Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Chest Lights!

El-iot.  El-iot?  Ouch.  Ouuuccchh.

No, not those chest lights.

As any fan of Babylon 5 and Vorlons in general will know, every encounter suit comes with a massive medallion that hangs in front of their chest and sparkles when they utter their fortune cookie dialogue.  Depsite already having a "working" eye in the helmet, I wanted to replicate this effect, too.

Thankfully this one was fairly easy to do.  All I needed was a bit of cardboard, some fabric, and some fairy lights.  Simples.

Kosh - he's a silver-tongued devil.  Well.

I started by cutting a piece stiff cardboard into the right shape (which of course I did purely by eye).  I then covered it in foil - the idea being that this would reflect the lights that I was going to attach, and hopefully make it brighter and a little more generally sparkly.

Sparkly tongue!

I then simply attached the fairy lights to the board, in a pattern that wasn't too symmetrical or ordered.  This seemed to be important to me.  The lights themselves, like the eye lights, were only a few quid - although this time from John Lewis.  These ones also had the bonus of having different "twinkle" settings - which was what I wanted in order to be able to replicate Kosh's visual speech patterns.

Somewhere out there is a mute hippy

The final stage was to cover the whole thing in fabric.  This is obviously not quite how the Vorlon looks on the show, but it was the simplest.  I had considered other options for this, including using some sort of plastic - I'd thought that I could save the wrappers from Quality Street sweets to create the multi-coloured effect.  Failing that I was going to get some white fabric and draw on the patterns - but I was aware that this might be too time consuming.

As it happened I stumbled upon this material whilst I was shopping for the curtains in Fabricland, and decided that it had pretty much the right effect.  It was nothing near an exact replica of the actual encounter suit, but I was convinced that, from a distance, it would do the job.  And, more to the point, it was going to be quick.

"Phone home?"  "Yes."

With the lights turned on and sparkling (which you can't quite tell above because, well, it's a static image and this isn't Hogwarts) the effect was one that definitely looked good enough that it'd suffice.  I'm not sure to be honest what different coating the card in foil actually made in the long run, but I'm glad I did it anyway.
That same material that was used to cover the lights was also used to make the other "dangly" fabric bits on the front of the costume, as you'll see later.

I did also consider putting some speakers inside the costume to play that weird warbling music stuff that plays every time Kosh speaks.  However I also knew that the venue that I was going to be wearing the costume in was going to be loud, and so I'd need some pretty hefty speakers.  Not wanting to add really bulky batteries to the costume I eventually abandoned that particular idea.  If I was to do it again though, with an aluminium frame, I think that that would've been a much more feasible option.  If one that would only serve to put my back out even more than I managed to anyway.

With the chest lights complete, I turned my attention to some more obscure detailing...

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