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"You look terrible." "Uhh... thanks?" - Tactical Ninja

Aug. 7th, 2013

09:30 am - "You look terrible." "Uhh... thanks?"

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Today I am back at work. The jury is still out on whether I should be. At 3 o'clock this morning I was thinking that instead I'd be going to the doctor with a suspected sinus infection, but I seem to have won that battle. As soon as the shops open I'll be off to the pharmacy to grab whatever passes for pseudoephedrine these days* and hopefully after that I'll be sorted. Meanwhile, I tried taking the stairs up to my office the way I normally do, and by the time I got to the top I was embarrassingly out of breath. But I'm here. Bleh.

* Our government thought it could stop the manufacture of P (crystal meth) by banning pseudoephedrine. Naturally this didn't work, but it now means that sick people can't get the one thing that really works to alleviate cold symptoms. Awesome. Yes, our drug policy creators are not very smart. You may have noticed.


I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere with this project now. Pretty much all of the stages are past half way. I've sewn the mail onto the front of the tabard and started on the back (one row). It won't look finished until I've sewn the backing on, but you can see how it's going to look:



I've also finished attaching the fastenings to the jacket. All that needs is for the little cover/concho things on the ends of the leather strap that holds it closed to get a coat of silver paint and a spot of weathering, and the two leather straps around the arms attaching, and it's done. Like as in, actually done. Well, except for the hood. But still, done!

And probably the thing that makes me feel most like progress is being made, is that yesterday I did the first test coating on the armour. I've been gesso-ing and sanding like someone who actually enjoys gesso-ing and sanding, but I haven't been posting pics because "Oh look, another coat of white yay!" is not all that interesting to look at. But finally, it's at the point where I think it's primed and smooth enough. I prefer to leave some imperfections because things that are hand made with a hammer would contain imperfections. I wanted to try coating it with this stuff called Rub 'n' Buff, which is a wax type coating rather than a paint.

Most armour painting tutorials say spraying is the best method, but I'm really not set up for spraypainting what with lacking a shed and all. Last time we tried doing it at home, a lot more got painted than the item. I'm not up for a repeat of that, so was looking for other options and this stuff comes highly recommended. So first I tested it on a piece of Wonderflex:



The bit on the right is the colour pewter, and the one on the left is silver.I decided I preferred the silver, and the next step which you can see on the left was adding some paint to see how it would work over the top of a wax. Because just coating in silver isn't good enough, the item has to be weathered to look realistic. I was rapt to see that my wash of graphite took so well on the Rub 'n' Buff base. Then on to a piece of armour. It's always a bit nerve-wracking, this part. I don't consider myself to be a particularly talented painter, and if I balls it up it can be hard to fix. So I picked one of the bits that'll be mostly covered, down near the bottom of my thigh when I'm wearing it:



I'm looking for critical opinions here. I tried to photograph it in natural light, but that late in the day it's a bit difficult to get an accurate picture. This piece has been coated with Rub 'n' Buff, then given a wash of graphite to begin the weathering. Graphite is a dark silver type colour, and is also reflective. It's brilliant for making a silver coating look older, but it catches the light so doesn't represent dirt in the corners very well. For that I'll have to use a matt colour like umber/black. Anyway, I'm reasonably satisfied but before I fire ahead and paint the rest of them, I'd love to hear what you think. Does it look like metal that's been out in the weather for a while? How could I make it more realistic? And to pre-empt those who are geeky about metal and would ask me all sorts of hard questions about alloys and shear forces and such (not looking at anybody in particular), it's supposed to be steel. Probably mild steel. And in the reference pic it's quite dull:



So I'm wondering if it's perhaps too shiny right now and needs a wash of something matt. It does almost exactly match the colour of the mail scales (which are galvanised), and also the blade of my mild steel skinning knife which is fairly old but not rusty. Hmm...

I have also added dubbin to the greaves, which makes them much darker and they match the boots perfectly now. *stoked* I'm under no illusion that there's still a lot of work to do, but it really does feel like I'm past the half way point. And meanwhile, the YoT's friend, who cosplays with his Dad reasonably regularly, has given it his stamp of approval. Yay! ;-)


I have been a bad LJ friend. I confess I have not been backscrolling the last few days and I have missed a lot of posts. Sorry about that. At this point it's probably too much for me to catch up, but I will try to be more present now that I'm stuck in front of a computer all day again.

