Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chik Solo's San Diego Comic Con Adventure, part 2

Good morning!  That last entry was getting long, so I will be dividing my tales of Comic Con into multiple parts.

On Thursday we had set our alarm for 6:00 am, but my bladder was still on East Coast time and I was up at 5:30.

After quickly getting dressed and making sure we had everything in our backpacks, we went and caught the shuttle to the Convention Center.  I'm going to talk about my survival pack in a separate post, but let's just say I was over-prepared.

We arrived at the Convention Center and immediately got in line for the exhibit hall.  On the bus we had been talking to a young man named Santiago, and we ended up in line next to him!  It was his first SDCC too, and all he wanted was a Hershel Funko POP! Vinyl.  I was going to head to the Funko booth first, too, just to see my odds of picking up the flocked Ghost direwolf pup, and I wished him luck.  Once we got into the exhibit hall, the Funko line was already capped, so my boyfriend and I said forget it, and just wandered around.  The Blizzard booth was on the opposite side of the hall, so we set our sights on it, and walked the entire length of the hall, stopping at booths that caught our attention and avoiding the large booths like Hasbro and Mattel, where the lines were insane.

On our journey across the hall I found a booth that was selling older Funko POP! Vinyls for $10 each.  Since I wanted to pick up a few, we stopped.  They had She-Ra, Brienne of Tarth, and... GHOST!  Not the flocked SDCC exclusive, but the older model.  I grabbed him, because (as my boyfriend pointed out) if I got the chance later to buy the flocked exclusive, then great, I can resell the regular one if I desire, but if not then I at least have my cute puppy!

Towards the middle of the hall were several rows of small sellers and artists, near the comics sellers.  While walking down one of those rows I came across a print I just had to have:

The artist is Jeff Victor.  He was so nice, and was so sweet while I gushed about how much I love this piece.  I wish I had thought to ask what inspired it!  I will be framing it and placing it above my computer in the Nerd Cave.

I also ran into two cosplayers dressed as Indiana Jones and Marion - two of my most favorite movie characters from one of my most favorite movies ever!  (Hey, I'm an archaeologist, can you blame me?)  I asked them for a photo and they happily obliged!

We eventually got all the way to the Blizzard booth, but by that time the line was capped and they were predicting that no one else would be allowed in line for another 90 minutes.  We had to get in line for the Blizzard panel, so we gave up on that line for the day and went to get in line for 6BCF.  We got in line two hours before the panel was supposed to start, thinking there would be a long line for the panels we wanted (Blizzard, Batman 75th, and Star Wars Rebels), and ended up getting into the room shortly after.  This meant we were in the room two panels early... The first panel, for Halo Nightfall, was pretty good.  The cast members were fun and clearly had good relationships with each other, and the series they were presenting looks interesting.  I remember my calc TA blowing off class when Halo 2 was released in 2004, so learning a bit more about that franchise was interesting to me.

The next panel, for League of Legends, was kind of terrible.  After a trailer that looked awesome but didn't tell me anything about the game or depict gameplay, it was 45 minutes of Q&A.  And the questions were just awful... typical gamer-bitching, boring personal stories that no one else in the room cares about, unnecessary suggestions, etc.  I don't play LoL, and after sitting through that panel I don't really care.  I was hoping, since I was in there anyway, that it would sell the game to me.  At least the fans seemed to enjoy it!

Then the Blizz panel started.  I wasn't expecting much - BlizzCon is in November, and they do their big announcements at their own convention.  But since the Warcraft movie wasn't mentioned in any of the promotional material for the Legendary panel later that weekend, we were hoping they might bring it up in this panel.  Nope!  Oh well.

The panel started with the Murloc music video by Lvl 70 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain.  After a technological hiccup where the video failed, they replayed it and introduced the panel.  The presentation was focused on the exclusive merchandise for sale at the booth downstairs, it was confirmed that the Warcraft movie would be mentioned in some capacity at the Legendary panel (no surprise there, since props were on display at the Legendary booth), and then into the Q&A.  To sum up the Q&A: there is no pleasing Blizzard Fanboys.  Seriously.  A few of the questions were about Starcraft, whose team did not have a presence on the panel, and a bunch were just bitching about Diablo III and how the players were so excited for it but so disappointed by it.  A couple of questions towards the end asked about the Warcraft movie and the upcoming expansion, but the panel couldn't give any real information about those topics.  While I wasn't expecting any earth-shaking announcements with BlizzCon coming up and the Warcraft expansion announced last year, I was disappointed that so much of the panel was focused on the stuff for sale downstairs.

Immediately after the Blizz panel was the Batman 75th Anniversary panel.  Sitting on this panel was Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, Frank Miller, and others who have worked on Batman over the years.  This panel was fantastic.  I especially liked listening to Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil.  Discussion included why did the panelists think Batman was so popular, how Batman had changed over the years and why, and how previous versions of Batman had influenced the later writers or what versions did they like/got them into comics.  The Q&A portion was really good too, with some of the best questions being asked by little kids.  Of all the Batman panels going on this weekend, this is the only one we sat through and I'm so glad we did.  These were the men that created the Batman I grew up with.

