We, Ben (Lone Starr), Victoria (Barf), and Karen (Dark Helmet), start tossing out ideas where we can convincingly incorporate the wheelchair into the cosplay. There is usually a bit of bantering back and forth until we come to a consensus. We all agreed that making the Winnebago from “Spaceballs” would be fun and unique. It’s a favorite movie for all of us, and it is often quoted. Deciding who was going to be which character was easy for Ben and Vicki. Barf is usually in the Winnebago, so it was perfect for Vicki, who is wheelchair bound. Ben looks a bit like Lone Starr and would be in the Winnebago, too. Karen’s costume was a bit more difficult because there are so many other characters in “Spaceballs” that would be fun for her to play. She chose Dark Helmet combing the desert because she doesn’t like costumes that are too bulky or complex.
Plus, Karen really wanted the challenge of sewing the pith helmet and the fabric cover for the Winnebago. We then told our friend, Jacy (Skroob), about our idea and our character choices. Jacy said he’d be Skroob beamed backwards, especially since he likes to play characters with mustaches for me since it’s his one chance to rock one without his wife complaining. ????
We had an amazing time at ECCC 2023! The responses to our cosplay was priceless. As the Winnebago started to roll past people, they would get a curious look on their faces. When they saw Barf and Lone Starr, they’d get a smile and a chuckle. But we knew we did something amazing when they noticed Dark Helmet behind us combing the desert, and the people would clap, gasp, and double over laughing. Then the “Spaceballs” quotes started flying at us from every direction. The great thing about ECCC is the entire community is so accepting and supportive. We felt welcomed even though we took up half the aisle and the entire elevator. So many people told us that we should enter the cosplay contest because we killed it with our costumes. We entered the ECCC Sunday Cosplay Showcase, just as a fun thing to experience, but we were awarded the Best Group Cosplay. Apparently, we did really well.
There was a moment that stood out to Ben, Vicki and Karen was meeting a woman, named Heidi, in a wheelchair dressed as an Irish queen with her husband and son dressed in Star Wars costumes. They were inching closer and closer to us as other people were taking pictures of us. When they finally came close enough, they noticed the wheels sticking out of the bottom of the Winnebago and realized it was a wheelchair. Heidi got next to the window of the Winnebago and when Vicki popped her head out, Heidi got a huge smile on her face and said, “OH MY GOD! I love the whole thing.” She was curious how we put the Winnebago was constructed and how we got the idea. We started telling them other ideas we had thought about doing and showed them some of our costumes. She was so excited and said she was starting to get ideas of her own since being in the wheelchair was more than likely a permanent thing.
We told them that if they ever needed any help figuring how to creatively incorporate the wheelchair into their cosplay or hints on building it that they could call. We hope we gave her some inspiration and will see her in an awesome cosplay next year at ECCC. For Jacy, it was just the overall vibe at the cosplay showcase we were in. How supportive and enthusiastic everyone was of each other’s hard work and passion.
The frame for the Winnebago was built with pvc pipe that has been glued or pinned at the joints. Then the frame is attached to Vicki’s wheelchair with clamps. The pins and the clamps make it easy to take apart, transport and reassemble. The cover for the Winnebago was sewn together with canvas, cotton-poly fabric, ribbon, organza, bias tape, and interfacing. The decorative elements like the “Eagle5” seal, the bumper sticker, the license plate, and the portraits in the windows were all made from printable fabric. And it was attached to the pvc frame with zippers, snaps, and shoe laces, so we could easily put on and off.
The biggest challenges we faced making the Winnebago were scaling and sizing. Trying to scale down the actual Winnebago to fit on to a frame and look close enough to be recognizable in a smaller proportion was hard. The finished size of the Winnebago was extremely important so it would fit through doors and elevators. The size was especially complicated this year since ECCC moved facilities and we didn’t know if the doors and elevators were bigger or smaller than the old convention center.
There were also some smaller challenges with the Winnebago, too. We wanted to add the wings for the Winnebago to take flight, but knew that if they were permanently attached we would never fit through doors and take up an entire aisle way. Making sure the wings were detachable was the only way it could work, but how was the problem. Ben and Vicki discussed numerous possibilities and physically put together a few before solving the problem with an easy slip-on/off joint. Another challenge was the unusual angles on the front of the Winnebago. There aren’t any pvc pipe joints with the angles we needed, so we looked all around the house and found a piece of plastic tubing left over from a different project. The piece fit perfectly into the pvc pipe with a little modification to make sure the tubing wouldn’t slip out.
We are very new to the cosplay scene. Everyone at ECCC has welcomed us with open arms, making us truly feel like we are seen for who we are. They don’t look at us and just see some generic white guys, a little old lady, or some poor girl in a wheelchair. They see us and the fun we are having. We also see them and the joy they experience when they notice us. That is the best reward for us.