Cosplayers endured a bit of a setback at Phoenix Comicon 2017. As you may have heard, all prop weapons were banned from this year's event after a local man armed with a cache of weapons was arrested inside the Phoenix Convention Center.
While the situation frustrated many cosplayers, others took it in stride, including a few Stormtroopers who brought bananas or baguettes to double as weapons.
If nothing else, it helped illustrate the creativty of cosplayers, as did the vibrant and imaginative array of costumes we spotted at Phoenix Comicon 2017.
Costumes were pretty much everywhere during the four-day experience, which took place from May 25 to 28 at the convention center.
That included dozens of Wonder Women (because, you know, she's got a movie out and all) and a lot of Mary Poppins (owing to Dick Van Dyke's appearance) mixed in with the usual assortment of Harley Quinns, Deadpools, and other superheroes.
And, as always, there were a bunch that caught our eye due to their creative, clever, or impressive nature.
But first, a few honorable mentions: Costumes that just missed making the list, but deserve to be applauded include a Negan/Joker mashup, The Muses from Hercules, a female version of Zardoz, the Log Lady from Twin Peaks, the flock of Yip-Yip aliens from Sesame Street, and characters from Westworld (both the original film and the HBO revival series).
We’ve seen a variety of Hawkeyes at Phoenix Comicon over the years, including both the purple-clad archer straight from the pages of Marvel Comics and the Jeremy Renner version from films like The Avengers and Captain America: Civil War. This year, we encountered a Hawkeye from a completely different fictional universe altogether: Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce, the wisecracking and martini-drinking chief surgeon of the 4077th M.A.S.H.
Jem and the Holograms
Any child of the ‘80s worth his or her weight in Rubik’s cubes and Garbage Pail Kids cards would enjoy this group cosplay depicting the gals from the cartoon Jem and the Holograms we spotted at Phoenix Comicon 2017. It’s pretty faithful to its source material, right down the brightly colored attire and period-specific instruments, like that bodacious keytar.
It was hard to miss these Phoenix Comicon attendees, probably because of their hot pink renditions of iconic Star Wars characters. Calling themselves the “5-0-Fabulous” (which riffs on cosplay group the 501st Legion), they got plenty of attention at the event. The group included pink versions of a Wookie and Mon Calamari, as well as Princess Leia and Queen Amidala, the latter of which was played by drag artist Maraya Jordan. Local cosplayer Neo Cosman also portrayed a hilarious mashup of Han Solo with Reno 911's Jim Dangle known as “Han Dangle.” May the fabulousness be with them.
Edgar Allan Poe Dameron
As his nickname implies, local cosplayer Smart Alex has a wicked sense of humor. Hence his mashup merging mopey author Edgar Allan Poe with hunky X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It wasn't his only amusing costume at Phoenix Comicon, as he also came as another mashup, Sirius Black Widow (you do the math), and glorified extra Guy Fleegman from Galaxy Quest.
Voltron: Legendary Defender Lion Paladins
One of the many joys of cosplay is the ability to reimagine or reinterpret popular characters in new ways. Like this group of friends, for instance, who reimagined the pilots (or “paladins”) from Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender cartoon. More specifically, they rendered the characters' outfits in the style of the Foretellers from Kingdom Hearts, who wear animalistic masks and costumes. “We just didn't like the plain outfits for the Paladins,” says one member of the group. “So we just did lions instead.”
Samus Aran and Bowser
DIY cosplayers have a knack for incorporating ordinary objects into outstanding-looking costumes. In the case of Valley resident Shane Yearneau, he used sporting equipment, household items, bicycle tires, and even seat belts to create a getup for his friend Annie Williams representing Samus Aran from Metroid. Meanwhile, he also transformed himself into Bowser from Super Mario. Well done.
Don't let the underwhelming nature of last year's X-Men: Apocalypse flick diminish your opinion of the titular mutant. As longtime fans of the X-Men comic book series can attest, En Sabah Nur is a immortal badass and has been ever since writer Louise Simonson and artist Jackson Guice conceived the character back in the '80s. According to Guice, Apocalypse is a "true heavyweight contender as a villain" and "brutal monster of a guy," both of which are reflected in his fearsome appearance. Phoenix Comicon attendees got to see this for themselves, thanks to the efforts of cosplayer Zachary Weitzel (a.k.a. PretzelBot) of Vancouver, Washington, who came to the event as a spot-on version Apocalypse.
It helps to have to have a certain amount of patience when you’re a cosplayer, considering that it can take months or even years to put together a fantastic costume. Just ask Vincent Gonzalez of Chandler, who spent two years crafting this amazing Buzz Lightyear spacesuit using EVA foam, fabric, hot glue, and spray paint. Like the old saying goes, all good things to those who wait.
As you’d expect, there were tons of anime-related cosplay at Phoenix Comicon, and much of it was impressive. That includes this recreation of General Franky, an “Iron Pirate” and robot from One Piece, by Tucson resident Charlie Deutsch. The costume came about after he got inspired while attending last year’s Tucson Comicon. “I went there and saw other people's suits and I was like, 'I can do that,’” he says. “So I put it on my bucket list and decided if I was going to do it, I might as well go all out.”
