ENDED: AKF + Entertainment Earth Firefly Slippers Giveaway!

I am pairing up with Entertainment Earth to give one of my fans a shiny pair of Firefly slippers! Entertainment Earth was lovely enough to send me a pair to review, which F*ckYeahFirefly helped me out with. Read the review below, and then enter to win your own pair! 

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Inara the cat has a fondness for the slippers

When Entertainment Earth says “oversized,” they MEAN “oversized”! These cozy slippers are roughly 21 inches long from tail to nose. Your foot slips nicely into the top of the ship down to the cargo bay. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sole of the slipper is nice and cushioned! Before I put the slippers on, I didn’t even see the full inch of padding on the bottom of the ship. The plush outer feels like a hug for my feet, with just the right amount of tightness around the middle of my foot so that I don’t live in fear of it falling off. Serenity is keeping my toes nice and cozy. My very picky feet are quite happy with the interior design of the slipper.

The structure of the ship-slipper is pretty much what you would expect: the middle holds your foot, the nose and cockpit extend from the tops of your toes, and from roughly the middle of your feet to the back of your ankle run the engine pods. They stick out of the side of the slippers, so they are the most difficult part of the ship to maneuver with your feet, but after a few steps, you get used to it. They bounce charmingly along with your steps and as long as you watch to make sure you don’t knock into anything breakable (which you should be doing regardless of misbehaving slippers), you’ll be fine.

15354074_10209226077463372_853139025_oThe bottoms of the sole features no-slip rubber grippy dots, which help in maneuvering the oversized slippers, and the rest of the fabric has great detail of our beloved Serenity printed on it. It’s a different design than the Serenity Plushie you might see over at ThinkGeek or Quantum Mechanix: for one thing, the cockpit window is merged and the shuttles printed onto the sides rather than being their own separate things. The print is symmetrical right and left, which means either slipper can go on either foot and you don’t need to worry about remembering which one is which. The fabric itself is a lighter color, too, which means you can see much of the line work better. As you may or may not know, the ship has two designs: one from the show Firefly and one from the Big Damn Movie Serenity. The slippers incorporate elements of both designs – the line work is the structure of the ship from Firefly and the logo that Inara painted in the Big Damn Movie is present on the neck of the ship.

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Kaylee the cat is a little confused about her ship bein’ all small and miniature-ized

The stabilizer (the achilles heel of most Serenity products) is a separate piece of stiff fabric ingeniously sewn on so it can’t catch anything or rip itself off. It is printed with a pattern that fits with the rest of the ship, but is clearly a separate piece in much the same way the engine pods are. When I saw the promotional images online, I have to say I was worried about the stabilizer, but the idea of sewing it on is so simply genius that seeing it in person makes me smack my forehead and say, “now why didn’t I think of that?”

Overall, these slippers are cozy, nerdy, and fun to walk around in. They are one-size-fits-most and large enough to cuddle if that’s your style. I certainly plan to wear mine at every sleepover from now on.

This giveaway has ended.

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To Rhode-ly Go: RICC 2016

AKF in front of RICC backdrop
AKF at RICC 2016

Another year, another Rhode Island Comic Con, the convention which wraps up all of my conventions for the year. This year, it was much less of a hectic travel for me (though I did drive about 3hrs from Albany to the Rhode Island on Thursday evening) compared to last year. Having attended RICC consistently since 2013 (the con’s 2nd year in existence), I have seen changes made for better and for worse.

I have made myself more available as a speaker at conventions this year. I realized last year that I know enough to talk authoritatively about Firefly and other aspects of geekdom, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to apply for a panel. I loved presenting and I want to keep hosting panels forever. At RICC, I debuted a new panel I am really proud of: ‘What Not To Ask at a Celebrity Q&A.’ This panel needs some refinement (but so did my Firefly panel when I first did that back at Chicago Comic Con 2016), but I hope to bring it to more cons in 2017. I also ran ‘The Expanding Firefly ‘Verse’ with Laurel of FuckYeahFirefly.com who happens to be one of my best friends. We streamed the event on Facebook live and it’s on my facebook page.