After the Batman panel was... uh... well, whatever it was, I don't remember it.

Capcom.  It was the Capcom panel.  I just looked it up.  Wow, says a lot about the panel, right?
By that point we were seated right next to this guy who kept talking through the panel.  He had a comment for everything.  That's what I remember about this panel.

The Capcom panel had a lot of footage, showing a Street Fighter movie they were promoting, some games that were being released or re-released, and advertising their pro gamer tour.  The games they were promoting included Dead Rising 3, Monster Hunter, and a re-released of the Ace Attorney trilogy.  Our seat-mate insisted that I play Ace Attorney, since it was just so good, but all I could think of was my attorney father and recent law school grad sister, and it was all I could do not to crack up and think, "Yeah, like I'm going to waste my gaming hours on that."  I have daddy issues, most of which stem from his workaholic nature and identity as a criminal defense lawyer.  The panel ended early, and I don't think there was a Q&A portion.

The next panel was the Star Wars Rebels panel, promoting the new TV series.  The panelists included the producers and voice cast, and just like the cast of the Halo series we saw earlier in the day, it was nice to see the camaraderie between the actors.  They were all very excited about the series and the work they've done, and their enthusiasm was contagious - as much as I like Clone Wars, being able to experience this panel made me very excited for the new series.  I am also very excited to see the female characters - Hera and Sabine, the captain of the Ghost and a Madalorian respectively.  Having female characters in prominent roles, where they have real agency, is so important in the Star Wars franchise, which is so male-character heavy.

That panel ended with a Q&A.  Most of the questions were unremarkable, but I think one person called out Tiya Sarcar, the voice actress of Sabine, and made her defend her enthusiasm for the project?  I didn't really hear the question, but her answer was a defense, saying she had seen the movies growing up but didn't really get into the fandom until coming on to this project, which makes me think the questioner was some asshat trying to call her out as a fake geek girl.

And that made my blood boil.
1) Not everyone who works on a project needs to be its biggest fan.  It's a job to them, and if they enjoy it and get into it, great.

And we don't do this to the men who work on these projects - did anyone go after Tom Hiddleston like this?  I believe he said he doesn't read comics in an interview, and that he hadn't read many before going for the part.  Does that make him a worse Loki to know that?  No.  He's still perfect in the role.  Because he's an actor and that is what he is supposed to do - bring the character to life.  If he had suddenly found that Avengers comics are his new favorite thing ever?  Great, he has a new joy in his life, and I can identify with geeking out over comics.  But the fact that I have a subscription to Marvel Unlimited and he doesn't, doesn't mean he was not the best Loki he could have been.

I will point out that this question was targeted at Tiya Sarcar and not Taylor Gray, who voices the male character Ezra.  I know nothing about that actor, or if he's a Star Wars fan like I am.  And I don't care as long as he is the best Ezra he can be.

2) Don't go all Geek Police on someone and make them defend their enthusiasm for something.  Just because someone discovered they love Star Wars or Street Fighter or Superman later in their life doesn't make them any less of a fan than someone who found that fandom early in their life.  Don't make someone defend the fact that they LIKE something!  Be happy that you found someone else who likes what you like, and talk to them about it like a normal person!  Maybe they don't know everything about the expanded universe - so be nice and offer information if they want it!  Maybe they know something you don't!  Just be happy and geek out together!  Holy shit!

Ok, rant over.

After the Star Wars panel we left the Convention Center and walked to Nerd HQ.  Adam Baldwin was doing Smiles-for-Smiles, where you can buy a photo with a celebrity for a $20 donation to Operation Smile.  We were wearing out Jayne Cobb cunning hats that day, and thought it would be fun to get our photo with the man who played the man named Jayne.  But we got there late and the line was capped.

Zachary Levi was going to be doing Smile-for-Smiles right after, though, so we hopped in that line instead!

When it was our turn, Zachary Levi told us we looked shiny!  Haha, he is so nice and personable.  I wish we could have chatted, but the whole process of getting the photo went so fast to get everyone through.

After we received our photo, we walked around NerdHQ to see what was going on.  We did a demo of Catan Anywhere, an online version of Settlers of Catan, and looked at the NerdHQ IndieGoGo donor board.  My name was left off, but that's okay.  Nearby was the counter where they were selling the NerdHQ T-shirts, so we got in line.  I bought the blue SaNERDiego tank top, and we were going to buy my boyfriend the standard gray t-shirt - but that one had sold out!  In one day!  I think I might order him one online.

We were hungry, so we bought some tacos at NerdHQ and ate them while waiting for the Nerd Party to start.  They were pretty good.

By the time the party started, we were tired and still had our big backpacks with us.  We quickly learned that if we wanted to party in the evenings we would have to dump our stuff somewhere.  Unfortunately, being in Mission Valley, that meant a shuttle ride to and from our hotel to drop off stuff.  We never actually attempted that, since we're the kind of people who will get to our room, sit down, and then just stay in the rest of the night.  And the shuttle was very irregular - it was running frequently, but the rides from the Convention Center to the hotel always took a different routes of varying lengths.  One night we were on the shuttle for an hour because the driver went deeper into the city before getting on the freeway instead of getting on the freeway closer to the Convention Center!

