War Doctor

 War Doctor as seen in The Day of the Doctor

War Doctor as seen in The Day of the Doctor

Today I received a key component to my next cosplay costume, so it's time to start documenting the build (see what I did there?) It's the War Doctor from the Doctor Who TV series as portrayed by John Hurt. I've been thinking about this character since I saw the TV episode in which he's featured (we see him briefly in two other episodes, but he's a primary character in The Day of the Doctor). I started seriously putting pieces together starting at Comic-Con (I mentioned buying a wig in my wrap-up).

The War Doctor cosplay fits several criteria I had set, most especially being that I want to be able to wear the costume for extended periods of time, ideally for a full day. I'd also like to be able to drive with the costume on, that way I could go to the Central Coast Comic Con (C4) without having to change on-site. Plus, he's old, has a goatee, and so I think I can pull him off. It would also extend my costume repertoire into another fandom.

I spent some time checking the current state of costume deconstruction by the usual suspects in the Doctor Who costuming community. There is an extensive network of Doctor Who cosplayers, and they're pretty good about sharing information. William Donohue maintains a Pinterest page where various articles of the War Doctor's clothing are displayed and discussed.

One of the big challenges for me was the coat. Although I was fine making the Headless Horseman's coat, I felt the weathered leather coat the Doctor's wearing would be too much for me to put together. So I started looking for Barnstormer Coats online. A brand new coat is WAY too expensive ($1700!) and didn't have the wear I was looking for. So I checked out Etsy and eBay and looked at several possible options. After a couple of weeks however, a worn coat that looked like a pretty good match showed up on eBay. The size might be a bit large, but it's easier to make a large coat smaller than vice versa. After negotiating with the seller, I pulled the trigger, and then immediately regretted it. I hadn't really looked long enough, it probably didn't match, or was so worn that it would be useless, etc.

The coat I purchased on eBay

The overall look, details, and weathering are a match for the War Doctor's coat.

Well, it arrived today and it's almost perfect! It's exactly my size. The seams, pockets, and buttons are a match for the pictured coat. The wear pattern is excellent. And it's a great quality coat with a wool lining. The only discrepancies are the lapels, which look wider than the collar on the War Doctor's picture, and the length of the coat. His comes down to mid thigh, and this one goes below my knee. If I need to, I can cut off the bottom of the coat and resew the seam. I suspect the wardroom department modified a longer coat for his look.

Anyway, I couldn't be happier with the coat. Once I put it on and saw how it looked, I knew I'd be able to pull this off. At that point I became committed to this build.

The next real challenge is the hair. There's no way I'm growing that hair, so I need a wig. Never having worked with a wig before, I decided to take advantage of the Epic Cosplay booth at Comic-Con and see how they could help me.

The next big challenge will be modifying this wig to match the War Doctor's hair. They don't look that similar right now, but I know the changes that need to be made.

They were great! They asked about the character, looked up his image online, and two of them discussed which wig would be the closest start. Then one of the guys talked with me a bit about styling, dyeing, and cutting the hair, although the best advice was directing me to tutorials online. I took the plunge and bought the wig even though I hadn't fully committed to the costume at that point. Now that the coat has finalized the decision in my mind, I'm ready start work on the wig.

My secret weapon is the Cospod team. The hosts, Amber and Val, have a ton of cosplay experience, and I've seen all of their video podcasts and quite a few of their tutorials. They've been very helpful by email, and I expect to be bugging them about wig styling and the like. If you have any interest in cosplay, I highly recommend their site.

Finally, this doesn't mean I've stopped work on the Ithorian build. It's just that I can tell that it still requires a lot more time, and I'd like to get another costume in place that isn't so elaborate. Expect to see more posts about the Ithorian build interleaved between posts on this War Doctor build.