Costume Commissions – How to Not Get Burned

Lately, social media has been swamped with the story of folks who were burned by a creator for hire. I won’t be weighing in on that case, or even mentioning the name, as I don’t like to use this blog for negativity and the information is already out there on dozens of sites. I am not writing this solely because of this particular Maker, but because I have seen an unsettling number of incidents, including friends being burned by less than honest Makers.

What I would like to do is address what you can do to protect yourself in costuming commissions and understand how the process works and what red flags to watch out for.  Many of the victims of scammers and bad businesspeople are first time commissioners, but even those well experienced in the process can get scammed. Thus, this guide is gonna go over everything, from the most basic tips to tips for the experienced, and even then you may get burned. The fact of the matter is that not every bad deal comes from a career scammer, sometimes well-respected and well-meaning makers can fail to deliver an item on time and/or to the client’s satisfaction. Hopefully this information will also help to figure out if someone was out to scam you from the beginning or just had something go wrong despite good intentions.

Vetting your Maker(s)

So, you wanna have something made, that’s great! Since materials and equipment is getting cheaper and more and more information is available about how to make stuff, there are literally thousands of costume, armor and prop makers out there now. How the heck do you choose? Whether you find them via their personal website, a facebook page, an RPF or coscom thread or elsewhere on the net, you mustn’t just throw your money at the first one you see. You must vet them!
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The post-Dragon Con breakdown

Dragon Con has now come and gone, and as is custom, most of the hotels are already full again. There was a myriad of issues that sprung up over the course of the con, between construction, hotels overbooking and some con-goers behaving incredibly badly, but I still vastly enjoyed it. I’ll probably create a more complete rundown this weekend, but for now I wanted to talk about the work I do for the Superhero Costuming Forum.

Years ago, I was invited to the SCF by its founder, Allen Hansard while dressed in my X-Factor Siryn costume. It was a blissfully low-drama community genuinely focused on improving the craft and encouraging new members. I love the SCF. I have made more lasting friends from the community than any other that I have been a part of, whether for costuming, creation or academic.

Of the many things the SCF does, one of the most well known is the organization of the giant Marvel and DC costuming photoshoots. They are the largest of their kind anywhere, and we draw literally hundreds of costumers to each shoot. They’re massive, fun and the most visible of all of the photoshoots at Dragon Con. We also draw the attention of convention guests…like this guy whose movies you maaaay know:

Thanks to the work by our friends at Beat Down Boogie, Contagious Media, Acksonl and our myriad of incredibly talented photographers, folks around the world have seen the incredible work and love of the craft from superhero costumers (amongst many others). It’s a labor of love, costuming, and I love that we can gather so many people full of talent and passion together to get these great photos and videos.

The behind the scenes of organizing these shoots is a lot more massive than most people imagine. Finding locations, working with other groups to make sure scheduling works, finding reliable photographers and videographers, getting the word out to various costuming groups, arranging special guest visits, establishing rules and safety procedures, and working directly with the con takes quite a bit of time, and for really big shoots, the work starts as much as a year out from the event. For the last several years, the giant Marvel and DC shoots were arranged by this guy:


Allen Hansard, the a**hole who has been at the forefront of making these shoots happen (and what a perfect costume, right?). I’ve seen first hand how much work goes into these things, as I’ve been assisting with subgroups and eventually becoming co-director over the last several years. Its stressful, deceptively difficult and affects how much con he actually gets to experience. Between setup, the shoot itself and breakdown, Saturday and Sunday from about 2:30 until 6:00pm are spent outside in Atlanta heat making sure the shoot runs. It’s pretty rough, and often he doesn’t even wear a costume for it nowadays. He’s taken time out of his own costuming to make sure others can have these giant photo opportunities and network with other costumers and just have a fun time.

Well, as of this year, Allen has retired from the big shoots. He’ll still be directing smaller shoots, but this will give him more freedom to costume and focus on other things, like running our forum. He’s passed the megaphone and reins to me, and beginning next year, I’ll be in charge of the giant shoots. What will this mean for my propmaking? Probably not much, I’ll just have less work in the studio as Dragon Con looms, but I wanted to share this other aspect of costuming that I do. I have some big shoes to fill, and I’m not sure I can top what we achieved this year, but I know I’ll do my damnedest.

So, thank you, Allen and The SCF for trusting me with this beast, and I look forward to seeing everyone again next Dragon Con.

Pat Loika©PatLoika

Moving! Commissions! Stuff to come!

Some of you may have noticed that the site has been pretty barren as of late. Over the last few months I completed my final classes for my Masters program and my Husband and I moved to a new city. We are finally mostly settled in, and the studio is back in working order again! I have also completed the bulk of my 2014 commissions, which means that slots will become available again as the year progresses. I am opening one slot for a custom commission for now, and will open slots for previously completed commissions on a case by case basis in the meantime. I will not be taking on any commissions for Megaman armor, Vanille’s staff or Automail for the time being.

