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Exclusive: Cosplay Iceland Images and Interview with Rachel ‘Reilena’ Day

We’ve obviously seen our fair share of excellent cosplay, as evidenced by our Cosplay Friday column, but what happens when you take two cosplayers, two talented photographers, and an assistant on an ambitious cosplay trip to Iceland? You get drop-dead gorgeous photos, that’s what. The team of five, including the likes of: Rachel “Reilena” Day (cosplayer and FX artist for Blizzard), Meagan Marie (cosplayer and Crystal Dynamics Community manager), Anna Fischer (photographer), Antony Gomes (photographer), and Phillip Kalmes (assistant/driver) made the over 30,000 mile trek to to Nordic Island, to snap some of the best Norse and snow-themed cosplay photos we’ve ever seen.

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In addition to the exclusive images seen above, we also had the chance to ask Rachel a thing or two about her Sylvanas/Thor costumes and how the whole trip came about. Check it out below.

What inspired you to do Sylvanas / Thor?

Rachel: When I decided I was going to do this trip, the very first character that came to mind was Thor. I had to do my own version of the Norse God turned Marvel Superhero in an environment that is so inherently Nordic. I took queues from the comic’s recent version of Thor and added my own twists to it here and there. I wanted to make sure to incorporate a few Norse knotting designs into the piece and pay some kind of homage to the culture that created this character.

The second character I decided on was Sylvanas. The photos I had seen of Iceland reminded me a lot of Northrend so I wanted to make a character that would fit in there. Sylvanas’ story has intrigued me for a very long time now. Her strength and determination are admirable and I thought it would be fun to place her in the heart of her enemy’s domain with landscapes that reminded me of the Icecrown Citadel.

What are your personal connections to these characters?

Rachel: I didn’t have much of a personal connection to Thor until I got there, but that changed in a hurry. There is something about wielding that hammer in some of the county’s most amazing landscapes that really ties you to the story and character. I found a lot of strength in the Thor costume and I look forward to being her again.

For Sylvanas, it’s a bit more personal. I’ve been playing WarCraft games since WarCraftII and I feel like I’ve been with her on every step of her journey. She is a strong leader, which I admire. She also doesn’t put up with nonsense from anyone, which is a trait I find in myself. You have to keep your chin up and not allow yourself to be defeated by whatever life throws at you and make the best of a bad situation.

Why Iceland?

Rachel: A few reasons come to mind. We chose Iceland for its beautiful landscapes and interesting natural sites like the black sand beaches and vast waterfalls. Secondly, we wanted to push ourselves and the genre so we wanted to choose a location that the cosplay community doesn’t get to see very often. Iceland was the perfect choice.


Tell me about your team and how you all decided this?

Rachel: Team #CosplayIceland:

  • Reilena (Rachel Day): Southern California based cosplayer. Works for Blizzard Entertainment as an FX artist on Overwatch.
  • Meagan Marie: Cosplayer of ten years living in Northern California. Senior Community manager at Crystal Dynamics, previously Game Informer Magazine.
  • Anna Cosplay Photography (Anna Fischer): Photographer of 6 years living in Brooklyn. Works part time for a board game metal component manufacturer/ retailer, and full time at being awesome.
  • Philip Kalmes: (Driver and photography assistant) Fashionably dressed guy who lives and works in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. He is the first person ever to do this. Killer assistant and cosplay transport specialist. (Anna Fischer wrote this bio, I’m sure he’ll be surprised later).
  • Antony Gomes Photography : Photographer of 3 years living in Paris also working as an IT Consultant.

The trip started with Meagan and Anna! Anna had been to Iceland before and wanted to return and the two of them decided this would be the perfect opportunity for a cosplay trip. Rachel was the next to jump on to the project and then Antony soon after. This group of five was solid with two photographs, two cosplayers and an assistant.

How long have you been cosplaying?

Rachel: I cosplayed once at Blizzcon 2007 and then not again until PAX Prime of 2013. After PAX Prime I was hooked. So that would make it about 2 years. Megan Marie has been cosplay for about 10 years.

How long did the costumes take to make?

Rachel: Total Hours on costume prep: 450

    • Meagan: 200
    • Rachel: 250

What was the most difficult part of each costume to make?

Rachel: The most difficult part of creating the Thor costume was the breastplate. I wanted to make it one solid piece and that proved to be rather difficult! I ended up making three versions that ranged from worbla, to evafoam and a combination of the two. The one I ended up using was a worbla base with bondo over top of it to reinforce the shape and create a smoother surface. I struggled with this but I’m really proud of the final piece.

Sylvanas was a lot easier for me because I used techniques I’ve used before to make the whole outfit. If I had to choose a more difficult piece I would say it was the shoulders. In order to get the skull shapes I ended up pressing worbla over some old Halloween decoration skulls I had lying around.


How long were you in Iceland?

Rachel: We were there for roughly 10 days including travel. Two days in Reykjavik, five days in Southern Iceland and three more days in Reykjavik.

Did you make everything yourself?

Rachel: Everything for Sylvanas, Thor (minus the hammer! Thank you Amazon) and the Valkyrie were made by myself. The horns for the Fantasy Viking were made by Firefly Path. Meagan made everything on her Valkyrie Wonder Woman and put together the Lara Croft outfit. Her wings for the dragonfly were made by Fancy Fairy Wings and Things.

How did you get everything in your costume to Iceland in one piece?

Rachel: More or less, yes! We were pleasantly surprised to see that most everything had made it to Iceland safe and sound. We did have some problems when we started taking the costumes out in to the freezing temperatures with some of our glue choices freezing and no longer acting like glue. But we brought emergency heat guns and Velcro to keep it all in place.

Can we expect to see hot Sylvanas at BlizzCon?

Rachel: That is undecided at this point. But we will be seeing her at San Diego Comic-Con!

Check out more of Rachel’s incredible cosplay in the gallery below.


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