Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lessons Learned from Dragon*Con 2010

So it's been a month since D*C 2010 ended and I have some things to update for anyone planning for 2011.

1. Registration - The first big issue is one that practically everyone has to deal with: picking up your badge at registration. Despite starting at 10am Thursday instead of the previous 4pm, lines were still long. I waited 2.5 hours myself but have heard horror stories of nearly twice that long. Naturally, people complained, and the powers that be listened. They have stated that a new system will be in place next year. It'll utilize barcodes that scan your yellow postcard and each desk will now be able to print out badges (no more unbalanced alphabetical lines).

2. Security - There seemed to be more incidents involving rude behavior this year, whether that's inappropriate comments, disrespecting someone's personal space, or damaging property. I believe this resulted from a larger crowd. Many con-goers blame the increasing number of football fans and other non-con attendees. In an attempt to cut down on that, Marriott staff started checking for badges and controlled how many people entered the building at various access points. The hotels have also promised to do better next year, to check for badges before it gets too crowded and to have more staff available during the evening.

3. Ticket Prices - Pre-reg tickets have jumped in price by $10, and the final at the door price will be $120 instead of $100 like in years past. Perhaps this is also an attempt to keep the crowd from exploding.

4. Hotel Booking - The Hyatt and Marriott use a system called Passkey to book their rooms at the con rate price. I've never used it so I can't explain how it works, but many people who have used it would tell you it doesn't "work" at all. All I know is that the rooms all become available at a specific date and time, and having hundreds of folks trying to get multiple rooms at the same time will lead to a lot of frustration and unsatisfied people. Apparently, Passkey's customer service didn't exactly help matters.

My suggestion is to avoid that system until it has some kind of overhaul. Of course, this means you're left to booking at the Hilton, Sheraton, Westin, and all the overflow hotels in the area. I can personally recommend the Hilton since I've stayed there for multiple years in a row. They have excellent customer service, allow you to book almost a year ahead of con, and are "centrally" located to keep you close to everything but away from the craziness. The only downside is the one night deposit required at the time of booking. Current rates are around $200/night, which divides nicely among 4 people.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guide to DragonCon - Part 3

UPDATED: Feb 2013

OK, so the time is finally upon you, and you are walking through the halls of the host hotels. I'd like to share some of the things I've learned to help make your time there as enjoyable as possible. Please keep in mind that Dragon*Con is five days long, with over thirty tracks represented, hundreds of fandoms, and tens of thousands of attendees with their own individual schedules. Thus it's impossible to touch on everything, but I just want to hit some highlights that I've seen come up time and again on the interwebs:


Dragon*Con at last!

A. Common Sense Things
- Yes, D*C is a magical time where you can have lunch beside an elf and go into the bathroom to see a Stormtrooper, but still have common sense and decency.
  • Sleep enough, eat and drink water regularly, and shower. I'm appalled at how often this comes up, but I was also appalled by how some peopled smelled, so it's a legit piece of advice request from your fellow con goers! :P Failing to do these things could leave you sick with the "con crud." Oh, and don't party too hard early on. It's more like an endurance race, so pace yourself each night. 
  • Don't be an ass. When dealing with others, whether it's a a celebrity guest or a scantily-clad costumer, don't say or do anything that you wouldn't want done to a loved one. Respect their personal space, their privacy, and their time.  

B. Con Specific Things
  • A few days prior to departing on your journey, check out the schedule and subsequent changes to it that are posted on the Daily Dragon. It'll give you an idea of what will go on so you can plan accordingly. They even have an App for smart phones! Even someone as OCD as myself has to accept the reality that you cannot see everything you hope to see. A commonly given suggestion is to pick a few must see events and schedule other things around them. It never hurts to have a backup option either. Also, once the convention starts, visit the information booths at each hotel to see if there were any daily changes made to the schedule. And there are ALWAYS changes. 
  • Atlanta is called HOT-lanta for a reason. It is also very humid for people not used to dealing with it. Thus, keep the weather in mind when you decide what to wear, both regular attire and costumes. Bringing some powder like Gold Bond can help things be less sticky. 
  • You will be walking... a lot. With 5 hotels now hosting official programing, you're going to cover many city blocks in one day. Some of the walking will be uphill, some of it will require pushing through hoards of orcs. Because of the distance between various events, you should consider building in travel time into your schedule. 
  • Be prepared to wait in lines. The registration line is no longer bad since they started using electronic barcode scans. But the ever growing attendance numbers makes large celebrity panels a nightmare! If you don't devote at least an hour waiting (possibly more), you may not get into the room. Hence, eat, use the bathroom, and wear comfortable clothing before doing so. As for fan panels or smaller events, I actually advise against lining up early. Just get there 10 mins prior to start and you'll be fine. This frees up several hours of precious con time that you can use! 

