Cosplay Shenanigans – Pride Edition: BEHOLD, The Rainbow Raider!

rainbowraider

 

Yesterday was an awesome day.

I woke up, and the United States is MORE FREE…. all that “Liberty and Justice For All”

RainbowRaiderProfilePic

Part of cosplay is about expression, and part of it is about celebrating things that we like.  Many of these things are abstract ideas, and that is why many of the comic book heroes we cosplay, ourselves are avatars or representations of such ideals, or have become synonymous with such symbols like Batman with dark justice, or human perseverance.  Wonder Woman and [Carol Danvers] Captain Marvel represent the strength of women and the struggle they continue to face at a male-centric world.  The Spectre is literally an embodiment of otherworldly justice. Continue reading

Lego the Champion vs Kre-O the Underdog for SDCC Exclusive Brick Dominance!

LegoSDCC

 

Collider first revealed the last San Diego Comic Con Exclusive, which is pretty awesome….

… at first glance. Continue reading

Cosplay Shennaningans: My Hottest Cosplay So Far: HEAT WAVE!

 

A couple of months ago, for the colder seasons, I made a Captain Cold costume.  Apparently, my Flash Rogues kick is still kicking (see, I am much better at cold puns), and it so happens that one of my friends wanted join me and make him a partial Heatwave costume.  That is, all the orange parts and the heat gun  since he already has the bodysuit. Continue reading

An Anime Expo Retrospective: The Long Beach Years

 

 

 

Anime Expo, a
Thirteen-Year Retrospective
Part One: the Long
Beach Years
When I came back from Anime Expo 2014, I realized it was my 13th consecutive Anime Expo.
Sigh.
Yes, a sigh, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s a sigh of exhaustion from all the
different things I did.  It’s a sigh of
both joy and sadness as I saw, but had to say goodbye to, some longtime
friends.  It’s also partially a sigh of
some deep thought, since Anime Expo used to be the most exciting thing of the
summer, at some point even more than San Diego Comic Con.  Now, it’s not, and not simply because of
SDCC.
The Long Beach Years (2001 -2003)
I first went to Anime Expo in 2001, the summer after my junior
year in high school.  These were the
years (2001-2003) that it was at the Long
Beach Convention Center, right after AX was asked to not come back to the
Anaheim Convention Center, for one reason or another.  I think it involved cosplayers going to
Disneyland and being mistaken for character workers, and this was the mid
1990s, where cosplay was anything but mainstream.
The convention would be mostly held within the convention
center itself, with the lower 2-3 halls housing the exhibit hall, the ballrooms
above would have the panels, workshops, karaoke, and viewing rooms.  The Long Beach Terrance Theatre housed the
main events, which were the opening and closing ceremonies, the concerts, the
Anime Music Video contest, and the Masquerade.
There was one limitation of this venue, which was the space
in the exhibit hall.  It got to the point
that the fire marshal had to close down the exhibit hall for being too crowded,
since it violated fire ordinances. Thinking back, that seems so odd, because it
never felt crowded like it was in recent conventions.
AX2001 Pricetag: $120, most marked down from $200.  these days, Ebay has them for around $500.  Thank goodness for the recent Fortress Maximus re-release, eh?

 

This was also the time that the internet and shopping was a
bit of a novelty, and you could count the large online sources of Japanese
Imported Collectibles one one hand.  I
think there was Hobbbylink Japan, Bigbadtoystore, and in a distant third,
Wizzywig.com.  Certain things were at high demand.  I
was very much entrenched in the Transformers fandom, and since the Transformers
convention at this time was not always in California, AX became my defacto
“Botcon.”
In 2001, the FIRST thing that caught my
eye was BigBadToystore’s $120 pricetag for a Transformers: Car Robots Brave
Maximus.  That $120 pricetag is
ridiculously cheap for a remold of Fortress Maximus.  All the other sellers were slashing their
prices (from as high as $250)  to match
their awesome price.  Sadly, I was a high
school junior with no job, so even $120 was too much for me.
(That’s God Ginrai in the bottom center… Yup, 2/3 of this pic came out of past Anime Expos while the remaining 1/3, the right side are American toys that i wish i had obtained at an Anime Expo )

 

