Wednesday, May 23, 2012

See my Yuna cosplay in action

in "One Winged Office" - Random Encounters' newest music video featuring everyone's favorite video game villian - Sephiroth!

I'm so glad I got to work with Peter and AJ again and I can't wait to do it again!

Check out the video, enjoy the shots of me at 00:50 and 01:47, listen for my beautiful voice (those super high notes are all me, baby!) and tell Random Encounters you want more Angi!

CosPlay with me

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Avengers

So by now most of you have seen The Avengers and no doubt loved it as I did, because how could you not?

My only complaint with the film was a moment of Hollywood show-boating in the form of an Iron Man-Thor penis-measuring contest towards the beginning.  Seriously?  I won't deny it started out entertaining and ended epically, but around the middle I went "wait a second... are we still doing this?"  *shakes head*

Aside from that, I was blown away - and I went in with extremely high expectations.  The script was exceptional and the performances were spot-on.

I was really impressed with the way they wrote in everyone's appearances so that even someone like my parents who hadn't seen all the previous films could catch on quickly and follow along without hiccup.  *GASP*  Just like the old comics!  That's right!  Back in the heyday of comic books, you could pick up any old issue of a series and be able to catch the story and understand the characters while still including nods to the long-time readers to make them feel special.

Which brings me to the surprise at the end - Thanos  <<-- SPOILER!!!!!

I've had COUNTLESS people approach me since seeing the film to ask who the heck this random character is and I could not be happier.  The inclusion of this cameo was a display of love to die-hard Marvel fanatics like myself and opened the door to a whole slew of newbies who are now passionately interested in finding out more about this character and his story.

I'll try to write a "Who Is" post on this character in the near future, but for now, here's a nice little summary from MTV Geek to tide you over.

*by the way, the second after credits sequence is totally skip-able and I honestly felt a little jipped for having sat through my chance at a bathroom stall to watch it...

As to my experience - seeing the movie at the El Capitan was AMAZING and I highly recommend dropping the extra $$$ to see it there if you can.  Stan Lee's collection is inspiring and the atmosphere is incredible - granted I go to a lot of movies there, but this was a grand time and seeing Stan Lee's collection is worth the price of admission alone.

I went with my friends Shawn, Jon and Peter.  Shawn and Jon didn't cosplay, but they did wear Avengers-related shirts and Peter dressed as Solid Snake from Random Encounters' The Best We Can Be and he got a TON of attention for it.  It was pretty awesome.

I got a lot of attention from "press" and other theater-goers for my Black Widow costume - even though the only people that used my footage was the El Capitan video - thank you again mysterious editor man for using me!  I met another cosplayer who had put together an amazing movie Black Widow and looked just like Scarlett Johansson - like freakily so... o.O - and she only beat me out in the costume contest cuz of her sweet martial arts moves... stoopid heels... ><

Seriously, though, she looked amazing and totally deserved to win and the prize was a license plate cover anyway and I don't have a car, so it all worked out! Thank you crazy lady who drove me off the road!  Wait...

To make the night even better (seriously?  Like it could be!)  Clark Gregg - who plays Agent Coulson in the films - surprised us all before the film started and I won't lie - it was pretty awesome

Well.  Now that I've wasted half a page rambling about how FREAKING AWESOME THE AVENGERS WAS!!!!!!  Here are my photos from the night:

Seriously, though - if you don't know why I went with Solid Snake YOU NEED TO WATCH THE BEST WE CAN BE

me and the Hulk - aka Jon

rockin' our 3D glasses - Peter's being a creeper in the background

me and Peter on the right.  WOOT!

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Friday, May 18, 2012

My Yuna on FFX-2 Cosplay Site

When I posted my Yuna cosplay, I came across a website that hosts resources for all the dresspheres from Final Fantasy X-2.  Since my post went up, they have added my "tutorial" to their list!  I'm very proud to be a part of this collection and I highly recommend checking it out next time you wanna make a FFX-2 cosplay.

