Nivra recalls that the Drachen dragoon armor set was “love at first sight,” and that love inspired not only his enjoyment of XIV itself, but also the deep need to recreate the armor in real life. Much like other cosplayers I have talked with for Aetherflow Media, Nivra was determined to bring the Drachen armor to life no matter what challenges he encountered. In the following interview, Nivra shares not only insight into the long and technical creation of his cosplay, but a personally touching experience when he finally revealed the completed and stunning Drachen armor at Fanfest.
What drew you to cosplay this particular character?
Nivra: I remember looking up cool armor sets on Google and the Drachen armor set popped up. I became infatuated with it. It was literally love at first sight for me. It’s what brought me to play the game to grind all day and night to get that set! I really love the set so much that I decided to make it in real life. I went through years of trial and error trying to make it as close to the game as possible and even until now I plan on remaking it so it’s more accurate to the game. I just love how sleek, elegant, and majestic it looks! It’s by far my favorite armor ever created!
Were there any specific challenges or parts of the cosplay that you’re especially proud of?
Nivra: The Drachen Armet (helmet) was quite challenging! I feel like what people first glance at is the head of a person so I spent more time trying to get the details just right for that. I burnt my hand several times trying to mold the thermal plastic into the correct shape. Back then the textures in the game didn’t have the clarity it has now so I had to make my best judgement on the details. I’m quite happy with how it came out, despite me wanting to remake it again so I can make it more accurate…
What are some of the materials you used in your costume, and why did you choose them?
Nivra: I always use 2mm and 4mm EVA foam from tntcosplaysupply.com for the base and details of my cosplay. I also use Barge contact cement to bond the pieces together. I start with the basic shape and form of the piece I’m working on and eventually layer details on top. Once everything looks correct, I slap either Worbla or Thibra on top to make the armor sturdy.
Did you have to apply any new techniques that you hadn’t used before?
Nivra: I’ve never used Thibra before so that was a completely new material I used. I had to be more careful not to leave any marks on the surface.
If you have cosplayed previously, what was a key skill or lesson you learned from your previous work that informed how you approached this cosplay?
Nivra: I used to use hot glue on everything. It was a nightmare in summer because everything will be falling apart and you’ll be dragging your cosplays throughout the con. I learned to use contact cement to bond things together and rarely have a malfunction now. I also keep a bottle in the car in case of an emergency.
You have videos posted on your YouTube channel showing your construction process of a Lost Allagan Helm of Fending and a Drachen Armet. Can you tell us about how you’ve developed your skill for drafting patterns for complicated builds that have many pieces and parts that have to fit together perfectly?
Nivra: I learned a lot from Kamui Cosplay, Evil Ted, and my crafting friends! I learned silly techniques like wrapping myself in plastic wrap and duct taping it to create patterns from them. I also would spend countless nights watching videos of how to craft better, buy books about crafting, and surround myself with people who love crafting. I’m also extremely picky and will remake something over and over again even if it’s slightly off.
Do you have a favorite memory of wearing your cosplay?
Nivra: I remember I was at Fan Fest and remember Yoshi-P running out of one of the doors. He saw me and looked shocked. He gave me two thumbs up and was like, “VERY GOOD!!!” and ran off into the crowd. The crowd clapped for me and I teared up a little because I was emotional.
Do you have any tips or advice for new cosplayers?
Nivra: Cosplay to have fun and meet new friends! Don’t let the number of follows sway you from enjoying this hobby. Enjoy the precious moments you have with the people around you! Also, use contact cement to bond your pieces together!
Any future FFXIV cosplay plans?
Nivra: I want to remake my Drachen again as well as make some newer dragoon armor sets! This time I’ll mostly only use EVA foam so it’s more comfortable.
Tell us a bit about yourself in-game and how you got into FFXIV!
Nivra: I’m a very casual player and mostly play the game for armor references haha! I glamour any recent set to the Drachen set since it’s more on my aesthetic. You’ll mostly see me online zooming in and out of each armor set to see the details while jotting down notes in my head of how I can approach making it in real life. To me, FFXIV has one of the most extravagant armor sets I’ve seen and is my favorite design-wise! I got into the game because of the armor sets. It’s really hard for me to juggle playing the game and building cosplay at the same time so I have to sub to FFXIV half of the year to game and the other half to craft! I eventually got really attached to the story and characters along the way and I’m glad I got into this game because I met so many important people in my life through it!