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Right after Denver Pop Culture Con, I was approached about obtaining thermoplastics from Polly Plastics to work with and review. Me, being me, I had to get a variety pack from their site here to test out the different forms of thermoplastics that Polly Plastics offers! To properly do this review, however, I decided to do this in two parts, as I’m still deciding what to make with the other bits of the variety pack that I haven’t worked with.

I started working with the thermal beads, which came in clear or a huge variety of colors, like gold, silver, red, green, etc. They also sent a card to help with mixing colors if you’re attempting to a get specific hue. The beads are put into hot water until they become clear and can then be worked with and sculpted. If something isn’t hardening in the shape you desire, you can just drop it right back in and work with the plastic again until you get the desired result. They’re super easy to work with and are just kind of fun to play around and figure out.

Resin gems from Starlit Creations wrapped and set in moldable thermoplastic beads from Polly Plastics

I ended up taking some resin gems that the girls at Starlit Creations had sent me and making the gold and silver edging around them to see if plastics would work instead of extra resin for the setting. I think with a mold or more practice, I could get it to look fairly nice and smooth without odd lumps and fingerprints. The gold was my first attempt at playing with the beads to do what I wanted, with the silver being my second attempt, which I felt came out better. I plan on messing with the thermal beads more in the future to get it looking smoother, but it’s really easy to work with.

After doing that, I moved on and mixed some of the clear and red beads to create individual rose petals to sculpt a miniature rose for part of a scepter I plan to make. It worked super well for what I planned to sculpt and shape, and any time I didn’t like how it was working out, I tossed it back into the hot water and reworked the petal piece. Now, once it hardened, some of the areas on the petals didn’t mix fully with the red and clear thermal beads. It’s not super noticeable unless you’re up close, but the plastic can be easily painted to match. I want to add a little bit more to the bottom of the rose, but I overall really like how it turned out and I had fun working with the beads.

Clean-up is stupid easy. I worked on wax paper to make sure nothing stuck to my surface I was working on, and I just reheated a mug full of water that I dumped out after I was done. I do think wearing latex gloves would have been a good idea to get smoother surfaces, as my fingerprints are visible in the plastic. But it was a learning experience that I did figure out silly things like that for next time!

Next time I will be working with the thermal plastic sheets and strips from Polly Plastics! I’m hoping to come up with something neat and be able to do another full review of their products! I have a few ideas, so hopefully I can get those going and photographed for the next half of this tutorial!

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The first major change showing in this review that I’ll state right off is the name change. Due to the issues with San Diego Comic Con claiming a trademark on the “Comic Con” title, what was Denver Comic Con changed it’s name to Denver Pop Culture Con…. And with the name change came a lot of changes to the convention overall.

My friends, husband, and I carpooled to our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, Thursday afternoon so we wouldn’t have to check in during convention time and potentially have to deal with the traffic. Check-in went smoothly, like it has in the years past with this hotel. We managed to do early badge pick-up that day as well, which made picking up our badges super smooth and easy.

On Friday, we heard the lines weren’t quite as bad as last year due to multiple entrances. We all got ready in our costumes (Shindig Inara for me from Firefly), and got in one of the lines and it moved surprisingly quick to get to security. The security checks were better than last year, as they did more efficient bag and pocket checks, but people were still sneaking stuff in (gotta check all the bag pockets, lol). They waved wands over everyone to check for metal and then sent you in to get checked for badges, which if you had one, you went right on through fairly quick. This repeated any time you entered the con, which was good to see them actually practice all weekend.

Once inside, we went upstairs to the Dealer’s Hall area. Everyone was cleanly laid out which made it very easy to navigate. The Kid’s Area was off to one side, still a nice, big part of the Hall, but not obstructing walkways like last year. The Breckenridge Beer Garden set up was fantastic and a really neat idea with a little “shack” for people to go in! The food court was off to one area and had lots of choices and plenty of seating, which was awesome. Celebrity Summit had its own area and the lines were decently maintained with no one being crazy about photos being taken, as long as you weren’t sniping ones of celebrities. The prices were the normal ones for the con when it comes to photo ops and autographs, but the listed schedules for the celebrities at their tables were hardly ever correct. It made it insanely hard to plan being in line for things, so we actually chose to cut our autograph choices down to only four, one of which we got on Friday.

After checking out about half of the Dealer’s Hall in costume, we headed back to the hotel, got into normal clothes, and finished the adventure. There was a good selection of artists, vendors, and authors… However, you could tell there wasn’t nearly as much as a comics presence like years past. A lot of the creators and artists weren’t there, along with production companies, which was a bit unfortunate to see. Once we finished checking everything out, and buying a few items, we met up with friends and basically ended our con day by getting dinner, lol!