Though our Firefly panel went really well, we did struggle because we weren’t give a projector. My panels always feature slideshows for visual aid (especially in the Firefly panel, since it’s much easier to show pictures of Firefly merch rather than bringing all the merch with me– I would have been really out of luck if this weren’t a local convention!) AND help those who are hard of hearing or visual learners instead of auditory learners. Plus, I include links to everything to help folks find the merch I promote, which are basically impossible to see without a larger projection than just my laptop screen. Prior to RICC, I had only presented at Wizard World conventions but, for all of the conventions I have submitted to, I am guaranteed a projector for my A/V needs. I hope in the future, RICC can make that happen for panelists or clarify that audio-visual tools are limited so panelists like me can make other plans.

Other than that A/V snafu, the room sizes were about perfect for my anticipated audience size  and receiving vendor badges made it so much easier to get through security faster (which was a big help, when I was almost late to my Saturday panel because the parking was so terrible). However, more folks would have shown up to my panels if we were scheduled a little better and if the schedule was clearer. RICC is the only convention I know of that does not make the  schedule available in the program books you receive at the convention. These program books should absolutely have the schedule in them. The only place to find the programming schedule was on RICC’s website (which is kind of an eyesore and takes forever to load), the very glitchy mobile app, or posters throughout the con that only mentioned events for that day. There was no place with a map that listed exactly what events were where. Instead, RICC had maps on poster boards in random places that had the layout and numbers but didn’t list which vendors correlated with which numbers or where to find the celebrity meet-and-greets.

Like last year, RICC took place both in the convention center and in the adjacent Dunkin Donuts stadium (“The Dunk”). Most of the vendors and some of the “smaller” celebs were in the main hall at the convention center. I say “smaller” in quotation marks because they considered Brent Spiner (Data in Star Trek TNG) and Summer Glau (River Tam in Firefly and Serenity) – among others! – “smaller” celebrities. These are practically household names for nerds like me! The main hall also featured artists alley, and the entirety was laid out in columns instead of rows, so navigating was incredibly difficult.

RICC Traffic
This was really low traffic, comparatively.

Like last year, other celebrities were in the stadium, though these folks (and their lines) were on the actual rink rather than being in the circle surrounding it (the opposite of last year). One of the vendors in the ring around the rink said that sales had been really good in this area, which surprised me because that area was a pain to get to for convention attendees. Though there is a sky bridge that connects the Dunk to the convention center, it was going ONE WAY, from the Dunk to the convention center. If you wanted to see a celeb or vendor in the Dunk, you had to go outside the convention center to walk to the Dunk. While I walked the main hall floor a whole bunch of times, I only ventured over to the Dunk twice over the whole weekend due to the one-way sky bridge. It makes more sense to me to lay that out the opposite way, and push traffic into the Dunk to make the convention center less busy, which is an issue for RICC every year.

Another issue was photo-ops. Laurel was really excited to get a professional photo with Summer Glau, who has rarely offered them in the past, but was hugely disappointed by what she ended up with, and the work she had to do to get it. Though RICC claimed to offer  photo-op sales online (which could be purchased in advance), Laurel couldn’t find one for Summer so she had to buy it at the con. At the convention, staffers almost wouldn’t let her buy a photo-op because they claimed to have capped all photo-op sales by Saturday morning. At RICC (like most cons) photo-ops and autographs are cash only. Because Laurel didn’t have  any cash on hand Friday, she figured she could get cash first thing in the morning to pay for a photo-op since RICC offered both Saturday and Sunday photo-ops with Summer. Eventually, staff let her purchase one but the result was awful. When the time for the picture came, the lighting was horrible, the photographer framed the picture poorly, and it even came out blurry. When Laurel asked to re-take the photo, they said the best they could do was re-print the same picture in portrait rather than landscape. She decided to cut her losses and roll with the crappy photo she received. Suffice to say, I recommend against purchasing “professional” photo-ops at RICC.

