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stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

April 4, 2013

in stuffed stuff

EDIT: I saw in the Press Release by NECA posted online that they are indeed working on a Songbird plush (if they haven’t made it already). They did such a wonderful job on the Big Daddy plush from BioShock 2, and I’m sure they’ll make an awesome Songbird plush. So keep an eye out for it!

Derek and I are huge fans of BioShock. We liked it so much that I even made a bento of it, and had a photo of the bento signed by Ken Levine, Shawn Robertson and Nate Wells at PAX East two years ago. So you can imagine how excited we’ve been for the BioShock Infinite ever since Irrational Games announced it.

PAX East 2011 Day 2

From PAX East 2011. He told me that he had seen it online. It made my year.

BioShock bento signed

I keep all signed bento photos in a binder. They're my treasures.

It was around the holiday last year that Irrational Games (the video game studio that created BioShock) tweeted this image.

Happy Holidays from Irrational Games

As soon as I saw the image, I knew what I had to do.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

Stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite
Created and stuffed: March 2013

The plush is based on a character called Songbird from BioShock Infinite. It’s the protector of Elizabeth the heroine in game and he will do whatever to protect her & get her back at any cost.

Now that Derek and I finished BioShock Infinite once (we’re already on our second playthrough) we can say that, without spoilers, it was absolutely gorgeous and the story totally blew our minds. I fell in love with Songbird even more! Also there actually are Songbird plush in the game!

Songbird plush from BioShock Infinite

D'awwwwww

Do I wish I had seen them before I made it so it could’ve been more accurate? YES. Do I regret that I made it pre-release? NO. Because something incredibly awesome happened during PAX East, and it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t bring it to PAX East.

First I had to figure out what the Songbird plush looked like from the holiday card. Most of his body is covered by Elizabeth’s hands, so I had to compare it with the photos of the Songbird statue which Irrational Games made for the ultimate box set for the game. I also watched the trailers with Songbird in it over and over.

I like when the eraser is smiling at me.

I drew a sketch of the basic shape for each part of Songbird.

After the sketch, I made a rough prototype of the body with felt. I like using felt when I make a rough sample or prototype. It doesn’t fray so it’s easy to cut, sew, and draw lines on if needed. I tweaked it a couple of times, changing the width and shape until I was finally satisfied with the shape.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

After the body, I moved onto make a rough shape of the arms and legs. The arms weren’t too hard on the first version. I just had to adjust the length a bit. The legs & feet took a bit of thinking and required me to dig up my old patterns for Costume Quest. After trying it a couple times, I managed to come up with feet that were to my satisfaction.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

In the illustration, you can see the skin/surface of the plush is kind of loose and wrinkly. It’s actually not very easy to make the surface loose like that without using less stuffing, which makes it hard for the plush to hold its shape. So what I did was to make a core body with canvas, and make an outer layer 10% bigger than the body and put it on the core body. This way, the core of the body can be stuffed as usual and the slightly bigger outer layer makes the surface a bit loose. I also did the same with the arms and legs.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

Who knew making wrinkles intentionally is not as easy as it looks?

After the core body was made and covered with the final fabric, I attached the arms and legs with plastic joints so that you can actually rotate them. (Like a Teddy bear)

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

Then I moved onto the “bodysuit.” I could’ve just used the same patterns as the body for the bodysuit, but I didn’t like the position of the seams, so I made a new pattern so that the whole bodysuit was actually one piece and not three pieces like the core body. It took a couple of iterations to get it to fit nicely but it was worth it.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

Then I made the strip that goes over from his head all the way to the bottom, and sewed it to the outfit. For the piece around the neck, I put two layers of felt inside as support so it would keep its shape.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

Next up were the wings. I sketched out the wings, cut the pleather (fake leather) and sewed it closed. But I realized that the wings were a bit floppier than I wanted. So I decided to make bones out of pipe cleaners and armature wire. To hold the bones in place, I sewed them by hand onto a piece of felt which was cut into the shape of the wings.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

I was pretty much improvising as I made it but I wish I could’ve done something better. Pleather is known to get scratched pretty easily by feed dogs (the jagged surface on a sewing machine that moves the fabric as you sew.) I didn’t have any special feed dogs or technique, so I just held my breath and hoped for the best…

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

Luckily, it scratched only a tiny bit. It still bugs me a lot but Derek said that he could barely see it… so I decided not to go crazy about it. I attached the wings, and moved onto the details.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

I added the button for an accent & to hide stitches.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

The wings are fully posable.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

Finally the most important parts, the small details. The eyes, the rings that hold the piece around the neck to the outfit, the braided air pipe coming out from the mouth, the little loops to hold the air pipe to the outfit, decorative stitching, etc…

Each detail took way too long. It didn’t take long to actually do it, but it took forever LOOKING FOR MATERIALS! I missed the Fashion District of New York City more than ever. We drove around San Diego and went to many stores to find the eyes but couldn’t find ones that matched. So I modified a plastic jean button and epoxied it onto another button. We couldn’t find the rings to hold the piece around the neck either, so I used eyelets instead. For the air pipe, I couldn’t find a big leather cord, so I learned how to braid leather strings, which was actually kind of cool.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

This was a total guess. I have no idea how the air pipe attached to the suit.