On Saturday, we waited to get into costume as I had signed up for the costume contest with my friends later in the day, and we all wanted free mobility for some more exploring of the con. We made sure to attempt autographs, but the lines for Saturday only celebrities were absolutely insane, so I just gave up on that notion. We purchased a couple more items, then went and located Lobby C, which was our area for check-in for the contest. After that, we left to get into our Brides of Dracula costumes from Van Helsing (I got to be Marishka!).

It took a bit to get into costume, but we got back to the convention in plenty of time to hang out and get photos in the downstairs open area near Lobby C before we needed to check in. After a little bit, we spoke with the information booth to see where to go to check in for the contest, and got directed to the Cosplay Panel room. We spoke to a gal there, who stated we had been in the right spot, took us back over and told us check in would begin at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. We hung out in the area and got asked to line up across the way along a wall, then proceeded to be told all the kids had to check in first before adults. So, we waited until a little after 5 p.m., when we got checked in and proceeded to be seated in a green room with other contestants.

Now, let me pre-face the costume contest experience with what it had been the year before: Kids went out, all got swag bags, then adults went out but were separated into Novice, Intermediate, and Masters with craftsmanship judging done earlier in the day, and while judges decided, people did an unjudged catwalk to entertain the audience. Awards were quickly presented at the end with photos able to be taken easily.

The set up was similar, with staff letting all the parents and kids’ handlers know where to go and what to do. The kids went out and did their thing with all getting swag bags. Adults had been told we’d be instructed on what to do, but that never happened, so we got told last minute that we had to walk on the stage with whatever we had and exit down the stairs on the other side of the stage with 30 seconds to do whatever. It was an absolute mess, because they didn’t explain the taped out path, which if followed was perfect to pose in for the light, so most contestants went in blind. Once off stage, we could go anywhere, and received little swag bags and participation trophies, so we all sat in the audience until the end.

Let me say one thing before I continue… There were some absolutely INSANE costumes. People brought some of the best cosplays I’ve seen; we expected nothing because the amount of awesome on that stage was undeniable. People worked their butts off and you could tell! But when you have roughly sixty entries and do an Audience Favorite (who received a Plexiglass trophy) and 4 Judges’ Choice awards (which were pieces of paper), that tells me the Contest is basically… a joke to the con. You have people bringing their A-Game on all levels and reducing the time of the contest by reducing the awards was a bad call. The theatre was barely half-filled, the contest did not start at the scheduled time and ended over an hour earlier than scheduled.

This was hands-down the saddest display of a Costume Contest I’ve seen in 17 years of cosplaying. To those who competed, you were all amazing. There should have been categories, because Masters level armor next to a new person thrifting a costume as a Novice is not fair, especially at a large con boasting about the cosplayers they have attend. It was unfair to the judges to have to choose like that, and they still all made good calls; the winners of awards deserved them 100%, it just needed to be done better.

After that debacle, we closed out the night with friends and the Hard Rock After Party… Which was… interesting. It wasn’t bad but I felt it could’ve been better organized with how little space there was in the restaurant.

Sunday, we wore our X-Men costumes (I was White Phoenix!) and finished getting the last autograph and merchandise. We made sure to meet up with friends and just hang out before heading home.

Overall, the convention was enjoyable. For autographs, it’s grown big enough it’s best to get a Speed Pass and not deal with the lines. The security and entry lines improved, so that was a plus. Costume coverage rules and some prop rules were more relaxed, so I enjoyed that aspect. Our hotel continued to be stellar and we loved checking out the Dealer’s Hall. I can safely say that I will not compete in their contest again, nor recommend anyone to do so, until they return to the former year’s of how it ran. It was a mess and made it an unenjoyable experience, so I’d rather enjoy other parts of the con instead. We will easily be returning to Denver Pop Culture Con in 2020!

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It’s time for another interview, this time with Apola Star! She’s a veteran cosplayer from California, who enjoys leatherworking and meeting new people!

Apola Star out of costume

What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
Apola Star. I have been in love with Greek religion/mythos since I was a child and always loved the sun God Apollo. I changed the ending noise to be more feminine and came up with Apola. Since it was based off of the sun God, I picked an astral body for the last name “Star”. It actually started as my gaming name all the way back on the PS3!

How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
I’ve been cosplaying for 13 years, only being super active the last 3 years. I always enjoyed dressing up as a child, and after going to ACEN in Chicago in 2006 I fell in love with the hobby.

What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
Leather for sure! You can do so much with it, from stamping in designs to carving them in. It’s a very hardy material when you work in thicker forms, so it lasts forever. I also love foam because you can make almost anything with it!

