Cerulean Says!

Jan 26

Aliexpress Warning

I know I heard a warning about Aliexpress some time ago, but this needs to be shared, especially in light of the current popularity of ‘Frozen’ and how many people want to cosplay from it.  I follow Firefly Path on Facebook, and am acquainted with its designer.  She and her staff are wonderful, hardworking people, and their designs are really an inspiration to me.  I saw this on their Facebook page, and felt the need to share the word:

We have received many messages about aliexpress.com (http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-Shipping-Customized-Princess-Elsa-Dress-in-Movie-Frozen-Cosplay-Costume/1578279707.html) and other online costume companies using our images to sell the “Frozen” Elsa Gown which Firefly Path created. Please be aware these sites stole our images and used photoshop to remove our logo. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do other than send a formal request that they not use our images (which we have). We ask that you spread the word, and stress that if you order from a fraudulent company, you will NOT receive a Firefly Path quality gown (The cost of materials alone to make our Elsa gown cost well over the cost they are selling it for).
Thank you for your concern Fireflies!’

I feel that a post like this is a great reminder to do your homework when shopping for costumes, cosplay supplies, or anything of that nature online.  It’s perfectly, 100% fine if you don’t/can’t sew and wish to purchase commissioned costumes for yourself.  However, as FP’s warning shows, you really need to be careful.  Just as people can lie over the internet, so too can photos.  It’s very easy for an unscrupulous person to steal a gorgeous photo, remove and/or cover up any watermarks or other identifying details, place it on a site, and claim you sell that particular item.

The problem is, when all you see is a stolen photo, you have ZERO clue as to the quality of what you will be receiving.  As FP states in their post, Aliexpress is advertising the dress for way less than materials cost.  I’m no expert, but I would say materials alone on a dress like that would cost somewhere in the range of $300+, and a great deal of it is likely custom-made for FP.  It would be difficult, if not impossible, to make the exact same dress, let alone at a third (at best) of the cost.

So how do you avoid being scammed?  There really is no easy answer, as one can even hit snags with an established, respected commissioner.  Here are my best tips, just off the top of my head:

1) Exercise caution on eBay or other sites.  They are breeding grounds for this sort of thing.  A hint I use is to look at the country of origin (It typically says ‘Ships From’ near the top of the listing, under the price).  Exercise caution if the location is China or Hong Kong.  (This isn’t to say that all of them are bad, but a disproportionate number are.)

2) Don’t rely solely on a pretty picture, particularly if something feels ‘off’ about it.  Google Image Search is a really handy way to find other places an image is posted.  It can really help you track down suspicious photos.

3) Check out reviews.  Don’t go by the site reviews, many of those are shills (some are even bot posts by the site designed to inflate their ratings).  Your best bet is to check sites like Cosplay.com.  They have an entire sub-forum devoted to commissioners and reviews, and most of the members will help answer any questions you might have.

4) As the Aliexpress example shows, compare the price quoted with the quality of the gown in the photo.  Is the price too good to be true for what is shown?  Are you seeing a low low price for a highly detailed costume?  You could be simply lucky, or you could be getting scammed.

5)  In addition to #4, look at their turnaround time for the costume, compared to the level of intricacy.  If a site is advertising a month’s turnaround on what appears to be 2-3 months’ worth of work, beware.

6) Lastly, what protections do you have if you feel you are ripped off?  Aliexpress, for example, offers several payment options that have limited-to-no protections for a buyer in the event things go awry.  At least with a site like eBay, you have PayPal protection if things go wrong; however, you must remember to file a dispute before 45 days have passed if you need to file any sort of dispute or claim.

Above all, just keep spreading the word.

Jan 04

Masquerade and ‘Heroes of Cosplay’

Pretty much anyone who goes to conventions -be they anime, sci-fi, or otherwise- is aware of competitions (even if their label differs from ‘Masquerade’). We also all know the numbers of entrants varies depending on the size of the convention; I’ve personally entered Masquerades that ranged from less than 20 entries to 40-50. We also know that competition is not everyone’s cup of tea; most people just want to make costumes and have fun with their friends (as has been mentioned before). Also, most of us go into it with no expectations of ‘big’ awards; I’ve won cash prizes at my last two Masquerades, and that was a pleasant surprise.

