October 16, 2017

Chibicon 2017 – My boss is a closet Ginga fan?!

Hello geeks!

It's been a while since my last convention, which was Närcon, but this past Saturday I went on a really spontaneous one-day trip to Oulu with a completely different con company than usual!
It all started a few weeks ago when I learned that my awesome cinema boss, Carina, has a daughter who's into anime and manga. Said daughter wants to start cosplaying, and had never been to an anime convention before, and so my boss asked me if I could accompany her to Skecon next month because she was too scared to go alone. But Sabine, the daughter, seemingly started doubting because Skellefteå is still quite a distance away and it's a 3-day con to boot – that's when I suddenly remembered that hey, Chibicon was coming to Oulu soon! This was literally like a couple days before the con, no joke. So I told my boss about this mini con, that could serve as a good first step for Sabine, and after some thinking we decided to go there by car, all three of us. :D

Chibicon was held on 14th October at Pohjankartano in Oulu. This year's theme was horror and it was visible when you looked at what people were wearing – I saw someone dressed in an It inspired clown costume, to name one. I've also been an It clown, but that was at work.

Chibicon info booklet.
Because of how sudden the decision to go to Chibicon was I went there as a filthy casual, meaning I had no cosplay on. :'D I don't regret it though, the weather was not the best and I'm still not 100% snotfree from the flu I ran into a while ago...

The Chibicon morning was pretty chaotic, not gonna lie. I had been told that we would leave for Oulu 9 in the morning, Swedish time. I was at my mom's place and made sure to be ready by then but it soon turned out that Carina was late and it turned out that the reason was that Sabine was impossible to get out of bed – in fact she was still sleeping way past the decided time, lol. So le boss came to pick me up first and then we drove back to her apartment and I went to wake Sabine up; she wasn't too happy because she had a great dream or something. x) Oh well, we got into the car and started driving to Oulu.
We accidentally drove past Oulu first but we got to Chibicon in one piece, albeit late. I must mention that during the car trip I played Pokémon Go and when we got to Oulu city I screamed in the car because I found my second shiny Magikarp as my first ever Pokémon in Oulu, what's the fucking odds?! Fun fact: I've caught 96 Magikarps in the game and got two shinies, insaaaaaaaaaaaaane. ::DD

Golden paper ticket. Se ei oo kullattu vaan kullitettu.
My boss was the sweetest and paid for my con ticket (she paid for her daughter as well), which cost 10 € at the door. ;A; I must admit that I was disappointed to see that it was paper tickets since I collect con tickets and the paper ones die fast and don't have the same collecting value, lol. Oh well, at least it was a fancy shining gold color.

Generic con photo of the building.
I felt dumb when I realized in the car that I had forgotten my powerbank in my other bag and thus I couldn't explore the nearby area in Pokémon Go. In the end it was no big deal because I was busy looking after Sabine and helping her with her purchases etc – she was way too shy/afraid/awkward to pay for her own stuff herself in the sense of handing out the money to the seller, so I did that for her. I didn't mind helping her though, I totally understand why she felt that way and I've been similar for many years ago too. She also can't speak Finnish so the language barrier probably had a role as well. ^^" I had to act as a translator because I was the only one of us three who could speak Finnish, hehe.
It was amazing to see her loosen up and become braver and more self-confident as the day went on. I think visiting Chibicon was that first push that she needed to open up – she even started to plan cosplays for Skecon and that's amazing considering how she said in the car, mere hours before, how she could never wear a costume outside her home because people would see her. I'm really happy I could help her gain confidence and find a community that she feels included in. ♥ Now she's excited for Skecon and that was the point because there she'll be able to communicate with other Swedes and hopefully make friends and memories for life – all thanks to Chibicon serving as the first step towards a new world.
I know this sounds cheesy as fuck but it makes me genuinely happy to help out a fellow person who's had a tough life. I see parts of my former self in her and it's kind of a realization of how far I've come on my own journey ever since I started with this hobby – how much I've grown as a person thanks to it, in other words.

Main area seen from above. Urumi's shop visible.
Main area seen from above.
The first thing we did after getting our tickets was to check out the merchandise. This time it was only Urumi (as far as I could see, excluding the tables from other cons) and for me, as a con veteran by now, it was a bit disappointing that there weren't more sellers in such a big open area. Sabine of course was super excited and bought a lot of stuff – oh how I remember my first cons when I was like that. xD Nowadays I hardly buy anything unless I really want/need it.

Urumi's shop seen from the entrance.
It was nice to see Digimon merch!
Pokémon plushes you'll always find.
Not sure what all of these were but way too expensive imo. xD
Of course the Ginga Densetsu Weed plushes were there!
I was STOKED to find Monster Hunter merch that was not figurines!!
The Artist's Alley was located in the main hall as well, close to the windows. I was surprised when we were at this one table with a lot of canine art etc and my boss started asking me "is that silver?" and at first I was like "silver what?" and after a while I realized she must have meant Silver Fang, aka the name that Ginga Nagareboshi Gin went under in Sweden. She said that she had seen it for many many years ago and had the series on old VHS tapes – I was more than surprised! So yeah, it totally turned out that my boss is secretly a Ginga fan. xD I wouldn't have guessed and it was funny because she told me how she used to cry a lot when watching the series and it had somehow stuck to her – she didn't remember the names but remembered what Gin and Riki looked like, so when we found keychains at the Artist's table she had to have "the son and the father". Awww!