Apola Star as Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok, photo by J. Farrow Photos

What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
I am learning basic metalworking at the moment, so I hope to start making chain and scale maille in the near future.

What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
I like to see people putting their own flair on their cosplay. It’s awesome to do stitch by stitch accurate cosplays, but it’s also amazing to see others make a cosplay their own.

What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
Honestly, I’m still an outsider to the overall scene. I started my serious cosplay hobby outside of the convention scene. For me personally, the cosplay scene is the wilderness and finding the perfect place to take amazing photos. For most others it’s the networking structure that has been built by many cosplayers linking together and just coexisting.

What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
I would love to see less fighting between cosplayers and less creepy people taking advantage of young and inexperienced cosplayers.

Apola Star as Allmight from My Hero Academia, photo by Darkmind Films

What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
Do NOT be afraid to fail. If I had been afraid of trying new things and messing up, I would still be making costumes that looked like a 5 year old pieced them together. Try new things, fail, learn and do it again until you succeed!

What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
I absolutely LOVE Wizard World and ACEN in Chicago. They are medium sized conventions and there are a lot of things to do, between panels, artist alley, cosplayer booths and photo spots. I currently live in California and my favorite conventions here are Anime Expo, Nerd Expo, LA Comic Con, and Anime Pasadena. Anime Expo and LA Comic Con are both popular conventions that cover both the Japanese side of my fandoms and the western comic side. There are lots of awesome people that go to them as well. Nerd Expo (FORMERLY Nerdbot Con) and Anime Pasadena are both one day conventions that are great for getting loot and just enjoying the day in cosplay.

Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
I hand stamped the design in my Ashe tail coat one triangle at a time. It took about 4 hours, but it was worth it because it looks amazing!

Apola Star as Ashe from Overwatch

Thanks for the interview, Apola Star! You can check out her Facebook page here and her Instagram here!

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It’s time for another interview, this time with Ita-dere! She’s a lovely cosplayer from the Pacific Northwest in the United States, who enjoys creating group cosplay with friends!

Ita-Dere as Shego from Kim Possible, photo by Provos Cosplay

What is your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
My cosplay alias is Ita-dere and it’s a bit of a funny story on how I came up with it. So, originally I used to go by Ita-Hime which was my old tumblr URL for my pastel anime weeb blog. It was comprised of a shorten part of my last name “Ita” (sounded somewhat Japanese) and added the honorific “hime” or princess in Japanese. I decided to change it right after Sakuracon 2017 to Ita-dere. It’s a spin off on the character types like Yandere, Tsundere, Kuudere, etc. Since I don’t fit into those types, I’m my own type of dere.. “Itadere.” But last Sakuracon I learned there was a double meaning to the “Ita” part of my name. An “Ita” in the Lolita community is an insult meaning “ouch” basically just a major oof. But in my opinion I thought that was very descriptive of me. I find that my type of humor and who I am is a major “oof.”

How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
I did my first cosplay back in January of 2014 but I seriously got into it consistently in late summer of 2015. So it’s been 3 1/2 years for me! As for what got me into cosplay,.. I actually have wanted to cosplay since I found out about it at 13. I used to look up Sailor Moon cosplays on Ebay and wish I could buy the outfits and wear them. But at the time, my family didn’t have a lot of money and was unable to afford it. So when I got old enough to have a job and go to my first convention, I decided to try out cosplay for the first time.

What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
I actually love doing foam work and styling wigs. I’m not the most amazing at it but I surely love it! It’s easy for me to imagine what I’m doing versus when I’m sewing.

Ita-Dere as Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon, photo by CosplayPNW

What are excited to be working with in the future and why?
I’m excited to be working on Claudia from the Dragon Prince, Velvet Crowe from Tales of Berseria and Grimmverse Yang from Dishwasher1910’s fan art of RWBY. They’re cosplays that I’m planning with some friends and man, do I love group cosplays!

What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
I love seeing detailing work done. Details can make a bland looking cosplay sparkle! Some cosplayers I can think of that do that are Naychansan Cosplay, Bakudannanacosplay on IG, Morning Mist Cosplay and Labinnak & Mangoloo cosplay!

What is your view of the cosplay scene?
I think the cosplay scene can be very welcoming but also has a lot of toxicity in the community as well. It all depends on who your friends are and who you choose to hang out with.

Ita-Dere as Lucoa from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, photo by CosplayPNW

What are some of the things you want to see changed in the scene?
I would love to see the elitism stop. I have met a lot of people who have been very elite, people who tell you “you can’t cosplay.. do this or that”. Or that they tell you only what sucks about your cosplays. Also for people to stop being intimidated by people who cosplay a character you cosplay. People can cosplay the same character, no one owns these characters. Friends can cosplay the same character; it’s OKAY to share them.

