From the moment I saw Zero Suit Samus, or as I affectionately call her “Bounty Hunter Barbie”, I knew I wanted to cosplay her. For years I had her on my list of future cosplays, attending convention after convention, but inevitably I would just end up wearing my Slave Leia or Misty costumes as I already had those. Any other characters I dressed as were typically part of a group cosplay, and a Metroid group simply hasn’t happened yet.
Then came PAX West 2019. Originally, I wasn’t planning on cosplaying at all. I was mainly there to be part of the Zelda Universe panel as I host Zelda News each week for the site, in addition to being on the Shinesparkers team. Clearly I love Nintendo IPs! But as a last minute decision, I decided it would be the perfect time to be Zero Suit Samus. I was there with my dear friend, Shinesparkers supporter and founder of Metroid Headquarters Elias Thompson, and thought it would be fun to surprise him with my new cosplay.
I only had a couple of weeks before flying out to Seattle for PAX to get my costume together. I knew there wasn’t enough time to commission a nice bodysuit that’s custom made to fit me, so I hopped on Amazon to see what I could find. I found a Zero Suit Samus costume pretty quickly and placed my order. Within a few days it arrived, and tried it on, but it was too big. Fortunately I had enough time to order a smaller size and have it arrive before I headed out of town.
Becoming Zero Suit Samus in such a short time frame posed a series of challenges. Since the bodysuit was inexpensive, it was all one piece, gloved hands and all. It took nearly 20 minutes just to go to the bathroom. Using the touch screen on my phone was close to impossible since I couldn’t take the gloves off without unzipping and pulling down the entire top half of the costume, and even at a convention, that would be frowned upon. I ended up either handing my phone off to a friend, or using my nose to unlock the screen.
Shoes were not built into the suit either, and I definitely didn’t have enough time to try and make a pair of Jet Boots. Having back problems and an ankle I’ve sprained countless times, I was nervous to wear wedges or heels of any kind since I would be walking a lot at a convention center in a city I’d never been to. So I went with the method I used when I played Dazzler in the Uncanny X-Men web series, and wore my jazz shoes inside the costume since they’re soft and flexible. The only problem with this is I knew from experience how slippery the spandex was on floors, and I could easily picture myself casually walking through the convention center and falling in the style of sliding on a banana peel. The night before flying out, I got a cheap pair of water shoes and cut the soles out, then got my husband to help me attach them to the bodysuit. Now, the proper way to do that is to use a shoe glue or sew them on, but I didn’t have time for any of that, so hot glue was the next best choice. It honestly stuck really well and I didn’t have any problems with it staying on the entire time I was there.
It was down to the wire, but Zero Suit Samus was ready to go. Even though I have blonde hair myself, I initially planned on getting a wig to give her a more animated look, but it didn’t arrive in time for me to style it. Putting a wig in a ponytail is more time consuming than one would think. For reference, I spent about five hours on my Kyoko Sakura wig from Madoka Magica, and that was a rush job. I was leaving the next morning, so settled with my natural hair. Well, my fresh from the salon highlighted natural hair that is.
It was finally time to debut Zero Suit Samus. I got up early to get dressed and do my hair and makeup. Then I woke up Elias and said “Surprise!”, to which he replied “that’s nice,” and went back to sleep. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Walking around the convention center, I had a lot of anxiety at first. This was a skintight costume, I was wearing flats instead of wedges, and didn’t have a wig. I’m always scared I’m going to end up on a “cosplay fail” site. But the nervousness subsided quickly, especially after a little girl was excited to see Samus and came to say hi. As someone who plays a Disney princess for charity events, there is nothing better than brightening a kid’s day by being a character they love. Throughout the day, other convention goers acknowledged my costume and asked for pictures. I even ran into another Zero Suit Samus cosplayer, which involved fighting through my own insecurities and tendency to compare myself to others. Here was a beautiful cosplayer with the wig, heels, and height, while I stood about a foot shorter in my jazz flats and natural hair pulled back in a ponytail. She was so kind, and we took a few pictures together and complimented one another. Having a performance-heavy background, I was used to everything being a competition so after speaking with her, it felt nice to finally relax and enjoy a mutual love of a character instead of fighting to be that character.
For future conventions, I’d like to upgrade my Zero Suit. First off, I want to add a few zippers to the arms so I can have my hands free when needed. I also want to redo the shoes. I’m debating between a pair of wedges that can go into the suit, or making some Jet Boots. Finally, I need to style that wig so Samus can have the nice swooping bangs and voluminous ponytail.
Oh and fun fact: the costume I ordered that was too big — Elias currently has it and he wore it as a donation incentive for MHQthon. I’ll let you be the judge on who wore it better.
Written by Amanda VanHiel