    The horrors of waiting for 2+ hours in line prior to barcode registration in 2011.


  • After you get your badge, and especially if you're there on Thursday before official programming start, take advantage of your free time to roam around and become familiar with the layout. Check out what floors certain rooms are, find where the food court is, and look for the quickest routes from one place to another. The last thing you want to do is get lost in a sea of people. 
  • Be mindful of said sea of people and the overall human traffic around you. Especially in the Hyatt, you don't want to stop to pose or take pictures in a narrow hallway. You also don't want to step on Superman's cape that he's worked on for several months. 

Friday night crowd at the Marriott.

  • Take advantage of the Con Suite. It's a hospitality service provided FREE OF CHARGE by the generous staff. You can go there for some refreshments throughout the entire convention. You can find it in room 223 and 226 of the Hyatt, second floor in the corner above the bar. It's a small area, so try to avoid peak eating hours. 
  • Two minor notes about elevator use. First, be considerate to those who may have problems with mobility, but I'd say that's about it. No need to be super nice, otherwise you'll never get anywhere. Second, if the elevator door opens at your floor, get in! Don't worry about it going up or down, just have a spot so you're not waiting all day. I hear this is the worst in the Hyatt. 

C. Other Resources
- Be sure to check back on my first and second parts of the guide. If you just can't get enough information and want to be even more ready as you can be prior to going, the following links provide lots of useful advice:

D*C Wiki
D*C Forum
D*C LiveJournal
- My entry on Celebs, Autographs, and Photo Ops
- My entry on Fan Tracks
- A community LiveJournal entry with a ton of advice

Above all else, HAVE FUN! Dragon*Con only comes around once a year for a few days and it often ends up being the highlight of the year for many people.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Guide to DragonCon - Part 2

UPDATED: Feb 2013

The first part of this guide was for prepping way off in the future. Now you're about one week out. Be sure to sort out the basics before you go:

1. Ticket
 - I should point out Dragon*Con is free all day Thursday since it is not an official day. In fact, I would encourage curious minds to go to downtown Atlanta Thursday night to get a feel for it all before the mayhem starts. It is also somewhat free the rest of the time during the day if you just want to roam around the common areas of the host hotels and on the streets. You just can't enter any panels or programming events. However at night or other busy times during the day, the hotel security start checking for badges at entrances and you WILL NOT be allowed to enter. This policy began a few years ago in order to cut down on crowds and tighten security. If you STILL haven't bought a badge, then you're going to have to shell out over $100 at the door for a full membership. However, there are single and multi-day badges for less than that.

2. Room
- You know where you're staying, right? Call your hotel to confirm your reservation. Next, clear everything with your roommates on things like payment. You don't want to be left without a roof once you arrive in Atlanta or get suckered out of money someone owed you.

3. Travel
- Ditto here, check your flight info if you're flying. If you're carpooling, sort out details before departing and know how to get there. Driving downtown Atlanta can be confusing and intimidating to anyone not familiar with the area. Oh, and parking is going to be around $20 per day in the hotels and nearby lots. If you want to save on parking, try finding a nearby MARTA station that has long term parking, park your car there, and take the train to the convention (get off at Peachtree Center). Rates are around $5 to $8 per day. As a general rule, try to stay on the Northern stations, as they are typically said to be safer. I've used this approach for a few years now and have never had any problems. Dunwoody has been my station of choice.

The escalator of DOOM at the Peachtree Center MARTA station

4. Packing List
- I'm not going to touch on basics that you would pack for any trip, things like clothes or whatever medical needs you may have. Instead, I'm gonna highlight some key things that could ruin your experience if you forget them:

  • Identification: no ID = no badge = no entry into any room with official con activity.
  • Confirmation Post Card: Starting in 2011, D*C has gone to a barcode system and your code is imprinted on that colorful post card you got a few months back. Bringing it will speed up the registration process.
  • Safety Pin: if you don't like wearing a lanyard, use a safety pin in addition to the clip on your badge to keep it secure.
  • Cash: many vendors are cash only and the ATMs will get used up within a day.
  • Camera: you'll definitely want to take photos of the costumes or celebs you run into.
  • OTC Pain Med: I take one Aleve in the morning, and another one in the middle of the day. It has drastically cut down on back and feet soreness! Muscle rub/Bengay or a warm bath at night also help.
  • Gold Bond Powder: for staying dry, preventing chafing, and fighting some body odor. Pretty much a necessity if you're in a skin-tight or multi-layered costume.
  • Costume Repair Kit: thread, fabric, hot glue gun, tape, etc. Whatever you think can go wrong probably will, so be prepared to fix it on the go.
  • Snacks: unless you want to be at the mercy of overpriced hotel food or go to the same food court everyday, it would be wise to bring some of your own goodies. I'd suggest beef jerky, nuts, diced up fruit, protein bars, and your own bottle to fill with water.

That said... don't overpack! If you know you're walking from a parking lot or MARTA station to your hotel, lugging 2 suitcases, a duffle bag, a cardboard box, and various props is not going to be fun (believe my, I've made this mistake). If you're flying into Atlanta or bringing many costumes, it may be a good idea to ship a package to your hotel room. I've read that all the host hotels will hold until you arrive, or deliver to your room, but there will be fees. Be sure to call your hotel first and ask though. And make sure to set up some arrangement to mail it back to you on Tuesday since most delivery services are closed on Labor Day Monday.

Part 3 will address what to do and what not to do while you're at the con.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guide to DragonCon - Part 1

UPDATED: Feb 2013

In 2008, I attended my first Dragon*Con and my life hasn't been the same since. I compare my time there to a religious conversion. I'm hooked for life and always trying to "CONvert" others to my cause! This guide is mostly for those new to the con, but there's good advice for everyone.

Now I'm gonna assume you already know what Dragon*Con is. It's essentially a 5 day long party with 50,000 of your geekiest friends. I should give credit to the folks of various message boards and online communities that have shared their wisdom with me. The specific Dragon*Con wiki and official LiveJournal page are excellent resources. There are also various Facebook groups that are pretty active year round.

Banners in downtown Atlanta for D*C.


One Year Out

1. Ideally, you plan for Dragon*Con a year in advance. The price of a full 4 day badge starts out at 50% if you buy it early September. Monday of each con usually starts the sale for the next year. The online store also starts selling it about a week after the most recent con. Every few months, the price will increase steadily until you're looking at $120 by mid July. Please be aware memberships are non refundable and non transferable!

2. Roughly around this time, you should also keep an eye on the host hotels to see when they release rooms for the upcoming year. These things get filled in a matter of hours, so the sooner you do it, the better! By the time New Year rolls around, you'd be lucky to even find a room in one of the overflow hotels. There are two great resources for rooms: Dragon*Con Rooms and the Cheap Hotel Klingon. The latter also has reviews and a very useful map of the area with hotels mark. For host hotels, it'll be in the neighborhood of $200 per night, with a possible one night deposit required. I think it's pretty common to have 4 or more people per room to split the cost. Again, I have the emphasize, the sooner you take care of room, the better! For instance, I booked my room for 2013 in the Tuesday after con... not even 24 hours had passed since I checked out from my 2012 room!!

3. Start saving money. You will end up spending more than you intend on spending. Be sure to consider the cost of travel if you're driving very far or flying into Atlanta.

4. If you're into costuming or want to take a stab at wearing a costume, start brainstorming ideas. Cosplay.com is a good place to get started, whether you want to see what's been done or how people did it. By the way, dressing up isn't required. I'd say only half of the people there are in costume.

Now you can pretty much relax till the summer :)


Three Months Out

- If you've attended before, the 100 day mark is around the time you start getting really excited. Your costume should be progressing well; there should be a few names on the guest list you're excited about; and you have -just- enough time to take care of any loose ends.

- On the flip side, if you didn't even plan to go or find my guide until now, it's OK, you still have time!

1. Pickings may be slim, but the occasional person does drop out of their room and offer it on the D*C Rooms LJ. Folks are always looking for an additional roommate too. There are also sales on travel websites for hotels that are within a few blocks of the convention.

2. You're going to have to bite the bullet for the membership fee, which is nearing the $100 range at this point.  However, there are some options to explore. You can also consider buying single or multiple day passes at the door.

(Side Note: The D*C office starts mailing out confirmation posts cards around Jan/Feb of each year. If you registered prior to that and still don't have your colorful post card in your mail box, I would contact the main office.)

3. Three months is enough time for most costumes to be commissioned. Plus, the costume maker may be looking for extra funds so they themselves can attend the con.



In Part 2, I'll talk more about preparations to make when you're weeks/days away. Finally, Part 3 will deal with general advice for what to do during the con.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Metal Gear Solid 3 Naked Snake Costume Tutorial - 99% COMPLETE

Snake? Snake?! SNAAAAAAAAAAKE?!

This is the first complicated costume I've put together and why not chronicle it so it may come in handy for someone else who loves METAL GEAR! To begin with, lots of credit should go to Kyle for making the original tutorial. However, it's a few years old, some of the links are broken, and I wanted to integrate a lot of the comments he got along with the mistakes I made so that others out there can hopefully avoid doing the same thing. I only have very basic sewing and crafting skills, so this is geared more towards people like me rather than the experienced costume makers.

First you need a reference picture. This picture is an excellent one (left), but feel free to Google your own, especially looking at the action figures (right) or other cosplayers.

 

Of course you can always fire up the Metal Gear Solid 3 game and go into viewer mode for close-ups of any specific items.

Next is where to get your materials and pieces. You can try local military surplus stores or flea markets to save on shipping, but I got pretty much everything online. I'll list the source of each item I got and approximate price as well, but I'll go ahead and say that you can get about half of the things from ArmyUniverse.com. I looked for several days online and they had the most things you need for what I found to be the lowest price (overall) at the time. It's better to pay for shipping just once, and they sometimes offer free shipping on large orders.

Finally, a great overall resource for pictures and advice from others who have undertaken this task is cosplay.com. You can join the Metal Gear Solid thread and ask fellow fans about how they did things.

On to the costume! Let's start from the top down.

Bandanna - ($2)
- Buy some fabric or use an old piece of clothing you have. Cut it to a length of your choice, I'd say at least 3 feet long. As for color, you can probably get away with black, gray, dark green, and dark blue.


Face Camo - Army Universe ($3)
- This is optional and will vary depending on your taste. I got an Olive Drab/Black camo paint stick but you can get more elaborate and do something like the zombie face paint or a country's flag. It may take some time and scrubbing to remove the face paint, but a good tip is to use dishwashing soap like Palmolive (these are meant to break up oil stains).


Throat Microphone & Earpiece - eBay ($11)
- You'll have to buy part of it and make the remaining part. Search for "VOX throat mic" and you should get some good options. What you're looking for is something with an earpiece and the ring that goes around the back of your neck with a cable coming out from it. How the actual VOX/PTT switch looks is irrelevant, but it's probably in the shape of a pea.


Switch Box - ($15)
- The box is the part you have to make. First some supplies from a crafts store. You'll need to buy regular Elmer's glue, brushes, black and white acrylic paint, and some craft foam. I got one 12x18" sheet of the 2mm kind in black, although I may have to suggest a lighter color so you can see your markings better. An extra sheet may be useful if you want to practice on it first.

1. Cut out 10 pieces of craft foam, around 2.5x4 inches. You can modify the length and width to your preference. Try to get them to be uniform in size, maybe using one as a reference to adjust the others.
2. Leave 2 of the pieces alone, these will be the bottom layer and 2nd to top layer. Cut one of the other 8 pieces into what will eventually look like the top most layer, with a circle cut out of the upper right side, and use the scraps to make a dial and fake screws if you'd like. Of the remaining 7, trace and cut out the shape of the actual switch. You may not need all 7, depends on how large the switch is. This picture will give you an idea of what I mean:


3. Glue the bottommost layer with 7 layers that have pea cutout. This is the thick piece. Glue the 2nd to top layer with the top layer and dial. This is the thin piece. Let these dry.
4. Insert switch into the pea-shaped hole of the thick piece (glue it even), and once it's snug, glue on the thin piece on top. If there is an extra cable coming out of the pea-shaped switch box, feel free to cut it off.
5. Once dry, you're going to cover the whole thing in several layers of sealant. Use a 1:1 ratio of glue to water. According to this wonderful craft foam tutorial, you should do about a layer a day for a week to really be certain the foam has soaked it all up. I think I put about 7 coats on there.


6. Get some black and white acrylic paint and decorate the box to your liking. Start on the backside so you know how the paint looks. I did not write in VOX or PPT because it doesn't seem like there is on the reference picture. Attach to your harness with some velcro.



Undershirt/Sneaking Suit - Target ($10)
- Any long sleeve black Under Armour type compression shirt will do. I'd shop around at Wal-Mart or Target before looking online. Get one that's fitted and has a bit of a turtleneck coming up.


BDUs - ArmyUniverse.com ($55 total)
- Several options here but I think the most common for cosplaying purposes is the Vietnam Era Tiger Stripe. You may want to wash it a few times soften the material (and get that smell out). Be sure to read up on BDU sizing so you get the right fit for yourself. I'm 5'10" and 175 pounds, and I normally wear men's Mediums. A medium camo shirt and pants fit me just fine, though taking in the baggy pant legs a bit is recommended.


EDIT: Someone recently pointed out that Snake's vintage BDU only has 2 chest pockets and not 4 pockets like most of the modern day BDUs. MooreMilitaria sells the more expensive vintage style, as well as some international vendors on eBay.

Parachute Harness - (EXPENSIVE)
- This is going to be the most expensive and/or the most difficult thing to make, but it can also take your costume from good to great. Snake wears a Vietnam Era STABO harness:


There are a few ways going about this:
a). Construct your own using Kyle's excellent tutorial. Not sure how much that'll run you.
b). Search eBay and the internet for a real STABO harness. This can cost anywhere from $250 to $600.
c). Get a custom harness made for you via independent contractor. This is what I did, unfortunately, the guy no longer makes these.


This is more about my personal preference about wanting Snake's harness and belt to be black. I believe they're a dark green in the game since they appear darker than his olive drab camo, but lighter than his all black camo. With my Tiger Stripe camo, I believe a black harness looked better.

An important note: when trying it on (regardless of whether you bought it or made it), the harness goes with the web belt running through the bottom two loops. It won't look or fit properly unless you're wearing the belt at the same time. Be sure to give yourself some room in the crotch too ;-)

If you want cheaper but less accurate alternatives, you can either buy some regular suspenders (cheap) or military-type suspenders/harnesses (less cheap). Try to look for ones with an X-pattern on the back. Just make sure to not get the M1950 military suspender like I did. It only connects in the front and will ride up all in your junk. Plus they hurt your shoulders from the pressure of pressing down after just a few minutes (not good for walking around conventions!)

Gloves - ArmyUniverse.com ($15)
- These are D-3A gloves. Again, read up on military glove size. I typically buy men's S/M or Medium for gloves, and I bought a size 4. Then you'll want to cut off parts of the thumb, index finger, and middle finger. How much to cut will depend on your finger, but approximately an inch from your knuckle or at the first bend in your fingers (PIP in medical terms). You may have to sew the seams if they come undone.


Belt - ArmyUniverse.com ($4)
- I got a black canvas pistol belt. It has little holes and a metal clasp, not the more modern quick release plastic buckle. This is also available in olive drab if you prefer, and there's even a combo pack with the belt, a canteen and canteen holder (available on this site, plus eBay and Amazon).


Now for the belt gear. We'll address it from left to right (if you were wearing it):

1) Ammo Pouches - ArmySurplusWarehouse.com ($10 per pouch)
The first 2 ammo pouches are M-1956 M14 ammo pouches. Pretty hard to find, especially with the old style metal clasp instead of the plastic one. You can also occasionally find them on eBay (look for "Vietnam pouch"). Since most of these will be vintage, you might want to put some baking soda inside it to get rid of the smell. In fact, the baking soda boxes are the perfect size to stuff inside. Put a box in each pouch and leave it for a few weeks to take form. Before you wear the costume, empty out the baking soda, but put the empty box back in so you still have some structure without the additional weight.


2) Canteen & Cover - ArmyUniverse.com ($7)
- A GI style 1 quart canteen. It looks like Snake has a plastic one in either olive or brown. Then there's the matching canteen cover, which is available in nylon or canvas (I think the latter is slightly more accurate although I got the nylon one). As I noted earlier with the belt, there's a combo pack you can buy with an olive belt and canvas cover. 


3) Butt Pack - ArmyUniverse.com ($12)
- There's a few varieties out there, but I prefer the smaller one (around 9x8 inches) rather than the 12x8 one because it takes up less space on the belt. It's already bulky as it is. Again, try to get canvas and one with metal buckles instead of plastic. To give the pack some structure, make a cardboard box to stuff inside. I also cut off the straps and only left them hanging from the top buckle so I can easily open and close the pack. 


4) Radio Pouch - eBay ($25)
- It was hard to find one similar to what Snake is wearing. After some searching, I found a different variation of the M-1956 ammo pouch made in Australia. You can buy them from this Australian site or search for it on eBay using terms like "Vietnam, Australia/Aussie, cartridge pouch, and/or ammo pouch." It's the middle one in the picture, and as you can see, it's slightly longer than the US version of the M-1956 pouch. 


Once you have it in hand, cut a small hole in one of the top corners for an antenna to come through. For the antenna itself, you'll need to buy the thinnest PVC pipe you can find and cut it somewhere around 18 inches long and paint it black. Additionally, you can go over it with black electrical tape like I did so there's no worries about the paint rubbing off. I did several layers at the tip of the pipe to make it look more like a radio antenna.

Now how do you get it in the pouch and make it look like a radio? Cereal boxes. Measure the dimensions of the pouch and make a paper box to put inside it to give it structure. Here's a picture of the box I made next to the baking soda boxes I used for the regular pouches.



Attach the PVC pipe to one of the box's corners, and skillfully place everything in the large ammo pouch. It's kind of difficult to maneuver with the large pipe, but just be patient. You should eventually end up with something like this:


Someone on Cosplay.com pointed out there's a similar pouch you can get. Look for "South African Army Style Ammo Pouch" on Amazon, and you'll find a cheaper and slightly smaller pouch than what I got.

5) Gun Holster - eBay ($20+)
- I actually got a good deal on this, but you want to use search terms like "1911/1916/.45 leather holster." Make sure it's black and has the US logo printed on it. Try to find one that's already broken in. I bought one that was brand new and it was stiff as a board. Could not fit my gun inside so I tried to soften it by putting it in hot water. BAD IDEA! Instead, try to find leather conditioner, mink oil, or lanolin-containing products to rub in the leather. And stuff your gun in there and leave it in for a few days to stretch out the holster.


Knee Pad/Brace - eBay ($7)
- I tried on several athletic knee pads and braces before deciding they didn't quite look how I wanted. So I got some black fabric and attached velcro on the ends so I can wrap it around my knee.


Boots - ArmyUniverse.com ($23)
- Any jungle boot in olive drab will work here. You can of course pay for higher quality and more expensive ones but I really can't tell the difference in appearance. They actually weren't bad in terms of comfort. I bought a half size up (since military boots only go in whole numbers) so there would be some room to put in an insole. Regardless of whether you buy a new or used boot, they're going to have a smell so you might want to break out some baking soda again.


Let's move on to weapons. The rules of your convention may determine what kind you get. Whatever the situation, please be careful with these! Don't go around trying to CQC anyone with a knife or aim a gun at someone's face!

Pistol - eBay ($18)
- According to the Metal Gear wiki, Snake uses an M1911A1 in the game. You can look for any 1911 Airsoft gun on eBay but I got one with a brown handle and black frame to be more accurate. Since I wasn't going to shoot it, functionality wasn't a factor.


