Tag Archives: Superhero

The Undershirt: The Devil is in the Details

The undershirt, like the pants, seemed easy to me. At first. Unfortunately, I’ve been stymied by details, once again.

My first challenge is finding the right color. Interestingly, Chris Pratt seems to wear numerous colors throughout the movie, from a darker gray to a light blue.  I guess this should be comforting. It shows that, despite his “filthy” ship, Peter Quill does care about clean clothes. Or at least the appearance of clean clothes.

These are some shots showing the undershirt.  Unfortunately, the lighting isn't great in two of them, but you get the idea.  Stop staring at Chris Pratt's abs.

These are some shots showing the undershirt. Unfortunately, the lighting isn’t great in two of them, but you get the idea. Stop staring at Chris Pratt’s abs.

So, basically, I’m going to poke around the internet until I find a shirt that is lightweight and seems to match one of Star-Lord’s shirts.  Peter’s varied undershirt wardrobe should give me many options and some choice.

So what’s out there?

Option 1: The Hanes Long Sleeve Beefy T-Shirt

The Hanes Long Sleeve Beefy T-Shirt. A very basic option.

The Hanes Long Sleeve Beefy T-Shirt. A very basic option.

So, this is the basic option.  Peter’s shirts look a little heavier which makes sense.  It is probably a little chilly in his tiny ship and some insulation would help. The collar doesn’t quite match the one above, but that’s not to bad. The best part about this shirt? It’s cheap. You can get it on Amazon, but I think it’s cheaper on Hanes.com.  Oh, and it comes in 30+ colors including a light blue and darker grays.  I thought this gray was about right. Here’s a picture of a blue which I think would work as well:

This blue would definitely work.

This blue would definitely work.

In addition to color, the photos above reveal some details of Peter’s undershirts which are easy to miss. First, take a look at the collar of the shirt on the left. It think, ribbed, and sits a little high. There are also some seams running down his shirt which are pretty unique. The Hanes shirts work for style and color, but they’re missing these details. I bought them as my fallback, but did not stop my search.  I am determined to find one that is pretty close to perfect. Little bits of texture – like the collar and seams – are the difference between costumes that look like imitations and ones that really pop. Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful thus far.

I spent hours trying to find the right collar.  The problem is that the collar doesn’t really match the style of shirt. I’ve found similar collars on some jumpers and sweaters, but all the ones that look right are on heavy, winter garments which wouldn’t work.

I’ve also tried searching for thermals and mock turtlenecks, to no avail. So, for now (and after 3 hours of working on this blog post and trying to find the right shirt), I’m going to settle for the Hanes shirts and see If I can make them work. For now, there is no option 2. I’m not giving up, though. I’m sure the perfect shirt is out there somewhere…

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!

Why CASA? (true story)

Why CASA?

The court room was fairly empty the day I visited. Lawyers sat in the front row with an emotional mother who dabbed her eyes periodically. In the rows behind, a few CPS case workers read through their notes and whispered to each other. Everyone was waiting for the judge to enter, the judge who would decide what would happen to a child who CPS recently removed from her mother’s care.

The judge entered and the day began. The mother testified about the progress she had made and her lawyer made the case that it was enough. CPS and the state brought up their concerns. The judge sat and listened, asking thoughtful questions and gathering the information she would need to make this difficult decision.

And then, at one point, a woman took the stand. After she said an oath, I learned that she was the child’s assigned CASA. The judge proceeded to ask her questions about the young boy. How were his interpersonal skills? How does he act when he talks about his mother? What does he say about school? What does he want? Does he want to go home with his mother?

Slowly, thoughtfully, she answered each question.  Her answers and her tone of voice reflected the time she had spent with him and the relationship they had developed. She had been his CASA, a figure in his life, as he had moved from temporary home to temporary home. She was there for him throughout the transitions and was at court to advocate for him.

I found out later that she was a volunteer, that there were many CASA volunteers. But not enough. As the Family Court dockets grow in size, CASA can’t keep up with volunteers. But they’re trying. One CASA for every child – that’s their goal.

This is an organization worth supporting. This is an organization worth giving $5.00 to. This is an organization worth registering a website and fundraising for, even if it means hours out of each day and money spent on a superhero costume.

Thanks for reading! As always, I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

How Awesome is the Awesome Mix?

The Awesome Mix 1.

Is this an ancillary prop? Absolutely not.

Peter Quill would not be Star-Lord without the Awesome Mix.  These songs were his link back to Earth, to his childhood. These songs influenced him growing up. These were the songs he listened to during the most important moments of his life. These were the songs he learned to dance to.

