Cosplay Shennaningans: My Hottest Cosplay So Far: HEAT WAVE!


A couple of months ago, for the colder seasons, I made a Captain Cold costume.  Apparently, my Flash Rogues kick is still kicking (see, I am much better at cold puns), and it so happens that one of my friends wanted join me and make him a partial Heatwave costume.  That is, all the orange parts and the heat gun  since he already has the bodysuit.

I was going to deliver it on the last day of Wondercon, so I had a chance to actually wear the props myself!  It was an interesting challenge, since I would not be fully invested in the costume (I was just using it for a day, then delivering it to someone else), all the white parts of the costume had to cost me nothing in terms of time and money…. Well, maybe a little time digging through my closet and potential cosplay supplies.

I was not gonna shell out for a bodysuit or a jumpsuit or anything, so I figured i could come up with the next best thing: matching white long sleeves top and pants, and I actually had two options.  The first was a long-sleeve cotton sports shirt, so it has a higher thread count, meaning it’s thicker like a shirt you wear out in public, not a shirt you wear as underwear.  I also had white scrub pants that match the white color and texture of the shirt pretty well.  The second choice was a bolder choice.  Bold, because it’s rather thick, and I would be ridiculously warm, but it makes some practical sense, I suppose.  It was my white denim and spandex fencing jacket.  I also had nice relax fit white denim pants that matched it.

I like to cosplay as a villain that matches the season. Captain Cold in the cooler month and Heat Wave when well, there’s a heat wave!

I ended up choosing the second, because of the jacket.  It had a very unusual look.  It zipped on the side, so it looked very sci-fi-ish.  It had vertical lines to where the denim and spandex were sitched together, and it somehow looked similar to the vertical lines on Heat Wave’s costume.  Lastly, it had an awesome, side-fastening turtleneck, which also looked very sci-fi-ish.  Add to that a standard head sock (which also has those vertical stitch lines as well), and it was starting to look somewhat convincing!

With all that effort to escape effort out of the way, I suppose I can actually start on the props.  the first item of business is the heat gun.  NO, I don’t mean the thing that looks like a suped-up blow dryer that I like to melt things with.  I mean that fictional heat gun, which is precisely not a flamethrower because it’s supposed to be small and portable, so a small (but not tiny) sci-fi gun I sought out.



In my search for Nerf Guns and Nerd Gun derivatives, I found Mattel’s “answer” to Nerf, which is the BoomCo brand of toy faux guns.  Fortunately, for me, and a lot of cosplayers, BoomCo did not “answer” Nerf as well, and they were all on clearance.  At the time I made this costume, in mid March, The BoomCo Whipblast Blaster was at 50% off, at $7.50 from $15 at  It also looked very interesting having a guard over its handle .

 The plan was to open the main body to be painted orange.  The handle can be left alone since the parts that can be seen are gray, and part of Heat Wave’s color scheme; I wasn’t too worried about the small bits of blue on the handle that will most likely be covered by my fingers anyway.  There were, however, blue inside the main red case, an it looked like a separate piece of plastic.  That gray wing/shield piece is also attached via that round gray thing, and while it is gray, its constant movement might scuff the orange paint.  The blue interior plastic and that gray wing thing had to go.

Yup, those are dixie cups!

  It was fairly easy to find something that fits in those round holes where the gray wings used to fit.  I found clear dixie cups in my bathroom for the mouth wash to use.  If nothing fit, i would have done something like glued the wings into place, and maybe painted them white, so there’s another color.  I also took from my effects parts experience, making some interior flame effects inside what looks like some chamber in the gun.  It was just some heat gunned melted clear yellow plastic with red reflective vinyl in the back, so it has that luminescent quality showing  when light shines on it, while the clear plastic parts remain translucent.

I did something similar with the blue plastic part’s replacement piece.  It was a roll of reflective red vinyl inside a roll of translucent yellow.  I suppose the reflective red quality shows more in this part than the chamber.  Perhaps this part shows the fire travelling from the chamber to the barrel.  Why is it exposed?  Because it looks cool!…Err… I mean it looks hot!

The next part of the flame effect I had to think about was the actual fire coming out.  I figured I can make it optional, so I can make the flame jetting out of the heat gun removable.  the easiest and cheapest way I got it done was through an empty soda bottle.  I attached the cap on the barrel, and the rest of the bottle acted as the flame, with the parts just touching the barrel still being clear because I think that is how the fire coming out of flamethrowers look like, it doesn’t ignite until around half an inch off the barrel…. but that is a flamethrower using gas, and not a heat gun that uses comic book science…. whatever.  The “invisible” connection to the barrel looks nice anyway.


This flame effect is very similar to the ones I made last January, but it also has the added reflective vinyl like my Scott Pilgrim’s flaming sword effects.  I started with a bunch of cut up translucent yellow plastic cups with the rims and bottoms cut off because those parts turn opaque easily.  I stapled these pieces to each other in a fairly random manner.  I used staples because those don’t melt under the heat gun unlike adhesives, and I didn’t think I need to stitch these pieces together with nylon thread.  I also made sure this piece of yellow plastic stuff was a bit larger and can fit over the……

…. the empty soda bottle, which I stuck disjointed pieces of the reflective red vinyl all over.  I left gaps in between, accounting for the plastic shrinking.