I sadly don't know the artist but it was from this table.
I saw a really nice Thranduil bookmark from another artist but I didn't buy it, mainly because I'm so lazy reading books nowadays, although I want to change that. 

I forgot to take photos but there was a rhythm game room and a video game room of course, along with panels and a cosplay competition. The rhythm game room was in high use and seemed nice but I must admit that I was not impressed by the video game room, sadly – the tables in the room were more than half empty and I think I only saw like 4-5 consoles of which all seemed to be from the newer generations. I personally only stay in the gaming rooms when there's retro consoles available (Nintendo 64 and older) because that's what I want to play the most because I lack the really old stuff at home. Of course it's nice that there's the newer generation consoles too but yeah, I'm an old-school kid at heart. x)

I don't have so much to say about Chibicon itself. There wasn't really much to do nor see for the old stager who's already seen a lot of conventions but it's still, of course, a nice quick trip away from your everyday life. ^^ Chibicon is your usual small con in the north so yeah, slope all expectations and just go in with the intention to have a relaxing geeky day and you'll be happy. It's slow-paced and fun and there's no pressure. Definitely go there with friends!

Oh and yeah, it was a bit weird to realize that the last time I was at Chibicon was back in 2013. Time sure flies by fast... 

No idea if this was even related to the con but
it gave me a good laugh. xD
I guess that's about all that I had to say. It was a fun and different con trip for me and I'm really grateful to my boss for driving us there and for the company, it wouldn't have been possible otherwise! I'm looking forward to go with Sabine to more conventions in the future ~

October 12, 2017

Lens review: Angelic Eye Mesmerize Blue

Hello people!

Long time no see, as you might have noticed. ^^" Truth is that during last month I moved to a new apartment (I finally have enough space to live in!) and that of course meant that I was incredibly busy with moving, paperwork etc. Things have started to settle down now but another big and equally real reason for my blog's silence is the fact that I do not have a reasonably working internet at home yet. You see, the plan was that I would share my cellphone internet to my computers etc but that didn't work out as planned since it turned out that my phone network is horribly shitty (borderline non-existant) indoors so yeah, I have to get a separate home internet for that which sucks because it means extra expenses, lol. Until I get the internet issue sorted out please understand that my blog(s) will be more inactive than usual but hey, I do still post on Instagram and Twitter!

Today's post will be a circle lens review that I should have done ages ago but, honestly, I kept waiting for the sun to show up (for best quality photos) but gave up after weeks of no golden globe in the sky. It felt like mission impossible. I've been so long without sunlight now that I barely remember what it looks and feels like, lmao. Here comes the Angelic Eye Mesmerize Blue review, nonetheless!



Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.5 mm
Water content: 45%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)


As far as I know this brand might be exclusive to HoneyColor because I haven't seen them anywhere else, just so you know where to get these lenses if you fancy them. :) I must admit that I solely bought these for the mesmerizing design, like the name implies, hehe. I'm not gonna lie though – I had really high expectations for these lenses and in the end I guess I got a bit disappointed? I don't know.

One lens in. Notice color and size.
I have naturally light blue-gray eyes and normally any blue lenses look good on me, this pair included. The effect it does is pretty and kind of crystal-ish but I feel like, at the same time, it's not as sparkly and eye-catchingly bishounen as I hoped, lol. It could also be the incredibly dull weather outdoors numbing them down but it's hard to say. :/ I still feel like I expected more of a pop in color and a dreamy effect but got a big semi-natural lens instead – don't get me wrong though, I still like it and it's a beautiful lens on its own but it's just that it fell a bit short of what I personally hoped for. I must admit that I'm a fan of bright and colorful lenses, so when a gorgeous design isn't as vibrant as I want it to be I get disappointed. xD

Lens photos ahead!
All photos taken by me during an October afternoon with a cloudy sky.
There's no color filters or such on the close-up photos and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.


Bathroom light.
Flash photo.
Indoors with the lamp on.
Indoors with only natural room light.
Indoors facing a wall, with window light in my back.
Facing a window (not sun side), weird blue light effect.
Facing a window (sun side), really cloudy sky.
These lenses are definitely big and the color appears a soft medium blue on my eyes a scratching in my butt tells me that the effect of these lenses might be more striking on darker eyes, maybe? Nevertheless it's a good fashion lens and suitable for dolly looks; I would say that this is one of those circle lenses that might work better for fashion than for cosplay – unless, of course, you want to go for a more natural color look; it could be good for more realistic video game characters and such. Sadly the color doesn't show up very clearly when viewed from a distance, hence why my first recommendation is for alternative fashion styles. It's a neat lens and thumbs up for the 'halo effect'!

Regarding comfort I'm not impressed. I managed to wear these for 2 hours and they then felt incredibly dry and I had to take them out! I do have really dry eyes naturally and the expiry date of the lenses was close by the time I took them out of their vials (I had almost forgotten to open them) so yeah, my comfort grade might not be the most accurate because of that. Had I opened them earlier they might have been more comfortable but one can't know. ^^" They aren't scratchy nor blurry but just dry out really damn fast for me.

Distance photo! 


Short summary:

Color: 6/10
Soft semi-natural blue color. It's nice but it sadly doesn't show up much from a distance.
Design: 7/10
Pretty and mesmerizing crystal-like design that leaves a 'halo effect'.
Opacity: 5/10
Shows up as blue but because of the design there's quite a lot of transparency.
Enlargement: 7/10
Suitable for dolly eyes. Big size.
Comfort: 3/10
My grade is probably not fair because I only got to wear/open these when they were close to expiring but yeah, 2 hours at most on my dry eyes.
Naturalness: 6/10
Ignore the size and it's actually pretty okay for a natural lens! The color is toned down and the design's transparency makes it work.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this review even though it's way late, haha.

