Fleming
Computer
I will fix it.

TRON (1982) Cosplay
2016 San Diego Comic-Con

For a more authentic Kevin Flynn costume, see my SDCC 2017 cosplay.

Me and my daughter Maddy at our first-ever 2016 San Diego Comic-Con!
Me and my daughter Maddy at our first-ever 2016 San Diego Comic-Con!

I grew up in the personal computer revolution of the 1980s. In the summer when I was 15, I took a week-long computer camp wherein we learned BASIC on Apple ][ computers. We used "hi-res" graphics and learned math routines to draw awesome pictures and graphical effects. I was hooked, and in the next years I wore out a Commodore VIC-20 and two Commodore 64 computers (I still have the 64s).

Disney's 1982 movie TRON was magic. It effused the connection that we "users" have with our computers and the "programs" we write. We users spent endless hours fantasizing about living in the machine. The smell of the circuit boards. The countless silicon junctions gathered together in black, rectangular cities called microchips. This entire world, with its unbounded possibilities, nestled gorgeously within an elegant beige case. I wanted in there. We all wanted in there. TRON took us in there.

These many years later, the sentiments and morals of the TRON story only grow more relevant to the modern times. For me, at the age of 47, I continue to draw inspiration, magic, and fantasy from the TRON universe.

When my daughter Maddy and I signed up at comic-con.org for a chance to attend our first-ever comic-con, we never actually thought we would succeed in getting badges for the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con. So imagine our excitement when we entered the open enrollment session and succeeded in getting badges for all 4 days plus preview night!

I never cosplayed before, but now that we would be going to San Diego, it was clear to me what I wanted to do: cosplay as Jeff Bridges' character Kevin Flynn from TRON (1982). So below is my story of researching and creating this costume.

Jeff Bridges' / Kevin Flynn's Prop Costume

Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, wearing the black-and-white costume used in filming TRON (1982)
Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, wearing the black-and-white costume used in filming TRON (1982)

While much of the film featured 3D computer graphics, live action scenes taking place within the computer world were created using a more analog approach. In particular, the costumes were white with black line markings. The glowing blues were colored into the frames after filming. I wanted to cosplay in the spirit of the actual "prop" costume, and forgo the use of blue lighting effects.

I cosplayed in the prop costume style at left.
I cosplayed in the prop costume style at left.

Here are some images of the actual costumes from the Walt Disney museum:

Kevin Flynn
Kevin Flynn
Kevin Flynn, Ram, Tron, Yori
Kevin Flynn, Ram, Tron, Yori

The Helmet

Researching the helmet on the Internet, I learned that it is based on a Cooper SK-2000 hockey helmet. I found three sizes: small, medium, and large. There is a difference between the small size as compared to the medium and large sizes: the small size has 4 vent holes along the upper rear area on each side, whereas the medium and large sizes have 5 vent holes.

In pictures of the actual helmet worn by Jeff Bridges, I believe he must have worn a small size based on two observations: 1) Bridges' helmet only has 4 vent holes as above, and 2) the adjustable shell of the helmet appears to be set all the way out, as the ear opening is at its largest with the augmented foam lining taking over some of the ear cavity.

I went on eBay and found several choices, and ended up purchasing a large size in white color. This resulted in me taking some artistic liberties with the line art around the rear vent holes and ear openings, as you will notice in the galleries below.

This first gallery of images shows what I found on the Internet regarding either the actual helmet worn by Jeff Bridges, or replicas made by other artists:

Tron (1982) Video Warrior's Helmet worn by Jeff Bridges as Flynn. You can see some of the tape coming loose. An excellent reproduction (original?) of Kevin Flynn's helmet.
An excellent reproduction (original?) of Kevin Flynn's helmet.
Note the 4 vent holes along the rear area on each side. The medium- and large-sized have 5 holes so I think this is a small Cooper SK-2000 hockey helmet. A beautiful recreation of Kevin Flynn's helmet by matte artist Colin Mayne. With lighting! With lighting!