I left my boyfriend with our stuff while I went to take photos of the DJ - she was dressed as Sailor Moon!  I danced for a bit, then returned to him.  We left soon after - and it was after that that the crowds started showing up and the people I follow on Twitter got to the party.

I wish we had stayed longer and that we both could have danced, but the bags made that difficult.  And we were both tired.  Sitting through panels you don't care about is exhausting, and the chairs at the Convention Center hurt my tailbone after an hour or two.

Thursday was fun, but I think the anxiety of not knowing where things were inside the Convention Center and worrying about if we would make it into our panel really shaped our day.  The following days were much more fun than Thursday, and we followed our schedule a little loosely because of it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chik Solo's San Diego Comic Con Adventure, part 1


We have returned home from SDCC.  What an experience!  We managed to do almost everything on our list, bought some toys and games and art, and just had an all-around great time.

We arrived late Monday night.  All of our flights were running late.  We left for the airport at 9:00 am Eastern Time and didn't get to our hotel until 11:30 pm Pacific Time.  Once we had dropped off our luggage we headed straight to the In-N-Out near our hotel for a very late dinner.  Mmmmm Double-Doubles...

Tuesday we slept late, then spent the rest of the day at the zoo.  I was a little put off at the price of the adult single-day passes - the Columbus Zoo is half the price, and my tiny local zoo participates in a program that offers discounts to members of a network of zoos.  On top of that, all the extra stuff - like the guided bus tour, sky tram, and 3-D experiences - that were included in the price of the ticket?  We didn't use those.  The line for the bus was insanely long, my boyfriend is wary of heights and rides like the sky tram, and just walking around looking at the animals completely filled our day.  It would have been nice to buy a discounted ticket that didn't include all that extra stuff, but the zoo is so large and very well run, that I can see why the price is so high relative to other zoos.  I was very impressed that they had employees stationed near major exhibits to answer questions about the animals.  Though the panda exhibit was kind of lame... I'm so glad we opted to wait and go back for that at the end of the day instead of waiting 45+ minutes in the line just to see the pandas sleeping with their backs to us...

After we had exhausted ourselves at the zoo, we hopped back in our rental and made our way to a beach.  My boyfriend had never seen the Pacific.  Once we found a parking space, we took off our shoes and walked in the waves.  A sunset walk on a beach?  How delightfully cliche!

We also stopped by a Target to pick up snacks for our SDCC survival bags.  Trail mix, Goldfish crackers, cereal bars, beef jerky, and apples!  We divided the snacks into portions for each day using plastic baggies, and each morning we just grabbed that day's bags and stuffed them into our backpacks.  Though we over-bought... we only ate about half of everything, except the cereal bars, which we ate for breakfast each morning.

Wednesday we again slept late - it was the last day we could sleep in before the Con started!  We spent the first part of the day switching to our Con hotel and returning our rental car.  Last year my boyfriend spent a lot of time traveling for work, almost the entire summer, and I went on a week-long trip to Disney World with my sister, so we racked up a LOT of Marriott Rewards points and two free reward nights.  Enough that we actually did not pay for our hotel during this Comic Con trip!

We booked our stay during the convention back in March right after we purchased our badges, using our Marriott points to stay at the Marriott in Mission Valley for free.  At the time we weren't sure how many nights we would need bookending the convention, so we left that until we had booked our flights.  We had two free nights that expired in June, and once we had booked our flights and knew that we needed two more nights in the hotel, we called Marriott and asked if they would extend the expiration on those free nights by a month.  They said yes, but in the time between when we used the points to book our stay in Mission Valley and when we went to finished planning our stay that hotel had gone up a class and we could no longer apply our free nights to it!  They told us that because we had booked with our points before then, that stay would be honored and free, but we would have to stay at another hotel if we wanted to use the free nights on this trip.  Because of this, we ended up spending the first two nights of our trip at a different hotel, closer to the airport.

Once we were settled at the hotel in Mission Valley, we got some lunch and decided to explore.  Badges would be available for pick up at the Town and Country resort starting at 3:00 pm, and because we had a couple of hours to kill before then and we could see the sign to that resort from our own hotel, we decided to see how far it would be to walk there.  It was only a few minutes walk away!  And there were people with WB swag bags already!  Instead of waiting for 3:00 pm, we headed straight to the resort and walked into the registration area - no wait, no line!  We collected our badges, got our guide books and swag bags, and walked back to our hotel to relax before heading into the Gaslamp on the Con courtesy shuttle that stopped right outside our hotel.

The swag bag I received was a Constantine bag.  Meh.  I would have been happy with any of the DC bags - the Flash or Arrow TV show bags, the various Batman bags, Teen Titans.  But whatever, I got a swag bag which is way better than no swag bag!  My boyfriend got the Batman DC Comic bag, and with this being Batman's 75th anniversary, I'm happy one of us got a Batman bag of some kind.

