Toos, "Robots of Death" - Build Diary

The storm mine crew.Toos is second from left.

3/28/14 - Half the costumes I take on are because I want to learn new skills. This one is going to be a corker. I've minimal experience with thermoplastics and absolutely zero in making headgear - guess what I've already identified as the most challenging aspect?

I must apologize for the quality of some of the screen shots. Because of technical issues when I started the build, I had to resort to snapping pix off the screen of my TV with my celphone. Over time, I'll endeavor to replace the fuzzy shots with something better. The "Seahorse" Hat and The Collar

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This last image clearly shows the location of the closures.

As the profile photo shows, the "cap" comes up from her head by a perceptible amount. I can't help thinking that might have been dictated by the structure of the crest, which seems to follow quite a different curve than the one describe by one's skull in profile. The crest looks like it's something pretty solid (aside from the cutouts), but very lightweight. Each "segment" seems to be very similar in width and height, suggesting that maybe the were all cut from the same template, but I can't be sure. I amsure thatthis hat is going to be the cause of some kind of breakdown.

As for the collar, my best guess is that it's gold lame' over thin foam (possibly over buckram) and wire. Closes in front with hooks and eyes. Pay attention to the screenshots that illustrate how far down the bottom part of the collar goes in the back as well as the front.

The Bodice And Accessories

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The bodysuit is a brown/tan stretch velour - confirmed by how it (apparently) changes color, depending on the angle of view. Depending on your size and fabric choices, the zipper up the back might be optional. If you watch the DVD closely in the first scene where everyone rushes to leave the mess hall (or whatever it's called), you'll see Toos pick up the gold collar and the "tunic" portion of her costume is clearly attached to it. Blink and you'll miss it.

The thing on her wrist is supposed to be a communicator, but many of the crews wore theirs on their chest, as per the medallion on Toos' catsuit. I don't know if what she's wearing on her wrist was a last minute addition upon realizing that having a character talk to her bosom would look ridiculous, or what. :)

You only get a glimpse of her boots a couple of times. These tiny images were the best I could grab, as she was in the background both times. If you don't mind the round toe and blockier heel, you could pick up costume "gogo" style boots from any Halloween supplier for about $40. For my part, I'm looking for used boots to paint.

The "tunic"

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Same fabric as the skirt (see below). It's a separate garment from the catsuit and cut like a sleeveless tunic. Possiblysome material is gathered at the shoulder seamto add fullness.

Various costume jewelry elements. As I'm planning to make the ensemble with the collar and hat, and the collar hides the embellishment on the top part of the catsuit, I'm not going to worry about them, so much. If I have the money and the time once the rest of the costume is done... The Skirt

Image taken from an ebay auction when the original costume item was sold.

Note the bottom row and the inset running parallel to it. You can also see it in some of the screen shots where she's standing up.

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Detail of the skirt's waistband, also from the auction listing.Click through for larger image. See below for some caveats about that belt...

A friend of mine who is an expert in such things identified the primary fabric as velvet-embossed cupro. Cupro is a cellulose fabric, like rayon and tencel. The secondary fabric (the bottom 'ruffle' and contrast above it) looks like bog-standard poly satin, loosely gathered. However, I think that if you look for an 80s-style lurex fabric, you could use that. If your budget is significant and you don't mind running some risks, take a look for vintage cocktail dresses on Etsy that could be cut up and re-used.

The belt is a moderately sparkly gold lame' on top of something stiff, like buckram.Various paste jewels - rectangular cabochons and round faceted gems dominate -and bits offiligree. Note that the gems do not have any "crystal" "AB" or "jelly" type finish (popular among the Swarovski set), although the embellishments on the top of the bodice seemed to have an AB-type finish on them.

In some light, the "jewels" are a light-topaz sort of color. At another angle, the color reflects much darker, closer to the skirt of the fabric in shade.Opinions differ. I believe they're at the yellow/topaz end of the scale,foil-backedand reflect the darker fabric as chance occurs.

A Note on The Scale of the Waistband

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When I had only the ebay listing photos to refer to, I thought the waistband was three and a half, maybe four inches wide. Then I looked at the skirt while it was worn by the actor. Notice that it's nearly twice as wide as her fist resting above it. When she stands, the top of the waistband is at the high hip, and the bottom edge is below her full hip. That's a lot of space. Check out my mockups to see the difference between something that's 3.75" wide and 6" wide.