While yes, it’s disappointing if you don’t win an award, it’s hardly earth-shattering. You’re disappointed, you get past it, and you work on being better for the next one. Also, considering we’re all essentially nerds in costumes, backstage at a Masquerade is a great way to talk to people and have fun (it also eases the pre-performance jitters a bit). Are there ‘win at any cost’ elitists? Of course, they’re present in just about any medium, creative or otherwise. But they are a significant minority when compared to most participants. When I was first introduced to the idea of Masquerades years before I started entering, it was that they were a blend of a costume contest and a talent show; you’re meant to show off the pretty pretty costume you made while (hopefully) entertaining the audience.

The problem with Heroes of Cosplay is it distorts both the idea and the spirit of Masquerades.  (As a note, I refuse to watch the series; however, I do keep up with it via readings from various sources.)  The first mistake it makes is in distorting the importance of Masquerade in the grand scheme of the convention.  Is it a major event at most conventions?  Sure.  But it’s far from the ‘end all, be all’ that HoC hypes it as being.

I’m going to say this right here, right now: NO competition is worth sacrificing your physical health, your mental health, or your personal relationships for.  No award you win will ever make up for people you have hurt/angered/stepped on to get there, nor will it magically make up for you being sick and/or stressed.  It also will not magically make your life complete to win an award (and it won’t take away from your life if you don’t win).  It’s taken me a couple tries to fully realize this, but this is how I view winning awards in Masquerades.  Even if I have to remind myself that it’s perfectly acceptable not to win an award (and have to stave off the disappointment I still feel…ice cream always helps me there!)

The second big mistake the show makes is turning Masquerades into ‘Mean Girls’, ‘After  School Special’-style travesties.  If you watch the show with no idea how Masquerades really work, you’d swear anyone who participates in them is a catty, cutthroat twit who values winning above all else.  That couldn’t be further from the truth; as I said above you will almost always have someone participating who espouses at least some of those views.  However, they are a significant minority, and they really won’t last in cosplay or Masquerades with an attitude like that.  It’s not to say the HoC cast believes any of it themselves; this is what’s so wrong with reality TV (and why I refuse to watch it).  Any fool with video editing experience and sufficient quantities of footage can edit any film clip to make it say whatever they want it to say.  If that means totally misrepresenting someone’s POV to increase the drama (and thus, the ratings)?  Meh, a small price to pay for the increased ratings and exposure.

Another thing that bothers me about the show is the monetary prizes they offer in their competitions.  While it’s true that many conventions do offer cash prizes, it’s still not really the norm.  Many conventions offer certificates, ribbons, and/or plaques to winners (depending on what they won).  Other prizes might include figures, artbooks, and even badges for sponsoring conventions (or a comped badge for the hosting convention).  Part of me actually likes that better than cash prizes.  You know how they say ‘Money is the root of all evil’?  I have to wonder about the drama that would occur if participants knew that (to toss a figure out there) they were competing for a $1,000 prize.

None of this discounts the fact that the SyFy crew were also apparently rude to other attendees (and possibly staffers), and that a lot of conventions refuse to allow them to film at their events.  That just makes the entire idea that much worse.  But my further thoughts on that are best saved for another time…

Nov 20

Glamatronic - Hark! A Happy Ending!

Earlier posts: http://ceruleanroguecosplay.tumblr.com/post/67106718259/glamatronic-review-shop-not-recommended

http://ceruleanroguecosplay.tumblr.com/post/67426634848/glamatronic-update

So the shop owner let me know that USPS had misplaced my package, and it would arrive by the 21st.  Well, I received it today, and went ahead and cancelled the PayPal claim.  I apologized for filing it, but mentioned the scam issues the Cosplay community tends to have from time to time.  I had also asked her for advice about eyeshadow for my next costume, and she gave me a suggestion, along with a promise for upgraded shipping due to the headaches.  Considering what a merry comedy of errors this order was, I’m willing to give her a second chance.

