November 14, 2017

MH4U Eldaora's Taus Hunting Horn cosplay prop [part 6]

Hello wyverns and hunters!

Here comes the sixth part of my massive Monster Hunter cosplay build project – I'm making a Hunting Horn called Eldaora's Taus from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, one of my most played video games to date. I've been a big fan of the franchise ever since I played Freedom Unite and making a costume from the series has been a dream of mine for many years and now it's happening!
I am currently only making the weapon but I will make a complete armor set later to go with it, of course. I'm not doing naked runs. *insert Khezu screams here*
You have no idea what I've made before I got to this point in the progress? No worries, all the previous parts of this project can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Note: this project is split into several parts because otherwise it would turn into a kilometer post; I need to document my progress carefully (many photos etc) since it's a school project.

Let the quest begin!

Hunting Horn spray primed.
During my last progress I ended the post with the gluing episode incomplete and that's because I ran out of glue. My mom had bought new glue during a trip afterwards it was just an ordinary white wood glue but it did the job. I completed gluing the surface for protection and after that I finally got to the fun stuff – prepare for painting! 
Above you can see the start of my priming process. I used spray primer because it's quicker and easier when it comes to covering such a big object. Sadly it didn't take long before I ran out of my primer cans and had to go buy more. A lot more.

I was in a hurry to prime the whole thing during mid-October because the weather was unpredictable and the sky constantly looked like it might rain any minute, but according to the forecast it shouldn't. For once I didn't have shit luck and the weather stayed rain-free for the whole day that I was spraying. 
Note: I have to take some risks with the weather because I'm running out of time as soon as it gets cold outside I can't spray paint anymore and that would be a huge problem since I need to finish this project before Christmas. And yes, I live high up in the north so cold weather is guaranteed and often early...

Just a couple cans...
On the photo above all the cans inside the plastic bags were newly bought (and the one with the lid off) and the ones without plastic I had from previous projects. I'm hoping these will be enough. There's also of course the empty primer cans that are not pictured. On the photo there's silver spray paint, gray primer and glossy clear varnish for finishing.

I turned the Hunting Horn around and primed the other side as well. After that I took it back inside the garage to dry overnight.
The next morning I went back to the garage to take a look. Meanwhile I stared at my progress I started considering using worbla to make the eyes more three-dimensional by making "eyeballs" that I'd sink into the carved eye holes. Soon enough I made that idea happen and took out the heat gun and some worbla scrap pieces that I had saved in a plastic bag. For those not in the know worbla is a heat-activated thermoplastic widely used by costumers to create a wide variety of items.
I molded the worbla scraps first into a ball and then into a "caterpillar shape", once done I reheated the worbla and pressed it into the eye holes to let it cool down. Repeat for the other eye.

Eyes accented with worbla.
When I was done with both eyeballs I noticed that the eyes were in a different angle (it became even more obvious after attaching the eyeballs!) and it looked really stupid. That's when I figured that I could save my Horn from looking retarded if I redefined the "brow ridges" to be more similar to one another. I took some more worbla scraps, molded them together and made even longer caterpillars with my fingers and then pressed them in place. It was really hard to get both sides to be symmetrical and honestly, they aren't. But it's a lot better than before and the accented ridges gave the face more definition anyway, which looks cooler.

I couldn't be bothered to start sanding the worbla smoother since the rest of the surface isn't smooth anyway (I'm gonna make it look battle-worn!) and thus I went out to spray paint the whole shebang silver. Again the weather was moist and not ideal but at least it didn't rain this time either and I got done in time.

Silver spray paint in progress. First coat.
I did two coatings of silver spray paint and then carried the Horn back inside, into safety from the weather. It was during this point that I realized that I had forgotten to add the little outwards-facing pointy mane spike at the top of the "hair bananas" but, frankly, the more I thought about it the more I felt like omitting that small detail was the best choice anyway. It would surely break easily and, seeing how it would face a different direction than the rest of the manes, it would make it really hard (if not impossible) to rotate the thing around and I'd rather not make it even harder to handle and for future storage than what it will be already...
Honestly, I'm sort of dreading how I'm gonna maneuver this thing after I've attached the long horns because you don't want to know how many times I've already accidentally smacked this shit into doors, walls etc when turning/moving it while walking. xD

Eye area sprayed. The seam didn't transition as neatly as I hoped...
Once I had sprayed the first coat of silver paint I noticed how the worbla's seams above the ridge were a bit too noticeable. I asked stepdad if we had anything I could use to soften the transition and the options were silicone or acrylic sealant. I went with acrylic sealant because at least it was the safer choice when it came to painting it and it could be sanded as well.

Acrylic sealant added.
I dipped a finger in water and used it to slick over the acrylic and shape it how I wanted it to be. It has a long drying time so I did this before going to sleep and so it could dry over the night.

The following day it had cured and I sprayed it silver. It's not perfect but with the acrylic it looks better than without it. The acrylic stays a bit elastic even when dry and so I just pressed it down with my fingers to flatten it down and press the seams as minimal as I could.
On the next day (17th October) I started the detail painting, which meant painting with brushes by hand. I had bought a rustic red paint earlier but decided to try do the shadowing effects first with black paint – which in hindsight was a bad idea. The thing is that we had no normal black paint at home, only spray paint. I knew that for weathering and dry-brushing effects I would need ordinary paint but still decided to try with spray paint. I used a plastic bowl and sprayed a lot of spray paint in it, until I had enough for it to create a thin liquid, which I then quickly wiped off with a cloth. Just as I feared the spray paint was too intense in pigment and dried way too fast for me to be able to get the desired effect. I gave up on the shadowing/weathering for now and began the rust color painting episode instead.