Other Pictures

Build Progress


I'm at the "Swatch like crazy" stage. I've gone through over a dozen fabrics and give copious thanks to the online sellers who offer swatches at reasonable prices. Under consideration for the skirt and tunicis everything from hand-embossed silk velvet (muggins here will be doing the embossing, oy!) to a metallic-striped poly chiffon which sounds all wrong when you see it in writingbut, with a matched lining behind it, actually reads quite well from a distance. I'm expecting what I hope will be the final round of swatches next week, by which point I should be able to make a decision for the skirt/drape and the bodice. (I spoke too soon re: bodice. I was swatching spandex and it's not! It's velour!)

Given the emphasis on sparkly, light-catching fabrics for all of the crew's costumes, I'm inclined to suggest that fellow cosplayers look into lurex and such like when creating their own versions.

Because I wanted to start on something easy and cheap, I doodled out a 1:1 scale mockup of the belt and ran smack into a conflict between my perception and the reality. See below.

My first attempt at a mockup for the waistband. I put it together working only from the ebay photo, which offered noscale and Idecided on a height of 3.75". The rectangles are 9mm x 17mm, and the "flowers" (the clustered crystals) are approximately 21mm at their widest point.The result isobviously far too crowded.

Then I took I finally located my Robots of Death DVD and took a look at the garment as worn, and noticed how much wider it was than I had assumed.

Second mockup, with a piece of filligree that will probably be the basis of the center-front of the waistband. Overall, it's 6" tall, now. The rectangles are 30mm x 11mm and the "flowers" are approximately 35mm at their widest point. I think it might be a bit too wide, now, but if I decide to do another mockup, I probably won't knock off more than half an inch, and adjust the other elements, accordingly. The white bits you see are stencils I cut out from styrene and used to speed up the doodling-out process.


I finally stopped dithering and made up my mind re: the round stones on the belt.

These are pressed glass flatbacks, sold under the name "Rauten Rose", in "iris brown". I dithered between 11mm and 13mm diameter, before deciding on 11mm. They're more gold than brown, but fell within my range for "good enough". My eagle-eyed boyfriend pointed out that the original items are not cut flat across the top (as Swarovskis are) which is another reason (along with cost) to choose the Rauten Rose.

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A test of both sizes compared to some test resin bits I created for the oblong element.The stones on the right are 13mm in diameter.

Unfortunately, even at far-less-than-Swarovski prices, I'll have to spread out the purchase of the 100+ I'll need over a couple of paychecks, so progress on the belt is stalled for the moment. I also need time to pour the 70+ resin cabochons as I only have molds for five at a time. (Open EVERY window when using polyurethane resin, kids!). I'm not 100% happy with the rectangular cabs (my guess is the original item actually used 3D sequins) but it's what I've got and I don't have the skill to make something in wax and strike a bunch of molds off that. You gotta pick your battles.

Browsing on ebay suggests that I might best use some costume jewelry earrings for part of the central belt element and the "medallion" that goes on the chest of the bodysuit. More on that, another time.

Next, I turned to the gold collar and making a mockup for that. Step one: paper.

This is the bottom portion of the collar. Note that the portion over the shoulders doesnotcome to a point, unlike the front and back. I am an idiot and am currently redrafting this piece. Yes, the collardoescome to a point over the shoulder.

The top half of the collar is giving me grief. I thought it was just a simple triangle, but it's not giving me the right line. I'm going back to the DVD this weekend before trying again.

Finally, I found some fabric that will suffice for the tunic and skirt.

Described on as "hatchi sparkle knit", the yardage was a much lighter brown than my monitor led me to believe.

(fabric.comphoto) (on my desk)

The stuff was on clearance so I couldn't swatch it before making a commitment. But for only $3/yd, I'm okay with that. With a dark brown lining behind it (it's quite sheer) it'll read a darker brown than it does on its own. There's a lot more gold in it than the pix lead you to believe, but that's an effect I think I could only capture on video. Short of buying every 1970s brown lurex cocktail dress I could find on Etsy (a move I was starting to contemplate) this will do. It's brown and sparkly. Good enough!

If you watch the DVD closely enough, you'll notice that the original fabric was quite sheer. There are several moments where you can see Toos' belt through the fabric of the tunic.

Slowly but surely, things are coming together. I'm going to try to crack the collar question over the weekend but, after that, it'll probably be a few weeks before a fresh entry goes online - see 'pouring resin' and 'installment purchases', above...


I got the collar pattern done, finally!

