Thursday, 14 July 2016

Star Wars Celebration

Hello, well I can't believe it's been such a long while between posts! I guess life has been busy as usual and I just haven't found the time to write.

So what have I been up to? Well, it's a busy time of year at work as we say goodbye to those children moving onto 'big school' and we get ready to welcome new faces in a few weeks time. I've been doing my bit on the Disney Dream Girls podcast too and we are now on episode 115! And then there's been the small matter of getting ready for Star Wars Celebration.

So this coming weekend Simon and I will be spending three days in London enjoying all things Star Wars!  This years Celebration is being held at the Excel centre in London and is a chance to celebrate and embrace all that is Star Wars; so lots of exhibits, lots of panels, movie showings, shopping and even tattoos!!

But the main thing for us has been our journey over the past 12 months since making the decision to attend this years celebration. So just to recap...a little over a year ago Simon and I were talking about what to do to celebrate Simon's upcoming 'milestone' birthday year and at the same time I had just found out about Star Wars Celebration coming to the UK. So, knowing how much Simon loves Star Wars I suggested we could have a long weekend in London and visit Celebration. Fast forward a couple of hours and tickets for all three days were booked. Then Simon said..'well if we're going to go we might as well do it properly and go in cosplay' which I replied 'well that's fine but no way am I wearing the Princess Leia metal bikini'!!

So what could we go as? What wasn't going to cost us a fortune to buy? Or was it something we could make ourselves? The idea of making something ourselves really appealed to Simon's creative side and it didn't take us long to come up with a character that we could both adopt. After all if we were going to do this we wanted to choose characters that would either compliment each other or that were the same or similar.

So what did we decide on? Well we went for Mandalorians...which for those of you unfamiliar with the Star Wars universe are based around the character of Boba Fett. The great thing with adopting Mandalorians was that whilst there is a basic form to follow we were free to be creative with the final look and style.

Simon began his research and came across the costuming group called the Mandalorian Mercs; a group set-up to help people create their own 'Mando's' whilst ensuring that the essence of the Boba Fett character still shines through. Having never ventured into the world of cosplay before it has been a real pleasure to discover a whole new world of people all embracing the same passion with no judgements, just simply a desire to enjoy and celebrate something they feel a passion for and a connection to.

So armed with lots of Star Wars reference material from the amazing Dorling Kindersley books to the movies and the wealth of the internet we set off on our creative journey. The online forums of the Mandalorian Mercs opened up a whole new world and gave us a community that would ultimately help us through our creative process.

Now the really great thing with all of this is that the actual cost outlay for both of our costumes has been relatively small. We have bought some pieces, like our 'soft parts' (or the clothing that goes under the armour) along with a few trips to the local DIY store to buy pipes, screws and bolts plus reaping the benefits of EBay and Amazon when it came to buying paint or material . We have invested in a few key pieces of machinery too; namely a sewing machine, hot glue gun and a Dremel! And then lots and lots of saving everyday objects that would have usually been thrown away. Things like plastic lids off ketchup bottles, tubes from inside soap dispensers, plastic chopsticks, pieces of milk fact you name it and we've probably used it. In fact nothing now gets thrown away in our house without first asking 'can we use this for something?'!!

The past twelve months have seen us transform plain pieces of MDF, Foamex board and everyday household objects into something that looks like it belongs on a movie set. Well, I say 'we' but I really can't take any of the credit for the fantastic costumes that have been created as it is all down to the amazing talents of my wonderful husband, Simon. I have merely assisted; I have held pieces still, helped mould a few pieces and learnt how to use a heat gun and a hot glue gun. I have provided refreshments as and when needed and been a sounding board for ideas but all the truly hard work and skill goes to Simon.

For Simon it has been chance to go back to his childhood and 'build stuff'; the only difference is now he has the tools, the knowledge and the creative force to transform ideas into reality. Simon has loved every minute creating our cosplay; he has researched techniques, learnt new skills and shared ideas with our new found friends on the Mandalorian Mercs forums. It has truly been a transformative experience! And having a whole year to build our costumes has all helped with the anticipation to Celebration and given us both that 'something' to look forward to, which after a good couple of years of no vacation time has been much needed!

The aim through all of this hard work, time and creativity was not just to create our costumes ready for Star Wars Celebration but to get accepted as official members of the Mandalorian Mercs by then too! In order to be recognised as official members our kit had to meet strict guidelines that have been set-up to ensure that the essence of the Star Wars universe is maintained and that the quality and attention to detail matches that which you would expect to see in the movies. The forums were a great help with this giving us a wealth of information, experience and support on which to draw to help us towards getting that all important approval. And by the end of June this year Simon got the thumbs up and then just a couple of weeks later so did I. Both outfits passed first time and now means that we are official members of the Mandalorian Mercs and specifically of the Vok'Chi Clan which is the UK arm of this worldwide organisation. As official members we can now 'troop' or 'invade' with our clan which means that we can help out at conventions, fundraisers and other charitable events with our first being Celebration! Yes over this weekend we will be helping out on the Mandalorian Mercs booth as well as helping out in Celebration's family area. So not only do we get to dress up in some pretty kick-ass gear we also get to help with the amazing charitable work this group does.

So let me share some photos with you...this first one shows various elements of our costumes at different stages of completion from raw MDF cut-outs to skate helmets being modified to even some clothing aspects!

The next  photo shows a good proportion of our 'armour' all primed and ready for paint and effects.

And here we have a finished helmet (or what is affectionately known as a 'bucket') - this one is Simon's.

We even have our very own custom 'weapons'...non-working of course!! But boy do they look real!
Simon's blaster
And my more dainty blasters!!
And here's the full effect...first we have Simon..

And then there's me!!

Oh and my one condition on doing this...

...I had to have Mickey ears for my helmet...and these are even detachable too!

So there you are Simon and I all ready, kitted up and official members of the Mandalorian Mercs ready to take on this years Star Wars Celebration. May the Force be with You!!

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