September 3, 2017

MH4U Eldaora's Taus Hunting Horn cosplay prop [part 5]

Hello costumers and hunters alike!

Here comes the fifth part of my bigass Monster Hunter cosplay project – I'm making a Hunting Horn called Eldaora's Taus from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. I've been a dedicated fan of the game series since I touched Freedom Unite and now I'm finally making one of my cosplay dreams come true – a MonHun costume!  
I am for now just doing the weapon but I will make an armor set later, to go with this build. 
No idea what I've done before this? :D No worries, the previous parts of this project can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4

Note: this project is split into several parts because otherwise it would turn into a kilometer post; I need to document my progress carefully (many photos etc) since it's a school project.

Let's go, yo-ho!

Added filler to the face.
So, remember that little tube of filler that stepdad brought when I ran out of the original filler that I was using? I used it up in like 30 minutes. xD He then came with a 3 kilo bucket on the following day and, honestly, I've used up half of it as well just trying to cover up this thing. I don't want to think about it but I've probably used like 5 kilos worth of filler on this project by now...

Doing the whole filler covering is really tedious and time-consuming. I mean, every time I add filler somewhere I have to wait for it to dry before I can rotate this thing, on the floor, to get to the opposite side. The more filler there is the longer it takes to dry (thicker layers dry slowly) and yeah, this part of the process has taken up a lot of time.
The last parts that I added filler to was all the spots that were hard to reach – like all the deep and narrow splits separating the "hair bananas" on the back mane, for example. Once that was done I left it to dry for some days.

Around mid-May I returned to mom's to work on this project. Next up was to sand the whole thing to make it smoother. It's not super visible on the photos how uneven it was after the filler but below is a close-up on which you can really see the uneven and textured surface.

Head before sanding.
So what do I do? I bring out all the sand papers and get to work, of course! It needs to be mentioned that so far I've done all of the work inside the garage, but for the sanding process I carried the Hunting Horn outside and put it on a working table. Mainly to make cleaning easier afterwards and the weather was nice.

No one can say that there's not enough sand papers.
Okay, I'm not gonna lie I had somehow underestimated how much time sanding actually takes. Like I've done it a lot in my life but still I had not counted it into my plans and it was just this "nah, it'll just take a couple hours tops and then I can move on to the next thing". Oh, so wrong I was. xD 
So yeah, even just the rough sanding (60 grit sand paper) took 6+ hours. Guess if I was sick and tired of sanding after a while? I was. It was really tedious and I just wanted to get it done so that I could get forward since, at this point, I was really stressed about potential deadlines.

Rough sanding done.
Anyone want to snort the table? ::DD
I didn't actually do any sanding with finer grit papers since it felt like it would be impossible to get it perfectly smooth and even anyway... especially something of this size. There's a myriad of spots where the foam still peeks through and the foam has all these small air bubbles etc and it's just never gonna be a perfect porcelain finish, lol. Anyone who has worked with expanding foam knows what kind of texture it has – it just felt like a lot of time and work just to make it "a little less uneven", if that makes sense. Also, a lot of the filler was unevenly applied as well, meaning that even after sanding the surface random holes and level differences kept appearing, making the surface bumpy and lively. It's really hard to explain but it's this thing that when you apply an amount of filler to a surface and let it dry, it will show its undermost "layers" (in the exact same position they originally hardened in) once you sand through the outer layers.

Oh well, at this point I just decided that screw perfection and let's go for a more realistic and battle-worn appearance instead. I mean, in the Monster Hunter games any weapon would be made from slain monster materials: fangs, claws, scales, shells, wing webbings and the list goes on. Oh and yes, slain monsters, meaning that a hunter or a group of them has been beating the poor monster to death with various weapons ranging from Great Swords to Hammers and Bows. :D So yeah, with that logic the monster parts used, most likely, were far from in pristine condition and came with whatever bumps, dents and cuts that the hunters inflicted during the hunt...
The Eldaora's Taus is made from materials from the (rusted) Kushala Daora, a powerful Elder Dragon with metal skin and wind-controlling abilities. Hence why I'm gonna paint this thing a metallic silver later on and add rusted accents, just like in the references and in the game.

Eldaora's Taus reference from a MonHun art book.
As you can see in the art book it looks different from the game (I don't own the art book, a fellow MonHun fan sent this to me online!) and because I had no access to the art book I based my representation of the weapon on the in-game model and took multiple artistic liberties to make my life easier while making it. As I've mentioned in earlier progress posts it's thus not 100% accurate and that's a choice I made during the process to save my sanity.

Okay so, back to the sanding. I didn't even bother to sand it perfectly even and there are small imperfections everywhere. At this point I just don't have an infinite amount of time left on this project and thus I decided to just make it more realistic instead, as mentioned above.
But yeah, after all that tedious sanding there was a shitlot of white filler dust everywhere and yes, in every single hard-to-reach crevice on the damn Horn. Good thing stepdad has this special cousin to the common vaccuum cleaner that is just right for the task!

Hello my best friend!
I carefully vaccuumed all over the Hunting Horn, every nook and every cranny, to get rid off as much loose dust as possible. This took quite some time. Before I even started vaccuuming it I could slap the Horn anywhere and these huge white clouds of dust would just explode out of it and float everywhere. xD There was a lot of dust, seriously. My working clothes were all white from it...
Oh and yeah, all that white dust left on the table? I threw it out in the backyard and hey, over at my Instagram you can see how I made some unintentional art with it!

