Top 5 Cosplay Props and Armor of 2016

So guys, we’re nearly halfway through the year. Already. How did that happen? (Rhetorical question, I understand how the flow of time works.)

I’ve decided to take a look at some of the amazing things we’ve seen 3D printed in the wonderful world of Cosplay so far in 2016. It was very difficult to narrow it down to 5, let’s have a look!


1. Embers of War – Grand Marshall Gwen

1700 hours and 11 printers went into this amazing creation by cosplayer Bindi Smalls, which she wore to PAX East, Boston in April this year. Unbelievably, it was made in just a month with assistance from Sox Cosplay and Props.






2. Overwatch – Tracer’s Pistols

Overwatch has already proven to be a contender for game of the year, with IGN giving it an amazing rating of 9.4. Before the game was even released we started seeing amazing cosplay of the game’s characters.

Simone Fontana put his skills to work and created Tracer’s pistols from the game. You can find his design at My Mini Factory.




3. God of War – Blades of Chaos

You too can be Kratos from God of War! Kirby Downey is responsible for these amazing replicas, with assistance from Sarah Wade in the painting department. His design can be found here.




4. Winter Faun – Bindi Smalls

Another amazing creation from cosplayer Bindi Smalls is her original design for a winter faun. The antlers and hooves are 3D printed, and look so beautiful in their translucent blue, which apparently picks up light very well.




5. Dreamer Regalia Armour – Melissa NG

New York based self taught artist and 3D printer Melissa NG worked with actress and all round geek Felicia Day to create this gorgeous armor set. As a big fan of both of theirs, I am in love with this armor set and I think it is my personal favorite on this list. It is so beautifully intricate in its design, and has been based off Guild Wars 2 armor, Codex (from The Guild)’s armor, and partially from the idea of an “Elven Dream Goddess”.








Bonus Entrant: Battle Armor – For a Cat

While it was technically created in December last year, I’m still including it in this list. Because it’s armor for a cat. FOR A CAT!



I’m more of a dog person, but I’d be willing to get a cat just to turn it into a Battle Cat.

Stay tuned for more amazing 3D printed cosplay as the convention season really kicks into gear over summer.

Maker completes amazing Embers of War cosplay with 11 3D printers & 1700 print hours

Over the past few years, 3D printing has been increasingly recognized as an excellent tool for completing that one cosplay outfit for a special Con. Good luck getting your hands on that specific sword, those throwing stars or even that helmet without it. In many cases, a 3D printed accessory is the perfect addition to any costume, but some makers – like prop specialist Bindi Smalls – take things a bit further. For her fantastic cosplay of Gwen, the Grand Marshall from the forthcoming Embers of War game, she harnessed the making power of eleven 3D printers for a combined 1700 hours of print time.

If Bindi looks familiar, that might be because you’ve seen her at Cons before. A dedicated prop maker and cosplayer, Bindi Smalls became a firm believer in the power of 3D printing three years ago. Since then, most of her amazing cosplays have relied on 3D printed accessories. Few projects, however, required as much 3D printing as her new Grand Marshall Gwen cosplay.


Remarkably, it’s based on a game that isn’t even out yet. Embers of War is a highly anticipated action-packed, sci-fi tower defense game, featuring countless power customization options for players. Developed by Dark Rift Entertainment, its currently a huge hit at the ongoing PAX 2016 convention in Boston. As if Dark Rift’s booth wasn’t appealing enough already, Bindi was asked to make this life-sized suit as an eye catcher.

What’s more, she did so in just a month. “It seemed like an impossible deadline, but we made it & I'm super happy with the result,” she says. Now that sounds like an impossible project; most of those show-stealing 3D printed Iron Man or Batman costumes take at least a year to make using just a single 3D printer. But through GeekFabLab in Colorado, Bindi harnessed the power of a massive eleven 3D printers to complete the project – which were running for a total of 1700 3D printing hours.




This mind-blowing project obviously requires a solid 3D printing farm. As Bindi explained, they relied on nine LulzBot TAZ 3D printers, one LuzBot Mini, and a Form 2 3D printer. To make the project as efficient as possible and reduce the need for reprints as much as they could, they only used eSun PLA filament. “We prefer PLA versus ABS because ABS tends to warp when printing such large parts. Plus, PLA printed with 6 perimeters and 20-40% infill is EXTREMELY strong,” she revealed.

