Nerd Culture

10 Best Costumes from Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2015 at Phoenix Convention Center

If there's one thing that's become abundantly clear to us while covering geek culture in the Valley, it's that everyone nerds out for something, no matter who they are. That's especially true with members of the cosplay crowd, who put their particular passion on display for the world to see at local geek extravaganzas like the annual Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2015 this past weekend at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Cosplayers were everywhere during all three days of the convention, whether they were roaming the aisles, checking out comics, dropping some coin for cool shwag, gathering for the event's costume contest on Saturday night, or just geeking out.

See also: Amazing Arizona Comicon 2015 in Photos

The 'con also afforded many cosplayers the chance to meet the creators behind their favorite characters they were portraying, like when many doppelgangers of Deadpool interacted and posed for pictures with infamous artist Rob Liefeld.

Local costume enthusiasts also used the three-day event as an opportunity to try out and field-test their latest efforts. Gilbert resident Ben Wheat, for instance, debuted his new Guyver armor.

"It allows you to get an idea of how you're going to operate and how it feels to be outside and stuff like that," he says. "The weather's also nice enough right now to be in full costume and not miserable, whereas at other comicons its kind of hot."

Wheat's Guyver armor was one of the many spectacular and striking outfits we saw while out at Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2015 and is included in the following list of the best and coolest costumes from the event.

Battlestar Galactica

With Amazing Arizona Comic Con being a geek extravaganza and all, there naturally are a slew of Star Wars-inspired costumes out and about. And as much as we truly enjoy George Lucas' opus, it's become pretty standard by now to see cosplayers doing Boba Fett or Darth Vader. As such, we were jazzed to see another legendary '70s space opera being represented at the event, such as Frank Magarelli's costume of a Colonial Viper pilot from the original Battlestar Galactica.

Like ourselves, the Scottsdale resident grew up watching the show, which was considered to be a knock-off of Star Wars in its day, but has become a esteemed part of science fiction history. "I saw the original TV movie pilot back in 1978 when my parents let me stay up late to watch it," Magarelli says. "And just before the end, President Carter interrupted the broadcast because he had to give a speech to the nation and we missed the end of it." That didn't dull his passion for the show, however, which he ranks just above Star Wars in terms of personal preference.

"That's a real unfair question," he says. "For me, it's Battlestar Galactica, but it's like a hairline of a difference."

Chick-Lit Designs

Michelle Wolett isn't your average bibliophile. The local artist not only collects and reads books, she also transforms tomes into usable and functional pieces of art like handbags, purses, and covers for smartphones and other digital devices. And at her booth inside Amazing Arizona Comic Con, she wore an eye-catching skirt adorned with the repurposed pages of a German book from the 1980s. "I took out all the pages, curled 'em, and taped it all together," Wolett says. "It's probably going to fall apart soon." Maybe so, but at the moment it was one of the more unique costumes we saw at the con.

Rainbow Brite

While she wasn't riding a pompous horse named Starlite, hunting for the Sphere of Light, or hanging out with kids like Shy Violet or Buddy Blue at Amazing Arizona, local resident Shannon Page offered a quite convincing Rainbow Brite. The Arizona State University student had the blonde hair and sparkly multicolored dress that are the character's hallmarks and also was carrying a stuffed version of Rainbow Brite's sidekick, Twink.

And since the colorful cartoon character solved a mystery or two back in her '80s heyday, such as tracking down the Dark Princess in the animated movie Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, Page shares another thing in common with her doppelganger.

Charles zi Britannia and Cornelia li Britannia

If you're a geek, it sometimes can be a blessing to have an S.O. that not only tolerates your fandom but also gets into it as well. Take this married couple that pulled off an excellent cosplay of Emperor Charles zi Britannia and his daughter Cornelia li Britannia from the anime Code Geass. Camren Barry of Phoenix, who portrayed the white-haired emperor of the Holy Britannian Empire, admits that he's a devoted fan of the anime and got his wife, Chivena into it. Ditto for their costume idea for Amazing Arizona.

Like any smart husband, however, he let his better half decide which anime they were going to cosplay. "I'm the bigger fan but I've been getting her into it, so she got to pick what we were doing," Camren says. It wasn't much of struggle. "He introduced me to the series and I fell in love with the character," Chivena says. "And then from there, he said, 'Well, I could be Charles,' and we both got excited about doing it."

Marty McFly

Okay, so it's the second month of 2015 and it's starting to feel like Back to the Future has lied to us, big time. No flying cars, no rehydrated pizza, and most importantly, no power-lace Nikes or hoverboards. We got our hopes up a little, however, when we saw Albuquerque resident Dustin Kiska hanging out at the convention center looking very much like Marty McFly, including having a color-changing cap and an authentic-looking Mattel hoverboard.