This next gallery shows pictures of my attempt to create the Kevin Flynn helmet, with artistic adjustments to account for mine being a large-sized helmet:

A vintage Cooper SK-2000 Large hockey helmet. A vintage Cooper SK-2000 Large hockey helmet. A vintage Cooper SK-2000 Large hockey helmet. Sideguards removed. Sanded clean. Sanded clean. Left side bezel ground down using a Dremel. Both bezels ground down with Dremel to create front trapezoid shape. Disassembled. I used a heat gun to remove the glued-in padding. Playing with the fit. Using the included foam padding to prototype the neck extension. More use of included padding for inside top. I used rubber cement to bond the padding to the helmet. Complete padding. Piece of shoe sole insert for the padding inside front (original is close to Jeff Bridges' brow). JB Plastic Weld to fill holes. Plastic neck extension cut from side of Sterilite box. Bonded to padding with Locktite vinyl glue. Screwed to helmet at sides and back. Filler sanded smooth and testing final fit. The helmet worn by Jeff Bridges had all vent holes filled and blackened. I left all vent holes open so it would be comfortable at Comic-Con. Note screw head filled with plastic filler where neck extension joins helmet. Note screw heads filled with plastic filler where neck extension joins helmet. Primed and sanded with 400-grit. Painted with gloss white enamel. Using tape to mask off line art. This was painful and tedious work. I thought I would do the whole helmet this way and spray it black but I ran out of time. I used a black paint pen to color the taped-off lines. The rest I did pretty much free-hand. I used a razor blade to clean up areas where paint bled under the tape. My Tron (1982) Kevin Flynn helmet! My Tron (1982) Kevin Flynn helmet! My Tron (1982) Kevin Flynn helmet! My Tron (1982) Kevin Flynn helmet! My Tron (1982) Kevin Flynn helmet! My Tron (1982) Kevin Flynn helmet! My Tron (1982) Kevin Flynn helmet!

To summarize the helmet part of the project, I was pretty pleased with the final result. I should have started this work much earlier, but didn't. Alas, I worked right up to the day before flying to San Diego on other aspects of the costume. In the end, I decided to view it less as a quest for perfection, and more as being in the spirit of a team of prop costume creators under the gun of a deadline! In other words, I did my best and "started filming!" :-)

The Rest of the Kevin Flynn Prop Costume

As they say, there's always next year! But for this year - for San Diego Comic-Con 2016 - I had to move fast with the resources I had to work with in order to create the rest of the costume.

I overnighted an order of white tights, a white long-sleeve spandex shirt, made a few trips to the craft store for belt fabric and supplies, and repurposed the exercise floor mats I had to craft the right arm guard. Oh. And a pair of comfy shoes spray painted white. Lots of work to do in only two days!

Here is a gallery of my attempt at creating the right arm guard:

This is the inner cuff that will show the instrument panel artwork. This fabric glue didn't work. I had to redo the bond with rubber cement - much better! This is the outer cuff that will guard the elbow and hand. I used a Sharpie to dot-off the area to be cut out to reveal the inner cuff panel. This fabric glue didn't work. Use rubber cement. Cutting out the elbow and hand guards. Slide the inner cuff into the outer cuff. Glued the edges where the window meets the inner cuff. Sprayed with gloss white enamel and marked with paint pens. I took a lot of liberties with the line art work. The top-of-hand artwork is pretty accurate but the rest is ad lib. My Tron (1982) Kevin Flynn arm guard! My Tron (1982) Kevin Flynn arm guard!

Here is a gallery showing my recreation of the belt:

I used white canvas cloth to make a belt 36 inces by 4 inches. I used 2 strips of 1.5 inch elastic. I used 0.5 inch permanent fabric tape down the middle. I carefully placed each strip of elastic alongside the fabric tape and folded the canvas over onto half of the tape each side. I secured the elastic at one end using fabric tape. I used velcro on each elastic strip and on the canvas at the other end. This allows for some stretch and snug fit. I recreated the artwork using a fine-point Sharpie.

Here is a gallery of how I made the robe:

I used fabric from a microfiber fleece blanket. I don't know how to sew so I used permanent fabric tape instead at the seams. Lots of test fitting and I got it done reasonably well.

End Of Line

I had a lot of fun creating this TRON (1982) Kevin Flynn prop costume. Next time I hope to create the shoulder guards as well as the boots. I would also like to more faithfully and completely reproduce the line art on the attire. All that being said, here is me trying it out:

I used Sharpie to do line art on the shirt and pants as well as left arm cuff. The identity disc is a frisbee painted white with black rings using paint pen. I used magnets to make it stick to my shirt and for cool removal and use of the disc.

Cosplaying at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con

And finally! The whole point of it all! To cosplay for the first time ever at our first-ever Comic-Con! Maddy and I had a blast:

Save the clock tower! Checkers are green! Master Control Program says End Of Line for Flynn. AVT Oh my user! Cindy Morgan - Lora - Yori! - herself! It was wonderful meeting you and THANKS for the photo! Greetings Programs! This is an awesome Gem portrayed by Rachel aka Lady Rae Gun Cosplay! A great Sam Flynn portrayed by Jay Tando! Thank you SDCC 2016! Maddy and I had a blast! See you next year. End of line.

For a more authentic Kevin Flynn costume, see my SDCC 2017 cosplay.