Saturday, May 25, 2019

An Interview with Nicole Saelzle, Germany's Stargate Superfan

 Nicole Saelzle is the Stargate Superfan representing Germany. She is from Bavaria, which is a state located in the SouthEastern area of the country. Nicole is soft-spoken and incredibly intelligent. I really enjoyed talking with her at Wondercon and am very pleased that she granted my request for a longer interview. Read on to see what we talked about.

Gabby: Hi, Nicole. Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed. Let's start off simple. Many fans have a nickname or Fandom name that they use online and at conventions. What name do you go by in Stargate Fandom?

Nicole S.: For most of my fandom-related accounts I use the nickname shadow-of-atlantis, which is why people at events also call me Shadow.
Gabby: Do you have a business or job through which you are involved in Fandom?

Nicole S.: Fandom sort of started my freelancing career. Through I got involved in writing articles, doing interviews and creating content for websites. After I did my Masters in Translation and Interpreting in the UK, I started out as a freelancer and this whole Stargate-Project experience somehow led to one job after the other. 

Gabby: How did you first discover Stargate?

Nicole S.: My mum watched the show and at some point I joined her in front of the TV. So there you go… my mum is to blame ^^

Gabby: Do you have a favorite Stargate series and/or episode?

Nicole S.: I love Stargate: SG-1 and Atlantis. Favorite episodes… It would probably be easier to name the ones that I don't like. And Stargate: Universe --- I understand what they tried to do with the show and there are some aspects that I enjoyed / would have liked to see more about, but personally I've never really gotten into SGU.

Gabby: Who are your favorite characters and why?

Nicole S.: Carson Beckett, because he is the heart and soul of Atlantis and a character that you can relate to. He is scared in situations most people would be scared in but also does what needs to be done. And Daniel Jackson because he tries to connect to people before jumping to conclusions and hasty reactions, but – especially in the later seasons – he also realizes in which situations he can be the linguist and explorer and in which situations it is time to act.

Gabby:The Superfans are all very active in Stargate Fandom. Besides the Superfans, what other fan groups or clubs do you belong to?

Nicole S.: I have been part of the team since 2005/06 and of course also part of their (well, nowadays our) community. Unfortunately, most Stargate fans in Germany are spread across various small groups, platforms, etc. and not organized in larger fan groups or clubs. Time to change that ;-)

Gabby: What Stargate related activities or hobbies do you enjoy? 

Nicole S.: I started going to conventions in 2004 (and it was a Stargate convention with Michael Shanks and Christopher Judge). Years ago I was also very active in the fan fiction and fan art community, but when I became the editor in chief at I decided to focus more on that area. But I still love to cosplay and I create most parts of my costumes myself, be it the Atlantis uniform or the Ori soldier. This also takes away time from writing fan fiction or creating fan art.

Gabby: Do you have a favorite Stargate-related website that you think other fans would enjoy? What is it?

Nicole S.: In my case this one is a bit unfair, isn't it? XD But to be honest, I check out Gateworld on a regular basis (who doesn't?). And right from the beginning, when the Stargate Command platform went online, I registered there. I enjoy lurking around there as much as I can.

Gabby: How did you hear about the Stargate Superfan Project and what made you want to apply?

Nicole S.: I think it was one of the other team members who put up a note on our forums, that she would write an article about the whole Stargate Superfan Project campaign. To find out more about it I headed over to the Stargate Command and the Tongal sites and read the details and I really liked the idea. I'm not quite sure what really made me apply. It probably was a mixture of "This is so cool!", "I've been around for so long and know quite a bit", "I would like to make the voices of German fans heard" and "Let's check out what is actually going on there!"

Gabby: Apart from convention appearances, what does MGM have planned for the Superfan group this year?

Nicole S.: We are considered advisors to Stargate Command. We are sort of a link between the fandom and MGM. Through the Superfan panelists fans can make their voices be heard at MGM and we can also provide input on what the fandom expects from Stargate Command and would like or not like to see, hear, read, …

Gabby: I know MGM plans to join the Stargate fans at both the Gateway anniversary celebration in Chicago in June and at Comic-Con in San Diego in July, this year. I will definitely be attending Comic-Con. Will you be going to any conventions, or participating in any events, live or online, this Spring/Summer as part of the Stargate Superfan Project?

