Greetings, Captains! We’ve got a special treat for you today, as we’re joined by Becka Noel, one of the competitors on Cosplay Melee on the Syfy channel. Becka was on the War Games episode last week, (why yes, that title is a lovely coincidence) and created a character inspired by Star Trek Online for the competition. You can listen to the interview right below, or read the whole transcription below that. Check out new episodes of Cosplay Melee every Tuesday night at 10/9c on the Syfy channel, or watch full episodes online right here.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: All right, ladies and gentlemen! My name is Mike Fatum, better known as your Community Manager, Ambassador Kael, and I am joined by the lovely and talented Becka Noel! Welcome to – I guess I would say the show, but this is just an audio recording on a blog, so welcome to the blog!
BECKA NOEL: Thanks! I’m happy to be here!
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Becka, how long have you been involved with Cosplay?
BECKA NOEL: I have been involved with Cosplay for almost six years.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: How did you first get involved with it?
BECKA NOEL: I got involved in cosplay because my fiancé, who is also going to be in Cosplay Melee next week. He brought me to New York Comic Con, in – oh gosh – I guess back in 2009? And I got there, I didn’t know what Cosplay was, I had never heard of it, but I got there and I saw all of these costumes. Forget all the merchandise and like, channels and things on the floor, I was just so enamored with the people in costumes. And I have an art background, and I always loved dressing up. When I was in school, though I didn’t study fashion, I participated in my school’s fashion shows. And I’ve always been kind of a nerd, so it was like marrying those two things together, and then I found out what Cosplay was, and I was like, “Oh! I want to do that!” And that’s how it started, and it’s just kind of gotten crazier since then.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: What was your first cosplay?
BECKA NOEL: My first cosplay was Arkham Asylum Harley Quinn.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Oh nice.
BECKA NOEL: And I actually picked that one because my friend wanted to do a Halloween duo, and she was gonna be Poison Ivy, and I was gonna be Harley. And I didn’t know how to sew, so I decided that I was gonna be super crafty, and I made the entire thing out of duct tape.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Oh wow!
Image by Senencito
BECKA NOEL: Yeah, everything. I made the corset out of duct tape, the boots, my little nurse’s hat, everything was duct tape. And the following year I re-made it even better, because the first year I only had a few days to make it before going to New York Comic Con. But I had so much fun, so I decided to remake it even better, and I obviously have taught myself a little bit of sewing since then.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Have you had to teach yourself all of the techniques we saw you using on Cosplay Melee, like sewing, and armor crafting, and all that stuff?
BECKA NOEL: Yeah, yeah, it’s mostly – it’s mostly all self taught. I have – like I said, I have an art background, I went to Pratt Institute, and I studied fine arts there, but when you’re amongst other crafty artists, you learn things from each other, and my roommate was a fashion major, so I was always looking over her shoulder seeing what she was doing. When I was growing up my Mom’s friend taught me a few sewing sessions here and there, but I hadn’t sewed since high school, so it really didn’t stick. But I wanted to make really amazing costumes, like not just armor but fabric also, so I had to teach myself to sew, and I just looked up tutorials online, and watched other people do it, and went for it.
I bought a really cheap, beginner’s sewing machine off Amazon, I think it was like $50, and I sewed with that for like, five years. Until last summer, when I upgraded, finally.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: So what was the most challenging cosplay you’ve produced so far?
BECKA NOEL: Hmm. That’s a tough one. There’s a bunch of intricate costumes that I’ve made, and they’re challenging for different reasons. I guess if I was going to pick, I’d have to pick a sewn one and an armored one. I made this costume based off this illustration by this artist called Sakizo, and she’s a very popular artist that cosplayers like to cosplay from, because her designs are extremely intricate, there’s just so much detail. And that’s actually my first sewing project, and I picked it because it was so complicated, and I thought, “I don’t know how to sew, so I’m just going to pick this really complicated thing, where I have to learn a lot of different techniques to make it, and then I’ll know how to sew!” And that’s what I did!
