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Goombah Squad - A Family that plays together, stays together.

Welcome back readers! I am really proud to introduce an amazing group today. This is the Goombah Squad, a family that cosplays and crafts together. Trena and Johny, the parents, are an amazingly talented couple. Trena does most of the sewing and Johny is in charge of prop work. Their first family cosplay was from the Harry Potter series for Halloween. From there their love of creating and crafting grew. Shelly, Felicia, and Braiden all enjoy making the costumes as well as wearing them with their parents. The Goombah Squad uses cosplay to bring their family closer together, even when the projects get overwhelming. They work together as a team and as a loving family to be their very best.

The Goombah Squad!
Felicia, Shelly, Johny, Braiden, and Trena all dressed as Final Fantasy X characters.
Trena won 1st place Beginner's craftsmanship and Johny received an award for his props
at Anime Banzai 2013. The whole group was awarded Best in Show.
Photo by Doors of Imagination Photography

Goombah Squad Motto

A family that plays, together stays together!
Breaking the mold!

I really enjoyed hanging out with and interviewing this lovely family of cosplayers. I hope you enjoy their interview as well!

Links to the Goombah Squad
You can commission the squad and check out their work on their website here!
Goombah Squad Facebook page

Shelly as Tika, Braiden as Caramon, Trena as Crysania, Johny as Raistlin, and Felicia as Tasslehoff. "A good lesson is to make sure you have enough snacks in your Kender's backpack. That way when they hand all the goodies out to everyone else at a competition... you still have some left for you..." - Trena
Dragonlance cosplays
Photo by Rask of Criminal Mischief

Interview with Goombah Squad

Why the name Goombah Squad?

Trena: We always called the kids Goombas when they were little ... that or Goons heh .. but when we decided on an 'actual' group name Goon Squad had a bad connotation like, mean people who beat up other people - but the word Goombah is actually an Italian word meaning 'friend' (okay it had other meanings which is like Goon but we like the friends part haha!) And since we are MORE than family, we are all friends besides we went with Goombah.

Shelly, Felicia, and Braiden, which cosplays are you favorites that you parent's have made and what is the best part about cosplaying with your family?

Braiden: I think my favorite cosplay would have to be Zuko because it was so much fun. It was my first experience into the convention world besides Kiba, which personally I do not remember much. Zuko was also my first time performing for people. It was just great.

The best part? There is no best part. It is all so much fun. It is great when people see my parent's work and they are like "Woah, your Dad made that sword?!" or "Damn, your Mom made that jacket all by herself. It looks looks so much like Auron's!" It is also just amazing the togetherness it brings within my family that we are all just together on something.

Felicia: Amy from Soul Caliber because I felt like myself in the costume. I like being able to meet different people and spend time with my family.

Shelly: Definitely Tika because it is the most comfortable to wear. I am happy helping my mom sew and to spend this time with my family.

Johny and Trena in their Steam punk Bonnie and Clyde cosplays.
Photo by Doors of Imagination Photography

Trena and Johny, which set of costumes was your favorite to create?

Trena: That is really hard for me to say, and I don't if these guys can say the same. Each one of them, I learned more as we went. I loved every single one of them that we did. In each grouping, there are costumes that I am so proud of. For the first set we made, Felicia looked exactly like Toph. It came out exactly how I wanted. I loved how Braiden looked and how Johny looked. I loved my costume. When we did Soul Caliber.. the first time I made Amy's jacket. I am still to this day, it is one of my favorite things I have made. And it was the second set of costumes that we made. Even though there are changes and things I would do differently now, they all still look amazing. Hands down, I am super proud of all the cosplays I have made. I am working on Fire Emblem now and I love the way Shelly's jacket is turning out. There is not anything that says, "This is my favorite costume of all time," because they are just all memorable to me.

Johny: Realistically to me, my favorite at one given point is the most recent one we completed.

Shelly: That is what I was going to say too. You get so excited when it is being done that when you get to put it on and got to photo shoots and conventions.. that is what makes it my favorite at the time.

Johny: I think that for us the most exciting moment is when are able to have everybody put on the costumes and see the entire group as one finished piece. Which is super exciting because five people is a lot of work.

Braiden as Zuko, Trena as Suki, Johny as Sokka, Shelly as Yue, and Felicia as Toph.
Avatar: The Last Airbender Series cosplays
Photo by Ikaika Cox
Story Time: Always Line Your Cosplay!!

Trena: The very first costumes that I actually sewed the full costumes were our avatar costumes. The first costume in the set was the Yue' costume. I had never used a pattern before and the material costume satin. It started fraying so bad and I called my friend in tears because I didn't know what to do. I had never heard of fray check or anything like that before. I didn't know what I was doing. Well my friend had fray check and she was going to bring tit over, but Johny says, "Why not just burn it with a wood burner?" I was like, yes, let's do that. So we tested it and it worked.

