October 31, 2014

My visit to Wizarding World's Diagon Alley

This muggle recently had a wonderful trip to the Diagon Alley expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. The additions are indeed magical, and I spent the day drooling over all the details. I truly felt like I was in another world. I took a ton of photos and wrote up my experience for Nerd Approved. Warning: it contains some fangirl squeeing.

Check it out:
Visiting Wizarding World’s Diagon Alley [Featured]

October 30, 2014

Even More Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Frozen Mash-up Art

Does the internet ever disappoint? Okay, it does. Frequently. But sometimes, it wins. People have been combining Frozen and Captain America: The Winter Soldier since last spring, and it hasn't gotten old yet. Not to me. I even noticed the pairing at Disney in Orlando last week where the Frozen ads for Once Upon a Time were cleverly placed right next to The Winter Soldier Blu-ray ads on every Disney bus I rode.

We've seen some cute mash-ups before (here and here), and this latest batch is just beautiful. Look:

There's even more by Constable over at DC Inside.

h/t MTV

October 29, 2014

This Star Wars and Frozen Dork Tower Comic Melts My Heart

Are you ready to see a combination of Olaf from Frozen and a wampa from Star Wars? Then you're in the right place because Lar Desousza made that happen in a recent guest cartoon for Dork Tower. He's re-created the scene where Anna and Kristoff meet Olaf, but with a sprinkling of the galaxy far, far away. It's charming. Just look:

I can barely handle this level of charming.

Read more Dork Tower comics by John Kovalic and be sure to visit Desousza's shop!

October 24, 2014

The Impala from Supernatural As a Dress

Supernatural is in its tenth season. Tenth! The Winchesters having been saving people and hunting things for a long time, and they've faced most of it together. Death, demons, angels, hell - you name it. Sam and Dean have been through a lot, and the Impala has gone on the journey with them. Also known as Dean's baby, the black Chevy has put on tens of thousands of miles over the years. The faithful car is a character in its own right, and I'm starting to notice more and more cosplayers coming up with Impala costumes. Casey of Wandering Windward did an amazing thing with her design - she made the Impala into cosplay couture.

She shared the sketch and some in progress pics at DeviantArt, and I'm in love. Casey covered all the details. The black dress has silver seams to represent the car's body lines, the Chevrolet logo is added in silver embroidery, and the garter will have a holster for a flask of holy water or a colt or Ruby's demon knife (so many weapon options!). The license plate number will be painted on the back shoulder.

Stunning, right?

Creative as all of that is, the pièce de résistance of the Impala dress is the top. It's a fiberglass cast of the front of the car, scaled to fit the dress. Seriously. It has the grill and the headlights. Casey sculpted it from oil clay, made a mold from silicone, and cast the piece in fiberglass. Sounds like she's resourceful enough to be a hunter.

See photos from the entire process at DeviantArt.

October 23, 2014

DIY Star Wars Rebels Chopper Trick-or-Treat Bag

As I mentioned earlier this week, I really like Chopper from Star Wars Rebels. I made a pair of Chopper shoes, and I had to craft a Chopper trick-or-treat bag. The hardest part of making this bag was cutting out all of Chopper's droid bits. The rest was cake. You could simplify the template more to make it easier, but if you can wield a X-acto knife (not my strong suit), you'll be fine.

Supplies you'll need:
- Chopper template printed on card stock, 6 inches wide (template below)
- Black tote bag
- Stiffened orange felt
- Fabric glue
- X-acto knife and cutting mat
- Pen

Print Chopper onto a piece of card stock. If you have to print him on regular paper, cut him out with a X-acto knife and trace the template onto thicker paper. Then, trace that onto a piece of stiffened orange felt. Cut Chopper from felt with a X-acto knife.

Mark where you want to place Chopper on the front of the bag, spread a thin layer of fabric glue on the back of Chopper, and press the orange felt onto the black bag. I put a heavy book on top of Chopper until the glue dried.

Take Chopper out with you when yo go trick-or-treating, just don't channel any of his grumpiness when you ask for candy!

Click to enlarge and download.

See more Star Wars trick-or-treat bag how-tos at the StarWars.com blog.

October 22, 2014

One Character, Different Costumes: Han Solo

Han Solo's costume is so stylish and cool that Lando Calrissian stole his clothes. Given that, the Star Wars character seemed like the perfect subject for this installment of One Character, Different Costumes. He has various outfits in the original trilogy, and I've seen cosplayers of both genders tackle every one of them. I've seen screen accurate costumes, femme versions, and dresses. If you're considering a Han Solo costume, looking at how other cosplayers have put the costume together might help you with your design.

