This weekend we made our way up to Cosplay Con, an event hosted by Nuke the Fridge, and held at Frank & Sons, which I had heard of before but never been to. Frank & Sons is basically a giant geeky/collectibles-oriented market full of booths. It’s a sizable convention’s vendor floor without the sizeable convention. This would theoretically be addressed by their hosting of Cosplay Con, but Cosplay Con was actually so small that I felt sorry for vendors who had made their way out there expecting to see much of anybody. This is not to say that I had a bad time, rather that it was just smaller than expected. Here were the twenty best things at Cosplay Con:
1. The Merch
There is a vast amount of merch at Frank & Sons. The above wall is just a sampling. It also could serve as a religious moment if you were one of those little Pop Vinyl Funko Dolls as I am pretty sure the above is their Valhalla where they sip mead and eat roast beef before preparing for another war to the death with the fleshy ones. Which is to say that the above might be a small army gathering to make war on their oppressors. I’m not trying to scare anyone but I’m pretty sure the little plastic guys outnumber us already.
2. Action Figures
I used to collect these little bastards, Spider-men in particular. When you look at the above car full of Spider-men quietly note to yourself that I used to own at least half of them until I ran out of money and storage space, then gave them all to Goodwill. If I still collected action figures Frank & Sons would probably have led me to bankruptcy as they had everything from classic Star Wars to action figures for Tomorrowland. If you collect action figures, head over there next weekend…or maybe you shouldn’t.
3. Magic the Gathering
I also used to collect these hellspawned bits of cardboard until it just got too expensive. I mean, they haven’t invented words yet that describe just how addictive Magic: the Gathering can be. However, if you still have a Magic: the Gathering monkey on your back, or want one for some reason, head up to Frank & Sons and you will see multiple booths loaded down with all sorts of shiny cards. They also have a gaming area where you can immediately try out your enhanced deck and even a tournament where you can justify the expense to yourself by winning. Who needs food?
4. The 501st Legion and the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club
The 501st have an exceedingly good reputation as being nice people who help charity and generally spread Star Wars love in the least annoying way possible. They also have Mandalorian Mercs, if you’re like me and you think Stormtroopers aren’t really the people you want to emulate, who are basically the same thing from the same universe but dress like cooler characters.
They were both friendly and enthusiastic groups, even if they disappointed me by not infighting and sabotaging each others booths or anything like proper rivals should.
5. The Saber Guild
The Saber Guild are a lot like the two I just covered, but a little different because they actually practice sparring and run around and such, while I don’t think 501st gets down to the firing range. This gives it a bit more of a sport-like aspect to it despite the traditional geek hatred of participating in sports. The Saber Guild puts on a reasonably entertaining show at Wondercon, where they keep the crowd from falling asleep while the apparently half-turtle judges take hours and hours to judge a costume contest for some reason. In the one I remember best, Darth Vader killed everyone, so that’s a plus.
6. Five Nights at Freddy’s Cosplayers
Being the parent of a teen who plays video games I am familiar with this series. Basically this is a game that plays on the repressed misery and horror we all subconsciously felt being at places like Chuck E. Cheese’s as children, by having evil animatronics that jump scare you and kill your character. It also has a fairly complicated backstory that is unraveled in game by navigating through really crappy-looking mini-games that resemble my first Atari system’s graphics. Regardless of my mockery, they are a juggernaut and release games faster than Call of Duty and inspired these cosplayers.
7. Alexandria the Red
Alexandria the Red is a cosplayer I have followed for ages so getting to meet her here was neat. She had a lot of time to talk because basically no one was there in the early afternoon. She was doing a Harley Quinn, who is a very popular cosplay, but she was doing the Arkham nurse variant, whom I don’t see as much. I missed her at Wondercon and got the requisite signed print and group picture this time so that was a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure if this was a step up or down for her since the con was tiny but she was a featured cosplayer, but I’ll leave that up to the cosplay gods to decide.
8. Star Wars/Assassins Creed
The Assassins are fun to play and all but the hidden blade lacks some oomph. It’s great for assassinations, but I did prefer AC: Black Flag’s dual-wielded swords to a tiny knife that only can surprise people. My point? Well, adding a lightsaber to the mix would have to help a lot. I would go preorder now if they had a stealth game where whenever it got too hairy you whipped out a lightsaber and cut somebody. There’s even some rationalization in that some continuities have had sneaky Jedi that infiltrated the Sith. Though their armor wasn’t bright white. Oh well.
9. Hip-Hop Trooper
Hip Hop Trooper is somewhat well known among cosplay circles, enough that the con was advertising he would be there. He didn’t have a booth though; he just walked around spreading love and good tidings. Also, he looked like a mishmash of the Beastie Boys and a Stormtrooper. Not to explain the joke or anything. It looked good in person though – the color was nice and he did some fun posing. He’s also a pretty good dancer, though I didn’t see him dance at this con. I might have missed it; he might dance whenever I turn around and stop when I look back. It’s hard to say.
10. Lady Magneto
I really liked this costume; the helmet is custom-made and I believe the armor is as well. Plus you have the cape, which is nicely done. Not many people bother with capes at cosplay cons because they’re sort of irritating (cue the Incredibles death capes montage).