In other news, the other day a couple of my friends were talking about items of my Mum's that they now have and how they make them think of her. rivet described her as 'fierce'. I think it would make her very happy to know that this is how my friends thought of her. ;-)

Comments:

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From:pombagira
Date:August 6th, 2013 09:42 pm (UTC)
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the shiny silver greaves thing..i reccon currently it looks like a used but well cared for piece of equipment.. make sense? and to my mind it would make sense for an army person of that type to take good care of there equipment like that cause 1 expensive and hard to replace, and 2 live saving... *nods*

am looking forward to seeing what it looks like when finished.


also i am at work today.. albeit a tad dizy, but i had some of the good cold and flu pills, alas there is a lack of pretty lights so not as much fun *coughs*

umm.. yes turtles

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From:tatjna
Date:August 6th, 2013 09:48 pm (UTC)
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Finished, it will hopefully look a bit grubbier but still well cared for. Because of all the reasons you stated. It'll possibly be less shiny too.

Also, I just read an article about DA:I and you will get ponies in it. OMG OMG OMG

Right, off to find these good cold pills now..
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From:pombagira
Date:August 6th, 2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
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just be careful with the phenaleffadrine stuff cause it makes me really dizzy.. and not in the fun way..other than that it does nada.. *pouts*

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From:pickleboot
Date:August 7th, 2013 06:03 am (UTC)
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as a metal/silver smith i am impressed with your maile skills! i love making maile and have been told i ought to start making it to order when we move.

a thought on your silver toned armour- when any metal like that is banged around it gets both shiny and matte simply by where it rubs. so where two pieces of metal hit together? shiny. where random other things like cloth and other heavy things hit? could go any way- just think about what material is where. cloth is going to shine, a heavy metal is going to, oddly, make it matte.

pm me for more info. i love talking about this.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 7th, 2013 09:08 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! I have been thinking about these ideas and will apply them to my weathering paintwork. It's .. interesting trying to represent something by addition of paint, that would normally happen by removal of oxidation.

I've tried to start with a layer of shiny silver so that if paint wears off, it'll expose the shiny underneath. That's the theory, anyway!

I would love to see some of your work! This is the first time I've tried to do anything like this and I take my hat off to people who do it more ambitiously..
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From:meathiel
Date:August 7th, 2013 07:02 am (UTC)
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What f*** is that about banning stuff that goes in cold meds? Ugh ...
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From:tatjna
Date:August 7th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
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Apparently because they work, and that means people might misuse them, and we can't risk that. Never mind that 98% of the population just wants to be able to bloody breathe.. ;-/
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:August 8th, 2013 10:06 pm (UTC)
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I think your armour paint job is fabulous. It looks just like what they're trying to get at in the art, I think.

One tip I have is to also take a picture of your costume pieces with a flash in crummy lighting, since that's how most pictures of you wearing it at a Con or something will be taken :-)
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From:tatjna
Date:August 8th, 2013 10:08 pm (UTC)
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Hahaha good point!

Also, I have that covered I think. The lighting in our lounge is shite, and all my photos are taken with my phone, with.. umm.. varying results.

I'm pretty sure I'm about 80% there! Eeeeeee!

Also, a plot is hatching to travel to a con somewhere Overseas next year. Canada is high on the list. Recs would be awesome.
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:August 9th, 2013 07:31 am (UTC)
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Oooo! That is a fun plan!

One of the problems with conventions in Canada is that they are either successful and follow the "ComicCon" model (daytime events primarily, in a convention centre, built around exhibitor halls where things are bought and sold, including massive celebrity autographs and massive lines for everything) or they are unsuccessful, poorly attended and follow the more old-timey "DragonCon" model (non-stop fandom gathering, in a hotel, built around fan-run panels, partying and the occasional celebrity).

The *biggest* convention in Canada is Fan Expo in Toronto. I've never been, but it follows the ComicCon model and is so popular the Fire Marshall has occasionally shut it down (about 90,000 people attend). Toronto itself is not a bad place to visit - big multicultural city. As a Calgarian I'm not supposed to like Toronto but in my secret heart I know it can be a fun place to spend some time.

Vancouver has a Fan Expo too, run by the same guys I think, and it's climbing up to 20,000 in attendance. That's a good number, but not too big. Vancouver itself is beautiful and the West Coast is one of the nicest places in the country to visit. I like it much better than Toronto, and not just because I'm Calgarian and have to say that. I haven't been to this one either (but I would like to - I have good fandom friends in Vancouver and it would be a lot of fun to do this with them).

My own Calgary Expo is also run on the ComicCon model, but independently of the Fan Expo people. It's bigger than Vancouver - I think we hit around 60,000 last year. Occasionally the Fire Marshall shuts it down too. I've always worked behind the scenes of this Con, so I don't really know what it's like to attend it (most people I talk to say it's kinda frustrating to go to). Calgary is a good place to visit - the Rockies are nearby and the Stampede in July is good Western fun.