My Han Solo costume from four years ago. I did a crossplay version because I couldn't find a replica vest cut to fit women and didn't (and still don't) have the sewing skills to make my own. I applied the bloodstripes with red hem tape.

Steampunk Han Solo, photo by BBQdPhotography. This cosplayer replaced Han's blaster with a saber, added goggles, and changed out the vest for a subtle and cool steampunk effect.

Rod of the Rebel Legion has the Bespin Han Solo costume. This might be my favorite look of Han's - it has the brown pants with yellow stripes and the navy blue jacket.

Han Solo dress design by Darling Army. This cute look was a design for a possible costume, and Darling Army has also made a Han Solo cosplay pinafore.

Femme Han Solo cosplayed by Emily, a.k.a. The Stylish Geek. I love this version of Han's A New Hope costume - it represents more of what I wanted to do with my Han look. Emily made the holster and buckles and put together the entire costume.

Hoth Han Solo cosplayed by Dan Hyatt. I adore this costume of Han's, and I appreciate that the cosplayer went to the trouble of dusting the jacket with fake snow. All he needs to complete the look is a tauntaun.

October 21, 2014

Beautiful Game of Thrones Animation

Season five of Game of Thrones is coming. It may seem like forever until spring and we still have to get through winter, but hopefully the time will go fast. It usually does. Until the new season arrives, you can revisit the past. Vimeo user Blackmeal  worked with Baptiste Pagani to make a positively stunning animation that summarizes seasons one through four of the HBO series.

The video captures the highlights of the first few seasons, and the art looks like it belongs in an R-rated storybook. I've watched it repeatedly.

Game Of Thrones, an animated journey - #gotseason5 is coming from BlackMeal on Vimeo.

Maybe HBO could make an animated version of the series to kill time until George R.R. Martin finishes the books!

h/t io9

October 20, 2014

Hand-Painted Star Wars Rebels Chopper Shoes

I've only seen about an hour and a half of Star Wars Rebels, but I already feel strongly about the story and the characters. It has a certain spirit that grabs me and the story is told in such a way that I feel like I'm part of the team - like I'm helping the Rebel Alliance form just by cheering on the crew of Ghost. The show definitely captures the tone of Star Wars by mixing humor with darkness and by showing hope in the face of what seems like an impossible situation. You can read my recaps of each episode over at Nerdist, but before I get too sidetracked with compliments for the series, I want to call out my favorite new droid: C1-10P, a.k.a. Chopper.

Chopper was described as a somewhat grumpy droid from the beginning. Executive producer Dave Filoni said that if R2-D2 is the family dog, Chopper is the family cat. He'll help but only reluctantly, and he's not afraid to talk back or complain. I adore him. The way he waves his arms around with frustration and annoyance absolutely kills me. He's instantly lovable, and I can't wait until I can purchase all the Chopper toys. I'm sure Chopper merchandise will be available soon but until then, I had to paint a pair of shoes to show my love for Chopper:

All it took to make Chopper shoes was white canvas slip-ons, a black Sharpie, and acrylic paint in yellow, orange, black, and silver. Oh, and lots of masking tape. I used the same process as I did on my R2-D2 Toms (how-to here) and the hardest part was waiting for the paint to dry between layers. The design might look better on a pair of Toms but these cheap slip-ons are a fine start. I might go back and paint the edges of the soles orange.

I've already introduced my Chopper shoes to my R2-D2 shoes, and I'm sure they'll cause trouble together when they're not being worn:

I promise to act extra sassy whenever I wear my Chopper shoes.

October 17, 2014

Kevin Smith Talks About His Episode VII Set Visit on the Latest Episode of The Comlink

It's Friday, and that means it's time for a new episode of The Comlink. If you missed my announcement last week, The Comlink is a weekly show with Star Wars news, interviews with special guests, and more. It's essentially a video podcast. Cool, right? My involvement is writing the news and doing social media.

Anyway, this week's special guests are Kevin Smith and Adrianne Curry. Adrianne hits the streets of Hollywood to ask Star Wars fans some fun questions, and Kevin discusses his visit to the set of Star Wars: Episode VII. Guys, listening to him explain what he saw gave me goose bumps. And I'm not just saying that because I work on the show. Watch:

Keep an eye out for the extended interview later this weekend.