Check out the Gunner page here and browse around the other dressphere resources while you're there.


CosPlay with me

Monday, May 14, 2012

Black Widow: a wig dying extravaganza!

So even though Natasha had black hair when she was introduced in 1964, her red hair has become synonymous with her character and no Black Widow cosplay is complete without it.

Naturally the first thing I did when I decided on the costume was order a red wig off eBay:

I loved the color and the shape and was very excited to have found the perfect wig right off the bat!

Until I received the package in the mail and it looked like this:

Pretty much not at all the same color, huh?  Or really even the same style...

I wanted to make sure to include this part of the journey to emphasize to all you cosplayers out there how important it is to research your purchases on eBay.  Convenient though it may be, descriptions are very rarely accurate.

So I did a little research on dying a synthetic wig and was appalled at how unhelpful all the information out there is.  Most people tend to advocate for the Sharpie method, but that seemed way too complicated and expensive for varied results, whereas the acrylic ink route seemed to have positive results when applied correctly, but there was very little information on how the method fared with an already colored wig and there was little to no reference on what to expect during the process.

Finally, I came across an extremely useful blog by funnypeculiar at To The Wig Shop about her experience dying a turquoise wig blue and was reassured.  And so I embarked on a magnificent cosplay adventure!

**those of you who would rather watch the video can skip to the end or visit it here

*metal wig stand - NOT STYROFOAM
*FW (or other preferred brand) acrylic artist ink in desired color
*70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol
*spray bottle of any size/material - the smaller the bottle the more you will have to refill
*plastic hair clips - that you don't mind staining
*hairbrush or comb - that you don't mind staining
*rubber or latex gloves
*plastic trash bag or other material to cover workspace
*well-ventilated area - ideally a garage, driveway or similar space

Why a metal wig stand?  Because a styrofoam stand will get stained with the ink and be destroyed when the wet wig sits on it to dry.

Where can you get acrylic ink?  Michael's does not carry acrylic ink, so don't waste your time.  Most local and chain ART stores carry the inks (note Michael's is a CRAFT store, NOT an ART store) - Blick's, Swain's, etc - or you can find them online

Why should you cover your work space and/or work outside?  Because this is what my garage looked like when I finished:

STEP 1: cover anything in your work space you don't want to get stained (counter tops, floors, etc)

STEP 2: set up your wig stand and place your wig on it - use clips to secure the wig to the stand

STEP 3: if working with a long wig, section off the hair into thirds (the right separate from the back separate from the left) so you're able to control what you're hitting with color easier

STEP 4: select with section you'll start with and release the lowest seam of the section, keeping the rest up (I forgot to take a photo of this, but you can see it in effect in my video below)

STEP 5: mix your color:

3/4 cup alcohol
6-7 full squeezes of ink

(recommended ratio: 8 full squeezes of color for every 1 cup of alcohol)

*I mixed two colors together for mine and had a small spray bottle, so my measurements were more like this:

3/4 mass of spray bottle of alcohol
6-7 full squeezes of base color
2+ full squeezes of shade color
(I had to refill about 4+ times)

*I recommend doing a strand test on a small section of hair at the underside of the wig to figure out your ideal color mixture

*WIGS CAN NOT STAND MUCH MORE THAN 2 DYES, so if you need to strand test more than that, I'd recommend pulling out a new strand to test or that section will start to fray

STEP 6: spray color onto thin section you left down

STEP 7: brush or comb (brush is least testy) through that section (starting at bottom of strand and working up to avoid tangles) to ensure every strand is saturated

STEP 8: let down the next seam above the section you just sprayed and re-secure the rest of that section

STEP 9: repeat steps 6-8 until wig is completely covered, repeating step 5 as needed (I left a few random layers the original color to create texture in the wig and loved the results, so that is an option and can work beautifully)

wig with color fully applied

STEP 10: make sure each section is fully brushed through and saturated then let sit for a MINIMUM OF 2 HOURS, MAXIMUM OF 8 - if the color stays on too long it can start to deteriorate the wig, stick, stiffen, or any number of other horrible things you don't want

