One reason to go to any sort of convention is to take in the craftsmanship of the costumers who flock to the event, portraying their favorite characters. Some work for months to assemble their meticulous costumes, while others throw together what they have. The passion and excitement that each one brings to the convention floor is infectious.
We spent hours walking the convention floor to stop and ask costumers what appealed to them the most about the characters they were portraying, and how they put them together. Here are some of the things we learned from them: to a person, were passionate about what they had dressed up as, and readily identified with the characters they were portraying.
These 26 individual costumers represent just a fraction of the costumed characters present over the course of the weekend, but embody the excitement, enthusiasm and energy that filled the Javits Center in midtown Manhattan.
- Anthony Paladino, Imperial Navy Trooper (Star Wars: A New Hope) The commanding office of the 501st Legion's Empire City Garrison, Paladino noted that he put together his uniform because "it was my favorite action figure growing up. I just thought he looked cool; distinguished." He purchased most of the costume from specialty vendors, and assembled the parts.
- Sam Mchale, Female Hellboy This build was done with a simple yoga mat and some expanding foam, which Mchale carved into Hellboy's iconic hand. "Hellboy has been my favorite since I was a girl, and is the one I always wanted to do."
- Tanya Wheeloch, Peggy Carter (Captain America: First Avenger) "She's an amazing female role model; she can be strong but feminine." Wheeloch noted that she commissioned much of the costume, which was sewn from scratch.
- Olivia Gomez and Andrew Cabezas, Vault Dwellers (Fallout 4) "Fallout brought us together," Olivia said. "My Tinder profile said 'Currently obsessed with Fallour 4." The pair did a lot of thrifting for these costumes: they purchased the bodysuits and modified them with whatever they had on hand.
- Mark Rentflejs, Darth Maul (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) "I joined the 501st Legion with a biker scout. I was looking at various costumes, and Maul was a deficiency - there weren't too many of them." He ended up constructing the costume from scratch, with the exception of the boots. He had minored in theater and costume/makeup design. He noted that it only takes him three hours to transform into the Sith Lord.
- The Willis Family: Angie, Dan, Cole and Logan. The Fantastic Four Dan: "I have been a comic fan since being a kid, and was always a fan of the Fantastic Four." The Thing was constructed with couch foam and carved EVA foam, with rock effect paint. The rest of the family's costumes were simple bodysuits that they modified. Angie and Dan went to NYCC in 2015 together, but they decided for 2016 to do a family ensemble.
- Ken Nakayama, Iron Man (Iron Man) Nakayama first fell in love with the armor when he saw the first Iron Man film. His set of armor took him six months to construct out of EVA foam. It's easy to put on: it took him fifteen minutes in all.
- Joy Delasalas, Pharah (Overwatch) This costume took two and a half months to construct. Delasalas first made paper templates, with detailing copied from a book about Overwatch, which she then transferred to EVA foam. Why do the character? "It's badass armor."
- Andrew Northarup, Master Chief (Halo 3) When asked why he wanted to portray Master Chief, Northarup noted that "he doesn't quit! He does what he needs to do, and has an incredible sense of right and wrong." He commissioned this costume from a builder in the UK, who constructed it out of EVA foam.
- Ella Blott, Ms Marvel (Marvel Comics) Blott constructed her costume out of various paints and items she found on Amazon. "I was interested in doing something new - she's a teenager and a person of color, and she's nerdy." Her best moment at the con was running into another version of Captain Marvel, and having the chance to hero worship in character.
- Mary Kate McLoughlin and Amber Dubill, Yates and Holtzman (Ghostbusters) "I'm an engineering student and I loved Holtzman!" Dubill said when asked about their costumes. She was the one who constructed the backpacks, using a 3D printer, plastic boxes, colanders and a pair of computers she tore apart. McLoughlin did the jumpsuits, sewing on patches and ribbons to the ones she found online. "I loved the new movie, and I loved the representation and portrayal of women."
- Ayoka Francis, Aayla Secura. (Star Wars: Attack of the Clones) Francis sewed the costume herself in four days. It's constructed with fabric that she found at Joanne Fabrics put it together using her grandmother's sewing machine. The Lekku are filled with polyfill. Jedi Knight Aayla Secura appealed to her because "I like her devotion and strength." The character also also one of a limited number she felt she could portray comfortably. "I like Star Wars, but most characters are caucasian."
