People always ask me:
Hey you! Yes you with the cute corgi! Where can I get all those fancy cosplay materials?
Well, I am so glad you asked! Here is a guide that should help you out! This list will be primarily useful for people from Europe, USA & Canada. If you need even more help go check out my elaborate material, shop and tool list which you can find here: THE SHOP, MATERIAL AND TOOL LIST
Many of my more popular costumes were made out of Worbla. Worbla is a thermoplastic material from Germany that you can get in many different countries all around the world. The most popular shops would be www.cosplaysupplies.com (for USA & Canada) as well as www.mycostumes.de (Germany). In general, if you’re searching on a local shop that offers Worbla, check out the website of cast4art, which has a list of all Worbla distributors worldwide!
There is also the new Black Worbla, Meshed Worbla and Transpa-Art. There is nothing wrong with sticking the the gold old brown stuff though. Classic Worbla is very beginner friendly, easy to work with and you only need a heat gun and sharp scissors to work with it.
Additionally to Worbla there are also many new products quite like it. They are called Cosplayflex, Thibra or Wonderflex but generally all work the same way. I also wrote a full blog post about all the different thermoplastics, so go check it out if you’re interested!
You’ll find all the information you need on how to work with this amazing material in my Cosplay Crafting Books!
In addition, I made some video reviews which might be helpful to you!
2. EVA Foam
When it comes to EVA foam, there is a clear favorite I found here in Europe. Grey high density EVA foam from the Belgian shop cosplayshop.be. I’m using the material quite frequently for armor and prop making and it’s just perfect for laser cutting as well. The high density makes the foam not only more durable but is also very useful for cutting and carving. It gives you more control with your tools and you don’t make mistakes that easy. Additionally it also slightly shrinks with heat. This is quite useful for adding details! Many other EVA foams just melt together and make the cuts disappear again. This one widens up instead which is great!
There are also other types of foam here in Europe, like those from www.minque.nl. In the States I am honestly not as familiar on where people buy their foam. I know people usually buy either L200 or those black puzzle mats with a texture on one side but I am not a huge fan of both of these. You can check out Foam-Mart in Los Angeles or TNT Cosplay foam which I heard is supposed to be very good but I can’t really vouch for that.
If you’ll like to check out different materials without spending a ton of money on full sheets and shipping costs, try to search for sample boxes! Many shops like minque.nl, mycostumes.de, cosplayshop.be offer sample boxes for a minimum price. Over the years I collected quite a lot sample boxes, which are always very helpful whenever I start a new project.
Also, good dremel is worth the money! Luckely, they aren’t pricy tough! I got one years ago from Benni is a birthday gift and it’s still one of my favourite tools!
3. EVA Contact Cement
The most common glue for foam in the US is Barge Cement. This product however is not available in Europe. Luckily there are other products that work just as well! My favorite glue for EVA foam (in Europe) is contact cement from cosplayshop.be, though the one from minque.nl works great as well. In general this kind of adhesive is a glue that you apply in thin layers on both sides, let it dry a few seconds and press together afterwards. The resulting contact is so strong that it should be almost impossible to separate two pieces again without damaging them.
If you work with Worbla or EVA foam, you almost always need a primer. For thermoplastics I mainly use white glue or wood glue. Just be careful: you can’t use every product that says ‘wood glue’ on the box. In fact there are big quality differences. I discovered that Elmers Glue from the US does a pretty good job. In Germany I’m working with Ponal Holzleim Classic, which I easily find in every hardware store.
A better alternative, though a more difficult one to find, is called Flexbond. This transparent primer is quite similar to white glue, but it’s elastic and flexible instead of solid and crackly. Flexbond is almost like white glue mixed with latex, which makes it a perfect primer for Worbla and foam and stops paint from chipping of, even when bending your material. Worbla.com wrote a detailed article about this amazing product, so check it out!
Cosplaysupplies.com finally added this primer to their stock and I hope more shops will discover this amazing product soon!
You can use Flexbond for EVA foam as well. White glue does work as well, but it will crack after a while since it dries out solid while EVA foam stays flexible and soft. Other than Flexbond, you can also use Plasti Dip, which comes in spray cans and is pretty easy to find. I buy mine mostly from ebay or on Amazon. This stuff is pretty toxic tough, so it’s better to spray it outside or in a spray booth. You’ll find an instruction about how to make a home-made spray booth in my newest book! It’s super cheap and super helpful! :)
My Gauss Rifle is actually a pretty good example about prop making with EVA foam and Plasti Dip, so go check that out!
A non-toxic alternative, is simple liquid latex. You can spray or brush it on and it’s pretty cheap and easy to find. However you will need to use latex colors to paint your costumes and props that way.
My Guns and Rifles Book also covers a bunch of different primers!
5. Acrylic Colors
Soooo, when it comes to painting with acrylics, I mainly use products from Amsterdam and Reeves. Amsterdam has a high variety of vibrant, very covering colors, while Reeves provides great metallic effects. I’m using them for all of my hand painted projects and just love their quality. Right now, most of my props are painted by my husband Benni and he is super
skilled handsome (edited by Benni). His paint jobs always look awesome, and all he needs is a brush and some good old acrylics.
If you need great metallic shine you can also used wax-based colors like Rub’n’Buff though they are not as easy to find.
I also have a book about acrylic paint jobs, so check that out if you’re curious!
6. Airbrush Colors
If you like to get a little bit more professional with painting, then a airbrush is surely a good choice. For my latest book about professional paint jobs I bought a cheap double action airbrush set on Amazon. You don’t need something super fancy to get started and I never really needed something more expensive. Regarding paint brands my favorite ones are from Vallejo and Alclad. Vallejo has nice standard colors as well as some great metallics and special effects. Alclad is specialized in all the shiny, glossy metal chrome stuff. Check out Alclad’s website to see all these amazing special effects and metalizers! They will surely hurt your bank account!
I’m using LEDs quite frequently for my projects. For simply light installations in props and costumes I buy a bunch of cheap LEDs on Ebay, though I also like my local emergency electronic store conrad.de. For fancy stuff, I’m visiting adafruit.com quite regulary. My standard circuit build consists out of Neopixel LED strips, a Pro Trinket 5V and a Powerboost 500c.
I actually uploaded a video tutorial for simple LEDs as well as animated LED strips.
In addition I can offer you a book about Basic LED installation for costumes!
A little disclaimer at the end: Opposing to popular belief I am not getting paid by any cosplay shops nor am I bound by any contract to write anything. I get those offers very frequently but I decline every one of them. Luckily Benni and I are in a position where we don’t need money from any shop so I buy what I want and write whatever I want about any material I want. I wouldn’t want other people to tell me what they think I should buy just because they are paid to do so. I just want to give my honest opinion. :)
Hope that helps!