What is some advice you could give to people starting to get into cosplay?
Research, research, research. There are lots of resources on the internet on how to start cosplaying, where to buy cosplays, and where to buy just anything for cosplay. Start out with cosplays that are easy and small… ease yourself into it. Don’t be like me and make a ball gown in 3 days with no sleep and lots of coffee.

What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
Some of my favorite cons are Anime Oasis and Anime Expo. Anime Expo is fun because there are just so many chances to meet people and try so many things. For Anime Oasis it’s a small con in Boise, ID but always has something to do and the community is tight!

Give a random fact about one of the costumes you’re proud of!
I’m really into hot anime boys and I think the cosplay I’m still most proud of is my Raven Branwen cosplay from RWBY!

Ita-Dere as Raven from RWBY, photo by CosplayPNW

Thanks for the interview, Ita-dere! You can check out her Facebook page here, her Instagram here, and her Twitter here!

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It’s time for another interview, this time with Yuki Cat Cosplay! She’s a newer cosplayer from Colorado, who enjoys creating original designs of characters!

Yuki Cat Cosplay out of costume

What is your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
My cosplay alias is Yuki Cat Cosplay. My previous alias was Awkward Anime Queen, and I thought I had outgrown that name; I felt I should choose a different name that was mature and appropriate for who I was and what I do. I wanted a cat theme because I love cats so much. However, there are a lot of cosplayers with cat names and it was difficult to come up with something original. My best friend suggested Yuki Cat. Yuki is Japanese for snow and snow is another element I love. So, you put Yuki cat together and I’m a snow cat!

How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
2019 will be my third year officially cosplaying. I had known about cosplay since I was a freshman in high school, but my family and I had been so poor that I couldn’t afford it. My best friend had invited me to Denver Comic Con in 2011; I really wanted to dress up and cosplay. So, I did a closet cosplay of Amy Pond from Doctor Who. This would technically be my first cosplay but I don’t really count it. After seeing other cosplays at the con, I really wanted to start cosplaying officially. I wouldn’t really start doing it until 2016.

Yuki Cat Cosplay as Witch Mercy from Overwatch, photo by Jeff Hoffman Photography

What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
I haven’t made too many of my own costumes, but I love working with foam. It’s fun to create with it. Heating up foam and watching it change shape is very satisfying. I made gloves for Mei from Overwatch out of EVA foam and craft foam, and it’s one of the projects I’m most proud of… Unfortunately I have no pictures because the whole costume fell apart. I also made the hat for my Nurse Joy cosplay from Pokémon. It took ten minutes and it was fun to put together.

What are excited to be working with in the future and why?
I’m actually starting a pretty huge project that involves making armor. I’ll be using worbla and foam to make that and I’m pretty excited for that! Honestly, I want to try using all kinds of materials for my costumes; more foam, lights, worbla, different kinds of fabric. I want to try it all! The process for different kinds of materials is intriguing to me, and it’s something new to learn.

What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
Honestly it’s hard to pick a few traits, because there are a lot of traits I see that are pulled off very well. I like to see cosplayers put their own twist in their costumes or design their own original design for their character. Jessica Nigri, Clockworkrose cosplay, and Gladzy Kei are a few who I know do this very well. They inspire me to make my own designs for characters.

What is your view of the cosplay scene?
I see a lot of harassment in the cosplay scene, unfortunately. Fortunately, I haven’t been a victim to the harassment, but I see it all the time. It really breaks my heart, and it’s been known to start wars between people. I feel like every time a conflict starts, it really causes people to voice their opinions and sometimes it leads to more harassment.

Yuki Cat Cosplay as Nurse Joy from Pokemon, photo by Ham Sandwich Photography

What are some of the things you want to see changed in the scene?
I want us to start respecting each other again. I don’t expect everyone to like each other, but if someone doesn’t like another person they should handle it in a mature way.

What is some advice you could give to people starting to get into cosplay?
I would tell them to make some friends who cosplay and shadow them. Learn everything you can from them, and then eventually you’ll develop your own skills. Plus, you’ll have a cosplay senpai who will be super proud of you!

Give a random fact about one of the costumes you’re proud of!
When I made Chise from Ancient Magus’ Bride, I was a beginner level cosplayer. However, my partner who was cosplaying Elias, was a master level cosplayer. So, when we entered the cosplay competition from NDK 2018, we had to enter in Masters. We actually won an award! I was so surprised and happy!

Yuki Cat Cosplay as Poison Ivy from DC Comics, photo by Lucasoar Films

Thanks for the interview, Yuki Cat Cosplay! You can check out her Facebook page here!

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