After returning to the hotel, we just relaxed for an hour and finalized our schedule.  For the week before the Con I had been planning, making spreadsheets and lists, trying to figure out how we could see as many of the things we wanted to and maximize our chances of getting into panels.  My boyfriend, however, resisted all of my requests to discuss the schedule, and this was the first time I was able to make him sit down and agree to our plans.

At about 4:30 pm we went to wait for the shuttle to the Convention Center.  Traffic on the freeway was thick, but we finally arrived and were dropped off near the outside interactive zone (yay Red Line!).  We followed the crowd up and over the bridge near the Hilton, and walked past the Convention Center where Preview Night was starting.  After crossing the train tracks, we entered the Gaslamp.  We started by exploring, locating the entrance to NerdHQ at Petco Park, the Omni Hotel where the Game of Thrones Survive the Realm experience would be held, and Jolt'n Joes, where Geek & Sundry would host their events.  And we just walked, looking at everything - the early cosplayers, the people working for different TV shows and companies, handing out free swag, the decorations in the stores and on the buildings, and the huge mass of people that had come out for Comic Con.

This is only half of what we were given.

We ran into a group of people handing out buttons for the new "Dig" TV show on USA Network.  I made the mistake of telling them I was actually an archaeologist, because they gave me so many packages of buttons for my archaeology friends back home.  We had thought to leave them in places around the Convention Center, but I think we ultimately forgot and left half of them in the hotel...  That was the only free swag we picked up that night.  I kept seeing people with the large red foam Sharknado chainsaws, but I never looked up where those were coming from.

We eventually stopped for dinner.  We live in New York, and the Mexican restaurants in our city kind of suck, so we were craving some good Mexican food.  We settled on a restaurant called La Fiesta.  I had the mole chicken, my boyfriend has the enchiladas with suiza sauce.  It was very good!

We had planned on going to the Unofficial SDCC Blog's "Under the SDCC Party" and the restaurant we had dinner at was actually right next door, but we were tired and it was still an hour until the party, so after dinner we just walked around some more, eventually going back to the Convention Center.  People were walking around carrying giant Hasbro bags - clearly they had success at Preview Night!  There was a line of campers waiting for the next day's Hall H panels, but it was short compared to the number of people who would be camping out the following nights.

After returning to our hotel on the shuttle, we packed our backpacks for the following day and went to bed.  Comic Con was just starting and we wanted to be ready for it!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Road to ComicCon! We're Finally On Our Way!

By the time this entry posts, we will be on our way to San Diego!  I can't wait to see all the cool stuff, buy fun toys and comics, and possibly meet some of the Twitter users and bloggers who I have been following and whose advice has been so helpful in preparing for this amazing experience!

Friday, July 18, 2014

SDCC Scheduling Anxiety

I've been putting our SDCC schedule together.

I kept switching between the feeling we were trying to see too many panels, to believing we weren't trying to attend enough.

I thought a hour in line would be enough to get into most panels, but the popular ones like Blizzard and Sailor Moon and the author panel with GRRM and Diana Gabaldon will need longer wait times.  And then I worried we would spend hours in a line and still miss it, but if we arrived too early then we'd feel like we could have done something else...

This is what I feel like...
I am pretty darned indecisive.  This affects other areas of my life, and is coming out pretty hardcore right now.  It's because I am terrified of failure and want to never, ever make a wrong decision, so I end up not making a decision.  It's a crappy way to live, to be honest.

Ultimately I decided on a schedule that will have us attending one panel Thursday, a few in the same room on Friday, two on Saturday, and none on Sunday.  But even though the schedule will look like we have a lot of free time, we will be exploring the Gaslamp, attending Geek & Sundry and Nerd HQ, and participating in activities that still require a Comic Con badge - like shopping on the Con floor, attending table top RPG demos in the Marriott, and other offsite events.

I think this is flexible enough that if it looks like we won't get into the panel we were waiting for, we can try for another one later and just leave the line to explore early.

Really, I just need to keep reminding myself that there is so much to see and do, no matter what I end up doing I will be missing something.  I cannot be in two places at once, I need to account for travel and line times, and I won't actually be missing out on anything unless I end up stressing myself out to the point where I can't enjoy the things I do end up experiencing.

So the things to remember with SDCC and its schedule is NO REGRETS.

Choosing to visit Geek & Sundry instead of the Sailor Moon panel?  No regrets.  Missing a panel because it's almost my turn in an exclusive line?  No regrets.  Flexibility is key, just enjoy being there and all the opportunity that provides.

Chik Solo's SDCC iPhone App List

Good morning!

Yesterday CCI released an updated version of their Comic Con app.  The old one never worked for me.  Well, that's technically a lie - when I first downloaded it, it displayed last year's information without issue, but after an update it never displayed information for this year.  Even after maps, panels, and other official information was released by CCI.

The new app works wonderfully by comparison - maps, descriptions of booths and panels, favorites lists and filters, and BEST of all it works without an internet connection so you can stick your phone on airplane mode to save battery and still have a working app.