Nicole S.: Does September still count as Summer? I guess so, depending on where you are on the globe. So, yes, I will be at Cal Mah in Telford, UK. As far as I know, that's it for me as far as the Superfan Project goes, however, you still have a chance to bump into me at some other conventions.

Gabby: If the SGC were real, I would want to be the base Librarian so I could examine all of the books and artifacts that the teams brought back. How about you? If you could have a job there, or anywhere in the Stargate universe, what would your job be?

Nicole S.: Considering my handwriting, I guess, I wouldn't be too bad at translating hieroglyphs XD

Gabby: Just one more question, and this is perhaps the most important. Jack O'Neill's favorite color is 'peridot,' what is yours?

Nicole S.: Sahara beige.

Gabby: Thanks again, for taking the time out to to be interviewed for It was nice to have the chance to talk more. 

Nicole Saelzle with fellow Stargate Superfan, William Murphy and a member of the MGM team at Wondercon, 2019.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

So I Have This Zat'nik'tel...

I week or so back, I bought a zat'nik'tel -- we'll call it a zat gun -- kit online. I am slowly upgrading my green, SG-1, on base, cosplay and I feel a zat really makes the look. Like the original MacGyver, I am not a fan of guns, and don't want anything that looks real for my cosplay.

So, how come it has taken me 25 years to get my outfit together? Well, college, grad school, student loans, moving cross country multiple times... You get the picture. If I have to choose between actually going to a convention and having a cool outfit? Convention wins.

So, here I am, pulling together entry-level Stargate: SG-1 cosplay in the 25th Anniversary year of SG-1. Anyone who saw me at Wondercon will know that I started very basic. I got plain black t-shirts, in multiples because I can't cope with not having a clean shirt every day at a convention. The t-shirts are Hanes and came in a 3 pack from Target. The green BDU pants and the green over shirt were found on Amazon for not very much money. The green shirt is a "Vietnam" style shirt. It looked the closest to an actual SGC uniform shirt, with the exception of some red stitching on the pockets that was probably meant to be reinforcement. It took only a couple minutes with a seam ripper to get rid of the red thread. I also bought a pair of okay-but-not-perfect replica patches to sew on the shirt and a pair of comfortable black combat boots in my size. The boots were the most expensive part of my cosplay, thus far. The last thing I want at any convention is sore feet or blisters.

My next big convention is likely to be Comic-Con in July. I am still contemplating Gateway, but work commitments mean I would only be able to attend Saturday and Sunday. It will involve a lot of red-eye flights, if I do it. Comic-Con in San Diego is all squared away, though. I have been going to Comic-Con for years and absolutely love the frenetic energy of the event. Hey, I grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, where people walk around dressed like witches all the time. Comic-Con feels like home to me.

I am working on my cosplay with a ready-by-Comic-Con timeframe in mind. I wore my BDUs as they were to Wondercon. I am not terribly tall, though, and both shirt and pants are very long on me. I plan to take about 6 inches off the legs of the pants and also take up the sleeves of the shirt by about the same amount. This will involve removing the cuffs, shortening the sleeves and putting the cuffs back on. All within my capabilities. When I'm ready to have a weekend of sewing, I will photograph the whole thing to post here. I'm sure I'm not the only fan who has needed to make these alterations.

But back to the zat. Like I said, this is the next item I wanted to add. There are two different types of zat kits out there. There is the always closed model and one that opens and closes. I believe there is also a mini zat available but did not look into that option. Since I primarily want to wear my zat in a holster, I went with the less expensive, always closed, option.

I did a bit or research and found an old online post by someone else who had done the same project. I also chatted online with friends on the SG-Command cosplay forum. There is lots of great advice out there on what colors to use and how to prep your zat for painting. I combined what sounded best to me and went shopping.