Nov 18

Glamatronic update

Continuing from my previous post…

I heard back from the shop owner this morning.  She apologized for not getting back in touch with me, saying she had had health issues that had sidelined her.  According to a screencap she sent me, she had sent the item, though she shipped it on 10/22 according to the ‘cap not 10/16.  She promised a refund to me if she can’t locate it or it doesn’t arrive here; I asked her to put any potential refund toward another product if it comes to that.  (I’d love an eyeshadow to coordinate with my ALA cosplay!).  So we’ll see how things turn out, though I wish she had tried to contact me sooner (or had someone contact me on her behalf), since I hate going through the whole dispute thing.  =\

Nov 15

Glamatronic Review - SHOP NOT RECOMMENDED

Okay, like most people out there I really hate having to write posts like this.  However, I really feel I need to share my experience/observations.  This is especially true considering this shop stocks makeup/jewelry/etc that might be appealing to cosplayers.  So here goes (apologies for length)…

Back when I was in the planning phases for my Valkyrie variant on Mami Tomoe, I was trying to figure out what to do with the makeup.  I wasn’t getting yellow contacts (they look really cartoony and weird to me, as opposed to slightly natural), so I decided to use yellow and brown eye makeup to give the same impression as her eye color did.  In poking around the internet, I found a couple shades of yellow and brown in Glamatronic’s Storenvy shop.  As I wasn’t ready at that time to purchase the eyeshadows, I bookmarked them for later purchase.

In the interim, I found a yellow that I felt could work better from a different source and had purchased it.  However, I was having trouble finding my brown mineral shadows, so I felt the need to purchase a dark brown from Glamatronic to use for PMX.  The evening of 9/26, I purchased the Mocha Latte mineral eyeshadow, which came out to just over $9 with shipping costs.

Although shipping T&C were not shown on the Storenvy shop, I was able to locate them on the Etsy shop (which has since been deactivated…more on that in a bit).  The Shipping terms stated that most items took about 2 - 8 business days to be finished and shipped out.  I figured I had plenty of time prior to PMX, so I would wait.  However, around business day 7 I was getting a bit nervous.  I hadn’t heard a peep about my order, so I decided to message the owner via Storenvy’s interface to ask about the status of my order.  I waited about a week with no reply before I sent her a message via her shop’s Facebook page.  Two days later, I followed up with an e-mail also asking for the order status (all correspondence included order number, item name, and when I ordered), just in case Facebook was wonky and not delivering messages.

The next morning, I woke up to a reply from the owner.  She told me that Storenvy, for some odd reason, had not shown my order.  However, my payment had shown up in PayPal.  She apologized for the trouble and told me my item would ship that day and arrive early the following week.  I told her that was fine and resumed waiting.

I gave the package two weeks to arrive, in order to account for any shipping delays.  Glamatronic complicates things by not issuing tracking numbers unless you specifically ask for one, so I had no idea of the whereabouts of the item, nor any means to track it.  After two weeks went by with no sign of it, I sent her another e-mail on 10/30.  I told her the item still hadn’t arrived, my deadline was approaching, and offered her three options to avoid a PayPal claim:

1) Ship (or re-ship, if the item was lost in transit), WITH a tracking number,

2) A full refund,

3) Credit toward a different item in the shop.

I emphasized I didn’t want to file a dispute, but I would if she failed to respond to me.  I waited until the following Sunday, then went ahead and filed the dispute after not hearing a peep from her.  In my comments in the dispute, I reiterated my terms on how to resolve the issue, and apologized for having to file (noting I hadn’t had any response from her).  By then it was PMX crunch and pack time, so I left things alone, hoping she would respond so I didn’t have to escalate to a claim.  Off and on at PMX (and later staying at my boyfriend’s place before coming back home) I checked my PayPal and e-mail, waiting for a response of some kind from her.  Needless to say, it never came; and when I checked the mail today there was no package from Glamatronic in the mail.  Since it has been nearly 2 weeks with nary a peep from her -and no item- I’ve gone ahead and escalated to a PayPal claim.

