Over the past few months we here at constant collectible have been hitting the beat, diving into social media, and stalking people on the internet to ask, to convince, and sometimes plead with them, to allow us to feature them in their own article on our website in our new content page titled The Art of Cosplay. Ok, it was really just me stalking people on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, and other various cosplay club websites. I may or may not have been banned or blocked from some profiles in the process, but I was able to convince several cosplayers to join in what will be a monthly installment of cosplay features. We ultimately would love this to be a weekly installment, so if you, your friends, or someone you know cosplays, tell them about this and get in touch with me through our web site. Since this is our inaugural article I thought it best to start with a close friend of ours from high school. So, I flew out to Indiana to meet up with an old friend. Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and girls, Freaks and geeks, I present to you……..
Mr. Matthew Toppel a.k.a. “Uneek”.
Greetings Matt! It’s been a long time brother, so good to see you! So, tell me Matt, what got you started in cosplay? What peeked your interest so much to make you cannonball into this awesome art form?
I always loved Halloween and making my own costumes for as long as I can remember. Starting probably with one of my first really good costumes back in 1985 -Freddy Kruger. I didn’t really get into the "Cosplay" scene until 2012 when I found the website. I made my first custom Mandalorian armor and applied for Official Membership to the Mercs. My son and I wore our "kits" to the 2012 C2E2 con in Chicago.
That is amazing! I've seen a lot of the Manalorian Mercs, not only on their website but at conventions as well. They do a lot of charity work too, which is outstanding. So your son cosplays with you too? That is so badass! You know what that means don't you? We'll have to feature him in his own article too.
During my interview, Matt took us down to his basement where he keeps all of his cosplay outfits and where he makes all of his gear.
So Matt, as I look around at all of these awesome pieces of work, what kind of inspiration did you get to inspire you to cosplay? What keeps your motivation going to continue making new outfits?
My inspiration was I was looking for a new hobby. I have always been very artistic, winning awards in high school and in adult life. I began to see what people were making online in forums and I said " I can do that". Being bullied as a child and a young adult always made me want to be someone else.
Wow, I never knew you had been bullied. That's such a common problem these days and it's being exposed more and more. It's so cool that you took those emotions and used them to create all of these masterpieces.
Which one of these costumes was your first?
My first costume was my custom Mandalorian.
Oh wow, ya I like this one a lot. This has been a goal of mine, to one day make my very own Mandalorian armor.
Out of all of your costumes here, which one is your most difficult costume to wear and why?
My most difficult costume to wear is my Star Wars Ithorian. It's big and bulky with puppetry hands.
Ya, I can see why, but it's still really neat! So, while we're on this subject and we're looking at your creation here. Do you fabricate your own costumes or do you have help?
Yes. I make all of my own costumes and props. Eva foam is my medium mostly. I use rattle cans and airbrushes to paint and weather with chalk and real dirt and fire.
I've noticed a lot of costumes are made from foam, due to the ease of fabrication and it being so light.
You've attended several conventions and other cosplay event. After cosplaying, what are some of your favorite nerdy moments you’ve experienced?
My most nerdy moment was "fangirling " over Daniel Logan who played young Boba Fett. We hung out all day and took many pics with him. He even signed my sons and my Mandalorian helmet. It was pure joy.
That's so awesome! A couple of us meet him at Star Wars Celebration 4 (C4) in 2007 when it was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. We had a blast meeting him, he was really into meeting everyone and taking pictures.
So that being a big highlight, have you had any negative feedback or experiences while cosplaying?
Negative feedback? Yes, being called a dork, loser, to grow up, fat shaming, the usual bullying nonsense at cons and from family and so-called friends.
Well, the nice thing though Matt is that cosplay has been growing exponentially over the past several years so I think the whole bullying and name calling at conventions is coming to a slow halt. Nerds and Geeks are uniting under several banners to come together and show appreciation for one another. I love attending cons and seeing all of the awesome cosplay.
So, looking at all of your equipment here. How do you hunt down your materials? Local shops or custom orders?
I buy material from hobby lobby, harbor freight, and i up-cycle a lot of household goods and junk.
A true customization piece of work then, no pre-made parts, that's so cool! How many different costumes do you currently have?
I have many costumes (as he glances around his shop), 3 custom Mandos, 3 custom Sith, 1 custom clone trooper, 1 Tusken Raider, 1 Rodian Mando Pilot, 1 Kuzbekian Smuggler, 1 Yhuzzan Vong, 1 custom Marvel Punisher, and a few more that I'm forgetting about at this moment. I'm also currently working on a Storm Trooper and Skeletor outfit.
By the power of Grayskull Matt! You have more than I realized. With so many stellar pieces and outstanding outfits, do you have any tips for those beginners out there who want to get into cosplaying?
My main tip for beginners is research, research, research. Join forums and ask tons of questions, oh and hot glue is hotter than the Sun itself, so be prepared to be burnt.
That's some very sound advice and I too have noticed that cosplayers like to share information about building.
Last question for you regarding your costumes. If you could cosplay as anything, no limits on money or grandeur, who or what would you be, and why?
My "wish list " of Costumes would be, Darth Vader of course, being a huge Star Wars fan, Vader is just the Man, and Boba Fett too.
Ya, Vader costumes are so legit these days! You'll have to let me know if you ever get one going so that we can do another feature just on that. Any plans for conventions this year?
I am coming off a surgery and work is swamped. So real life comes first, but I am hoping to make it to Mask-Fest Indy this year and Star Wars Celebration next year with a few small local cons mixed in.
So, where can everyone find you if they want to keep track of your cosplay?
I can be found on Facebook under Uneek Costuming and Artwork. In addition, I would like to say. This is all about fun, have fun in making, wearing and making others have fun. Seeing the smiles on kids and adults faces is the payoff. Everyone can Cosplay as any character no matter their size, gender, or race. NONE OF THAT MATTERS.
Those are some wise words brother! Thanks for allowing me to pick your brain today and for showing us all your glorious costumes!
More Picture's of Cosplayer Uneek...
Uneek is Matthew M. Toppel who currently lives in Indiana, is a Plumber/Pipefitter, is 43 years young, has a beautiful wife and awesome son. Once again, thanks Matt for the time and pleasure of allowing us to feature you on our site.
The purpose behind Constant Collectible featuring cosplay artists on our site is to show anyone and everyone that cosplay artists come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and backgrounds.
Do you cosplay? Do you know someone who does? Would they or you like a free feature on our site? If so, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get the process going. The more pictures we get the more exposure you get.
Let us, and more importantly, the artist know what you thought of the article and of all of their precious cosplay work.
I'm Goody and I hope to see you on the convention floor sometime!