Started hand-painting the rust red details
Unsuccessful black spray paint experimenting visible.
While painting I realized it would be hard as piss to get it symmetrical and so I just decided to free-hand the details instead and hope for the best; I kept my MH4U game open as a reference, even though I had to change or leave out some details because of how different my Horn is shaped when compared to the in-game model.
I used different painting techniques to get different effects and varying color intensity, although I will need to add more depth and shadows to the red with black paint later. It's a bit too flat right now and, to be honest, I'm not happy with the color because it's a bit too bright (it's more vibrant in real life than on photos) and I expected a more dull and brownish red, like shown on the lid...

Painting in progress. Why do I inflict this pain upon myself?
I of course always had to paint one side first, wait for it to dry, rotate it carefully and then paint the next side. Rinse and repeat.

Painting the backside...
I must admit that I'm not happy with how the body's "crosses" lined up on the backside. I knew that things would mess up considering how I can never see the whole Horn from all angles at once and thus I have to improvise as I go on, rotating it while I progress and then, if I notice that something's off or doesn't line up at the end when I meet up again at the starting spot, it's already way too late to do anything to try to fix what went wrong. So yeah, this thing hasn't even seen symmetry. xD

Once I was done painting the red, except for the head, it was time to move on to the weathering effect. I went to buy some ordinary black acrylic paint (art paint) and used a small brush and a cloth to wipe off all the excess paint, leaving only a small to moderate darkening effect as I went on. This was time-consuming and annoying at times.

Weathered upper head to the (watcher's) left,
untouched original color to the right.
The point of the black paint was to darken the overall appearance (since the rust red was too bright) as well as provide a weathering effect and make the whole build have more depth.
I dipped black paint into occasional uneven spots (holes etc) and when I wiped it off the paint stayed in the crevices and gave a cool worn look.

Darkening, darkening, darkening...
Many hours later I was done adding and wiping off black paint. The end result looks better now than without the black. I know that I could have done a better job with more color gradients and shadows etc but I don't have the time for it right now and, besides, almost all of the paints I've been using have been of different types (alkyd, acrylic, spray etc) and I don't want to try mixing different paint types while fresh because I have no idea how they would react to one another.

Black paint session complete, save for the head.
Alternative photo of the same progress as above but seen from another angle here.

Now the only things left was to finish up the horns and ears, attach them to the head and then paint the head and eyes – sounds easy when you say it like that, but on further thought I realized that I might need to change my plans a bit when it comes to how exactly I will attach the horns as some issues showed up; I want to make sure that they'll actually stay on and not break off from smaller impacts and thus I thought that I'll end this post here and make a final, seventh part, for finishing up this thing as I suspect the horns and ears process might get a bit longer than I initially thought. So yeah, I originally totally intended for this sixth part to be the final one sorry but I think I'll just make a seventh post to avoid this one turning super long since yeah, photos quickly make a post long and there will be some explaining... xD

Thanks for following my progress on this MonHun prop and keep your eyes peeled for the final part!

November 6, 2017

Skecon 2017 – I don't even know anymore

Hello hello ~

I've returned home from my trip to my sixth Skecon and I thought that I'd write my summary of it as soon as possible so that it would be done and out of the way because I'm stressed as fuck about other things. ^^" Skecon was held on 3-5 November 2017 in Skellefteå's Campus. It's basically a school and the same con building as last year so yeah, for more photos of the location (because this year I didn't take many) just check out my summary from last year.

Now let's get on with the summary ~ 

Skecon entrance.
Okay so, as I mentioned on my plans post we had some major issues with getting a driver for the con trip and, in the end, neither Sacchan nor her little brother Joni could come. The problem was eventually solved by my boss Carina, who decided to help us out and drive our asses to Skellefteå and then immediately drive back home after dropping us off. I understand she wanted to make it comfortable for her daughters whom I had to watch over during the con #consenpai xD because this was their first anime convention, more or less – Sabine had been to the one-day Chibicon but Skecon was the first for Therese, the older one of the two. They're both good friends to me and yes, they were my con company for this year's Skecon. I knew it wouldn't be painfree but overall I think we managed well, despite the occasional drama that occurred because of Sabine's temperament and fears/anxiety. But I'm getting ahead of things so I'll get back to that later, although I'll leave out some of the details because I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable. ^^"

Friday

Not gonna lie, this whole con trip started awkwardly. The day before we all had agreed that we'd need to be on the road approximately 07:30-08:00 at the latest (or that's what I remember) and so I set my alarm clock up. I went to bed sort of late because I was up fretting over if I had packed everything and I intentionally left some of the packing for the morning as I couldn't take them during the night.
One of my alarms rang really early (like, 5 or something) and that was so that I'd get up to put on the dish washer and then go back to sleep, which I did.
I had calculated that I'd need about one hour to get ready and so my alarm was for like 06:30 or something like that but yeah, what I actually woke up to was someone ringing my doorbell at like 06:15, if I recall right. I thought at first that it was like a prank ringing or something so I went to check through the door hole and then I saw my boss, with her recognizable blue jacket, and I was like "oh shit kill me". xD I was still in pyjama and everything and with my hair in like Super Saiyan mode, it was embarrassing as fuck. She asked me if I wanted to go see my cat before leaving (he would stay the con weekend at her place) but I was like "nah it's okay" because I realized everyone were ready already (I saw the car outside waiting...) and I was like ffffffuuuuuucccck. :::DDD So yeah, stress deluxe and I finished my packing, speedboosted my yoghurt and pissed off towards Skellefteå.

