Tag Archives: Kids

The “Run”

After months of preparation, costume design, and annoying my friends on Facebook, the run is complete. Here’s how it went down.

My morning began at 3am. Because my wife was helping to run the event, we had to get there early. Super early. At 4am the park was dark and cool. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. After arriving, I helped place signs, set up tables, and move boxes of t-shirts.

It is amazing how much goes on behind the scenes to make these events happen. There were hundreds of volunteers to direct, water stations to set up, and tents to arrange. Despite everything we had to do, it went smoothly and everything was ready by the time the first runners rolled in.

And roll in they did – over 2500 runners in all. Supermen, Batmen, Ninja Turtles, Marvel, DC, Nintendo and Nickelodeon. Simple costumes and elaborate costumes. I saw it all. Although I spotted several Groots, there were no other Star Lords in attendance.  So, luckily, I had a unique costume. Unfortunately, Star Lord doesn’t really stand out.  Very few people realized who I was. I think most people assumed I was some random futuristic biker. But all of the Groots knew who I was…so there’s that.

He is Groot.

He is Groot.

Before the run, I spent most of my time watching the costume contest. It was great seeing people show off costumes they put so much time into.  I have to say, my favorite was the “Mario Kart” family. Hilarious, and ingenious. Eventually, it was time to head to the starting line. I made my way there and ended up near the end of the pack.  That was fine with me.  I wasn’t looking to win any speed medals. In fact, I was so paranoid of dropping the Walkman that I ended up walking the majority of the route.  My brother, dressed as Duffman, walked with me.

I’m not going to lie, it was warm. Hot even.  The jacket and the pants are not ideal for running/walking. However, I’m proud to say that I survived.

Guardians of the Galaxy...and Robin with ice cream.

Guardians of the Galaxy…and Robin with ice cream.

Found some other Guardians at the run.

Found some other Guardians at the run.

Here is the full getup!

Here is the full getup!

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Side Project: Honey Lemon Helmet

So, I took a small break this week from working on the Star Lord costume to help another racer with their super hero outfit.

The costume was Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6.

Here is the costume.

Here is the costume.

My first task was making the helmet. To do this, I decided to use EVA foam. There are tons of tutorials and videos showing how to craft EVA foam costumes so, after studying up, I got to work.

We began by wrapping someone’s head with foil followed by masking tape. The tape helps reinforce the structure of the mock up.  After drawing the helmet shape we wanted on the masking tape, we cut it off. It looked like this:

Helmet mock up.

Helmet mock up.

At this point, I referenced a particularly helpful Youtube video to transfer the pattern to the foam. I watched it about 30 times.  The guy’s accent is awesome.

After transferring the pattern to card stock and then foam, I cut out the foam and assembled the helmet.  The foam helmet then looked like this:

Here is the base helmet before accent pieces and paint.

Here is the base helmet before accent pieces and paint.

I used a few more foam pieces to make the wings. I used a dremel to shape the pieces. I then applied a couple layers of Mod Podge followed by multiple layers of Plastidip to reinforce the helmet and seal the foam.

Plastip seals the foam and provides a good base for the paint.

Plastip seals the foam and provides a good base for the paint.

I painted it afterwards with multiple layers of watered down acrylic paint. We went with a shade that was a little more “pink” than the original.

The color is more pink than the original.

The color is more pink than the original.

Then, I used thinner craft foam from Hobby Lobby to make some of the accent pieces. I painted the craft foam orange before attaching them to the helmet.

The nearly finished helmet.

The nearly finished helmet.

Unfortunately, I’m still a novice at this and so wasn’t able to get the helmet as smooth as I would have liked. I still need to apply a clear coat, but here is the almost finished product:

Nearly done!

Nearly done!

The race is less than two weeks away! Thanks to those who have already donated!

A Thought Provoking Banner…

At an event this weekend, I came across a CASA banner posted in a hallway.  I read it, reread it, and took a picture before moving on.  It made me think, not only about the important work CASA does but the power of a strong role model and/or guardian in the life of a young child. Before I go on, let me share it with you:

CASA banner

As I walked down the hallway of the JW Marriott (to an event I was late for), I considered the banner and the story it told. How many children go through their lives without a healthy role model to guide them? Many, I’m sure. The challenge is identifying these children, identifying mentors, and bringing them together.

Identifying the children who need help is the first step, but there are many agencies and organizations already dedicated to this work. Schools, CPS, and even concerned private citizens look for signs of abuse, hopelessness, and depression in today’s youth. We have thousands of children in our CPS and foster care systems who, according to the state, need something more than their biological parents were providing. Agencies struggle to help the parents and the children. Oftentimes, though, children face uncertainty as they are moved from place to place, though the system, with no one person to lean on, look to, and rely on. That is where CASA, and organizations like them, try to step in.

