Making the Brave Little Toaster Cosplay

I'm a casual cosplayer who knows very little when it comes to making costumes or props. Many of my friends have insanely crazy talents when it comes to bringing comic and video game characters to life. I may lack their talent but I have plenty of creativity to fall back on. One simple but creative cosplay of mine became a very unexpected hit, the Brave Little Toaster, so I thought I'd share its story.

A couple years back I tried to think of a cosplay that was really easy to make, something I liked, and something I have not seen yet. Disney's the Brave Little Toaster came to mind because what's easier than putting eyes on a toaster? But it's an old and obscure movie and I assumed no one would know what it was. Before scratching the idea I asked the youngest friend I could think of, Tessa (who now goes by Alice), if she knew of the movie. Her knowledge of and love for the Brave Little Toaster gave me the confidence to go ahead and make it.

I started off with just Toaster, Blanky wrapped around him like a cape, and myself as Rob "the master" McGroarty. When debuting the new cosplay at Kollision Con 2013 (I think it was 2013) people not only recognized it, some were overly giddy about it. I remember saying to myself, "Wow, people actually like this. Maybe I should make the rest of the characters." And that's what I did, just on time for C2E2 2014.

Toaster was easy, he was just paper eyes and a color paper smile glued onto a toaster from eBay. And Blanky was just a cardboard box with a nose and eyes taped to a baby blanket.

Lampy took a little more creativity. I bought a lamp from a thrift store but it didn't quite look right. The lamp clamped to my art desk however was the perfect shape. I cut off the cord and used molding clay to make the cheeks and eyebrows. I needed to heat the clay in the oven to harden it which brings up a concern. Is it okay to place a lamp in the oven? Thankfully things worked out.

After his face was in place it was just a matter of creating a base with cardboard then painting him.

Kirby took more creativity. I first hunted down a vacuum cleaner that looked like him. Oddly enough, Kirby looks nothing like any Kirby brand vacuums that I could find. After the right vacuum was purchased I built his face on top of the base using thin foam sheets from the kids section of Jo-Ann fabrics.

For the curve I had to hold everything in place with bricks as the glue dried. The rest of the facial features were duct taped into place which I would not advise doing because paint does not stick well to duct tape.

Unfortunately the vacuum I found had a red bag and Kirby has a green one. It was pretty easy to make a new bag out of green fabric and I simply cut out and sewed on the zipper from the old bag. I used a black sharpie to hide the visible red fabric from the zipper. It was important to keep this as a functional bag so I had a place to store my water, camera, and merch that I bought.

I could not find a radio that looked even slightly like Radio so he was made out of a styrofoam block, thin sheets of foam, and an antenna from Radio Shack. I eventually gutted the toaster to make it lighter and removed the grabber brushes and parts from the vacuum. Originally Kirby kept clinging onto trash but couldn't suck it in because he was never plugged in. This lead to me having to clean his mouth every 20 minutes which is why some functional parts had to go.

After I had the full gang I also had a massive cosplay hit. I seriously got lucky with this one. People have loved it which made me love carrying it to cons. I've had people literally in tears with excitement, and others chasing me down for a photo. The costume was even featured in Entertainment Weekly after winning a contest by LG. The biggest shocker came after Party Nerdz made a photo of me into a meme and one posting of it got shared over 68,000 times on facebook. Seriously, that is just crazy! It's such an honor to make so many people happy with some smiley faces and household appliances.

Photo credits: Shannon Cottrell, David Ngo

April 10 2016

posted by JoeyH