The car trip down went fine, no issues. We had a few breaks and everyone except me ate at Skellefteå's Max; I just didn't want to eat hamburgers like 10:30 in the morning or something like that. xD Needless to say we were at Skellefteå really early and, at first, we were worried that the con wouldn't even be open and we'd have to sit with our hideous amount of luggage in the bus station and then walk to the campus area from there, once the con opened. Luckily, because I was a con worker, I had access to this one Facebook chat and asked there if we could get inside and got a positive reply so yeah, after the burgers we headed straight for the campus.
Once we got there I went inside to look for any Skecon workers but only saw like ordinary students and middle-aged people eating at the restaurant. I got worried but it turned out that all the other con workers were upstairs. I then went back to the car and we took all our stuff out, bid Carina farewell and went inside. My boss is awesome, deal with it. ;)

Skecon poster.
Because we had so much time to spare (I only needed to be there at 15:00, when the con started) me, Sabine and Therese went out to town to scout around and play some Pokémon Go after we had dumped our luggage in relative safety. We raided an Exeggutor (they're both new PoGo players and I'm helping them learn how to play) and went to check the town square for restaurants in advance. I must admit that I thought that something was really off when I saw this one really empty-looking area that I was sure was where the buses used to be – it dawned on me much later that the bus station had indeed been moved to a new place and that's why the old place looked so weirdly familiar.

Once back at the con more con workers had showed up and I went to meet with my team leader for the weekend. This year I would work with the cleaning patrol when last year I was at the entrance – I just wanted to try something different! I met her and we went upstairs to pick up my worker gear, namely a badge and a t-shirt. I also helped to tape up the big paper roll thingy on the wall so that people could draw on it.

Con workers got this badge to wear around their neck...
... and a worker t-shirt. :D
My team leader showed me around and where to find the cleaning supplies etc and after that the con officially opened. I went back to the girls and told them how to get their paper ticket exchanged for con tickets and then I pretty much had to leave them on their own as my first work shift was from start to 20:00. Of course I had plenty of opportunities to check up on them regularly and answer any questions because, as a cleaner, I could freely walk around the whole con while looking for trash on the floor, empty bottles lying around etc. The con was generally clean and the attendants picked up their own shit and so I didn't always have anything to do, but I did my rounds and checked out all the toilets every now and then. I found a bag of energy drinks and candy that someone had forgot in one of the toilets and left it to the lost and found counter at the info desk. I hope that people noticed the lost and found and went there if they had lost something because yeah, stuff always disappears at cons. I lost my old camera at a big con many years ago and someone found it and left it to the lost and found and I just... I'm still amazed that they didn't steal it.

Entrance view. Information desk is the red table in the center
of the image.
View from the entrance past the info desk. Fun fact: those two dresses (yellow
and green) are made completely out of paper!
Benefits of being a con worker was of course that I got free entrance (350 SEK a weekend ticket would otherwise cost), free sleeping accommodation if needed (50 SEK) and free food once per day. Of course you can't really expect much from free food (at least not in nutritional value) but it's better than nothing and I'm a poorfag currently so anything goes, lol.

The con band was the cutest one for Skecon so far!
Skecon's merchandise has never been anything out of the ordinary (and I'm wary of buying anything because the risk of counterfeit goods is high at cons) and, although this year there was some new moderately interesting stuff for sale, I went home empty-handed. I must admit that the doormats were quite interesting but there was none from a fandom that I'm really into so I couldn't really pick one that I knew I really wanted. I was also a bit disappointed that most of the t-shirts with cool prints were girlie models (Cupcake Cult) and thus out of the questions because yeah, as a guy it would just be uncomfortable and sizing would be off. There was this one Cupcake Cult shirt with a steampunk print of Link from The Legend of Zelda but yeah, even though it was an XL girlie model it looked too small for me – comparable to a (smaller) unisex M at most. And maybe it's just me being cheap but 250 SEK for a t-shirt kinda stings, to be honest.

Merchandise sellers, seen from the entrance to the hall.
Of course there was the candy and drink table!
Geeky embroidered towels was something new for me.
The obligatory "cool kid" caps. I've kinda been going
back and forth with if I want one or not for years. xD
I guess I keep looking for the perfect design...?
Artist's Alley was basically just this one table. I was
hoping for more but oh well.
Initially Sabine was really disappointed with the merchandise (I can understand her though, she's really picky with what series she likes and the variety was rather poor) and threw a hissy fit because she was looking forward to buying merch the most. She's literally 10 years younger than me and so it was a bit hard (and awkward, because I'm an awkward potato) to keep her in control because she is really stubborn and has quite brutal mood swings. She went outside to sit alone in the cold for at least one hour and I felt horrible because I couldn't make her happy because yeah, I don't have control over what merchandise is available. :'( I know it means a lot to her because she was looking forward to buying stuff from her favorite series and she seems to be the person who gets really happy spending money on things she wants/likes, basically. She found stuff she wanted on Saturday though, hence why I wrote initially.

I felt so bad that me and Therese started thinking of ways to get her happy again – I really didn't want her to get a bad memory from something that is meant to be fun. We came to the conclusion that getting food from town could be a decent option because at least a part of her anger could come from being hungry since yeah, it was more than five hours ago since we last ate something. Also, by going to centrum for a while we could temporarily avoid the sensitive topic of Skecon itself.
I told Therese that I knew of a really good Chinese restaurant and asked her to relay the message to Sabine (they're sisters) outside. Therese came back and told me that it worked and then I went to find my team leader to plead her for some time off so that I could go to the restaurant with them. I explained the situation briefly and she was super kind and said that of course she will let me go. ;A; I then went out and told Sabine about the restaurant myself and yeah, she looked really pissed and sad. But seemingly there had been a communication error and Therese had said that I knew of a sushi place and when I corrected and said that it was a Chinese restaurant Sabine promptly continued sulking and sat down again. Shit. I felt like I needed to come up with something quick and googled for sushi restaurants in Skellefteå – thank God I found two! I picked the one with better ratings and opened Google Maps and thankfully it wasn't far away. And then we moved out.