My zat arrived, as zats do, in a cardboard box with a photo on the lid. Inside, the resin-molded replica was in two pieces: the main body and the top fin, along with a sheet of instructions. The zat is much heavier than I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be hollow, but it is actually solid resin. You can see from the photos at the end of this post that it had some rough edges and mould marks. Now, I am sure I will be scolded by someone, but when I was getting my theatre degree, I was taught to sand everything prior to painting. Paint adheres better to a surface that is slightly rough. I used a heavier sandpaper to gently knock down the mould marks and smooth the seams. Then I lightly rubbed the entire surface with a very fine sandpaper. This was just to take the shine off so the paint will stick better. Be very careful not to take the details off of your zat if you decide to use my technique!

The next step was to wash the zat with a little liquid dish soap and warm water. This removed any oil and all of the grit I created sanding. I let the zat dry overnight before continuing work the next day. Some people I have talked to recommend filling any holes in the zat's surface with putty or something similar prior to painting. I like Mouldable Glue for patching holes in resin. It is easy to work with and dries to a similar hardness to resin. Most of the pits in mine are going to end up under the fin where they won't show, so I did not bother with this step. I went right to spraying it with a basecoat of grey paint with primer included. Be careful when you spray paint not to put too much paint on at once. You don't want to end up with visible drip marks when your zat dries. If you do over-paint, this is not a complete tragedy. You can sand down the drip marks and touch up the paint with a brush or Q-tip. I painted one side of both the fin and the body of the zat, let them dry for an hour and then flipped them over to spray the other side of each.

My next step was to attach the fin. Since I'm going to be hauling it around conventions for what I hope will be years to come, I chose to drill a hole through both the fin and body with my dremel and used a long thin screw to secure the fin. I put Super Glue on the underside of the fin before tightening the screw all the way. There is a variety of Super Glue that doesn't dry immediately. I prefer this kind. You can reposition something if needed and it washed off of hands more easily. I always get glue on my hands! As you can see, I chose to countersink the head of the screw. I then filled the hole and covered over the screw head with Mouldable Glue and let it harden before touching up the base paint. This makes my reinforcement more or less invisible to anyone who isn't looking for it.

Now my zat was ready to be made pretty. I bought a metallic bronze-colored paint as the main color of the body. The best way to apply paint to anything is in thin coats that you let dry in between. It takes patience, but always looks best. Also, make sure you always shake or stir any paint before you use it in case it has separated while sitting on a shelf at the store. I painted one side of the zat, waited for it to dry, and then flipped the zat over and painted the other side. Then I repeated until I was happy with the color. It was a rainy day, so the drying between coats of paint took a while. To keep the paint I put on my palette from drying out between coats, I covered the whole palette with plastic wrap, also known as cling film. I also rinsed my brushes off with warm water between coats of paint. I used inexpensive brushes with reasonably stiff nylon bristles.  Despite being cheap, the quality of them isn't bad. I am sure I will find more uses for them in the near future, so I took the time to care for them properly.

With the body of the zat all painted it was time to highlight the details. I got some patina colored paint for this. I also got a pearlescent purple for the feathery looking bit at the bottom of the handle. I used a small brush for the purple and again did several thin coats waiting between each. I then used both a very thin nylon brush for the line-details and some q-tips to smudge the patina color around and get a more realistic oxidized look. I also did a little touch-up after that on some of the bronze areas to soften the detail lines a bit where I got a little carried away with the oxide paint. I plan to let the whole zat dry overnight and then spray it with a coat of clear, matt finish, paint. This will help prevent the decorative coat from getting damaged.

Including the day I went to the craft store for supplies, this project took me parts of four different days to complete. I'm sure you could do it in less time if you wanted to. I really enjoy a good craft project, though, and wasn't in any rush.

Below, you can see photos of each step of the project. If you have any questions about what I did, or why, you can reach me at

You can find this kit in a number of different places on the Web. and eBay both had them as of this writing.

The zat comes in two pieces. It was slightly oily to the touch from the molding process.

At first glance it looks pretty good.

But closer inspection showed lots of little flaws that needed to be sanded off.

You can clearly see a raised line of resin where the two sides of the mould fit together.

The underside of the fin was rough, too. As it was, the zat would not have fit together tightly enough to be glued securely.

The top of the zat's body was the roughest area. You can also see some small pits where there were air bubbles in the resin. I didn't try to fill these since they were going to end up underneath the fin.

Time for sanding! I used the heaviest grit sandpaper in the multi-pack I bought to remove the mould lines and the roughest areas so the fin would fit tightly against the body.