The CCI app is only one iPhone app I will be using at Comic Con this year.  Here is a short list of the apps I will be using to enhance and document my Comic Con adventure!

CCI App  -  iPhone App Store  -  Android Store
This is the new official app for SDCC.  It includes interactive maps of the convention center and surrounding venues used by the Con, exclusives lists, a schedule of panels and signings, and other information about guests and vendors.  Little star icons next to panels, vendors, and exclusives allow users to select their favorites, which they can then view independent from the complete lists.  It works without an internet connection, which is important because I hear Wifi and cell connections are spotty in the convention center.  Here are a couple of screen shots to show you the map and menu:

I really like this new app - the only thing I would change is displaying favorite booths on the map, wither with the star icon or in some kind of highlight.  Currently it displays a bunch of pins and the logos for the larger booths (eg. Hasbro), and touching the pins displays the booth vendor's name and number with a link to see more information, but unless you know where your favorite vendor's booth is, it becomes a game of tapping the pins until you find what you're looking for.

Twitter  -  iPhone App Store  -  Android Store
This really doesn't need explanation.  Between the bloggers posting tips, official accounts posting about giveaways or autograph signings, and real-time information about food, celebrities, and surprise events, this app is probably the most important one on my list.  I have saved searches for various hashtags (eg. #SDCC, #SDCCTips, #SDCCLines, #NerdHQ... you get the idea) and have subscribed to a few SDCC-themed user lists so I can filter results and keep an eye on con news while I'm there.  There are other Twitter apps besides the official one - like Tweet Deck or HootSuite - so if you want additional features look into those.

Instagram  -  iPhone App Store  -  Android Store
Besides posting my photos for my sister to see, some blogs and companies hold contests over Instagram during the Con.  TheNerdyGirlie hosts an Instagram Photo Scavenger Hunt, while some booths have used Instagram and photos for giveaways.

Nerd HQ  -  iPhone App Store  -  Android Store
This one just came out for the iPhone last night.  Right now it has a detailed map, and will eventually have links to a schedule of panels and events at Nerd HQ.  Users will even be able to buy tickets to the Conversations for a Cause through the app.  If you register with the app and visit Nerd HQ you will receive an RFID bracelet and pendant, which can track your activities at Nerd HQ, post updates to social media, email you your photos from the photo booths, and message you about updates to the schedule and new panel offerings.

Here's a screenshot of the app's offerings:

Note: unlike the other apps I listed, the Nerd HQ app is only compatible with iOS 7.0, so if you use an older iPhone like the iPhone 3GS (cough*like me*cough) then you will need to use a tablet or a different phone to use this app.  I, personally, will be using my iPad and either the free wifi at Nerd HQ or use one of our cells as a hotspot if I need it.

While I don't want to waste space on unnecessary apps to save room for photos, I also have my favorite Sudoku game.  In case I'm in a line and want some quiet entertainment, though I doubt it will get much use.  And the Blogger app is on my iPad in case I want to write an entry while I'm in San Diego.

Other useful apps include a ticketing app for the San Diego trolley system, TripIt and other travel itinerary apps for tracking flights and hotel reservations, and Vine video sharing or other social media apps.

What is your must-have app for Comic Con?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Road to ComicCon! Endor Assault Leia, #5

Alright, I've been putting this off for as long as I can, but we're only a week away from Comic Con now and I couldn't avoid it any longer...

I finally started working on my pants and vest for my Endor Leia cosplay.

I also have a confession...

I have completely given up on having the blaster for Comic Con.  I just can't be bothered to put any more effort in it.  I'm not even going to cut off the handle and glue it into the holster.  But at least this way I don't have to waste time at weapons check.  Or bother with it in my checked luggage.

After the con I will still finish the blaster, because I have the materials and want that as part of my costume.  Only problem with not having it for the Con is how am I going to pose for my photos?  Time to re-watch RotJ for inspiration!

Now, for the trousers and vest:

I was putting this last (major) part of the costume off because I hate drafting patterns.  Specifically trousers.  Because I don't really have a background in fashion design or complicated costumery, I'm not going to go into details.  There are much better tutorials already available online than anything I could write.  Basically, I made my patterns and did mock-ups using muslin to make sure I wouldn't blow out the crotch when I sat down and had enough fabric to make the final pieces.

I was going to make the trousers out of some blue flannel I had in my craft room.  I wasn't sure I would have enough, and it turns out I didn't - it's a good thing I did the muslin mock-up first!  There were also weird things going on in the crotch area of my mock-up and I just couldn't be bothered to fix it.  But what would I use for trousers?

First, I thought to buy a pair of skinny jeans in a very light wash, but I didn't want to pay out $30+ for a pair of jeans I wouldn't really wear, especially after modding them for the costume.  After searching online for ideas, I thought to use a pair of scrub pants - they come in various shades of blue, I was guaranteed to find a size that fit, and I could alter the cuffs or waist to look more like the costume if I felt it needed that.

