I still find the term “cosplay” a bit odd. Didn’t we used to just say “costume?” 😀 It seems I have to add the word to my vocabulary permanently though, so here is my Borg Queen cosplay that I did for the Star Trek Mission New York convention last month:
Unfortunately I don’t recall where I pulled this photo from, and when I tried doing a Google image search just now it didn’t bring me to the source. (Perhaps I didn’t search correctly? Google only led me to the definition of “female.” Weird.) I expect it was from the Mission New York event itself? Sorry to whoever ought to be credited, but thank you so much for taking the best shot that I have of the costume! Once again I failed to take decent photos for myself. 😦 This is a serious problem when I want to show my work and have crappy mirror selfies only.
So. I made this Borg Queen costume at the end of August after vowing never again to wear such a costume after last Halloween. I’d made my first rendition for Halloween 2014 and thought it turned out great. I even won a contest for the first time! However, I barely had any photos of it. When Halloween rolled around last year I decided that I could re-use it easily enough, but I still didn’t end up taking great photos! Wtf? (The problem seems to be that L. rather dislikes taking photos, or taking the time to properly take photos, and also it always gets dark before I’m done putting everything on.) Anyway, the weight of the headpiece caused a massive headache, and the adhesive was unpleasant to remove, so I vowed never again. Then L. asked if I wanted to go to a Star Trek convention, and I simply couldn’t not try the Borg Queen again. At least I had enough experience that I knew I’d have just enough time and mostly which materials I needed. Even with the bald cap I knew what I was getting into. This post is going to be extremely long, but I hope you’ll enjoy seeing so much of the progression of this costume.
First of all, the Borg Queen is a character in Next Generation and Voyager. This is what she looked like:
In general the Borg seem like really fun costumes to tackle, but L. suggested I go straight for the queen saying that I resemble her enough to pull it off well. It would be really neat to do a drone costume, and perhaps easier in many ways, but I went into the unknown territory of bald caps and makeup. Yikes!
For Halloween 2014 there was so much trial and error. I probably spent twice as much as I needed to by trying materials and finding they didn’t work as planned. I also re-made several things over and over too. For example, I first attempted to sculpt with silicone from the hardware store, and it worked decently well… until I discovered that nothing would stick to this material (liquid latex in particular.) Another dead end was using bits of latex gloves for sculpting rippled skin. It looked good but wasn’t functional.
I’d hoped to do a really cool body too, but that did not work out. Generally I thought that the neckline and head were iconic enough not to require an amazing body anyway. These were the best photos (and pretty much the only ones.) :shakes head:
For this costume I used beads and picture hanging hooks for the neckline attachment, and I sculpted the pulled skin with liquid latex and bald cap sculpting ended up being done with latex painter’s caulk. Bottle caps made great neck bits, a cap from teflon tape, and some cable management coils were wonderful for the headpiece. I did research and purchased Prosaide (normal and a thicker formula) besides the liquid latex and bald cap as far as real FX supplies. Great stuff!
Last Halloween I only bought a bald cap, cut the sculpted portions off of the old one, and adhered them to the new cap (with Prosaide.) I re-used the neckline hooks, and I added a corset (that I made some years ago.) The makeup was not as smooth nor were the edges and transitions of latex. These are my best photos. :sigh: I wore it to hand out candy and then we had a few beers at our favourite neighbourhood bar.
Okay, so now that I’ve shared all of that backstory, on to 2016:
This time I wanted to go all out. I had to do something better for the torso and planned even on the legs and footwear to be amazing. However, time and creativity did not allow for as much as I dreamt. L. told me to expect all sorts of awesome costumes and competition at the convention and in the contest, so I tried really hard with this costume. I am proud of it although I see plenty of things that could have been done better. This time I can most likely even wear it again, but I do not have plans to.
I began with some print-outs to refer to and these basic materials:
The Golden’s iridescent paints were an old friend by now. I absolutely love what the coarse stainless steel paint has let me do for previous costumes, and I tried out a few new ones too. InstaMorph was new to work with, but I found it to be very useful and versatile. Colouring the InstaMorph with this for a metallic look worked out very well. I did give a coat of the stainless steel paint for an even better look. Another new material that I hadn’t tried before was Worbla. I’d seen it used in wonderful costumes online, but before this I hadn’t bothered to buy and try it myself. If you look on Youtube there are people creating amazing things with it, but they made it look much easier to work with than I thought it was. 😉
The first thing I worked on was the Borg Queen torso. Since I was using a new material it was the part I was most concerned about having time for, but it did go faster than I’d anticipated. To make her torso I laced my old corset onto my dress form to use as a base. I wanted to be certain of measurements, and this made the perfect sized form. My plan was to wear the corset underneath the costume also, because I didn’t want to bend and break something! It was not too difficult to sketch out a general shape on pattern paper, pinned onto the form, to use as a template to cut craft foam.
