Anime Con of the Dead — 2012 Tour!

Thursday, 21 June 2012, 18:50 | Author: Janet
Category : Announcements

Anime Con of the Dead has Returned!

At long last Kricket Costumes’ and Ratgirl Productions’ Highschool of the Dead (HSOTD) themed undead horde flashmob performance is coming back! And this time it is making a tour to different anime conventions in and around the San Francisco bay area! If you are part of an anime convention staff and would like ACOTD to host an event at your con please contact support@ratgirlproductions.com and we will do our best to slate your venue into our tour.

What is Highschool of the Dead?

It’s a manga series that follows a group of high school students caught in the middle of what is essentially a zombie apocalypse, and trying their best to survive! This series was released to Japan as an anime in 2010, and it has already been slated for a spring special in 2011. The response from this over-the-top show has been enormous and many fans have surfaced all around the world. Being fans ourselves, as well as cosplayers, we want to bring this undead phenomena back to “un-life” once again!

Interested in joining? If so, read on:

We already have assembled a group of main characters, but we need a mass horde of zombies–referred to simply as “The Dead”–to help us create our apocalyptic event! To participate, you should purchase a civilian outfit (normal clothing) and make sure it is bloodied and maimed before the event. Kricket Costumes has a tutorial on how to “bloody” your clothes for this event. If you plan on shuffling in as a Dead high school student from the anime series, we recommend you purchase costumes from these websites: [Ebay] [Salemanb2b] [Salemanb2b].

After the invasion, be prepared for zombie-themed board games and a raffle for some cool prizes!! In order to be eligible for the raffle, it is important that you RSVP using the form below and bring a printed copy of your RSVP Confirmation email with you to the event. You can also RSVP by sending an email to Kricket Costumes (kricket@kricketcostumes.com) or Ratgirl Productions (support@ratgirlproductions.com) with your full name, email address, and RSVP response. We will only use this information to send you updates and reminders about the event. In the subject line, please write “Anime Con of the Dead 2012.”

FIRST STOP: Kin-Yoobi Con 2012
PLACE: Hilton Newark/Fremont Hotel, 39900 Balentine Drive, Newark, CA 94560-0564
DATE: August 11th, 2012
TIMES: 8:00pm-10:00pm

SECOND STOP: Hyper Con 2012
PLACE: San Mateo Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403
DATE: September 7th-9th, 2012 (TBD)
TIMES: Pending with con staff

Sign up FOR FREE below to volunteer as one of the undead horde invasion! Must be age 18+ due to the nature of the event and some of the prizes, and have at least a one day badge to the convention. Also, please let us know if you have any allergy to airbrush facepaint, cream makeup or theatrical blood in the additional notes box. Each volunteer also receives free goodies and a free raffle ticket for other Zombie themed prizes!

ATTENTION: Online RSVP for Anime Con of the Dead at Kin-Yoobi Con has ended!

If you still would like to RSVP, we will be taking first come first serve last minute signups at the Ratgirl Productions table (V4) in Exhibit hall 1 on Saturday August 11th from 10am-4pm! We will also take walk-up RSVPs at the Seminar 3 room, but only from 8pm until 8:30pm on Saturday. After our cut off time we will not allow any new registrants due to our preparation schedule.

FanimeCon 2012

Tuesday, 12 June 2012, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Convention Reports

Nobody doubted that Fanime would return yet again to the San Jose convention center.  This fan-run convention has become a tradition to thousands of attendees; with over a decade of history backing it, it’s easy to fall into the assumption that the convention will run itself.  But it does take combined effort and coordination, so we want to thank the staff for all their hard work!  That being said – I saw some really amazing new things this year, some of the same, and some really questionable decisions.

Fanime decided to join with a local steampunk convention this year: Clockwork Alchemy!  Which means double the programming…. right?  We quickly found out that the “steampunk” events were held at the hotel Double Tree.  No big deal.  It’s got to be one of the hotels nearby.  Turns out Fanime was offering shuttles back and forth between the two conventions but you should plan on it taking about 30 minutes to arrive at your new destination, which was quite isolated from downtown San Jose.  They even had some interesting cosplay panels I wanted to attend, but it just wasn’t worth the hassle to go there and back when Fanime already has so much going on.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed some wonderful cosplay programming at Fanime (I actually managed to catch some of the masquerade this year!) and saw some very impressive costumes (many of which lit-up!).  But I must say that the highlight of the weekend was a brand-new cosplay event, Chopped Cosplay!  This “Iron-Chef” inspired costume-construction-competition featured a rag-tag combination of fabrics and sewing tools with a secret ingredient added to each round.  Teams of two to five members had to attend a qualifying round on Friday night, with the actual competition taking place from 7-9pm on Saturday.  Instead of making a full-course meal, contestants were challenged to put together a complete Final Fantasy costume replicating any character of their choice.  Although each team did very well under pressure, we agreed with the judges’ nomination of Lulu.  Their use of the secret ingredients (a red plastic cup, a string of white lights, and pin-pong balls) were flawlessly incorporated into the costume.

