Arrow ‘Island Ollie’ Cosplay Build

Having a beard is awesome.  But it doesn’t really make it easy for my cosplaying.  Unlike heroes of the real world, most comic, movie, & video-game characters are clean-shaven.

So when I wanted to do an Arrow cosplay I considered trimming.  My wife wouldn’t let me do it (so thankful she stopped me).  Later, when talking to a friend pre-convention I mentioned how my beard didn’t go with my costume he said ‘Dude, you’re island Ollie.’  And he was totally right, my beard made it perfect for me to do ‘Island Ollie’.  Besides, I see plenty of (better) Arrow costumes at just about every con I attend, so it’s good to try for something no one really sees.

The outfit I was looking to replicate

My task was in front of me.  I pulled up pictures online to see what I would be trying to emulate.  Seemed simple enough, find some old army fatigues at a thrift shop and modify them.  WRONG.

I found ZERO army jackets or pants in ANY of the thrift and second hand stores in my town.  Back to square one.  I hit up my friends online and got some tips.  But they eventually didn’t really lead anywhere.  I had had a second hand green army jacket that my mother-in-law gave me but I thought that it was lost to time.  Tossed out or given to Goodwill by my wife.  But with my next con looming and little time to spare I was so desperate that we decided to look through our packed-to-the-gills storage unit for the jacket.  Luckily, it was there, in one of the first boxes we checked.


I cut the sleeves off and distressed the remains.  From one sleeve I fashioned the hood and I used the other to cover my old quiver to make it match the jacket.  I used some old cloth belts as straps for the quiver.


For the bow I took a toy bow and arrow I found at a local Native American souvenir shop and took a recip saw to it.  It was carved and painted to look like an eagle, so I sawed off the beak, talons and some of the pointy pieces on the ends (made to look like more talons, possibly?  Idk)   And then spray painted it brown to cover the eagle paint job.

Toy bows similar to the one I used

Since I could not find any military pants I set out shopping for some cargo shorts.  I was able to find some cheaper ones on sale at a department store.  I unhemmed the bottom of the legs, ironed them straight and ‘distressed’ them.


To replicate Ollie’s belt, I simply went to Goodwill, bought some old leather belts and buckled them together.


For the arm-piece I bought an old leather purse from Goodwill, tore it to crap and sewed some old belts to it for straps.


All of this was hand stitched. (while re-watching Arrow)  It was a lot of work but making your own costume, even if it’s imperfect, feels a lot better than simply buying a retail costume.

Full costume pictures viewable here.  Or come see me at Wizard World Des Moines Saturday June 13th!


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