Beyond Geek Spotlight: Odin Abbott from Odin Makes and DIY Prop Shop

Odin Makes Mandalorian and Lightsaber beyond geek spotlight.

Name or persona
Odin Abbott (I never needed a nickname)

Tell us a little about yourself
This is the hardest question… Born in Northern California, and never left. Mom was creative, Dad was a mechanical engineer. When we needed something odd, we just made it. There wasn’t a concern about “Oh my gosh, HOW could this possibly work?” it was more like “well if I start this way, it should mostly work..”

I was making costumes and makeup years before I ever heard of the term Cosplay. In the late 1980s I was part of a Rocky Horror Picture Show cast, which got costumes and make-up from being just around Halloween and made it a weekly thing, with large size props and set pieces. I worked for a comic store, and I lived in a comic store for a summer. I worked for a video streaming pioneer company in the 1990s, using 56k dial up modems- years before YouTube, and I built Star Trek costumes and sets for them. I made WWII props and custom video gear for a documentary that was shot in Crete in 2003. During production we stayed in a monastery one night, and on a mountain top the next. After working with the YouTube channel SMOSH in 2014-2017, I started my own YouTube channel called Odin Makes. It’s a DIY style show, all about making items from movies and video games. Mostly from foam- so they are safe and easy to carry with a cosplay at a convention. I get messages and pictures from people all over the world who have built projects that I created on my show, AND I got a personal tour of Pixar Animation Studios because of it.

A man standing in front of a large sculpture.

What makes you Beyond Geek?
I know the creator. I have the shirt. I am on the show. I shot and edited some of the episodes.
What makes me Beyond Geek? Baby, I AM Beyond Geek. (part of it anyway…)

Origin story
Born into it. Seriously… I remember watching the animated Star Trek first run on TV, a B&W TV. That led to watching the original series, and wearing a Ben Cooper Mr. Spock costume for Halloween. Them mom made a Wookiee suit the next year. And in 1982 I was describing how I wanted to make Kahn’s Seti Alpha V survival suit. “You see, if we take my Frogger hat, and cut the bill off, we can add an aluminum visor, and torn up rags on top! The face cover is held on by velcro…” Yeah, as a kid I was describing how Odin makes something to my parents. It’s probably why mom now hides in Oregon.

Two men sitting at a table in front of a window discussing Odin Makes projects.

Tell us about your geek persona
Don’t need a persona. WYSIWYG

What’s your favorite thing about doing what you do?
Meeting people. Not just the “Hey you’re Odin!” that happens at Cons, but meeting other people who create and build. I think I am really lucky to have met some very talented individuals, some who are famous, and many who are not. It’s really cool to see what creative things people do, and what means they figure out to make it happen.

A man and a woman in a costume workshop.

What was your craziest experience you had doing this?
Because I build odd things? Driving a van full of fireworks, gunpowder, and gasoline cans up a one lane dirt road on a cliff in Crete. With a shear wall on one side, and a no-guard-rail drop on the other. No one would ride with me- I wonder why?
Because I run camera gear and equipment? In 1999, after driving all the video gear back to Sacramento from Las Vegas, I get told “we need to do a set up for the guys in line for Star Wars Episode 1- they are in Hollywood- you leave tonight”. I ended up in that line with them for 6 weeks. I was a paid employee who waited in line for Star Wars for over a month.
Because I make stuff out of foam? I met a girl who was fascinated by the giant foam D&D dragons I made as displays in a comic store. She hung out and talked to me all day in the shop while I worked. She is now my wife.

What would be your elevator pitch for getting someone to try this?
It’s actually pretty easy to make something, you can start by making of the basic shapes, then add decorations to them. Like baking a cake, and frosting it. Kinda.
BTW, a cake is edible foam, just FYI.

How could someone else start doing this?
When I started, all I had was trial and error, books, and magazines. There was no internet yet, just libraries and book shops. Now if someone wants to make cosplay props and accessories, there are many YouTube channels and Instructibles pages dedicated to the art of it. And there’s the Replica Prop Forum if you want to go ‘hard mode’. Just pick some and watch the ones that have people who are doing it in a way that makes sense to you, or is at your level of ability (or willingness to try). Bill Doran, Evil Ted Smith, SKS Props, William Jakespeare, Hendo Art, Zonbi’s Workshop- they are all really talented people who enjoy sharing their ideas for making stuff, without Adam Savage’s workshop, or the Hacksmith’s crazy ability to make it all really work. But those guys are inspiring too!

A Thor helmet on top of a black base, created by Odin Makes.

What’s the best advice you can give someone wanting to get into this?
Don’t be afraid to fail. It WILL happen. Roll with it, and what you get may be better than what you planned for.
Don’t expect it to look exactly like it did “in your head”, it almost never does. But no one else knows what you were picturing, if they can recognize what you made- you are successful. If they are in awe of your original creation, you are successful.

What else do you geek out about?
People doing nice things. History Documentaries. Rubber monsters.

What was your first geek experience?
Godzilla, Batman, making flip books for days… I was a little geek before Star Wars was originally released. How about my first Star Trek con in the public Library in Castro Valley, sometime in the late 1970s. I remember there were a couple of tables of stuff, and a 16mm film projector, where we watched The Twilight Zone and Star Trek. Mom got me a Star Trek science officer badge, and she put it on my blue and grey sweatshirt. I loved it.

A man and woman standing next to a chess board in a workshop, Odin Makes.

What was your craziest geek experience?
Is getting recognized by my sushi waiter because of my YouTube channel geeky? How about having to be a bodyguard/safety escort for Wil Wheaton, having to stick with him at all times, and talking to him while he was at a urinal? Maybe it’s the GWAR Halloween costumes I helped to make in the 1990s, which indirectly lead to starting my YouTube channel, ultimately getting a message from the guys at Slave Pit, Inc. about how they love my show, and how they use my ideas for making actual GWAR stuff to go on tour with. That was awesome!

What’s your favorite comic book and/or geek centric book?
Favorite Geek centric books? Bizarro (Grande Illusions) by Tom Savini. I read mine until it fell apart. Maybe The Dymaxion World of Buckminster Fuller, the guy was more than geodesic domes.

Comic Book? Working in a comic shop let me read many comics, more than I would have if I was buying them. I like a lot of comics, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Valiant, Mirage Studios, New England Comics… I forget more than I know.

If you could meet a fictional character, who would it be? And why?
That changes all the time, I get interested in something and then a new thing comes along.
I really enjoy any character or device that instills rapid learning. I know you still would need the practical experience- but c’mon, just to be able to just say “Tank, I need a pilot program for a military M-109 helicopter.”

A man wearing a viking helmet and holding a sword, Odin Makes Lightsaber.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Hmmmm, the healing touch of a D&D cleric? “Okay you are now at 100% hit points. Again. Idiot…” Wouldn’t it be cooler if it would work on stuff too. Like find a rusted out hulk of a Model T, and then “heal it” like in the car from the movie Christine, and drive it away.

Not super power-y enough? Fine… teleportation, either like Nightcrawler or Ariel from New Mutants / Fallen Angels. Flashy destructive powers would be really great and fun, but if I want dinner in Sydney, do I really have to fly all day?

What is your favorite app or video game?
Tough choice- I have said for years that Photoshop is my favorite video game. And, I do spend a LOT of time on Adobe Premiere (won 3 emmy awards with it too). If I had to pick a true video game favorite, it would be the Portal games from Valve. The first person puzzler game format is really my favorite. I love puzzles. And trivia- it’s like taking a test, but without the stress of ‘what grade am I getting?’ 

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