Image by Cospho Photography
AMBASSADOR KAEL: You literally threw yourself to the lions.
BECKA NOEL: Go big or go home, guys! So I picked this one called Blue Vienetta, and they showed a picture of it on the show. It looks kind of like a dessert. And it took me about a month to make, but I learned all kinds of different things making it. And it came out really well!
So that’s my sewing. And then my armored, I would say, my own design, for my Eevee, my Valkyrie Eevee that I made last year for Katsucon. And that one is all armored, but it’s got a lot of really cool Norse, Viking details on it, because it’s a Valkyie. It’s one of my favorites, but there’s a lot going on in that one.
Image by Anna Cosplay Photography
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Which do you prefer working with, sewing or armor?
BECKA NOEL: Definitely armor. I love sewing, too, I’m just not as good at it. I’m still kind of learning how to sew, and pattern things out, and it’s kind of a love/hate relationship, because with sewing, everything has to be so – like, you have to have things perfectly patterned out before you go in and sew, you can’t just dive in. Otherwise, you are going to have to in and redo your work. Whereas, I feel like with armor, I can be like, “I want to make this thing!” And I can just go and make it.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Although I’m sure there is some aspect of starting over when you’ve formed the foam too weird or something like that.
BECKA NOEL: Oh yeah, that’s definitely a thing. I think at least once with each cosplay I’ve made, I’ve thrown a tantrum because something didn’t work. I once threw a breastplate across the room, and it hit my front door. Things get real interesting sometimes.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: What costume was that for?
BECKA NOEL: That was for Sejuani, from League of Legends. That’s how I found out Worbla was really indestructible.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: That’s not the best way to test it. So what draws you to a design when you decide you want to cosplay it?
BECKA NOEL: Well, I always have to be really inspired by something to spend – because you spend so much time making these things. So you can’t make something that is not – at least for me, that I’m not passionate about. And that could be anything from something that I’m really knowledgeable about, maybe it’s a game that I played and loved, or maybe it was something that I really was drawn to because the design of it was really amazing. And that’s kind of how I felt about Sakizo’s Blue Vienetta, I loved the look of it. But, for a lot of my stuff, it’s because it’s a fandom for me, and I really feel connected to it. Like Star Trek, that’s a big part of my life. World of Warcraft, which I’ve never made a costume from. Generally it’s something I just feel really passionate about. And if I haven’t played the game or watched it, I research the hell out of the topic.
Because, while I firmly believe that anybody can make and cosplay anything, for myself, I need to know the background of my character, and who I’m gonna be cosplaying, because I feel like it helps me become that character even better.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: So let’s talk about Star Trek for a bit, since you brought it up. When did you first discover Star Trek, and what made you fall in love with it?
BECKA NOEL: Well, I first discovered Star Trek when I was a kid, I think I was in Elementary School, and it was one of those things where it wasn’t really cool to be a fan of things like Star Trek and Power Rangers, so I played off like, “Yeah, Star Trek sucks!” But then I’d go home and I’d be like, “Yes! Star Trek! Power Rangers!” And I’d be totally into it at home on the down low.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Oh man, this is not a Power Rangers podcast, so I won’t ask you about your favorite ranger. But I’m giving you a Power Rangers high five, and then we’re talking about Star Trek again.
BECKA NOEL: I mean, how can you not be?
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Exactly. So what was it about Star Trek that first drew you in, do you think?
BECKA NOEL: I guess the adventure. I really loved the adventure of it, in space. It wasn’t like anything I had seen before, and I loved being on a starship, traveling through space, and meeting different races and different aliens, I just thought that was really cool. And I don’t know, Star Trek stories really hit home for me. There’s some episodes that are so heartfelt. They’re so interesting.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: What’s your favorite series?