We found the restaurant after a bit of walking (it was close to Max) and went inside. My first impression was "oh this is gonna be expensive" since it looked to be a fancier place. Luckily the menu seemed quite normal in the price range for a sushi restaurant in Sweden and the girls decided to share a 12 pieces mixed plate. The sushi looked really good and was laid out in a super fancy way on a big leaf and there was a detailed figure cut out in cucumber and everything. The sushi did its trick and Sabine was back in a good mood and goofed around with Therese in the restaurant while I just sat there and felt embarrassed because the restaurant was so tip-top and they were very loud, lol.

Limited Skecon 2017 merchandise for sale at the info desk.
We got back to Skecon and I returned to do the remainder of my working time. Once my working shift was over I went upstairs to the video game room and played some Mario Kart 64 (I had never played it before and oh lord I was so bad!) and then I think we headed for the sleeping accommodation as the tiredness kicked in. We didn't really know where it was (and I didn't remember because I got lost last year) and so we asked in the info before leaving and one of the workers agreed on showing us the way there. We had to carry all our luggage there and it was a pain in the ass, not gonna lie. My shoulders were screaming... and then Sabine started screaming because she kept accidentally dropping her stuff and because me and the guide walked first we didn't notice they were falling behind. Oops, sorry. ^^" I was walking semi-fast because I just wanted to get there before my shoulder would rip off or something...
We waited for them to catch up and eventually got close to the sleeping accommodation, which was another school. Sabine saw some random school boys running in the gymnastic hall (sports training practice I guess) and totally flipped her shit and started screaming that she refused to go in there and so on. I knew she would be unhappy but I wasn't expecting this caliber of rage. xD Carina had implied that Sabine has a really hard time with being near other people and a fear of strangers stealing stuff etc and, while I can relate to it being uncomfortable and undesirable, I've just learnt to deal with it because sleeping halls at cons are the cheapest option and most young people don't have the money to pay for hotels, me included. But yeah, I must admit that at this point I might have lost my patience because I was really mentally tired from the day and just wanted to sleep. I still felt bad because I can totally understand her fears (I'm the same but just not so... extreme) and personally I avoid sleeping accommodations as far as possible. Honestly, Skecon is to this day the only con where I feel comfortable picking this option because it's small.

The class room that we slept in. My "mattress" is the orange
couch cushion to the left.
As luck in misfortune would have it we were very early (at least compared to others) at the sleeping place and actually ended up having like 3 hours of alone time before others started coming to sleep past midnight. This was a good thing because me and Therese had time to calm our third member down and we lied down and started sharing funny and embarrassing childhood memories and stuff like that to get our thoughts somewhere else. We all ended up laughing hard and although Sabine still made sure that we knew that she was still angry (not at us, of course) one could tell she had calmed down from the previous tantrums because yeah, earlier she was threatening to take the first morning bus back home and was crying – it was horrible to watch because one big reason we went to Skecon (and Chibicon) was to help her socialize and work on her insecurities while feeling included in this new community. She's a really sweet and funny girl when she's happy but God have mercy when she's not. xD

Saturday


Man it was cold to sleep the night. I woke up several times because my feet were cold and yeah, I totally forgot to take my own wool socks even after I told Therese to take some with her. >_> Dumb-dumb.
When I eventually got up I noticed that Sabine was already up, playing with her phone. I assumed she had a hard time sleeping – I mean, it's not really comfortable to sleep on the floor among strangers. We woke up Therese and put on our clothes and left for the con – I took with me my gray bag because I had my cosplay in it. Sabine seemed okay-ish and we agreed on going to town first to buy some breakfast before going to the con.
At the town we did a nearby Bayleef raid (this was literally the day before the raid bosses changed) and then walked to Lidl to get something to eat. We ate our breakfast outside while sitting on the stairs to another building because there were no benches nearby. Some random man was playing on his accordion outside Lidl and provided some living music while we ate, it was pleasant.
After we were done eating the girls wanted to go check some clothes in town and so we parted ways because I headed to the other side of centrum to grab some of the remaining gym badges on PoGo and then went back to Skecon.

Skecon's cafeteria area.
The video game room upstairs.
The drawing/crafting room.
Some of the artwork. I love the Waluigi one. x)
I don't wanna be that person but I wondered how come the paper was brown this year and not white like on all previous years? I understand and respect it if it was for the sake of being more environmental-friendly but otherwise it just came off as really cheap and seemed to be a hint of a poor budget this year. Brown paper just isn't as inviting to draw on and that was really noticeable on the roll that I helped to attach to the wall near the stairs leading upstairs to the gaming and drawing rooms; last year it was all full but this year it screamed of its emptiness – even on late Saturday night it was more than half empty, like what the actual fuck? It might just be me overthinking things but the fact that on the Skecon bingo thingy one of the tasks was to draw on the stairs paper and yeah, it just made me think that perhaps it was a desperate attempt from the con's side to get people to draw "con memories" on it because they noticed it was turning into a flop and tried to salvage it? I don't know but at least the (also brown) papers taped to the tables in the drawing room were used more actively...

