Monday, September 23, 2013


A disclaimer.  I don’t know any of the people who appeared on this
show.  Costume maker Jinyo has posted comments to the bloggy thing,
but that’s as close as I’ve come to meeting any of the participants
of the show.  My comments are almost entirely based on how the show
portrays the various cosplayers and their friends and, as should be
obvious, the producers of reality shows can manipulate the footage
to focus on what they want the show to be about. 

The season (series?) finale of Heroes of Cosplay aired last week on
the Syfy Channel.  Surprisingly, the channel’s website recap of the
show has no mention of what I thought was the coolest single moment
of the series.  

Called up to the Planet Comicon stage by Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew),
Jinyo proposed to Victoria in front of their fellow fans. Though I
think Jinyo might have missed a bet by not stating the proposal in
a more appropriate to Star Wars manner - I’d have gone with “Marry
me, you will?” - Victoria accepted the ring to thunderous applause.

This omission points out what I think has been the telling failure
of the series.  Time and time again, the producers went with very
exaggerated drama and ignored the heart and warmth of the cosplay
community.  That said, this sixth and final episode was the best of
the series.

Team Atlanta (Yaya, Riki, Monika) could have been the villains of
the episode, which seemed to be what the show was setting up last
week.  Yaya’s incessant whining about her brand and reputation was
as hard to take as ever, but she seemed generally concerned about
the health of one of her teammates and the bad behavior of another.

Riki took seriously ill during the preparation for the competition
and proved to be a trooper.  However, it appeared the competition
was a means to an end for her.  She wanted to raise her profile in
professional circles.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it
shouldn’t be the only thing.

Monika? Well, what can be said about a young woman who apparently
embraced her role as the nastiest cosplayer on the series.  In an
earlier episode, she was cruel and rude to Becky.  This time out,
she makes one of those non-apologies we often see from politicians
- “I’m sorry if YOU were offended!” - and the only lesson she had
learned from being called out for her behavior was to remark that
she should think about what she says before she says it.  In other
words, don’t let them see how nasty you are.

Team Los Angeles (Holly, Jessica, Becky) had similar drama on their
end.  Becky slept wearing her performance contact lenses.  She woke
with blurred vision and other related problems.  After making sure
Becky went to the hospital, Holly and Jessica considered changes to
their planned performance so that they could still compete.  These
two cosplayers combine professionalism with fun and compassion in
all of their appearances. 

Planet Comicon had a solo competition on its first day - which was
shown in the previous episode - with a group competition following
on the second day.  This group competition created some drama that
was more realistic than most of what we’ve seen on Heroes to date.
More on that in a bit.

Team Atlanta was portraying characters from some video game called
Alice the Madness Continues.  Their costumes and their performances
were nothing short of amazing. 

Team Los Angeles was portraying characters from How To Train Your
.  Their skit included a foam dragon that, like the rest of
their performance, was lots of fun. 

The Planet Comicon judges? Worst judges ever...even if they managed
to get the grand prize right.  At the prejudging, the three judges
declined the opportunity to check out the Team Atlanta costumes up
close.  How the heck can they judge craftsmanship if they fail to
do that?  

The drama of which I spoke above came when an audience member and
then a group of rude women cosplaying as all the many incarnations
of Doctor Who began verbally attacking Team Atlanta for being out-
of-town professionals.  One woman even called them “carpetbaggers.”
Another took to her blog to decry that Heroes of Cosplay made her
out to be a villain. Uh-uh, Doctor Boo, your rude behavior and your
whining managed that all by itself.

Let’s talk illogic here. The Doctor Clueless group complained that
they were competing against professional cosplayers in a costuming
contest that included decent-size cash prizes.  Oh, boo, fucking,
hoo.  Maybe the convention should have had a competition for such
non-professional cosplayers, but that’s on Planet Comicon and not
at Team Atlanta or Los Angeles.  No reasonable person could assume
they would not be competing against cosplayers with better skills.
Not to mention that the out-of-town cosplayers spent thousands of
dollars on their costumes and skit while they went with costumes of
a decidedly store-bought quality. 

Maybe Heroes of Cosplay exaggerated the rude behavior of the Doctor
Who group, but the show could not have done that if the Doctors had
not provided them with the raw materials for that.  Don’t blame the
show or the professional cosplayers for your poor sportsmanship and
manners.  That’s entirely on you.

There was a surprise bit of drama during Team Atlanta’s skit when
Yaya’s crown fell off her wig.  I was afraid the judges would focus
more on that than the exceptional costumes and skit.  Fortunately,
they didn’t.  As negative as I have been about Yaya and her crew,
they were clearly the best of the show by a wide margin. 

The other choices of the judges were ridiculous.  They awarded the
Doctor Who group the prize for “craftsmanship,” which was patently
absurd.  My speculation would be that they wanted to give some kind
of award to these disgruntled cosplayers to appease the Kansas City

The judges also gave an award for best individual performance to a
member of a “fairies” group.  Unless the young woman’s routine was
a heck of a lot more involved than what was shown on the program,
this was another poor choice.  From what I saw, it was more or less
typical dance class stuff without the hideous child abuse of Dance
.  Again, I’m speculating this award was given to curry favor
with the locals.

Digression.  If the second-day competition was for groups, why is
there even an award for best individual member of a group?  I was
baffled by that notion.

Digression question. Is the up-to-the-last-minute costume making a
typical thing for cosplayers?  Do they really leave this important
element for the last minute time and time again? Could that be part
of the thrill of competition for them?

So Heroes of Cosplay comes to an end.  If it returns for a second
season, I’d like to see less exaggerated drama and more of the fun
of cosplaying.  I’d like to see more with the floor costumes.  I’d
like to see the cosplayers whose costumes might not be of the most
high quality but are just having a great time dressing up as their
favorite heroes and villains. 