I used the finest grit sandpaper to roughen the entire surface of the zat. Paint adheres better to a rough surface. Just be careful not to sand out the detail on the zat! Having finished painting, I feel like I could have sanded it a bit more than I did. There are areas of the zat that looked smooth until they were painted.

Sanding made the zat very gritty. A nice warm bath in soapy water was in order.

All washed and ready for a base coat of primer. Be sure you wash off all of the soap. Paint won't stick if your zat is soapy.

If I paint another zat in the future, I will get a very small file to clean up the detail lines with. You can see there are some small raised bubbles in the grooves.
This is the type of paint I used as a primer coat.

I like to put a garbage bag under objects I am painting. I can turn the dirty bag inside-out and throw it away to get rid of my mess.

Still wet from the primer coat.

Once the zat had it's base coat, I lined up the fin on the top of the zat and used my dremel to drill a hole through both pieces. Use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw you plan to use. Also make sure your screw is long enough to go through both pieces!

Installing the screw.

You can see that I countersunk the head of the screw. This means I screwed it in until it was below the surface of the zat.

The next step was to fill the hole around the head of the screw with Mouldable Glue. I smoothed it off level with the surface of the zat with the handle of one of my paint brushes.
A dab of primer over the spot of Mouldable Glue, once it had hardened, and you couldn't tell that I had drilled a hole in my zat.

Now the fun part. Shiny paint!

You can see I covered my palette with plastic wrap in between applying thin layers of paint. I also washed my brush each time I stopped to wait for a coat of paint to dry. Washing brushes while the paint is still wet is the best way to make them last.

Bronze done. Ready for purple.

If you smudge the paint, like I did in places, you can use a Q-tip to wipe the smudge off if the paint is still wet. This is part of the reason why I let each coat of paint dry completely before starting the next.

The green patina paint looked way too bright when it was wet. It looked better after it dried.

I'm a bit of a messy painter. I went back later with a bit of the bronze paint on a Q-tip and touched up all the places I smudged my lines.

Now it just needs a clear coat of sealer.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The World-Wide Stargate Network -- post 1

We all know it exists. A world-wide network of stargates built by fans in countries all over the globe. Really I should say built, sewn, quilted, knitted, crocheted, painted, drawn, moulded, 3D printed... I'm pretty sure that every Stargate fan with even a hint of inner artist or maker has tackled the giant ring at some point.

I have drawn the gate as a cartoon and am working on a pattern for a knit version to go with my knit SG-1 team. The knit project isn't going particularly quickly since I am making the patterns up myself from scratch. So far, I have Daniel finished and most of Jack. Poor Jack doesn't have a head or arms yet.

My point is, I KNOW there are stargates all over the world. As I stated in a previous post, I'm on the hunt for them and interested in interviewing their creators. I am starting off with a very cool project. Stargate Superfan Sommer Roy, has shared with me photos of the working iris she constructed out of paper. Safety first. We must have an iris, if we're going to have stargates. Once the dust settles, and the team in England has time to be interviewed, I will be sharing with you the massive, 1:1, Stargate. But let's begin with an iris.

Q: Hi, Sommer. Tell me about your iris. When did you make it?

A: I actually used the pics of the Stargate in my Submission Video for the Stargate Superfan Contest. I made it years ago.

Q: Did you find instructions/a pattern somewhere or come up with the design yourself? Is it an origami iris or cut and assembled?
A: I saw a basic tutorial on YouTube but their measurements were off so I had to calculate the circumference of the circle in relation to the size of the individual iris took a few tries to get the formula correct.

Q: What materials and techniques did you use?

A: It is a fully functional iris held together by brads. It's becoming a bit flimsy because it's getting older, I totally want to convert it to a resin iris or 3d printed iris. I used poster paper, scissors, a compass, math, and brads. I cut out and assembled each individual piece.

Q: What would you like me to use as your location on the Earthgate network? It needn't be exact. Something akin to Southern California, but your own home state is good. I don't want to give out anyone's exact location.

A: You can use Texas on the Earthgate network.

Q: How long did it take to make?

A: It took a few days to perfect the formula to make the iris fit the circle. And then a few hours after knowing the formula.