If I remember right the karaoke was absent last year but
this year they made sure to make people aware of it.
On Saturday my working shift had been moved to start (and thus also end) one hour later, which meant that I started work at 17:00 and ran until 22:00. I think I was back at the con from the breakfast trip somewhere around lunch time or something and just chilled while waiting to cool down before I would go and change into cosplay.

Skecon activity schedules.
Skecon activity schedules.
I took my gray bag and occupied one of the roomier toilets near the cloakroom. I was fighting with my mind trying to decide on if I really felt like cosplaying or not and, for a while it looked like I'd actually just say fuck it and stay casual because yeah, I was still mentally tired from all the drama yesterday and putting on cosplay felt like a huge chore. But then I started thinking that, if I didn't cosplay now, I'd get no other chance during the con and then I would have carried that heavy-ass bag around the whole weekend for nothing... and then I got angry and cosplayed anyway, lol.

I must admit that it felt a bit weird to put on a cosplay that I last wore in 2014 and that I made in late 2009, at least the shihakusho kimono tops. x) I was really scared of messing up the eye makeup because my original plan was to do a makeup test before the con at home, but I didn't have time for that and then I thought that I'd do it on Friday night before going to sleep but yeah, then I lazied out because I was too tired after the day. So yeah, no test-runs and the makeup that I originally did for Gin when I wore him during 2012 is way below my current standards (I didn't even use liquid eyeliner back then!) and I didn't want to do it the same way so well, now that I was stuck here with only this cosplay I had to do an improvisation makeup and hope for the best.

Just photo proof that I actually wore Gin.
It wasn't too bad but I couldn't be bothered to make it more fancy since the clock was ticking and I only had time to cosplay for about 4 hours before I had to change back into my workwear. The wig is not my original wig for Gin (it currently looks like a disaster) but it had to do for this time since I plan to buy a better wig for him in the future – I want a silvery violet wig for him. Also I didn't bother with the waraji because hardly anyone has ever asked me for a photo at all the Skecons I've been to (and any small cons in general) and my waraji needs to be upgraded anyway and besides, I'd rather take my winter shoes so that I can easily go out whenever needed and don't have to carry another pair of shoes around all day because that's annoying as fuck. :)

While I was changing into cosplay Therese texted me and asked where I was... and some random person knocked on the door and asked if everything was okay. xD I guess I stayed in there long enough for people to get worried since I do legit take forever getting changed into cosplay, lol.

Most of my free time in cosplay I spent upstairs in the drawing room with my company. We scribbled some shit and just hung around and then some people came and wanted selfies with me; I was shocked at first because I was completely unprepared and then I felt incredibly awkward and insecure, to the point that I wanted to decline the offer but accepted anyway since I didn't want to come off as rude or make them sad if they liked the character/my cosplay. The following hour I felt extremely uncomfortable for having obliged because I knew that I was so stiff from the surprise that I couldn't even do the eye thing properly (Gin almost never opens his eyes and always have these creepy squinted eyes) and not being able to control the camera myself makes me extremely anxious and self-conscious...

Once my free time was over I changed out of cosplay not gonna lie, it was relieving and put on my working shirt and went to patrol around. Before long I got really hungry and took a quick food break and went to fetch my... err... highly nutritious dinner from the fridge.

My dinner, day 2. (day 1 was the same but original Gorbys, lol)
If I understood things right Skecon had some deal with Norrmejerier (a dairy company) which meant that there was a shitlot of free milk for all the con workers to drink during the weekend, which was pretty cool because I'd rather have milk for food than something carbonated and sugary. Today I had to pick the veggie Gorbys since the original meat ones were gone (I managed to grab one on Friday) and I really can't stomach Billys pan pizza, which was the second option – unless you preferred cup noodles. I didn't care for the noodles since it's literally almost no nutrients whatsoever and I have a lot of (better brand) noodles at home, lolol. But yeah, there were pan pizzas in many different flavors but I didn't want to take any risks because I remember from the school days how I was like the only kid in school who refused to eat when it was "pizza day" because it was Billys – for everyone else it was like the best school food ever. There's just something with the consistency that makes me gag and I just can't because it's so greasy it's basically swimming in its own fat – so yeah, I snagged the Gorbys because at least that goes down for me.

While I was eating this one guy walked past with milk cartons in his hands. He suddenly stopped and asked me if I wanted milk. I was like "sure" and he just casually handed one bottle over (same as on the photo above) and continued his life. I didn't think so much more about it, except that now I had two milks for my dinner rather than one. xD

Oh and another little thing I feel like mentioning: on Friday I was surprised when I went to get my food and there was no plate to put it on and nothing to eat it with. I thought it was weird but just ate the thing directly out of the bag anyway. I later asked other workers about it and they said the same thing and that Skecon probably just forgot to buy in one-use plates, forks and knives. It's a small thing but it still left a kind of image of carelessness. On the second day the issue was fixed but by this time I already got used to the "eat it out of the bag like a savage" and so I didn't bother.

Video gaming room at night. Best time to play after a long day!
Stinkin' cute mini SNES! >w<
Once my working shift was over I went to check up on the girls and both wanted to go sleep already, I told them that they don't have to wait for me if they're really tired and remember the way there. I went upstairs to play something for a few minutes after; I found that the Gamecube was free so I played some Melee before I eventually got bored because no one came to play with me.