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The bottom part of the collar is on the left, the top part is one the right. I find it's easier to draft patterns "on the fold", even if I'm going to copy it over, manually, twice on the fabric, as I did on the buckram (you don't want to fold that stuff, it's feisty!).

This pattern is for the buckram portion. I'll be adding seam allowance when cutting the fabric. I almost made the mistake of cutting the buckram as I would the fabric and, oops, you can't ease buckram into, um, anything. The buckram portion will lay flat when sewn on to the collar. The fabric portion will have extended "tabs" in order to meet at the center front. The buckram does NOT close at center front, lest one end up looking like Ming the Merciless.

The wired mockup (but no buckram as I didn't want to faff with it).

I actually knocked an inch off the upper part of the collar after making this, but didn't think it was worth taking a photo of. But I'm finally at the point where, when the budget allows, I can pick up the fabric for it and put it together. It'll be nice to have ONE component actually done!

I also found something to modify into the chest medallion. Acquired from The Steampunk Supply Store on Etsy for $3. I just need to find a button or pre-made round cab to modify and glue into place.

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Build progress will be a bit slower over the next couple of months because the cashflow situation in my household is pretty dire. That said, I've got various bits in place that I can work on in the meantime. For example: the boots!

before... and after

As ever, there was a learning curve. I used Jacquard's Lumiere fabric paint in "True Gold" and a 1" foam brush. What I didn't anticipate is that even with a foam brush, you can get brush strokes and so you have to lay down a lot ofthincoats - varying your painting direction - to ensure that the final result looks smooth. If you get right up close to the boots, you can see some brush strokes from the final coat (I was getting impatient) but they're good enough under the "Ten Foot Rule"

If you follow a similar route, remember to clean the surface of your boots with acetone or rubbing alcohol (depending on the material)and be prepared to invest a lot more time than you expected. In all, the boots required about fourteen coats and most of an entire 2.25oz jar of paint. With the coats being thin, they dried pretty quickly and I got both boots done in a single weekend. Remember to wash out your brushes after every use! (d'oh!)


I finally finished the "accessories" that have been cluttering up my craft desk for the past few weeks

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The chest medallion and the wrist communicator.

Both pieces feature a large glass cabochon (found on ebay), covered with some gold mesh fabric I had in my stash. I dry-brushed the brass stamping with some gold paint to tone down the 'brassiness' and glued on the grey glass half-domes. I also attached two butterfly-clutch pin backs in order to anchor it firmly to the bodysuit when the time comes.

The 'petals' on the wrist-comm are exactly that: petals from a fake flower I bought at Michael's and painted over a few times with Jacquard's "True Gold" fabric paint. An unhealthy amount of glue was required to stick 'em on to the back. Eventually, I'll attach it to a wristband made from the bodysuit velour.

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This will be the central motif on the waistband of the skirt. Filigree, glass Swarovoski "pearls" and square sequins from General Bead in San Francisco, all attached with nylon beading cord. I found filigrees that were a better match in terms of look (crinkly edges, rather than smooth), but they were far too small. If I happen to find something better in the next few months, it'll be easy enough to rebuild.

Sources for Materials

Spandex World - swatches for the catsuit (before I realized I needed velour)
Vogue Fabrics Store - various fabric swatches for skirt/bodice
Fabric.Com - various swatches for, um, everything
Fabric Outlet - great overstock fabric store at 16th & Mission in San Francisco
Silk Baron - gorgeous silk fabrics: velvet, dupioni, taffeta, etc
Sy Fabrics- retail store in Los Angeles that also sells online. Slightly cheaper than Silk Baron for silk velvet, but the selection is different.

Rhinestone Guy - Source of the "Rauten Rose" flatbacks. Great customer service!
All Star Co - Rhinestones and associated fixings. Good place for acrylic knockoffs of Swarovski.
Fire Mountain Gems - First place to go to look for Swarovski crystals, which I can't afford, but lust afternonetheless.
General Bead - retail storefront in San Francisco, but I believe they run an Etsy shop, too. Source for many small bits and pieces used in creating the accessories (sequins, glass beads, pin backs, etc)

Other Bits
Reynolds' Advanced Materials - Body casting materials andveryhelpful tutorials.
Douglas & Sturgess - San Francisco retailer for body casting materials. Also offers classes.
Sassy Shoes - a place to learn about the pitfalls of upcycling your shoes (and other things) with paint, glitter and embellishments. Fabulous examples of their work, too!

Other Costumes I've Made
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