The hardest part of this project was definitely the “guessing” part. Even though I had references of Songbird in game, the plush version is not an exact replica of the actual Songbird. I had to guess how to simplify and modify certain things I couldn’t see, which I was really bad at. (It was hell trying to simplify the armor when I made my Master Chief plush.) Now after seeing the plush Songbird in the game, I think I’ll make some changes on the next Songbird.

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite

Bonus: Chin down, eyes up

As PAX East was nearing, I was wondering if Ken Levine would have a signing like he did at the last PAX East. Then the community manager of Irrational Games invited me and Derek to their invite-only fan meetup held during PAX East! We thought this couldn’t be a more perfect opportunity to give him the plush.

We got there a bit late because first we went to Double Fine & Capybara Games meetup hosted by IGN (which was a blast!) As we walked in, we saw Ken but he was talking to someone. And then a cosplay contest started, so we decided to wait until the contest ended.

After the contest, we looked for him but he was nowhere to be found. Then a handsome gentleman approached us, and asked me “Are you Anna?” It turned out that he was the community manager, Ratana, who invited us! We thanked him and said that we had something for Ken. He told us that Ken had to leave and wouldn’t be around for the rest of PAX East… I could hear Derek going “Nooooooooooo” in his head.  We looked around and saw Irrational Games devs hanging around chatting with fans. So we asked him if we could have them open the gift and Derek could take photos of their reactions. They did, and it was absolutely amazing.

Songbird plush meets the Irratioal Games staff

Everyone's smilin'

Songbird plush meets the Irratioal Games staff

Songbird plush meets the Irratioal Games staff

Yay unboxing!

Songbird plush meets the Irratioal Games staff

Bill Gardner (on the left): "OH--"

Songbird plush meets the Irratioal Games staff

Bill Gardner (on the left): "--SHIII." (keeping it family friendly.)

Songbird plush meets the Irratioal Games staff

I really love how Scott Sinclair (on the right) looks frozen.

Songbird plush meets the Irratioal Games staff

Songbird plush meets the Irratioal Games staff

Songbird plush meets the Irratioal Games staff

They were all super excited to see the Songbird plush, I even got teary watching their reactions. (Man, I’m getting old.)

The two gentlemen opening the box are Bill Gardner who is the design director of BioShock Infinite, and Scott Sinclair, the art director of BioShock and BioShock Infinite! We were so overwhelmed by their excitement that we totally forgot to ask Scott to sign the copy of BioShock we had in our bag. Doh!

So yes, we couldn’t meet Ken Levine, which was sad, but the super awesome people at Irrational Games TOTALLY made up for it, or even more! Not only that, Ken’s personal assistant Ashlee and Ratana told me that they’d make sure to document when Ken received the plush.

I was expecting a “hey check out this fan art” tweet which would’ve totally made me dance in joy, so we were in shock when we received this from Ratana later.

There are no words to describe what the video meant to me and Derek. We never thought seeing a middle-aged man holding a plush would make us so ecstatic.

Thank you Ken Levine for EVERYTHING you’ve done. And I’d like to thank everyone at Irrational Games for creating such amazing games and awesome community around it.

Oh, there is a leather-plush version of Songbird in one of “documentaries” of Columbia which is the city in the sky from BioShock Infinite. I’d love to make the full-leather one someday but I am not experienced with leather and I don’t own the right tools. But someday…. !!

For more pictures of this plush, visit stuffed stuff: Songbird from BioShock Infinite set!

You can also check out more stuffed stuff on my flickr.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandon GouldNo Gravatar April 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm

OMG!!! Amazing job! I want one so bad!

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JoelNo Gravatar April 4, 2013 at 6:41 pm

I love these gift-giving posts of yours, Anna. They’re like pure joy for me to watch. Thank you for sharing.

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Meggan TNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 1:07 am

Holy cow that’s so amazing. The songbird is such a gorgeous character design and you did such a great job replicating it. The pleather wings look so professionally done. If you ever try leather I’d love to hear how it goes.

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JoeNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 7:49 am

I want one sooo bad! That was so creative and amazing! Huge Bioshock fan!

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HeidiNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 7:51 am

I would totally buy a pattern to make this if you were to publish a pdf… wonderfully done!

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KryptosXLayer2No Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 7:57 am

And now NECA has something to model the one they will eventually sell after! It is hopeful that they will come anywhere near as good as this one is, but doubtful at the same time…. EXCELLENT work, I’ve been waiting to hold a Songbird plushee for a while now, like you said, ever since the holiday artwork they did! Congrats and another congrats on the epic video with Ken Levine receiving it as well

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ShannonNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 8:02 am

Any plans to sell these at all? That video is amazing, I would have died of happiness if I’d made it! congrats!!