I noticed a not-so-fun thing soon after. :( You see, because both filler and PU-foam are kinda soft and porous materials they get dented easily. I noticed during the sanding that these weird dent lines had appeared at the shaft and I wondered where they had come from – turned out it was from the pressure of the shaft hanging off the table's edge and being pressed down from the weight of the Hunting Horn's main body, against the table.

Red arrows pointing at the dents formed from the table's edge.
Those dents pictured above were actually some of the smaller ones. There was this approximately 15 cm long deep dent on one of the "hair bananas" as well. I was not happy when I saw it. Oh well, no can do but to go back to the filler stage and cover up the dents.

New filler added on marked areas (there were more) to cover
up dents and holes in the foam.
I left it to dry over a couple days and when I came back I sanded it down, to make it look like nothing had happened to it. At this point I also started thinking that if it already takes notable surface damage from minor pressure etc then God knows how much damage it would suffer when taken to a full day at an anime convention! 
My grinding gears were grinding, fast – I had to figure out what to do to make it more tolerant to outer impacts; I needed to make its surface harder. I mean seriously, nothing would suck more than doing all that intricate painting work and then have the whole thing dented or chip off because of the surface below the paint not being strong enough. It would be so frustrating!

My first thought was to cover it in worbla but then I realized that it would need a lot of worbla sheets and worbla is expensive. I then remembered reading some expanding foam prop tutorials on which it was recommended to cover the surface of the foam with papier-maché, probably the most known way to do it but honestly, I don't really like working with papier-maché and would rather avoid it, if possible (it's so messy and tedious). :/ Besides, it would be incredibly time-consuming to cover a build of this size and especially considering that papier-maché requires several layers. I just don't have the time nor patience for that right now and so I looked around for other solutions. I even considered Plasti-Dip (never used it before) but scrapped that idea because I read somewhere that it doesn't really add hardness.

Another problem that made this whole coating issue a bit more troublesome was the fact that the Hunting Horn is already really heavy for a cosplay prop, probably weighing in at anywhere between 10-20 kg for the moment – not gonna lie, it's easily my heaviest prop to date. I'm bad at guessing weight but it's definitely heavy enough to be impossible to lift with one arm and it's even harder to carry since the weight is not balanced at the center but at the main bulk of the body, meaning the head area. So yeah, in other words I ain't gonna easily be swinging this thing around by holding it at the shaft, not even with both arms.
In other words I must try to keep the weight down as much as possible, which also limits my choices; no one wants to carry around a heavy-ass prop for a whole day at a convention. I've honestly been thinking about the weight all along during this process (hence my material choices) but even with that in mind the extreme size and unbalanced bulk of the prop takes its toll along the way. I'm sure there would have been lighter and more convenient options on how to build this thing but this is all a big learning experience for me and my first big and challenging prop in this caliber.

So yeah, I ruled out worbla and Plasti-Dip. I also didn't want to invest in any of the resins nor fiber glass because I lack the know-how and don't feel comfortable getting into toxic materials yet. Stepdad pulled a blank when I asked him (much to my surprise) and so, after thinking and searching, I figured that my cheapest and easiest choice would probably be to just go ghetto and use the old glue-and-water trick. It's probably not the most effective option out there but I've used it before to seal/harden stuff like craft foam and it has done its job decently enough to get a pass and it shouldn't be one of those materials that dissolves the PU-foam either.

On early September I returned to try the glue trick. Stepdad suggested not diluting the glue to avoid it getting too runny and thus not very effective. I decided to heed his advice, it's worth a try to see if it's possible to just directly brush the glue on and have it harden nicely without making the surface all streaky and ugly.

First layer of glue hardened on the shaft. Notice the shine!
I used normal white glue that you can find in most stores. The brand I used is Eri Keeper (Finnish brand) but any PVA-based glue should work. To my relief the glue seems to work decently – it doesn't turn rock-hard or anything but it clearly stiffens up the surface a bit, while still keeping the elasticity, and gives it a nice shiny coating (no visible brush streaks!) as well. I'll need to do a couple or so layers but it works and that's the main point.

One thick layer of glue added.
I ran out of glue before I got done with the front (this thing just ate it up!) and thus took a break from gluing and went to finally do some more progress on the protruding parts – the horns and ears.
My original plan was to cover these in expanding foam and carve them out but yeah, the more I thought about it the more I felt like there had to be a better option. I had previously made the base shape for the horns and ears out of wire net.
After some thinking I remembered that I have two big rolls of black worbla, a thermoplastic used by cosplayers, lying around in the storage; I ordered them some years ago from Germany and have barely used them. The drawback with worbla is that it's so expensive and I haven't used it much, so this will be my first time using worbla for covering some more complicated shapes. I've only done really simple stuff with it before. ^^"
I needed to cover the horns and ears in something to make the worbla have some sort of surface to stick to, especially since the wire net has holes all over it and well, when the worbla gets heated up it gets soft and malleable and would probably just sink through the holes... or something.

#grillivartaat :DD
Budget thinking led me to use extra-strong aluminium foil; it should be able to stand the warm worbla being applied on top and also provide enough support. I just basically wrapped the foil tightly around each shape and then just carefully pressed it down into a snug fit. I kept the foil together (the horns are made of several pieces of foil) by adding some masking tape to cover seams, edges and the like.
I'll get to the worbla part the next time – now I want to get the base treatment over first so that I can get to painting and attaching the protruding parts. So yeah, with the glue gone my work stood still. Stepdad suddenly remembered that he had some kind of leftover glue-ish filler lying around somewhere and went to fetch it – the plan was to experiment and see if it could do the same thing that the glue did, namely harden the surface.

