Meet & Greet – TJ O’Brien

Ok guys we’ve been slightly negligent in getting these out quickly, so we’re doing a two-for-one deal today.

TJ O'Brien Knight who says Ni 1

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TJ O’Brien has been a Star Wars fan for a large part of his life. He ran into some people from the 501st Legion and found out that they make a bunch of their own Star Wars costumes. So TJ started looking into that. Two years ago, TJ made his first full costume, a biker scout from Return of the Jedi. Since that time, TJ has built six or seven costumes. For our mini-shoot and interview TJ wore his Knight of Ni costume from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That one debuted at Fantasy Con. He competed at the contest at Fantasy Con and had a great time. His other costume for this shoot is an early Mandalorian Crusader from the Star Wars series. The Crusader is an earlier version of the Mandalorian where later Mandalorians like Boba Fett and Jango Fett came from.

The Mandalorian Mercs are a costuming club all on their own. The 501st Legion focuses mainly on the bad guys, your Darth Vader, Palpatine and Storm Troopers. Then there’s also the Rebel Legion, which is the good guys you’re familiar with. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewy… etc. The Mandalorians are somewhere in between, they’re good they’re bad, they’ll do anything for money. The source material for the Mandalorian comes from the expanded material source material such as books or comic books.

The fun thing about Mandalorians is that you get to kind of make it your own. They’re not necessarily screen accurate, so you can have some fun with it. TJ’s version of the Crusader Mandalorian is actually an early version “beast tamer”. Focused on taming giant animals from the Star Wars universe. You can pick your own job functions, specialties, etc. TJ’s costume in particular consists of bone and cape and pelts. The pelt looks Wookie, but is more of a Bantha or Womp Rats from Tatooine.

TJ started exploring costume ideas and wanted something new and different that was very much away from the norm. One of his favorite characters that he seldom sees is a Knight of Ni. So he went with it. People at the cons absolutely love it and can barely walk at the conventions. He has to live by the two step rule, which is take a photo then take two steps in the direction that you’re headed so you eventually get there. On the Knight, the antlers proved to be pretty interesting to build. It’s actually tin foil wrapped in duct tape. Then he covered them in Bondo and smoothed it out to make it look like antlers.

You’ll see really quick what is in store for TJ in the way of costumes. He did a Dee Snider from Twisted Sister for Halloween and if you check his Facebook page today, you can tell he’s working on a costume from Stargate next.

TJ O’Brien’s Top Five Tips for Cosplay:

  1. Use the two step rule. If you really want to get somewhere but have some time, take two steps in between each picture and you can get there eventually.
  2. If you’re doing something amazing, plan on doing pictures. Don’t be upset, it’s the nature of the beast. Everyone wants your picture.
  3. If you want to get somewhere, make yourself as small of a target as possible, walk with a purpose, take off your helmet and take the back paths. If people really want a picture, schedule a time for lots of group pics later.
  4. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You can learn how to do most costuming techniques by checking with local groups or checking out groups that can give advice.
  5. Test run your costume before you try it out. Walk down the street, whatever you need to do, so you can tell what will pop or break when you get moving.
  6. Have an emergency kit of repair supplies. There will be some repair booths available, but they don’t know what you need.

Trevor Nielson
Writer & Photographer at
Trevor began his forray into nerdom as a kid peddling his bike all the way to the local bookstore to purchase comic books. The boring superhero comics weren’t good enough for Trevor, he wanted the real ones. The ones with ducks. Now who's laughing while he’s on his way to cash in all those valuable Ducktales comics. Soon he’ll have his own money bin full to the brim. These days, to fill the time before the money bin construction completes (and begins), Trevor fills his time with photography, movies, television and comic book conventions. You can find his cosplay Meet & Greet mini-shoot and articles on this site as well as prints of his photographs being sold by cosplayers throughout the land.

P.S. Trevor converted to Marvel & DC comics and movies later on, so no heartburn on that one, right?