I’m firmly convinced that, for every child in need in our society there are many strong adults willing to be role models and guides. America is filled with wonderful, giving people. The challenge is recruiting those with a little extra time to spare, showing them how they can help, and giving them the ability to do so. CASA aims to bring these people together – the children in need and an adult willing to be there for them as they work their way through the CPS and foster care systems.

Unfortunately for me, my profession keeps me moving and I don’t want to be in the position of leaving a child I’ve formed a bond with. The best I can do is spend a couple of months raising money for the people doing the work that I can’t. This banner reminded me why this project is so important to me.

As always, thanks for reading and thanks to those who have donated!

Chris Pratt Visits a Children’s Hospital

A few days ago, Chris Pratt reminded me that it only takes a small amount of effort to make a child’s day.

On June 20th, the Guardians of the Galaxy star stopped by Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to visit with some of their patients.  Despite his busy schedule, Chris spent hours lifting the spirits of those in need. These pictures come from the hospital’s Facebook page and tell the story of his visit better than I ever could.

Is this a wonderful picture, or what?

Is this a wonderful picture, or what?

The Jurassic World lead brought some goodies from the new hit film and personalized them for the kids.

The Jurassic World lead brought some goodies from the new hit film and personalized them for the kids.

For those who have seen Jurassic World, you know what this picture is...

For those who have seen Jurassic World, you know what this picture is…

I'll bet this patient will remember this visit forever.

I’ll bet this patient will remember this visit forever.

Chris poses with the kids.

Chris poses with the kids.

What an inspiring story.

For me, this served as a reminder of how small efforts and actions can have a huge impact on those who are in need, especially children. In a weird way, it makes Star-Lord feel like a real life superhero and not one that exists purely in the Marvel cinematic universe. I’m excited to finish the costume.

For anyone who would like to donate a couple of dollars to my fundraising effort for CASA, they can do so here!

Star Lord Nerf Blaster Modification: Part 2

Turns out, it takes a while for spray paint to dry completely. After letting the paint set for 24+ hours, I began phase two of the gun conversion.

After doing some research, I decided to use Deft Wood Finish for a clear coat.  If you’re doing something like this, make sure to wear gloves and a mask.  The mask is key. The fumes go to your head quickly and – as the bottle nicely points out – can cause brain damage. Yeah.

I had a little debate with myself when choosing what type of finish to use: gloss or satin. I liked the idea of using satin as the gun is supposed to be worn and dirty. I was afraid, however, of losing the metallic look of the rub-n-buff. I ended up applying the satin to the back two sections of the outer shell to see how it looked. I have to say, I loved the way it made the black paint look. However, I did lose the metallic luster of the rub-n-buff and so decided to go with a gloss for the rest of the gun.

After applying the first coat, I was worried that I had ruined my paint job.  When the sealer goes on, it often clouds up, making the underlying paint job very hazy. To my relief, it became clear again as it dried.  I took the advice of some online forums and did not touch the finish for 24+ hours. Apparently, the oils in your hands can soak into the finish before it is dry, leaving it with a sticky texture forevermore. We certainly don’t want that!

My reference pictures helped during reassembly. I did have to break the blaster down again after discovering that one of the charging slides didn’t function properly. Other than that, it was a fairly straightforward process.  As complicated as the inner workings looked to me, I managed to get it back together with minimal confusion or difficulty. And it functions perfectly!

And so, without further ado, here are the before and after pictures:

Before and after. I was worried that the gold paint didn't make that much if a difference, but it definitely does.

Before and after. I was worried that the gold paint didn’t make that much if a difference, but it definitely does.

You may notice that I didn’t paint the barrel bluing onto the blaster. I actually tried a couple of different methods, but couldn’t get it right.  I think an airbrush would be the way to go, but I don’t have that kind of airbrush skill. Or an airbrush, for that matter.  And so, I elected to ignore that part of the paint job. I mean, at some point, Peter Quill’s blasters were new, right?

It looks ready for action!

It looks ready for action!

And it still works!

And it still works!

As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions, or questions! If you enjoyed reading about the project and have a couple of extra dollars, I (and CASA) would appreciate you supporting my fundraising effort! You all are awesome!

Abused Children: Inside Out

INSIDE OUT: The emotions. Joy holds a memory.  ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

INSIDE OUT: The emotions. Joy holds a memory.
©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I had two things to do tonight – attend a screening of Pixar’s Inside Out and write a blog post. Although I intended to write about a costume item, I can’t stop thinking about this movie and its implications. The movie explores the workings of a young girl’s mind and emotions. Riley, the main character, is 11 years old and spends the movie struggling with a major life change. We watch the story unfold, both inside and outside her mind.