Here is where things get interesting.  (If you’re still with me, thanks for hanging in there!  Almost done!)

On a whim, after escalating my dispute I looked at both her Storenvy shop and her Etsy shop (which was gone a few hours after I escalated to a claim.  Weird coincidence…)  The Storenvy shop had no reviews; however, the Etsy shop had plenty.  Interestingly, there were about 4 or 5 reviews over the past month or so that were rated 1 - 2 stars.  In a nutshell, the complaints were similar to mine: Items took a long time (a month+) to arrive.  Reading further, one customer had contacted the seller about their item, only to be told that a) if they wanted it sooner they should have paid for ‘Rush’ shipping (never mind there was no indication of delays in shipping), and 2) The owner only works on 5 orders per day.  Another customer had filed a PayPal dispute, with the owner countering that she hadn’t been given time to respond to the customer’s e-mail prior to the dispute being filed, that she gets a lot of e-mails, and so on.  I rolled my eyes at that; if you’re getting deluged with so many e-mails that you can’t respond within 2-3 days, then you really need help with that.

So based on everything I just wrote, I cannot recommend Glamatronic for cosplay or other needs.  I understand people -especially those running their own shops- can get busy and fall behind on their orders; however, the steady lack of communication and lack of shipping do not lend themselves to a recommendation.  The cosplay community in particular already has enough problems with scam artists without me suggesting another problematic seller.  Unless this shop shows a dramatic turnaround, I will be avoiding it from here on out.

Nov 15

Sorry for going quiet, PMX cosplay prep ate my soul time and energy.  But it was an awesome weekend!  (That reminds me, I should do costume writeups of the costumes I’ve made and worn thus far.  To OpenOffice!)

Oct 03

Cosplay Charity sale

Many of us in the cosplay community have been touched by the story of Kathleen Morphew. For those who aren’t aware, she is a cosplayer who was in a horrific car accident in South Carolina on September 25th. Sadly, her mother was killed in the accident, and (as of this posting) Kathleen is out of the hospital and recovering at home. However, she did not have health insurance and the medical bills -as well as funeral expenses for her mother- will likely be very high.  In spite of its issues, ours is a good community at heart. There has already been an Indiegogo campaign set up to help offset her expenses (you can view the link here:  http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/love-for-venus-a-charity-for-kathleen, and I’ve heard of people doing similar to what I’ll be doing.

What will I be doing? My first charity offering!

This is my version of Mami Tomoe’s Soul Gem, as seen in her magical girl form in the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica (and as I’ll be wearing with my Valkyrie Mami redesign at PMX!), and I will be taking orders to make you one of your very own! This two item set will come as pictured, one decorated with amber resin beads and an orange gem, the other decorated with a pearl (the amber beads may differ slightly from the photo, but the overall design will remain the same). Both pieces will come ‘blank back’, meaning they’re reading to have a hair clip, pin back, or other fastening attached to them for wearing; or they can be attached directly to clothing, headbands, or other items.

And that’s not all! When you purchase one of these gem sets you’ll also receive one of two mystery recipes. Both are delectably sweet treats that are easy to make, as well as a hit at parties and other gatherings. I’m also in touch with a friend of mine, who may be able to contribute one more Mystery Item to the bundle.

This sounds great, Cerulean! So how much does it cost?

The entire package will cost $20. That covers everything: Materials, shipping cost, and labor (which will be donated to the campaign). For that cost, you will receive the Gem set, one of the two recipes, a letter from me thanking you for your purchase, and (if it is confirmed) the Mystery Gift.  If the Mystery Gift cannot be confirmed, you will receive both Mystery Recipes instead.