(warning: prepare for a rant ahead) 

I was pretty tired by now and I figured why not go sleep because I had a semi-early shift on Sunday and it would be tough to carry all the stuff back to Skecon and then around town to get to the bus station after the con. So yeah, I was just about to go head out myself when Therese texted me and said that she can't find the keys to get inside the sleeping accommodation. I told her to look at the metal platform stairs thingy next to the door because that's where the keys were hanging last night and we had been instructed to look for them there if we needed to get inside. But after repeated messages from Therese saying she can't find them I started to feel weird about the whole thing and went to ask the info desk about it – I said that I had some friends outside who can't find the keys and then they dropped the bomb: the keys are not there anymore.
Turns out that they had decided to change the system so that, instead of leaving the keys in a hidden spot so that visitors can go sleep when they wanted, now everyone had to wait for specific "sovsalståg" (lit. sleeping hall trains), which meant that there was a leader with the keys who'd walk there with everyone wanting to go sleep and open up for them. In theory it sounds organized and good but in reality it was a mess. I understand not wanting to leave the keys for hours outside because anyone who knew where to look could just steal them but yeah, the change was poorly informed and implemented (at least by the time I needed it, dunno how it worked on previous hours). I literally didn't know about it before I asked the info. It wasn't written on any obvious place (like the noteboard thingy near the info desk or on the big screen) and only a hand-written A4 paper was stuck on one side of the entrance doors and it was, truth be told, easy to miss. So yeah, I was told that the next organized walk there would be at eleven and so I thought "okay" and took my stuff and sat down near the info desk and waited.
The clock strikes eleven.
The clock goes past eleven.
The clock is five minutes past and no sign of anything happening.

Every minute past eleven I'm getting bombarded by Therese's messages asking if we have started walking yet, to which I reply negative. I'm starting to feel uneasy thinking of how pissed Sabine must be and how cold they both must be by now since they've been standing outside for at least 40 minutes.
I don't see the leader with the keys anywhere – I don't even know who it's supposed to be. I see a few people gathering, one of them being my workmate from the cleaning patrol. I ask the info again about the leaving time and now I'm suddenly told that the train won't leave until the rave has ended because it's supposed to be co-arranged. At this point I'm getting moderately annoyed because the rave should have ended already but it's going overtime meanwhile my friends are freezing and probably unable to walk back because of pains/tiredness...
I start talking with my workmate about this and after a while a woman appears and says that she's the leader. I perceived her as quite annoyed because she was saying something that she had just been there and now she had to go again, borderline guilt-tripping my friends for choosing to stay outside (it's not directly next to the campus and Sabine has been complaining about shafing pains while walking since Friday) and for not noticing the sign. It sounded like she barely had any free time and had to walk that same trip back and forth constantly and, even worse, it seemed like she was the only one who had to do it...?
People around me soon enough start talking about how they had sleeping accommodation workers/watchers on previous years and how it was inhuman to keep them stuck in long shifts there because they got bored to death and thus they scrapped it this year. Other workers joined in and soon enough there was a loud quarrel about whether or not having workers at the sleeping accommodation was good or not because this topic clearly divided people. I was afraid that people would actually start fighting over it but it was summed up with a "we sure have a lot of improvements to do for next year" – so fucking true because this is embarrassing.
Some ideas about how to make it better for sleeping accommodation workers was tossed around, like having all con workers (cleaners, technicians, info, entrance) do 1 hour of obligatory sitting there but personally I think that getting more workers in general for that task and give them like 2-hour shifts and then at least 4 hours of free time between their next shift would perhaps work to get rid of the boredom of sitting many hours in succession. I know that a friend of mine worked as a sleeping accommodation worker last year and he didn't seem unhappy with it but, at the same time, I heard another guy complain how it was torture (dunno what year) when they had to sit 8 hours there. But whatever the case I agree that there should be workers there because otherwise you take away from every attendant the freedom of going to sleep whenever they want to and not be dependent on someone else – and that's a big deal. Especially considering how shitty the whole organized tours were like "yeah one leaves at eleven" and the later it got past the planned time the more it felt like they probably just pulled it out of the hat and it wasn't scheduled or pre-planned at all...

The clock was like 20 minutes past eleven, the rave had ended and no other congoers had still shown up for the walk. The person with the keys obviously got sick of waiting because no one showed up (I assume the ravers weren't even informed, lol) and just told me in a rather bitchy tone that we'll leave. The whole walk to the sleeping accommodation was stiff and awkward as fuck because I felt like a burden to her because, to me, she seemed like she really didn't want to do this anymore. Before we got out of the campus area I saw Therese and Sabine standing near the gate to the campus – I was surprised to see them there. They were happy to see that something was finally happening but one could guess that they were not pleased, just like me, with this shamefully unorganized mess. Needless to say Sabine was furious and powerwalked back to the sleeping halls, way ahead of everyone else, and in my mind I was thinking that she's never gonna want to go to another Skecon again, especially because I praised it for being a good convention before we left home (at least it was legit good in 2013-2015) and then we get this clusterfuck that's even worse than last year, which was still okay but could have been better especially considering the ticket price.

Rave going on.
Rave without the bright rapidly flashing light that I caught on first photo.
I'm gonna backtrack a little and say that during my working shift I took a quick trip to the rave (to check for trash) and while it seemed like a fun little activity for party animals it's really not something for me. Besides, there was this really musky smell of sweat going on there that hit me like a brick wall when I entered and I think I might have done my life's fastest 180 degrees turn and scrambled out of there. Not trying to bash the rave but the smell was just... eww. x)

So yeah, once we got inside the sleeping halls I explained the situation and why it took so long for Therese and then we went to bed. I don't think anyone was particularly happy at this point, I know that I was ashamed, tired and just astounded by how badly organized the whole sleeping issue was. Like holy hell.

