April 30, 2014

So, gender based toy marketing is frustrating

Like it or not, we live in a world where toys for girls and toys for boys and pink and blue sections at the toy store exist. Though some companies around the world are making strides to market toys to kids instead of splitting it by gender, not enough manufacturers and stores are stepping up. I've seen a few examples of gender based marketing recently that make me wonder how we can ever fix the problem with so many companies perpetuating it as being the right way to do things.

Back in February, Hasbro and Disney announced new toys for Star Wars Rebels. Their press release regarding those toys as well as new Marvel figures, had this headline:
Disney Consumer Products Ready to Capture Boys’ Imaginations and Dominate Toy Aisles in 2014

The content of the press release does eventually mention "we know these innovative products will resonate with kids and fans who want to create their own heroic stories." But, why not state that in the title? The title of the press release tells me, as a girl, that you don't think I'll be interested in playing with Star Wars and Marvel toys.

Look, I  know there is research proving that boys and girls play differently. I'm pretty sure that research doesn't state all girls automatically only like toys with pink labels and boys only prefer toys with blue labels. And if kids do have those tendencies, how much of them are there because of the way they see toys marketed in commercials and ads? It's a chicken vs. egg situation, and it's a cycle that needs to break and companies who put these toys out in the world have the power to do it. Disney in particular should be bold and make waves in this department because their products are going to sell, they have money - why not take a risk?

I came across another situation earlier this month when I discovered Nerd Block, Jr. Nerd Block is a mystery box subscription that puts together a box of geeky goodies and ships them once a month, and they have special boxes for kids. When I first heard of it, I thought it was a great idea. Then I clicked over to their website. They have two different boxes labeled thusly: "Epic Toys for Boys" and "Epic Toys for Girls." It gets better. The boys' box is is in a blue area of the website with brands such as J!nx, Marvel, DC Comics, Nintendo, and Star Wars. The girls' box is in a lavender section of the website with brands such as Barbie, Furby, Monster High, My Little Pony, and Hello Kitty.


I'm a girl who likes Hello Kitty and Star Wars. I know little boys who adore My Little Pony as well as Marvel. Why the hell are they making these gender assumptions? Why not offer a single box? Or keep two boxes, call them options 1 and 2 instead of toys for boys and toys for girls, and offer a mix of all the brands in each box. Because the way it's described now, I would have to subscribe to a boys' box to get more of the toys I want. I can wrap my head around that. But imagine trying to explain the reasoning to a little girl asking, "Why do I have to order the boys' box, aren't I supposed to like these things?" "Well, honey, toy companies don't think you should but it's really okay."

I talked about my frustration on Twitter and someone shared a dialogue she had with Nerd Block about this topic in February. I encourage you to read the entire exchange, but the gist is that Nerd Block says their initial decision was to have a unisex Block, but the audience outcry was to have them divided between boys and girls. I understand listening to your customers, but why not stand up and be different in the toy market instead of joining the rest of the drones who say sci-fi and superhero stuff is for boys and dolls and fluffy things are for girls.

One more example of screwed up gendered marketing. I bring you the case of McDonald's and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 toys.

So, let me applaud the positive side of these offerings first. McDonald's is offering Spider-Man items to both boys and girls in Happy Meals. A more typical situation at the fast food franchise is something like Spider-Man toys for the boys while girls can get Littlest Pet Shop toys. But, wow, McDonald's sure did it wrong.

Look at the top half of the above image with Spidey offerings for boys. Now examine the bottom half with Spider-Man options for girls. There is a world of difference. All the girls' items are pink or purple. Many of them feature hearts, and on more than one item, the heart is around Spider-Man's face or symbol. Boys get a mask so they can become Spider-Man. Girls get a headband so they can show their feelings for Spider-Man. Like Tor.com says, this is essentially the equivalent of giving little girls shirts that say "I want to date a superhero" instead of "I want to be a superhero." And yes, those shirts exist.

Do I like pink and purple and hearts? Heck, yes I do. But that's not all I like. I want to play dress up and pretend to be a superhero, too. All of the items in the girls' section show an incredible misunderstanding of how to reach fangirls and future fangirls. Why not just have toys in happy meals and make things more universal?

And that's the bigger question. How do we ditch these labels and colors? How do we leave pink and blue behind? I don't know the answers, but I want to figure it out.

April 29, 2014

Star Wars Rebels interviews!

