Have I ever mentioned how much I despise painting? Anyone visiting my house will immediately notice the stark white walls with white trim. That’s not on purpose, that’s how it came. They could’ve painted that shit purple and green and those walls would still be purple and green to this day. I. Hate. Painting. Hate it. We have one painted room in the house—the TV room—which was doused in a bright, Disney teal. Despite the festive color, know that every brush stroke in that room was wiped with unbridled hatred. We also have two gray-ish test spots in our bedroom with color cards taped next to them. They’ve been on that wall for two years.
With this deep-seated hatred of painting, I embarked on the last phase of my Cobra Commander Cosplay Journey. And this phase did not disappoint. I added the final coat of blue that morning and let the helmet dry all day. After an insanely fun evening of fantasy football drafting and chugging beers at Hooters, I got home and quickly set to work on clear coating.
Although Tuesday mornings are always shitty, I was having an exceptionally shittier than shitty Tuesday morning when I walked into work yesterday. Todd hit me up the moment I settled into my desk. He beamed a grin that could only mean one thing: the Cobra Commander Staff was complete.
Todd rushed me and a small entourage of curious onlookers out to his car to make the big reveal. The staff was carefully packed into his car, wrapped in a protective blanket. I couldn’t make out any details other than the general size of the staff. This was better than Christmas morning.
So, I never realized I had any OCD tendencies until I reached the Bondo and Sanding phase of creating a Cobra Commander helmet. I had nearly moved on to the painting stage. I was *this* close. That was until I sprayed on a coat of primer and realized that my helmet looked like a hyperactive kindergartener’s paper mache project. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but I still couldn’t let the bumpiness slide. My entire Sunday was spent adding a sixth full coat of Bondo and sanding some sexy curves into the helmet.
And to think I brushed aside warnings that the Bondo/sanding portion was the most difficult part of this process. After the first week in this stage, I could almost hear Terry Silver from Karate Kid III saying, “Now the real pain begins, Danny-boy.”
You know, I spent years proselytizing Karate Kid III’s greatness to a chorus of jeers and snickers. Now, through the jaded eyes of a middle-ager, I guess I can understand why the movie is so reviled.
For most of my life I’ve had an unnatural fear of fiberglass. It’s actually more of a tick than a phobia and I blame my parents on this one. As a young kid, probably around 6 or 7 years old, my dad gave me a dire warning to never go into the attic. He did, however, allow me a peek when we were taking down Christmas decorations that year.
This attic was one of those old school ones where the builders sprayed loose, off-white, fiberglass fuzzballs all over the floor. The randomly stacked mounds and valleys of fiberglass looked the pictures of Antarctica I had seen in the Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia. We had rats the year before; you could make out their little trails through wilderness of fluff. As I gazed into the dark abyss of the attic, I began to sweat from the damp, imposing heat. Some fiberglass latched on to my arm. It itched like a motherfucker. Then I caught a slight scent of death hanging in the air. The attic was a house of horrors.
I was terrified of that attic ever since. Whenever a hurricane came nearby, I wasn’t afraid of the howling winds, the torrential downpours, or the flooding. No, I was scared shitless that the storm would collapse the ceiling and rain down Satan’s death flurries like a blizzard of needles.
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.
I am a passionate fan of 80's kids’ movies. Goonies, Stand By Me, Explorers, Space Camp, Monster Squad, Cloak and Dagger, Labyrinth, and several others occupy coveted slots on my all-time list. While I enjoyed recent kids’ movies such as Harry Potter, Super 8, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, they never captured the magic of those older films.
Is it just me? There's a certain hollowness in the modern kid flick. Something missing. The movies follow all the formulas. However, like recreating your grandparents' heirloom recipes, an intangible quality is always missing. Is it the uber slickness that comes with an astronomical major motion picture budget? The high def, count-the-zits image quality? The computer generated effects? I really don’t know the cause. But the result is the notably absent charm that once oozed from the movies of my childhood.
"They just don't make movies like they used to.” Nooooooo! Am I becoming Granddad? If for nothing else, I search for the illusive, magical, modern kid flick to stave off my inevitable transformation into a jaded, grumpy old man. Netflix's insidious AI is well aware of my quest. And it is always happy to guide me through the harrowing wilderness of its immense catalog towards possible holy grails.
This morning I was distracted by a little, 2005 independent film called Twelve and Holding. Yep, fucking Netflix debo'd my free-time once again. Curses. Twelve and Holding, however, was just good enough—just awkward and quirky enough—to compel me to throw it out there: Is this the Great White Buffalo?
2—Phoebe Cates (Gremlins, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Drop Dead Fred):
I am incredibly
tempted to lie and say that this is all because of the infamous, bikini-dropping,
pool scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It certainly makes for more titillating
fare. Unfortunately, I’m a terrible liar. Here’s a confession: I never saw Fast Times at Ridgemont High until I got the DVD my junior year in college. Had I seen
that movie at some point as a kid, I am confident that this Biggest Childhood Crushes
List would have Phoebe Cates at #1. Not only does it have the scene mentioned, but
she is completely at her hottest throughout the entire film. Phoebe Cates was never
my #1 crush as a child whereas many already mentioned on this list were at some
point. However, she was #2 for most of my childhood. “The girl from the Gremlins”
was the ace in my sleeve for my friends’ debates of hot chicks. It’s only fitting
that she’s #2 here.
Outside of Annie (1982) and Superman III (1983), one of my earliest memories of
going to a movie theater was seeing Gremlins in 1984. I remember wanting nothing
more than my own personal Gizmo to water and feed KFC to after midnight. As a 6
year old, Gizmo was my primary focus, but I was entranced every time Kate, played
by Phoebe Cates, showed up on screen. I had the tape after it came out on VHS, but
the movie creeped me out for a few years. Still I braved the inevitable nightmares
of Stripe eating me for two reasons: to imagine finding my own pet mogwai and to
eagerly watch for the lovely Phoebe Cates to pop up on the screen.
7—Paula Abdul (pop star): When Paula Abdul appeared on my MTV in the late
80’s, I thought she was crazy hot, but I didn’t develop a crush until later on.
One day, some of my buddies and I were at my house swimming in the pool and shooting
the shit about hot singers. I probably threw out names like Debbie Gibson, Gloria
Estefan, and some random chick from The Jets or The Bangles, but I really had no
go-to singer in my arsenal for such debates. My suggestions were laughed at, derided,
and rejected outright. They saw my Debbie Gibson and raised me a Paula Abdul. The
word from my boys was that Paula was the hottest woman on the planet. Ever! I gave
it some thought, bowed to the peer pressure, and readily accepted their logic. That
short-lived debate was all it took. I saw the "Opposites Attract" video later that
day in a whole new light. My crush on her went, uh, Straight Up! Lame pun. Horrible
attempt, I know. I know. I’m not gifted in the art of Punry, but I had to try.