Renovation filler.
I'm sorry I don't have a photo of what it actually looked like but it was similar to normal filler, except perhaps a bit more gooey. It's like filler mixed with glue (some sort of wallpaper adhesive?) so we thought that maybe, if we mixed it with water to get the consistency more liquidish, it could work. We did a test spot and left it to dry but once I came back it didn't seem to have done much of a difference. :( It mainly just darkened up the spot we applied it to and I didn't really notice a difference on the surface's texture. We decided to go back to the glue method, although I think this might have worked if we had used less water but oh well, the glue is safer. I'm sure I'll get some use for this glue-filler later for other projects, heheh.

I feel like this post is getting a bit too long right now so I'll just split it here and yeah, keep your eyes peeled for part 6!

August 26, 2017

My social media accounts!

Hello people of the world!

I should have made this post earlier but I figured better late than never, huh?
Some of you have probably already noticed by now that I've added multiple social media icons to my cosplay blog for easy access. You can find them (at the time of writing this post) on the right side of my blog. ^-^ I will probably change the looks and placement of them with time and perhaps add some icons if more pop up but this is what it looks like right now:


You see, I've gone ahead and made accounts on several popular social media platforms lately, now that I finally have a smartphone in use. :D I've been feeling left out from all the hip and happenings for quite a long time now so yeah, it's time to catch up! o/ I'll admit that social media makes me feel anxious at times but I still enjoy it a lot too.

The links, in order from top to bottom:

Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Tumblr
WorldCosplay
DeviantArt

Now, not all of these sites are purely 100% dedicated for cosplay. ^^" I'll give you guys the rundown of what, on approximate, each of my social media handles will feature the most. Because my life is more than just cosplay, after all.

~~~

Facebook: The link is to my official FB cosplay page (not my personal account!) which I've had since late 2014. It's of course mainly for cosplay and, even more so, for linking and advertising my blog – because my blog will always be the number one place where I'll gather and focus my cosplay stuff. So yeah, my cosplay page is mainly for linking my blog posts to a wider audience (not gonna lie) and the reason is that I really dislike how Facebook works for pages, for a number of reasons. I honestly hate how Facebook severely limits your reach (unless you pay real money, hell to the no) and how it fucks up photo quality, to name a few. I've actually several times considered deleting my Facebook page because I just despise how FB screws you over and it also makes me really anxious because it's such a popularity contest with the cospages nowadays. I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, to be honest.

Instagram: I made an Instagram during mid 2017, it's a recent addition that came to existence during the time I got my new smartphone. My Instagram is new and thus there's not a whole lot of content yet but the plan is that it's gonna feature cosplay photos and my alternative fashion outfits (incl. kimono) for the most part. ^_^ There will be occasional videos, artsy photography and a lot of photos of pets too so yeah, it's really not a 100% cosplay account – although Instagram is the place where I'll post con selfies and spontaneous cosplay pics etc! So yeah, to sum it up it's a high dose of exclusive cosplay/con selfies, artsy photos, j-fashion and a lot of cute cats and dogs. I will also strive to keep the better quality content for IG and yes, Instagram is my favorite social media site right now!

Twitter: Created during mid 2017 as well. Not as much cosplay as it's for general shitposting and funny junk. This is where I post whatever small stuff that happens during my everyday life, lots of game screenshots and video game stuff in general, including Pokémon Go, which has taken over my life right now. xD I also post about new blog updates! Twitter probably won't be getting a lot of the nicer and more serious content that I put out but it does get auto-updates from my Instagram, for example. My Twitter account is basically my random lifestyle dumpster where anything small, weird and funny goes – it's a really mixed bag of B-quality shit, including the giggles.

Tumblr: Oh lord. I actually made a Tumblr account somewhere around late 2014 (or at least that's where I calculated my first follower from, could be even older) but because of my shitty computer it wouldn't work for me. I remember getting messages from Tumblr saying that my account would be deleted because of inactivity but now, all those years later, I found that my old account was still alive?! So yeah, here I am now. xD I must admit that I don't really like, nor understand, how Tumblr works so don't expect any exclusive content there (at least not yet). For the moment it's only getting auto-updates from my Instagram, although it might evolve into a thing of its own in the future. Who knows.

WorldCosplay: Not necessarily social media in the same sense as the others but oh well? It's a big cosplay site and the successor of the Japanese Cure site that got shut down years ago. I post some selected few cosplay photos there but I'm not very active, although I do generally like the site and want to use it more as soon as I get more (and better) cosplay photos. ^^ I don't remember how long I've been a member on this site (and can't seem to find said information anywhere) but I remember how I made an account when the site first launched, eventually deleted it for a reason I can't remember and then remade my current account some time later, at least around 2014.

DeviantArt: Not really a pure-blooded social media site either but I decided to add it anyway. I feel really old saying this but I've been a member on DA since mid 2009. I haven't posted anything new there for years (we're talking 2014) but I used to post mainly art and cosplay photos. DeviantArt only got the same cosplay photos that went up on my blog anyway and thus, over the years, I felt like it was a bother to upload the same images (with different watermarks) to two separate sites. As I said before, most of my cosplay stuff goes into this here blog since I like to keep the majority of my content in the same place. I do visit DeviantArt almost daily but I don't really plan to upload cosplay photos there anymore, although I might get back to uploading my art... once I get out of this ridiculous art block that I've had years on end, that is.