This 3D printing farm actually grew up naturally over the last three years, Bindi revealed. Starting with a single LulzBot TAZ 1 3D printer bought with their own money, the GeekFabLab’s capacity continued to expand as demands for services and 3D printed props continued to grow. Five 3D printers were even brought in for this project. “After 3 years, here we are, with 11 printers,” she says. “All the printers used, (except one) we bought used/refurbished. This helped us cut down on the cost quite a bit.”


But this cosplay is impressive for more than just its tight deadline. As Embers of War isn’t even out yet, Bindi had very little data to base her design on. “I was provided the in-game assets (3D models) for the character. They're relatively low-poly, meaning they don't have the same amount of detail as what I'd like to print in the end,” she says. This meant quite a lot of work went into creating more detailed parts, which were all realized in Blender software.



But Bindi did have one big advantage. As it happens, she let herself be 3D scanned by Shapify at CES last year, and she has been using that scan as a base for every 3D printed costume since then. “If you want to 3D print your own armor/props, I highly recommend getting a 3D scan of yourself. You can even use a Microsoft Kinect to make one!,” she says. Using that accurate file, Bindi was able to realize perfectly scaled armor pieces, each limited in size by the 3D printer’s 12" x 11" x 10" build volume.

All in all, she ended up with about 80 different pieces, which were all 3D printed with the farm. But with so many parts, processing is the real challenge. Firstly, all the parts needed to be sanded extensively, while layer gaps needed to be filled. “I used wall spackle between the layers, and then sand it all down,” Bindi says. After sanding, a first coat of filler primer is added. This was again sanded down, only to be sprayed again. That process continues again and again with different sandpaper grit levels, until a desired result is achieved – which usually takes about five coats of primer. “This is the most time consuming part of the process,” she admitted.




Once everything is sanded smooth, a base coat of paint is added, followed by a darker coat. “I used mineral spirits to rub away the darker coat, revealing the bright coat underneath. I really like this method of weathering, it appears much more natural and there are no brush strokes!” Bindi says. To glue everything in place, Barge Cement was used and left to set for up to 48 hours.

Using a dress form, all the parts were systematically assembled with straps and clips to form a wearable whole. “First I sew all the straps on to the clips. Then, I put foam inside the parts where the straps will hold, hot glue the straps in place, and reinforce that with hot glue over all the edges,” Bindi reveals. Only the boots required a bit more work, and feature a flat steel bar structure inside. “The bars are relatively thin, but strong enough to hold every piece in place even when I'm wearing them,” Bindi says. It ensures rigidity, though it does make the boots quite heavy.



It’s absolutely crazy to think that this whole suit was made in just one month, but the results are truly spectacular. It was one of Bindi’s biggest projects so far, and it really showcases her making talent. If you’re interested, you can still catch the Embers of War booth at PAX in Boston until Sunday.


Described as an "action-packed, story driven 3D tower defense game".

BY LUCY O'BRIEN Fledgling studio Dark Rift Entertainment has announced its new game, Embers of War.

The 14-individual studio, made up of a large number of ex-Blizzard staff, describes the game as an "action-packed, story driven 3D tower defense game set in a robust sc-fi universe." Embers of War will feature two playable heroes, fully customizable towers and weapons, and 20-30 levels for launch. A number of game levels are also being designed to support co-op play, while voice talent includes Matt Mercer (Fallout 4) and Ashly Burch (Life is Strange).

Check out some of the art and the first trailer for Embers of War below, and you can play the demo if you're heading to PAX East this week.

In Lenovo’s experimental Game State, development is a gamer democracy

Lenovo may be better known for its straitlaced ThinkPad notebooks than neon-lit gaming machines, but that hasn’t stopped the company from wading in. In late 2015, Lenovo surprised onlookers by launching the Game State project to create a crowd-sourced action game, along with indie developer Dark Rift.

“Gamers are a passionate group,” explained Ajit Sivadasan, Lenovo’s Vice President of Global eCommerce, who conceived of the project.

Although not much of a gamer himself, Sivadasan recognized the ever-increasing cultural importance of gaming, and the immense potential of the Internet to bring large communities together in unprecedented ways. He told Digital Trends he had conceived of Game State as an experiment to leverage this potential energy for a new kind of community-driven development. “Dark Rift,” a small team comprising former Blizzard developers, “was a perfect fit for this project” because of its AAA pedigree combined with a willingness to go out on a limb with an unusual process.

