A type of #costumer that we rarely discuss are professional actors, but this video of an actor working as a #DoctorWho Cyberman is an excellent example of what professional actors who wear heavy #costumes endure, as well as what can make a professionally designed & worn #costume different from a costume that a costume or #cosplay hobbyist would wear by comparison.
The video begins with professional actor Kevin Hudson arriving at the trailers before donning his Cyberman costume, which begins at about 35 seconds in. What’s interesting about this particular costume is its 3 layers (not including the head):
- A spandex body suit at the base.
- A cybernetically-detailed rubber body suit worn over the spandex body suit.
- Individual armor pieces worn over the legs, feet, arms, chest & back.
The head has 2 layers (a spandex balaclava and a 2-piece fitted helmet) and there are separate gloves.
Thus, when the entire costume is donned, the actor wearing it is fully encased. So, not only is the wearer going to get warm because he is fully encased, he’s going to be very sweaty and potentially uncomfortable due to the rubber body suit at the middle layer.
Where these actors have an advantage is that they’re mostly outdoors or inside an unheated industrial building and it’s obviously cold outside because everyone is wearing winter clothing. Were this episode of Doctor Who being filmed in the summer, these actors would be sweltering in the Cyberman costumes.
And that’s what we want to draw attention to: this particular Cyberman costume is really NOT practical for a cosplayer to wear at a crowded convention. While convention halls aren’t necessarily well heated or air conditioned, thousands of people walking around is going to raise both the ambient air temperature and humidity inside the convention hall. If a cosplayer were to wear a costume like this with their bodies fully encased in spandex, rubber and armor, and a helmet on top of that, it’s going to become very uncomfortable very quickly. Thus, the wearer wouldn’t be able to wear such a costume for very long, probably not even for an hour.
This is demonstrated by the video itself: the actors are only wearing the helmets during filming. The rest of the time, the helmets are off. The spandex balaclava, while it will retain some body heat, will still allow for perspiration so that the body can cool itself. Unless the helmets have built-in fans for moving air across the actors’ heads, the helmets will make the actors begin to overheat even though the ambient air temperature is cold.
By comparison, a #StarWars stormtrooper costume is primarily comprised of 2 layers: a spandex body suit and plastic armor worn over the spandex. Because of the gaps between the plastic armor and the spandex body suit, the wearer will have air flow near their bodies and between their bodies and the armor so that they don’t overheat. The helmets are also larger and allow for the installation of cooling fans.
If a cosplayer wanted to successfully wear a Cyberman costume for several hours at a convention, they’d need to ditch the mid-layer rubber body suit and find a way to get air to circulate across their heads while the helmet is being worn. While this may not be “screen accurate”, it’s practical. If a costume is so uncomfortable that it can’t be worn for even an hour at a convention, you might want to ask yourself whether the investment in time & money is worth having it. Practical considerations always have to be taken into account when it comes to wearing a costume.