~~~

I guess that's all that I had to say. Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on whatever platforms you fancy! ^_^ My blog will always be my headquarters for cosplay thou, no fear! ;) I'm a blogger by heart, hehe.

~ Shiro Samurai

August 18, 2017

[Sponsored] Lens review: GEO Princess Mimi Almond Brown

Hello pretties ~

I hope you're having a good day. ^_^ I thought that today I'd do a review for a really popular circle lens called GEO Princess Mimi Almond Brown (identification number is XMM-204, also known as GEO Bambi Almond or similar names) circle lenses, sponsored by the super awesome circle lens shop called CirclelensesEurope, also known as Cirkellinser. I've done several reviews for them before so, in case you've read any of my previous reviews, you'll know by now that I love and support the shit out of this store! It's so convenient when they're based in Sweden too and are legit good, it makes my life so much easier.

The lenses I'm reviewing in this post were sponsored to me by CirclelensesEurope, aka Cirkellinser. My reviews always consist of 100% my honest opinion, no matter what. I don't ever compromise the truth.

My discount code "SAMURAI" gives you 10% off on any order placed on both CircleLensesEurope and Cirkellinser – feel free to use it! ♥



Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.2 mm
Water content: 40±2%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)


Note: To all my Swedish readers, please scroll to the end of this post for a summary in Swedish. // Till alla mina svenska läsare, bläddra gärna till slutet av detta inlägg för en sammanfattning på svenska. :)


Before I chug along to the actual review of the lenses I want to tell you guys a little about CirclelensesEurope, also known as Cirkellinser. You might wonder why I'm mentioning two stores but the catch is that it's actually the same store, just for two different markets – CirclelensesEurope is catering for the whole Europe while Cirkellinser is for the Swedes specifically. Both sites have the same people behind it, the same products for sale, ship from the same place etc so yeah, there's nothing weird there. Neither of them is a copycat or a scam site so you can rest assured and buy from either of them with confidence!

Both of their sites are fresh, inviting, cute and easy to use! There is not a massive amount of circle lenses to choose from since they seem to focus on just a couple well-known lens brands – GEO and EOS, respectively. But what CirclelensesEurope lack in options they make up for with a really fast and affordable shipping – it's a flat price of 3€ for anywhere in Europe. The fast shipping puts CirclelensesEurope at an advantage over Asia-based lens stores for all European customers because yeah, if you're a cosplayer and need lenses urgently (let's say, a week before the con) then now you know what store to head to for your last-minute purchases. ;)

Regarding the shipping and handling time I want to mention that I've generally received my orders really fast – most commonly already on the next working day. Shipping to Sweden is usually 1-2 days and to the rest of Europe it's 3-7 days and it also says on their site that they ship out within 24 hours.

If you wonder to what European countries (note: they do NOT ship outside of Europe!!) they ship to then this is what it says on their site:
We deliver to following countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom and Austria.
Their customer service I have nothing to complain about, it's professional and efficient – they seem to generally answer within 24 hours. Customer service is also really kind and easy to approach and it actually feels like there are caring humans behind the screen. All in all CirclelensesEurope is a very lovely and smooth shop to deal with, safe to buy from and I would recommend them any day to all my fellow European (and Swedish) cosplayers and circle lens fans. Be sure to check them out!


 ~***~ Lens review continues ~***~

The lenses arrived in a small regular white bubblewrap envelope that easily fits into your average mailbox so yeah, you should be able to get your order straight home and not have to pick it up from whatever your closest post center is. The shipping is really speedy, as always, and normally shouldn't take much more than a couple days within Sweden.


Inside the white envelope the lenses are packed in a small adorable drawstring bag – it's the small details that make the experience! With the order also came a free lens case (of course), a fancy business card with a hand-written 'thank you' note on the back, a GEO Medical information sheet (because I received GEO lenses) and, of course, the shop's own leaflet with information about their guarantees, wear & care etc – it's a really good piece of advice for all the first-time contact lens users out there.

~***~

Before wearing any contact lenses I always take them out of their little glass bottles and put them to soak overnight in lens solution – it's not recommended to wear lenses straight out of the vials, in case you didn't know it.

I'm not sure why but the right lens always felt scratchy at one specific spot when I inserted it. I thought at first that maybe it was defective but I didn't see any visible flaw(s) on it and so I just kept trying until it felt sort-of wearable, which took at least three tries with careful cleaning of the lens between each try. The left lens was always perfectly fine (really notable comfort difference between the two!), nothing weird there. The right lens felt okay-ish at first, after all those tries, but slowly went back to that scratchy sensation and, again, at the very same spot (upper edge). :/ I had just enough time to take the photos for the review and then I took it out immediately. I just declared it defective at this point and sent an email to CirclelensesEurope stating my problem, they assured me that they always send out a replacement lens to customers if it's a production fault (defect) and, true to their words, I received the new lens within the next two days. Happy!

Replacement lens and what came with it.
As you can see I got it from Cirkellinser, for the Swedish market, but it's gonna be the same thing even from CirclelensesEurope since it's the same store. ^_^ On the photo above I'm showing the backside of the business card since they wrote a cute and caring message that reads "Dear [name], we hope that this lens will work better! Have a really nice day." – I'm more than pleased with the customer service! Also, when I wrote to them they were really kind, understanding and professional all through it and didn't doubt nor question my honesty at all. So yeah, I feel really safe dealing with them! ♥ Oh and of course, the replacement lens was perfectly fine to wear, yay!