And while Kiska joked at first that it was the real deal (including telling us, "I can't turn it on and ride it since the 'con staff told me that its not allowed indoors"), he finally admitted that its one of the screen-accurate props that he creates and sells online. "It's something that I make since its from one of my favorite childhood movies," he says. "I love making props."

Kiska, however, got back into character for a couple of wide-eyed kids who approached the prop-maker as we spoke to him. "Does that thing work?" one of them asked.

"It will in October," Kiska responded with a smile.


Say what you will about the geekiness of cosplayers, but they tend to be good with their hands and can get things done under pressure. To wit: It only took Gilbert web developer Ben Wheat a week to build this impressive recreation of techno-organic Guyver armor from the popular anime and manga series from the 1980s.

"Yeah, it was a speed build," Wheat says. "It took exactly a week and I spent $150 on this one, most of it was on the paint." It was a small price to pay, considering he got to show off something from his favorite anime. "I've always wanted to do it and finally sat down and built it from scratch," he says. Well done, sir.

Big Daddy and Little Sister

In the Art Deco-infused and Ayn Rand-inspired apocalyptic world of popular video game BioShock, players often do battle against bulky bio-mechanical creatures known as Big Daddies, which are genetically mutated humans grafted into diving suits. They usually accompanied by the eerie, childlike beings called Little Sisters that follow alongside and harvest vital biological substances from corpses and are pretty darn creepy, to say the least.

Setting aside all the eeriness of the characters, there's something of a parental relationship between the two characters, whereby Big Daddies will protect and defend their Little Sisters with deadly force. So this particular cosplay, featuring Phoenix resident Paul Ishii as a Big Daddy and his daughter as a Little Sister seems apropos and a little touching to boot. Plus, he did a great job creating both costumes.

Bebop and Rocksteady

Given that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman was a special guest at Amazing Arizona, it didn't surprise us in the slightest to see cosplayers dressed as the "Heroes in a Half-Shell" or other characters from the franchise. One of the better examples of such was Adam Sosa and Craig Rohrbacker and their respective portrayals of mutant warthog thugs (and fan favorites) Bebop and Rocksteady. The friends had the characters, who were henchmen of the dastardly Shredder in the classic TMNT cartoon of the '80s, down pat, as their costumes sported all the appropriate clothing and weapons, right down to the manhole cover and trashcan lid shields.

Shredder and Donatello

Another pair of friends who came to the comic con wearing gear and garb inspired by TMNT in honor of Eastman's visit were Andrea Stinson, Kevin Dorsch, and a couple of other pals. And their costumes were some of the best of the weekend, including Dorsch's fearsome Shredder getup that was inspired in part by version of the villain from the 2003 animated series.

While we didn't get to see them for ourselves, we're told that their friends played ace reporter April O'Neil and hockey mask-clad vigilante Casey Jones. "There was a group of us, we just really wanted to be [Ninja Turtles] characters for Kevin Eastman," he says.

Stinson, however, based her costume depicting tech-geek turtle Donatello as he was depicted in last year's blockbuster TMNT flick. While she admits that it was pretty weak in regards to its story, the Deer Valley resident dug how the characters were redesigned for the silver screen. The plotline could've been better, but I really liked how they portrayed the characterizations of the turtles themselves," she says. "I do like change, and the change was fine for their characterization and their looks but it needed a different producer."

Steampunk Wizard of Oz

When these eight friends first walked into the Phoenix Convention Center on Saturday afternoon, their stunning group costume depicting steampunk versions of characters from The Wizard of Oz definitely got people's attention. It's something they're probably used to by now, considering that this crew tends to amaze and astound with their cosplay. At last year's Phoenix Comicon, for instance, where they showed off a fantastic rendition of the Dothraki from Game of Thrones that won the event's costume masquerade.

At Amazing Arizona Comicon, however, they occupied the world of Frank L. Baum instead of George R.R. Martin. As with their Dothraki duds, the costumes were envisioned and created by Casey Kaki (a.k.a. Adore Le Gore) and her gal pal Alison Terry. "We all love Wizard of Oz," Terry says. "I actually dressed up as Wizard of Ozcharacters for Halloween when I was in middle school and we have one girl in our group that's actually from Kansas. And we all love steampunk."

Editor's Note: This blog has been updated from its original publication to correct a misattributed quote. New Times apologizes for the error.

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.