Speaking of, in case you missed it, we also released the full thirty minute interview with James Arnold Taylor last week:

May the Force be with you!

October 16, 2014

Warwick Davis Will Be in Star Wars; Episode VII

When it comes to Star Wars: Episode VII, I am trying to stay spoiler-free. I'm okay with casting announcements and plot points that are officially revealed - like the presence of the Millennium Falcon and the design of the X-wing - but when I hear the word "leaked" I try to look the other way. It's not always possible because my job means I have to write about news related to the film, but sometimes I get lucky and can avoid things - like the concept art that made the rounds on the internet yesterday.

Anyway! As mentioned, I don't avoid casting news, and a nice nugget dropped today: Warwick Davis will appear in Episode VII. The official Star Wars YouTube account posted the following video, titled "Will Warwick Davis Appear in Star Wars: Episode VII?"

I look forward to learning what role Warwick Davis is playing in the upcoming movie (he's been Wicket W. Warrick and W. Wald/Weazel in Episodes VI and I so far), but mostly, I find the approach to this announcement interesting. It's more fun than a standard press release.

h/t /Film

October 14, 2014

This LEGO Indiana Jones Diorama Belongs in a Museum

Indiana Jones has gone on plenty of adventures in his four films. He's faced dangers like snakes (why did it have to be snakes?), rope bridges, booby traps, car chases... you name it. LEGO builder Michał Kaźmierczak, a.k.a. Migalart, took some cues from the existing movies and built a massive LEGO diorama that depicts an original Indiana Jones adventure. The huge creation - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Kings - features the desert, the jungle, spiders, walls covered in hieroglyphics, caves, and water.

Whew. Indy's going to have to go through a lot to find the treasure - probably as much work as Migalart put into building this insane model. He doesn't list the amount of time he spent working on this diorama or the number of bricks used, but I'm guessing there are several thousand pieces.

This image tells the tale (click to enlarge):

More photos of the diorama:

See more pics of the build at Migalart's Flickr page.

October 10, 2014

Introducing The Comlink

Ready for some exciting Star Wars-related news? Of course you are. A new video podcast called The Comlink premiered today!! It's a weekly show that features Star Wars news, interviews with special guests, and so much more and it airs on Kevin Smith's YouTube channel. And, I'm in involved - just a little bit.

I'd be excited about this anyway, I promise. As a Star Wars fan, I can't believe a Star Wars show like this doesn't already exist. But since I am involved (I write the news and run the social media), I am extra excited. The show is produced by J.C. Reifenberg, David Collins, and Ruark Dreher. David Collins hosts, and the first guest is none other than James Arnold Taylor, the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Check it out:

Subscribe to the YouTube channel or follow along on social media to keep apprised of new shows (they're coming every Friday!) and to get links to extended interviews. We have lots of awesome guests coming up!

Facebook: The Comlink
Twitter: @the_comlink
Instagram: @the_comlink

October 9, 2014

These Armor Arm Warmers Win Everything

When I start to feel a chill in the air or the bite of overly aggressive air conditioning, I reach for my favorite warm accessory: arm warmers. There's just something about wearing arm warmers and fingerless gloves. They're cozy, they keep my poor always-freezing hands toasty, and they make my overall body temperature more comfortable. I own a handful of styles, the most recently purchased being a set of Ravenclaw ones from Sock Dreams. I basically lost it when I saw these fabulous knit arm warmers covered in scale mail:

My first thought was, "Wow, these would look great with my renfaire garb." My second thought was, "Wow, these would look awesome with anything/everything I own." They're shiny and pretty and appear warm and badass. The bad news? These actual arm warmers aren't for sale. If you know how to knit though, you can get the pattern from the designer CraftyMutt. I am in love.

You can buy the pattern to make a set of your own over at Ravelry.
And actually, you can buy different but equally rad scale mail arm warmers at Etsy.

h/t Cheezburger

October 8, 2014

One Character, Different Costumes: Castiel

Season ten of Supernatural premiered last night, and I've got the Winchesters on the brain. I see Sam and Dean cosplayed at every convention I attend, and those cosplayers are almost always accompanied by a Castiel. The trench coat and navy blue tie are standard, and sometimes there are impressive angel wings. It's pretty simple to throw a version of Castiel's uniform together with a trip to your closet or to a thrift store, and if you need some inspiration, I've rounded up several versions of the Cas look for this week's installment of "one character, different costumes."

