September 8, 2011

Dragon*Con 2011 Part 1: Wayne's Story

After a year straight of preparations, Dragon*Con 2011 is now just a memory. Just like last year the con did not disappoint and lived up to the hype we put on it. This year was particularly interesting as we entered our first Dragon*Con costume contest, met some of the celebrities in the prop and geek community, and learned that things don’t always turn out like you plan. Here is my take on the epicness of the weekend.


This year we discovered that although the convention officially starts on Friday, the party is well underway starting Thursday night. People were already going around in costume and socializing on “day zero” and we know for next year to get to Atlanta early on Thursday rather than midafternoon. We did not suit up for the night due to other plans, specifically meeting up with Harrison Krix, better known as Volpin Props. Dave and I have talked to him online here and there throughout the year, but this was the first time we all met in person. We presented him with his “My First Fiberglass” certificate for successfully using our fiberglass technique on his Thomas helmet, so hopefully it shows up in his next drunken casting video…

Group Shot of 2Story and Volpin Props

After meeting Harrison we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep and prepare for Friday. Space is very limited in the hotel room so drastic measures needed to be taken to make sure we didn’t break anything.



Friday we managed to get up around 5 am to get our badges, mainly because we were so full of adrenalin and anticipation we couldn’t sleep. After several hours in line and almost reaching the point of beating the super nerds in front of us to a pulp, we finally got our passes and proceeded to put on our Daft Punk gear.

David having his glove attached

I don’t have any pictures of the suits on my camera as it is very hard to manipulate with the gloves on, plus I can only see blurs with the helmet on. Judging from the camera flashes we were a big hit, and I am pretty sure this is the only full pair of Daft Punk that was going around the con. David will have some good shots in his post, including what we believe will be the most confusing picture on the internet. This is one of my favorite shots, as a lot of people really wanted to see these three suits together.

Daft Punk and Deadmau5
Daft Punk and Deadmau5

Around lunch time some stomach pain that started Thursday evening began to get real bad. I won’t go into details but I was starting to worry about throwing up in the helmet or worse. Still we pushed on and made it back to the hotel for a photo shoot with David’s friend Chase, who took some great shots of our ODST last year. The pictures should be up this week. After the shoot we went back to the hotel to rest before the big completion.

Even after getting out of Daft Punk I was feeling terrible. My stomach was a mess, I was sweating, and I seriously thought I was not only going to miss the contest, but miss the rest of the convention. After trying some Hail Mary remedies of antacids, sprite, and Gatorade, I managed to improve a little, and knowing I had a really good crew with me made the decision that I was going to make it to that contest regardless if I was going to leave it under my own power or not. After preparing a cooler with drinks, ice, and medication, we suited me up in Delta and made our way to the Friday Night Costume Contest.

Go Team Delta!

Judging went very well and most of the other contestants complimented us greatly on our suit. After several hours of waiting for prejudging to end it was time to make it over to the main ball room to walk across the stage.

Subject Delta
Walking on the Stage

When it came to my turn I walked on stage and noticed that there were A LOT more people in the audience than I though. Imagine filling two large movie theaters full of people, that is what I was looking at. The M.C. started to read my information and I strutted my stuff, and then pulled the trigger to start the drill…

The drill did not turn. The chuck came loose.

In a desperate attempt to get the drill to spin I held the trigger down and kept jerking my arm trying to get it to catch. Finally, it caught, the drill spun, and I raised the whole assembly over my head.

The crowd went wild!

After all the contestants went on they announced the winners. I was a little disappointed we did not win in the major categories, but we did receive one of the few honorable mentions. I still think the crowd cheered loudest when I walked back on the stage.

Subject Delta
Let’s Hear it For Delta!

After the competition we headed back to the room. I wanted to pose for pictures but the cool packs were well melted and I would have passed out in less than 30 min. Originally I was planning to put Thomas back on and head to the masquerade ball, but I was exhausted so I put on an ODST shirt and hit the floor for a bit before crashing and heading back to bed.


Apparently I was so tired the night before I forgot to hit save on my phone when setting the alarm clock, so we did not get up early enough to march in the parade. In retrospect this actually was a good thing as the sleeping in made me feel a lot better. As David, Jecca, and Ethan made their way to the parade to watch I stayed behind for a few min to get my Aperture Scientist (the Portal Gun) costume ready. When we were planning for the con I thought that I was going to be in Thomas for most of the con and the Portal Gun was only going to make an appearance on Sunday. I decided not to go that route due to the visibility in the helmet. If I stayed in Thomas, I wouldn’t be able to actually see any of the convention and my memories would literally be of blurs. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the Portal Gun since it is heavy and I was kind of cheating by wearing a lab coat and calling it a costume, but I hit the floor. To my surprise I was grabbed by more people wanting pictures than when I had the proton pack the year before! Portal was really big this year, and I found several people dressed as Chell, a bunch of scientist, and even a few personality cores.

Little Chell

In the afternoon I changed out and grabbed Delta’s helmet for the “Meet the Winners” costuming panel. Although they encouraged winners to bring the whole suit, I only brought the helmet to save some time and let the rest of the crew enjoy the con. I loved the reaction I got from the crowd when the helmet made a loud thud when I set it on the table. The panel was very informative and provided some excellent tips for next year. After the panel I took the helmet out for one last spin before dinner. Even without the suit, plenty of people stopped for a photo op.

Splicer, Delta, and Little Sister

After dinner I hit the floor again with the Portal Gun and ran into Jonathan Coulton. For those of who don’t know, he is the musician who composed “Still Alive” and “Want You Gone” for the two Portal games. He actually stopped me as I was walking by so he could check out the gun. After explaining how it was made I asked him to sign it. At first he didn’t want to mess up the gun, but I insisted and now like the proton pack the Portal Gun is a collectable instead of a prop.

Jonathan Coulton and Crew Examining the Portal Gun

Seal of Approval


Most of Sunday was spent once again showing off the Portal Gun and taking pictures of other great costumes, which are all up on our Flickr account, so check them out. One I have to mention here is the unbelievable Wheatly puppet from Portal 2. In addition to being incredibly accurate, the eye moves AND BLINKS, plus it talks! I think this girl won best prop at the cosplay contest.

Wheatly Puppet

We also ran into Crystal with her Luka Megurine costume which features the headphones and arm display that we built. I think she did a pretty good job with the outfit and it was cool to see another one of our creations getting appreciated at the convention.

Luka Megurine at the convention.

Later in the evening I went and saw the masquerade costume contest. The first hour was pretty good and they had some really great skits. My favorite was a where a 6 year old dressed as a little sister was saved from splicers by the Kick Ass Big Daddy. Then there were about five skits in a row that were, painfully, painfully terrible, and I ended up walking out because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I did get some ideas though for possible acts for next year.

All in all the convention was a blast and defiantly worth the effort we put into preparing for it. As far as were we are going from here prop wise, it’s a bit of a mystery. There are a lot of projects we want to do, from the complex and huge to the simple but unique. There is also the question of how much time do we want to spend on a single suit again. Personally, in the immediate future I am planning to make a deadmau5 head for Halloween and casual wear and plan to take another look as the wiring for the Tron versions of Daft Punk. As far as the next big project or which contest if any we’ll compete in at Dragon*Con, I really don’t know, we are just going to have to wait and see.

Check out all the great costumes we saw on our Flickr page!

Finally, here is a preview of my next short term project which may lead to something considerably more complex for D*Con 2011.