The 20 Best Costumes We Saw at Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019

A Lady Death cosplayer outside of the Phoenix Convention Center at Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019.
A Lady Death cosplayer outside of the Phoenix Convention Center at Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019. Benjamin Leatherman

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click to enlarge This Mary Poppins cosplay is practically perfect in every way. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
This Mary Poppins cosplay is practically perfect in every way.
Benjamin Leatherman

Mary Poppins

Katherine Stewart’s Mary Poppins costumes are practically perfect in every way, just like the Disney character herself. And each is made with love. “I've adored Julie Andrews since I was a child so I did classic a Mary Poppins when Dick Van Dyke was in town [in 2017],” Stewart says. “When the new movie was about to come out, a friend who runs a charity organization asked me if I’d make a costume for the new [version] and I said I would.”

So she rushed to get a costume together just in time for the release of Mary Poppins Returns in December. Stewart put everything together herself, including spending 60 hours just on sewing the blue jacket. “Drafted the pattern, made a muslin of it, altered the muslin properly, and then cut out the hero fabric, and sewed it together,” she says. “It was a lot of work but it turned out nicely.”

click to enlarge Everyone needs some henchmen now and again. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Everyone needs some henchmen now and again.
Benjamin Leatherman

Henchmen for Hire

We gotta give some major props to “Ivan” and “Bruce,” the two masked rogues we saw patroling the exhibitor halls advertising Hench Co., their evil job placement company for bad-guy minions. Not only did they have one of the most original cosplays we’ve seen in a while, they stayed in character the entire time we spoke to them. And they did so while speaking with vaguely eastern European accents and speaking broken English.

“Is important for Hench Co. PR to stay in character,” Ivan says. “We are advertising.”

So what sort of evil services do they offer? “It depends. We recently branched out from merely having a regular department for regular evil. We now have space division for intergalactic evil,” Bruce says. If you need support of subordinates, we're your guys.”

click to enlarge Cosplaying characters from the 2009 superhero film Watchmen. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Cosplaying characters from the 2009 superhero film Watchmen.
Benjamin Leatherman


Brett Steurer had sort of a Jeffrey Dean Morgan weekend during Phoenix Fan Fusion. On Thursday, the local cosplayer played Neegan from The Walking Dead, one of Morgan’s most prominent roles in recent years. From Friday through Sunday, however, Steurer portrayed The Comedian from 2009’s superhero flick Watchmen, perfectly mimicking Morgan’s look in the film.

Steurer's wife, Stacey, and a few of their pals also portrayed the superheroes of Watchmen. She became Silk Spectre II while friends buddy Kevin Mahoney and Jeanna Annaej respectively became Rorschach and Silhouette.

Stacey Steurer says they hatched the idea to do a Watchmen group costume back around Halloween and spent the months leading up to Fan Fusion crafting everything, including shoulder pieces, belts, and body armor.

“We really loved the movie and we loved the details of all the props and we spent a lot of time making all the accessories with Worbla,” Stacey Steurer says. “We just really love costumes and cosplay.”

click to enlarge Someone cue up Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love." - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Someone cue up Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love."
Benjamin Leatherman

Giant Sony Walkman

It was hard to miss Connor Hinz’s cosplay project at Fan Fusion. After all, a giant, rolling Sony Walkman blaring rock 'n’ roll music tends to grab people’s attention. That’s just what it did, as the 6-and-a-half-foot-tall wooden contraption was a big hit at the con.

The project was inspired by the Walkman worn by Star-Lord in the two Guardians of the Galaxy films. As such, Hinz dressed as the hero while piloting the giant version around the Phoenix Convention Center. Hinz says he was inspired to build the Walkman after witnessing another unique cosplay two years ago at Phoenix Comicon 2017.

“There was a guy dressed as Sean Spicer who had a [mobile] podium. I loved his idea, it was super creative,” Hinz says. “So I was like, ‘Alright, I have to do something just as good. This was the result, because why not?”

Unlike, Star-Lord’s tape player in the Guardians films, this one wasn’t going to be smooshed by some villain. “Yup, that's right,” Hinz says. “You can crush this one that easy.”

click to enlarge It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights.
Benjamin Leatherman

Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem

Female cosplayer Emily Unglued and her buddies came all the way from Las Vegas to attend Phoenix Fan Fusion – and they came costumed as a famous group of Muppets. Along with friend and fellow cosplayer Elizabeth Jost, Emily created masks for each the characters in Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, the house band from the original Muppet Show. All five band members were represented, including Janice, Floyd Pepper, Zoot, and (of course) Animal.

“This is our second year coming to the Phoenix con,” Emily says. “We had a great time last year so we wanted to come back and do something special.”