I still dig them, though. Also, she has a Davey Jones tattoo, which is awesome because Davy Jones is awesome, even if crazy people say the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie wasn’t any good. His boat went underwater! Pirates movies aside, the judges agreed with me as she tied for first place in the costume contest.
11. Tank Girl/Harley Quinn
Here’s a fun twist on Harley, mixing her with a totally different character, giving her a bunch of bloody cuts, and a bazooka instead of a hammer. Honestly, I dig it. Not many people can perfectly imitate a superhero and so doing your own thing is cool. Besides, they are both pretty murderous and homicidal and both have blowback against their big screen adventures. I think we can safely say that they are basically separated at birth at this point. This costume was Lady Magneto’s co-winner so, again, the judges are basically reading my mind.
12. Captain N and Mario
If these were facing each other instead of you, dear reader, it would look like a Smash Bros matchup. This made me realize that Captain N has never been in Smash Brothers and that this is a cosmic injustice. Though, on the other hand, his cartoon really doesn’t hold up at all when viewed by adults. This is a good rendition anyway, with all of the Nintendo bits I craved as a child. Also, Mario’s there. Mario is a great costume because it’s basically an ordinary guy in ordinary clothes but at the same time it’s totally recognizable. It’s a paradox.
It wouldn’t be a cosplay con without Deadpool. These are two interesting variants; one appears to be Jason Todd as Deadpool and the other is Lady Deadpool, who has the benefit of being an actual character for the purists reading this. I liked these costumes though I’m not sure why he couldn’t just be a Jason Todd. Maybe he almost forgot his mask at home and grabbed the nearest Deadpool mask instead and invented a new crossover. Or maybe he’d planned it from the beginning. I have no idea.
14. Ellie (The Last of Us)
I never played The Last of Us because I was an XBOX partisan in the last console war and I’ve been too busy to pick up the remastered version now that I’m a PS4 guy. Every review of the game makes it sound amazing and like an emotional journey that might finally make video games art or whatever. Still, I’m familiar with the property and will probably play it in the next video game drought. This is a minimalist costume but it’s a really strong resemblance so that wins it back some points.
15. Pyramid Head
Silent Hill is a great video game series and we’re all sad about it’s recent bizarre failed sequel launch a bit ago. Pyramid Head is a very iconic villain and this particular version has everything you need. The body confidence to wear nothing but a sheet. The endurance to drag a giant fake weapon around for ages. The ability to make a giant pyramid head mask thing and actually wear it without suffocating. This is the stuff of legends. On the plus side, it was pretty warm on the floor, so he probably wasn’t freezing, especially with his head being bathed in the heat of his own breath. Bonus!
16. Harley Quinn and Catwoman
Group cosplays are always fun, and you have a nerd crush twofer here with both Harley and Selina. Harley is the slightly rarer roller derby variant, or so I interpret her shoulder and knee pads. With Suicide Squad the movie on the way we will see if people switch over to the pink and blue look in the near future or stick with the red and black. So far the response has been negative to the blue and pink but we all know about the nerd rage echo chamber. I’ve felt better about the movie since we found out there will be a Batmobile/Jokermobile chase. You can’t go wrong there.
17. Tifa Lockhart
There have been multiple successful Final Fantasy games since FF7, so why are we all still stuck on Tifa? It’s a mystery. I’m not complaining because Tifa is awesome, it’s just a little strange. You’d think we would have moved on to Lightning by now. Maybe it’s because the old graphics led for more people to imagine themselves as the character? Or because Tifa is sexy and many of us realized this fact when we were young and impressionable? Or maybe Lightning is just too complicated or a little boring. Hard to say.
18. Amy Winehouse Drag and Random Dancer People
Usually if I can’t identify a geeky property the additional perspectives of the wife or the teenage daughter can close the gaps. With the trio above I have no idea, though. There was also a drag show here, as you can see with Viva Sex-as-Amy-Winehouse but the girls on the left and right do not look like drag queens so I have no idea. I would not immediately expect drag queens at a geek show but there is definitely crossover with obsessive interests and costuming so it’s not totally off-topic either, just different. You can never go wrong with adding a musical element. Unless you’re talking about Russell Crowe singing. I didn’t like that.
19. Kit Quinn
Kit Quinn was another cosplayer I have heard of and she had her own booth. I mostly know her for superhero costumes so I didn’t realize she was Shae from Game of Thrones. This was apparently common as she said most people at the con didn’t seem to be Game of Thrones fans. I’ve actually been watching the show but slowly because I read the books ages ago. Still, they say the show will pass the (glacial) books this year so I’m trying to catch up. Apparently it’s too late because it seems like everyone hates the show now for spoilers I’m trying to avoid. This costume is accurate, anyway, even though I was hoping to see her Superma’am.
20. Creepy McDonald’s Zone
I hope that the people setting this up realize it’s creepy. You never know, though. Maybe someone assembled all of this hellish merchandise and thought they were making a nice picnic spot instead a glimpse into Hades. I don’t know. I’ve heard, though, that if you sit in that bench at midnight and close your eyes the plastic clown will gently put his hand on your thigh. I’m lovin’ it!
21. Bonus Entry – Sailor Moon Body Pillows
We’ve seen a decent amount of coverage on these anime full body pillows but you might not know where to pick one up. You can use the internet but how can you be sure what they really look like? So if you want to pick your creepy merch up close and personal go to Frank & Sons!