I briefly met Cosplayer, Glamour Model, Designer, Actress Marie-Claude Bourbonnais at GenCon 2012 at the Soda Pop Miniatures booth and she was kind enough to pose for a quick photo with a fellow Soda Pop Girl. Marie-Claude, a Canadian born pop culture icon, started out as a costumer and fashion designer before breaking into modeling herself in 2008. Marie-Claude is probably Soda Pop Miniatures’ most recognizable Soda Pop Girl and her likeness has been incorporated into a couple figures for the company’s games. A 28mm Marie-Claude figure, with tentacles popping out of her backpack, was released as a promotional miniature for the controversial card game Tentacle Bento in 2012. And, there is a Marie-Claude character and figure in the forthcoming Soda Pop Miniatures tabletop miniatures game Relic Knights; M-C is a key member of the Cerci Speed Circuit faction.
Marie-Claude receives numerous requests for interviews weekly and has difficulty finding the time to squeeze them all into her hectic schedule of conventions, photo shoots, filming, etc. Bring Your A-Game was fortune enough to score an interview with the busy model/actress/designer and we asked her a few questions pertaining to games and gaming (she’s painting up Cerci and Noh factions to play Relic Knights), as well as other aspects of geek fandom, including cosplay, and her favorite comics and manga. We also spoke about her partnership with the gaming company Soda Pop Miniatures, costume design, and her role as the super villain Hornet in the web series Heroes of the North. Enjoy!
Bring Your A-Game: How did you first get involved with Soda Pop Miniatures and become a Soda Pop Girl?
Marie-Claude Bourbonnais: The Art Director messaged me and asked me if I was interested in modeling for them and then asked if I knew somebody that could make a costume for me! LOL. I was really happy that they let me do the costuming work for them; in fact, doing the costume was my first request to agree to work with them. I’m not a booth babe, I’m a cosplayer. Since then, I work my a** off to bring better and better props and costumes to the table. The next big thing is my CERCI suit and it will be done for GenCon. I’m already working on this as I want to incorporate as much real life commodities to the suit as possible.
BYAG: How many conventions a year do you work with Soda Pop Miniatures as one of their CosPlayers?
M-CB: This year, I will be by their side to Gen Con in Indianapolis and PAX Prime in Seattle. Last year was our first collaboration and I’ve been able to attend Gen Con only as I was already booked for Tour ConComics in South America. I loved the Gen Con experience, the public is different and it was a really exciting adventure!
BYAG: Soda Pop has incorporated you into its products, creating a Marie-Claude character for Relic Knights and sculpting a Marie-Claude miniature complete with tentacles popping out its backpack as a special item for Tentacle Bento fans. I’m guessing they approached you and inquired about using your name and likeness? Did you actually model for the sculpts?
M-CB: I didn’t have to provide extra material for the artists as there’s already a lot of pictures of me on the web, but I still sent them a couple full length shots so they can refer to. There are some key elements to my look and it wasn’t tough for them to incorporate them into the designs. There are only a few girls with my haircut and proportions so I’m easily recognizable for my fans, cartoon or real life version. They kept messaging me during the design process though to ask me about my preferences, to talk about the costume design and to find out what I would like for my character and for my CERCI sidekick.
BYAG: What’s it like being incorporated into games that fans and gamers enjoy so completely?
M-CB: That’s a great feeling and that’s comforting in the sense where it kinda confirms to me that I’m doing some things right. Soda Pop Miniature is a great company with great and creative ideas; it’s a big deal for me to take part in that level of project. I think they are doing something unique and it totally sticks to my personality. Plus its quality work and I was eager to meet similar people.
BYAG: At GenCon 2012 you were in the Soda Pop booth dressed as another Relic Knights characters, Cerci Speed Circuit’s Rin Farrah. How many different characters have you CosPlayed?
M-CB: Let’s see, I made a ‘simple’ costume for Tentacle Bento, then Candy, their mascot and Rin Farrah, so I made three. The Cerci suit will be the fourth and I already plan to do more. There’s something appealing for me to do new characters and get out from the sometimes overly done obvious characters choices.