Edmonton Expo is run by the Calgary team and it just started last year. I went to it and actually got to play and have fun like a regular attendee. It was in a golden moment of having about 12,000 people there - you didn't have to wait in lines, you could hang out and meet people easily, but it was still well-attended enough to feel like a decent event. Calgary's attendance grows exponentially though, so this one might take off too. There are problems with recommending Edmonton as a stop on your overseas trip - it's just not that noteworthy. Edmonton is where Dr Smith grew up so I've been there a lot and know some cool places to go, but I can't think of a reason someone would travel overseas to see Edmonton :-)

Continued next post.
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:August 9th, 2013 07:31 am (UTC)
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In the old days, Calgary used to have a small but lively fan-run convention and that's where I met most of my current social circle. We'd dress up, dance and drink and hang out talking all night in the hotel. That con died, like so many of them have, and that element of socializing is missing from the new conventions.

The one convention built on that friendly model that has survived and thrived is DragonCon in Atlanta. However it has thrived a little too much and there's about 60,000 people crammed into the 5 host hotels. Yup, Fire Marshall sometimes shuts it down too. I still go to DragonCon - it's the Con I go to the most, but there's a lot about DC that isn't fun anymore. Atlanta is also not the first place I'd recommend going as a tourist, even though I've come to love my annual trips to the South. Someday I'd like to see some of the prettier or more historic places in Georgia.

I've heard rumours from friends that the Con most likely to take up DragonCon's mantle - that it's fun, social and still small enough to enjoy - is in Nashville, Tennessee (GeekMediaExpo aka GMX), a place I have never been to either.

I'd take one of two approaches: either chose a "destination convention" like DragonCon or one of the massive ComicCon/Expos (they happen all over the States) OR after picking which places you want to visit on their own merits first, see if they have any local conventions. Sometimes the smaller ones, especially with specific interests, turn out to be the most fun. One of the best cons I ever went to was a Harry Potter specific one with about 2,000 people - SO much fun, and I'm not a super-huge HP fan (well, fan enough to have costumes and hold my own, but still).

And finally, places I love in Canada that you should visit, with the understanding of course that the country is MASSIVE and distances are vast:
- Vancouver, Victoria, West Coast
- Calgary and the Rockies
- Quebec
- and I haven't been there, but if I were a tourist, I'd want to see the True North (maybe Whitehorse in the Yukon? Some of the amazing National Parks up there?)
- I've been to Prince Edward Island (sweet!) but there's so much more of the Maritimes and Newfoundland I'd like to visit one day.

Essay complete.
Edited. *headdesk* I always got Yellowknife and Whitehorse confused in school too. It's a mental block of mine. But I mean Whitehorse!

Edited at 2013-08-09 07:36 am (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:August 9th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
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Gosh. That is a lot to absorb. A couple of things:

1. You can guarantee that any con in Canada is going to be bigger than anything we have here. The one I went to in Wellington was of the "Dragon Con" model in a hotel, and had maybe 150 attendees. We just don't have the population for tens of thousands.

2. I mostly want to go to Canada rather than the US because I haven't been there and also because I seem to be collecting a small group of friends/acquaintances who do cosplay and also live in Canada. I realise this is no guarantee of having 'people' at an event, what with Canada being a big place, but the cosplay thing definitely increases the chances! And for me, it'd be at least partly social.

3. I'd like a place where I'd meet lost of other DA fans who aren't phased by the fact that I'm in my 40s and from a backwater country that everyone thinks is full of Hobbits and sheep, yet still dressing up as fantasy characters for fun.

Another person mentioned Dragon Con to me - but Atlanta's in the US isn't it?

I guess what I'd like to do is find a destination type con to attend and build a trip around that. It'd be quite neat to time it just before the release of DA:I because that'd be exciting. I think I'd be more interested in the DC style event rather than a more commercially-oriented one, but beggars can't be choosers ultimately, so I'm most likely to choose one that other like-minded folks recommend. ;-)
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:August 9th, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
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1. You can guarantee that any con in Canada is going to be bigger than anything we have here. The one I went to in Wellington was of the "Dragon Con" model in a hotel, and had maybe 150 attendees. We just don't have the population for tens of thousands.

Not necessarily - when the old-fashioned Calgary SF Con was in its last years it was struggling to pull 150 attendees, even the "World SF Con" (old-fashioned model) which moves around from city to city in the US only attracts about 4000, so you might run into some tiny old-fashioned cons in Canadian cities.