After the Star Wars Rebels panel at WonderCon, I had the pleasure of sitting down with executive producer Dave Filoni and the voice of Hera Syndulla, Vanessa Marshall. We went in depth about the story and character dynamics, and Filoni revealed some new new information about efffects on the series and some more details about the show's villain, the Inquisitor.

Dear Star Wars: Episode VII, You Forgot Something - The Women

I'd like to think we've come a long way since 1977. Our clothes are more fashionable, our cars are smaller, and we've made progress with equality for all. It's no longer a world where people can brush off something like only having a single female character in a cast of males as being a product of the time - that's often the reasoning about Princess Leia being the only leading woman in the original Star Wars trilogy. But over 35 years later, are we really back in the same boat? From the Star Wars: Episode VII casting announcement today, it looks like we may be.

The line-up, according to StarWars.com is as follows: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker.

I'm not the sort to complain all the time. I love the Star Wars universe and defend parts of it that others like to pick on. And, yes, I'm still excited about Episode VII and the cast members they have in place and the remainder of the sequel trilogy. However, my second reaction after exclaiming over the fact that there was finally news about Episode VII, was a mix of frustration, anger, and sadness. Of all the new cast members, there was one woman. One.

What. the...

Now, Daisy Ridley could be the star of the movie. That would help, but the problem remains that in this group of seven new cast members who are presumably the leads of Episode VII that will carry on the Star Wars torch, only one of them is a female. I keep getting hung up on that number. One out of seven. Yes, more women may appear in the supporting cast - dear goodness, I hope so - but why aren't there more at the helm of the movie? I'm confused for a few reasons.

Firstly, Star Wars seemed to be handling diversity across not only gender but race better. They were making slow progress, but it was progress. You can see evidence in the Expanded Universe, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Ahsoka Tano, Asajj Ventress, Barriss Offee), and in the upcoming series Star Wars Rebels (Hera Syndulla and Sabine Wren). Though the original and prequel trilogies and Clone Wars may have followed a formula where only one woman was really a lead character, Star Wars Rebels set a different example. It gave me hope for the sequel trilogy.

Secondly, well written female characters make money. No one in Hollywood can fail to see the success of movies like Catching Fire and Frozen. And Disney has no freaking excuse after the way Frozen busted box office records. One small but meaningful example is a comparison of wait times at Disneyland to meet Thor or Captain America vs. the wait time to meet Anna and Elsa. As of earlier today, the Thor and Cap lines were at 70 minutes. The line for Anna and Elsa was at 160. Go ahead, check a wait time app at multiple times during the day. Children - boys and girls - are waiting hours in line to meet two female characters.

Finally, they can do better. Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams are smart people. They wouldn't be where they are otherwise. They have to be aware of the notes I just listed and of the fact that many Star Wars fans are concerned about diversity. We're not exactly quiet about it. I'm not saying they have to listen to our demands for more female characters or anything else, but I'd be curious to know what sort of conversations were had about creating characters for Episode VII. Could it improve in the rest of the trilogy? Sure, and I'll be happy if that's the case, but it doesn't erase the fact that as of right now, Episode VII has one woman in its lead cast.

And in case you're thinking it, yes, it does matter. Star Wars is more than a just an action movie and bigger than a franchise. It's seeped into our culture in a way that not many other stories have managed to do. If Star Wars isn't considering greater diversity and equality in casts, it's bad news for everyone.

Locketship's Disney Princess Cat Jewelry

I freely admit that I am a feline enthusiast. Cats, cat art, cat jewelry - it all makes me happy. You also might have noticed I adore most things Disney. Therefore, I find Locketship's new Disney Princess cat jewelry line to be one of the most perfect things on this Earth.

The company specializes in cute jewelry featuring kitties and pugs and dinos (yes, I did just order this kitten floating through space design), and their combo of Disney princess aesthetics and cats lives up to their adorable standards. The line has brooches, necklaces, earrings, headbands, bracelets, and rings. Basically, you can cover yourself in cats. Isn't that the dream?

How do they make cats look like Disney characters, you ask? Well, their Rapunzel design features a kitty with flowers over its ear and lots of florals a la the ones in Rapunzel's giant braid. The Belle Kitty has a rose and yellow beads. You get the idea. Here, have some visual examples:

Aren't they spectacular? You can buy all of these items and several other accessories at Locketship's store.