Constellation sums up the Awesome Mix 1 perfectly on the-artifice.com:

Music both influences our perception of Peter and directly affects his path toward self-definition. Some of the tracks which accompany scenes that demonstrate this include “I’m Not in Love”, “Come and Get Your Love”, “Hooked on a Feeling”, “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”, and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Together, they represent the culmination of Peter’s efforts to free himself from his ravager identity and the trauma of losing his mother. Awesome Mix Vol. 1 provides great insight into Peter’s developing identity as Star Lord, not in an explicit story told through lyrics but in his reactions to it within context.

Therefore, I feel like I wouldn’t be properly channeling Star-Lord without this tape.

So here it is, fresh out of the mail!

Photo Credit: Me. All me.

Photo Credit: Me. All me.

The label is an exact replica of the movie label. Now here’s the sad part: it doesn’t actually play. No songs on this cassette tape. It will serve, though.

If you are interested in how Peter’s music is a reflection of his personality, you should read Constellation’s post, “Becoming a Guardian of the Galaxy: Star Lord and the Importance of Music.”  It goes through each song, describing how it contributed to Peter’s evolution into Star-Lord. An excellent piece written by a creative writing student.

Now to find a walkman to put the tape in…

And I’ll leave you with this meme:

Me and you!

Me and you!

 

I Forgot Nerf Guns Were This Cool…

I have a confession to make.

After receiving the Nerf gun in the mail, I acted like a five year old. I shot darts at everything…including my wife. Four or five times. To her credit, she was cool with the first three.

A 3D model of the Quad Blaster would still be my first choice for a prop, but these Nerf guns are pretty darn cool. I began to write a post describing them, but words could not do them justice. So, naturally, I spent the whole evening making a video. Enjoy.

Star-Lord’s Pants: Trickier Than I Expected…

Of everything I have to get together (besides the blasters), the pants seemed the easiest. At first.

Turns out, if you’re going for authenticity, that isn’t the case.  These pants appear custom made with some interesting features. Take a look:

This is a decent shot of the pants in good lighting. Fortunately, the boot covers conceal the bottoms leaving less exposed area to worry about.

Chris Pratt…being a boss. This is a decent shot of the pants in good lighting. Fortunately, the boot covers conceal the bottoms leaving less exposed area to worry about.

Here’s a look at the back:

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy L to R: Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) & Gamora (Zoe Saldana) Ph: Jay Maidment ©Marvel 2014

Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy
L to R: Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) & Gamora (Zoe Saldana)
Ph: Jay Maidment
©Marvel 2014

A thread on RPF.com (click for link) sums the challenge up perfectly. In the words of user Kevin Gossett:

On to the pants. OH the pants! These things are a beast. So many details and multiple fabrics.

It looks as though the exterior panels are made from a waxed cotton/canvas and the interior panels are possibly a cotton twill or nylon/cordura. There is the same type of zipper, which appears to be nonfunctional, that is used on the short jacket. On the front of the pants there are two panels at the top with a faint ticking stripe stitched in, an extended flap closure, more panels, straps, and snaps. You’ll also find the rocket controls mounted to the outside of the knee. At the knee there is also what looks to be some pleated horizontal panels. On the hips are leather padding, similar to motorcycle pants body armor. This is where the quad blasters sit while holstered (more on that later)

Yeah. Custom indeed. Not only do they need to have the right features, but they need to fit properly. They don’t hug Chris’ legs, but aren’t terribly baggy either. More of a “modern fit.”

Luckily for me, I’m far from the first person to study Star-Lord’s outfit or to attempt to recreate it so all I need to do is follow someone else’s lead. A few enterprising fans have paid for custom “from scratch” pants which, I’m sure, cost a pretty penny. This is money I’m not willing to spend with the punch-in-the-wallet coat still looming in my future. I absolutely do not have the skill to sew my own. I needed to find a close match ready-made.

Eventually, I stumbled across a blog post by a gentleman named Darryn Bonthuys (@Darrangedd) who found motorcycle pants which were a close match.  Close, not exact, but close enough for me. They’re being sold on eBay. Take a look:

Not quite right...but close?

Not quite right…but close?

Fit looks about right. They have close to the correct groin snap thing (I’m sure there is a correct term…which I don’t know). Color, obviously, is good.  The red should be easy to deal with. The biggest problem is material. I feel like there is a lot more leather to these than the authentic wardrobe pieces. Unfortunately, on a budget, these are as good as it gets. I may have to do a little customization, but these will get me most of the way. Hopefully.