STEP 11: rinse

*you can use a small dollop of shampoo, but you don't need it

*make sure you really work the wig strands to get all the ink out and the water is running clear

*MAKE SURE YOUR SINK IS CLEAN - you don't want toothpaste getting stuck on your wig and eating away the color you just applied

STEP 12: let wig dry

STEP 13: once the wig is dry, run a brush over it

TADAH!!!!  And you've got yourself a brand new wig!

Before and after comparisons:

And finally, for those of you preferring video instructions:

If you have any questions, feel free to direct them here, on YouTube or @AngiViper

CosPlay with me

Friday, May 11, 2012

Black Widow: the gauntlets

Next we move on to one of Black Widow's most iconic costume pieces; her gauntlets:

In the comics, Black Widow's gauntlets house her rope so she can swing around like Spidey and power her Widow's Bite (an electrical charge used to incapacitate enemies) and have been a Black Widow costume staple since their introduction in 1965.

Similar to the belt, I started with AMACO red terracotta clay, wax paper, fishing line, a small screw and a thick screw.

I covered my work space with wax paper and cut slices of clay with the fishing line.  I rolled each piece into a "snake" about 4 1/2 inches long and 3/4 inch thick.  I rounded the ends and smoothed each out with water and then drew lines around the form with the small screw; one about 2 inches from the end and one about 3/8 inch away from one end, then I poked two holes with the large screw about an inch away from either side (I swirled the screw around a bit to make sure the holes were well formed since the clay shrinks a bit when it dries).

Then they just needed three coats of FolkArt #660 "Metallic Pure Gold" and thin elastic strung between them and they were done:

In retrospect, I would probably have liked to use something a bit lighter since each gauntlet weighed about 3 pounds and I would definitely spray them with the gloss like I did the belt because the paint got weak in the heat and pieces started to stick together and the paint is currently peeling, but only 2 cylinders broke:

so I'd call them a success!

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Black Widow: the belt

Phew!  Backlog!  Ok.  So.  Black Widow.  We'll start with the belt:

So Black Widow's uniform has gone through many forms over the years, and her belt is no exception.  For this outing, I decided to go with the gold belt so it really stood out in the darkness of the midnight show.

I started with wax paper to cover my work space, AMACO red terracotta clay (from Michael's), fishing line and a small screw:

Terracotta clay is pretty stiff and a pain in the butt to pull pieces off of, so I used the fishing line to "cut" slices of clay off the brick that it comes in.

I started out using a circle on my wax paper as a template for each medallion:

but that quickly deteriorated as the wax paper broke down and ripped, so I made a circle of cardboard and used that as a template from then on.

I made sure that one side of each medallion was flat and the other was rounded and used water to smooth the surfaces.  Once each was done, I peeled it off the cardboard and poked a hole in either side with the small screw, making sure not to rip the piece and molding it back together with water if I did.

At that point, they just needed to sit and dry overnight and they came out beautifully:

I painted all but 2 (for safety) with about 3 layers of FolkArt #660 "Metallic Pure Gold" from Michael's.

The last 2  I painted with 3 layers of Craft Smart "Holiday Red" also from Michael's, drew the outline of the Black Widow symbol just outside of the size I wanted it (LIGHTLY in pencil) and traced it with the FolkArt gold, then painted the outside of the shape with 2-3 layers of gold:

When all the pieces were painted and dry, I sprayed them all down with a few layers of gloss spray (sprayed intensely close to make them extra shiny) and let them dry outside for a bit.

Once that was all done, I connected all the pieces with small gold jewelry rings (found in the Michael's jewelry section) with the logo piece in the middle and a small gold clasp in the back:

this is the only photo I have of the belt before what happened next...

