Cosplay Conversation: Randie Allen Wagner

My name is Randie Allen Wagner and I live in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Facebook: Randie Allen Wagner/Randie Allen

Insta: @starcomplexcosplay, @randieallen

Website:  StarComplexCosplay — coming really soon!

YouTube:  Starcomplex Cosplay (tutorials coming soon)

 

 

After much thought about which cosplay to feature, I decided to go with Beatrice from the manga Umineko Higurashi  (When they Cry).  Beatrice is known as the Golden Witch.  We get to to watch her grow up in this series which gave me an opportunity to use items created for multiple cosplays of this particular character.

 

The inspiration came from the wig.  We were visiting our favorite local anime store in Colorado Springs (Rainy Day Anime). They had just received a new shipment of wigs so I grabbed one in a strange yellow color because I hadn’t used that color yet.  My daughter (and model) immediately said “You have to do Beatrice”.  I  immediately commenced research collecting any image I could both from the web and the actual manga series.  I also watched the anime just so that I could see how the cosplay would need to move and to study Beatrice’s characteristics..  I also decided that this would be a good opportunity to compete in a cosplay competition.

 

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?

 

From start to finish about 6 ½ months.  I really wanted to have the time to plan this out.  I needed fabric, I needed tools, I needed all the stuff!

What was your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge with this cosplay was the copper detail work!  After running many tests on different types of fabric, I knew I wanted it to be be shiny to really make the flames and scalloped trim around the skirt, the sleeves and the bodice stand out.  The only fabric I really liked for drape and color of the dress was a rayon taffeta.  Getting that to behave was a fun ride..  I also decided to make the center section of the cosplay as a corset.  Instead of sewing it into the cosplay, I made a separate piece that held on the front with Velcro (yes I said Velcro) so it wouldn’t move.  I really like being able to make things that can be worn by different cosplayers so any corseting I can do, I will.

I had done prop work before but this cosplay gave me an opportunity work with new materials.  I discovered the wonders of craft foam, thermoplastics, sculpting clay, you name it I was game.  I even tried gold leafing the prop pipe.

What was your budget?

I set a budget of approximately $300.00 – this isn’t particularly high but I always have a stash of extra things (fusible facings, boning, threads, etc.)

 

Approximately how much did you spend?  

That depends on who you ask!  I got most of the fabrics locally (the white cotton for the bell sleeves and neckline was easy, the taffeta I purchased at a chain store with a 50% off coupon and bought all they had which was around 8 yards at $5/y.  The burgundy chiffon was purchased at a local big box store for $1.50/y and I bought 7 yards). Thermoplastics can be pricey so I went with heat form sculpting clay for the pipe.   I purchased the wig for $20 and bought a second to make it thicker.  So technically I spent about $175.00.

Then, I decided I really  needed a semi-industrial straight stitch sewing machine so tack on a quick $750.00.  (I called it my Mother’s day gift so I don’t think it counts?)

What special techniques did you use?

 

Turning the copper lame into usable fabric.  It does not stretch (even on the bias) nor does it like to stay together (it’s woven with nylon and real copper) and is not at all heat resistant!  I purchased the copper lame fabric online.  I bought 5 yards, folded it incredibly straight and basted it on my sewing machine, I then cut 3 inch strips and fused it with a flexible fusible interfacing to give it stability without changing it.  I then mitered those strips together and folded them in half and ran them through a serger.  I hand sewed all of the copper fabric onto the cosplay and then heat pressed it down with a fusible quilting tape to make it curve.  Remember the fabric melts…

 

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?

I sewed this right up to the minute it walked.  The cosplayer (my daughter Chloe) walked the runway in the cosplay competition.  Seeing that gown float across the stage and the character come to life was just mind blowing.  The wind hit that full skirt and she appeared to be floating.  Noise stopped as she twirled all the way down the competition stage.   Yes, I cried.

 

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?

I would’ve started the props and the copper work first.  I spent a lot of the time facing the taffeta so it wouldn’t fray and building the sleeves and (they’re actually stuffed with batting).  Any cosplayer will tell you it’s never perfect.

About Cosplay in general:

To me Cosplay is an art form with limited rules (not applying to competing of course).  It’s a collective group of creative people expressing themselves in a way that makes them confident, it makes them powerful and in many ways and  it makes them invisible to the “outside” world.  After you’ve been to a few cons (conventions) you recognize people.  They are in different cosplays than the last time you saw them, but you know them.  It’s such a fantastic family like group to be around.

How often do you Cosplay?

I create one new piece per convention.  So – 3 main cosplays a year. I’m now planning on doing a main cosplay with different looks (like with Beatrice, I made the main gown costume and the skirt for the younger cosplay) I used the same wig for both. The items in the younger Beatrice cosplay came from a local thrift store during a .99 sale where I got the jacket, white shirt, vest and necktie and simply changed them to work.  I think they called that a Two-Fer cosplay?

Main cosplay events in Denver start in late February (AnimeFest, Wasabicon) and go through to September so there’s time in between to tweak and add other elements.  (DCC is July 4 weekend and NKD Labor Day Weekend). There are many anime and movie events and other small gatherings throughout the year.  One could cosplay full time (and many do) with the right scheduling.

How many cosplay do you do?

This depends on the con.  If it’s a 3 day and I’m attending all 3 days, then it’s 3 different cosplays.  If I’m only going one day, we’ll choose one for that day.  I just go into the cosplay closet and rotate.  Many cosplays are created from current anime releases or movies.

What do you want to make next?

After much deliberation and voting Rohan Kishibe was chosen from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part IV.

Favorite cosplay moment?

Princess Jellyfish from NDK 2016.  I like to create things that people recognize but wouldn’t necessarily think to do.  Walking into the main convention hall and being surrounded by fellow cosplayers is an amazing experience.  It’s like being famous.  It’s family and friendship all rolled into one.

Favorite fandoms to follow?

Game of Thrones

Ouran High

Black Butler

Gudetama is my hero.

 

What materials do you like using?

I love working with very difficult fabrics.  It’s like I get to remake them in a way that I would want them to be.  They don’t always cooperate.

 

What materials do you want to try?

I recently purchased a rechargeable hand tool and heat gun so I’m looking forward to working with heatable materials (thermoplastics, clay and foam).  I created a cosplay emergency kit for travel and would like to create a portable cosplay tool kit as well.

I’m currently obsessed with resin casting and silicone appliance making (for face pieces and cowls) and have started researching those (there are classes in my future)

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

Thermoplastics and heatable foam.  They can be pricey depending on where you purchase them.  I could spend 4 hours in a large home improvement store looking for tools and  materials so it would be nice to have a one stop shop to get them all at one time.

What techniques are you dying to learn?

I want to make a full face cast mold so that face and head pieces could be done accurately.  I will probably have to stick my face into a mold at some point!  For now I just use my styrofoam heads and my wig form.

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