We did this on all of it. My whole skirt was that same costume fabric, on Shelly's costume, and I didn't line anything... because I was like, "Why do you line stuff? That doesn't make any sense?" It just seemed like a waste of fabric to me.

So we get it all on and we decided to jump in with both feet and go compete. We are in the green room and did not realize how long it would be. We are sitting there and its like... I can't... I can't sit anywhere there is not a seam! And its hard and uncomfortable! And Shelly says, "I can't sit anywhere that there is not a seam and its scratching me, Mom."

Johny: It still took her two more costume sets before she learned she needed to line everything though. (laughs)

Battle Star Galactica
Photo credit - SLCC FanX with James Olmos!
"The officer uniforms were made by my mom (Tricia McGarvey) (Trena, Johny and Felicia are wearing those) and the Fatigues were made by me! I told Johny about 2 weeks before the con that I wanted to do these because we found out that the "Old Man" (Olmos) would be there!  Have I mentioned how much my mom rocks!" - Trena

How do you handle making so much at once?

Trena: Shelly helps out and my mom helps sometimes. When we did Battle Star Galactica, my mom sewed all the uniforms for us.

Neither Johny nor I have the ability to work on one thing and one thing only. I have pieces of this and this and this and this and this and I go back to this one because I get bored. That is the nice thing about having this group of five people. Yeah I have to make five costumes but I know I am going to get sick of this one and I am going to get angry and throw it across the room. So I am going to pick up this other one and start on it instead.

Johny: I am the same way, only I have the added part of waiting for things to dry or set for 24 hours. I could sit there and say "Is it dry yet?" and touch it and "Crap, no its not." "How about now?" "Nope..." So I have to have something else to work on.

Trena: Having five costumes to do.. it seems like a lot but it works. We also consider all five pieces to be one costume. Its not complete until all five are done. Even though I have technically made over twenty costumes, I only count them as four costumes. Each one is a learning experience for the whole set.

Shelly as Snow White, Johny as himself, Claudia Christan as herself, Trena as Alice, and Felicia as Aurora.Shelly made these Disney Princess costumes!  She has started helping Trena with sewing!

Do you ever get frustrated at all the work?

Trena: Johny and Shelly are really picky. They have to be as accurate as possible.

Johny: Accurate and detailed.

Trena: I get angry and will throw a costume at them. Tell them to do it themselves.

Shelly: Sometimes I won't say anything, but then Mom knows I don't like something.

Trena: She doesn't like it and she won't tell me why! I can then pick up another costume and start working on it.

What kind of advice do you have for someone who has children or younger siblings and they want to make costumes for them, but they are afraid of going all out because that little person is only going to grow. How do you adapt to that?

Trena: Johny and I never do anything 50%, we go all out. If we are going to do something, we want to do it right. We get costs of about $1,000 per grouping, but I will still pay that so it will look right.

Shelly: All the costumes we have for Felicia, she won't be able to wear again.

Trena: But I hope to get Izzi in them someday! Izzi is our granddaughter.

Shelly: And Felicia will get to wear my costumes!

Johny: We make everything to last, even though we know our kids won;t be wearing it in a year. Its a pride thing, might as well make it right.

Trena: I worked dang hard on Braiden's Zuko cosplay and I knew he wasn't going to fit in it months later, but that's just the way it is I guess.

This is a collection of the many props that Johny has made, plus armor!

What is the number one advice you would give to cosplaying families?

Trena: Mock up, mock up, mock up.

Johny: She says that but I tell her line everything and put pockets in.

Shelly: Pockets are important when you have a big family.

Trena: Drama is going to happen. Drama happens especially in family groups. We yell at each other, we scream, we throw costumes, we threaten to break whatever they are doing. Drama is going to happen and there have been times where the kids want to quit because fighting always happens.

Johny: Especially in the last three weeks before a convention.

Trena: Yeah, but don't give up. Emotions will run high when you are working on stuff like this. As long as at the end of the day, at the end of every day, you make up and say sorry.

Shelly: Never go to bed mad.

Their cat Yuffie-chan is also part of the family.
No cosplay can be complete unless Yuffie has approved!
This kitty helps keep the family in line and on task...
or distracted with its cuteness.

Johny: Whenever we finish, no matter how high the tensions get, when we get in costumes and look at the work we did we are like, "yeah!"

Trena: It is amazing. Now we do have another daughter that doesn't cosplay with us. If it turns out that someone in your family does not want to cosplay, then you have to be okay with that. They can do their thing and we still want to do ours and we still do other family stuff.

Shelly: After everything is said and done, even with the fighting, I am really glad we did this.

Johny: You have to be willing to at some point, when things are down to the wire and tensions are too high, be willing as a group to say "We are not getting this done." And you have to be okay with that. We have had to this in the past and we will be done for the next convention.

Trena: We will always have this together no matter how old our children get. Most teenagers don't like to spend this much time with their parents and we are lucky that we have that. We will have this family activity as long as we can.

A family that plays together, stays together!!

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