Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bringing law to Prestatyn Sector, Mega-city style

As I write this, I've finally succumbed to the Prestatyn Lurgey*. My body has been fighting it for some time now, but it appears that I was merely circling the drain. I'm fighting back a violent hacking cough and my nose, when not streaming, is buffering at the very least. Urrrrgh. Scientists even now are looking at the genetic possibilities of the feasibility of developing new strains of germ warfare by sticking loads of science fiction geeks into a dingy welsh holiday camp for a weekend.

You'll note that the whole SFX blog write-up tended to lose steam after that first eager post - this is partially due to laziness on my part (and British Gas and telly programmes to whinge about) but also because my SFX  experience changed dramatically come the second day.

You may have established from a year or so back from the sad saga of armour-building that I have an interest in science fiction costumes or, more to the point, Cosplay. The week before the SFX Weekender I finally got my hands on a Replica Judge uniform courtesy of the talented people at Planet Replicas - I'll admit I haven't read 2000ad for many, many years but I'm still a huge Dredd fan and drawing sketches of this iconic uniform were probably the first ever proper drawings I'd ever done.

I'd been introduced to the charity organisation Galactic Knights at the SFX at Camber Sands the year previously (mainly through an awesome Colonial Marine outfit - Aliens is another huge Sci-Fi love - and some incredible Star Wars stuff), so upon receiving the costume set about joining them, getting clearance for accuracy of the costume and then had intended to meet up with them at Prestatyn.

Those of you who know me well know that I'm pretty much all bravado on this blog. I'm incredibly shy in real life and incredibly awkward in social situations that involve meeting new people. Don't get me wrong - once I've got that out of the way I'm absolutely confident and fine - it's just that initial 'meeting strangers' thing.

After we'd seen the opening ceremony at SFX on the Friday morning and having a bit of a wander for an hour or so, we headed for a pint at the Queen Victoria (which, by law, all pubs in Pontins sites have to be called) where the Galactic Knights had their prop table set up in the far corner - an assortment of some brilliant pieces of work, including a huge Master Chief outfit (just rubbing it in, now), a full sized Jabba and a Han Solo in Carbonite.

I said my hellos - I'd already conversed with a few of the GK on the (incredibly friendly and welcoming) forums - and was asked if I'd bought the Judge suit with me and if I got it put on, I could troop with them straightaway. So, I headed back to the chalet, stuck my contact lens in (the helmet is such a perfect fit that it won't actually go over my head if I've got glasses on), got suited and booted (and we're talking serious bootage - huge with steel toe-caps) and wandered back to the pub.

Let's get this straight - the guys at Planet Replicas have done a fantastic job on the costume. It's 100% comic accurate and once you get used to the complexities that thanks to the shoulder pads you're almost as wide as you are tall, a joy to wear. Admittedly because of the custom sized leathers a very hot joy to wear, but a joy nonetheless. It's the little excellent details that make it; The individual gold Justice emblems on the belt and gloves, the eagle emblem etched across the top of the right shoulder pad - clearly made by fans for fans.

"Yes, of course a huge gun wielding guy on stilts in standing behind me.
A likely story, Citizen."
I'll be honest in that its quite exhilarating with the costume on. You're constantly being stopped for photographs  (or having your photograph taken by people who don't think you've seen them doing it) and it's very easy to fall into character. Nowhere else in life would I be able to get away with grabbing blokes a foot taller than me by the scruff of the neck when their partner asks for a photograph of you arresting them - or posing at beating them up Rodney King style.

2000ad were celebrating their 35th birthday at the Queen Vic on the Friday night and I was present in full costume at that (in my Court badge - a guy called Phill from GK way more fits the role of Dredd than I do, having both the height and a mastery of the attitude). I was also asked to patrol the queues on the Saturday  on the 2000ad stand while John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra (the original writer and artist of Dredd respectively) signed for fans for (an exhausting) two hours, and that was thoroughly entertaining. No-one batting an eyelid when you perform a bag-search on them, or when you ask a lady in a wheelchair to confirm that she has a licence for her vehicle. All just great fun and taken in the spirit in which it's intended.

But the unintended trooping meant I didn't see half as much of the weekender as I'd intended - it was just too much damn fun trooping around in the costume.  At least we all got to be in fancy dress together for the Maskerade Ball at the closing of the weekender on the Saturday night, although the Judge Uniform is not designed for dancing to Craig Charles. Who, from his expanded pupils whilst on the decks should have been considerably more concerned by the presence of the Law than he appeared. And the evening was neatly closed off by Darren from the Galactic Knights adorning my armour with the GK decal - officially welcoming me into the fold. They're such an incredibly nice and welcoming group of people, and I'm eagerly looking forward to meeting up with them again.

So, I'm hooked. Dressing up as fictional cartoon fascists is fun.

* Which has been officially designated by the Centre for Disease Control as "Science-Fictionus-Shitty-Food-and-weather-itis".

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