For those who look down upon the idea of using cardboard in your cosplay, we suggest checking out this ridiculously cool Shogun Vader design created by Alexander Lam. We first met Lam at Tune in Tokyo's New Year's Eve party and then bumped into him poolside at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott during Anime L.A. last weekend. He's a member of L.A. Jedi, a non-profit performance group that teaches people how to properly engage in lightsaber tricks and makes appearances at various children's hospitals. You might have seen the group on BoingBoing TV a while back.
Lam conceived Shogun Vader back in 2007 after reading about the samurai influence on Ralph McQuarrie's conceptual designs for Star Wars. He chose the name because Shogun means "general." In the few years since he began working on Shogun Vader, Lam has gone through three costume designs and is currently working on a fourth.
"I wanted to do metal, then I wanted to downgrade to leather to make it lighter, more breathable," explains Lam. "Then I thought that I better experiment with cardboard. I found this great material that was so shiny, I decided to try it... I wore it to a con and it completely fooled people into thinking it was plastic."
Lam's armor is made primarily of dyed black cardboard topped by a shiny black posterboard that he says you can find at stores like Michael's. He uses double-sided tape to fuse the materials. The gold trim is made of a similar posterboard, although it is mirror-reflective. He uses wide shoelaces to tie together the pieces in a fashion similar to the samurai armor he found during the course of his research.
Lam lined the chest area of the armor with laminating film to prevent body motion from wearing away at the costume. Originally, he wore a gi underneath the armor, but it wasn't breathable. Soon he switched to a diving suit similar to the ones Stormtrooper cosplayers often wear under their outfits.
"I will eventually go plastic and possibly metal," says Lam, "but I wanted an armor that fitted me perfectly." We're sure we'll see him in an upgrade of this already-nifty costume by the time Comic-Con hits.
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Want to see more cosplay from Anime L.A.? Check out our video with Metalocalypse cosplayers.