Yesterday I went out and bought the scrubs.  They fit well, and I think I'll only had to hem the cuffs a little to make them look less pajama-y.  I might add some elastic to keep them tucked into my boots.  For the gold stripe running down the outer leg seams, I used some yellow ribbon and iron-on tape instead of hand sewing each leg.

The vest is made out of some gray cotton I bought at JoAnn's.  I used the details on the vest to add darts where I needed them.  The bottom was hemmed once I knew how far I needed to tuck it into the waistband of the trousers.  The cap sleeves turned out better than I thought they would, but I wish I had used some interfacing - they're so floppy.

That's... pretty much all there is to say about that.  Time for pictures!

Because I didn't have time to locate and break in the perfect pair of boots, and comfort is very important since I'll be on my feet all day at the Con, I'm just going to wear my black fUggs or my black leather lace-up boots with some insoles.

I also finished the belt.  I used some 2-inch wide black webbing from JoAnn's. Technically Leia's is green, but it's dark. My buckle is also not screen accurate, but I like it.  I just cut the webbing long enough to circle my waist with two extra inches on each end to sew around the buckle pieces.  Because the webbing was synthetic I was able to finish the ends of it by melting it with a lighter so they won't fray.

That means that all I have left to make are my belt pouches. Yay! I'm almost done!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chik Solo's SDCC 2014 Exclusive Merchandise Wish List

In one week I will be arriving in San Diego!

Even though we are just a week away from Comic Con, exclusive merchandise announcements are still coming out.  When these announcements started I wasn't too worried about getting any of the exclusive merchandise - all of it was for movies/shows/comics I'm not super-into, or a product I wouldn't want to spend money on (eg. I LOVE Star Wars, but would never spend money on a Hot Wheels car when I could save that for an action figure).

But as the Con crept closer and closer and more exclusives were announced, I found a few products I would love to try for.

R2-KT maquette by Gentle Giant
The R2-KT maquette by Gentle Giant is limited to 500 pieces and pre-orders (for preferred Gentle Giant members) have already sold out.  I have no idea how many will be available on the floor, but this is one exclusive I would happily stand in line for.  If you're unfamiliar with the story of R2-KT, you can read about it here.  $10 from each sale will go to the San Diego chapter of Make-A-Wish.  Besides the charity aspect and all the good R2-KT still does by visiting kids, I also want a pink droid.  Because pink.

World of Warcraft Nether Faerie Dragon Plush
This beauty is a plush version of a battle/companion pet from the World of Warcraft.  The Nether version is a SDCC exclusive, while the regular Faerie Dragon will be available at the Blizzard Gear Store online after the con.  I would love to grab one of these Nether Faerie Dragons (and an LED plush Hearthstone!), but I also like the regular version and will just order one of those if I fail to nab a Nether version at the Con.

Ghost Flocked Direwolf Game of Thrones Funko POP! Vinyl
This one was announced TODAY and I fell in love.  Nymeria and Ghost kick ass!  Ghost is flocked, which means he's fuzzy.  Unfortunately the Funko booth is one of the harder booths to get exclusives at - I'm not sure if they do lotteries or early line-up or what, but I need to research this because I want to try to get one.  Isn't he sweet?  Sitting there, silent, just waiting to rip out a wraith's throat if it should threaten you.  What a good puppy!

Nerd HQ Shirt
I'm not sure which of the Nerd HQ shirts I would like to buy, but there will be some for sale on-site at the Nerd HQ location.  I'm leaning toward the simple unisex t-shirt or the blue SaNERDiego tank.

Marvel's Rocket Raccoon Hoodie
Guardians of the Galaxy will be everywhere at the Con.  It's already decorating the streets of San Diego on Comic Con banners, and merchandise exclusives of all sorts have been revealed.  But this super cute and super badass hoodie is the one I want.  Unfortunately Marvel is another booth that is notoriously hard to access, so I probably don't have much of a chance at this one.

I'll update this post if anything else is announced!  Wish me luck!

Chik Solo's SDCC 2014 Wish List

Since this will be my first visit to SDCC, there are definitely more than a few things I want to do/see/experience.  So many, in fact, that it's becoming a bit overwhelming, looking at panel announcements, official schedules, off-site schedules, exclusive merchandise, etc. etc. etc.

With so many different things going on, it is best not to get disappointed if we miss anything... but it is also good to go in with a game plan, a list of things we want to prioritize and back-up options if we miss those.

Here is a list of things I want to try to experience/do while we're at Comic Con, separate from the panels and exclusives and schedule at the Convention Center.

1. Go to Nerd HQ and get Zachary Levi's autograph
There might be other celebrities at Nerd HQ that I would love to meet and get their autographs, but the schedule won't be released until after the official SDCC schedule is out, and even when it does come out plans could always change. But Zachary Levi is a sure thing since he's the host, and I sure do love me some Chuck Bartowski/Fandral/Eugene Fitzherbert.