Awesome! So how do I order?

Here’s how ordering the gems will work:

I will be accepting orders until November 5th, 2013. That weekend is Pacific Media Expo, so I want to make sure I close orders with time to spare before I leave for the whirlwind that is convention time. After that, I may sell them again in the future, but I’m currently undecided.

In order to order a set from me, you’ll need to e-mail me at sabyneamberle@gmail.com . I HIGHLY recommend you put some variant of ‘Charity Soul Gem Order’ in your ‘Subject’ line, so I don’t lose your message or mistake it for Spam. Once I receive and read your e-mail, I’ll reply to let you know you’re on my ‘To Make’ list, as well as the PayPal address to send payment to.

To keep material costs as affordable as possible, when the order window closes on November 5th, I’ll be ordering all needed materials at the same time. I will be working on them once I’m home from PMX, and shipping them out pretty much as they’re finished (likely in batches of 10-15). I will try to have them finished and shipped for anyone wanting to give them as Christmas gifts, but that will be highly dependent on my personal schedule and the number of orders I get.

I want to help, but I can’t afford the set!

Don’t worry, I’m grateful you stopped by to read this. You can still help even if you don’t buy from me. You can help by circulating the link for the Indiegogo campaign, as well as the link for this sale. That way, both keep getting eyes, and we can raise more money for Kathleen.

More questions? Feel free to ask on my Facebook page (Cerulean Rogue), via the aforementioned e-mail address, or on my Tumblr. Thank you all so much for reading!

Aug 27

Cerulean’s Quickie Guide to Thrift Store Hunting

Anyone who has been in this hobby for more than a day or so realizes one universal truth: Cosplay costs money. Sometimes lots of it. Regardless of whether or not you make your own cosplays, it generally will cost you money. And as many cosplayers have very tight budgets, this can pose a challenge.

One way that cosplayers deal with this challenge is to go thrift store hunting. Most communities have at least one thrift store of some type (Goodwill, Salvation Army, independent, etc.), so getting to one is pretty easy. Because most of their items have been used, their prices are generally lower than department or specialty stores (and even on brand new items there’s often a markdown of some kind!). You can also spot some vintage items if you look hard enough, which are perfect for costumes that are supposed to represent certain periods in time.

Seeing as how I’m currently a volunteer at an independently owned thrift shop in my hometown (and seeing as how I scored an awesome fabric find in said shop…$25 worth of satin and taffeta fabrics for less than $6? I’ll take it!), I wanted to give a few tips to other cosplayers who make thrift stores their preferred hunting/shopping grounds.

So here goes:

1) Is there a right time to shop? Err…. You know how some people say ‘Psst! Stop by XYZ store early in the morning, ‘cause when they get their supply of thingamajigs you can sew onto a skirt, they won’t get more in stock for two weeks!’? Well, thrift stores don’t always operate based on that logic. See, they’re receiving donations every day they’re open for them. This means they have a LOT of stuff to sort through, test, check for issues, and put out on the sales floor (or dispose of, if it can’t be sold). At the shop where I volunteer, the merchandisers are constantly bringing items out of the back to stock on the sales floor; if they didn’t, the back area would fill up so quickly with donations there wouldn’t be any room to work. So if you go into a thrift shop first thing in the morning and don’t see that special item you need for your costume, try back that afternoon. Or the next day. Or in a couple days.

2) As you sew, so shall they stock. One ever-present obstacle for those who make their own costumes is the cost of fabric. This is especially true of people who cosplay ‘fancier’ looks, like floor-length gowns or costumes made with highly detailed brocades. Here’s another place where thrift stores can come in handy! How? Simple. Ever made something by hand, only to be left with all that excess yardage of material? Well, some people donate those remnants to thrift stores, many of which are happy to slap a price tag on it and put it out on the sales floor. At my thrift shop, I’ve seen everything from furniture upholstering fabric to silk to the aforementioned satin and taffeta I scooped up this morning. Plus, with it being a thrift store, you can often get a HUGE deal on whatever fabric you get; I’ve seen rolls of upholstery fabric leave with new owners for less than $50, for instance.