April 28, 2014

Stuff I've written: WonderCon coverage, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Star Wars

It's been a busy couple of weeks around the interwebs. I covered a few things at WonderCon for Nerdist, had an interview go up at the StarWars.com blog, and expressed my love for Avatar: The Last Airbender at Blastoff Comics. Links after the picture.

Gail Simone, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and More Talk Strong Female Characters at WonderCon - This panel at WonderCon featured several creators saying smart things about how women are portrayed in comics. I captured the highlights in my recap.

WonderCon Panel Recap: Cosplay 101 - Get some cosplay tips from an educational cosplay panel at WonderCon.

WonderCon Panel Recap: The Psychology of STAR TREK vs STAR WARS - Both Star Wars and Star Trek have some very serious overtones and big themes, and two psychologists and some special guests discuss how some important topics tie into the franchises.

Interview: Marjorie Liu Talks About Her Latest Book, X-MEN, and Harassment In Comics - I sat down with Marjorie Liu at WonderCon and discussed a variety of topics, and she had some meaningful comments about harassment of women in comics.

STAR WARS REBELS at WonderCon - Want to learn more about the upcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels? Dave Filoni, Kilian Plunkett, and Vanessa Marshall brought some details to WonderCon (I also have interviews with both Dave and Vanessa coming soon).

Avatar: The Last Airbender Displays Worldbuilding at Its Best - Animated month is wrapping up over at Blastoff Comics, and I discuss why Avatar: The Last Airbender is awesome.

Fully Operational Fandom: How One Museum Engages Visitors With Star Wars - I spoke with a representative from the Cleveland Museum of Art about their unique Art Bites tours; it's a way to showcase items in the collection through pop culture and it's fascinating.

Favorite quotes from Game of Thrones: Oathkeeper

Over the course of four seasons, Game of Thrones has gone off page. That's nothing new. However, it's usually in a subtle way. For example, we see scenes between two characters that we couldn't see in the books because we didn't have any chapters from either of their points of view. It felt like a natural extension. But last night in "Oathkeeper?" There was completely new material for viewers and book readers alike. And I don't think it was a bad thing.

Favorite quotes from the episode and thoughts about what happened after the picture. Look out, because spoilers.

Favorite quotes
“I promise you, a single day of freedom is worth more than a lifetime in chains.” - Grey Worm

“I will answer injustice with justice.” - Daenerys Targaryen

“You don’t think I’d let you marry that beast do you?” - Olenna Tyrell

“A man with no motive is a man no one suspects. Always keep your foes confused. If they don’t know who you are or what you want, they can’t know what you plan to do next.” - Littlefinger

Tyrion: "The King Slayer Brothers, you like it? I like it. You really asking if I killed your son?"
Jaime: "You really asking if I'd kill my brother?"

“There’s nothing more tedious than a trial. Except perhaps these gardens. If I have to take one more leisurely stroll through these gardens I’ll fling myself from the cliffs.” - Olenna Tyrell

Random thoughts
- I've always liked Jacob Anderson, the actor who plays Grey Worm, but he was particularly amazing in tonight's episode. Between his scenes with Missandei and the slaves in Meereen, he really stood out.

- Meereen! That happened fast, and I like to picture Dany surveying her work after the masters were nailed to the posts and saying, "Done and done." I can't wait until her and her dragons get to Westeros.

- You know who else was extra fantastic last night? Bronn. One of my favorite things about that character is that he doesn't put on a pandering act for anyone. Watching him call Jaime Lannister out was so enjoyable I could practically taste the satisfaction. You tell him, Bronn!

- Tyrion and Jaime's scene was quite touching. It's clear that Jaime has been put in a difficult decision, but he does care for his brother and at this point and time, Tyrion might rank higher than Cersei. Maybe. What I didn't understand was it seemed like there was someone else in the cell while they were talking about serious secrets. Sure, that person is probably sworn to the Lannisters but hey, people gossip. Maybe there wasn't someone else there?
- Speaking of touching, Brienne. Oh my stars, Brienne. Her feelings for Jaime are written all over her face and though it's wonderful that she's keeping their promise to find Sansa, it's sad we won't get any scenes with the two of them for a while. However, watching her interact with Podrick should be priceless.

- Margaery and Tommen. Eww. The overtones of that were gross, but leading up to that moment, it was hilarious to hear Olenna tell Margaery about how skilled she was in the sack.

- And Olenna admitted her involvement in Joffrey's murder. I hope we see how her and Littlefinger worked that scheme out, but I have a hunch it won't be revealed.