Writing that inspired to see if Vancouver's old-fashioned fan-run convention (V-CON) is still going, and indeed it is! But I bet attendance is in the hundred rather than the thousands. It's only the Expo/ComicCon models that have taken off like mad.

But yeah, there's no question that North America is the hotbed of the SF/fantasy/gaming/anime/geeky con.

2. I mostly want to go to Canada rather than the US because I haven't been there and also because I seem to be collecting a small group of friends/acquaintances who do cosplay and also live in Canada. I realise this is no guarantee of having 'people' at an event, what with Canada being a big place, but the cosplay thing definitely increases the chances! And for me, it'd be at least partly social.

And Canada is nicer than the US ;-)

But keep in mind that for a lot of Canadians it's much easier and cheaper to travel south to the US than across Canada. From Calgary, I am much more likely to go to a convention in California (way cheaper and faster to get to) than Toronto, and forget about going anywhere further east. It's cheaper & faster for me to fly to *Florida* than to the Canadian Maritimes. For those in central Canada (like Toronto) it's again easier for them to go to the huge US eastern seaboard (Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, etc) than to come west to Calgary or Vancouver. And so forth.

So the location of your Canadian cosplayers will made a big difference to which conventions they go to, and lots of the cons in easy striking range of them may well be in the States.

--
Really? I ran out of space again??
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:August 9th, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
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3. I'd like a place where I'd meet lots of other DA fans who aren't phased by the fact that I'm in my 40s and from a backwater country that everyone thinks is full of Hobbits and sheep, yet still dressing up as fantasy characters for fun.

We are in the same boat! Sometimes I end up hanging out with much younger fans (like when I went to Edmonton) and other times I stick with my 30-50ish circle.

Costuming is an incredible social lubricant - by dressing up you proclaim your interest in making friends who have the same fandom (or interest in making stuff or usually both), and your nationality will be an exotic elixir, (although you will have to endure questions about LOTR, I'm sure!).

Re: Bioware.
It would be awesome to find a good big convention just before DA:I is released, maybe one where they do final big reveals, etc. Big reveals tend to be done at the biggest of the Expos, and ones with a particular gaming focus are the "PAX" conventions (Seattle, US - but very very close to Vancouver, and you could tie it in with a Vancouver/West Coast visit, and they also do ones in Boston and Melbourne) and the Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka E3) in Los Angeles.

Bioware's Canadian bases are in Edmonton and Montreal, so at the last Edmonton ComicExpo there was a fantastic Bioware presence (tonnes of the writers, developers, etc were there) and you didn't have to line up for hours to get in to see them, and they might personally come up to you and fan over your costume (like Patrick Weekes did over my Tali!)

Snooping around on Bioware blogs and staff twitters could give you a heads up for where they intend to have a presence.

Re: Atlanta. Very much in the US, it's in Georgia in the Deep South (yet still easier for me to get to than my own east coast - Atlanta is a hub for some of the big US airlines). DragonCon is like this pilgrimage all the North American geeks do.

Having said all this, unless most of the Canadians you are aiming to connect with are in Toronto or Montreal, I'd suggest Vancouver with considerations to what's going on in Seattle/Calgary/Edmonton since those are all either driving distance (Seattle, although you have to cross the border) or easy enough 2 hr flights (Calgary & Edmonton) from Vancouver.

I love travel planning!
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:August 9th, 2013 10:20 pm (UTC)
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Resisting the urge to edit all my typos in order to spare your inbox.

But I just thought of something - Bioware might actually be one reason to recommend Edmonton to an overseas visitor, at least to an overseas visitor such as yourself with excellent taste in video games.

I probably shouldn't offer since I'm not the one with the connection... *but* within the local Mass Effect costuming circle there's a 2 degree connection with Bioware employees, and my friends have gone on tours of Bioware and said there's a possibility of future visits as well. A Kiwi visitor might be an excellent excuse to look into doing it.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 10th, 2013 05:17 am (UTC)
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So when you say a 2 hour flight, in NZ a 2 hour flight is the entire length of the country and would take about 16 hours to drive, which isn't considered an easy drive. So I'm just wondering about the Canadian concept of distance compared with the kiwi one.. ;-)

Also, you are one of the Canadians I'd be keen to connect with, for obvious reasons. And for me, the West Coast would be cheaper to fly to than the east, because it's closer even though it's still quite a hike across the Pacific diagonally. So yeah, I'd be investigating those kinds of options. The potential chance of checking out Bioware is a big draw for Edmonton too. And the fact that another cosplayer I share interests with is in Edmonton.