What did disappoint was the video programming this year. While I understand that convention approved fan-subs are always a bit behind the times in terms of obtaining the latest, newly-released anime, I expected to see a lost more of Ludovico’s recommendations in the schedule.  I found some of his shows in the program guide (Lagrange, Kamisawa Dolls, Tiger & Bunny, Occult Academy, House of Five Leaves, Durarara!) but when I was looking at the pocket guide, these shows seemed so far and few between that I never quite knew what to watch.  Despite my looking for current and interesting shows, I visited the ‘Nostalgia Room’ more often than not.  (Though I must admit I rather enjoyed jumping in and out of the Sailor Moon Marathon.)

During lulls in the programming, I filled the hours watching Janet play with her “NekoMimi” cat ears that moved as if she were a real cat!  Now, these motorized headsets are not controlled by thought (per-se), nor are they controlled by emotion.  Rather, they move as an indication of your brain-waves, with modes that reveal whether you have an active or relaxed mind.  This hot new item seemed to spread quickly by word of mouth as early as Friday afternoon.  For the price of $100 many attendees were sporting this new technology, which has been in development for over a year.  But this is only the beginning; the company is already looking into creating interchangeable ear covers with various colors and furs.

Fanime  has grown significantly from it’s humble college-campus beginnings.  And I love what they have accomplished, but moving forward, I really think they need focus on quality programming and expanding into a new venue.  If you haven’t yet contributed to the direction and development of an anime convention then it may be time to step up and help!  I’m sure they could always benefit from the help of a few extra volunteers or staff.  I’m not suggesting that this convention is on the brink of failure.  It’s a tribute to their popularity that the halls are so crowded, hotel rooms fill up immediately, and not all artists can secure an Artist-Alley table.  But these are just some of the problems that need to be addressed if they are to maintain their good reputation as one of the largest conventions in the nation.

FanimeCon 2012 Photos

Wednesday, 6 June 2012, 12:00 | Author: Amitie
Category : Announcements

Crossplay Tricks

Wednesday, 6 June 2012, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Thank you to everyone who attended our panels: Crossplay Tricks and Cosplay Makeup Demo!  We had an amazing time and got to showcase some of our latest projects!  At the request of our attendees, we’re posting our Crossplay Tricks panel below.  Unfortunately, given the conversational style of the Crossplay Makeup Demo, we’re unable to post it online.  But stay tuned!  We’re planning next year’s convention schedule and we’re hoping to present panels at several San Francisco Bay Area conventions!

Click the image to download the PDF slide show

Kickstart Kricket Costumes

Sunday, 27 May 2012, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Welcome Fanime attendees (and loyal fans)! We’ve got a special treat for all of you, namely the opportunity to get your hands on some special cosplay merchandise!

* * * * *

Kricket Costumes has just launched our first project on Kickstarter! We are asking for funding to print four cosplay-themed T-shirts, with sizing that ranges from small to X-Large.  This new spin on otaku-themed clothing will have beautiful anime artwork and phrases that resonate with even the most experienced cosplayer.  This is a wonderful option for those of you who are too exhausted to get into costume, but still want to proclaim your love of the cosplay fandom.

Also, as a special thank-you to our supporters, you have access to special prizes such as cosplay kits, a wig stand, a professional photoshoot, or even a day-long consultation with Kricket!  If you would like to see this idea grow into something epic – we need your support!

Click here to join this innovative cosplay project!

FanimeCon 2012 Panels

Thursday, 24 May 2012, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Announcements

Crossplay Tricks
Saturday, May 26th, from 7pm – 8 pm

Panels 2

You have not experienced cosplay until you have CROSSplayed. Learn the secrets for dressing as the opposite sex and causing confusion among the general public. KricketCostumes will discuss crossplay techniques and more advanced forms of physical modification. This panel includes mature content.