Photographed by Geek Girl Diva, this Castiel was at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Her impressive wings were attached to a pulley system so that she could retract them - it probably made getting through the crowds easier.

Cosplayed by The Naitsyrk, this is one of the few male Castiel costumes I've seen. He even went to the trouble of getting his hair cut to match the angel's, and he's wielding a wicked angel blade.

Cosplayed by MissArisugawa and photographed by KralikSetite, I like this casual version of Castiel's outfit. Castiel Lite, if you will. She's wearing a navy blue scarf instead of a tie and her tights feature angel wings.

Cosplayed by Becki, this version of Castiel in a mental patient's outfit is a callback to season seven. She did a great job with the makeup and beard stubble.

DeviantArt Shanea's daughter loves Castiel and dressed like him for Halloween last year. She looks scary, and reminds me that I don't see bloody and beat-up Castiels often. It's a good way to change up the costume.

Designer Casey/WanderingWindward was commissioned by a customer to build a "badass steampunk pirate version of Castiel." I'd say she pretty much nailed it, and I love this take on Cas' trench coat ensemble.

October 7, 2014

Watch the Pike and Trident Pilot

Like humor, sword fights, and awesome women? Then the Pike and Trident web series is right up your alley. Starring Patty Jean Robinson and Kim Turney, the web series is about: "The adventure story of two museum curators in the year 3535. They screw up an exhibit and have to time travel to prevent an epic historical disaster!"

Yes, that is awesome, and the pilot is available on YouTube:

October 6, 2014

Star Wars Toy Documentary Recently Released

One of the most incredible things about Star Wars is that it has remained popular and at the forefront of pop culture for over 35 years. That level of lasting power blows my mind. While much of it is to do with the characters, the story, and the awesome ships and weapons in the galaxy far, far away, a significant part of the saga's popularity is because of toys. Merchandising changed with the release of Star Wars, and Kenner's action figures meant kids everywhere could make their own Star Wars stories at home. The impact of toys upon the Star Wars franchise deserves a book  or several or a documentary like Plastic Galaxy:

Plastic Galaxy is available to rent or buy on Vimeo and according to the synopsis, it "explores the groundbreaking and breathtaking world of Star Wars toys. Through interviews with former Kenner employees, experts, authors, and collectors, it looks at the toys’ history, their influence, and the fond and fervent feelings they elicit today."

I like the sound of that.

The trailer:

While we're on the subject of Star Wars and toys: I joined the gang at Full of Sith over the weekend and we talked about, you guessed it, Star Wars toys! We reminisced, talk a little about our collection, our favorite toys, and more. You can listen right over here.

Tell me about your history with Star Wars toys!

h/t /Film

October 3, 2014

Giveaway: Star Wars Rebels Propaganda Posters

The premiere of Star Wars Rebels is finally here! The new animated series begins with an hour long movie, "Spark of Rebellion," tonight on the Disney Channel and picks up again on October 13th. I caught a screening at San Diego Comic-Con and think the show has a lot of heart and a lot of potential.

While I was at that screening, I received a classy black envelope filled with six propaganda posters that support the Empire. I'm a rebel through and through, but I can't deny the art by Amy Beth Christenson is completely gorgeous. Luckily for you, I'd already received a set of the posters from Lucasfilm back in February. To celebrate the premiere of Star Wars Rebels, I'm giving the second set away. Here's one of the images and you can see the rest at Nerd Approved:

Oh! And I recorded a quick video when I received the first set. You can see it on Instagram.

How can you win? Follow the Rafflecopter guide and enter by next Friday, October 10th, at 11:59pm PST. I'll contact the winner through Rafflecopter and notify the winner in the comments. If you don't want to use Rafflecopter, just leave a comment for a single entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Good luck and may the Force be with you!

October 1, 2014

5 Best Episodes of Gilmore Girls

Where you lead I will follow, and tomorrow I will stalk you right to Netflix because all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls will be available on their streaming service as of October 1st. Lorelai Gilmore would undoubtedly have many clever things to say about this news and she would recite her witticisms at lightning fast speed. The snappy dialogue is just one of many reasons to devour Gilmore Girls. The show centers on a mother and daughter, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, and their eventful life in the sleepy but quirky New England town of Stars Hollow.