And I am currently in touch with them about the staffs anyway, so you know, I could be all flattery fangirly look at my costumey and maybe they'd feel sorry for me and be nice to me. ;-) I could totally make a Mass Effect costume if I had to..
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:August 12th, 2013 04:20 pm (UTC)
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So I'm just wondering about the Canadian concept of distance compared with the kiwi one.. ;-)

Yeah. To give you an idea of those two "relatively close" Canadian cities, Calgary and Vancouver are almost 1000 km apart and it takes over 10 hrs to drive between them, crossing at least 3 major mountain ranges. Edmonton and Calgary - considered pretty close - are 300 km apart. Calgary and Toronto are 3400 km.

Vancouver and Seattle really are closer than any of those comparisons, being just over 200 km apart.

I went to a Calgary Expo wrap-up/thank-you dinner over the weekend for some of the organizers and it made me feel all proud of our Con. Since I don't get to see the panels or anything, it was brilliant to see the highlight reel - it looks like people really had fun at our show! And we're poised to break into the top 5 Cons in North America by attendance this year. So I think it counts as a destination Con now :-)

Yay! I didn't want to presume that the Canadians you wanted to meet up with included me - but it would be excellent to meet you and introduce you to friendly Canadian geeks. You would be so welcome!

I've been wanting to do a DA costume for awhile now, but am waiting for DA:I to come out with character designs first, since I'd like to make one for the new game. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a new Flemeth costume, since I wouldn't mind putting my maturity to work for me.

Going with the idea of visiting western Canada, this might help with your planning:

Vancouver
- VCON tends to take place in early October
- FanExpo Vancouver late April

Seattle
-PAX (this would need a lot of pre-planning, I'm sure it sells out early) goes over the last weekend of August into September.
- Emerald City ComicCon end of April
- NorwesCon (old fashioned hotel based con) end of April

Spring (April-May) and later summer (end of August) are both very nice times to visit the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver/Seattle). The October convention would be a bit cooler and rainier, but this part of Canada has the friendliest climate year-round.

On to the Prairies:

- Calgary Expo end of April
- Edmonton Expo end of September

Honestly these are not the best times of the year to visit the Prairies, but that's why they are held at those times - the convention space is cheap and they aren't competing with outdoor activities/holidays.

April is not really spring - it's more an ugly brown muddy and/or dusty (depending on whether it's rained or snowed or been windy and dry...) tail end of winter. Wil Wheaton comments on how he's never seen Calgary with leaves on the trees and it looks like a nuclear wasteland (he's even been here as late in the spring as May). Even actual winter would be nicer with more to do.

End of September is the beginning of autumn and has the potential to be one of the prettiest times of year here, with all the poplar trees turned yellow, sunny days and cool nights. Unless it decides to snow a bit early or blow all the leaves away.

If I had to chose one of those two I'd pick end of September. And for either of those periods, if you want to tour the Pacific coast side as well, they would be nice times of year to do that.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 12th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
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Heh, yeah, I was eyeballing the new Morrigan outfit in the trailer because she's matured a bit too and it looks as though it won't be hypothermia-inducing like the last one was - but they cunningly didn't give you much to go on. ;-/

Also, I'm gambling that the Wardens are up to something and will figure a bit more in the chaos of DA:I than they did in DA2 - and that their uniform will remain relevant for the next game too. Otherwise I'll be all *muttermutter*. Meanwhile, I've been contemplating making a ME costume, but can't work out who I'd like to be that hasn't already been done to death.

Gosh, maybe I could step outside the Bioware universe...

Right then. For me, the best time to leave the country is either July or September, which is mid to late winter here. Most of my costumes are designed to be worn in fairly cool conditions, so later in the year's probably better from what you describe too. Which makes September the optimum time to visit from that perspective, which kind of makes Edmonton Expo the likeliest destination, with I guess a chance of staying into early October and doing VCON as well.

And with Calgary and Vancouver being relatively close, it sounds like a viable option to do this.

Hmm... *plots and schemes*

Thank you so much for your mine of information!
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From:tatjna
Date:August 12th, 2013 11:27 pm (UTC)
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Aaand they've given us another tease of her outfit here - but still not enough to do much with.

Meanwhile, I note that it resembles a cross between her own look and Flemeth's update in DA2 - which ties in beautifully with my own theories about what's up with those two. lalalala
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From:pundigrion
Date:August 10th, 2013 03:48 am (UTC)
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I know quite a few folks who go to the FanExpo in Toronto! Not as big as the US ones, but still a rollicking good time from the sound of it.
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