I usually have two criteria while brainstorming for a costume idea. First, it has to be a character I love. I find if I don’t really love the character that I will loose steam during the process of making it. Babar was one of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid. It was so innocent and helped teach me so many valuable lessons plus I had never seen it done at a convention before. Second, I want to learn some new technique while making it. With Babar, I wanted to make a fiberglass head. In retrospect, it could have been easier to make it out of EVA foam or even paper mache but I’m glad I took the time to learn a new technique even if it took much longer.
The “skull” was built using a paper craft template by Rock Paper Scissors Masks. It took about 3 days just to construct the basic paper form. I then covered the entire mask in a couple layers of Mod Podge to make it a bit more structurally sound and to stop the fiberglass resin from dissolving the tape holding the form together. Then I put a layer of fiberglass cloth and resin on the inside of the mask and a layer of just resin on the outside. It was at this point that I learned of the importance of a good respirator, spend the money, get a good one if you value your brain cells. Once the resin dried but was a little tacky still, I covered it in a layer of automotive body filler (AKA Bondo). Once the Bondo dried, I sanded it to as smooth as I could then put another layer of Bondo on filling in the peaks and valleys. Then did that process again, and again . . . and again. It was about 1.5 months of just layering Bondo and sanding. The ears where actually built separate then attached with fiberglass cloth and more Bondo until it was seamless. After it was all perfectly smooth, I spray-painted it and took a light sandpaper to it to remove the shine from the paint. I then attached the rigging from an old construction helmet to the inside for support and used dollar store sunglass lenses glued for the eyes. (See behind the scenes here)
The response was great! I found when I wore it to the Fan Expo in Vancouver that I had a lot more people recognize Babar compared to ECCC but I always love the response I get “OMG! Babar! You were my childhood!!!”. I also tend to get more adults then kids get excited to see Babar. From kids I get “Who is the big elephant . . . ?“
Yeah, I have a couple interesting stories that have happened as Babar. The first one is when there was a woman who freaked out when she saw me and had her kids try to drag her away before she got a picture. She then got annoyed with them and yelled “No dammit! We’ve taken pictures of a million anime characters that I have no idea who they are! Babar is my childhood, it’s my turn to take a picture!!!” Another bizarre thing that I have had happen numerous times is Furries trying to Yiff me. I had to have a friend explain to me what was happening and inform me what Yiffy is !