This is how cosplayers recycle.

I put the yellow plastic thingy over the soda bottle with red vinyl, and it fit pretty snugly.

The bottom of the bottle, or what would be the business end of the jet of flame still looked a bit plain.  You can even see the white backings of the red vinyl, which is a bit problematic.  There was not enough of the red vinyl that wrapped forward enough as I wanted, so I had to take individual pieces of translucent yellow and melt them over these curves to close this.

The not-yet-open-for-business end of the flame jet.

I also took some translucent red plastic and melted them over different parts of the flame yet, not just the “mouth” that i was trying to cover up.  It ended up having three distinct shades: orange, which is the red vinyl shining through the yellow, the yellow, and the translucent red.

Under regular light, and no flash photography.

With the flash, on.

A closeup of the flame effect part fully illuminated by a camera flash in the dark.

Now, time for the rest of the costume.  I was originally going to wear a gas mask in addition to the goggles, but very few of Heat Wave’s iterations wear it, so I decided not to.  The goggles, however, were a must.  They were also on clearance because they were  BoomCo products.  The other thing I liked about these goggles, which are actually their “feature” is their “non-fog technology.”  It’s simply the use of a fine mesh instead of a solid clear plastic for the lenses that prevents it from fogging up.  It’s still pretty convenient.  I remember my Captain Cold goggles fogged up every time I put them on.

I initially was going to change the goggle’s red to orange via adhesive reflective orange vinyl, but parts of the goggles had too many fine angles that the reflective vinyl, with its small hexagonal mirrors (I think you can see them in the picture) cannot bend around.  I had to settle with the same process as the heat gun: disassemble and paint orange, which is fine, and it made it match the gun even more.

Oh, how I LOVE shiny things!

Now comes the body belt stuff and shoulderpad.  I opted to go with an asymmetrical look, since his look is pretty asymmetrical anyway, with just his left side having more orange stuff, like his gun holster.  For my take, I’ll just have one shoulder pad and a chest armor on that side instead.  Well, this was also somewhat determined by what I got on clearance, and at this point, you can guess…. it’s another fine BoomCo product, which is supposed to be a chest shield and ammo clips integrated into a bandoleer.

It did not have a shoulder pad, so I had to make it from EVA foam covered in orange spandex.  i then attached it to one of the bandoleer’s ammo clips, which had a place for straps.  I also replaced the straps because the straps were black, and it did not match Heat Wave’s color scheme,  I found good emergency orange straps that matched the orange spandex and orange paint pretty well.  I also fiddled with how it attached tot he body, opting to clip it to the front and back like suspenders with suspender clips.

Suspender clips are your friend!

As a bonus, I actually upgraded Captain Cold with similar things.
Since my old goggled did fog up, I used another set of BoomCo Goggles for Captain Cold.  This time, they are Blue and Silver.  The advantage of the mesh “lens” is even twofold here since I can now color and create those narrow silver eye slits on his goggles with paint while I’m still able to see.

I just had to say it to the photographer, “FREEZE!” and to me he had to say, “CHEESE!” (Photo by William Tung)

I also added a similar effect part onto my cold gun.  Like with the flame jet, I also took into consideration what the ice blast would look like when someone is looking down the business end of it.  To that end, I even used cups with light blue streaks inside, and I made sure the spiraling blue energy effects hooked all the way to the front.
It also uses reflective vinyl underneath a layer of clear and translucent plastic.  This time, it is silver reflective vinyl under semi clear plastic and translucent blue instead of red vinyl with yellow on top and added red plastic.  Unlike the heat gun, though, the cold gun had additional functions: a light-up feature and a fog emitter.   I used less reflective vinyl on the effect part, and I also used nearly-clear plastic as one of the plastic colors. When it is lit up by the blue LED, the clear and blue plastics will get illuminated in different colors while the opaque vinyl will provide contrast and shadow, giving the illusion of the ice blasts’ energy spirals.
I had hoped that the fog would blow all the way to the end of the effect part tot he point that I actually inserted a clear acrylic tube from the fog emitter’s barrel, but it was not happening.  The contingency plan was to drill holes where the fog would normally come out since that is the part of the gun where the fog comes out anyway.

Shiny vinyl, translucent plastic, an LED, and a fog emitter. Could I fit any more cheap gimmicks into one prop?


In the dark. You can see how the plastic lightpipes. Even some of the fog reflects a bit of the light.

I got the cold and hot seasons done.  Hmmm…. maybe… just maybe I should do more Flash Rogues?  Oh, and my friend did like the costume, but it was too warm that Sunday of wondercon to wear a full bodysuit, so he just came as a regular person.  I guess, we can be Rogues the next con!


John Garcia
John Garcia is a Professor of English, specializing in popular culture, comparative literature, and postcolonial studies. He is also an artist and character designer for Smorgasbord Productions. He has been cosplaying since 2002, and attending geeky conventions since 1998.

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