Friendly reminder: it's never the store's fault if a lens is defective, they don't have control over it – you can be unlucky and get a defective lens of any brand of lenses and from any reputable store, big or small doesn't matter. Defective lenses are a manufacturer error during the creation process and, often times, the defective lens doesn't look any different from a normal lens – meaning that it's visually indistinguishable. Sometimes the defect is visible but you can't assume that you'll be able to see it with the naked eye every time, as was in my case. If a lens just doesn't feel right and is really uncomfortable to wear, even after multiple cleaning tries, it might be defective and in that case shouldn't be worn.
Also, most circle lens stores who care about their customers (and their reputation) will replace a defective lens if you contact them and tell what's wrong with your received lens – just like CirclelensesEurope did for me. :) Some stores might ask for photo proof, which is understandable (because there will always be people out there who will lie to get free products), but if you happen to have one of these "visually normal-looking" defects you should still be able to get around the photo request by detailing your experiences with the defective lens.

One lens in. Notice the size.
As you can see from the photo above my natural eye color is a light blue-gray mix with a faint golden brown ring around the pupil. These lenses aren't huge by any means but the enlargement effect is decent and noticeable indeed.
Regarding the color I was actually expecting these lenses to show up as more clearly brown than what they do but, then again, I should have seen it coming since the brown color is concentrated to only the very edges of the lens. It doesn't look bad by any means, more like the opposite – it's actually incredibly alluring and beautiful in the way that it enhances my eyes rather than directly changing the color. It's a bit hard to explain but I feel like these lenses were meant for the dark-eyed market (to create a cute and dolly "lighter rim" look) but wow, I seriously love how the darkness of the lens makes my light eyes pop and look all mysterious and magical!
You can see how the pupil hole is really large (aka how much of my real eye color shows through) and because of the way the lens is designed (dark colors at the edges only) it puts emphasis on what my real eye color is and just frames it in and makes it look really intense and mesmerizing. I adore the effect, although I must admit that this is definitely a fashion lens more than a cosplay lens, at least if you have light eyes like me.

Lens photos below!
All photos taken by me during a August afternoon with a semi-clear sky. All close-up photos are free from color filters and such and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.

Apartment room light. Only natural light.
Bathroom light.
Flash photo.
Facing a window in the corridor. Not sun side.
Yellow light in the staircase.
Indoors storage room. Natural light coming in from the side.
Basement floor. Really poor natural light in the distance.
Outdoors, facing the sun while being under the building's shadow.
Outdoors, back against the sun. Facing the wall, in other words.
Outdoors, facing the sun. Sun was hidden under a thin veil of clouds.
As you can see there's not much brown color in these and because of that it's actually my real eye color that gets the focus and thus these lenses appear more as an enhancer type of lens rather than a color changer – I mean, you notice that I'm wearing lenses but the first thought isn't "oh hey brown eyes!" but more like "his eyes look different", savvy what I mean? -_^ On brown eyes it would be a different story so I speak only for light-eyed individuals.
These lenses don't have enough color coverage to be viable for cosplay choices (unless you have dark eyes; I've seen my friend with brown-green eyes wear these for cosplay and it looked fabulous!) but these contacts are amazing for j-fashion styles like gyaru, mori, lolita and the like. I love how these lenses make my eyes look all doll-like and almost ethereal and glassy in some lights, it's so precious. *-*

When it comes to comfort it seems to be a bit mixed but mainly good. On the first day I wore these they started to feel dry already after 1 hour and 20 minutes but, then again, I had really dry eyes on that day so that might be why. Second time I wore these 4 hours went by just fine, which is better than average because my eyes are so sensitive nowadays that anything past 2-3 hours is good! I mainly don't feel them in my eyes and they don't blur my vision either.

Here, have some obligatory distance photos!




Want to see reviews of the GEO Princess Mimi series but in different colors?
Check out these: Apple Green

I need to mention that CircleLensesEurope and their Swedish counterpart don't carry prescription lenses at the moment, sorry to say it. I don't know if they plan to change that anytime soon since a lot of people have vision defects, me included, and need prescription lenses to see and wear lenses comfortably. My own vision defects are minor (-0,50 on my weaker eye) that I can get around just fine with plano lenses but yeah, if you can't wear lenses without power I'm really sorry to say that CircleLensesEurope don't carry prescription lenses for now. :'(

Remember, if you make a purchase at CircleLensesEurope or Cirkellinser you can get 10% off any order if you use the discount code "SAMURAI" during checkout – enjoy! ♡

Short summary:

Color: 4/10
These make my eyes appear darker and more defined at the edges, but they don't make my eyes appear legit brown since my real eye color overpowers the small amount of dark brown there is. It's a beautiful enhancing effect more than a lens you buy for color
– on light eyes at least. 
Design: 8/10
Simple yet beautiful design with a thick black limbal ring and darker brown irregular streaks reaching towards the center. Really cute!
Opacity: 3/10

The dark brown doesn't disappear into my eyes, meaning that it is decently opaque, but it doesn't stand out as brown either; it just looks like "something dark that frames the eyes", most likely because of the lack of area that the brown is printed on.
Don't get me wrong though, it's absolutely fantastic for the defined eyes look!
Enlargement: 6/10
Not as big as one might expect (despite being only a 14.2 lens according to the vials) but the dark colors makes quite the satisfying illusion of a bigger size.
Comfort: 5/10
Decent overall, but seems to be a bit of a mixed bag on sensitive eyes. I've been able to wear these for anything between 1-4 hours, depending on how dry my eyes are on that day.
Naturalness: 5/10

Actually not bad. It's not super realistic with the dark enhancement effect on light eyes (because of size) but it doesn't look blatantly off either.