Fangasm is next from the Syfy Channel and debuts tomorrow night at
10 p.m. Several fans are living together as they compete for a job
with Stan Lee’s company.  The promotional ads for the new show are
mostly awful, but I’m going to give the series a chance.  Look for
my comments in a near-future bloggy thing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. Holly, Jessica, and Becky are easily the best folks on this show. They seem to me to be the Warriors Three of cosplaying. As for Yaya, if she should drop off the face of Earth (or at least this show), she'd barely be missed by me, but because she gives the audience a good villain to hiss she'll more than likely be back should there be a second series.

    And hopefully we'll see Chloe Dykstra back as well as more male cosplayers.

    I've rarely been around bad Doctor Who fans (and that's a heckuva lot), but the DW ladies made me ashamed. The last thing I would ever relate to the good Doctor is rudeness and bullying. That's should never, ever be what our fandom is about.

  2. I agree with Tony and deboss1 on the DW cos-players.The fans of the show/character that I know personally or have met at cons have been welcoming and fun to be around. Like you say maybe the show's producers did take somethings out of context, but it seemed the DW folks had a chip on their shoulder. I agree with Tony that, while we didn't see all the performers, they were probably given the award because they were local and they might have raised a stink if 'carpetbaggers' took all the prizes.

    I was almost tempted to play the Yaya drinking game that Tony suggested earlier, but it was a work night and I knew I'd be smashed by the second round of commercials.

  3. To be fair to the Doctor Who coslayers, I am given to understand that their outfits were all homemade. That's the only nice thing that I have to say about them. And you know what they say: If you can't say something nice, talk about yourself!

    Digression Answer:
    For some reason, a LOT of cosplayers arrive at conventions with their costume in some state of incompletion. Of course, this is not the outfit that you might see them wearing on the first day of the con. That's the day you trot out something simpler, or something you've worn before. You save your most impressive/newest costume for the biggest day, which is often Saturday (because the most people attend, and therefore will see your hard work). This also gives you an extra day or two to finish your costume.

    At a recent party, I asked the guests (all of whom were experienced cosplayers, and very few of whom were on the Heroes Of Cosplay show), "who here has worked on a costume at a convention?" The answer was nearly unanimous, with the exception of my one friend who is scrupulously punctual. I also asked "Who here has brought a sewing machine to a con THIS YEAR?" Here again, the answer was nearly unanimous, except for Mss Punctuality (obviously), and another friend whose only reason for not having needed a sewing machine was that her outfits were mostly steampunk, so her con-hotel-work was more concerned with gluing on gears and the like, and not sewing.

    For the uninitiated, it is one thing to still work on a costume in your hotel room, since hand sewing or gluing details is not an unusual activity at the last minute. But bringing a sewing machine to a con is a wholly different level of last-minute work, because it implies a great deal more sewing is required, and the desperation is great enough to outweigh the inconvenience of traveling with a sewing machine.

    To be sure, I didn't used to do so much last-minute work on my costumes, but as my costume ambitions grew and my projects became more elaborate, costumes started taking longer and longer. I don't know why last-minute costume work is so common among a certain level of cosplayer. My guess is because costuming is unpredictable. If you want to sew a shirt or an A-line dress, you can buy a pattern off-the-shelf, follow the steps, and have a finished product in a predictable amount of time. This is even more true if you have sewn the same type of dress several tims. But there are often no step-by-step instructions walking you through a new costume. Each project is a brand new experiment, forcing me to learn a new skill or technique. (That skill, incidentally, never seems to be time-management.) You never know what the resuts of an experiment will be, or how long it will take to get the results you want.

    There are cosplayers who like to wear something new at each convention, and they tend to run afoul of this last-minute costuming more often. Some folks make a costume, then proceed to wear it over and over. Those guys don't have this problem as much. Maybe a bit of repair work of something breaks, but that's about it.

    The participants on the Heroes Of Cosplay show were under an additional time pressure, since the conventions were spaced a week or two apart, and were manddated by the production schedule. That's why "I made this in only a few days" is a mantra you hear repeatedly on the show. Typically, one spends much longer on a costume, especially if one plans to compete. (Except for Yaya, who truly makes incredibly detailed and beautiful costumes, incrediby quickly.)

    I keep hoping the producers will change the title of the show to Heroes Of Swimwear, because I could crank out a bikini much, much faster than I could make these costumes, and spend the rest of my time on the beach.

    Glad you're feeling better!

  4. Jinyo...

    First things first. Congratulations to you and Victoria on your engagement. That was a very cool moment.

    Second...oh, man, if I had to abide by that "if you can't say anything nice about anyone" rule, I wouldn't be able to blog. :)

    Third...thanks for your insights into cosplaying. They are greatly appreciated.

    Hope to see you and Victoria on the con trail next year.

  5. Just to point out, everyone who was not a Hero was not aware of the changes in the cosplay event. They [local participants] had to come up with a skit that exact day the episode was filmed, and had not even known they were to be a part of HoC until they were presented with contracts for their participation from Scyfy.

    While there were rude exchanges, it's hard to fully blame the Doctor Who group. Having a bunch of notifications bombarding you in one day is very difficult to swallow, and to find out as well that the friendly masquerade had become a competition against renowned costumers pretty much just landed a nuke at base. For a smaller convention, there are rarely separated categories/serious competition, so you can probably imagine the immense distraught for yearly participants to walk in and find out the only way they can participate in the event was by signing a contract to be on the show.

    Well, that's just something in defense of the Doctor Who group. I doubt they're always bitter, and it's important that people don't take their rude comment out of context and explode it into pure hate. We've all been under that crazy stress where we just want to bite someone's head off.