Nerd Culture

10 Best Costumes at Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest 2015 in Glendale

As one might expect at a geek event of its magnitude, Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest 2015 was filled with cosplayers of all different shapes and sizes. All the usual suspects were there, of course, including a gaggle of Deadpools, a slew of Solid Snakes, and multiple members of both the Justice League and the Avengers.

And with the release of the latest cinematic chapter of the Star Wars saga less than two weeks away, costumed geeks inspired by that galaxy far, far away were out in force (pun intended) at the three-day event, which ran from Friday, December 4, to Sunday, December 6.

The cosplay at Fan Fest was by no means limited to those examples, as we encountered characters from all manner of movies, television shows, cartoons, comics, and other nerd-friendly mediums at the geek extravaganza, many of which caught our eye and made our list of the best costumes we saw at this year’s event.

Mr. Robot’s Elliot Alderson and Tyrell Wellick
Some cosplay fans spend years planning, prepping, and perfecting their costumes, while others will wait until the last minute to put something together. Glendale resident Amanda Albregard and her friend Trollki fall into latter category with the getups these getups, which were inspired by the USA Network techno-thriller series, Mr. Robot. According to Albregard, they didn’t start creating the outfits portraying the show’s hacktivist anti-hero Elliot Alderson and his foe Tyrell Wellick until the evening before attending the event. “I didn't think I was coming today, so that's why we were throwing it together quickly,” she says. “We went to Wal-Mart at 10 p.m. the night before and finished at about 3 a.m.” The results were pretty good for only five hours of work.

Captain N: The Game Master
This Nintendo-inspired television series from the 1980s (a.k.a. the heyday of the NES) will never be considered the best cartoon ever by any means. That said, it will always have a special place in our hearts due to the fact we were absolutely bonkers for anything and everything Nintendo around that time and were regular viewers of the program.

Inside Out Emotions
Back at the Comic and Media Expo in October, we spotted Peoria residents Hannah Heivilin and Jake McCormick respectively dressed as Sadness and Fear from the Pixar blockbuster Inside Out. After we gave ‘em kudos for their costumes, the two said that the rest of their crew would be portraying all of the emotions from the film at this year’s Fan Fest. And they subsequently made good on that promise with this amusing group cosplay that included Malachi Quinones as Anger, Jessica Guerrero as Disgust, and Heivilin’s brother Cameron as Joy.

Fullmetal Alchemist
We'd like to nominate Phoenix's Gavin Hazeldene for "Best Dad Ever" award, if for no other reason than the fact he helped support his daughter Libby's love of cosplay and Fullmetal Alchemist by building a getup from the anime and wearing it to Fan Fest. She was eager to portray the show's protagonist Edward Elric at the event and needed someone to play the character's well-armored brother, Alphonse. Luckily, her daddy-o was happy to help out. "I do my best for my girls and she wanted to come as [Edward] and she needed a brother," Gavin says. "So dad put this together for her as well."

Mr. Freeze
Although the entirety if this group costume of heroes and villains from the DC Comics Universe – including Nightwing, The Joker, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman — was plenty impressive, Benjamin Kitts' rendition of Mr. Freeze was the best of the bunch. Older sister Samantha Kitts, who played Magpie, says she helped him start the costume before he took things over. “We worked together on it to start and I taught him how to use [different tools] and he just went crazy with it,” she says.

King Arthur and his Knights
There are plenty of benefits of being a geek parent, including the chance to share the joys of a particular fandom with your kids. In the case of the Gilliss family of Desert Hills, Arizona, parents Kellie and Brett passed down their love of silly sketch comedy legends with their three boys, Braeden, Ethan, and Kian. As such, the brothers were proudly costumed as King Arthur and two of his Knights of the Round Table (specifically Sir Bedivere and Sir Lancealot) from the 1975 comedy classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “We’ve seen it numerous times,” says Ethan, who went as Arthur. We enjoyed their costume so much that we didn’t fault them for not having coconuts or shrubbery with them.

Meiko Starling is admittedly a “huge fan” of the 1985 cult classic The Last Dragon, which involves martial artist Bruce Leroy seeking the mystical power of “The Glow,” fighting his way through the 'hood, and facing off against his nemesis Sho’nuff. Starling’s love of the flick came in handy when his original plans to do a group cosplay with a friend fell through two days before Fan Fest. So he decided to go as Sho’nuff, the film’s arrogant and ostentatious Shogun karate master. “I've always loved the movie and I actually do kung fu, so this was something I wanted to try,” he says. “People have recognized me and it's gotten attention.”

Casey Jones
As much as we’ve dug the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their ass-kicking antics over the years, we’re admittedly bigger fans their occasional ally, Casey Jones. An acerbic vigilante with a chip on his shoulder, a badass hockey mask, and a rucksack filled with weaponized sporting goods, he had a tendency to steal the scene with his one-liners and anti-hero aura anytime he popped up in the TMNT franchise, be it the original comic book, the ‘80s cartoon, or the 1990 movie. True to form, Shane Yearneau’s excellent cosplay of Casey Jones caught our eye when we saw him at Fan Fest lugging around a golf bag containing various bats, clubs, and other implements of destruction.

Cad Bane
It took Nials MacLellan of Glendale more than a year to craft this excellent rendition of insidious intergalactic mercenary Cad Bane from the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and his efforts were quite striking. So much so that we almost felt the need to grab a lightsaber from a nearby Jedi after seeing him roam the rows of Fan Fest’s exhibitor area inside the stadium, just in case we had to defend ourselves.

The Breakfast Club
While we greatly admire and appreciate the effort, abilities, and enthusiasm of local cosplayers, our favorite costume at this year’s Fan Fest didn’t involve intricate armor or an accurately recreated makeup job. Instead, it was a comparatively simple recreation of the five troubled teens from the 1980s John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club that was cosplayed by five friends and Valley residents. Hannah Nothnagel of Mesa, who played Claire, was credited by the rest of the group as the one who came up with the idea. “It's her favorite '80s movie,” says Cole Brandt of Chandler, who portrayed jockish character Andy Clark. We weren’t the only ones who dug it as numerous Fan Fest attendees gave the group (which also included Jules Scott of Tempe as Allison, Justin James of Laveen as John Bender, and Queen Creek’s Cassie O'Coyne as the bookworm Brian) props both in person and on Facebook.

Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.