Isn't it beautiful?  I tried it on when I finished and walked around a bit to make sure it was sturdy enough to withstand a bit of pressure and was pleasantly surprised.

The following is a dramatic retelling of what happened the night of the premiere:

only slightly exaggerated

Yup.  It shattered.  Fell right off my hips as I took the first step downstairs and crashed to the ground.

And so, with moments to go before we were technically late leaving, I super glued the pieces that weren't too shattered to a piece of elastic that didn't quite fit around my waist, duct taped the medallions to the elastic to ensure their security and sewed a strip of thinner elastic to the ends of the wide elastic so the piece would fit and cried my way out the door.

It doesn't look quite so terrible as I think it does with the whole get-up and the guys tell me you can't tell.  But I know...  I know...

BUT I did learn my lesson and next time I will be crafting the belt around an elastic base rather than relying on it holding up of it's own accord, or building stronger, thicker pieces that won't crumble at the first sign of real stress.

Hopefully my suffering will lead to smart decisions on your parts...

CosPlay with me

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Black Widow Cosplay Featured By Disney!

So anyone who knows me knows how big a deal Disney is and to find myself featured in a video by their El Capitan Theatre is pretty much the greatest thing that could ever happen to me.  *squee!!!* *faint*

Check me out at 24 seconds and a few more times in the costume contest:

For more footage of my Black Widow cosplay in action, check out Random Encounters' video blog from the night of the show:

As well as my quick video after the movie:

CosPlay with me

Monday, May 7, 2012

Who is Black Widow?

In this case, we are discussing Natalia "Natasha" Romanova as Black Widow.

When Black Widow was first introduced in Marvel comics' Mystic Comics #4 in May of 1940, she was a femme fatale (a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations) and a psychic by the name of Claire Voyant and she looked like this:

pretty different than what you're used to, huh?

In April of 1964, Black Widow was re-introduced into the Marvel comics spotlight in Tales of Suspense #52, this time as Natasha Romanoff, a Russian spy after Tony Stark:

At this point, Natasha was an un-costumed recurring character.  Her signature red hair was dyed a dark black and she had a talent for seducing men and failing at the last moment.  In Tales of Suspense #60  in December of 1964, Natasha disappeared.

It wasn't until Tales of Suspense #64 in April 1965 that she resurfaced as a costumed villian:

Upon her return, she tracks down Hawkeye and explains that she had been taken back to Russia where she was forced to do her government's bidding under threat of her family's lives and upon completing her task, was shipped off to America with a new suit allowing her to scale walls and climb ceilings and bracelets that shot rope to swing on.  With Hawkeye's help, she kidnaps Pepper Potts, demanding Iron Man show himself.  She is injured in the ensuing battle and Hawkeye whisks her off to safety.

At this point, Natasha begins to develop feelings for Hawkeye.  When her country learns of this, they have her gunned down, leading Hawkeye to go straight and join the Avengers and Natasha to be brainwashed into fighting the Avengers.

Black Widow returned in June 1966 in Avengers #29 having enlisted The Swordsman and Power Man to take down the Avengers.  After the battle, Natasha escapes and the effects of the brainwashing wear off.  To make amends, she fights alongside the Avengers against the racist group Sons of the Serpent in Avengers #33 in October 1966.

Afterwards, she makes a bid for membership in the Avengers, but when Nick Fury hires her to spy on her former government, she is forced to decline said membership and publicly break off her relationship with Hawkeye.  Branded a traitor as part of her mission, she leaves the US.

After her mission goes sour and she is left hospitalized, Natasha decides to give up costumed-heroics for a while, donning it again a few more times before the debut of her red hair and classic black catsuit in Amazing Spiderman #86 in July 1970:

Here, Natasha decides to take on a solo career, determined to prove herself worthy by besting Spider-Man in battle.  Naturally, she fails, but she continues on, determined to make a name for herself.  She debuted in a new solo series: Amazing Adventures, which ran from August 1970 - September 1971 where she mostly fought underworld figures and costumed villains like Astrologer and Watchlord.

