TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa mom is gearing up for Tampa Bay Comic Convention and has already passed a round of pre-judging with her video game cosplay before the festivities even get underway.

Kat Mahoney has loved video games her whole life, back when video games were only text-based. Games encouraged her to learn more about programming and how to better technology, so she went to college for computer science.

Her cosplay for this year’s contest is based on the game “Fallout,” first released in 1997.

“Because video games were so inspiring to me, it was one of those things that I connected with ‘Fallout.’ The fantasy of it,” Mahoney explained.

She described her costume as something “nostalgic” for her.

“Kind of like ‘Pac-Man’ might be for some people,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney and her husband came up with the idea, which comes from a newer iteration of the game, “Fallout 76,” released in 2018. The couple approached a 3-D printing company to print the parts of the costume they could then assemble.

“Once they had all the little pieces printed out, you looked at it at first, it was all on the table and I thought to myself when I looked at all of it, ‘I don’t even know how to put this together. This is unbelievable.’ The pieces, just little pieces, and you really had to puzzle it all together,” Mahoney said.

She said it was their passion for the game and her desire to go out of her comfort zone that kept them going as they molded, glued and assembled.

“We really kind of said, ‘you know what. We know what we’re doing. And we really want to build this.’ So we took it back in our workshop and we put it all together,” said Mahoney.

Mahoney said overall, it took 350 hours, nonstop daily for about eight hours a day, for the 3-D printed pieces to be complete before assemble even began. She posted a video on her YouTube channel about the 3-D printing process.

“When it comes to 3-D printers, they’re creators as well because they really have to take the look of a plan and think ‘how am I going to program this into the computer to actually get the outcome that we want?’” she said. 

Painting took around 200 hours to get the details right, and the engineering, molding, gluing and assembly took 370 hours of work.

She estimates 920 hours went in to her “Fallout 76” cosplay, on top of working a full-time job.

Mahoney called it a long process, but it was also fulfilling.

“I would highly recommend everybody who is interested in cosplay to at least try something even if it’s something small. If you want to go and just get one of those Thanos gloves and you want to create one yourself and see how it works, I would highly recommend it. It’s a learning curve for everybody when it comes to cosplay,” she said.

She encourages parents to be open minded when it comes to their kids and cosplay and being involved.

“When you go above and beyond, when you have creativity, the biggest thing that I really like to encourage kids is that your mind is endless and you can accomplish anything if you just think creatively and think positively that you want to do this,” Mahoney said. “That this is something you really want to do.”

After passing a pre-judging round for the Tampa Bay Comic Convention cosplay contest, Mahoney must compete in an in-person judging the Saturday morning of the convention, then take the stage Saturday evening in front of fans for the showcase and competition.

Tickets for the convention are available online. Day passes are available for $30 for Friday or Sunday and $40 for Saturday. Multi-day passes, as well as VIP passes, are also available. Children under 10 years old get in to the convention for free with the purchase of an adult pass.