Pssst, I'm kinda sad I missed the martial arts display, it's been a tradition of mine to participate in it.

Sunday

Okay, Sunday. Soon I can get home.
We woke up at like 08:30 or something, packed our stuff and headed out. My working shift started 10:00 and that's pretty much what I prepped for as soon as I got to the con. We ran into some money issues because the girls were out of cash and had no money for breakfast, which was a problem. I still went out to do my rounds and ended up finding a half-full big carton of juice which I brought back to them – better than nothing, I thought. Soon enough I got hungry myself and went to eat my third and final Gorbys with milk and while eating I happened to spot the main organizer walk past me. I had earlier noticed that some baguettes and stuff were put up near the info desk and asked him what these were for, he said that it was mainly for workers but con attendants could have a bite if they wanted to. I explained the situation of my hungry and moneyless friends and he smiled and said that it's okay for them to go eat. Luck in misfortune again!
I went back to the girls and told them the good news (I had to ensure Sabine that good news weren't followed by bad news) and then they went to eat and everything was fine and dandy for a while again. Oh boy, this whole trip has been such a rollercoaster.

My working shift officially ended at 14:00 and somewhere around that time the "milk guy" showed up again! He asked me if I wanted milk and I was again like "why not" and he then told me to follow him, so I did. He led me to the fridge from where I had taken my con lunch and asked me how many I wanted. It soon dawned on me that he didn't talk about individual bottles but cartons. He filled one and was like "you do want another one, right?" and I was all okaaaaaay. :'DD

Skecon's parting gift. Yes, I like milk. :::)))
Before being done for the day my team leader drove me and my workmate to the sleeping accommodation and we cleaned all the toilets there and put back the school's benches etc how they were before the con. I found a men's bathroom while cleaning that had a really strong smell of cigarettes and this caused some angry and disappointed faces as smoking indoors is not acceptable and the smell is hard to get rid off. We informed the rest about this and I hope that it won't happen at future cons.
During the final cleaning I asked my team leader if she could drive me and my friends to the bus station and she was such an angel to agree. ;u; It turned out that the bus station had indeed moved to another place and I didn't know where it was so I'm thankful she took us there because getting lost with that amount of luggage would have been really annoying. So yeah, Skecon was then over for our part and we took the bus back home. Carina picked us up from the bus station when we arrived and drove us home.

~~~

So uhm, what can I say? If I'm brutally honest this was the worst Skecon so far and yes, I've attended all Skecons to this day since the first one in 2012. It's not a complete disaster (most of the people are really nice, I enjoyed my company and there is stuff to do for entertainment at least) but the con itself left much to be desired – what happened with the ambition to be fun, unique and bring in things no other Swedish con had done before? Right now it just feels like Skecon is comfortably falling into the "let's just be a small generic con with no special things to set us apart from the rest" mold and the lack of big-name guest of honors etc, at least compared to before (I'm sorry if Tenkou was supposed to be a guest but I had no idea about her presence until after the con, to be honest... Poor advertising?), just underlines this; I really miss the concerts. If it's a budget issue I understand but the price keeps going up and the quality down and that's just no. Also, I should have realized that something would be off when like a week before the con the schedule (which didn't have so much going on) still wasn't up on the website, like what?

As I said previously Skecon 2013 and 2014 were the best ones and 2015 was good, even though it felt a bit like recycling what made 2014 amazing (Vocaloid concert) and thus lost some of its impact and wow-factor. Seriously Skecon, go back to Folkparken and bring in the good stuff and you might not lose me in the future. The people are lovely but the con itself needs to fix its knots along the way because great company can't hold up against shortcomings in other fields forever.
This year's edition just felt like it wasn't properly planned –or, as we say in Finnish, juostenkustu*– and that whole sudden sleeping hall change thingy really turned into an awkward and confusing fuckpile. For the love of Jesus, please take back the sleeping accommodation workers but give them human working times so that anyone would actually want to do that job because yeah, I'm pretty sure that most congoers don't want to be dependent on others to decide when they can go sleep or not, especially when promised times are not even followed...

* = it's hard to translate directly but it's basically "take a running piss", meaning that something was done in a rush and/or really sloppily.

~~~

Thanks for reading and no hard feelings! I wish Skecon all the best and that they'll learn from their mistakes. A big thanks to Sabine and Therese for coming with me and I hope that both of you had a good time overall and will want to go to more conventions in the future!

November 1, 2017

Skecon 2017 preliminary plans!

Hello!

So it seems like Skecon will be my last convention for 2017 and I will go there as a worker this year too. For those not in the know, Skecon will be held on 3-5 November in Skellefteå's Campus, just like last year. I honestly liked Folkparken better but oh well. I still don't know who exactly I will be traveling with (like what?!) because there's been some complications with the "car or bus" issue. Oh well, I hope that it will get sorted out tomorrow because yeah, the con starts on Friday for heaven's sake! It's stressing me out that we still don't know if we'll have a driver or not but yeah, I know for sure that Sabine and Therese are going with me. I'll be the con senpai again! x)

A problem though is that I really don't know if I will cosplay or not. ^^" I kind of want to but I'm dealing with so many insecurities right now and the weather will be too cold for the cosplays that I would otherwise consider taking with me so yeah, I'm at a loss. Another issue is that I only have like green, red and blue circle lenses opened right now (that are wearable for a full con day) and well, not really any cosplays with those eye colors that I'd want to do or can do right now. Uggggh.

But after some thinking my brain came up with at least one candidate that I haven't worn for years and that would be quite fun to do again! Truth is, I haven't worn him since 2014 and, while this particular cosplay is in need of some updating to be photoshoot-worthy, it's still wearable unlike most of my other costumes that need some serious repairs and/or updates before I can even look at them, lol. 