I bought two large pieces of black Worbla on eBay, and I sandwiched Worbla over craft foam to make the torso pieces. The process ended up killing my cheap heat gun (RIP) and was very uncomfortable for my fingers. Perhaps I am particularly wimpy in that regard (I have circulatory issues) or maybe I wasn’t patient and should have held the heat gun farther away? The Youtubers looked much happier when moulding it than I was.
When the Worbla portion was all sculpted I began to work on the headpiece, because it must be done in layers and left to dry for days between. First, I glued a teflon tape cover in place with latex caulk and let it dry. Next, I hot glued the cable management coils into it, the other ends onto the cap, and filled the void with more caulk. Caulk is perfect for sculpting the skin where the coils enter the skull, but it has to be done in two or three layers before doing the detail.
You can see that I began sculpting the plastic parts with InstaMorph while the layers of caulk dried. It was nice to work with but also made my fingers somewhat uncomfortable. I wished I had tried this product long ago, because it was so perfect to use.
To attach the neckline stuff to the leotard I only had to heat it up and stick it on. It was really easy, but I accidentally melted a hole through the fabric in the back… so an extra bit was added not inspired by the real Borg Queen to cover it. The only other problem was that the plastic did not stretch to fit over my hips when dressing. I encountered the problem when in a rush to get ready! My solution was to keep pulling until it broke enough to put on, and then I contorted with the heat gun to re-stick the pieces that separated… while I wore it.
After making the torso with layers of Worbla and craft foam I wasn’t too certain the Worbla layers would stay together, and I saw a tutorial that advised brushing a layer of Elmer’s glue onto it before painting. Instead I used several thick layers of Modge Podge. Then I gessoed them, with black gesso to save steps, before painting the metallic effects. The shipping time for the iridescent paint caused worry, because it might arrive too late for the event, so I tried one with mica instead. I didn’t like it for this costume though. It was too shimmery rather than metallic, so I ended up coating the back section with gesso again and sending L. to Blick for the proper paint since he works nearby. The irritating thing is that I have plenty from past costume but could not find it ANYWHERE. I spent an entire day sorting through every box in the storage room and unpacking some that were still unopened from our move a year and a half past, but the paint is missing. L. saved the day by going to the store for me, and I also asked for a bottle of the copper paint too, because I’d noticed that the Borg Queen had bronze-red accents too that I now felt could not be ignored. Adding some warmer tones would really bring things to life, I thought.
All done, aside from the makeup and assembly of course.
I’d really wanted to make the legs look good too and bought a few types of metallic and black pearl fabric paint, but I couldn’t really figure out a way to apply it and not have problems. Finally I chickened out of trying, because I was afraid to ruin the leggings too soon before the convention. It is a shame though, because I don’t like that portion of the ensemble as a result.
The convention was really something else. I did not realise just how much attention this costume would attract. It was surreal and amazing to experience. When we first arrived to the Javits Centre area I was almost worried we had the wrong place or day, because we didn’t see anyone dressed up at all. Even inside it was a bit echoey and empty when we entered, but we met up with our friend and found seats at the back of a panel event. along the way I received some smiles and stuff, but it wasn’t until the panel audience exited that I experienced the full effect. We were some of the first out of the door, being so close to the back, and before we could figure out where to go someone asked for a photo. Suddenly it was several people, many people, tens of cameras and phones ringed around me in a swarm. I wasn’t prepared at all, so it was really bizarre and overwhelming for a bit. I couldn’t decide how to smile, or not smile, and I’m sure the photos taken then showed a very awkward Borg. This kind of thing continued all day though, and very soon I was admittedly enjoying every second. 😀 L. and our friend S. kept joking about the fact that we couldn’t walk more than a few steps before being stopped again for more photos. I’d hoped to snag a bunch of them online, but only a couple popped up that I could find.
A highlight was that when we went for autographs the actors were really kind and impressed. I’m going to totally pat myself on the back here and forget any semblance of modesty, haha. 😀 It was really neat to exchange a few words with Armin Shimerman, for example. Wearing all the bald cap and all made me better appreciate how hard it must have been to act while wearing such uncomfortable and limiting things. The reactions from him, Jonathan Frakes, John de Lancie, and Robert Picardo really made me proud of the costume although I did not win in the cosplay contest. Speaking of, I do believe that Terry Farrel thought it was pretty cool, because she asked me tonnes of questions about making it and really checked out the details while she was judging. 😉
Federation Trump cause me to giggle far more than I should have when I first saw him, by the way. Khan-ye West and Kim Cardassian really cracked me up and had hilarious presence on the stage. The Enterprise dress was a cool idea too, and I wouldn’t have come up with it ever. The Khann that won did a really great job too with all sorts of details, and I think the holodeck duo would have won if Khan-ye and Kim weren’t there, because they did really well too. There was a very good Garek too, but she wasn’t in the contest. Actually, I saw plenty of fun costumes out there all day. 🙂
I asked on the convention app if anyone would share photos since I took too few, and here are two I found:
I will not lie, this is the coolest thing that happened that day… Robert Picardo asked if he could take a photo with me and Tweeted it! 😀 So, here is that: