So, how did you come up with Snuffles exo-suit?
SNUFFLES IS MY SLAVE NAME! YOU MAY CALL ME SNOWBALL BECAUSE MY FUR IS PRETTY AND WHITE!…….It’s a pretty awesome character and one of my favorite TV shows. I always loved Snowball, probably because I love dogs so much.
Coming up with the logistics of a costume that isn’t really proportional to a human person was a challenge. I figured the best way was with a black puppeteer suit and to create the illusion of a non humanoid. The LION KING Broadway show did this really well with the animal puppets. So that really helped inspire me to go that route.
Luckily, cosplayers before me have come up with great builds that served as source material to chose from. I had lots of cosplays to reference when it came to the over sized hand puppets. Keegan Sommer and his dad did a Liberty Prime cosplay last year and were kind enough to send me some build photos of the arms. For the legs I used various Velociraptor costumes as inspiration. The head was tricky, I got lucky that my idea worked…….barely worked. I finally got it to work the morning of Con!
That exo suit looks like it took time to put together! Could you talk about it?
I started with a base. A cardboard box for the torso with arm and leg holes, and jumped off from there. I did a small mock up of the legs to try out joint movements, and get the positions correct before I put together the PVC skeleton.
The joints were made of PVC….fun fact, when making a pin for joints…USE A BOLT! the wire i used initially snapped under the weight 20 min before contest judging. THANK THE STARS FOR MEGACON COSPITAL!
They were a godsend and helped me fix the foot joint with a much thicker Pin. The structure around was expandable foam from the hardware store. I covered the PVC in it and carved the foam down into the foot and calf shapes.The Hands were balsa wood and Insulation foam. I made a base/grip for the glove that worked the outer fingers.
The puppet fingers were made in three parts, with balsa wood, fishing line on the inside, and elastic on the outer side. I put thimbles in the fingertips of the gloves to lessen the “give” of the string as it pulled.
This part took a lot of tweaking to get the desired result.LEDs: I had never worked with a soldering iron before, so I was worried about getting the lights to properly work. So i took shortcuts where possible. lol. The light in Snowballs Helmet is a twisty Tea light that people use for decor.
The LEDs in the hands were strip LEDs that are used to decorate bedrooms and even came with a remote so i could change the color and pulse if I wanted too. But I did end up doing some custom soldering that I’m very proud of. The lights in both shoulders and collar are ones I put together.SNOWBALL: This was the most fun. The centerpiece of the costume is what needed to be right. Everything else could suck, but this had to be good.
I’ve never needlefelted before, but I knew it was the best way to create a custom animal. I really have to say, it’s my new favorite hobby! Seriously, it was an absolute blast creating this piece. If you’re looking to add a cute animal or felted piece to your cosplay, take up needlefelting!
I’ve become a huge fan of the medium and was surprised at how easy it was to get used to, especially if you’re already a sculptor. Normally you can’t really felt onto a piece of Styrofoam because the wool will just fall out. But i needed the base to be solid for the puppetry to work, so what i did was glue felt pieces onto the styrafoam base and then felted a base layer of wool onto that felt. It worked pretty well.
The fur will never be as solid as if the entire piece was felted, but it worked well for this cosplay. I build the face up the most, added glass eyes and a nose sculpted from thermoplastics. The arms and legs were wire with wool wrapped around them.
The helmet was an upside down bowl I found at Party City. It was the size and color I needed, so i cut away until it looked like a visor attached to a shorter helmet, painted the non visor parts, added foam and then glued on some Dixie cups. The light is just a party cup I thought looked cool.It’s easier to describe the build process when i have the accompanying photos. So i’ll be creating a step by step guide on Instructables.com like I did with my Power Loader. Hopefully it will make more sense, and other people who love the character can see my successes and mistakes and improve on the design.
Any interesting or funny response from congoers while walking around Megacon in the exo-suit?
Well, i made a child cry…….so there was that. It was actually kind of cute. He was fine until the head moved. That spooked him. Another funny thing was when my sister and I were filming a recreation of the “where are my testicals” scene and I accidentally hit her in the face because my vision is limited in the suit.
How has cosplay impacted your life since you’ve started cosplaying?
There’s a great line in the book “The subtle art of not giving a f***” That says we are happiest when we are setting goals for ourself and overcoming obstacles to achieve them. It’s a great feeling and I think if you have the chance to challenge yourself, go for it. It’s a great feeling that lasts well past Con even when all the attention has worn off.
It’s also great to learn new skills. I learned how to work with electronics this time around, LEDs and many more that I’ll continue to use outside cosplay. The other ways it’s affected me is by severely limiting the amount of closet space I have available.. Big cosplays take up big space. I’ll probably need to get a storage unit at some point.
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