- Stop touching Sansa, Littlefinger! No, no,  no.

- Let's not forget the White Walker in the room. What the hell was that? George R.R. Martin hasn't hinted that they're any kind of organized group in the books, but maybe Benioff and Weiss are setting that up for him? Because let's be honest, they're going to run out of book material. GRRM can't keep up. This could be just the beginning of diverging paths.

- Finally, yay Ser Pounce!

April 25, 2014

Meet a 13-Year-Old Eagle Huntress

Inspiring women and girls are all over the world, and photographer Asher Svidensky found one in the Altai mountain range of western Mongolia. Meet Aksholpan. The 13-year-old girl may be the only female apprentice learning the art of hunting with golden eagles known as kusbeguy.

BBC reported Svidensky's story about photographing teens learning the skill of hunting with hefty golden eagles and meeting Aksholpan. It's not an easy practice, and the Kazakhs are one of the few groups of people that hunt with the eagles. There are only about 400 falconers, and it's a lifelong profession. Most, if not all, of those 400 falconers are males.

Svidensky was taking photos for a story about boys learning falconry but started to wonder if any girls also joined in. He came across Aksholpan, and on his blog, Svidensky says, "I was amazed by her comfort and ease as she began handling the grand eagle for the first time in her life. She was fearlessly carrying it on her hand and caressing it somewhat joyfully."

She stepped into the role after her older brother, her father's eldest son, was drafted into the military. By traditional standards, he should have been the one to learn falconry. However, he's become an officer in the army and probably won't return. Aksholpan's father told Svidensky, "It’s been a while since I started thinking about training her instead of him, but I wouldn't dare do it unless she asks me to do it, and if she will? Next year you will come to the eagle festival and see her riding with the eagle in my place.”

At some point, she apparently asked to be trained.

Golden eagles weigh anywhere from 8-14 pounds. That is quite a bit to hold on your arm when you're a teenager, and the sheer force of the bird has to be a lot to handle. Aksholpan, you rock.

Photo by Asher Svidensky.

Giveaway: Win a Costume From CostumeSupercenter.com!

There's no such thing as having too many costumes, and CostumeSupercenter.com would like to give you a new one. You can wear it for Halloween, to a convention, to a theme party, or depending on the costume, you can don it for a midnight movie or comic book release. Basically, if you ever need to rationalize buying a costume, come to me. I'll help you think of a place to wear it. I'm an enabler.

And oh boy, do you have options with Costume Supercenter. Their costume offerings include Captain America, tons of Star Trek, Star Wars, Ghostbusters... I could keep naming franchises for an entire paragraph. I particularly like the old school purple Batgirl costume they have for ladies. They even have pieces for a full Maleficent costume too (based on the upcoming movie). Here are a couple of examples of what they have available:

Any of of Costume Supercenter's costumes worth $75 or less could be yours. To enter, just use the handy Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions to get up to four entries. You have 7 days to get your entries in!

While you're waiting to hear about whether you've won the chance to pick out an awesome costume, check out one of CostumeSupercenter.com's cool infographics. This Star Trek chart gives a handy breakdown of Starfleet uniform styles over the years and across different shows and movies.

Star Trek Costume Guide

Good luck!

April 24, 2014

April Loot Crate Time - It's all about dragons!

I couldn't wait to get this month's Loot Crate because I saw the theme was dragons! That means Game of Thrones and Skyrim items among other goodies, and that makes me happy. The box came with a mix of toys, edibles, and a couple of products to use in your office. And yes, the shipment included an exclusive Nord figure from Symbiote Studios and Bethesda.

Look, pictures:
Here's the breakdown: Elder Scrolls exclusive Nord figure, Game of Thrones mystery mini (I got Grey Wind), Dragon Jerky, dragon shield screen cleaner, 20 sided stress dice, a D20, a dragon slayer tag
Yay loot!

Both of these figures are ridiculously cute, and I love that the Nord's helmet comes off.

Green beef jerky... I'll get past the color and eat it eventually. The packaging is clever.

As far as content, I give this box an A+. I adore Game of Thrones and even if I don't play Skyrim yet (one day I'll make time), the little figure is adorable. Most of these items will go on my shelf or my desk. You can bet I'll be putting the 20 sided stress dice to use.