BYAG: At many of the conventions Soda Pop attends they invite gamers to stop by the booth and play games with the Soda Pop Girls. Do you take part in the games that way?
M-CB: I would like to, but most of the time people want to chat a little about my things and about the costumes I’m wearing. Last year, guys where running the demos during Gen Con and I was taking pictures and signing autographs. My Cerci and Noh armies are patiently waiting for me to get their colors and taste the battle in their case. So far, I had the time to put them together, prime coat them and plan how I will build my battlefield. I want to be sure to kick some butt in convention this year.
BYAG: You play Hornet in the web series Heroes of the North. How did you get involved with that project?
M-CB: I got a phone call one day because somebody referred me to Christian Viel, the producer. He had to convince me that I was able to do the job! I gave him a really hard time and he told me later that from all the actors, I was the one who was the harder to convince to take part to the project. I was scared that I would fail miserably.
Finally, it was a lot of fun and a really good learning experience; I wasn’t fluent in English when I first played my role so it added a lot of stress. In the last two years, I attended nearly 20 conventions with the guys and we will start to film again this summer.
BYAG: Can you tell us a little about your character?
M-CB: Hornet is the right hand of Mengele, the super villain of the serie. Primarily, she is the head of Medusa Industries; she develops weapons and uses them to accomplish her lowly deeds. One side of her is the voracious business woman and the other one is the cold blooded killer. She’s fast, she’s fierce, the opposite of me really There’s a hidden side to Hortense, I bet the writers will exploit it along the way.
BYAG: How about doing CosPlay? Do you recall your first CosPlay character? How did it turn out?
M-CB: Public knowledge is that I made my Frost (Mortal Kombat) first, but the real first thing that I made that could be called cosplay was my Caitlin Fairchild outfit, and not the latex version, but a fabric one. I was around 16 and I was deeply in love with J. Scott Campbell’s drawing style. Caitlin Fairchild was my ideal, a wise and really sexy gal! At the time, I was more an ‘Ugly Betty’ type of girl and a perfect nerd. I bet projection works sometimes…
BYAG: You’re a designer also. Do you design all of your own CosPlay outfits?
M-CB: Yes, I do. I can’t count the hours I spend in the workshop… My formation is in design but I try to incorporate other elements in my costumes.
BYAG: Do you have a favorite character that you have CosPlayed? What is the attachment to that character?
M-CB: I think my trial run is almost over and that I will produce the best costumes in a near future.
I don’t feel that I have achieved what I wanted yet with any of my cosplays. I love certain characters but I still think I could do better and I carefully saved my favorites for later. I wish I will be able to get the full package this year; really good costumes (that’s the easy part) and really good pictures of them. There’s too much stuff in my closet that nobody has ever seen.
BYAG: On your web site you speak about comic books and manga as inspiration. Would you mind sharing names of the books you liked and drew ideas from?
M-CB: I’m very attached to Masamune Shiro’s work; I found his aesthetic really appealing and there are so many items I would like to reproduce from his work. I love a lot of his futuristic body armors and military clothing designs and the way he combines really structured materials in his creations. It’s probably in relation with the fact that I like really controlled results; I’m less a ‘go with the flow’ person when it comes to creation. Also, it was one of the first things I came in contact with when I started to look at manga artists. In the early 90’s, there weren’t a lot of foreign art books available here and I was fascinated to discover this really different type of illustration. Hajime Sorayama also impressed me deeply with his female robot representations and I was delighted when Mugler made his ‘body robot’ presentation. Intron Dépôt sits on my coffee table periodically for the last 15 years.
BYAG: Is there anything else about being a Soda Pop Girl, a CosPlayer, model, designer that you’d like to mention that I failed to ask you about?
M-CB: My goal is to push the boundaries of what I’m doing, just come by in a couple months and you should discover totally new things. That said, I look forward to my next conventions!
You can follow and contact Marie-Claude on:
Facebook: Marie-Claude Bourbonnais (Cosplay/Glamour Model, Designer)
(Editor’s Note: All images courtesy of Marie-Claude Bourbonnais except four, 11 and 12. Four was taken from the web, 11 was shot by our editor Mike Williams and 12 came from the Soda Pop Miniatures Relic Knights Kickstarter updates.)