NYCC ’13 – Our Spaceballs Cosplay

For New York Comic Con this year, we wanted to go as something completely obscure. One of our favorite movies has always been Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs”. If you’re unfamiliar with Spaceballs, then you owe it to yourself to check it out! It’s a spoof of Star Wars; starring Rick Moranis, John Candy, Bill Pullman, and Mel Brooks. There are many memorable quotes and moments in this movie that are extremely funny.

Spaceballs!

The Inspiration

Now, we knew wanted to go as one of the Spaceball soldiers. Mainly because we haven’t seen this done too many times before (only on the web), and it seemed fun to try. The gigantic helmets are hilarious and we knew we wanted to re-create them. However, we hit a few snags with development, and got started somewhat late, so we weren’t sure if recreating the armor was going to be do-able this time around. The next best thing? Be one of the guys who got their uniforms stolen by the main characters during one of the end scenes! We would be able to create one of the helmets, but only have to wear underwear, boots, and gloves.

These particular characters only received about 5-10 seconds of screen-time! Surely, this is obscure enough!  However, not obscure enough to where no one remembers the scene!  Perfect!

"Hey! Those are the guys who stole our uniforms!" "Yeah! And beat the shit out of us, too!"
“Hey! Those are the guys who stole our uniforms!”
“Yeah! And beat the shit out of us, too!”

The Helmets

For the helmets, we used a large plastic lamp dome that is made for outdoor use. Think of the lamp-posts that you see in parks or downtown areas. These can be found at Lowe’s, or various places on the internet.

The dome how it arrived.
The dome how it arrived

Once we dug the domes out of their boxes, we had to make sure we knew where to cut. We used a saucer plate for the bottom (to give us some room for our heads), and traced around with a marker. This made the opening on the bottom slightly larger. Then, we used a rectangular piece of plastic, and used this as an estimation for how big the front opening should be. We traced around with this, too.

The dome marked up, waiting to be cut.
The dome marked up, waiting to be cut.

Since we now had a guideline on where to cut, we set out with our dremel-tool and went to work! We cannot stress enough: Safety goggles, mask, and gloves are a MUST. The dremel didn’t so much as cut the plastic, as it did melt it! There are burning-hot pieces of plastic that will fly up to your face. If you don’t have a mask, at LEAST where sunglasses. Very important.

Now that the helmet was cut, we sanded down the rough edges with a light sandpaper.

For the inside we weren’t quite sure on how to tackle this at first. We knew we needed to keep our head in place, but we weren’t sure how. People online have used hard-hats bolted into place, or bicycle helmets. This is a good approach, but we wanted something like foam, instead, to keep the cost low. We ventured out to JoAnn Fabrics and took a peek at their foam section. We found extremely thick foam, that would be perfect to just throw inside the dome and stuff our heads in to shape it. It was $75 a yard, but the piece we cut only cost $12.

The foam fit perfectly inside the dome
The foam fit perfectly inside the dome
Fits like a glove!
Fits like a glove!

The helmets were now ready for paint! We used automotive glossy black, and just layered on the coats. We did this outdoors and mounted the helmets on a post while painting. In hindsight, a primer would have probably been good, and more coats of black plus another gloss paint by itself to finish. This is only minor, as the helmets still looked really good!

Painting the helmet

Miscellaneous Parts

The soldiers who got the shit beat out of them also had a few smaller details, besides the obvious helmets.  They were wearing wife beaters, along with boxer shorts and combat boots.  They also had their assault rifles still.  In the movie, I never understood why they beat them up, and left them with their weapons, but at any rate – we had those too!

The Final Product

Picture featured on Movie Fone!
Picture featured on Movie Fone!
Finding this Barf cosplayer was an epic meeting!
Finding this Barf cosplayer was an epic meeting!
The full outfit
The full outfit

 It Was Worth It

Cosplay may seem like the geekiest thing in the world to most people.  But as a first time cosplayer, I must say that it is extremely addicting.  We had countless reactions because of our costumes – and it was the only time I didn’t mind being called an “asshole” every 2 minutes from randoms.  I would have to estimate that we got our picture taken 100-200 times, and we were interviewed for TruTV, CBS, and a few other stations.  It felt good to be recognized, and bring a smile and a laugh to almost everyone who saw us.  I even spoke with a 7 year old kid who ran up to me: “Spaceballs!”, was his reaction.  The fact that a small child knew this movie restored my faith in parenting forever.

To me, cosplaying is about having fun and channeling your inner-child.  Remember how fun it was to dress-up for Halloween and pretend you were that hero or scary thing?  This is the adult version of that – and no one will judge you for it.  It’s all about creating your costume from scratch instead of buying one off the shelf. It’s a healthy, fun, and interesting form of self-expression.

And for us, we just wanted people to go “Oh, yeah, I remember that part!!”, and it worked.

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