Zeraora from Pokemon: mckinleymassacre
Zeraora was a sort of spur-of-the-moment cosplay for me. After the Pokémon was revealed on Serebii.net earlier in 2018, I loved the design for it and thought it had a lot of cosplay potential; it’s pretty badass looking AND pretty darn adorable! I also had been messing around with electronics in costumes (mostly LEDs and sound boards) for a little while and wanted a new challenge, which I saw in his being an electric-type Pokémon with light-up paw pads and glowing eyes, and the sound effects to go along with it. If this could be done, I knew people would find it a very fun and engaging addition to a costume, which is what made me finally decide on bringing him to life for all those con-going Pokémon fans!
The majority of the costume is carefully sculpted foam. The costume has yet to be “completed” (a full body version of the suit is coming soon!), but I have sculpted out the remaining pieces and tried it all on; it is all quite heavy and very, very warm. The hardest part about sculpting the head was getting the jaw to move with my own, as his muzzle is so short. It took me quite a bit of time to rig it in such a way that it was possible for him to have a moving mouth while still looking true to the characters actual design (and not showing my own mouth while his was open). It was a very specific resin hinge I had to make specially for this costume. I then installed a rechargeable speaker into the top of the head.
The sound board is connected to the speaker via an auxiliary cable, and the soundboard and batteries are pocketed (though in the completed, full-body suit they will be housed in the large right spike on his back). The soundboard has 2 different thunder/lightning effects and the Pokémon’s callout noise, or “cry”, which I’m able to trigger via buttons in his right paw. The paws and glowing eyes are EL panels.
All four pawpads run off of the same battery pack and are daisy-chained together and triggered with a switch in the left paw, which I’m able to make flicker like lightning! The eyes run off of their own smaller battery pack which is permanently installed into the head, while the larger 8AA battery pack and converter for the pads are currently pocketed (but will be installed into the large left spike on his back when the suit is complete).
It’s really fun to see people recognize and interact with him, but it’s even more fun when he lights up and makes noises! It shocks everyone, literally! ;D It’s absolutely adorable to see people so excited and happy when I’m able to cry out in Zeraora’s actual voice and make lightning appear (and crackle!) from my paws. No one expects it, so it gets some really fun reactions, and usually results in many hugs and pictures, and of course many videos!
The prevalence of negativity has always been a struggle for me through my life, and I find a lot of my thinking unfortunately very pessimistic. Cosplay, however, is something that more and more changes my mind about things the more I experience it. I can never help but think about those that consider it “silly” to be excited over people in costumes because “it’s not REALLY that character”. But more and more I see that, while they’re technically not wrong, it just doesn’t matter. We all know that these characters don’t “exist”, but in our hearts they do, and cosplay is just a way to bring that into reality as much as we can. It’s a way to allow people to interact with their favorite characters, and it’s always felt like a blessing to me that I’m able to do that for so many. It’s a very special relationship between a character and a fan, and when you’re able to make that connection and make someone happy, it’s a wonderful feeling. I can’t even count the number of lasting friends I’ve made from cons, or the even the number of just plain amazing people I’ve met. It’s truly a special world that I believe deserves more credit than what it’s given.
Disclaimer: All images and videos used, do not belong to FnC and belong to their respective owners.