The year after that, while my friends and I attended the
opening ceremony, I left halfway through because it bored me.  I went into the exhibit hall, and saw
Hobbylink Japan’s booth with their Japanese Rereleses of G1 Transformers (this
was the early 2000s, so it was the first time this was happening).  It was just the opening hours of the
convention and they were at their last Reissue of God Ginrai and G1 Megatron,
and both were discounted.  The God Ginrai
was down from $120 to a mere $30, and the G1 Megatron was down from $150 to
$80.  I quickly snagged the toys, but
that was it for most of my shopping budget.
I rounded off my shopping with the then-Japanese Exclusives of the
Transformers non-transforming PCV figures…. Yes, Transformers that neither
transformed, or moved… Yup.
I was also a giant robot fan, but Soul of Chogokin toys were
too expensive for me to afford, so I settled with the larger, but less
functional Vinyl Mazinger Z and UFO Grendaizer figures that I got for $30
each.
Since I ran out of money fast,
I learned to appreciate the other activities.
The guest panels did not appeal to me much, since I was not caught up
with the latest anime and manga at the time.  The karaoke room,
which was open for 24 hours for most of the convention became the standard
meeting place of the group of high school friends I carpooled with.  Even though I was mostly a spectator, I
enjoyed the different kinds of performances, and actually got me into the anime
that had more interesting songs.
A masquerade entry: Jon Talbain, the Warewolf from Darkstalkers.  Still awesome by today’s standards!  (this pic also shot on film and scanned, hence the overexposure)

 

The viewing rooms were great because they were
air-conditioned, but not saturated with people.
They also, at least during those and the Anaheim years, had these
waterjugs at the back of the room, so you could get refreshed and recover in the
room, and even fill up your water container while you were at it.  The anime being shown were pretty nice, too.  If I can remember, the rooms were separated
loosely by type.  One room would have the
current popular Americanized anime being shown in their dubbed versions.  Another room ran 1-3 episode tastes
(basically 1 volume of a series) of the current popular anime from studios like
CLAMP.  Another couple of rooms (this was
the majority of the rooms, maybe 2-3 viewing rooms) showed not-so-new anime,
but ones that were being sold and distributed on DVDs (and VHS at the
time).
These were the days when Final Fantasy IX and Chrono Cross cosplays were new and popular!

 

This is also the time I started to appreciate cosplay.  Back then, in late 1990s and early 2000s, the
cosplay community felt very elitist, so I was afraid to start out and be
anything but amazing.  At the time, I was
only a spectator, and far away from being a participant in the cosplay
scene.  Heck, I barely even took pictures,
as this was the time when people still used film on their personal cameras.  That makes it around 24 shots per roll of
film, plus accounting for mistakes/retakes, and that’s not a lot.  My
first year, I think I ended up with 12 pictures that developed well.

One of the groups participating in the Masquerade: an Ah! My Goddess group.
My first cosplay was barely even chronicled for posterity,
since I either had them in film and lost the negatives, or I had them in
digital versions, but chose to store them on some late 1990s media-storage
sites.  I know some of them made it to my
old Xanga (yes, it’s that long ago) blog, but even that data is now lost.  It was, however, a simple costume, one that I
thought at my level, I could pull off.  I
was into Digimon back then, so I thought I would go cosplay as Henry Wong from
Digimon Tamers.  I already had a black
shirt, brown pants, and white sneakers, so all it took was a quick trip to the
local store to get an orange vest and some white wristbands.

No pictures exist of my first cosplay… I think.
Since it was also a time of limited internet imports through
very specific stores, between these Long Beach Anime Expos and my first US
convention, Transformers Botcon 1998, I had started a friendship with another
transformer fan.  I met this dude at
1998, and it was not until I saw his products again at Anime Expo 2001 that I remembered him.  We talked about Botcon,
and Transformers, and thus  Dahveed Kolodny-Nagy
became my first convention friend.  For
those in the Transformers Community, Dahveed’s store, Toy Hell, is still rather
prominent.  He finds and sells a lot of very odd Transformer and Brave Saga
toys, some knock-offs, and a lot of licensed Korean versions of toys.  He would also later film the documentary “Transform
Me,” a documentary about the Transformers Fandom.  Back then, he was just my friend who gave me
a good discount on a knock-off G1 Daialtas, and threw in for free an amusingly
named knock-off of Beast Wars Magnaboss Silverbolt, “Super Cock.”  I would eventually start working part time
for him in his Smorgasbord Productions, helping create awesome characters.
Dahveed peddling his “Super Cock”…. No, really, look at the name of the action figure!
By the end of 2003, Long Beach was getting to be a little
too small for Anime Expo, and the problems of the exhibit hall filling up
became more and more frequent.  By 2004,
there was a new venue, and I suppose the problems have, at that point been
resolved, so Anime Expo can return to the Anaheim Convention Center.Next Stop: AX, the Anaheim Convention Center Years!

John Garcia is an English Teacher, Cosplayer, and fan of robots.