CQC Knife - eBay ($9)
- I think the one Snake's actually using is an Ontario Ranger Shiv knife (top picture) but these run at least $45. Since it will probably remain sheathed on your harness most of the time, you can get a much cheaper one that has a similar handle (bottom picture). It's hard to describe how to find it on eBay, but try terms like "survival knife,"tactical knife," or "combat knife" and start with the lowest price first. You want a relatively small knife with a rope handle. The one I got is about 6.75 inches with a 3.5 inch blade. It might actually be easier to look on Amazon for "Recon Tactical Knife Set." It'll give you 2 knives and you'll want to use the smaller one (7.5 inches).




As for the sheath, you can either search for small brown leather sheaths that will fit your knife (and maybe wrap it with black string/tape/paint to get the right look) or make your own sheath if you're good with leather craft-making. I bought one that had a 4 inch pouch ($9 eBay) and cut off the extra material. If the knife is a little loose inside, just wrap it in newspaper and stuff the paper inside. I attached it to my harness with velcro, but to keep it more stable, I used some black electrical tape. I would encourage you to play around with the position when it's still with the velcro only. I originally wanted the knife to be slanted at 45 degrees like Snake's, but I found that angle to be restrictive when I tried to aim my gun. So I ended up attaching the sheath vertically.


Survival Knife - eBay ($18)
- There's some debate over it, and it could very well be a KA-BAR knife. I looked closely at the screen caption from my game and Snake's knife has a sawtooth edge and a large fuller. The closest knife I found is a " GI Style Pilot's Knife." It has a similar looking handle, the right type of blade, and most of them come with a free sheath that is also very much like Snake's sheath on his lower right leg. Plus I came across some models of that type that were from the Vietnam Era, so I think it's period correct for the game. If nothing else, the Pilot Knives are cheaper. Attach to your lower leg with some tape.


Calorie Mate - eBay ($7)
- Man was I ever floored when I discovered you could buy them! I got the red box kind. Most of these have to be shipped from Japan so you may have to wait a while for it to arrive. Definitely a neat prop to have, and can fit on one of your various packs. Tastes like a semi sweet stale cookie.


In regards to extras, you could always add an eyepatch, cigar, binoculars, an alligator head, or extra weapons. You can also grow a Snake-like mullet and some facial hair if you really want to get into the spirit. Have fun with it and make the costume your own!

All in all, this project cost me a few hundred dollars and several hours of research. I hope my tutorial can be useful to anyone else wanting to be Naked Snake. Feel free to leave me comments or questions. I'm not an expert in any way but I'll always be glad to fellow Metal Gear Solid fans. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Progress #2 on Gambit

Well, I can happily post a nice progress report for Gambit. I should be completely done with this costume by mid June. Once that happens, you can expect a tutorial on how I put it together. Right now, here are 2 photos, edited a bit for effect.




As you can see, the staff still needs to be painted, I'm not wearing his headpiece, and certain fingers on the gloves need to be cut off. I'm still debating on what to do about the neck too, whether to take it easy with a bandanna or try to make a collar with craft foam. Finally, there's the question of if and what I should paint on the chest armor and knee pads.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Taste of Things to Come

What can you expect from me in the near future?

  1. I'm working on tutorials on how to put together a Gambit costume and a Snake (from Metal Gear Solid 3) costume. I'm sure there will be other characters in the future.
  2. There will also be a lot of planning/advice/excitement about Dragon*Con, which has been the highlight of my year for three years in a row, and somehow keeps on getting better. Again, more cons could be in my future as I want to dress up more often and be around my kind of nerdy folk. Since I live in Georgia, I'm thinking AWA or Wizard World.
  3. And if I'm bored enough, I may give my opinion on some of this season's sci-fi shows and summer movies.

My First Time... Again

To those who already know me, you know I've had a LiveJournal since 2002. But that's for my personal life. I thought there should be another blog open for all of the internets to see. Most of this blog will focus on my geeky side, whether it's about games, sci-fi shows, costumes, or conventions.

To anyone who comes across this page, thank you for taking some time to glance over my words. I hope I can contribute something positive, and please feel free to leave me your comments, thoughts, and questions.