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NateNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 8:03 am

So sad I sold my big daddy helmet lamp you see on Ken’s desk in the background as only like 26 exist, also that plush is awesome!

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amandaNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 8:20 am

WANT ONE!!!!!

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KurtisNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 8:22 am

I would pay lots of money for one. Please, make it so.

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JacksonNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 8:55 am

I’m throwing money at the screen, but I don’t seem to be getting the plush. Is anyone else having this issue? Any way to resolve it?

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ZackNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 10:08 am

Absolutely beautiful, and I loved the video of you posted as well. It’s always good to see someone who appreciates your hard work. I’d love to have one of these lil’ guys!!

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DanNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 11:49 am

Please god make some more of these! I will be the first person to buy one!

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Diana KNo Gravatar April 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm

When you don’t want your feed dogs to leave scratches, put adding machine tape over the feed dogs the length of the sewing line.

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Aditya V. IyerNo Gravatar April 6, 2013 at 9:48 am

Great job! I would love to buy one :)
cheers from India and a fellow fan

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Doctor 2DNo Gravatar April 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Holy Shit. I received the game as a gift not so long ago so i didn’t made it ’till the end but still i think this is one of the most beautiful piece of art i’ve ever had the chance to lay hands on. And all you’ve done to speak at loud your love of the bioshock universe, mixed up in this plush, just gave me fucking chills. Keep up the good work, this is awesome.

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DamianNo Gravatar April 8, 2013 at 8:32 am

I need one of these in my life!

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ChronosNo Gravatar April 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I just made one. :)

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Raegan ArnoldNo Gravatar April 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I was wondering if there was any way I could purchase this doll, only if you are willing to part with one. My brother and I absolutely loved this game and of course at first I said I would not play it much. His birthday is coming up and I think this would be a spectacular gift if I could get my hands on one.

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Camila NúñezNo Gravatar April 8, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Hey! I think it is an amazing work you did there!
But what can I do to get one, or at least get the moulds so I can do it myself, you see my boyfriend is kind of crazy for this, and his birthday is coming up…
I would really appreciate any help or advice you could give me…
Thanks! And again congratulations, excellent job!

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Steve WilsonNo Gravatar April 9, 2013 at 6:43 am

How much would I need to pay you to make me one?
My girlfriend fell in love with him so much!
Thanks
Steve

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YahairaNo Gravatar April 16, 2013 at 11:00 am

Amaaaaazing work! I want one. I mean it. Can you make more? I want two! If you are not able to do more. Can you share or sell de molds, please?! Thank you :) .

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DiegoNo Gravatar April 17, 2013 at 11:19 am

Any plans to sell these at all?

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carliNo Gravatar April 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Geeez I want one so bad! You should sell them =[

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JenniferNo Gravatar May 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Wow this is an amazing songbird. MUCH nicer than the one Irrational Games just put up for sale on their site.

If you are able to make/sell them, please put the word out! The one you made is really excellent.

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Carla SNo Gravatar May 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I love this so much more than the all leather one they are going to sell on the irrational games store. If you decide to make and sell these I would LOOOVVE to have one.

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CharlieNo Gravatar June 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I WOULD LOVE THE PATTERNS FOR THIS!!! I want to make my girlfriend one she’s a huge fan of BioShock and in LOVE with songbird.

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ConnorNo Gravatar June 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I demand one. Please, I would pay millions for this little guy!

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KevinNo Gravatar June 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Yours is a million times better than the “official” version.

A fellow maker of things,
Kevin (criticalhitshop)

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CathyNo Gravatar July 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Thanks to your plush pictures, I was able to make my own version of a crochet songbird! The picture for its wings really helped too!

Here’s the link for it!
http://lylfairygirl.deviantart.com/art/Songbird-Bioshock-Infinite-Amigurumi-386678010?ga_submit_new=10%253A1374270789

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HannahNo Gravatar July 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I’ve seen the design for the official one… And I want yours! It looks far more like the one in the game than the official one, and way more cuddley (as far as songbird could ever be cuddley…)

Amazing work. (:

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gabbeNo Gravatar August 24, 2013 at 9:53 am

you are so freakin’ amazing! Songbird is incredible!!

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CaitlinNo Gravatar September 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm

That is one of my favorites that you have ever made. Very neat.

As far as your search for supplies goes, check out Tandy Leather Factory. They have an amazing amount of button, custom snaps and rivets, leather cord, various leather blanks, dyes, etc. and knowledgeable staff. No, I don’t work for them ;) But I do lots of craft projects! There’s on in La Mesa on University Ave. http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com

I can’t wait to see what you do next. Thanks for being inspiring.

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