Making and Dealing with Really Big Props
Any Sephiroth cosplayer knows the joys and frustrations of having a really big prop. It’s super-impressive, but man can it be ungainly. There are a few things to look out for when your costume calls for one.
Making the Prop
1) Balance is key. A prop that is weighed too much on one side will break and snap in half. You can avoid this by making sure your grip will be at the center of the prop’s mass, or by making the grip as heavy as the rest of the prop. If you’ve got a sword, for example, make the blade out of a light material to balance out the handle, or hide weights inside the handle to balance the rest of it.
2) Have good support. Do you see the gun up there? It’s in one solid piece because an intricate and sturdy support system made of pipes and bands is holding it up from the inside. If those weren’t there the gun would collapse in on itself. If you can, make sure there’s something bolstering your prop from the inside out.
3) Plan everything step-by-step. You can’t just toss something of this size together…or at least, if you did, it would come out terribly. You need to have a model to work from, plan for proper materials, figure out how they’ll fit together, and make sure that it will hold. Build mock-ups if you need to–just have everything plotted out before you begin.
Carrying that Thing Around
This is me in my Lady Wolfwood cosplay. The cross is taller and wider than I am, and it’s caused me a lot of grief. It’s also taught me a whole lot about how to manage your prop so that you don’t damage it, yourself, or your fellow con goers.
First of all…
1) Be able to transport it. I was driving down the highway with that cross strapped to my roof when the straps broke and it flew off my car. It was a miracle that it didn’t break, hit the cars behind me, or get run over by one of the many sixteen wheelers on the road. I was also amazed I wasn’t killed fetching it from the middle of the lane. Only then did I figure out how to fit it in the trunk. Later on, when it started raining as I was coming home, did I realize that I should have brought a plastic cover for it. It wasn’t a great experience.
For goodness sake, figure out how you’re going to transport your props before you make them. If you need to make them in pieces that fit together, than do that. This will also make storage easier later on.
2) Move very, very, very slowly. Think about the prop as that little beeping noise trucks make when they back up–people will notice it and move, but walk too fast and you’ll have them literally ducking out of your way.
2) Practice carrying it at home. You may end up breaking stuff, but at least it’s your stuff. You won’t have to worry about taking out a vendor booth or something like that.
3) Be wary of its weak points. If you hit one of them by mistake, it could cause a domino effect that will ruin the whole prop. Don’t let yourself or an con-goers destroy hours of hard work by bumping into the wrong spot.