Spotlight – Mitchell of Paladin Props

Mitchell (3)

Hey, it’s Trevor with ComicCon.tips and I’m here today with Mitchell. Mitchell tell us about yourself:

Mitchell
Hey yeah, I grew up loving Halloween. Halloween was my favorite holiday ever, being able to dress up in costumes. I always had to best myself from the year before. And so I think that’s where my love of costuming and cosplay came in. Growing up and watching the Star Wars movies and I love Star Wars.

Trevor
We did a shoot a few minutes ago and Mitchell is doing a Mandalorian. Before we get into that, Mitchell has a page, tell us about your page.

Mitchell:
Yeah, I have a Facebook page called Paladin Props on Facebook where I post my work in progress and pictures and such. https://www.facebook.com/paladinprops

Trevor:
So, Halloween. What was your coolest costume when you were doing Halloweens?

Mitchell:
With the help of my seamstress mom, I did an Organization 13 cloak from Kingdom Hearts and a full-size Keyblade. That was probably my coolest one.

Trevor:
What did you make the keyblade out of?

Mitchell:
PVC pipe and wood.

Trevor:
So you started doing costuming on the Halloween level and suddenly that turned into more.

Mitchell (1)Mitchell:
Yeah, when they announced Salt Lake Comic Con 2013 I was really stoked and decided it was time to make a good one to wear.

Trevor:
That’s when you built this costume?

Mitchell:
That’s when I built the prototype to this one.

Trevor:
What was different between your prototype and this one?

Mitchell:
The chest and ab plates were too small on the old one, so I made some new better fitting ones. Added a lot of, the costume community calls them Greeblys. Or like little doodads all over to make it look more Star Warsy. And I had a scratch built helmet back then, it wasn’t perfectly clean or super nice or anything. So then I got a cast one – resin cast.

Trevor:
So tell us what you went through to make this costume:

Mitchell:
Yeah, so all of the armor plates are made from storage bins, so Sterilite storage tubs. And I took a Dremil rotary tool with a sanding disc on it to cut the pieces out. Then a sanding drum to clean the edges. Then I headed and formed everything with a heat gun. Which, anyone whose worked with this material knows, it takes a lot of work of just constantly bending it. Because basically what you’re doing is what it is designed not to do. It is designed to hold it’s original shape and we’re just bending it and changing it and it doesn’t like it too much. It’s a lot of work.

Trevor:
So what was the biggest challenge you had while working on this?

Mitchell:
Like I said the forming it, getting it to stay shape and then paint. Paint does not like to stick to this stuff. It took a lot of sanding and several coats. Then after wearing it to a convention or for a photoshoot or something, I’ll always wind up with chips in the paint. So I just add weathering to it and it looks like blasts and scrapes. It’s not too bad.

Trevor:
Silver paint, Rub-n-Buff?

Mitchell:
Yeah, Rub-n-Buff technique with silver and black acrylics over the spray paint.

Trevor:
Your gauntlets are different though.

Mitchell:
Yeah, these new gauntlets are made just recently before this past Salt Lake Comic Con 2014. They’re made of Syntra. It’s basically an expanded piece of PVC foam core board. So it’s basically a big sheet of PVC pipe if you will. And you can cut it out and you heat it up and it basically turns into the consistency of a tortilla. You place it right on you and let it cool. It holds it’s shape. It never truly cures, so you keep heating it up and bending it to get the right shape so it’s a lot nicer to work with. It holds paint amazingly well. It’s just a better material.

Trevor:
You have an interesting method of holding them together.

Mitchell:
Yeah, the gauntlets they close via the clamshell method on the forearms. Basically you take some piano hinges and cut it to the lengths you need and take the pin and bend it on the end. Then you just close the hinge and it closes it up for you.

Trevor:
So you have a purchased helmet as well. Tell us about the helmet and that process.

Mitchell:
The helmet when I bought it from a company called Headshot Props. Based in California. I bought it online on Etsy. It comes raw cast. That means the helmet still has bubbles, little minor defects here and there. You have to cut the visor out. Clean it. Bondo to fill in any bumps and then sand. Put the ear caps on. Put all that stuff together then put the visor in and such.

Trevor:
What did you do the visor with?

Mitchell:
The visor is just a green welding visor shield. Or a grinder shield. I got it at a local weld shop for like $6.

Trevor:
I also noticed you had a big vinyl suit that went underneath the whole thing. Did you sew that?

Mitchell:
There are two different parts of it, there’s the flight suit. The whole underneath onesie thing, and I actually bought that. It’s an air force flight suit. I bought it from a local military outlet. Then I have a vest that goes over that, where all of the pieces attach. That’s the vinyl piece. We sewed that custom.

Trevor:
So you also had a utility belt.

Mitchell:
The belt strap itself is made of webbing. Then all of the pouches are vinyl. We custom made those. Held together with rivets and there were snaps on the front for the pouch to open and close. I’ve got a purchased ammo pouch that goes on the very back. Then I have custom holsters for my two sidearm blasters. We custom made those as well.

The blasters are just Wal-Mart old west cap guns. I cut the barrells off and got some PVC pipe pieces and glued those into the end. Then sanded and cleaned it all up and painted it. They’re some sort of gasket type piece a connector from a smaller to bigger piece.

There are also some grenades strapped to the holsters as well. Those are PVC pipe gaskets. And I custom made some caps for the ends out of Sintra.