Ordered them yesterday and they are in the mail.

Fortunately, the seller takes returns.

The Blasters…

For this transformation, I’m starting with the easy projects. First on my list: Star-Lord’s blasters.

His Quad Blasters, to be precise.

These things are cool looking, even for a casual sci-fi fan. Just look at the screenshot.

Yeah, these guns are cool. Uber cool. Photo credit: Marvel Cinematic Universe Wikia. Click the picture for link.

Yeah, these guns are cool. Uber cool. Photo credit: Marvel Cinematic Universe Wikia. Click the picture for link.

Like I said: cool. So where do I get my hands on a couple of these bad boys? After doing some research, there are basically two feasible options.

First, I could 3D print one.  After poking around online I found that an enterprising fan named Helagak on theRPF.com has painstakingly created a 3D print file for a Quad Blaster. Awesome. It seems that a number of people on the forum have printed copies successfully. Oh man, would I love to create an original prop with some 3D printed plastic weight to it that I can wave around (responsibly) the day of the race!

The biggest problem with this course of action is that I don’t have a 3D printer. I’ve never seriously considered owning a 3D printer. They intimidate me. They seem too amazing to be true, honestly. Like magic. Now, I could find someone to print it for me. There are services that link you up with 3D printing enthusiasts. I could also grovel on the RPF forums or go to a Fedex location (I hear they’re doing 3D printing now, right?). This is a lot of work for this ancillary prop, though, and I have no idea how much it would cost.

Luckily for me, there is a budget option. I present the Nerf Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Star-Lord Quad Blaster:

Wait...why is it orange? Photo courtesy of Amazon. Click photo for link.

Wait…why is it orange? Photo courtesy of Amazon. Click photo for link.

This blaster is the right size and the right shape (and FIRES UP TO 25 FEET!). Costing a mere $13.50 (thanks Amazon Prime), this is definitely the way I’m going. I’m going to have to figure out how to paint the thing, but that should be a fun project. Hopefully.

I would love to have blaster with the heft of a 3D printed model, but with the potential cost of the rest of Star-Lord’s getup, I’m going with the cheap option here. Click. Ordered. On my way to being Star-Lord.

Why make this page?

I am not a cos-player.

Me

I don’t dress up and go to comic conventions and the like. Usually. I did once, but it was on a whim and I threw the outfit together in a day. Not terribly elaborate. You don’t know elaborate costumes until you’ve been to one of these conventions. People make some amazing costumes. They spend years on some of them.  Full suits of armor, epic Groot costumes, outfits with electronics, and more. I’ve never done that.

Until now. My wife signed me up for a charity 5K in support of CASA of Travis County. CASA is a pretty cool organization.  They help children in need – abused and neglected children. I won’t elaborate too much right now, but check future posts or the Donate page (or check out their website http://www.casatravis.org/).

Anyway, in order to run I need a costume. I could have thrown on a cape, rented a cheap Spiderman jumpsuit, or put a belt around by head and called myself Quailman. Unfortunately, I am incapable of doing anything half way. Nothing against anyone who goes like this…they help children just as much as I am going to.  But for me, If I’m going to dress as a Superhero, I’m going all out. Why?  Well for one, I want to bring a smile to the faces of children I meet at the event.  I want them to feel like they are meeting the real Superhero, not an imitator. I want to BE the Superhero. Second, it’s just the way I am.  I go all out.

After racking my brain, I settled on Star-Lord as my superhero. For a number of reasons. I will elaborate in a blog post later.

As I began the arduous task of fundraising, a very smart individual (by the name of Steven Olender) gave me some advice.  “People love stories and pictures,” he wrote me. Rather than just ask for money, Steven advised that I give people something back by documenting the creation of my costume and preparation for the race.  That way, it’s a two way street.  People donate money to the organization, and I give them stories, pictures, and highlights from the day of the event in return.  They SEE some of the impact of their donation!

What a great idea.  For the first few days, I began throwing random updates on Facebook and Twitter. After thinking about it (and learning how easy WordPress is to use), I decided a blog would be a better format to keep people involved and updated. For a modest investment of $18.00, I created this site. Cool, huh?

One note: All donations made go straight to CASA. Everything I am spending on the costume and on the site is coming straight out of my pocket! If you donate…fear not! All the money will go towards CASA’s mission of helping abused children.

So, thanks for joining me on my journey to become Star-Lord!