2. Buy something Batman-y for my little sister
My little sister has always been a fan of Batman. Her 2nd birthday party was Batmen themed. She lived in a Batman (Batgirl?) set of pjs with a detachable cape from the age of 2 until she couldn't fit into them anymore - at all. The sleeves were at her elbows by the time mom convinced her to stop wearing them - and they started as long sleeves!  We never have figured out where this interest in Batman came from, since this was before the early 90s animated series came out (which, coincidentally, we were forbidden from watching because Two Face gave her nightmares (we watched any way!))  And mom was sure she had never seen the Adam West series by the time she started requesting Batman for her birthday. It's a mystery that persists to this day! 
With this being Batman's 75th anniversary and all, I really want to pick something up for her that has Batman on it. Like getting a comic signed.  Or a toy/exclusive of some kind.  I mean, this is a girl who wrote a college paper on Batman.  She NEEDS some special Batman loot!

3. Find one of the Geeky Hooker's little critters
The Geeky Hooker crotchets amigurumi figures of various characters, hides them around the con, and tweets clues to their location. Whoever finds it gets to keep it, and is asked to tweet back with information about where the critter's new home is. It's such a neat idea, and I've started following the Geeky Hooker so I can keep my eyes out for the critters. I crochet and could make these little characters for myself if I was so inclined, so for me it's more about the participation and the element of the scavenger hunt. And what a neat, fan-created and -centered idea! The drop locations have been around the convention center and outside in the past, I think.

4. Get cosplay photos with people in Star Wars costumes
I'm cosplaying as Princess Leia, and I would love to get some photos with other Star Wars cosplayers!  Storm troopers, X-wing pilots, Darth Vader, Han, Chewie, Luke - I'm bound to run into a few, right?

5. Nerd HQ Thursday Night Party
Free party? Heck yes! I don't think this needs too much explanation. But I'm hoping we make some new friends, get to dance, and just have a good time. The boyfriend isn't really a party kind of guy, so we'll see how this goes.

6. Geek & Sundry Lounge and Fan Party
Even though we have passes for all four days, I'm planning on leaving the convention center and venturing out into the Gaslamp District. The Geek&Sundry Lounge is one location I hope to visit. It sounds like there will be games and other things to do there, chances to meet Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day, and just another place to hang out and see cool stuff.  Plus they're hosting a party on Friday night!

7. Enchantment Under the SDCC Party, hosted by the Unofficial SDCC Blog
On Wednesday night the SDCC Blog will be hosting their second annual Under the SDCC party.  Entry is free, it is held at a restaurant so there will be food and drinks for sale, there are giveaways and swag bags, and it sounds like it should be an awesome time!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

SDCC is Almost Here!

 The days leading up to SDCC ticket sales had me like this:

But when we successfully got tickets for all four days, I was like:

And now that we are less than 2 WEEKS AWAY, I'm like:

Awwwww yeah!!!

The Road to ComicCon! TWO WEEKS LEFT!

In two short weeks I will be strolling the exhibition floor of San Diego Comic Con, wearing my cunning hat, my PowerPuff Girl survival bag strapped to my back, and attempting to stifle the shrieks of excitement that are sure to be welling up from my stomach, the kind that are only rivaled by trips to Disney World.

The official schedule for Wednesday and Thursday has been released.  The Sched version can be found here, while the official list version is at this link.

Lists of exclusive merchandise are getting longer.  Crazy4ComicCon and the Unofficial SDCC Blog have my favorite lists - Crazy4ComicCon has everything compiled into a single list here, while the SDCC Blog has things divided by manufacturer/seller.  Early on, I wasn't sure if there would be many exclusives I would want to try for - either I just wasn't interested (eg. the Hot Wheels Star Wars cars) or I couldn't justify the price or effort that might be involved with obtaining something.

But as those lists grew longer and longer, I began to find things I just had to try for.  I have already pre-ordered the Futurama glow-in-the-dark screenprint by DarkInkArt for my boyfriend (he's a big Futurama fan), and I want to try to get the Nether Faerie Dragon and Hearthstone plushies from the Blizzard booth and the R2-KT maquette from Gentle Giant.  If you're unfamiliar with the story of R2-KT you can read about it here - $10 from each R2-KT sale will be donated to the San Diego Make-A-Wish chapter.  I really hope there are some available at the convention.  On top of all that, Funko has been slowly releasing news about a huge batch of their POP! Vinyls that will be debuting at SDCC.  The SDCC Stan Lee, Luke & the Wampa, and a few others have caught my eye so far, in addition to the She-Ra, Amy Farrah Fowler, and Brienne of Tarth figures that I already wanted pre-Con.  So many goodies!

And then there are the autographs...

Thinking about SDCC makes me feel like Agnes with a new fluffy unicorn!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Princess Leia DDC Defender Sporting Blaster Build

I should re-title this post, "Always Make Sure Your Craft Materials Won't Melt Your Project."  

What follows is my original blaster build, which I wrote as I was working.  Unfortunately, this project got majorly messed up right around the penultimate step.  If you're looking for inspiration from this build, just buy some good epoxy, glue everything together, and stick to products you know or test them if you need to use something you've never worked with before.  I would still recommend my parts list, and possibly even the anchor screw inside the body of the squirt gun.  If I could go back and redo this, I would just follow my initial plan of using adhesives and craft clay/foam with the plastic plumbing parts and squirt gun body.