The small village is the kind of place you fervently wish existed in real life. Okay, maybe I just fervently wish that. I want to wander down a Main Street and get a delicious cup of coffee from a curmudgeonly waiter, take a stroll past the gazebo and talk with Miss Patty, visit Al's Pancake World and sample the vast variety of cuisines, and stop in a store that only sells cat-themed items. Maybe I can have an encounter with the local version of Kirk along the way. Is that so much to ask?

Until I can find an actual Stars Hollow to explore, I'll continue to delight in the one presented in Gilmore Girls. The town is a character, and it's one of many fascinating ones. Lorelai and Rory's relationships with each other and those around them is the bedrock of the series, and it's by turns heartwarming, hilarious, sad, and sassy. I've watched my DVDs over and over again, and I guarantee I'll be streaming some Gilmore Girls on my iPad while I work. I couldn't resist an opportunity to write about the series, so here are my picks for five must-watch episodes (spoilers ahead):

“Raincoats and Recipes”
The fourth season finale is sort of like a highlights reel containing all the best things Gilmore Girls is about. Lorelai's dream culminates as she and Sookie open the Dragonfly Inn with a test-run weekend. Emotions run high as friends and family check into not-quite finished rooms. Emily and Richard are fighting, Lorelai is trying to manipulate them, Rory makes a heartbreaking and surprising decision, Kirk is freaking hilarious as he suffers from his night terrors, the local color is exceptionally colorful, and then there's the matter of Luke and Lorelai's kiss.

Best quote: "But maybe he didn't mean it as a date thing. Maybe he just needed to get out of the house. And since I'm currently one of the women sitting home, thinking 'if I could only find a man like Aragorn,' he picked me." - Lorelai

"We've Got Magic to Do"
While I don't like the period after Rory quit Yale, this sixth season episode has a few scenes I'll never forget. It's another example of Rory living a life that could have easily been Lorelai's, and she excels at it. Overachiever attitudes are nearly impossible to kick to the curb. Richard and Emily both get memorable moments in this episode. When Emily's vicious tongue is on your side, it's a valuable weapon. I loved how she took down Shira Huntzberger, and I admire that Richard did the same with Mitchum and also finally realized he was wrong to let Rory quit school.

Best quote: "Now let's talk about your money. You were a two-bit gold-digger fresh off the bus from Hicksville when you met Mitchum at whatever bar you happened to stumble into. And what made Mitchum decide to chose you to marry amongst the pack of women he was bedding at the time I'll never know. But hats off to you for bagging him. He's still a playboy you know. Well of course you know! That would explain why your weight goes up and down thirty pounds every other month. But that's your cross to bear. But these are ugly realities, no one needs to talk about them. Those kids are staying together for as long as they like. You won't stop them... Now enjoy the event!" - Emily

"The Road Trip to Harvard"
Lorelai calls off her wedding to Max at almost the last possible minute in this second season episode and enlists Rory in a road trip. The event showcases their mother-daughter-best friend relationship at its finest as they head off with no direction in mind and end up at Harvard and also an over the top bed and breakfast. I loved seeing the personality similarities and differences on display in this ep, and it's usually near the top of my list if I'm re-watching the series out of order.

Best quote: "We're not gonna have this fight in a flowery bedroom with dentists singing "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" in the background. It's too David Lynch!" - Lorelai

"The Bracebridge Dinner"
I'm a sucker for themes and that applies to sitcom television. The medieval/renaissance faire-esque dinner at the Independence Inn is a complete winner not only for the humor and gags but also because of a change in Richard and Emily's relationship. He's quit his job and struggles with how to tell Emily;when he does break the news, she handles it with surprising grace.

Best quote: Lorelai: People have too many things.
Rory: Says the woman with 64 pairs of shoes.
Lorelai: Thus proving my point.

"They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?"
Being a teenager is hard but because Rory is so precocious, it's hard to remember she's only a kid. It hits home in episodes like this one from the third season as she is pulled between her feelings for her first boyfriend Dean and the resident bad boy Jess. The struggle comes to a head as Lorelai and Rory try to win the annual Stars Hollow dance marathon (because of course they are – Stars Hollow has the best kinds of gatherings) and I will always cry during the scene when Rory sort of falls into Lorelai's arms in tears towards the end. Sniffle.

Best quote: Taylor: You would kick Tiny Tim's crutches right from underneath him wouldn't you?
Luke: If he asked for a free cup of coffee, gimpy's going down.

Tell me about your favorite episodes!
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