With DC’s Awesome con two days away you’re probably fucked if you don’t have a costume by now (unless you are some kind of guru, last minute costumer who can use a glue gun at faster than light speeds). However, for you other geeks out there, are plenty more conventions coming up, and ample time to figure out what your costume is going to be.
Now I’ve never been one to be good at “arts and crap.” When I read about how expert cosplayers have made their costumes, a lot of it involves knowing how to sew, or even doing something as advanced as glass making. Um…I can barely glue something together without getting my fingers stuck, let alone do any of that.
However, last year for Halloween I found myself having an intense desire to be a Borg. I don’t know exactly it was that drew me in – maybe I just knew that resistance was futile.
(Q as a borg.)
But I decided come hell or high-water, I was going to use my limited budget and non-existent craft making skills to assimilate myself into the hive mind.
So for your benefit dear internet user, I have decided to put together a guide and a budget on how you too can be a thrift store borg on the cheap.
Tips Before You Get Started:
- Don’t worry about doing exactly what I did. I’m just posting this material below to help you generate ideas of what you can do yourself.
- Look around the house for supplies. The fun thing about being a borg is that they assimilate from whatever is around them. So you can use old technology that you don’t use anymore to become one with the Borg. You can also use those arts and craft supplies lurking in your closet that you haven’t touched since 7th grade to do something cool.
- Set a budget. For discount borgs I recommend $25. For borgs with wiggle room, I say make your max $50.
- Try to make your costume comfortable. If you are going to a convention and wearing this all day, make sure it’s actually something you CAN wear without wanting to beam yourself into a wall.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment and be unique. And remember, if you don’t look perfect, this is supposed to be just for fun. Please ignore that line of other borgs walking toward you with whirling power-drills. They’re not going to dissemble you. They just want to give you a hug.
- Black Tubes:
- Approximate Cost: $10-$2
- Get lots and lots of black tubes. That’s the biggest thing you can do to establish the essential borged out look. And fortunately, getting yourself a large quantity of these babies is not too expensive. But make sure to get corrugated! I went for the 1/2 inch in diameter myself. You can get yourself about 50 ft of corrugated black tubing for about $10. Or you could probably make due with less than that if you wanted to save money, but I like to have lots of tubes to work with for maximum creativity (and in case you have a tendency to fuck things up like me).
- Thrift Store Tip: You might be able to find some tubing from used vacuum cleaners.
- 1 Roll of Black Duct Tape:
- Approximate Cost: $1
- Black duct tape is the bread and butter of a thrift store artiste. Use that shit on everything. And since borgs are joyful characters who like to wear lots of cheery colors like black and grays (is my internet sarcasm getting through?) people probably won’t notice the massive amounts of duct tape you used to tape corrugated tubes to yourself. Don’t be a sucker paying $17 for that shit. Get some duct tape at your local dollar store.
- Basic Clothes: Long Sleeve Black Shirt, Tight Black Pants (Yoga Pants) and black boots:
- Approximate Cost: $0 – $40
- You know how every girl has a little black dress for all outings? Well every borg should have a generic long sleeve black shirt, and dark colored trousers available for all occasions. Whether it be taking over the Star Ship Enterprise, or relaxing on a Sunday to watch the game. It would be ideal if the long sleeve shirt was a turtle neck. And if the pants were yoga pants. But this is not necessary. I think since most people have something like this in their wardrobe there is no need to go out and get something new. But if you happen to be the kind of relentlessly optimistic individual who wears nothing but Hawaiian T-Shits (you scare me), then I’m sure your local thrift store will supply a long sleeve dark shirt, and dark pants for a reasonable price. Both together could easily be $10 or less.
- Buyer Beware!: Wash any clothes you get from the thrift store in hot water before you wear them. You never know what kind of super grout or bedbugs people may have given to their clothes that you are about to wear. Not trying to make you paranoid, but just saving my ass here from you suing me.
- Boots: Luckily for me, I already had a killer pair of black boots. So I didn’t need to buy anything. I think most girls at least have some black boots they could wear for this costume (try not to have the heal too high). And if you’re a guy, you could probably just wear black army boots, mud boots, biker/riding boots and just call it a day. There are probably some boots you could get at the thrift store for less than $20. But if you want some really killer boots, you should check out the boots on this metal fashion guide or something like this.
- Buyer Beware!: The people donating the boots to the thrift store could have all kinds of gross foot fungus, so be sure to clean out the inside of the boot with rubbing alcohol before you wear it.
- White Face Paint
- Approximate Cost: $5 – $14
- Now as a Borg you can’t go out on the town without looking like a dreary, pale miscreant who has had their soul surgically removed by machines. That’s where white face paint comes in. Honestly, I don’t have any recommended brand or expert knowledge about this area. What I do know though is that I had a problem with my white face paint being sticky and getting on everything. So some people recommend buying “setting powder” to go with it, or just using a very pale foundation to help “set” the foundation and prevent it from getting sticky.
