See more of Shannon Cottrell's photos from Power-Con/ThunderCon in “Celebrating He-Man, She-Ra and ThunderCats at Power-Con/ThunderCon.”
For nearly a decade, Johnny Bilson has been making costumes based on Masters of the Universe characters for himself and his friends. He has tackled He-Man, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Tri-Klops, Trap-Jaw and King Randor with a mix of leather, metals and a smattering of objects found at home improvement and auto supply shops.
“I pride myself on getting all the details as accurate as possible based on the action figures or the movie or whatever I'm replicating,” says Bilson.
We met Bilson, who is based near Sacramento, last weekend when he set up shop for his custom costume business, Johnny's Perfect Costumes, inside the dealer room at Power-Con/ThunderCon, the first convention in the country for Masters of the Universe and ThunderCats fans.
“I just really love Masters of the Universe,” says Bilson. “I grew up watching He-Man and I had some of the toys and that was one of my fondest childhood memories.”
Inspired by the Four Horsemen's 2002 Masters of the Universe toys, Bilson began making costumes at around the same time. He says that his costumes have been based on this line of figures.
One of Bilson's earliest projects was a Skeletor mask that he brought to the convention. He made the mask using Magic Sculpt, Liquid Latex and “toilet paper, to get this mummy skin sort of texture.”
Bilson's work is both detailed and resourceful. The Evil-Lyn costume he made for a friend is crafted from leather and nickel silver and the buttons on the cuffs are actually drawer pulls. The headpiece he made for a Tri-Klops costume is made out of leather, a green garbage can, tubing scored at a home supply store and a black spoon. The armor that Bilson wore as part of his King Randor costume on Saturday features door trim found at an auto supply shop on the edges.
Though Bilson has been making costumes for years, he has only recently turned his passion into a business. Johnny's Perfect Costumes specializes in custom orders.
“So far, the only people that I've done costumes for have been friends. Here at this convention, that's what I'm trying to change,” says Bilson. “I figure the first He-Man convention in the United States is pretty much my market.”
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