FYF and Summer Glau

The “vendor” vs. “artist alley” organization made very little sense since a lot of the vendors in the Dunk seemed like they would fit really nicely into an Artists’ Alley section. A friend commented that she was disappointed there wasn’t more focus on the artists. We had gone to NYCC together and loved everything in ‘The Block,’ which includes a lot more grunge-y art work and where I spent most of my money on enamel pins. We also noted that bigger cons like NYCC feature panels about diversity and RICC hasn’t caught onto that yet. At NYCC,  I didn’t feel the need to attend many of the feminist/POC/queer panels since we’d seen them in the past, but we both agreed that it’s definitely something that should be present at every convention, RICC included.

Yet again, I don’t understand why RICC splits the celebs and vendors up. The celebrities should all be in one building with the vendors/artists’ alley in another. Every other convention does it that way, rather than arbitrarily splitting up the celebrities. One person argued that putting vendors in one building and celebs in another would result in attendees who were just interested in meeting celebs never visiting the vendor hall, but I really don’t think that’s an issue. If those con-goers want to see a panel, they’ll be in the con hall. If they want to buy a photo to get signed, they’ll be in the con hall. Plus, if they are spending $50-$75 PLUS the price of a photo-op or autograph, they’re likely to walk the con hall just to get their money’s worth. And if they don’t want to see the vendors, that’s their prerogative, as a paying convention attendee.

All that being said, I don’t imagine RICC will go anywhere else anytime soon. The convention center is the largest in RI. Though it screws up traffic in the area for those three days, it’s good to see so much seating & eating available in the vicinity. Being next to the mall is great when you need a break and don’t want to spend $4 on a bottle of water in the convention center. This convention also seemed a lot less busy than last year’s RICC and I think it may have had to do with cancellations from some of the bigger name guests (like Billie Piper). I think it’s a good idea for RICC to feature only 1 or 2 bigger name guests, because it makes the traffic much less horrible and allows the con to focus its energy on spotlighting those special guests. I intend to attend RICC again in 2017 and I hope it continues to grow and change into the con that I believe it can be.

Would you like AKF to attend/present or promote your geeky items at a convention? Learn how right here.

From Thrift Store to Your Door: (Part of) My Etsy Business

I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2012, and have learned a few things over the past several years. Curious about my process? Read on!

ACQUIRING THE CLOTHES
Before I purchase ANYTHING, I go through reference photos I’ve saved in my Google Drive or bookmarked in Chrome. This way, I have access to them on my desktop, laptop, and phone, depending if I’m home or on the go. If I am looking for something specific or looking to modify something for a costume, having these references readily available helps refresh the image in my head so I know what to look for.

When I visit my hometown Chicago, I have 8 or 9 stores that I visit all in one go. It usually takes all day and involves multiple snack breaks! In Rhode Island (where I now live), I have 4 Savers within a 20 minutes drive. The prices at Savers aren’t as good as the Chicago stores, but they are closer to me (one of them is within walking distance) and I check them more frequently. I walk through the aisles of t-shirts and knits, looking for anything that reminds me of Kaylee or features motifs similar to the show. I also keep an eye out for anything especially reminiscent of River, Zoe, and Inara. Once I find and purchase all the clothes, the hard work begins.

PHOTOS
20160529_134937The next step is to take pictures of EVERYTHING. In Chicago, my sister helps me out; in RI, I get assistance from one of my housemates. I do my best to take photos outside in natural light, because these look the best & showcase the colors of the clothing really well. If there’s an item of clothing that is too small for me, I take pictures of it on another model (usually my housemate or my sister). I try to get at least 3 or 4 different poses, and multiple pictures of each pose (because I blink a LOT). I also take close-up detail pictures of shirts so that customers can get an idea of the patterns on them.

Once I’ve gotten pictures of everything, I transfer them to my computer and do a preliminary cull. This is where I delete anything blurry, where I’m blinking, or the clothing doesn’t appear flattering. I pick 3-4 photos that I like the best of each item (plus the detail shot), and then transfer these into Photoshop, where I do a very basic edit to clean up colors, contrast, brightness, etc. Here, I also crop images so that they focus more on the shirts that I am trying to sell than on the background or anything else in the frame.