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My Anime Expo 2014 Journal (also included: a LOT of creative Sailormoon Mashups!) by John Garcia

My Anime Expo 2014
Journal
By John Garcia
July 2, Wedesday: Day 0 of AX 2014
I teach a summer class from 7 am to 10 am, and amazingly the
timing works out so that it’s the finals for this summer session.   I wrote the exam to be a half MLA format/
half House on Mango Street multiple-guess exam on a scantron, so I can give the
test, and run the scantrons on the machine, finish grading by noon, and I’m
done.  Most students finish the exam
within an hour, but as one of the last students finishes his exam, a student
comes in, deer in headlights, realizes what’s happening and asks the obvious “Today’s
the final?”
All this unpreparedness moved my schedule up from hopefully
finishing at around 8:15 am, to finishing at 10 am, and I still had to fill out a
separate scantron for that irresponsible student, to finish grading.  I finally finished grading at noon.
This gave me just enough time to go home, get lunch, take a
shower,  drive to the Metro Light Rail Blue Line and get to the LA
Convention Center by 3, wherein Industry Registration starts.
I got home, and friends’ tweets and Facebook statuses were
all complaining about how long the line was.
I figured it did not apply to me since I was going through the Industry/Press/Media
line.  I got a message from my friend in
the Industry line.  The line, as I
suspected, is relatively short, but…their servers crashed. So that’s why the line was so long.
At this point, I figured, I would just leave registration for
Day 1.  Instead, I did some final touches for my costumes, and did a couple of trial pictures of my new props with retrorefletive vinyl.

Having reflective material preserves the prop’s “glowing” illusion even, or especially when someone is using Flash photography.  This isn’t true for LEDs.
I found out later that all those friends complaining went
through hell, with no umbrellas under the afternoon California Sun.  Here’s a link to this illustration showing
how long the line was at 8:45 pm.  I had
another friend text me at 6:30 pm, and got his pass at around 9:40 pm.

Apparently, the line got THIS LARGE on Day Zero.  (Map Courtesy of 24 Frames Per Second Blog)

July 3, Thursday: Day 1 of AX 2014 

Other than registration, I did not have much to do for Day
1.  There were two cosplay gatherings
that I had to choose from: a DC Gathering at 2, and a Tokusatsu Gathering at
3:30.  With my current DC costume being
the Golden Age Red Tornado, and it being so hot, I opted for the Tokusatsu
Gathering, and to wear my Taiga Nobori, Fangire King from Kamen Rider Kiva [very casual] costume.  Besides, I knew a lot more people personally
who are going to be at the Tokusatsu Gathering, and no one at the DC
Gathering.
In Japan, a shining face means you’re a vampire. Kind of. -Ed
Laziness and hunger sets in, as it was the first day since
summer school started tht I could wake up late.
Having a 7 am class was killing me, and it showed how tired I was, since I work up at 11 am.  I figured the
exhibit hall didn’t open until noon, and the gathering isn’t until 3:30, so I took my time, made a good brunch for myself
and my sister, leisurely making my way to the Blue Line trains station.  I got to the Convention Center at 2 pm.
I got through the Industry Registration fairly fast, but
remnants of the server crash reared its ugly head: my guests’ names were
nowhere to be found.  At least that’s
what the volunteer in front of me was saying.
This meant that I couldn’t just pick up their passes at that moment, and I
had to register them on site each day.
Yes, I was going to spend part of each morning on the Industry Registration
line.  I can just imagine how much more
it sucked for the people who went through general registration.  I was glad to find out that AX staff had put
out tents this time round for the registration line, though those tents were thankfully not needed as much as they were on Day 0.
Kyoryuger at AX!

 

Only in Anime Expo do you see variations such as Tropical Vacation Gaim and the Human Lockseed!
I did not do much of anything this day but go to the
Tokusatsu Gathering.  I saw a lot of familiar
faces, and met a couple of new friends.
This is a lot warmer and a better crowd than 2009 when there was no
Tokusatsu Gathering at all. That year, half of the Tokusatsu fans who saw my Kamen
Rider Kabuki costume railed on me for being fat or criticized my choice of cosplaying
as Kamen Rider Kabuki at all. This year, thankfully, was nothing like that.
(Left: AngelicNoir, Editor-in-Chief of The Tokusatsu Network.  Right: Deb, Social Meda Manager of Plastic Ronins)

 