Game State is an unprecedented effort, not just for Lenovo, but for game design.

Game State’s first project is a 3D action tower-defense game, somewhat reminiscent of Dungeon Defenders, but with a science-fiction theme as opposed to fantasy. The rough concept for the game was already sketched out before the project launched this past November, so Lenovo’s assembled community has helped flesh out the particulars.

The process has been divided into four “Missions,” each lasting for one month and focusing on a particular area of the game’s development. The team at Dark Rift share their work on each element of the game, then open it up to feedback from the Game State community. Fan suggestions throughout the process are submitted and uploaded to a community site, where people can comment on and upvote suggestions in order to arrive at popular consensus.

Related: Check out Lenovo’s super-thin Yoga 900S, Razer desktop

The first mission, “The Good Guys, the Bad Guys, and the Weapons” focused on the conceptual design of the world and its characters, both heroes and villains. Mission 2, “Defend Your Territory,” looked at the game’s level designs and environments. Mission 3, “Live or Die,” which is currently running, is focused on weapons and the more cosmetic elements of the game, such as lighting and effects. Finally, Mission 4 will entail actually playtesting the resulting game.

Sivadasan is most proud of the community Game State has amassed already. More than 10,000 users are actively engaged in the project, checking in daily for an average of three minutes at a time to see the latest developments. Lenovo drew those numbers by tapping four partners already deeply embedded in the Internet gaming community: Geek & Sundry, Rooster Teeth, Machinima, and Funhaus.

Related: Hard-earned tips you’ll need to take back Earth in XCOM 2

Game State is an unprecedented effort, not just for Lenovo, but for game design. Early access has become an increasingly common way for smaller developers to get their games into the hands of players for feedback before release, but that generally happens only after the core of the game itself has been more thoroughly developed. Apart from fringe cases like the bizarre #IDARB, there are no major examples of crowd-sourced development quite like this — especially none with the backing of a major hardware player like Lenovo.

Lenovo has simultaneously been following a more traditional route into hardware with its Y-Series gaming gear, developed in partnership with the vets at Razer . Sivadasan told us that the next step for Lenovo’s gaming hardware business is to allow a greater degree of customization to its customers. “Choosing exactly the components you want is one of the big appeals of PC gaming,” Sivadasan says. “We want to provide for that sense of personal investment, to a limited degree.”

What’s the future for Lenovo Game State? “We’ve been very pleased by the response from the community, and will likely announce more projects later this year. STEM [Science, Technology, Education, and Math] education is obviously a hugely important area now, and could be a great focus for a project like this.”

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What is the state of gaming? This is a question that’s pretty tough to ponder considering how rapidly video games are spreading into people’s everyday lives. Lenovo wants to do their part in increasing the growth of our beloved medium with a new video game initiative they have called Game State. Teaming up with the development studio Dark Rift, Lenovo is on a mission to make the ultimate indie tower defense game, and they want you to be a part of it.

Lenovo and Dark Rift are asking for your input on any and all aspects of the game in the works. Sharing pointless opinions has a tendency to inspire digs and shade, but at the Game State Headquarters, all thoughts will be welcome. The initiative hopes to bring gamers together through the spirit of creativity, and the love of video games. So leave all of your fussing at the door, because the Game State Headquarters was built to be the home of a specific group of people: unbelievably cool kids.

Think you got what it takes to make the game? Head on over to their website and put on your best game development hat. And keep in mind: you may take home some cool Lenovo swag or even get your creations put into the final product.

Inside Independent Game Studio Dark Rift Entertainment

Kevin Cooper was a working paralegal studying to become a lawyer when he realized he wasn’t passionate about the direction his career was heading in. Inspired by his childhood friend Nigel Nikitovich (who had attended Full Sail University, graduated from the Computer Animation program, and started a career at game studio Blizzard Entertainment), Kevin enrolled in Full Sail’s Game Art degree program. It was during his time in school that he began planting the seeds of the idea for a gaming company that would pay homage to the games that he and his friends played as kids – and expand upon them to create a new breed of gaming experiences. That company became Dark Rift Entertainment, and Kevin wouldn’t be steering that ship alone.

“The entire plan from the get-go was for me to go to Full Sail and learn to work on games, and Nigel would continue working in the game industry, and when I was done with school we would unite and start our own company,” Kevin says. “Every night after class, I would go home and call Nigel up on Skype. We would talk about the details for hours.”