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DESCRIPTIONS

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After I am happy with the pictures, I rename everything to describe it (for example, Peacock shirt 1 for the first picture of the peacock shirt). In some cases (like the Zoe belt I am currently offering), I also  take a few measurements to accurately describe the products. After that, I start the tedious process of uploading these pieces to Etsy.

In Etsy, I have to specify a ton of information before I can save items as drafts; things like what ‘type’ of item it is, who is going to use it, how big it is to calculate shipping, and more.Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 2.50.25 PM I take the time to fill this out. My favorite part of the listing process is writing a description; I get to imagine how Kaylee came to own each of the shirts I’ve picked out, or on what she occasions she might wear them.

SHIPPING

Part of adding listings to Etsy includes figuring out how to ship items & how much it will cost. Luckily, Etsy can often provide the shipping information for me when I fill in certain details.

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 2.44.51 PM When items are ordered from Etsy, I get 2 emails. One from Paypal (since all my Etsy funds go there), and one from Etsy. The Paypal email goes into a folder labeled ‘receipts’ so that I can track how much I made & relate that to my taxes. The second email stays unread in my inbox until I am ready to ship; once it ships that email gets deleted.

I will almost always use Etsy to purchase shipping labels, since it keeps it all in one nice spot, and I get an email receipt. I can then print the label, and schedule a pick-up through USPS so I don’t have to find a time to get to the post office. And then items are off to their new homes! With almost 80 reviews and 4.5 stars on Etsy, hopefully I am doing something right.

Are there any questions you have about my process? Comment and let me know!

Madison Comic Con 2016

After thousands of miles of travel, and almost every single kind of mode of transportation possible, I am finally home from Wizard World Madison Comic Con 2016.

Havin1460122604781g never visited Madison, WI before now, the invitation to present my “Expanding Firefly ‘Verse” panel gave me not only the chance to visit my family in Chicago, but also a chance to see a new city! Plus I got to visit cosplay friends I don’t see very often. Oh yeah, and bring my panel to more folks… and see Jewel Staite in person.

The trip began on Wednesday night when I took a train into Boston. I stayed the night with a friend and then took the first Silver Line on Thursday to catch my 7am flight to Chicago. Once in Chicago, I stayed for just one night before getting up early and taking a train to the bus that would eventually take me to Madison. I traveled on the Van Galder bus line, which is $30 no matter what and resembles a double decker Megabus. I got the best seat in the house: the front row on the top deck which means huge windows all around. This bus had great wifi, but also randomly leaked through the ceiling at times. 8/10.

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I stayed with my friend SparrowStyle who happens to live right near the bus stop. We ate lunch before heading to the convention. Day one was relatively slow. We walked the entire convention floor (comparable roughly to the size of Wizard World Philly the first year that I went, or the Rhode Island Convention Center), and scoped out the room where I would be presenting my panel on Saturday. After that, we called it a day and headed home for sushi and Netflix. 

Saturday, we headed to the convention around 11 in the morning, so I would have time to set up the room for my panel and make sure my laptop hooked up correctly. I met up with my co-panelist, and we went over a few things before the panel started. This IMG_20160410_123403panel was a lot more in depth than the last time I presented it. I included information about new graphic novels (the next one comes out in less than a month during Free Comic Book Day) as well as about QMx’s partnership with Loot Crate for the Firefly Loot Crates. I also added information about fan films that exist or are being made, including Browncoat Redemption, The Verse, Browncoats: Independence War, and A Faithful Companion.

You’ll have to catch me at a convention to see the whole panel (and have a chance at some of the shiny things I give away at panels), you can check out future panels and events by clicking here. SparrowStyle and I walked the floor again, stopping here and there to pick up art. SparrowStyle and I also entered the cosplay competition, before I headed over to see Jewel Staite’s panel. I caught the tail end of the Agents of Shield panel and, as that was emptying out, managed to get a seat in the very front row of Jewel’s panel!

