Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It's A Match (O-Matic)!

As I'm gradually piecing together my Wilma Deering cosplay, I'm also paying attention to her accessories.
I knew she had a small laser pistol during the episode ("Space Vampire"), and I was able to find out which one it was.

Between Wilma and Buck, a few different models of laser gun made appearances throughout the series. The one she uses in this episode against the Vorvon, was actually made from a lighter vaguely shaped like a gun; the Match-O- Matic.

A scene of Wilma trying to fend off the Vorvon with the laser pistol, and photos of some laser pistols from the show...

It's really hard to make out what her pistol looks like, but after seeing the photos of the originals below, it became obvious. The clear vinyl holster is the same, too. Except Wilma's has an ivory band at the top that matches her belt.
The barrel is replaced by a short rod of clear Lucite. This one has a little molded addition of something on the back of the upper cylinder, and a button,,,

and it lights up! This one may have been carried by a main character....

This one is a plainer version...

In the holster...

So there's that. I was lucky to have found the Match-O-Matic on Ebay for a steal at $13. Others were going for  $45 to $60.
I also happily discovered that the barrel unscrews, so I won't need to saw it off. This will definitely make the modification process easier, but I'd rather make a mold of it, cast it in resin, and modify that to my needs.

(Photos of original pistols found on the Replica Props Forum)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dyeing Spandex - Part II

A bit of a boring post, but I received my samples of the spandex I ordered, and could tell right away that the extra samples just wouldn't cut it.
Along with the white Jumbo Spandex, I gave a few other types a shot. Nope.
But the white Jumbo Spandex is exactly what I need. So I did a little test with some extra Dharma acid dye in Fire Engine Red.
I thought I might get, at best, a soft pink out of this...boy was I wrong!
It's hard to see how shiny the white fabric is in this shot, but it gleams

A true red, the color took like crazy to this 90% Nylon 10% spandex. After just 1 minute, I had a rich cool red, and while it was softer than the red pants, it was plenty vivid. The color-fastness is really good, too. It hardly bled color after the first few seconds of rinsing.
I ordered more acid dyes from Dharma in Flamingo Pink, Strawberry Red, Sunflower Yellow and Peach Blush. These should give me plenty to experiment with to get just the right shade of coral blush pink.

A Fantastic Interview With Erin Gray

I found this great video of Erin Gray from last June, doing an interview at the Supanova Expo in Perth.
Lot's of awesome subjects discussed (a new Buck Rogers series PLEASE!!!), and it turns out her favorite episode is still "Space Vampire", the one that inspired me to do a Wilma Deering costume for Dragon Con this year!

Hearing about her experience with T'ai Chi and acupuncture has given me even more reason to try both.
I've been on the fence about it, but given some old injuries that trigger new daily pain, it's good to hear that it does indeed make a difference.

Dyeing Nylon Spandex - Testing Part I

1970s and early 1980s sci-fi was rife with feathered hair, flashy colors and above all; super shiny Spandex!
The costume department for Buck Rogers spared no expense when it came time to buying what I imagine was bolt upon bolt of Nylon spandex that went into the costumes for the show.
Supposedly a 2-way stretch only, the 90% Nylon with 10% Spandex gave us a mirror-like shine that made an outfit appear painted on.

Wilma Deering's outfits were some of the best examples of this, and one of the companies who made this magical fabric is still producing it to this day. It's called Jumbo Spandex.
Color choice in this material, however; can be slim. Pink is in only one or few shades; super bright or very pale...if any pink at all, and primary colors rule the stock found in my online searches. Yet it still comes in white, and Nylon is dyeable!
I suspect the costumers for Buck Rogers ran into this conundrum, too, and in their attempt to get a bright pink with dyes, ended up with that unique pink for Wilma's costume from the "Space Vampire" episode.

Another place we saw this fabric used during the same time period, in the fashion trend of disco pants. On screen and off, I've only ever seen photos and film of people wearing these, but I recently found some on Ebay. Not vintage, but reproduced by American Apparel.
It's the exact same Jumbo Spandex fabric; 90% Nylon, 10% Spandex, in the same weave.
Just like the vintage pants, the 2-way stretch across the grain, actually has a little stretch on the grain, too. Otherwise there would have been no way they could have gotten such a smooth fit across the hips, and allowed for movement without cutting off circulation.
For the most part, modern spandex like milliskin is polyester and Lycra, and not only lacks the ability to absorb dye, but doesn't have the same body and shine as classic Jumbo Spandex.

To prove the dyeable nature of Jumbo Spandex, I did a test today.

The 'spots' on the pants in the background are just caused by the light. Not dye.

I nabbed myself a pair of the red American Apparel disco pants (I not-so-secretly love them!), and snipped a small bit off the inside zipper placket.
I mixed about 1/2 teaspoon of Dharma acid dye in a Caribbean Blue I had on-hand, to about 1 1/4 cups of almost simmering water.
I let the small scrap soak for only 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After rinsing thoroughly and drying, I had a pretty burgundy scrap, still shiny, with some still-blazing red polyester stitching attached.
Again, this was just after a 5 minute soak, so you can imagine the depth of color if I'd left it in longer.
I'm going to buy a few different shades of pink, neutral base red and yellow from Dharma to mix if needed. Then I'll test scraps from white Jumbo Spandex I'm ordering from Fabrics World, until I get as close as possible to that pink shade on Wilma's ensemble.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Let's just jump right in, shall we? I embark on my adventure in building a costume worn by Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) on the late 1970s/early 1980s TV show, Buck Rogers, I'm taking on the adventure of dyeing Nylon spandex.

I know it can be done and know what type of dye to use, I had just hoped I wouldn't need to.
At least this way I can get the exact color I need; a pretty medium, warm pink. Almost a coral.
I'm having more trouble with the wig that will go with this particular project, and I can already tell it may be more work than the costume itself.

I'm still wig hunting for this costume and I'm having a hell of a time finding a wig, that will give me Wilma's 1970s/80s color combo and style, that won't ruin me financially.
I'm also tempted to just do this to my own pale blonde hair. Maybe not nearly as dark in back as Erin Gray had on the show, but a warm golden chestnut and the lighter golden highlights blending from the top front.
My revisit to brunette tresses two years ago with temp color was really fun, and I must say I look damn good with darker hair, too ;-)
The only thing really stopping me, is that ***a wig will keep it's style in Atlanta*** My own hair, probably not so much.

This is a great description of the popular, crazy and campy Buck Rogers episode that inspired me to go with Wilma Deering's pink costume.

CULT TV FLASHBACK # 72: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: "Space Vampire" (1980)
Now if I can just get my fiance, Anders to be the Vorvon, muwahah!This costume Isn't as insanely specific as some might think. Google Wilma Deering and it pops up right next to the more often seen purple or blue spandex ensembles, and the white flight suit.
Stay tuned to follow the progress of this, and a few other Si-Fi related cosplays I'll be putting together for Dragon Con 2015!

Under the spell of the Vorvon...I can't stop giggling at this gif.