Hunting down grab bags in the dank, musky bowels of the dealer room is one of my time-honored convention rituals. The allure of a grab bag lies in the opening. For a mere $10-$20, you can damn near replicate your childhood Christmas mornings. Sure, some of the grab bag loot is like getting socks from an aunt you never met. But there’s always that one item in the haul—the "Castle Grayskull" of the set—that makes the entire journey a success.
You can’t just blast open a grab bag right there in the dealer room. It demands your undivided attention. You need to make an event out of the opening. Typically, I’ll wander the con floor for hours clutching the grab bag and contemplating its innards, but never surrendering to the urge to sneak a peek. Once I get back home or to the hotel room, I clear a space, open the bag and remove each item one at a time. Then, I carefully examine each item to determine its ultimate fate, like the Quintesson judge from Transformers the Movie: “Guil-ty or Inn-o-cent?” You win 1,000 bonus points if you get that reference. If the item is lame, then it’s forever banished to the ceremonial death mounds of the junk room. However, if it’s awesome, then it earns a place of distinction on my shelves.
I’m not entirely sure why I decided on a Cobra Commander costume for Dragon*Con. While I liked G.I. Joe and owned a bunch of the toys, the show didn’t even rank among my Top 5 favorite childhood cartoons. That would be, in order: Mysterious Cities of Gold, Transformers, M.A.S.K., TMNT, and He-Man. A few others such as Tranzor Z (a.k.a. Mazinger Z), Robotech, and both flavors of the Ghostbusters also rank ahead of the Joes.
Cobra Commander is probably the most common G.I. Joe costume at conventions. So, it's not like I'm aiming for obscurity. I guess it’s simply that he looks cool and serves as a great introduction to aspects of cosplay that I have wanted to attempt for over a year now.
Now I have this bizarre fear of being exposed. I’m invading territory that I’m not fanatically nostalgic about. If I run into a gang of Cobras or Joes, I won’t know anybody outside of Destro, Duke, or Storm Shadow. My plan is to use mysterious silence as a cover for my ignorance. Or I’ll yell out a slithering “COBRAAAAA!” and run determinedly in the opposite direction.
I figured I’d bust my 19-month blogging hiatus to document the process of putting together my Dragon*Con 2013 costume. For my fourth Dragon*Con I’m going all out: my goal is to create an O.G. Cobra Commander costume, from the 80’s cartoon, G.I. Joe.
For the record, I’m not at all an advanced cosplayer. This will be my first time messing around with advanced shit like Pepakura files, fiberglass resin, bondo, and vacuum-forming. So, you’ll be learning right along with me. Only you’ll have the advantage of not scalding your fingers with heat guns, whiffing toxic fumes, or stuffing your pores with fiberglass shards. Cosplay is a dangerous game, kids.