Original post, written July 4th, 2014:

This is a photo of Leia's DDC Defender sporting blaster, used in her costume during the speeder bike chase and bunker assault on Endor in Return of the Jedi.  Wookieepedia calls it a, "socially-acceptable sidearm for aristocrats," and mentions that Leia also used this model aboard the Tantive IV.

Unfortunately there don't seem to be any replicas available that are similar enough to this blaster and within my budget.  And I haven't found any Nerf or other toys that could be an easy mod.

So I built my own!

For this build I used:
  1. a cheap toy gun - I bought mine at the Dollar Tree, it's just a basic squirt gun
  2. a length of PVC pipe (a dowel could work too) - 1/2" diameter
  3. various plumbing parts to add the barrel details
  4. black spray paint - Krylon Fusion spray paint for plastic
  5. epoxy and hot glue to hold it all together
  6. craft foam to build up the pieces and help fit them together
  7. my Dremel and sand paper, to rough up the surface and remove unwanted details from the plastic pieces (not pictured)
  8. hack saw (not pictured)

There is a slight color difference on the blaster - sort of a steel gray on the top of the handle and along the length of the barrel - but I'm not worrying about that right now.  Mainly because I already have the black spray paint from a steampunk Nerf mod I did a few years ago and I don't want to buy any more paint.

If you look at these photos, you can see that Leia's holster is roughly the same length as her forearm:

(FYI Padawan's Guide is a great starting point for Star Wars costume reference photos)

I used that as my guide for how big to make this blaster.  My forearm is 8.5 - 9" in length, so my blaster will measure 8.5" along the barrel when I am done with it.

To begin I cut the PVC pipe down to 8.5 inches.  Then I used my Dremel to sand a guide line along the squirt gun barrel, where I then used a hack saw to cut off the extra length.  This can be seen in the photos by the Sharpie marks.  I just used a cheap, rechargeable, cordless Dremel that I bought at Walmart a couple of years ago.  I hope to eventually upgrade to a corded model, so I won't have to worry about battery life.

Once the extra length on the squirt gun was removed, I found that there was a solid plastic barrier inside, so I trimmed my PVC pipe and removed about 2-3 inches.

Then my dad got involved...

Long story short, I was visiting my parents when I made this, I brought my supplies with so I wouldn't lose an entire week without working on my cosplay at all, my dad is pretty crafty but also kind of pushy, and his involvement added four hours to this project. But it was time I got to spend with him, and he showed me how to use his new tabletop grinder, so it was time well spent.

Instead of detailing everything we did, then everything I went back and took apart because the pipe blaster barrel was angled down, from here on out I will only include steps that actually contribute to the final blaster.

My dad suggested using that plastic barrier piece as an anchor, so we drilled through the barrier, inserted a long screw, and fitted the PVC pipe over it to help hold it in place.  Unfortunately, I don't have a photo.  In the next photo, you can see the darker area where the wood filler is, showing the extent of this hollow space.

I used hot glue to hold the pipe in position against the top of the squirt gun.  My original plan was to epoxy the pipe in place, then pack in foam clay if needed, but the screw we added and a few other details made it impossible to completely remove the pipe to use the epoxy.

I then packed the space with wood filler at my dad's suggestion, then screwed a custom made plastic cap over.  This photo shows the pipe in place, with the plastic cover and screw, while the wood filler dries.  Altogether, this gluing and wood filler stage took 15 minutes before leaving it to dry.

Unfortunately when I went back to check on it a day later, I found the wood filler had MELTED the plastic.  It was squishy and resembled plastic grocery bags.

Even though the wood filler was a single product, without a hardener added, it generated a lot of heat as it dried.  I had never worked with this product before and didn't think to question when my dad said to use such a thick amount - even though I know the two-part wood filler generates heat!  Stupid me.  But my dad, who has worked with this exact product before (of course, he owns the tub) wasn't even expecting it to generate so much heat.  So we learned something about this particular product.

Yeah... when I saw that, I decided to just start over.  Except I found it on the day I was leaving to head back home and the laws in my state restrict this style of toy gun (because it looks too realistic, I guess?)  I stopped by my parents' local Dollar Tree (where my mom had bought the gun for me before my visit, since I can't get them in New York - says so on the Dollar Tree website!) to see if they had any more, but they were all out.  BOO!

So starting over isn't really an option at this point.

My plan is to try to salvage what I have, using craft foam or some clay to smooth out the melted parts.

If that doesn't work, I'm just going to saw off the handle and permanently glue it into the holster, so it will look like I have a blaster.  Too bad I won't be able to use it as a prop for photos... I might not even bother with it at that point, so I won't have to stand in line at weapons check at SDCC.

I will update this post once I figure this out.  I already delayed posting this because I was hoping to have it finished, but I wrote this as I was working and didn't predict having this project derailed so spectacularly.