- Amazon Link: Mehron Face Paint with recommended setter
- Buyer Beware! Be mindful of skin allergies. Research the product you are buying. Read lots of reviews. I am not responsible for any funky skin rashes you might get. All I can say is that this product didn’t do anything weird to me
- Black or White Swim Cap
- Approximate Cost: $3 – $20
- Maybe you already have one. Maybe you’re a bald guy and you can just paint your head white. But if not, if you have short hair, any latex swim cap will due. With my costume I went for black, but you could also try white if you like. I also had to go for the more expensive swim cap for my long hair (ugh). But the swim cap for long hair had the added benefit of looking decidedly more borg-ish.
- Approximate Cost: $7-$20
- Now here is your chance to really use your thrift store fu and get creative. What I did for armor is I purchased gear for children’s sports wear (like rugby armor or something) at my local thrift store and then spray painted it black, you know, so I didn’t have to be a borg with armor on my person saying “Garfield Highschool – Go Tigers!” or some shit.
- Cheaper Alternative: Make cardboard armor and paint it black.
(Children’s Sports Armor Spray Painted Black. Cost of arm guard: $2)
(Black Back Brace: Cost $7. The benefit of the back brace is that it made me rigid, and walk more like a borg.)
- Black Spray Paint: Cost $3 at Walmart. Don’t break the bank.
THE BORG FACE: HOW DO?
Sticky Black Foam Paper: Cost: $1-$7. For that semicircle on my face, I stuck sticky foam to my face. You could also tape a piece of black construction paper to your face if you want to save money. IMPORTANT! Don’t be an idiot and let the sticky stuff touch your eye! I stuck a piece of soft fabric where my eye would be on the back of the sticky paper to protect my eye. You could probably also find a way to use regular foam (non-sticky) and make this work, so you don’t have to deal with something sticking to your face all day. ALSO IMPORANT: Put the swim cap on first. Then put the sticky foam paper on your face BEFORE you paint the rest of your face. If you do the paint first, the foam paper will lose its stickiness and fall off. So I put the sticky paper on first, and then painted the other half of my face white.
Borg Eye Piece: Cost: $2. What I did for this is I bought a flash light, took it apart, and then glued the broken pieces together to resemble what you see.IMPORTANT!: Do not glue the thing together and then glue it to your face. Put it together like a day before and let the glue dry, so you don’t have glue leak on your face or into your eye. Also, glue/tape the eye-piece to the semi-circle first, before putting the semi-circle on your face, and let that dry like a day or hours before putting it anywhere near your face. DEAR GOD, DO NOT DO ANYTHING WITH GLUE NEAR YOUR EYES! (I know this is fairly obvious, but I gotta make my blog idiot proof to protect my legal butt.) For extra credit you could look for a red LED to attach to your eye-piece, but since I didn’t do this, I don’t really have any advice about what to do get. (To the internet Robin!)
Now I will just say at this point, you can be perfectly assimilated without going to the trouble I went of making an arm piece. (Just wear black gloves!). But if you are one of those borgs who like to go above and beyond, you can try it out. What I did was I made a cardboard gauntlet (0 cost, used boxes), covered it in aluminum foil ($1), then glued computer parts to it I got from a ($15) CPU at the thrift store, and put a hole in the gauntlet so that I could place a battery charged power drill inside. I already had a power drill, so I didn’t have to pay anything, but you could probably get one on Amazon for $12, maybe find one in your thrifting adventures for $5, or even just borrow one from a friend. After all, once you assimilate your friends into the Hive Mind all their things are your things anyways, right?
- Discount Borg: $12. You did the cheapest version of everything mentioned here. You are a borg who is a master of assimilating materials from your surroundings at a savings level that would make a ferengi blush. You might not be the most stylish borg around – but hey – all you borgs are the same damn person anyways, so what does it matter?
- Premium Borg: $142. You bought the most expensive version of everything mentioned here, probably did not look around your house to see what you had in your own supply first, and didn’t look very hard at the thrift store. The Hive Mind might have to curb your allowance.
- What I paid: $50. Okay, hardly a discount. But I bought extra tubing I didn’t need, some of the armor I didn’t end up using, have extra foam paper left over that I didn’t use, and I most definitely did not need to buy a used CPU so I could harvest its guts and make a bad ass power drill gauntlet. If I was being more conservative, I could have probably made myself a decent enough borg costume for $25.
(If you feel like this while wearing your costume, you’re probably doing it wrong)
- If I had to rate the comfortably of my costume somewhere between frolicking naked in a cloud and using steel wool toilet paper, I’d have to say it was the equivalent to wearing a steel corset while having a snake bite my head all day. In summary, I did ended up looking neat – but wasn’t very comfortable. My suggestions for making this more comfortable is perhaps finding an alternative to using a swim cap (because that squeezed the crap out of my head). The back brace also wasn’t a very comfy thing to wear all day. So if you could find something black and sporty that looks like body armor, and is a reasonable price – I’d go for that instead.
(Bonus Picture: Borg domestic life)
Last tip: At some point in this process, when you’re crying because your fingers are glued together, and you are covered in a mess of tubes, you might get discouraged. But remember this bit of advice a friend once told me. Resistance is futile.
Next Thrift Store Cosplay Coming Up: Quarian…