I promise I won’t give any major plot points away.

The world Pixar creates inside Riley’s head is complex and insightful. Her entire personality and her resilience – her ability to deal with adversity – is based on certain “core memories.” These are Riley’s foundation. For Riley, these memories are filled with Joy. Created when she was very young, Riley’s core memories are consistently reinforced as she falls back on them again and again while she grows. Because her core memories are happy, Riley is essentially a happy person and uses this happiness to overcome challenges.

Fear (voice of Bill Hader), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) and Anger (voice of Lewis Black) guide 11-year-old Riley from Headquarters, the control center inside her mind. Directed by Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Up”), Disney•Pixar's

Fear (voice of Bill Hader), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) and Anger (voice of Lewis Black) guide 11-year-old Riley from Headquarters, the control center inside her mind. Directed by Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Up”), Disney•Pixar’s “Inside Out” opens in theaters nationwide June 19, 2015. ©2014 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The implication is that we all have core memories and strong personality traits defined by them. But what happens when our core memories are not happy, but sad? Or angry? Or Fearful?

The implications are tragic. A child whose core memories are any of these would be defined by the corresponding emotion. When faced with adversity, a child without joyful core memories would fall back on something else. Like fear. Purely fearful core memories would result in a child cowering and running when challenged. Anger would cause a child to lash out when dealing with hardship. Sadness could lead to deep depression.

This is what life must be like for abused and neglected children.  In this Pixar world, the traumatic events abused children experience would be so strong and defining that sad and fearful events would make up the bulk of their core memories. This would affect the way they act, the way they confront challenges, and the way they view the world. Sadly, it is very hard to change core memories. They are the foundation.

I, like Riley, was fortunate enough to grow up with joyful core memories, memories I can fall back on when things get rough.  Others aren’t that lucky and find themselves confronting life with a shaky foundation, one that leaves them prone to distress and anger.

Maybe we can’t change the sad or fearful core memories, but we can add a little joy to the lives of these children. Create happy memories and nurture them. Give the emotions living in their heads the tools and the base they need to deal effectively with challenges and, well, life. Maybe, hopefully, we can add a splash of yellow to memories that are currently blue or purple or red.

That’s what this project is about. I’m just a normal guy, but at least I can dress like a Marvel character and raise a few dollars for those trying to help them.

(Inside out is a wonderful film, by the way)

The pants are in!

I came back from a trip this weekend to find *drum-roll* the pants.

Not what I expected.

I mean, they’re not bad, just a little different. To start, they’re a little more lightweight that I thought they would be. When I think of motorcycle pants, I think of heavy material, with a little faux (or real) leather.  These remind me of the snow-pants I wore sledding when I was a kid. Without too much padding.

Star-Lord seem like the type of person to wear rough, distressed, leather and tough canvas pants.  The type of pants that can take a beating and keep on going. The type of pants that Peter Quill had worn for years and years…maybe without washing. These pants are not those pants. These pants might be able to take a beating, but not many more than one.

That’s not to say that they aren’t cool looking, They are cool. Darn cool.  Just not quite what I had imagined.

Anyway, now that I’ve conveyed my first impressions, let’s take a look at some of the details.

First, the obvious.  There are some logos and patches that need to be removed. Star-Lord was not advertising “Riding Tribe” in the film. Luckily, everything looks to be sewn on so that, with a care, I can remove the unneeded patches.

IMG_4466

Notice the stitching which should be easy to remove.

The stitching is harder to see on these, but is there. This logo should come off easily as well.

The stitching is harder to see on these, but is there. This logo should come off easily as well.

Here’s a close up of the material:

It is mesh in some parts. This is great because it somewhat mimics the multiple fabrics of Peter Quill's trousers.

It is mesh in some parts. This is great because it somewhat mimics the multiple fabrics of Peter Quill’s trousers.

Here is a side by side of the front:

Star-Lord on the left. My pants on the right.

Star-Lord on the left. My pants on the right.

As you can see, they’re not at all an exact match. However, they are a good baseline. As I said in a previous post, Star-Lord’s pants are custom so short of hiring someone to make me exact replicas – or miraculously developing some serious sewing skills – I was always going to have to make due with “close.” And these pants are close.

They just need a little work. First, I’ll have to remove the logos and pocket. After that, well, we’ll see if there’s any way to modify them further.

Thoughts, suggestions or comments? Leave them below…especially if you will make me a custom pair of Star-Lord pants in exchange for advertising to my four readers!