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We didn’t get much new info from Jewel, but she did talk about being a new mom: her son is now four months old! She did talk about how she almost got a role in Buffy, but scheduling meant she couldn’t. When she was cast in Firefly, she was asked by Joss directly to film a tape for Kaylee, she didn’t even have to put in a general audition. She did mention reading the character descriptions and wanting to read for River. Jewel also mentioned being so grateful for being able to travel all around the world thanks to Firefly, and how she still runs into people who’ve seen it or are just starting to watch it. She’s been working a lot lately, including a recent episode of Legends of Tomorrow and an upcoming episode of Castle, where she loved working with Nathan Fillion again.

The Arena
The Arena

After the panel, we spent more time around the convention floor before lining up for the cosplay competition. This year (unlike last year, according to SparrowStyle), the competition was held in the Arena, rather than the main convention center. This is also where all the celebrity panels were held. We lined up in the main convention center before we were escorted us over to the Arena (the area between the two was outdoors and pretty chilly). We waited backstage, and then were announced and had our four seconds to shine! Madison Comic Con had tons of fantastic cosplays this year in the contest. There was a whole group of Doctors (as well as the Doctor’s daughter and Amy Pond), a guy who made the power armor from Fall Out, and even a set of hands of blue. You can see pictures from the whole convention on the Wizard World Flickr page.

Overall, I had a fantastic convention experience. Madison is definitely an up and coming convention that I see getting bigger and bigger every year. I hope to be invited again in the future!  

Loot Crate Firefly Kaylee Interview

 I was interviewed for the first ever (!!) Firefly Loot Crate, naturally themed after our favorite mechanic. To save $5 on your first Loot Crate, whether it be Firefly or not, click here.

Full Transcript follows:

12034335_1130109867018762_5819709339031459687_o “If you’ve ever done a double-take at a Kaylee cosplay so perfect you cannot gorram believe it, chances are you’re looking at Ask Kaylee Frye. Wearing what could arguably be considered her cosplay destiny, the voice of askkayleefrye.com conquered social media (and our hearts) as everyone’s favorite space mechanic and fluffy dress enthusiast. We sat down with Ask Kaylee Frye in the engine room to discuss her career in coveralls. 

What convinced you to embrace your Kaylee destiny?
I decided to go to NYCC in 2012 with a friend, and I had a pair of green denim coveralls I had found at a thrift store a little while back. I figured, what the heck, why not wear them to the convention? People’s reactions were incredible! I lost count after 50 people asked to take my picture and told me I really looked like her. I feel bad, looking back now, because those coveralls are SO inaccurate (especially compared to the ones I wear now) but so many people told me my cosplay was great when really they just meant my face (thanks mom and dad).

You’ve become the go-to source for cosplayers seeking advice on their own costumes. What questions are you 100% tired of hearing?
People ask me a LOT where I get my stuff, to the point where I made an FAQ about it. I get asked about my coveralls a lot, because they’re very accurate to the show. I found them at a military surplus store that no longer sells them.

You have met many of the Firefly cast members. Any favorite stories about meeting the actual crew?
Oh man. The best I think was at Alan Tudyk and Morena Baccarin wearing flower crownsPhiladelphia Comic Con. I purchased photo-ops with Gina, Adam and Jewel. When I got my picture with Adam, Jewel happened to also be in the booth, just checking her phone on the sidelines. I got up to him and he looks at me, says “You look familiar!” and then points at Jewel. I also had a wonderful time meeting Morena Baccarin at Chicago Comic Con a couple years back. There was no line at all for her autograph, so a friend and I went up to her and just talked for a little while. We also had made flower crowns for her and Alan and Summer which she wore for the rest of the convention.

What is your favorite costume piece?
I do love my green coveralls. I’m really proud of them, especially because they were one of the first real cosplays I made for myself. Plus I know if I wear them, I’m gonna get recognized. I’ve also made costumes for my best friend and for my sister that I love.

If you had one piece of advice for other Kaylee cosplayers, what would it be?
The most important thing is the smile on your face. Your cosplay can be slap-dashed together, it can be totally inaccurate, but as long as you’re smiling, ain’t a power in the ‘verse that can stop you.12006663_1130105727019176_3523941287218418752_o
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