According to the dude playing Animal, they also came to the Valley for another reason: “PAR-TEE! PAR-TEE! PAR-TEE!”

click to enlarge Coon and Friends in an alley near the Phoenix Convention Center during Fan Fusion 2019. - JPOOL PHOTOGRAPHY
Coon and Friends in an alley near the Phoenix Convention Center during Fan Fusion 2019.
JPOOL Photography

South Park Wanna-Be Superheroes

Local cosplayer Anton Anderson impressed us last year with his awesome take on Professor Chaos from South Park. He brought the costume back for a second time at Fan Fusion, only this time with some backup from his friends.

Anderson’s pal became other hapless, wanna-be superheroes seen in a few different episodes of the cartoon, including Wonder Tweek, Mysterion, The Coon, Super Craig, Toolshed, and the Human Kite. Together, they form the Avengers-like superhero group Coon and Friends. We're sure that  Fan Fusion attendees who are fans of South Park loved their efforts.

click to enlarge A reimagining of the characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A reimagining of the characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Benjamin Leatherman

The Nightmare Before Christmas Re-Imagined

Artful and elegant doesn’t even begin to describe the ingenious re-imagining of The Nightmare Before Christmas that was crafted by Southern California fashion designers Nat Lawson and Ken Hazlett. Inspired by the Venetian masquerade, the Italian theater, and other historical influences, the couple transformed Jack Skellington, Sally, and The Mayor from the Disney film into commedia dell’arte-like characters.

“Jack’s main inspiration is the sad clown, Pierrot. Sally’s main inspiration is the Harlequin, a trickster who thwarts his master to pursue his love of Columbine,” Lawson tells New Times via e-mail. “Mayor’s influences are the comedy and tragedy masks of the Carnivale.”

Together with their daughter, Bryn Hazlett Lawson, they wowed the crowd at Fan Fusion’s annual masquerade on May 25, earning the event’s “Best in Show” award, and rightfully so, given the stunning appearance of the costumes.

click to enlarge Prue Dense (left) as the Queen of Hearts. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Prue Dense (left) as the Queen of Hearts.
Benjamin Leatherman

Queen of Hearts

Local costume queen Prue Dense had a pretty rough go of it at last year’s con. A malfunctioning fire alarm caused the convention center to be evacuated just prior to the annual Masquerade Costume Contest. As a result, her elaborate costume gown, which depicted the Enchantress from Beauty and Beast, was ruined after waiting outside in the heat for several hours. (Thanks to a pre-judging session that took place before the incident, however, she wound up winning an award at the masquerade.)

Thankfully, Dense’s experience this year was far less dramatic. She stuck with the Disney theme and came up with an elegant recreation of the Queen of Hearts from 1951’s Alice in Wonderland. It featured a nifty trick where part of the gown is pulled out to become a giant scroll adorned with the Queen's Card Army.

“I decided to do another Disney transformation costume because I hate myself and wanted to do something really challenging,” Dense says.

Her efforts impressed the judges at the masquerade as she won third place in the “masters” category. Props to you, Prue.

click to enlarge Captain America and company at the Phoenix Fan Fusion Masquerade Costume Contest. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Captain America and company at the Phoenix Fan Fusion Masquerade Costume Contest.
Benjamin Leatherman

Captain America and the USO Girls

One of the biggest moments of Fan Fusion’s annual Masquerade Costume Contest came when this troupe of local cosplayers recreated the "Star-Spangled Man With A Plan" music and dance sequence from Captain America: The First Avenger. It was a rousing affair involving six USO Girls and others dressed as Cap, his on-screen love interest Peggy Carter, and even Thanos. The whole thing was the brainchild of Valley resident Hayl Daugherty, who worked with her friends Emma Bowen, Allison Daugherty, and Jennica Dombrowski to create the costumes. “This was my project, but I definitely couldn't have done it without my amazing pit crew,” Daugherty says.

click to enlarge Gabriel Espino's Thanos towered over Phoenix Fan Fusion. - CASSANDRA JENKINS
Gabriel Espino's Thanos towered over Phoenix Fan Fusion.
Cassandra Jenkins

Giant Thanos

Gabriel Espino of Tinker Cosplay makes amazing-looking costumes and makes ‘em big. Really big. At Phoenix Comicon in 2015, the Tucson resident debuted an enormous Frankenstein’s Monster that dwarfed other attendees. In 2017, he created a towering rendition of the villainous Samhain from The Real Ghostbusters and won a “Best in Show” award at that year’s Phoenix Fan Fest.

For Fan Fusion, Espino became an eight-foot-tall version of Thanos from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which, depending on the source, is around the same height as the character in the movies). It’s totally epic and took an equally epic amount of time to construct. Espino says he worked on the costume an average of six hours a day over an entire year creating his version of the “Mad Titan.” A majority of the body was made from EVA foam while the head was cast in resin.

He debuted the get-up at the Tucson Comic Con last fall, where it won first place in the advanced levels of the event’s costume contest. And while Espino didn’t take home any trophies for his efforts at Fan Fusion, the reactions he’s gotten from geeks are rewarding enough. “I like seeing all the people’s faces light up when they see a full-size Thanos in real life,” he says.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.