Welcome to the den of B4, more commonly known as Belgian Beer Bug Barney.
The den is a showcase of my work in the field of scale-modelling, costume and prop building. My experience in these fields spans years, but these are hobbies for me. I'm not a professional propbuilder.
Models: is where you'll find info on all the scale-models I've made. They vary from cars, aircraft, helicopters to space ships and sci-fi vehicles.
Costume: is where you'll find all replica costumes I've made and regularily wear on various events.
Props: contains props and some of the historical items I have built or collected that aren't necessarily directly related to a particular costume.
Since 2002 I became involved in the recreation of various costumes from movies, tv-series, comics or other popular media. The term most commonly used is "cosplay". The hobby originated way back in 1939, when Forrest James Ackerman and his friend Myrtle A. Jones appeared in costume at the First World Science Fiction Convention in New York. Forrest, who was to become the editor of "Famous monsters of Filmland" was dressed as some sort of spaceship pilot, while Myrtle wore a gown recreated from the 1933 film "Things to come". They stuck out like a sore thumb amidst the overly serious gathering of writers, resulting in writer Frederik Pohl mentioning them in his book "The way the future was". He described them as "stylishly dressed in the fashions of the 25th century" but also wrote that he feared they had set an ominous precedent.
He was right, as the next year there were 12 costumed attendees (as opposed to Forrest and Myrtle being 2 out of 185 visitors). Forrest Ackerman became notable with his "Famous monsters of Filmland" and continued attending Wondercon almost every year. Below is one of the oldest pictures of him (and therefore of cosplayers) at WonderCon I could find (Ackerman on the left, Arthur Louis Joquel II is the guy on the right).
From there, the number only expanded, with more and more people dressing up as their favourite sci-fi or fantasy character, whether it was a replica or a completely made up creation. But it wasn't until 1984 that the hobby was noticed by Nobuyuki (nov) Takahashi, the current Representative Director from Studio Hard, went to Los Angeles SF Worldcon and reported about it in Japanese magazines back home. He was the one who took the Japanese tradition of taking the first sylables of different words to create a new term and apply it to this hobby. Thus, he created the term "cos-play", derived from "costume play", thereby gathering both the aspects of creating the costume and being the actual character. The Japanese word he used was "kosupure" and was supposedly used for the first time in the "My Anime" magazine from June 1983, of which the picture below is said to be a scan.
What is obvious from the scan even without the knowledge of Japanese writing, the idea of dressing up in a "hero costume" appealed so much to the Japanese audience that they started applying it to their own media en masse. Even back then, it seems they already had everything ranging from the skimpier costumes, over mechas, to the ones with wings so massive one can hardly negotiate a convention floor safely. With their large industry of anything manga and anime related, fans started churning out cosplays by the numbers. As more and more of these Japanese media found their way to the western worlds, so did the fan-made costumes. Therefore, cosplay as a hobby was re-introduced in Europe and America. Which is why most of the cosplayers today mistakingly believe their hobby originated in Japan.
Currently, cosplay has become such a widespread hobby that it is being practiced by people of all ages and kinds; including "crossplay" which is basically cosplaying a character of a different gender than you are. Championships are being held on local, national, European and even World-basis. Nowadays, you can't go to a convention without having a large number of dressed up fans there.
Some even take their cosplay-hobby and use it for charity. They dress up in a popular character, or a group of popular characters and go visit children's hospitals or co-operate with organisations such as Make-A-Wish. In turn, many distribution companies for movies, tv-series or games call for cosplayers (sometimes professionals) to help promote their new releases. Competitions are being held on all kinds of levels: small local ones, massive ones spread over several convention days, even European and global ones. Some events are specifically cosplay-related and Tokyo has the Harajuku bridge, which is a known hangout for cosplayers during weekends.
For those really dedicated to their hobby, cosplay can open many doors.
The name B4 is explained through the use of by far my most popular costume in a crowd: the alien warrior. It was first introduced on the FACTS 2007 convention. The aliens are commonly refered to as bugs in Colonial Marine slang and since I was the only Belgian owning such a costume at that time, I became "Belgian Bug". However, on the FACTS-party wedged in between both convention days, I talked to a whole bunch of people and found myself receiving beers from all over the place, in the end no longer remembering how many I'd had or where they'd come from. Hence, on the second convention day, "Belgian Bug" zigzagged a bit across the convention floor, still slightly intoxicated from the night before. "Barney" was added to the name, after the character from the Simpsons and "Beer" was also added. The total result is the B4-name, but I'm usually refered to as "Barney" plain and simple.