BECKA NOEL: I know that there’s gonna be some Trekkies who are going to bite my head off…
AMBASSADOR KAEL: I think I know what’s coming, here.
BECKA NOEL: I hope it’s ok that I say this. My all time favorite series is Voyager.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: That is totally ok. There are plenty of people who love Voyager.
BECKA NOEL: I’m sorry!
AMBASSADOR KAEL: No, no, don’t apologize! You don’t have to love Deep Space Nine the best! I don’t.
BECKA NOEL: I mean, I am in the middle of Deep Space Nine for I think, the third watch through now? And I’m really trying to love it. I’m trying so hard. And it starts, for me, getting really good around Season 3, but it’s really hard for me to pay attention for those first three seasons.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: You should never feel bad for your fandom. There are some people who like Enterprise the best, there are some people who like TNG the best.
BECKA NOEL: Next Generation’s probably my second favorite.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: That one’s my favorite. But it’s also the easy answer, like saying Empire is your favorite Star Wars movie.
BECKA NOEL: That’s true. Picard’s my favorite captain.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Of course! So how did you first start playing Star Trek Online?
BECKA NOEL: I played World of Warcraft for a long time, and so, I had to make a life choice, and I quit cold turkey. And then I felt like somebody had ripped my heart out, because I spent so much time playing, that I didn’t know what to do with my time. So I was trying to find something to fill my time. And that was around – yeah, I think it was around 2012. So, I found two things: Reddit, and Star Trek Online. And those were like my new best friends.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: That is an interesting combination.
BECKA NOEL: But it worked in the best way! Because it filled the space I was missing, but I could still enjoy my life.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Do you go to the Star Trek Online subreddit? I ask, because those people will definitely want a shout out.
BECKA NOEL: Oh! Well, I’m definitely going to go now. I don’t have so much time anymore for just like, putzin’ around, but this is kind of reinvigorating everything for me, so…
AMBASSADOR KAEL: So tell me about your Captain in Star Trek Online. What do you play?
BECKA NOEL: Well, I play a human, and definitely, obviously in Federation…
AMBASSADOR KAEL: She says obviously, not realizing she’s talking to a Klingon commander…
BECKA NOEL: Oh oh! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. But you know, human, and then Vulcan, and then Klingon.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Nice, nice. What’s your favorite of the three classes to play?
BECKA NOEL: Mmmmm…Science? Like, I always think I’m a badass, and I think I can go in and like, bust up, but I’m mostly a healer, so…
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Science is good for that.
BECKA NOEL: Yeah, that’s how I roll.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: I probably should be doing the same. Anyone who watches the streams knows I play tactical and I spend most of my time getting blown up.
BECKA NOEL: Oh, see? That’s why I stay away.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: So you said that it normally takes up to a month to build a costume. How do you prep to build a costume in just two days?
BECKA NOEL: It was crazy. I normally construct something anywhere between two weeks and a month, and so you have to think about things like how long it’s going to take to put straps on. Because for me normally, that takes one to two days alone.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Oh my god.
BECKA NOEL: And painting – actually painting doesn’t take that long, but you have to think about dry time. If you’re a caster, you have to wait for resins to dry. There’s a lot of things that I would have done but couldn’t, and had to take into consideration because of the time limit. And there are a few problems for me that helped contribute to my paint jobs and stuff. When I built, for the first challenge, that big weapon that we were tasked with making – mine was big – the paint for that ended up taking waaaay longer to dry than I had anticipated and it really – it screwed me over. Because I was just sitting, waiting for the paint to dry, instead of painting more details. And there were some moments where I had to sit and wait for things to dry, and they took a lot longer than I had planned for.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: So you’re on the show, they tell you to make a character from your favorite video game, what made you think of Star Trek Online?