The plan was set into motion after Kevin graduated in 2014 and started Dark Rift as President of the company. Nigel joined the team in Irvine, CA as Vice-President/Creative Director. Edo Von Muralt, a classmate of Kevin’s in the Game Art program and a frequent participant for many of the Skype sessions, became Dark Rift’s 3D Art Generalist. After releasing their first title as a mobile game, the group – a total of eight members – decided to focus on a bigger-scale project: the company’s first PC/console game which is currently in development.

The game – whose title is still being worked out – is a fusion of visceral first/third-person action, strategic tower defense, and hero management set in an original science fiction/fantasy universe. Drawing upon the classic archetypes of charismatic heroes going head-to-head with malevolent evil forces, the group also plans to branch off into a comic book and series of graphic novels to build upon the world that the game introduces.

“We’re not just building a game, but an entire universe. We’re attempting to build a franchise,” says Kevin. “Many franchises have different genres of games, from first-person shooters to role playing to real time strategy, and many more. At Dark Rift, we wanted to create a universe/story that allowed us to branch into all those different types of games.”

“Our inspiration came from our combined gaming history – what we all enjoyed playing when we were growing up, and what we enjoy playing now as adults,” says Nigel. “It was a culmination of our experiences and our creative passions.”

Launching such a large endeavor is challenging in its own right; doing so in the realm of an independent gaming studio can at times make the process seem even more daunting. While the company has doubled in size, adding members from companies such as EA, 2K Games, and 20th Century Fox to its ranks, the act of wrangling everyone’s ideas into one unified direction can often be quite a task to handle.

“The production is a bit slower than in a major studio, which can be frustrating at times because it takes months before being able to see any results,” says Edo. “And even though we are a small team, there are still a lot of egos to manage and we had to spend a lot of time to create a structure that can accommodate everybody.”

“The advice I would give to anyone who wants to start a company is to make sure you build yourself an awesome team. If you want to do big and great things, you can’t just do it by yourself,” says Kevin. “Great ideas are created when a group of talented individuals get together and collaborate – it’s key in problem-solving and overcoming obstacles.”

While Dark Rift has faced numerous obstacles, the fact that so many of the company’s members are Full Sail alumni has definitely been an asset to their production workflow. And their hard work is paying off. The team recently partnered with Lenovo on a tower defense action project called Gamestate. These grads definitely acknowledge that their shared background has definitely given them an advantage when experiencing the pressures of completing projects on time and having to work together as a single unit.

“It’s great to be able to work with good friends who I’ve known for many years and share the same experiences that I had,” says Kevin. “Every day is like Final Project. We come in and bust our butts every day to make sure we produce the best possible product we can.”

“Our main goal for this game is to get our foot in the door of the gaming community and to give back to something that all of us have always been on the receiving end of; we also want players to respect us as game developers and storytellers,” says Nigel. “If successful in terms of reaching the amount of players we hope to reach, we would absolutely love to continue working within this franchise that we are creating.”

Dark Rift, Lenovo Partner To Develop Indie Game Based On Player Recommendations

A new game blending tower defense action gameplay with heroes in a science fiction setting is coming out from an independent development team named Dark Rift Entertainment, in collaboration with Lenovo. The building process begins this month, but the team is taking a different approach to its creation by incorporating recommendations from the public.

The project is called "Gamestate," and over the course of four months, Dark Rift will keep interested players in the loop on the game's development, and by partnering with Lenovo and other groups such as Machinima, Rooster Teeth, and Geek and Sundry, the team is also asking the public to provide input on various elements such as story ideas, missions, and even the game's title.

Gamestate will have four phases, one for each month of development. The first phase in November is mostly an introductory phase, where the developers lay out their base foundation for the game and then asks for ideas from the public. The second phase in December is more of a discussion of certain elements and what can be done in the game with the assets available.

January brings with it another round of recommendations, this time with details such as lighting, sound, special effects and the development of a demo. The last step is in February, when the developers will take the somewhat-finished product and test a preview and demo for the players. After that, the game is set for release sometime in June 2016.

Obviously, the entire process is highly risky, even with the partnership with multiple sources for a potential fanbase. Lenovo and Dark Rift will provide updates over the next few weeks, but right now the focus is to get enough players interested in the idea.