• Sammanfattning på svenska

Vad är cirkellinser? 

Cirkellinser är kosmetiska linser som har tagit världen likt en glittrande armé av mongoler. Till en början användes dessa färgglada och förstorande linser främst i Asien av idoler, modeller och liknande men har sen dess blivit alltmer populära även bland "vanligt folk" och även i västvärlden – särskilt bland ungdomar som har ett intresse för asiatisk populärkultur och mode. Det som skiljer cirkellinser från vanliga färgade linser är att dom kommer i otroligt många olika designs och färger (även onaturliga färger så som röd, rosa, gul och lila är vanliga) samt att dom får dina ögon att se större och vackrare ut! Cirkellinser finns att köpa både med och utan styrka. Det är flest unga kvinnor som använder cirkellinser men även folk från alla möjliga könsidentiteter har fått upp ögonen för hur spännande och kul det kan vara att byta ögonfärg ibland för att komplettera och hitta den perfekta looken!

~~~~~~~~~

Cirkellinser är en svensk online-affär –förmodligen den första och enda i vårt avlånga land som säljer äkta "circle lenses", numera även kallade cirkellinser på svenska. Tyvärr så säljer inte Cirkellinser linser med styrka i dagens läge.

Jag valde denna gång att recensera ett jättepopulärt linspar som heter GEO Princess Mimi Almond Brown (bilder finns ovanför!) då jag länge varit sugen på att testa dem och se hur de faktiskt ser ut på en ljusögd person – jag har tidigare bara sett dem på mörkögda personer då majoriteten av alla som recenserar linser på nätet har bruna ögon. Men som sagt, mina utvalda linser anlände inom nån enstaka arbetsdag i ett vadderat kuvert. I brevet fanns även ett snyggt visitkort med en handskriven hälsning på baksidan, ett gratis linsetui samt linserna själv som var förpackade i en söt liten snörpåse – jättemysigt och personligt!

Linserna är inte lika tydligt bruna som jag ursprungligen trodde, fast å andra sidan är det ganska uppenbart nu när man tänker efter då det färgade området är printat endast utmed en kort sträcka på kanterna och därmed är majoriteten av linsens mitt genomskinligt, vilket betyder att det är din riktiga ögonfärg som får fokuset på sig. Så jah, om man har ljusa ögon så köper man inte dessa för att ändra ögonfärg (dina ögon kommer inte att se förstahand bruna ut, med andra ord) utan för att framhäva sina ögon och få dom att se sådär mystiskt docklika, magiska och djupa ut! Det är en väldigt fin effekt och alldeles underbar för fans av japanska modestilar såsom gyaru, mori, lolita och liknande. Linserna är även lagomt stora och helt schyssta i bekvämlighet.

Jag hade oturen att råka på en defekt lins denna gång, den ena linsen liksom skavde alltid i ögat och var allmänt obekväm, oavsett hur många gånger jag tvättade rent den och försökte igen. Den vänstra linsen var däremot helt normal!

Grejen med defekta linser är att det kan ske vem som helst, vilka linser som helst och oavsett vilken affär du köpte från – det är ett produktionsfel och ibland är själva felet osynligt för blotta ögat, och därmed är det inte heller affärens fel då dem varken tillverkar linserna själva eller kan se om en lins är defekt eller ej, precis som du. I mitt fall så var det inget synligt fel på den defekta linsen men den var helt enkelt för obekväm för att jag skulle riskera att använda den. Jag tog därmed kontakt med Cirkellinser och skrev om mitt problem, deras svar löd "tråkigt att din nya lins är skadad. Du behöver inte vara orolig, vi skickar alltid ut ersättningslins till kund om det är en tillverkningsskada, vilket sällan sker som tur är :)" – superbäst! ♥ Så jag fick min nya lins inom två arbetsdagar och allt var perfekt. Hade absolut inga problem med att dem envisades, begärde bilder eller trodde att jag försökte lura dom – allt var väldigt proffsigt och enkelt. Grymt bra kundservice med andra ord, inget onödigt tjafs eller tjorv.
Linserna fick jag från Cirkellinser, en av mina sponsorer, i recensionssyfte. ^u^ Men fast jag inte själv betalat för just detta par så påverkar det absolut inte min ärlighet det minsta! Jag kan ärligt talat säga att Cirkellinser är en professionell och pålitlig hemsida och att jag, utan att tveka, skulle lätt beställa från dom själv även om jag inte var sponsrad. De säljer äkta cirkellinser som är tillverkade i Korea, ursprungslandet för dom alla flesta märkena.
Cirkellinser innehar även en äkthetsgaranti samt öppet köp i 30 dagar – de gör verkligen sitt yttersta för att du ska känna dig trygg och nöjd med ditt köp. Beställningar som gjorts före klockan 14:00 skickas samma vardag och frakttiden inom Sverige ligger på 1-2 dagar och kostar endast 19 kr. Jag kan varmt rekommendera deras onlinebutik till alla som är intresserade av att prova på att använda färgade kontaktlinser!
 
Min rabattkod "SAMURAI" ger dig dessutom 10% rabattdin beställning hos dem, glöm inte att använda koden i kassan!



Thanks for reading! ^-^
A big thank you to CircleLensesEurope and Cirkellinser for making this review possible!

~ Shiro Samurai out.