The unveiling of Hogger cosplayer Bryce Masunaga

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|12.29.11

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The unveiling of Hogger cosplayer Bryce Masunaga
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Perhaps you're familiar with the photo above, we've used it on several occasions for a variety of articles here at WoW Insider, partially because it' a really cool costume with a lot of detail and partially because hey, it's Hogger! But I've always wondered just how that costume was put together -- and more importantly, who the heck is in there, anyway?

Luckily, that question has been answered by an email from the costume's creator, Bryce Masunaga. While Hogger was a fantastic costume that many remember, Bryce has done a couple of other costumes for BlizzCon as well -- a sturdy Tree of Life that does the Twist, and a lovely version of priest tier 5. Bryce sat down with us and chatted about the art of costuming, patience, and how exactly he managed to walk around in that Hogger costume and still see where he was going!


World of WarCrafts: Hi Bryce! Can you tell us a little bit about your gaming background?

Bryce: I started gaming many years ago with the original Legend of Zelda around the first grade with my father. It was something we could do together, and it forced me to learn to read through the instruction manuals! Since then, my gaming career has continued to flourish into other RPGs, RTS, and MMOs: the Zelda series, Final Fantasy, Command & Conquer, StarCraft, Spiral Knights ... There just isn't enough time in a day anymore.

Getting into WoW took a little while. While in college, I had some friends who played since the beta and kept trying to get me to play by inviting me to their dorm room to watch them raid MC. Around that time, the only MMO I had played was Ragnarok Online, so the whole not-clicking-to-move was weird to me. Eventually I gave in, and a few of my other friends started to play as well ... This was just after the AQ patch. I still remember asking my friend directions to Silithus while still around level 32 because I wanted to see the gates open on my server. That was a very long and very costly (at least at the time) run. Since then, I've made many, many awesome friends through the game and find myself an officer of Gnerds on Frostwolf (A-US).

How did you get into cosplay?

Growing up in Hawaii, there weren't any anime conventions or cosplay groups around, at least until very recently. I'd run across pictures or articles of cosplayers online, and it fascinated me that this kind of hobby existed. When I came to the mainland (aka continental United States) for college in 2003, I joined up with the anime club and got my first taste of cosplaying.

The very first costume I made started as a joint effort in the club but eventually ended up with just two of us finishing by the time the convention came around. We didn't know anything about sewing or pattern making, so we got some help from a friend as well as her sewing machine. Both of us were undergrad engineers, so the white boards in the room we were using tended to be cluttered with formulas and sketches for angles and curves for the attempts at patterns. It took us maybe four or five months, but we got them done and cosplayed military officers from Fullmetal Alchemist. You could say it took that first real taste, and we were instantly hooked!

Since then I've continued to make cosplays from anime, video games, and a few live-action shows. The whole creation process, from concept to experimentation to final product, is fun and rewarding in its own way. It also gives me an opportunity to try out all kinds of different techniques and materials, especially with my recent dabbling in small prop making. Most of the time costly dabbling, but fun none the less.

I love all three of the costumes you've put together, but my favorite has to be Hogger. Usually with costumes, I can see how a human being would fit inside, but Hogger ... How did that one come together?

Oh, Hogger. It was a good mix of fun and head pounding to get that one done in time for BlizzCon. The idea was started close to the end of the previous BlizzCon, and I had started to make some preliminary design sketches for it. I had a general idea of what to do, given the very non-human proportions of the creature but it took a lot of sketches to come up with a design that would decently work.

The end result had Hogger's hump as the holder for my head, with the Hogger head being about chest level when I'm inside. I disguised the two eye holes on the hump as spots so that it would blend in and not be very obvious. Due to the weight of the head, I had to wear a rolling backpack I butchered to support the PVC rods that supported helped to support it. This was probably one of the more difficult parts, as when I was making it, the head was much heavier than I anticipated and kept sagging. It took me almost a week to figure out this method to get it somewhat straight and supported.

There were also two computer fans mounted inside the hump to help bring air in and take hot air out with the vent holes and switches disguised as spots. After the major overheating I had in the Tree of Life the previous year, I learned my lesson and made sure to get those fans as part of the costume. The back flap of the shirt was also designed to open to help with circulation when needed.

Walking around normally makes for a weird Hogger, especially since a lot of the weight of the costume is supported by my head. So for pictures or walking in Hogger mode, I stood on my toes and squatted a bit. I also tucked my head lower to reduce the size the hump. It wasn't the most comfortable position, but the number of times I got stopped to take pictures or to "kill" someone made it worth the sweat and bad vision.

Now, chasing a camera was definitely one of the harder requests I had that weekend. One of the coolest had to be at the Razer booth, where they put a pair of their Orca headsets on my "head" and said I could keep it if I kept it on for a while to show it off for them.

What do you think is the toughest part of designing and creating a costume?

It's hard to say which is the hardest. Each one tends to have its own unique challenge to making it. Proper proportions is one that stands out since not every character is drawn with realistic body proportions, so getting the designs to look right can take some trial and error. For my WoW costumes, going from 2D to 3D was definitely a challenge since almost everything on a character is a flat skin, so you really can't make out how the material sits or where one layer starts and another ends. And let's not even get started on the ones that totally ignore real-world physics. Though as difficult as they can be, coming up with ways to make it work is part of the fun.

Which of your costumes was your favorite? Which got the biggest reaction? I'm guessing the Tree of Life costume went over well with the druid crowd!

Hehe, yeah. Lots of people liked the Tree of Life, though probably more when I danced the Twist in it. Personally, I like my T5 the best. I made it for my first BlizzCon because it was and still is my favorite set of priest armor.

Wearing the Tree of Life and Hogger is also very fun. I don't know how many times I got stopped in my priest or druid costume and asked for buffs! Though I guess it might kinda balanced out since I got asked to kill so many people as Hogger. All three definitely had a large reaction in their respective years at BlizzCon, especially on stage during the costume contest whether it was a sapped priest, a dancing tree, or the invincible gnoll.

Do you have any advice for those that would like to try their hand at cosplay?

Don't get discouraged! Everyone had to start from somewhere when they started as well. Take your time and don't be afraid to experiment, either. Some things that work for others might not work for you, so try different things to see what is best for you. Just like leveling a crafting profession, the more you work at it, the higher your skill level becomes.

Cosplaying is just as much about the journey to create the costume as it is wearing it, so make sure you have fun every step of the way!

Anything else you'd like to add?

Definitely need to do a shout-out to my guild of many years, many great friends, and great memories: Gnerds of Frostwolf (A-US)! Without our combined powers and determination, I probably wouldn't even have gotten a ticket to attend BlizzCon and make my first WoW costume. Also a huge thanks to Anne and WoW Insider for this great honor to be featured in an article -- and the many times my picture has been reused in other articles! Can't wait to see what amazing cosplays show up at the next BlizzCon and other conventions next year!

Thanks so much for getting in touch with us, Bryce -- and be sure to say hello at BlizzCon next year!

If you'd like to see more of Bryce's cosplay from WoW and a variety of other games and anime, check out his profile on CosplayLab!

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