BECKA NOEL: I had to pick something that really fit into the theme that we’d been given, and our theme was War Games, but one of the things they kept repeating to us is that it needed to be futuristic. And to me, Star Trek is one of the most futuristic things out there. And it’s something that I love, so it was only natural for me to think of Star Trek Online. It was all my favorite things, and it fit the topic. I was really really inspired, and almost immediately started thinking of my character, based off of the Iconians, and a little bit of the Borg. Immediately these alien beings came to mind.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: I’m excited to hear you say Iconians, because I was watching the reactions this morning on Twitter and Reddit and all of our fans were like, “I think she’s dressed as an Iconian. I’m pretty sure that’s an Iconian.”
I know you designed an original character for the show. Tell us a little bit about One. Who is she?
BECKA NOEL: One is heavily inspired by the Iconians, and also a little bit of the Borg, She is a character that – she’s the oldest being in the universe. And she’s the only one of her kind that anybody knows of. And she’s tasked kind of with being a caretaker of life. And she’s also the destroyer of life. So she goes around the universe, kind of a little bit like a Q. But she’s not as much of a jerk, as the Qs are. So she’ll go around and see a world, and look at the inhabitants there, and if they’er causing any destruction, she’ll sort of set them straight. And she uses the weapon, on her back, which I call the Genesis – the orb inside is called the Genesis – and that funnels all of the energy and the knowledge in the universe, and it directly funnels it into her body.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Ok.
BECKA NOEL: So she can use the energy and the knowledge to her advantage, so she can kind of destroy beings that are being ridiculous and destroying things, or she can create life, and make things that are beautiful.
But one of the things she’s also doing – because she doesn’t know where she came from. She’s so old, and the only one of her kind, and she’s essentially a god, so she’s also trying to figure out where she came from. And since the Genesis is the only thing in the universe that’s older than her, and since it has these runes on it that nobody can understand, she’s also going around and searching for where she came from.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: That’s cool. So what went into creating her on the show? What kind of techniques and things did you have to use to bring her to life?
BECKA NOEL: I was using things that I thought would look very alien, but have a clean, very futuristic look to them. So, for instance, the color scheme I chose to go with blues and greens for the Genesis, because green and energy go hand in hand, and blue represents life for me. So that’s the reason that’s that color. And One is wearing white armor, and it’s very clean looking. And that to me looks very futuristic. And she has this really clean, black look to her on the bottom.
And you didn’t get to see on the show, but when it first came out on the runway, I had my skirt tied back, and you couldn’t see any lights or anything, and then as I started walking I just pulled a string and the whole thing came flowing around me –
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Oh, that’s cool!
BECKA NOEL: So it was like this cool reveal. It didn’t get cut into the show, but that was like a cool, little reveal that I added. But creating One was really fun for me, and very different. The only other space type armor I had created was my FemShep, from Mass Effect.
Image by Dhareza Cosplayza
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Oh yeah.
BECKA NOEL: Which looks a lot different than the character I created. But One for me was really different because she’s an alien, and I’d never done anything like that before. So not only did I create her armor, and it was different, but I painted my body for the first time. And her actual look, her hair and her skin and all of that, was inspired by Princess Nuella, from Hellboy. And you know, getting rid of my eyebrows and just creating a very Star Trek, humanoid alien appearance.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Yeah, they’ve all got to look like humans in some kind of latex makeup. That’s how it works.
BECKA NOEL: Exactly. Stick a horn in the forehead and call it a day.
AMBASSADOR KAEL: We’re probably going to wrap things up here, but thank you very much for joining us Becka, and where can people find out more about you if they want to look you up?
AMBASSADOR KAEL: Cool! Well, thank you once again for bringing part of our game to life on the show, and thanks for joining us today, it was a pleasure talking to you!
BECKA NOEL: Absolutely! I had so much fun, and I’m glad I could bring this character to life, and I’m glad Star Trek Online was there for me!
AMBASSADOR KAEL: We’re glad we could help you with your addiction to other games, too. Thanks for listening, everybody, and live long and prosper!
Cosplay Melee airs every Tuesday at 10/9c on Syfy.