So let’s say you want to leave the Flotilla and go on a pilgrimage to the next awesome cosplay convention in your sector of space, but you don’t want to use up all your credits (or trade away all your omni-gel) to get yourself a decent protective suit. (Up and coming conventions in your area) Well I’m here once again with my thrift-store-fu to help you out.
(And for those of you who have no idea what the hell a quarian is, it’s an alien race from the game Mass Effect)
As I established in my how to cosplay a cheap borg guide, I myself am not good at arts and crafts (or arts and crap as I like to call them), and I’m certainly not by any means loaded with cash. So I will guide you through what I learned in my own pilgrimage to attempt to be a decent looking quarian without breaking the bank.
NOTE: A LOT of this is very similar to what I did with my borg costume, since I recycled old borg parts to make my quarian suit (I’m sure the borg didn’t take it personally). So if you already read that guide, feel free to skip some of this to get to the more quarian-centric-material.
(Image Source, A Young Quarian Bringing a Flower to the Geth)
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 quarian is that they are scavengers who use what they can from whatever is available. 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. Or you can disassemble an earlier costume you made and use those components for your quarian.
- Set a budget. Try to at least keep things under $50. (Which is hard!)
- 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 throw yourself at the mercy of the geth in frustration.
- 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. All the other quarians will be wearing helmets anyways, so you won’t be able to see them secretly judging you.
- 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. Don’t be a sucker paying $17 for that shit. Get some duct tape at your local dollar store.
- Approximate Cost: 0-$10
- Cardboard is pretty easy to find lying around the house, or you could ask your friends or neighbors if they have any extra cardboard boxes. You can also go to stores in the morning or night (before they throw away their cardboard boxes) and offer to take the boxes off their hands. You know, like the resourceful quarian you are. However, if you really insist on being a sucker, there are plenty of places where you could buy a cardboard box for $3-$10
- Aluminum Foil:
- Approximate Cost: 0 – $4
- Once again, don’t be a sucker. Just look for some already in your house, ask your friends, or go to the dollar store. But if you must get it at regular price, you can probably find some aluminum foil for under $4 at your local grocery store.
MAKING THE HELMET
- Face Shield or Gas Mask
- Approximate Cost: $10 – $100
- This is probably the most essential part of your quarian costume. The first thing people will look at. Because of their weak immune systems, quarians are known for wearing protective masks that keep out all the grimy gross germs of their environment. However, the helmet could easily be the most expensive and most difficult part of your costume to deal with.
- What I did: I bought a face shield for around $20. I got the Sperian Protection S8500 Bionic Face Shield. If you google around, you might be able to find one for less. But the one I linked to is available on Amazon Prime. What was nice about this face shield is that it came with a dark blue protective plastic that gave it the tinted quality of hiding my face. Overall the helmet was comfortable. My main problem is that it was difficult for people to hear me talking in a loud area, and it sometimes got a little steamy under that helmet. The main problem was also that the helmet made my head look a little big.
- (Here’s another face shield for you to check out, if you don’ like the one I liked to)
- More Expensive Options: Look at full face gas masks. Although I don’t recommend this route, because a plain face shield is easier to build upon and modify, and much less expensive. Full face gas masks can easily run up to $100 or more.
- Cheaper Options: Make your own mask. One idea I had was cutting up a jug of water for a face shield, taping tinted clear contact paper to it, using cardboard to create a frame for the helmet, and then holding it to my head with some elastic chord. This option would probably run you about $5, but I think it’s probably worth paying some money for the helmet because it is the most quintessential part of the costume.
- An option for my more artsy friends: This wordpress user made a beautiful quarian helmet with aqua resin and plexiglass. I don’t think I’d have the skill to do it, but you might want to take a look.
Images of my helmet
Here’s just the original face shield, sitting on a pillow. As you see, it comes with something on the back that allows you to adjust how tight it is on your head. I found this more comfortable than it looks.
First I put some black duct tape on the bottom part of the mask so the whole thing wouldn’t look clear.
Then I taped the mouth piece on. The mouth piece I made by taking apart a $2 flash light and gluing it back together again. I’d suggest using super glue for this process. Any other glue will just get gloppy and then the thing will fall apart. LIFE PRO TIP: If you glue your finger tips together you can get the super glue off with nail polish remover.
To finish my helmet, I cut out cardboard rectangles to put on the sides, covered these with aluminum foil and then taped them on the helmet with massive amounts of duct tape.