- Devon and Will Sherer, Lee Lemon and Female Philip J. Fry Devon noted that they were both huge Futurama fans, and that they wanted to have some fun this year gender-bending the two characters. They both appreciated that the show was goofy, and that it featured a great female lead.
- Jared Vasquez, Sand Trooper (Star Wars: A New Hope) "I've always loved this [trooper] when I was a child. I came to New York Comic Con in 2015 and met the 501st. It's become an addiction." He used hairspray, fullers earth and watered-down acrylic paint to weather his AP-style armor.
- Shannon Boyle, Jim Holden (The Expanse) "I see a ton of myself in [Holden]," she said. "Has trouble seeing the grey in black and white. Plus, I have an obsession with coffee." Boyle purchased a Dicky's jumpsuit and removed the patches. She found stickers, which she reinforced and sewed onto the front and back, noting that proper patches were still hard to come by.
- Mehdi Jaffery, As Kuang (Smite) A friend helped Jaffery assemble the costume with foam. "The character is my second favorite. I looked at it and thought: 'I want to cosplay this!". He had trouble putting it on on the way to the convention, and was helped by fellow con-goers. "You can always count on strangers to help."
- Elisa Forysinski, Mercy (Overwatch) Forysinski spent three months researching every component of this costume, constructing it out of foam and plastic. She decided to portray the character because "I've played almost 200 hours [of her] on Overwatch, and it's also because she's a medic and a bit of a badass. I like being able to turn the tide of the game with one res."
- Jenna Pierre, Princess Allura (Voltron, Legendary Defender) Pierre sewed the body suit together herself after forming the parts on paper. While at the con, she found a larger group of Voltron characters and joined them. "I like the humor in the show; it's relatable. It's a group of friends coming together."
- Erin Natal, Eleven (Stranger Things) "I loved Stranger Things. Hopper is my favorite, but Eleven appealed to me as a girl. I like to cosplay as characters I can pass as." Natal noted that she found the dress on Etsy, and added on the white collar. The biggest part was her hair: rather than go with a blond wig, she decided to shave her head.
- Mark Lynch and Sharon Ireland. Magneto and Mystique (X-Men, First Class) The couple regularly cosplay together, but for NYCC, they wanted to portray an on-screen couple. Mark constructed his own helmet, and modified a purchased costume, while Sharon noted that her latex details took seven hours to apply.
- Fatima Iqbal, Resistance Pilot (The Force Awakens) Iqbal commissioned the costume from a vendor, who constructed each of the parts. "I think they're fighting for a noble cause and helping the little people. They're true to their beliefs."
- Armand Bodner, Doctor Fate (DC Comics) Bodner sewed everything from patterns, and created the details from scratch: He sculpted the amulet in bondo and cast it in resin, while the helmet is EVA foam and coated in fiberglass. "I enjoy choosing obscure characters. There's a million Batmans, but only two Doctor Fates."
- David Narozniak, Tony Patryn and Alicia Stermer, Renly Baratheon, Hodor and Cersi Lannister (Game of Thrones) The three met at a board gaming group, and for the last three years, have gone together as a group. This time around, Patryn noted that he wanted to do Hodor. "I'd seen Hodor cosplays, but never with a door. I'm regretting it." The others followed suit with other characters from the show.
- Bill Kriney, aka BCK Cosplay, Lex Luthor (DC Comics) Kriney's build took five months and cost around $500. It's constructed from EVA foam, epoxy resin and car paint. Platform shoes give him some extra height. His primary concern? Heat exhaustion. "I almost passed out yesterday."
- Brandon Williams, Prince (Inspired by Saga) Williams ripped apart an old television, padded the inside and replaced the screen with a piece of tinted plastic. Saga appealed to him because "I like any story that goes against cliches." He painted it teal to raise awareness for ovarian cancer.
- Ray DeForest, Zapp Brannigan (Futurama) "I designed the parts and had someone sew them together. I tried to adapt it to the real world." DeForest noted that he was celebrating his 58th year, and wanted to do a mature character. Why portray him? "He's awesome! Everyone loves him!"