I’ve promised a few people that I would throw out my opinion of what I mean when I say I’m into Costuming, as opposed to being into Cosplay. I’ve been procrastinating on that for a while, but with me getting serious about finally starting up my work on Costume Initiative 2014, plus exposure to the SyFy series, “Heroes of Cosplay,” I figured now is as good a time as any to put my thoughts, history, and future plans into words.
At 36, I really don’t consider myself one of those “Damn anime kids, get off my con floor!” type of people, but having been in and out of the hobby for the last 20 years, I still have an older-style way of thinking. Let’s face it, I’m not kidding when I say I’ve been into this for that long. I started getting into Star Trek around 1991, and I got my first costume around 1992 or 1993. Okay, I will admit that it could have been 1994, but that’s close enough, at least for someone with a tenuous grasp of their personal history. Either way, it was around then when I got my first costume that had nothing to do with Halloween, a Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 top, made by a fellow Starfleet club member. Since that time, I have messed around with various fantasy pieces, Civil War garb for a friend’s wedding, an X-Wing Pilot for San Diego Comic Con 2001, a Rebel Fleet Trooper for Gen Con 2005, a Ghostbuster for Halloween 2006, and then reworking those costumes until around 2010. All through those, I’ve only considered myself to be a costumer, or occasionally referring to my hobby as “Costume and Prop Replication” since that is what I see myself doing.
For me, “Cosplay” is dressing in a costume and playing the character. You know, Costume + Playing The Character = Cosplay. I think the math is solid. Anyway, except for rare instances, like for an interview with someone that isn’t trying to make con goers look like they’re seeing the outside of their mother’s basement for the first time, I’ve never walked around pretending like I just took out a Death Star, or took out a Class Five, full roaming vapor. I just like replicating something that I grew up loving, and seeing people enjoy something I put together. In my mind, dressing in costume and playing a character was LARPing, and those Vampire: The Masquerade kids at Starbase Indy sometimes were a bigger annoyance than the drunk Klingons!
Yeah, I said it. Anyway…
It seems that, these days, “Cosplay” is being used to encompass the entire gamut of convention costuming, from the kid in the spiky wig from some Anime, to the Steampunk folks, to the 501st and Rebel Legion. Yes, I did cringe slightly at the use of the word “these days” but there it is. I’m okay with this, though. A lot of these cosplay kids are doing some outstanding work, really bringing their beloved characters to life through a variety of methods, including folding paper and foam floor mats. Just take a look at the aforementioned “Heroes of Cosplay” show.
Really, take a look at it. Take a look past the “reality television” drama and forced tension, and really look at the work of the people featured on the program, as well as the the other convention attendees. They are showing off some excellent work, for the most part. Sure, they have one gentleman on the first couple of episodes who seems to be fixated on Stormtrooper armor, but I do understand the idea of working with what you have. It has also shown my wife and I something called “worbla,” which is a thermaplastic that supposedly can be easily shaped, plus the ability to turn craft foam into amazing things.
Tomorrow, I’m going to start laying out what I need to get started on this myself, kicking off my exact plans for my costumes for 2014, and the upcoming convention season including LexCon, Indy Comic and Toy Expo, Indy Pop Con, and Gen Con.