The cool and tricky thing about this shipment is that most of the products are either an exclusive to Loot Crate or made by Loot Crate. That means determining retail value is harder than normal. Just guessing at values, I'd say this box is lower than normal, around $30. Still, considering the subscription is $13 (shipping takes it to just under $20), it's a fantastic value!

Sign up for Loot Crate now so you can get a box next month! You can try the service for as long as you like - a month, two months, whatever. Use discount code gwcloot for $3 off. Happy unboxing!

Full disclosure: Loot Crate box was provided free of charge for review purposes. This did not affect my opinions.

April 23, 2014

Rancho Obi-Wan Feature in Star Wars Insider!

Star Wars Insider #149, the May/June issue, is available in stores now and contains a feature article (my first) all about Rancho Obi-Wan by yours truly. Rancho Obi-Wan houses the largest private Star Wars collection in the world, but it's more than a museum - it's a place to witness history and the huge way that Star Wars has affected our culture.

I interviewed Steve Sansweet for the article and besides hearing about why Rancho Obi-Wan is important and magical, you'll also see items in his collection including five cool fan made items and  five weird food items and read quotes from James Arnold Taylor, Cat Taber, and Sam Witwer about why ROW isso meaningful. Pick it up today and let me know what you think of the article and if you end up getting a ROW membership!

April 22, 2014

Favorite quotes from Game of Thrones: Breaker of Chains

Game of Thrones has shocking moments and shocking moments. "Breaker of Chains" definitely had one of the latter. Wow. After I recovered from that scene, there was plenty of good meat to bite into even if spending so much time on the wedding in the last episode meant they had more jumping around to do. I was glad to see so many of my favorite characters in one episode.

Favorite quotes from the episode after the picture (duh, spoilers).

“I am not your enemy. Your enemy is beside you. Your enemy steals and murders your children. Your enemy has nothing for you but chains and suffering, and commands. I do not bring you commands. I bring you a choice. And I bring your enemies what they deserve." - Daenerys Targaryen

“I would like to think that if I were arranging a royal assassination, I’d plan it in such a way that I wouldn’t be standing there gawking like a fool when the king died.” - Tyrion Lannister

“When it comes to war, I fight for Dorne. When it comes to love, I don’t choose sides." - Oberyn Martell

“How can a man not keep ale in his home?” - The Hound

“The world is overflowing with horrible things, but they’re all a tray of cakes next to death.” - Olenna Tyrell

“Your father lacks an appreciation of the finer points of bad behavior.” - Davos

“Money buys a man silence for a time. A bolt in the heart buys it forever." - Littlefinger

"How many Starks have they got to behead before you figure it out?” - The Hound

Random thoughts:
- Did that wink win anyone else over as far as new Daario is concerned?

- The rape. Man. If you're not familiar with the books, they changed the scene between Jaime and Cersei from what happened in the books. It was turned into rape instead of consensual sex. I disagree with the decision. Jaime isn't exactly a redeemed hero, but that does take him on a different path and I don't like it.

- Tyrion saying goodbye to Podrick was surprisingly heartbreaking. He might be one of the best people in King's Landing (Podrick, that is), and even though I knew Tyrion cared for him, that was a touching moment.

- Speaking of touching, Shireen and Davos. Something about the timing and pacing in their scene was completely riveting. I hope we get more scenes with the two of them as the season goes on.

- Arya and the Hound were a close second. I like that she's still standing against him regarding some actions. I don't believe she's capable of influencing him, but so far, it also doesn't seem to be happening the other around. Not entirely.
But, I never need to see the Hound blow a snot rocket again (yeah, there are gifs on Tumblr).

- Littlefinger claiming responsibility for Joffrey's death surprised me. I figured they'd drag out the whodunnit angle for a bit longer. And we don't exactly have all the answers - like how the crystal from the necklace got into Joffrey's drink.

- Sansa. Yipes. She's leaving one bad situation for a potentially worse one, but she didn't have much of a choice. My sympathy for her has only grown over the seasons.

April 21, 2014

Stuff I've written this week: Lumberjanes #1 review and Salem photo tour

Review: LUMBERJANES #1 - Boom! Studios has a new comic series called Lumberjanes, and it's amazing. It's about a kick-butt group of ladies at a camp and weird things happen and it's fantastic. My full review is at Nerdist!

Take a Photo Tour Through the Detailed Sets of Salem - I visited the set of WGN America's Salem a few weeks ago, and it was rather incredible. The production value on this series is serious business. I created a slideshow of my experience over on IGN.