Comparison to the real deal: Okay…obviously my helmet is nothing professional, but it’s the best that my clumsy butter fingers could accomplish – okay!
- Basic Clothes: Long Sleeve Black Shirt and Tight Black Pants (Yoga Pants)
- Approximate Cost: $0 – $20
- Black is something that almost everyone has in their wardrobe and it matches with almost anything. But if you don’t have a black shirt or pants, you could probably get some at your local thrift store for less than $10.
- 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.
- Approximate Cost: $0-$20
- Please don’t waste a million dollars at your local fabrics store. These fabrics are expensive. What I did was use stuff I had already lying around. A nice head scarf will do. You can also cut up other clothes, or use scarves to cover other parts of your body with to make yourself look more quarian like.
- If you MUST go to a craft store like Joanne’s Fabrics, download the app on your phone. A lot of times the app can hook you up with coupons of up to %50.
- GET ALL THE BELTS IN THE WORLD!
- Approximate cost: $0-$20
- Cover yourself with a shit ton of belts to get that essential quarian look of holding together your protective suit with something you found in the bargain bin of one of Omega’s black markets.
- What I did: my local thrift store has a day where the entire store is %50 off. So I just went there and bought about 10 belts for the cost of $5.
- Random Knick Knacks:
- Approximate Cost: $0 – $5
- Behold my knick knacks internet! More thrift store wonders:
The AARP bag pictured left looked either like something a quarian would have slung over their hip, or a great camera/phone holder for a retired person snapping pictures of squirrels in their backyard. Either way, it cost me 50 cents.
The grey arm weight featured right also looked like some random thing a quarian would have strapped to their arm. For what purpose? Who knows. But it looks cool.
- Approximate Cost: $0-$20
- My own armor was kids sports equipment that I got at the thrift store. I spent a total of $6.
I’m going to be honest. I don’t know anything about sports. But I think these are elbow pads. Either way, I spray painted them black and then put them on the back of my knees..you know…since quarians have inverted knees and all.
Wrist guards because…why not?
More armor. This one was cool because the silver color kind of matched my grey headscarf. I also taped a tube to it. Black tubes aren’t necessary for a quarian suit, but they definitely help the effect. The…Mass Effect…sorry….Here’s some tubing on amazon for $3. Here’s a whole bunch of it for $9. You don’t really need a lot though. But you could experiment with taping it to random parts of your costume.
- Black Gloves
- Approximate Cost: $0 – $20
- Don’t need nothing fancy. Just use what you have lying around or borrow from a friend. Or get something cheap from the store. If you really wanna go ghetto on this, you could just paint your fingers black.
- Approximate Cost: $10 – $35
- The two toed feet are an essential part of showing that you are a quarian, rather than something like…oh I don’t know…one of the hunters from the game Destiny. There were at least two people who thought that this was my costume at Awesome Con. But thankfully most people figured out that I was a quarian.
So how do you do this?
- Okay…so I probably spent a little too much money on the effort, for not the greatest results. What I did is I bought a kids scuba diving suit for $35, because the material was thick, soft, but protective. Then I cut up the suit and sewed parts of it together to form a pair of quarian feet I could wear.
- Cheaper alternative: Buy felt, cut it up, sew/tape it to a pair of black socks. You could probably spend $2-$7 dollars on the effort.
The kid’s scuba diving suit that I mutilated. I cut off the legs….
To get a piece like this.
Which makes for a great leg piece.
And then I cut out a piece from the suit that would look like two toes, and sewed it to the leg piece.
- Discount Quarian: $22. This is how much you should spend if you took the cheapest route of everything I suggested. Congratulations on achieving your pilgrimage by expending so little resources. Your knowledge of thriftstore fu will surely make the flotilla proud.
- Premium Quarian: $230. Doing the most expensive option of everything I mentioned. Cue death scene music. You have failed.
- What I spent: Roughly $65. Okay, so I kinda failed too. I think if I didn’t make quarian feet out of a $35 kid’s scuba diving suit, and just used felt instead, I would have saved a good bit of money. But I really liked my results. Blegh. Hope you have a bit more will power than I do in this endeavor.
SOME PICTURES FROM AWESOME CON 2016 (MY PILGRIMAGE)
(Francisco X. Guerra’s Flickr)
(You see my hidden quarian face when the camera has flash. Drat!)