Halloween is right around the corner, and many people are gearing up to get a decent costume for that day. For cosplayers, especially those of us who have done this for years, it’s another day that we get to go about in costume. For many of us, it’s not always a matter of making something to wear, it’s probably finding something that we already have to wear for that day.
The tricky part, is going to venues and participating in costume contests. Depending on where you are, the stakes may be as low as winning a few free drinks, to being as high as a prize of hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. Some cosplayers, however, feel the need to weigh the odds of wearing a costume (into which they put many hours) to a venue where the likelihood of it being damaged is increased. Additionally, even if all goes well, their work could still be overlooked in favor of someone simply wearing a paper bag over their head. On the opposite end of things, wearing a cosplay may be seen by some as an unfair advantage because, hey, it looks more creative than the paper bag!
So, we asked a few cosplayers if they felt like they were taking an unfair advantage of Halloween revelers when wearing cosplay costumes and here is what they said:
Neil A. – For Halloween contests, I think it’s best to do characters that are easily recognizable to non-cosplayers…the less you have to explain who you are or what verse you are from the better.
Ashley M. – I’ve never seen a cosplayer win a Halloween costume contest. Usually it’s just some random person in a costume that happens to tap into whatever the Big Thing is in pop culture at the time. Halloween costume contests are just popularity contests.
Andrew B. – Year before last, a friend and I heard about a costume contest that was offering an all-expenses [paid] four day vacation to Cancun at a Halloween event with less than 100 people. We spent the next six hours frantically working and assembled a bad-ass (if I say so myself) Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett. Entered the contest, were the overwhelming favorites…and didn’t even place. Afterward, the judge came over and kindly apologized that unfortunately, they didn’t think it was fair to give the prize to rentals.
The look on his face when I explained it was all homemade and proved it (showed him where her dress was entirely safety-pinned inside and made from a shower curtain and my razor was Popsicle sticks and hot glue) was ALMOST worth losing the vacation. ALMOST!!!
Joseph L. – I lost a costume contest to a guy wearing a party city “flasher” costume. I was in something that would have been a Dragon*Con level costume…and I was recognizable. Dude with the 30 dollar store bought costume was more popular with drunk people.
Chelsea M. – I think it’s fair. Anyone can make a good costume if they put in the effort.
Karla P. – My son’s Assassin’s Creed costume won at the local boys and girls club Halloween contest; now I’m afraid he expects mom to make him an award winning costume every year.
Erin H. – Halloween contests are not based on craftsmanship. So it’s a waste to enter those. They’re more of a “how creative can you be with no skill” thing. I saw someone dress up as a Q-tip, white socks, wrapped the rest of themselves in blue saran wrap, and wore a white stocking hat. It went over amazingly. No one cares about your screen-accurate suit.
Ariele C. – I enter non-cosplay Halloween costume contests just for fun. Actually I often don’t win next to [regular people] because usually nobody knows who I’m supposed to be. Honestly, it can be a little disheartening to put months into a costume to lose to someone wearing a store bought costume, but those are just for fun and I try to remind myself that the judges don’t know anything about cosplay or craftsmanship and I didn’t really need that $10 gift card to that place I never go.
Daren M. – I entered a Halloween costume contest one year as Jack Sparrow. People at the door were telling me “Wow, you are definitely going to win the contest!”. Lo and behold, I lost to people wearing skimpy T n A costumes. So I agree, if it isn’t a popularity contest, it is a “how much skin can you show” contest.
Esteban E. – I have used my cosplay costumes in Halloween contests and lost to mediocre costumes because of contest rules. I’m not really bitter about it, I just say that it is possible to lose so it’s not cheating. For example, 2 years ago I made a Davy Jones costume with a silicone mask full of tentacles, and lost to a muscular guy painted in green as The Hulk – because the sponsor of the contest was Heineken. So, the more green, the more points. I was not aware of that rule.
Gabrielle P. – As a female cosplayer, I can say that even in cosplay circles, sex sells better than accuracy. It’s hard to get any attention as a female cosplayer if you’re not showing cleavage or leg.
Monk A. – I had just started a new job and they had this Halloween party. Everyone was STRONGLY encouraged to dress up. I didn’t have anything except my one costume, which I cosplay to do charity work. I came to work as a Ghostbuster. I won. The following year, I dress up as something completely different, still won. The following year it’s the same thing. Now no one wants to dress up. Just saying, is it cheating? Maybe the first year, but folks need to step their game up!! The first time shame on me, 2nd time shame on them and the third time, well it is just sad.
Tin Trung P. – I live in Las Vegas and the competitions get heated during Halloween, with 10,000 dollar grand prizes. So no shame here.
As you can see, sometimes with great skill you may still lose to someone who put far less time into their costumes. Most of the time it’s fun, but depending on the prize, many cosplayers will weigh out the risks of their costume versus what they are competing against. Remember this as Halloween approaches. Your months and years of labor may be for naught against a bag-headed contestant!