Cosplay Makeup Demo
Sunday, May 27th, from 11am -12pm

Panels 3

Planning to cosplay Bleach Hollow form, Death Note’s Ryuk, or Gamzee from Homestuck? Have you put much thought into your makeup? Kricket Costumes will show you how to look like your favorite characters using professional techniques; bring reference pics so we can give you more personalized advice!

Also, be sure to check us out at…

  Chopped Cosplay
Preliminary Round

Friday Night

Lifecasting Basics

Thursday, 17 May 2012, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

You’re in trouble if you succumb to the claustrophobia while encased in the material.  I had a hysteria attack with tears pooling in my eyes and then I freaked out even more because I kept wondering–where are the tears going to go?  ~Kricket

*  *  *  *  *

Lifecasting is the process of molding your face (or other body part) in order to cast an exact replica.  It has many applications within the cosplay community.  If you cast your face you can experiment with building: a latex nose, chin, or ears; animegoa masks; furry heads; or specialized head accessories.  If you cast your body, you will have a mannequin specifically tailored to your measurements, on which you can build tight-fitting costumes or mold wonderflex into armor.  It is a useful technique for the advanced costumer who has the money and desire to learn about molding and casting while building upon their professional portfolio.  If you are still a novice at costume-making, don’t worry!  Beginners can often find products offered by the cosplay or theatrical community to meet their cosplay needs.

Choosing The Mold Material

The material you use for the mold will depend upon your budget and the desired mold properties.  While there are many mold-making websites out there, Smooth-on is well respected within the community.

   Alginate is the most economical material.  It sets in a matter of minutes into a rubbery material with just a little bit of stretch. The downside is that it is only good for one to two casting and can only accept certain casting materials such as plaster of paris.  Petroleum jelly is an acceptable release agent.
   Alja-Safe® is an alginate created by Smooth-On.  It claims to be a carcinogen-free improvement on the basic alginate but it still has the same downsides listed above.  What is interesting is that it claims that it “does not stick to anything” – probably referring to skin and facial hair – and can safely mold hair if used in conjunction with hair conditioner.
   Body Double® Silicone Rubber  is a long-term mold material produced by Smooth-On.  It sets in 5 minutes and demolds in 20 minutes.  Although it is quite expensive it can last for years, through multiple castings, and is quite stretchy.  Use with body-double release cream, gypsona plaster bandages, and a latex bald cap.

Step-by-step Lifecasting Instructions

For this tutorial, we decided to use Body Double for ease of removing the head.

What You Will Need:

  • Mold Material, Release Agent, Bald Cap, Ear Plugs
  • Plaster Bandages
  • Expendible Paint Brushes and Tongue Depressors
  • Mixing Containers
  • Bucket of Water
   Before casting, apply a release agent to any facial hair (eyebrows, eyelashes, beard).  You can protect your hair with a bald cap that completely conceals all hair.  The wig cap shown was not sufficient and as a result we had to cut off strands of hair that had been captured in the mold.  If casting over the ears, wear ear plugs.
   Mix a small amount of mold material as it can set within minutes.  Remember to have a supply of disposable brushes nearby as they will quickly become unusable as the material sets.
  Apply a thin base coat and watch for air bubbles.  It is best to start with the back of the head, leaving the eyes and nose for last.  Usually it is enough to make sure the nose passage is unobscured for breathing, but it is not uncommon to stick a straw in someone’s mouth to allow air circulation through the oral cavity.  If the material accidentally gets in your subject’s nose, have them exhale air forcefully to remove the material.
   Continue to apply a thicker coat (recommended 3/8″ thick).  It does not matter if the first coat has cured before you apply the second coat, since Body Double adheres well to itself.  Remember that your subject can still hear, so continue to talk to them and make sure you have some prearranged communication method.
   Once the Body Double has set, soak and apply the plaster bandages.  Cut thin strips for detailed areas such as the bridge of the nose.
   At this point, your subject should only have been in the mold for about an hour.  Once everything has cured, you can cut the plaster bandage from ear to ear.  The Body Double can be cut straight up the back of the neck, allowing enough of an opening to pull the flexible material over the crown of your head.

If you’ve made it this far you now have a mold of your head! The next step is to pour the cast into your mold, using the dried plaster bandages and a box full of packing peanuts for support.  Check with the manufacturer to determine which material would be best.

You can also find instructional videos at smooth-on.com.