Trevor:
So now you have a Mandalorian costume and you want to become a Mandalorian merc at some point right?

Mitchell:
Yeah, I’m going to be submitting my application photos shortly. Basically you go onto their forums: mandalorianmercs.com and you can find the CRLs, which are the rules for what your costume needs to have and can’t have. The primary rules includes materials that your costume can be made of. Plastic tubs, Sintra, PVC pipe. Anything like that.

Trevor:
What is it not allowed to be made out of?

Mitchell:
Cardboard. I think foam is banned. I’m not 100% sure on that. Paper. Things that don’t look great. Because they do have standards. They also have methods for how you attach it. You can’t use tape and a few other things. You can’t attach the plates to the vest with glue. It has to be riveted or heavy duty velcro. Which is what I use, heavy duty velcro. So it holds it down tight. The plastic tubs like to bend and hold their shape. They cover things like that. Paint scheme is pretty much open to whatever you want to do. They don’t really crack down on style as much as quality.

You can find all of the rules on their site and in the forums. If you want to start doing it, you can post a work in progress thread and get some advice. Ask tons of questions. There are thousands of people on there all the time, with really great people it’s an awesome community.

Trevor:
So tell us about Mandalorians for those that don’t know.

Mitchell:
The Mandalorians is a race in the Star Wars universe. They’re very similar to humans. They practically are humans in their race. They have their own culture and history and language and things. It’s very warrior based. They’re very war-like people. Then there are different eras as well throughout the time of Star Wars. It goes back forever, which used to be the expanded universe, which I think they call Star Wars Legends now that Disney bought it. It goes clear back, there are early Crusader which is hunter, woodland type, leather armor types. Then there are neo-crusader era which is where they almost all look exactly the same. According to the stories Mandalore issued the armor instead of having their own kind of a thing. Not a lot of people do that kind because most people like to be creative. That seems to be the main draw to the Mercs is because it’s an official costuming club, but you can be creative with it. You don’t have to be screen accurate. These characters aren’t from the movies, they’re from our own creations and stuff.

Then there is the modern era. That’s the plate configuration like what I have like Jengo Fett and Boba Fett. That sort of era. Then canon, which would be Boba Fett, Jengo Fett, the Mandalorians from the comics and from the Clone Wars TV show. Those have to be screen accurate because they’re from canon.

My color scheme is white and green with a little bit of gold. I picked it because I liked it.

Trevor:
Have you come up with a character background?

Mitchell:
Slightly. The name is Van Pelt. Which has been my gaming handle since I was a little kid. I got it from Jumanji.

Trevor:
So now anyone that wants to can find you to play games?

Mitchell:
Yeah.

It’s from Jumanji. The hunter with the big elephant gun (Robin Williams) is named Van Pelt. I thought that was pretty sweet and now it’s just been around. Just a brief background I’ve come up with is he’s from Aldaran. Pre the galactic empire, it hasn’t been blown up by the death star yet. A little bit after the old republic but before Episode I.

Trevor:
So tell me about your convention experiences:

Mitchell:
I’ve met a lot of people. The geek culture here in Utah has exploded. It’s been a lot of fun to dress up. Everyone wants pictures and they get excited.

Trevor:
What has been your favorite memory so far?

Mitchell:
I got to take pics with the Crate clan and meet Jeremy Bullock (who plays Boba Fett) and Daniel Logan who plays young Boba Fett in Episode II. Two great actors and great guys. We got to escort them on stage for their panel.

Trevor:
What are your 5 top tips for convention goers?

Mitchell:

  1. Cosplay something you love. You’re going to want to put passion, work and time into.
  2. Drink lots of water. Especially if you’re in a big heavy hot costume. You need to stay hydrated.
  3. Don’t go with extremely high expectations. You never know what will happen. Pieces can break and bad things can happen. Manage your expectations and you’ll have a great time.
  4. Take glue. If you have pieces that are glued. Take supplies that you need to repair things. Things will break.
  5. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Get to know the community and the people and be happy. I think that’s the most important thing is to have fun.

Check out more about Mitchell on his Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paladinprops

Mitchell (2)

Trevor Nielson
Writer & Photographer at ComicCon.tips
An avid photographer and con-goer, Trevor has spent the last few years developing great affection towards the cosplay community and comic conventions. Back in the day, Trevor spent all his spare time in the theater designing and building sets and lighting schemes. More recently Trevor has dabbled a little with cosplay by building an elaborate Burger King costume and lit Kevin Flynn. But in relation to cosplay, Trevor is probably most passionate about cosplay photography. Here on CosplayForAll, you'll find many of his spotlight articles and photos of local cosplayers showing off their amazing creations. Feel free to get in touch with him if you have any questions or requests.

Trevor Nielson

An avid photographer and con-goer, Trevor has spent the last few years developing great affection towards the cosplay community and comic conventions. Back in the day, Trevor spent all his spare time in the theater designing and building sets and lighting schemes. More recently Trevor has dabbled a little with cosplay by building an elaborate Burger King costume and lit Kevin Flynn. But in relation to cosplay, Trevor is probably most passionate about cosplay photography. Here on CosplayForAll, you'll find many of his spotlight articles and photos of local cosplayers showing off their amazing creations. Feel free to get in touch with him if you have any questions or requests.

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