Also, if you are looking for some of my jewelry pieces, swing by my Etsy shop! I’ll be adding new pieces over the next month or so as well, so stay tuned!

Right now it’s mad DragonCon prep time, but once September rolls around, look forward to new tutorials, more projects and more crafting topic posts!

Loki Scepter v 2.0 – Step by Step

At long last it’s time to post this bad boy. I decided shortly after the first attempt at this piece that I could create something more accurate and easier to assemble with a bit more prototyping work and better molds. This continues from the process I used to create version 1.0 of the scepter.

04 - m5g3uwkFirstly, some of the issues I had with the first design. The bigges issue in the form was that the angle where the shaft met the head was much too acute and the assembly point there was crappy and not flush. Secondly, the backplate on the head where I hid the battery slot was the wrong shape, has a hard to use mold and, again, needed better assembly posts. The head also had an unnecessary detail which appeared on the spear length, but not the scepter. Finally, I wasn’t happy with the strength of the LED in the gem or the weathering of the gem.
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Loki Scepter Version 2.0 – Complete!

After months of work re-tweaking, I’ve finished the new version of the scepter. I reworked many of the forms and lines and removed some elements that were there in error last time, re-did the assembly method for a better looking, more sturdy assembly with better access to the battery pack and changed the finish for something more durable long-term.
I’m also working very hard on improving my prop photography skills.

I will not be taking any commissions for these at the moment (all commission slots are closed). Once I finish what I currently have on order, I will open commissions again. I’ll make a post as soon as that happens.





Busy times! Status of commission schedule.


Been a while since the last update. I got hit with a slew of commission requests and general inquiries. The last two big projects have been exceedingly popular, which is awesome and humbling. However, I am up to my ears in work now (also awesome) but that means less time to post to the page or answer e-mails for non-clients. So, Just a quick update to where the studio is, work-wise and what it means for commissions right now.


I am not accepting commissions until early next year. Right now the studio has been completely taken over by Loki (that sly b*stard). I will update the page when this changes, but until the current commissions for scepters, spears and armor are complete, I will not be accepting new commissions or even negotiating future commissions. I simply don’t have the time to do price quotes at the moment (which generally take between 30 and 90 minutes each). I will still give quotes for things I have done before and thus already know the price, but will not be taking actual orders until after new years most likely.

I also have had a massive amount of interest in the Megaman armor I completed earlier this year. I am floored by the response, and I really appreciate that the reaction has been so positive, but I will not take any commissions to replicate it. It was a great design and I learned a great deal from it’s completion, but I also learned that it is incredibly time consuming and that I did not want to undertake another project in that vein on a commission basis. If you have any questions about how I made it that are not covered in my post on creating flexible armor with EVA foam, please feel free to shoot me a line with your specific question and I’ll try to help out. However, I will not accept any commissions to make another one.

Thanks for reading, and look forward for Loki Scepter v 2.0 coming soon!

Megaman Starforce Armor – Done!

And here’s the armor to go with the helmet I posted Here!


This set is created mostly in EVA foam covered in stretch vinyl using the technique I outlined Here. Additional details were added in resin, PVC and there’s a couple dozen LEDs providing some light to Omega-Xi/WarRock. Th armor is lightweight, flexible an all joints bend and shift to allow for walking and posing.

Status of the Site and Commissions

So, anyone who has tried to access the site in the last couple of weeks probably saw a very nasty warning page from google stating that the site was likely an attack site. This has been fixed! It seems my site was the target of a nasty bit of malicious code insert that tried to install malware whenever anyone visited it. I’ve been working with my hosting provider and the site is now clean again. If you have visited the site in the last 2-3 weeks and ignored the warning page, it wouldn’t hurt to run your favorite malware/virus checker just in case.
On brighter news, I have a few commissions slots open over the summer, but only for things which I already have the molds for. These items include:

I just won’t have time this summer to take on any new, custom commissions with my current workload and preparation for DragonCon. I will have time to prepare things I have already created molds for, however, and may also be able to provide any of the above listed items in kit form. Use the commission inquiry form to inquire.

Megaman Starforce – Helmet

I am very pleased to get to show this bad boy off.


This was a fun piece to work on, and will be the only hard part of my client’s Megaman costume. The helmet started as a large acrylic light dome. This was cut into the bases for the helmet (a word to those cutting acrylic with a rotary tool, wear long sleeves!). The visor section got a few thin coats of transparent red, and the rest of the helm was masked off and was colored with model magic and testors colors. The “ears” are slush cast in urethane resin. The “Hair” is assembled in EVA foam, which gives a cool cartoony look to it and holds the spikes perfectly without having to deal with a heavy wig and a ton of styling products. The visor also flips up for when my client needs more visibility. The inside is finished off with a foam lining for comfort