*drumroll*

Saturday



Series: Bleach
Character: Gin Ichimaru

Right now Gin feels like my best and most comfortable cosplay choice and I feel nostalgic. I went to check the condition of my old character wig for him and yeah, I put it on my head and my immediate thought was "oh hell to the no!" – it looked horrible after having been years in a plastic bag, no joke and I don't have time to fix it. I asked Frozen Angel if he had any suitable wigs but after digging through all my own wigs I found one that will have to do for this emergency. I do plan to get another proper wig for him but that will have to wait until next time since I'm not gonna shoot him at the con anyway. His sword also needs some fixing (and a sheath) but I'm not even sure where it is right now so I don't know if I will have it with me.
I will bring Gin with me but it will depend on my mood etc for how long I'll wear him on Friday since I have free time from 07:00-16:00 and then I work 16:00-21:00, assuming that the schedule doesn't change, that is.

I won't bring a second cosplay because it's pointless since, as a con worker, I'm not allowed to cosplay during my working hours anyway – I have to wear a specific work t-shirt, just like last year. I know that on Friday I can't cosplay because of how my working hours are placed and on Sunday I just can't be bothered since it's such a short day... and I have work on Sunday anyway (during the possible hours).

I guess that's all I had to say. See you guys at Skecon!

October 30, 2017

Lens review: Angelic Eye Mesmerize Green

Hello ~

Here comes my review for the Angelic Eye Mesmerize Green circle lenses! I must admit that I had high hopes for these lenses so now let's see how they tallied up!



Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.5 mm
Water content: 45%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)


I've said it before on other reviews but I've taken the habit, by now, to always mention if I think that a particular circle lens might be exclusive to a certain online store and in this case I do think that the Angelic Eye brand might only be found at HoneyColor – or at least that's the only place I've ever seen them in. So yeah, there you go if you want these in your collection.

I originally bought these lenses almost exclusively for the rather... mesmerizing design, lol. And also I couldn't find any reviews on these and someone's gotta be first! :D I was really hoping for this kind of almost magical and crystal-like effect combined with a bright color and I guess I, sort of, got what I wanted? The color doesn't 'pop' as much as I wished but there's this gorgeous halo effect instead that comes from the lenses being quite transparent in their coloring. Oh and yeah, speaking of color
– if you look closer on the print of the lenses you'll notice that it's not only green in there but also some yellow pixels; it's a pretty small detail but it does add up to the color appearing to have more depth and naturalness to it as it's not just a single color lens.

One lens in.
I have naturally light blue-gray eyes, but there is this slight tint of green that seems to come out in specific light conditions... or if I wear green lenses like this. I'm happy to notice that the color, despite not being super pigmented or anything, doesn't seem to turn this ugly muddy color in poorer lights as green lenses tend to do for me.

The size is generous and I must say that this is the kind of lens design and size combination that looks really alien on my eyes without any kind of makeup to balance it out. xD I do see these first-hand as a fashion lens but I guess they would be suitable for cosplay too, assuming that color intensity is not on your priority list. Anyone looking for a lens with decent color and a mesmerizing (hurr durr) halo effect will be pleased.

Lens photos ahead!
All photos taken by me during an October afternoon on which the sun was visible but covered by a veil of clouds.
There's no color filters or such on the close-up photos and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.


Bathroom light.
Yellowish light in my apartment.
In my apartment, only natural light.
Flash photo.
Facing a window, not sun side.
Outdoors, facing the sun hidden under the veil of clouds.
Outdoors, back against the sun.
I guess in the end I sort of like these lenses but there's that part of me who wishes that the color would be more intense because, as it is now, while pretty up close the color becomes hard to notice from a distance – which limits its use as a cosplay lens, sadly. I do love how alluring and almost ethereal the Angelic Eye Mesmerize Greens look otherwise and yeah, all thumbs up for how well these play for any kind of mysterical fashion (goth etc) setup!

And the comfort, while okay considering my horribly dry eyes, it could still be better – it's 2 hours and then I need to take them out because they dry the shit out of my eyes. I feel them when I move my gaze around (it's not hurting or anything) but at least they do not blur my vision or feel scratchy etc. I do need to mention though that my comfort grade might very well be off the charts as I almost forgot about these lenses and only got to open them from their little glass bottles one month before their expiry date so yeah, take my words with a grain of salt as my comfort experience might not be fair nor accurate. Also, everyone's eyes are different and I happen to be gifted not with these über-dry and sensitive eyes which means that for me to give a high grade in comfort a lens needs to be like god tier or something, lol. I judge by my own eyes (and so does everyone else) so always keep that in mind when checking out contact lens reviews by other people. :)

Distance photos!



Curious about Angelic Eye Mesmerize lenses but in other colors?
Check out this review: Blue

Short summary:

Color: 6/10
Pleasant green color that appears quite natural. Sadly not very visible from a distance.
Design: 7/10
Magical crystal-like design that creates this alluring 'halo effect', really nice!
Opacity: 5/10
Definitely looks green but the pigment density is sparse and thus there's quite some transparency.
Enlargement: 7/10
Big and dolly eyes. Might look potentially weird without makeup – or at least it does for me, lmao.
Comfort: 3/10
2 hours on my dry eyes. My grading might be inaccurate because I almost forgot about these lenses and only opened them one month before expiry date.
Naturalness: 6/10
Apart from the size and the fancy design they look passable. The color is quite realistic and the way it blends is a nice feat.

Thanks for reading!
Shiro Samurai out.