Mech Batsuit Batman
Despite what you may think, last year’s execrable Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice wasn’t a complete and total crapfest. Helping illustate the theory that there’s occasionally cool shit to be found in bad movies, a few things about the superhero film were rad, including Wonder Woman’s ass-kicking appearance and the armored “mech batsuit” sported by the Dark Knight during his clash with Kal-El. We weren’t the only ones to think so, as this local cosplayer built an excellent mockup of the armor, complete with glowing eyes. Well done, sir.
Read on for more of the best of Phoenix Comicon 2017 — including a stellar Nebula and a perfect War Machine.
One of the highlights of Phoenix Comicon’s Masquerade this year was a joyous recreation of the happy ending of Sleeping Beauty. Cosplayers Summer Allen and JC Lawler waltzed acrossed the stage to “Once Upon A Dream” as Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip, respectively, while friends Bailey Shea, Monica Brush, and Leandra White watched on as fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Each of their costumes, including Aurora’s color-changing gown, were sewn by Summer and her mother, Ann Allen. “Both of us made everything,” Summer says. “The idea was originally for a color-changing dress that one of my friends came up with. And we kind of took that and ran with it.”
Samantha Kappler of Tucson is a big fan of the BioShock video game series. So much so that one of the franchise’s more formidable enemies, Big Sister, inspired her cosplay. "I love the games. As soon as I played BioShock 2, the first thing I thought was, I'm going to be that character. I really, really wanted to do it." And she did, creating a DIY version of its weaponized diving suit over the course of six months. “It took a while, but it was worth it,” Kappler says.
There’s typically a lot of cosplay inspired by the the Legend of Zelda game series at any Phoenix Comicon. This year was no exception, as we encountered several Links and Zeldas, as well as Justin G’s version of Skull Kid from Majora’s Mask. The cosplayer put “about 20 hours of work into the mask,” which started out as a piece of art for his wall. “Originally, I made the mask just to make it,” he says. “Then con was coming up, I decided to just make the whole costume.” It turned out great, Justin.
The Zelda series also inspired the costume of Mangus Delions of California, who came to Comicon as Beedle, the travelling merchant from the latest game, Breath of the Wild, who sports an enormous pack with all his wares. “My brother and his girlfriend were playing the game at the time and we wanted something epic and something the people would enjoy looking at," Delions says. Mission accopmplished.
Local teen Nico Pacioni was invited to Phoenix Comicon by his cousins at the last minute and needed a costume. And then he found inspiration, deciding to go as embattled White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, complete with a unique accesory. "I thought, 'You know what? I want to make a moving podium,'" Pacioni says. "So I did." He combined an old podium from ASU's Goldwater Center purchased at auction by his father, Coup de Tartes owner Ron Pacioni, with an old mobility scooter formerly used by his great-grandfather, creating a unique way to cruise around the convention center and interact with other attendees.
There's an interesting story behind why Scott Appleby of Tucson created a DIY version of the towering Arbiter from the Halo series. "It goes back to last Halloween. We had a costume contest at work and I was Flynn Rider [from Tangled],” he says. “I did pretty well, but no one knew who he was. So I vowed for the next Halloween contest, I would have a costume that no one could ignore and I decided to go with a 9-foot alien." We’re pretty you’re winning this year, Scott.
Quaid Vuncannon of Gilbert racked up plenty of praise for his replica War Machine armor from the moment he stepped into the Phoenix Convention Center. That includes earning honors at Phoenix Comicon's Masquerade, including first place in the “journeyman” category. Remarkably, it's the first time Vuncannon entered the competition. "I definitely brought it," he says.
Within the World of Warcraft online RPG, the Tauren Chieftan are gigantic warriors that wield enormous strength and are “capable of tearing through solid trees with one mighty swipe.” And at this year’s Phoenix Comicon, the Tauren Chieftan was a gigantic costume that towered over other attendees and earned plenty of awe and admiration.
A word to the wise: Any cosplay group hoping to win the "Best in Show" award at Phoenix Comicon's Masquerade each year should bring their "A" games. Or, at the very, least be better than Casey Kaki and her friends. It’s definitely a tall order, considering they’ve had some showstopping cosplay ensembles that’ve trounced the competition in recent editions of the annual event.
In 2014, Kaki and company were a horde of Dothraki from Game of Thrones. The following year, they put on a phenomenal Mulan-themed performance that involved an enormous Chinese dragon. This year, they topped themselves with a phenomenal recreation of Prince Ali’s entrance into Agrabah from the 1992 Disney flick, Aladdin. It included 11 people, elaborate costumes, choreography, props aplenty, and, just like in the movie, a gigantic elephant. It was a sight to see, to say the least.
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Local cosplayer AmberSkies does Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy and does it fantastically. So fantastically, in fact, that she's gotten kudos from Karen Gillan, the actress who portrays the character on the big screen. Marvel Entertainment also took notice of AmberSkies and helped her update the costume to match Nebula’s look in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. She was also featured in their online video series, Marvel Becoming.
“They scouted me and I went out to L.A. and they gave me access to reference photos before the movie ever came out,” she says. “And I created a perfect, 100 percent replica of what was [seen] in the movie.” And she did it over the course of three weeks using stuff she found at Goodwill and other thrift stores. “I made it from scratch with this red leather jacket I found,” she says. “I was so lucky.” And at Phoenix Comicon 2017, AmberSkies nabbed another honor: first place in the "masters" category during the annual Masquerade.