While she completed this incredible Astrid cosplay, Ninja (along with her sister at GeneralNinjaCosplay) was chosen as one of the grand prize winners of the 2020 CosBond Creator Contest. We got in touch with Ninja after the contest to learn more about her and her cosplay.
What is your cosplay/account name? Is there a story behind it?
I’ve always been described as a ninja (I’m fairly quiet and have a habit of accidentally and not so accidentally sneaking up on people) to the point where I earned the nickname NinjaLynn. When it came time to come up with a cosplay name, my sister and I wanted it to describe both of us, so General (as in 4 Star General) for her and Ninja for me.
How long have you been cosplaying? How did you get started?
I’ve been into video games, manga, and anime since I was young, but growing up in the middle of nowhere there weren’t many cosplaying or con opportunities (let’s just say I didn’t even know there were other comic cons outside of San Diego until I went to the Phoenix one) so it wasn’t until 2016 that I ever cosplayed and went to a con (Phoenix Comic Con at the time, now Phoenix Fan Fusion). The General had already been cosplaying and going to the con for a couple of years and then when I got a job in the area she got me to finally join in with her. It was such a blast that I’ve been absolutely hooked to cosplaying ever since.
What were some of your earliest cosplays like?
My first ever cosplay was, unsurprisingly, Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon 2. I don’t yet have a very big arsenal of cosplays since I just started cosplaying in 2016 and only created my second (Lagertha) in 2019. Do I have an apparent obsession with cosplaying viking characters? Yes, yes I do.
For my first Astrid build I had just started at my job and was short on money, my outfit was fully thrifted. Hilariously when I bought the fur coat that I would use for all the fur components, the cashier thought I was wanting to create Macklemore’s Thrift Shop outfit. For the most part the outfit turned out amazing, though it did take me a couple of years to figure out a way to keep the skirt from falling throughout the day due to weight from the plaster I used for the skulls and spikes. I’m hoping to remake it soon to be lighter and more accurate to the movie!
It took me a couple of years to finally add a new cosplay to my repertoire, and the character I chose was Lagertha. For her I did want to be as accurate as possible, so I did end up buying, not thrifting, most of the outfit components. While I am still making updates to Lagertha, I’m still proud of how it turned out.
How has your creative process changed over time?
With my first Astrid I basically just jumped into making the outfit without really planning anything. Since then, especially with making Astrid 3, I’ve learned that I need to do my best to sketch out all the components of the cosplay so I can better understand what materials and techniques I’m going to need for the build. I’ve also learned and and become obsessed with the technique of creating a duct tape mold of your torso to use for creating a pattern that fits you perfectly. Using that technique has made me feel more comfortable with creating armor and other tailored pieces.
What are your favorite parts of a cosplay build? What does your process look like?
My favorite part is when I finally figure out how I’m going to build or what technique I’m going to use to create a detail that I’ve been stuck on for months. One such detail was not only how I was going to create the scales for my Astrid 3 armor (started with Eva foam and ended with hot glue), but how I was going to paint them to be as realistic as possible. Finally figuring out both and seeing the end result was absolutely amazing!
My process starts with research: image gathering, sketches of each part, material lists, and watching/reading up on any techniques that I may need to use for the build. Next I buy the materials and tools I’ll need. This can sometimes take a while since I’m very particular on finding the perfect fabric for the build.
If I’m utilizing a new technique to create the cosplay, I’ll choose a part of the cosplay that uses as much of the technique as possible but isn’t too complex. For my Astrid 3 build I had to learn how to work with EVA foam and how to make it look like leather, so the piece I chose as the guinea pig was the top layer of the vambraces. I probably went through about 7 layers of paint before landing on the perfect leathering effect! Especially if it’s a large, complex build, after I’ve figured out what I’m doing technique-wise I’ll break down the cosplay into small builds so I don’t feel so overwhelmed with how much there is to do and get to work.
What are your favorite characters/types of characters to cosplay?
I think at this point my love of viking builds is a given. =)
Another obsession that I haven’t been able to build yet but hopefully will be soon is assassins/ninjas/rogues. One project I hope to tackle soon will meld two of my favorites beautifully – Eivor from Assassin’s Creed Vallhalla. An assassin viking? Yes please!!
If I had to boil it down I would have to say main draw is basically a kick-ass character with a really cool outfit.
How do you show off your cosplay? Do you attend cons, do photoshoots, etc.?
We attend as many local cons as possible, the big one being Phoenix Fan Fusion along with smaller library sponsored ones. We hope to start going to other large cons soon, but mainly that depends on how close it is as well as if we can take the time off.
Now that we are on social media (and haven’t been able to attend a con for a while) we are mainly doing photoshoots. They’ve been a blast since they allow us to better show off the characters in more realistic settings.
What’s your dream cosplay?
I’m not going to lie – it would be my Astrid 3 armor. I have been absolutely obsessed with her armor ever since the movie came out, which is probably the only reason I was able to finish such a complex build so early in my cosplay career. While I don’t exactly consider them a “dream cosplay” on the level of Astrid’s armor, the next ones I can’t wait to do are Eivor from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and the Nightingale armor from Skyrim.
Do you have any funny cosplay stories or memories?
One of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed was when I was in my Astrid 2 cosplay at a con and was taking a picture with this little girl. When someone wants a picture of me I let them hold my axe, and if they are a younger kid I’ll let them pretend to swing the axe at me (while I act scared) so they can have a funny photo. Well I gave this little girl my axe and she straight up started cackling.
Like an absolute mad man.
She somehow managed to cackle even more evilly when I suggested she swing the axe at me. I could barely stop laughing long enough for her parents to get a good photo. She’s definitely going far in life.
What are some of your favorite things about the cosplay community?
I absolutely love how excited people get over each other’s cosplays. Cons are so awesome because it’s just full of people going “Oh my gosh! I love your cosplay that’s my favorite character!”
Another thing I love is how creative cosplayers are. From the hilarious videos and images created for social media to all the imaginative cosplay character blends like the Disney Princess Boba Fett, Bob Ross Deadpool, and Cyberpunk Ciri from the Witcher I’m just constantly amazed with what people can come up with.
What are some cosplay goals you have going forward?
I really want to start incorporating LEDs and other mechanical components to my builds. One of my goals is to be able to create some realistic looking magic/fantasy type weapons for some of my upcoming builds.
What inspires you to keep making cosplay?
I’d say there are two main reasons. I’ve always been a very creative person, and building cosplays allows me to funnel a lot of different creative components into one build. The other is how genuinely happy your cosplay can make both kids and adults. It’s so fun to hear kids squeal with joy when they catch sight of a favorite character.
Where can we find your cosplay online?
Right now we’re mainly on instagram and facebook under the name GeneralNinjaCosplay.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Mainly to thank you for holding this contest! Since our usual con events were cancelled I’m sure I would have never completed Astrid’s armor if I didn’t have the deadline from competing in it!