Cosplay interviews! A weekly feature on Animetion where we talk to UK cosplayers on what motivates them, plus a cool gallery showcasing their cosplays.  Here we talk to cosplayer:

Rach Nobes
(a.k.a. Arkayen)

Q: When did you start cosplaying and how long for?

Officially I started cosplaying in May 2005 at the MCM London Expo.  I made two outfits - Morrigan and Lilith from DarkStalkers.  They were simple outfits but a lot of fun!  Unofficially I have always had a love for dressing up as something different and even ran for my colleges Entertainments officer dressed as the killer from Scream.

Q: What attracts you cosplay?

For some its the attention, for others its the chance to be someone/something else but for me its the fan base.  I love hearing peoples reaction at seeing one of their favourites walk in or when they see something a bit special and different.  You'll always have critics but the people that matter are the ones you bring a smile to!

Q:  What has been your favourite cosplay?

Fox McCloud is probably my favourite.  I made him quickly and picked him as I'd never seen any Lylatt Wars/Star Fox cosplays.  I thought he'd only be a recognised retro character but being a huge retro gamer myself, I'd obviously misjudged the love for him.  Within seconds of getting his outfit on I was greeted with crys of "DO A BARREL ROLL!" and many more Star Fox quotes!  During the Masquerade I barrel rolled nearly taking out The Claw!

Q: Most memorable moment whilst cosplaying?

I have so so many but 3 stand out in honesty.  One was the Final Fantasy XII cosplay contest - I had been assaulted and required a finger joint replacement but just days after the operation, I received an email from a friend about the contest.  I was in plaster with no chance of making anything.  Two days before the contest closed, I came out of plaster.  Still bandaged and unable to move my left hand fingers, I worked solidly to finish a Mont Blanc cosplay.  It wasn't great but I was just happy to have entered.  I was emailed two days later to say I had won a place at the launch event.  It wasn't the fact that I'd won that mattered, just that I'd worked hard to achieve something so special.

The second was earlier this year at the Birmingham NEC Sewing for Pleasure event.  I made an Easter bunny outfit.  No real reason but the show is about our hobbies and cosplay is mine.  While walking around a few people thanked me for dressing up again as my outfits "always brightened the day" but in the second hall a young lady with autism gave me a note, asking the Easter bunny to bring her a gift.  She gave me a hug and a wave and I have treasured the note ever since.

The third involves meeting people - I've made lifelong friends through cosplay and its given me a social outlet I never had at school.

Q:  Have you had any cosplays go wrong/encountered problems whilst making cosplays?

Oh all the time but its important not to give up!  My advanced planning is awful and I'm a "throw enough mud at it 'til something sticks" kinda person.  My usual problem is sewing machine issues - it will always break when I need it most...or someone will break all my needles...

I was making a pink and purple Cheshire cat for Race for Life (click here for a picture) and on the morning of the event, I was still finishing the outfit hours before the 5k run/walk after the timing on my machine broke.  Its important just to keep calm and remember at the end of the day, its just an outfit, not the end of the world.

If I'm at a convention I always bring a full cosplay repair kit including sewing machine, back up travel machine, many cotton reels, glues (super, fabric, copydex), tapes (sticky, duct, electrical and double sided plus elastic bands, safety pins and much much more.  If yours goes wrong, feel free to nab me and ask as I'll always try help!

Q:  Have you ever regretted cosplaying?

Regretted, no but I did nearly quit after some people branded me "fat" and "minging" after my Mont Blanc cosplay.  Certain people and websites think its ok to get nasty and personal about costumers but its not.  The assumption is cosplayers are "attention whores" and bring it on themselves but most of us are just trying to have a laugh.  Most of the cosplayers I have met have been bullied and are quite insecure so this nastiness is detrimental.

I also found it a tad gut-wrenching that some cosplayers look down on me and don't treat me with respect.  I try to be friendly to everyone but have found a few members of the cosplay community to be very stuck up.  I work just as hard on my outfits and while I don't have any illusion that I look like a model, I don't think I should be treated any differently.  One cosplayer pretty much blanked me at a recent event with no reason other than they make "serious" outfits and I make fun ones.  Some people take it too seriously, granted, but at the end of the day, cosplay is just a form of fancy dress so why be elitist about it or so critical?  Cosplay = srs bsns?  Hardly. If you lose sight that it is meant to be fun, then you shouldn't do it anymore.

Q:  Is there a particular theme to your cosplays?

I tend to do retro Video Games cosplays as while I do love anime, Video Games are my first love.  I also like to pick unusual outfits.

Q:  Have you ever done group cosplay? If so how did you find that experience?

I've not done much group cosplay.  I like to wander around cons on my own a little really and its not for the attention - I just like going around at my own pace and have known groups of cosplayers to create havoc in the aisle posing for photos.  I was in a Disgaea group photo shoot at Amecon and that was great fun but we kept out of the way.

Q:  What cosplays are you planning?

I have a few lined up including:

Master Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Ratchett and Clank (from Ratchett & Clank - ed.)
R Mika from Street Fighter 3
Shaun the Sheep from Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave
plus many more...

Q:  Do you have a dream cosplay?

I would love to make a Parodius outfit or Twinbee from Pop n Twinbee.

Q:  Do you have one piece of advice that you would give to cosplay virgins?

Wear your outfit for an hour at least around the house before going to an event and try every eventuality - walking, stairs, sitting, eating and even going to the loo - you'll be surprised how much more difficult things can become in an unfamiliar outfit.

Q:  Do you have an account with the website Cosplay island/other social networking sites?

Cosplay Island -
MySpace - www.myspace.com/arkayens_home
and can be found at FaceBook under the name Rach Nobes

(click any picture for a larger image)

Rach as Yoshi from Super Mario Brothers series
Rach as Plenair from DisgaeaRach as Vibes from Reynard City - www.renardcity.co.ukRach as Fox McCloud from Starwing series

Rach as Roger Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Rach as the Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland

Rach as Madame Pompadour from Doctor Who Rach as Felicia from DarkstalkersRach as Aku from Samurai Jack Rach as Beast from X-Men

Rach (right) as Morrigan from Darkstalkers Rach (center left) as Nurse Joy from Pokemon

Rach (right) as Ryo-ohki from Tenchi Muyo Rach as Carbunkle from Final Fantasy IX Rach as a Moogle from the Final Fantasy series

Rach as Ichigo from Tokyo Mew MewRach taking part in world record from most video game cosplayers in one place.  She is in the top left somewhere Rach as Trixie from Speed Racer