After that, she co-starred in Daredevil #80 - 117 from September 1971 - January 1975 where Black Widow becomes a pawn manipulated by the computer Baal from the distant future Earth-71778 where mankind has been wiped out and the history of Black Widow and Daredevil played a crucial role.  The two go their separate ways and Natasha goes solo once again, freelancing for S.H.I.E.L.D. and other organizations.

It's during this time that she develops a nasty relationship with the Hand, rejoins with her long-since-thought-dead husband Alexi Shostakov and another claims the title of Black Widow: Yelena Belova.

We'll get into Belova in a later post, but I'll give you a teaser here:

Yelena attacks Natasha to claim the title of Black Widow.  After she is defeated, Yelena is genetically altered by the terrorist organization HYDRA and embarks on a mission of revenge against The New Avengers.  She is defeated by Iron Man and killed by HYDRA.

Natasha retires again and lives in Arizona for a while before being drawn back into action by a plot to kill off all Black Widows (re: Black Widow Program, a team of elite female sleeper agents of which Natasha was one).  She then joins the Mighty Avengers, infiltrates the Thunderbolts and finally settles into the Secret Avengers.

Natasha Romanova is probably one of the most matured characters in the Marvel universe.  She was introduced in a time when audiences craved spy stories and developed over time into one of the most interesting and complex (female) characters in comic books today.

I know there's a lot of details missing, but were I to include every detail, this post would be...well, the length of all the comics Natasha has ever appeared in.


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Friday, May 4, 2012

Angi in the news

Can you believe it!?  Since my video went up, I've been perusing the web for news of my collab with RE and since then I've found a ton of news going up every day about myself, Random Encounters, our video together and my voice!  HOW COOL IS THAT!?  Most of them keep spelling my name wrong, but I'm ok with it as long as awesome things like this keep happening!

Check out some of the articles:
The Mary Sue
Go Nintendo
Pizza Xtreme Team
AList Daily

And be sure to watch the video "The Best We Can Be: A Princess Peach Musical"

CosPlay with me

The Avengers premiere at the El Capitan

Hey everybody!  As I'm sure you're aware at this point, I was lucky enough to score 4 tickets to the premiere of The Avengers at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood, CA!  In addition to having a GREAT time, I shot a little vlog for my YouTube channel at the theater.  To see my Black Widow costume in action, check it out here

Aside from an excessively long "penis-measuring contest" between Iron Man and Thor (that is AMAZINGLY resolved by Cap and made up for), I thought it was incredible.  I HIGHLY recommend seeing the film, whether you like the comics or not.  It's funny and serious in all the right places, beautifully put together, expertly acted and ultimately just MARVELous.

Hope everyone gets a chance to see the movie this weekend!  Let me know what you thought in the comments here or on YouTube!

My official post on Black Widow is coming next week, but here are a few photos to wet your whistle:

If you're wondering why I went with Solid Snake, I suggest you watch The Best We Can Be

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Best We Can Be

Hey everybody!  I have fantastic news!  My first ever music video is now live on YouTube!

For anyone who read my Princess Peach post, you'll already be familiar with the fact that I collaborated with my good friends over at Random Encounters to create a musical tribute to Princess Toadstool a few months back.  Well, the wait is finally over and the video is up on YouTube!

If you like what you see, check out the rest of Random Encounters' videos here, follow them on Twitter here or Tumblr here.

While you're at it, be sure to like and comment on the video so they'll use me again!

Lots of love!

CosPlay with me

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First Vlog Up!

Hey everybody!  So I know I didn't post the Black Widow entries I promised, but it's for a good reason!  I finished my first ever video blog!  It is currently live on my Youtube page and I've included a few screenshots here to get you all pumped up!

Let me know what you think and stay tuned for more Black Widow updates this week and a few new videos going up soon!

CosPlay with me