Wednesday, August 21, 2013

'Heroes of Cosplay' recap: 'Emerald City'


This week's cosplay competition takes place at the biggest convention in the Northwest at Emerald City. A few new faces show up for this one.

First off, we have Chloe Dykstra of Los Angeles. She is a host of Just Cos, a webshow about cosplay on the Nerdist Channel. She's new to the world of cosplay competition and wants to garner some street cred for her show. Next up is Monika Lee of Atlanta. She's been competing for a while, but is still pretty young. She has also benefited from working for Yaya Han. Riki LeCotey is an experienced cosplayer that recently moved to Los Angeles and hopes to get a job in the prop making field. These three are joined by Jesse and Victoria, two of last week's heroes.

On to the costumes, because that's really what we're watching for isn't it? Chloe has decided to cosplay as Lydia Deetz from the Beetlejuice cartoon. She also decides to add a very large Sandworm puppet to the costume. The puppet proves to be a little problematic. Luckily for her, she enlists Holly and Jessica to help her with the building part. Now she just has to find a few volunteers to help her puppet it during the competition. To this end, she hits up her twitter followers for help, and three worthy folk show up at the con to lend a hand.

Monika has decided to cosplay as Steampunk Poison Ivy after being sent a sketch from her good friend and fellow cosplayer Jessica Nigri. Let's just say that it's a rather skimpy outfit and Monika's mother has a problem with the actual lack of fabric involved. She hits up Yaya to intervene, and the two meet up for lunch. It quickly becomes apparent that Yaya does not like Jessica Nigri at all and is worried about her influence on the young Monika. A lot is said about Jessica only cosplaying very sexy and revealing costumes. I find this just a touch hypocritical, as does Monika. Though Yaya goes on to explain that Jessica relies on the sexiness to hide the lack of craftsmanship. From what they show of her, Jessica prefers to let her legs and cleavage do the work for her. Yaya leaves the lunch hoping that Monika will take her advice to heart. She doesn't. She proceeds with the outfit as planned, much to her mother's dismay.

Riki decided to do something a little different for this con. Instead of doing a known character, she created a Hellgirl. Picture Hellboy's little sister, complete with the key arm. Personally, I really liked this costume. She initially had some trouble with the tail not being held up properly, but she devised a harness that worked pretty well. And generally anything that reminds me of Hellboy is a good thing.

Jesse needs to pull out the stops for Emerald City, and decides to make a Steamtrooper (steampunk stormtrooper). After blowing a breaker running his vacuform machine, he has to start the helmet over. Like Victoria from last week, he arrives at the con with an incomplete costume. Fortunately he has his wife there to help him finish up. In the end, he has a completed Steamtrooper fully outfitted in leather armor.

After last week's failure, Victoria is determined to impress at Emerald City. Jinyo comes up with an idea for a dress reminiscent of Tron: Legacy. Essentially they make a black prom type dress that is lit up like the bodysuits in the movie. It looks like a lot work, but Jinyo finally makes that dress light up with the help of a lot of batteries.

Yaya will once again be a judge at Emerald City. She decides to cosplay as C.C. From the anime series Code Geass. We don't get to see a lot of the fabrication of this one, but it seemed pretty straight forward.

Everyone finally gathers at the convention and the real drama begins. First, Yaya invites Victoria to meet her for a quick talk. This understandably worries Victoria. Yaya chastises her a bit for her failure at Wizard World, but feels better about things since Jinyo is along this time. The whole gang (minus Jesse) meets up for dinner that night.

They get to talking about their individual cosplay philosophies. Chloe is shocked and dismayed to find that her idea of “having fun” isn't shared by the others. In fact, the rest of the cosplay crew pretty adamantly feels that if you don't look like the character you are cosplaying, then you shouldn't do it. In other words, if you weigh 300 lbs., you can't cosplay Superman. They do try to amend that to mean something along the lines of expect a lot of criticism. At Chloe's astonishment, Yaya reminds her that there is a lot of money involved in the prizes and people take that very seriously. Chastened, Chloe nervously awaits the competition.

The Emerald City cosplay competition finally arrives, and our heroes join the line of hopefuls. The judges this time are Yaya, and Wendy and Richard Pini (the creators of Elfquest).

Here's how the competition went down. Victoria's dress refuses to light up backstage, but Jinyo finally gets it working again. Yaya quizzes her on her costume, but is disappointed when Victoria doesn't admit that Jinyo did most of the fabricating. Riki takes the stage as Hellgirl, but Yaya dislikes that she wore a red bodysuit instead of going all out with body paint. Chloe and her puppeteers prance across the stage and get a smile from the judges. Monika walks out in her skimpy outfit and gets appreciative cheers from the male members of the audience. Wendy doesn't feel that she was really channeling her inner Poison Ivy and gets booed by the crowd. Likewise, Jesse's Steamtrooper was a crowd-pleaser, but apparently didn't do much for the judges. None of our heroes even made the cut this week.

They are all quite disappointed, except for Chloe. She proclaims that she's got the competition bug and plans to go bigger and better at the next con. I hope she doesn't go bigger than that Sandworm puppet though; that was just awkward.

With episode two under our utility belts, what do you think of Heroes of Cosplay? Personally, I would like to see more of the actual fabrication of these costumes and less of the drama. But reality television thrives on oodles of contrived drama, so I imagine that part of the show is here to stay.

The next episode of Heroes of Cosplay, “Megacon” airs Tues. Aug. 27 at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.