3) See it? Think you can use it? Can afford it? Get it. Believe me on this one. I’ve had more than a few times over these past few weeks where I’ve spotted something, thought ‘Ooh, I could use this for a costume. I’ll pick it up after my shift’, then watched it walk out the door with a new owner long before 2PM hits. If I had a nickel for every time it’s happened, I’d have lots and lots of nickels. My point is, thrift store merchandise often goes fast. Sometimes, it’s purchased within minutes of being put on the shelf. There are even people who specifically wait for the merchandisers to come out with new items from the back, just so they can comb through them and pick out what they want. So if you spot something you think you can use for a costume and you can afford it, you should go ahead and get it. There are no guarantees that it will still be there the next day if you go home, sleep on it, and come back the next day to buy it.

So those are my top three tips for making the most out of thrift store hunting. Got any more that have helped you? Feel free to let me know, I may compile a post of other tips in the future. Good luck out there!

Aug 20

New survey

As you can likely gather from my last posting, I like to write on whatever’s on my mind at that moment.  This survey has been percolating for a while, so I figured it was time to create it and put it out there.

This is a survey I created to look at cosplayers of all sexes and the harassment they deal with.  I created it after a) hearing a lot of people say (in a nutshell), ‘We talk so much about female cosplayers and harassment, where are the male harassment stories?’, and b) searching for those stories all over and not really finding them.  If you’d like to help me with it (or you know someone who might like to share their story), then feel free to answer the questions.  Answers will be anonymous, though if you provide details and your e-mail address I’ll contact you if I use your story.

Link to survey (closes September 30th):  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1liT3u6ZSbTFuyz-Bac1yAehkrCsDho4UICc-JX-iKDA/viewform

Aug 14

Ain’t No ‘Heroes’ of Mine.

So tonight (as of the time I’m beginning to write this piece) is the premiere of the SyFy Channel series Heroes of Cosplay, which follows a small group of ‘well-known cosplayers’ (more on my use of the quotes in a few minutes) as they create costumes, wear them, and compete in Masquerades. At least, that’s what I glean from the information provided to me about the show. Now, discussion of this show is pretty ubiquitous around the internet -especially in the various cosplay communities- and opinions are rather divided about the show and its potential impact on cosplay. Even as of writing this I’m still ambivalent about if I’ll check out the first episode, or just ignore it. I’m highly mixed about this series; I don’t feel it will portray cosplay in a particularly good light, but it may have one or two positives.

The biggest positive I can think of is to shine a light on cosplay and possibly educate people in general about the hobby. When most people think of cosplay, they really have little to no clue of the time, money, and energy that go into the hobby (among other things). Some think it’s an ‘easy’ hobby to get into, while others look down on cosplay for simply being ‘weird’. So giving it exposure and allowing people to learn about it (and further research it, I hope) can be a good thing.

However, that’s where my list of good things about this show ends rather abruptly. As I said before, I have a number of issues with the show as it has been advertised. This does NOT mean I take issue with those who are featured in the show. I have nothing but respect for them as fellow human beings and fellow cosplayers, especially since this hobby can take its toll on people at times. These are simply my personal hang-ups with the show and its premise.

~Diversity: Dictionary.com defines ‘diversity’ as the state or fact of being diverse [of a different kind, form, character, etc.]; difference; unlikeness’. When I look at the cast lineup for HoC, however, I don’t really see diversity more than I see tokenism. Their take on ‘diversity’ consists of one Asian woman (Yaya Han), one man (Jesse Lagers), and seven relatively young women who are a) conventionally attractive, and b) predominantly white (or able to pass easily as white). In truth, the cosplay community is as diverse as any other community; it has members of many different ethnic backgrounds, sexual identities, and appearances. What would have been wrong with having one or two black cosplayers in the lineup? Or how about adding one or two more men? (Believe it or not, there are a lot of men in cosplay who sew their own costumes, or do as Jesse does and make their own props, weapons, and armor.) Or how about cosplayers who aren’t the ‘typical’ size 8 or who are over the age of 30? Also, I realize SyFy is predominantly an American channel, but what about featuring a few cosplayers from other countries? This isn’t just an American hobby; there are brilliant cosplayers living all over the world. As I said before, this hobby has an amazingly diverse array of members, and this show does that diversity a grave disservice by only focusing on such a tiny, homogenized sliver of it.