Fabric Designs with Batik Wax

Thursday, 10 May 2012, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

“Batik” is a fabric dying technique that allows you to create two-tone patterns on fabric using wax.  How this works is when the specialized wax is painted on a natural-fiber fabric, it acts as a dye-barrier and prevents penetration into the fabric.  What makes batik wax special is it’s mixture of beeswax, which adheres well to fabric, and paraffin wax, which is brittle.   If you have the time and energy, I would recommend this method to add a personalized, hand-made touch to your cosplay costumes.  Yet, there are definite limitations to this method.  If you are trying to paint a large area of fabric, achieve crisp lines, or add multiple color palettes then this process might not be for you; instead order custom-printed fabric at spoonflower.com.

For the purposes of experimentation, I decided to try three different types of waxes: Pure Beeswax, Batik Wax, and an Easter Egg crayon; and three application methods: tjantings, paintbrush, and crayon.

.  WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Wax + Applicator
  • Natural fabric
  • Double Boiler
  • Cold Water Dye
   You will need to melt the wax on low heat in a double boiler. The wax will harden quickly when taken off the stove, so it will be best if you set up a candle-heated fondue pot at your work station to keep the wax pliable.
   IF USING A CRAYON:Although this is the easiest way to control the wax, it does not penetrate the fabric deep enough to prevent dye saturation.
   IF USING A PAINTBRUSH:Keep the wax warm at your work station, otherwise the wax will build up and make it difficult to paint fine lines.
   IF USING A TJANTING: (This device is a little tricky to use)

  1. Keep the metal heated or the wax will clog
  2. Make sure the melting pot has a fine pouring spout
  3. Have your design pre-sketched because you can’t stop the wax once it’s dripping!
   Before you begin dying, check to see that the wax is completely saturating the fabric and that the lines are crisp.  If this is not the case, you should suspend your fabric within a quilting frame or picture frame.
   Place the fabric in a cold-water dye-bath (such as Dylon).  If you make the mistake of using warm water, the wax will melt prematurely.  Once it reaches the desired color, rinse the fabric until the water runs clear and let dry.
   To extract the wax, place the dried fabric in-between layers of paper and iron on a low temperature.

And that’s it!  Please keep in mind that we included multiple variables in this experiment to demonstrate alternative methods for applying batik wax.  Obviously, the technique you use will depend on your desired result, but if you asked me which one offered the most control I would recommend using the paintbrush.

Anime Synopsis – Rinne no Lagrange

Thursday, 1 March 2012, 8:00 | Author: Ludovico
Category : Newly Released Anime

The energetic Madoka is the president and only member of the Sweats Club, dedicated to involvement with practically every other club’s activities.  Finally, a new prospective member appears, but she’s a bit odd.  She dresses in an strange uniform, talks about mission, displays no emotion and of course convinces Madoka to go pilot a jet-like mecha, just in time to fend off a sudden alien attack.

It’s really a pretty standard mecha show with all the shadowy organizations, hidden pasts and baffling physics that go along with the genre.   It’s a well-made one though, really hinging on the enthusiastic Madoka.  Somehow it’s a natural progression for her to go from helping with the film club to practicing her wrestling moves against giant robots.  Her (simpleminded) enthusiasm is infectious and makes the whole thing much more enjoyable than it would otherwise be.  I certainly don’t expect this to become dark and compelling like Eva or Rahxephon, but for lighter mecha fare, it’s promising.

(Side note – Anime already has a Madoka.  That name should be off limits for at least another couple years.)

Anime Synopsis – Mouretsu Pirates

Thursday, 23 February 2012, 8:00 | Author: Ludovico
Category : Newly Released Anime

Let’s assume for a moment that you are a crewman on a ship.  Tragically, your highly esteemed captain has just passed away.  Now, you could find a new qualified captain for your vessel, or you could promote the first officer to the captain position.  Or you could automatically hire the captain’s estranged schoolgirl daughter due to some strange concepts about genetic succession.  If you would choose either of the first two options, congrats, you don’t belong in this anime!  Unfortunately for Marika, she IS in this anime and since her space-pirate captain father has just died, she’s the only viable candidate to take over his space-pirate ship.  Granted, she’s a little miffed that nobody ever bothered to tell her about this ahead of time.

I have to admit – this concept seems like a stretch.  Going into it, I expected madcap antics, but instead found a surprisingly restrained and interesting story.  Right from the start, Marika calls the concept out as being kinda ridiculous, and with that out in the open, they’re free to move on to character development.  This is a series that believes in taking it slow, with naught a pirate ship to be seen in the beginning.  There are still amusing scenes, but the story hinges primarily on Marika being an interesting and likeable character struggling to adapt to the bizarre expectations suddenly thrust upon her.  It’s a compelling take on a silly idea, and it’s worth checking out.