, at the 2012 Comic-Con so many great Star Wars cosplayers walked the exhibit floor halls that they really seemed to dominate the convention.  Most could hardly be distinguished from the screenused originals.  But this costume outdid them all, a full hairy Chewbacca like no costume I’d seen before, complete with a built-in sound system that allowed the person inside to play certain Chewbacca sounds from the movies.  Check out the changing color of the hair, like a real animal would look.  The bandolier looks great.  The face looks better than the original mask being sold in the next Profiles in History auction.  And the wearer has the height right.  Stunning suit.  So this one makes the top of my list for SDCC 2012.

Nice job, cosplayers, for entertaining those of us who wimped out this year and attended in normal clothes!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

If there was a theme to this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego it would be zombies.  Like no year before you could not turn left or right without someone dragging one of their feet with a dazed look.  The San Diego Padres Petco Stadium was blocked off and turned into a gauntlet/run/haunted house where fans of The Walking Dead could either be made up to look like zombies or be a survivor and attempt to run through 40 minutes of obstacles, and hiding zombies, to get out the exit gate without being “infected”.

As for costumes, it was cartoons and anime that seemed to monopolize cosplayers over superheroes and sci-fi.  You name the series, someone was wearing their gear.  But the best costumes overall remain the diehard Star Wars fans, whose Boba Fetts and Imperial armor could hardly be distinguished from the real thing.

As for panels, all the advance buzz and most talked about panel was the panel for Firefly, but The Hobbit, Game of Thrones, and Expendables 2 were not far behind–Arnold Schwartzenegger drew a huge mob of fans as he entered the convention hall.

As for marketing, Quentin Tarentino’s new movie Django was in well represented, along with the NBC TV series Grimm, and the remake of Total Recall.

If you’re a fan, like I am, of Green Arrow, come back this week for a review of the pilot for the new CW Network series Arrow, as well as a look at the Green Arrow suit from the series.  Creator of the Silver Age look for Green Arrow, Neal Adams, was talking with convention guests and sketching Batman and other characters for fans.

Star Trek fans had a lot to see as well, with attendance at the con by Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner and Levar Burton, and Wil Wheaton could be found circulating the halls.

Fans of series like Grimm and Haven could see the series stars on panels and then meet the actors afterward for signings.

More to come…

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

This weekend, we finally got a chance to see Disney-Pixar’s Brave, which we’ve been anxiously awaiting since last summer.  It was worth the wait.  This tale of a young Scottish princess who feels stifled by her mother’s dignified plans for her future may be the finest achievement in film animation to date.  Remember the excitement and celebration around 1992’s Beauty and the BeastBrave is even better, certainly deserving of Best Picture nominations come awards season.

The movie opens with breathaking panoramic establishing shots of a cliffside highland landscape overlooking the sea.  From craggy heath to towering forest to mysterious standing stones, the world of Brave is spectacular and fully realized–a setting you’re delighted to spend the next 100 minutes soaking up.  The characters are absolutely lifelike, featuring incredibly naturalistic movement and impressively detailed textures, from the coarse wool of a well-worn kilt to the flick of a warhorse’s whiskers.  I know next to nothing about digital animation, and it doesn’t matter.  Brave looks completely real.

But you don’t go see a movie because of its technical achievements (well, most of us don’t).  You go for story, characters, action, and heart, and Brave excels here, as well.  The headstrong young heroine who “wants so much more than they’ve got planned” is nothing new–even for Disney–but Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald, State of Play, Gosford Park, Boardwalk Empire) is a fun and spunky addition to the modern Disney Princess lineup.  Neither beauty nor tomboy, she defies pigeonholing–which is, in fact, the crux of her story.  She’s extremely likable, but her adventure is the product of her own poor judgment.  If anything, the well-built worldbuilding and visual mastery left the major plot turning point feeling a little bit rushed, but it’s forgivable.  What we really care about is how Merida will get out of the trouble she’s caused, and what follows is a truly unique story about shapeshifters, ancient curses, a one-trick witch, and the best (and possibly only) mother-daughter fantasy caught on film.

Brave is also commendable for what’s not in it–no wisecracking warthog sidekicks or bathroom humor assumed necessary to keep the kiddies entertained because they can’t possibly be expected to actually follow the story (there are a couple obligatory kilt jokes, and some slapstick silliness provided by Merida’s younger brothers, but it’s mostly relevant to the plot, not just stuck in to make toddlers squeal)… and no romance.  Merida’s unwanted potential marriage is the catalyst for the plot, but she rides off on adventure all on her own, and barely even speaks to the dubious suitors.  We all love a good romance, but Brave shines without one, and it’s a refreshing change to the Disney fairytale formula.

The strong cast features a host of notable Scots and English actors, including MacDonald, Billy Connolly (Mrs. Brown, Muppet Treasure Island) as Merida’s larger-than-life father King Fergus, and Emma Thompson (Dead Again, Much Ado About Nothing) as the quintessential medieval queen determined to shape her daughter in her own mold.

The film was directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell, and written by that trio and Irene Mecchi.  Brave is in theaters everywhere.

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