~The Title: I’ll be blunt, I have a hard time picturing any of these cosplayers as ‘heroes’ of mine. The one who would fit that term closest for me would be Ms. Han, and I wouldn’t call her a ‘hero’ of mine. She is someone whom I have met and admire for her hard work and for her encouragement of others in the hobby. But me calling her a ‘hero’ feels like way too much of a stretch. To me, a ‘hero’ is someone you place on a pedestal and worship; they can neither do nor say anything wrong in your opinion, you agree with them regardless. Ms. Han, for as amazing a cosplayer as she is, certainly has said and done things that I personally do not agree with. They don’t make her a bad person or a bad cosplayer, I simply do not agree with them. As for the rest of the cast, I had heard next to nothing about any of them prior to this show being announced. If I were to meet them at a convention, I’d love to shake hands, chitchat, and invite them to join me for pizza. However, I’m hard-pressed to think of any of them as ‘heroes’, especially by the mere virtue that they’re part of some arbitrarily ‘better’ tier than I am.

Well, on that note, moving on….

~The Cast Choice/Focus: Along with my issues on the (lacking) diversity in the cast, why are they only focusing on individuals whom they deem the ‘best of the best of cosplay’? Asides from the subjective nature of who or what is ‘the best’, that attitude strikes me as incredibly boring. See, one thing I love about going to conventions is seeing cosplayers of all stripes and skill levels wearing outfits they love and are proud of. One of my favorite things to do is go a day or two in street clothes, take my camera, and take photos of cosplayers; when I do, I tell them how awesome their outfits are, ask them for tips on how they made them if they’re doing characters I plan to do, and so on. So what if they aren’t 150% accurate and perfect? People are having fun, and that’s what matters. Also, why focus so heavily on the Masquerade/competition aspect? The number of cosplayers who do competitions is only a small fraction of the community population, and there’s nothing wrong with that. By pushing the competition angle as being much bigger than it is, it also makes the ‘petty catfight’ drama that much bigger. I realize that tends to boost ratings, ‘makes for more compelling television’ and all that blather, but it certainly doesn’t paint the hobby in the best light when the women are shown as being catty and cutthroat to themselves and to one another.

Now, if you know me well enough, you know I hate and despise Reality TV. If I were to create a show like this, however, I’d scrap the competition focus and focus more on the cosplayers themselves. I would focus on a couple of cosplayers at each ‘level’ and show how they pull together their cosplays. This would be my sample lineup, which to me would seem much more interesting:

-A couple of first-time cosplayers, who are either sewing their first cosplay or pulling it together from found items.

-A couple of cosplayers who have a few costumes under their belts, but may be relatively new/only cosplay every so often/etc.

-A couple cosplayers who have been in the hobby for some time, have lots of experience under their belts, and have a decent number of cosplays they’ve made/pulled together.

-A couple of ‘professional level’ cosplayers.

If I did have any focus on the competition side, it would be downplayed, and would more show them gearing up for their performances, deal with how they felt during, and show them after the competition ended. Cosplayers are human too, and most of us support one another during Masquerades and other events. Why not focus on the positive, as opposed to goading the negative?

So in spite of the purported glitz and glamour of this show, I plan on avoiding it as much as possible. There’s little appeal in it for me, since they really only pulled it together for ratings as opposed to trying to be even slightly accurate about portraying the hobby. For the amount of time I could spend watching this, I’d rather watch something that shows a better representation of cosplay.