5 Things to Look For in Salem - I also interviewed the cast, executive producer, production designer, and others for Salem and talked about what to expect from the series and the characters. It's an interesting premise.

New post at Teefury: It’s Never Been a Better Time To be a Geek

My latest post for TeeFury is all about how it's a good time to be a geek because you can find t-shirts for what feels like every possible fandom. It's kinda awesome.

Read more: It’s Never Been a Better Time To be a Geek

April 18, 2014

Finding an image source - it's not that hard

In any profession, you're going to find lazy people and it's absolutely true of bloggers. So many times I see bloggers skimping on research, misspelling words, or using emoticons in what are supposed to be professional posts. We all miss stuff from time to time, but when I see sites or Facebook pages continually pulling images from the web without taking time to search for the source, I get unreasonably annoyed - mainly because it takes almost no time to run a Google search and weed out the original post.

One of the regular offenders for not giving credit for images is the Facebook page The Doctor Who Hub (formerly known as Doctor Who and the Tardis by Craig Hurle). Not too long ago, the page shared a photo of an awesome sonic screwdriver box and made it sound like it was too hard to find where it came from:
I right clicked on the image and chose "Search Google for this image" and discovered the initial post by RPF user 00failure in less than two minutes. I commented on the page to point out where the image came from, and I was surprised and kind of saddened to see that none of the other commenters (and there were many) seemed to care. It made me wonder if people realize how easy it can be to trace a picture back to its source.

The Google search is almost always the solution. It can get tricky if the search only returns results from Tumblr because Google often links to the general Tumblr account rather than a specific post, but if you search the Tumblr account or look at the archives, you can typically find the beginning of the trail before it was reblogged. The more widespread the image, the harder it is, but more often than not, I can track down the source and credit it.

Memes are the hardest to pinpoint, but again, not impossible. Sure, playing detective takes a little more time, but it's only fair to give credit (and link to it) whenever you can. Because really, it's not that hard.

April 17, 2014

Typography Geek Art Spells Out Images

Attending conventions means finding new artists and illustrations, and I often come home with a stack of business cards for creators. I get comfy with my laptop and a beverage and look through DeviantArt accounts and Etsy shops and Tumblrs and see who I need to follow and keep on my list. I came across Scott W. Smith's work at MegaCon in Orlando (I think), and though he has some cool minimalist character posters, his typography art is what made me do a double take.

He takes quotes from franchises like Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars and turns the letters and words into striking prints. They're like the fanciest word clouds ever. He not only creates symbols with the quotes, he includes characters, too. Here are a few of my favorite designs:

You can buy Smith's prints from Skahfee Studios. They're 11" x 17" and $30. Yes, they would make great gifts.

April 16, 2014

Make Tea Time More Magical With These Charming Hogwarts Tea Sets

Even though I wouldn't want to give up my morning coffee for anything, I still appreciate tea. Coffee jolts me awake and helps me start my day, but tea is a cozy and soothing hug. I enjoy the ritual of boiling water, adding just the right amount of loose leaf tea to my pot, and putting a tiny dot of honey in my cup. On a crazy day or when I'm feeling sick, it's just what I need. If the tea has a geeky name or my mug features Han Solo, all the better. That's why I think these hand-painted Hogwarts sets are to avada kedavra for.

Etsy seller Ophelia's Gypsy Caravan paints each piece by hand and uses various sources for the mugs, cups, and saucers in each set. She often adds the imagery and words from Harry Potter onto antique or vintage items which means all the sets are slightly different from each other. I adore her intepretations of the house crests and the sort of rustic look added by her handwriting. Here are a few examples of the Hogwarts sets:

Does this make anyone else want to host a costumed tea party?

Treat yourself over at Ophelia's Gypsy Caravan.

h/t Pinterest

Not One, But Two Transforming Elsa Costumes

It's been at least two days since I've posted about Frozen, and you know what that means - more Frozen! Cosplayers are apparently going to keep coming up with new ways to impress me. Remember when I posted about the Photoshopped version of an Elsa transformation costume? Well, Inside the Magic pointed out that two cosplayers who participated in the cosplay contest at MegaCon created transforming Elsa costumes. Like, they pulled off the coronation gown on stage to reveal the shimmering blue dress underneath. Look:

Transforming Elsa #1

Transforming Elsa #2

I'm impressed that there were two of them, and that they approached the same concept in different ways. Cosplayers really are the best.

Photos by Ricky Brigante.
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