They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and after hanging out at Gen Con on costume day, I would add that cosplay is the sincerest form of devotion. People dress up every day for Gen Con, but Saturday there is a parade and a costume contest and it is also the busiest day. So, if you want to see the best of the best for costumes, you need to come Saturday. I saw scores of unbelievable costumes, more than I could possibly photograph or tell you about. I stopped some of these intense cosplayers and talked to them about what they put into their costumes and why they chose to spend their day impersonating these well-known characters. People had put anywhere from a day to 600 hours into their outfits and the average cost per costume for the people I talked with was around $250. And as to why: "Well, we are obsessed with Magic and the characters and the lore," said one Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker. "I just love any excuse to dress up," said one feline warrior. "I feel like the day I say, 'Oh, I couldn't dress up because I'm not sure what people will think,' is the day I've gotten too old."
The details are what made the costumes impressive, from copying exact fabric patterns of characters to choosing the right color light saber; these guys knew every detail about their characters be they movie and video characters, anime or just generic steampunkers. And it's the details that drove up the cost, too, apparently. "These goggles are probably the most expensive part," explained one pair of technologically advanced Victorians. "They probably cost $150."
I watched the costume parade and I even took a video of the whole thing for you guys so you could feel like you were there. Unfortunately, though, I was in front of a shrieking girl and it was so obnoxious, I didn't want to subject you all to it so I didn't upload the video. Sorry guys. I went to the costume contest, too, and while it went long, it was pretty fun. They opened the show with a group of highly talented belly dancers who danced to the Doctor Who, James Bond and Men In Black themes, just to mention a few. There were more than 100 contestants in the costume contest and there was everything from a whole band of steampunk Ghostbusters to an adorable 4 year-old dragon who said, "RAWR!" The costume contest did run long and so unfortunately, I had to duck out before they announced the winners, but not before I heard Luke Ski perform this awesome Disney/Star Wars song.
I had to duck out of the costume judging because I had a first date with Nerdcore to keep. Nerdcore is a hip-hop sub-genre that is by nerds about nerds for nerds. A certain 16-year-old neighbor introduced me to the concept of Nerdcore before Gen Con and I knew I wanted to see it in person if I had the chance and, lucky for me, Professor Shyguy was coming to town. I didn't really know what to expect , but this guy knew how to put on a show. The ballroom wasn't packed, but that didn't stop Professor Shyguy from performing with abandon. He sang, played a duct-taped guitar and mixed chip music with unparalleled energy and was highly interactive with his audience, jumping down off stage to run back to the people hiding in the back and dancing with the two dozen people or so dancing up by the stage, which even including dancing with your intrepid Gen Con reporter for a while. Overall, it was a really fun experience and my only complaint is that at forty-five minutes, it was over too quickly.
After that, I headed over for some sci-fi drinking songs with Marc Gunn and that was packed. I hadn't considered actually bringing alcohol with me to hear drinking songs, but I was one of the few. Gunn even had a glass of Guinness he was sipping on through the show. Dressed to the kilt (literally) Gunn stood up front like a real Irishman (who wasn't Irish) with an autoharp and he led the group through a high-rollicking set of classic drinking songs with a geeky theme, everything from Jayne to Don't go Drinking with Hobbits to Doctor of Gallifrey. The whole room was singing along and it was obvious this was not their first Marc Gunn show for many people in the room. It was raucous and hilarious and a good time for all.