Sommer Roy's working iris

Sommer of Texas
If you would like to have your Stargate, or gate-related project showcased on, contact

Sunday, May 5, 2019

What Happened at Wondercon? -- Part 3 (Saturday continued)

 I had a nice chat with Taylor Underwood during the stroll over to the main convention center building. The entire Stargate Superfan team (I want to call them SGS-1) went over as a group to attend the second Stargate panel of the day. He told me more about his YouTube channel and being TheStargateGuy.

We arrived while the previous panel was still in progress. Since the panel "Stargate Costume Budgeting" was about cosplay, there were lots of fans in uniform to take pictures of. The lighting in the room the panel was held in was not good. I am not very happy with the quality of my pictures taken during it. Look for a photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

Jenny Seelman Stiven was the moderator for this panel and the three panelists were Colleen Kelly Burks, Dean Newbury and Phil Hsueh. Colleen and Phil are both with the SG-Command costuming group. They can be found on Facebook and at I love this group. They have been around Stargate fandom for years and are a wonderful resource for cosplayers.  SG-Command was started by Daniel Kim in the early 2000s and Phil Hsueh has been a member since the beginning. Colleen owns a number of screen-used items, including a jacket RDA wore on SG-1. Note the fake blood stain in the picture. Dean (who was listed in the Wondercon program as prop maker and auctioneer) talked about replica props and showed off some of the items he has made.

Phil and Colleen both talked a bit about creating what I like to call spin-off uniforms. Phil wears a Marines lid with his SGC uniform since his cosplay is an SG-3 Marine. Colleen showed off a patch for the SGC Fire Brigade, which surely must exist even if they were never mentioned on any of the shows. Just think of how many accidents Siler has had!

After the panelists had spoken for a bit, Jenny Seelman Stiven asked various members of the audience to stand and show off their cosplay. A number of the Superfans and other members of the SG-Command costuming group took a turn, as did I. My own cosplay is a work in progress and definitely at the less-expensive, entry level end of the spectrum. I have the green BDU pants with black t-shirt and black boots that is so often seen when SG-1 is on base. I shopped on for everything but the t-shirt, which I bought a 3-pack of at Target. The SG-Command folks recommend finding your local Army/Navy Surplus store, if you want to put together a uniform without spending a fortune.

Once the panel wrapped up, the whole group made their way back down to the Stargate/MGM booth to pose for group photos. The SG-Command folks spent the rest of the weekend posing at the mini-gate with fans and enacting epic battles on the ramp.

This wraps up my report on Wondercon. Sunday, I went back to the booth and got a few more photos of the whole booth and of the give-aways. I said good bye for now to all of my new friends and made sure I had e-mail addresses... the usual stuff I do at the end of any convention.

With Wondercon over, I am not looking ahead to this Summer's conventions. I am not certain yet whether I will make it to Chicago for Gateway, but I will definitely be at Comic-Con in San Diego. I am working on improvements to my cosplay and plan to talk about that in my next few posts.

Jenny, Seelman Stiven, Dean Newbury, Colleen Kelly Burks and Phil Hsueh.
Dean shows off an SG-10 patch. SG-Command's regional groups are assigned to different "teams." SG-10 includes California, Nevada and Hawai'i.
O'Neill's jacket! Note the blood.
Dean shows off a replica GDO that lights up.
Alien weapons, anyone?
Close-up of a "working" GDO.

More alien weapons.
Ready of an off-world mission.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Looking for the World-Wide Gate Network

So far I have been focusing this blog on the fans of the Stargate universe and what we do. I want very much to continue with that. There are already lots of amazing sites out there covering breaking news and I am finding it incredibly fun to meet and interview the talented people in our fandom.

To that end, I am currently looking for fans who have made their own Stargate. My idea is to interview Crafters and Makers about how they made their gate. I hope to make a world map showing our Stargate Network. Please no store-bought gates! I am looking purely for self-made. This could be anything from 3-D models, to quilts, to jewelry, to life-sized gates made of Lego. Send me an email at along with a .jpg of your gate if you would like to be interviewed. I will then E-mail you a short questionnaire. Please pass the word that I am doing this. Let's see how many Stargates we can find by the end of May!