After the Tokusatsu Gathering, I met up with some friends at
the massive Food Truck gathering across the street from the convention center,
which is an amazing thing to have nearby.
Then, I went home rather early.
July 4, Friday: Day 2 of AX 2014
Happy Philippine-American Friendship Day!
Oh, and Anime Expo, Day 2.
The only other comfortable costume I had was Russell from Up.  I figured I could take a few pictures with
the other Pixar cosplayers out there.  I saw
a lot of cosplays from Frozen and Wreck-it- Ralph.
Again, even though in the past, the Friday has been one of
the most event-packed Day for AX, the event did not really grab my
attention.  There was a Kill La Kill
event that was part panel, part English dub premiere, part concert.  Like many of the main events for AX, however,
it was TICKETED, and ticketed in the sense that you have to PAY for the
tickets on top of the $40/day cost of an
AX pass.
My guests were arriving today, so I had to spent part of my day
(I got there relatively early, at noon this time) at Industry
Registration.  The volunteer this time
around was a more competent one, or maybe the server issues had been fixed, and they found the names of my guests.
Anyone know this dude (in the Blue Exorcist Costume)?  My friend was trying to find him again, to no avail.
It was my friend’s first geek convention, and after
wandering around and looking at the cosplays, decided she had fallen in love
with a Blue Exorcist cosplayer, and spent part of the day looking for him.  By, the way, does anyone know who this
gentleman is?  My friend, April would be
so happy to be in contact with him. (The Ace of Geeks – now a missed connection site! -Ed)

We went to the exhibit hall, and to the Hulu booth.  We took a couple of fun pictures, got free 1
month memberships, and went shopping.
That Hulu Booth is an interesting sponsor.  Huluplus does have a large number of
anime compared to something like Netflix. (And usually subbed, which is great. -Ed)
Crunchyroll was also there, but they have been AX’s sponsor for a while
now.  Hulu was just new.
April, Vanessa, and I eventually got tired and went to rest
at the Lounge 21, which is a nice air-conditioned lounge for con-goers ages 21
and above.  It was a nice mellow
atmosphere.  There was alcohol, and
occasionally live music.  We met up with
Angelic Noir from the Tokuatsu Network to…. well, network.

So apparently, actual work is done when people Network at these things. AngelicNoir from the Tokusatsu Network with April, the Bull from “The Badger and the Bull” Podcast.
It’s also nice hanging out with them, and we did not need alcohol
to have fun.  The alcohol and air
conditioning just made it feel like a different place altogether, than a lounge
at a convention.
Leaving the lounge, we went back to shopping, and Blue
Exorcist cosplayer hunting.  My friends
ended up leaving the convention early, so I went to see the other thing the
convention had to offer.  The Exhibit
Hall was on the South Hall of the LA Convention Center, and right outside of
that is the rest of the South Hall, which is where a lot of cosplayers
gather.
Then, there is a sort of skyway between the South Hall and
the West Hall.  On the skyway’s ground
floor is the Lounge 21, the room where the nightly dance would be, and upstairs
are some panels, workshops, and viewing rooms.
On the West Hall, the upstairs has the Karaoke Room, Manga
Lounge, some more panels.  On the ground
floor are two giant halls that are separated.  One
houses the main ticketed events like the Kill La Kill event, Concerts, and
Masquerade.  The other half of that giant
half are the miscellaneous, but awesome thing the convention has to offer.  Most people ignore this part, but AX has done
a good job of consolidating all of these things and putting them in one giant
hall than stuffing them in smaller rooms where there would be panels.  This West Hall includes the arcade, console
gaming, tabletop gaming, and cosplay stage sets.
The arcade is nothing to write home about, but the machines
are fairly new.  The same goes for console
gaming, which is mostly fun during the scheduled tournaments.  The tabletop gaming I saw there was mostly Magic: The
Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, and small number of tables where you could play with a good
number of their tabletop board and card games, with people willing to teach
you.  One of my friends played some
Settlers of Cataan, and I decided to save the world in a game of Pandemic.
The Tabletop gaming are is a fine area, but I somewhat miss
the years when AX had Wizards of the Coast as a sponsor.  They would have very lively game representatives
demoing and teaching the games with the convention-goers.  I remember a very lively sample Dungeons and Dragons
pick-up demo in 2008, where the game master was amazing.  He was enthusiastic, informative, and he was
entertaining, cracking clever jokes and making voices.  Not that this set-up isn’t great.  It is, but a set of tournament organizers
doesn’t capture the same sense of awe as Corporate Gaming money, being thrown
and used for a gaming area.
One of the stage sets, a classroom.  These guys recreated that horrible episode of the Catherine Tate Show when David Tennant was a guest star… wait a minute, IDRIS WASN’T THERE!  (Picture Courtesy of Amy Brown)

 

There were also cosplay stage sets.  Yes, these are live stage sets for people to
take photos in.  they include a Japanese classroom,
a nomad’s tent, a cherry blossom, orchard and a 3-D floor drawing of a deep ground
chasm, to name a few.  I haven’t seen
these done in other conventions before, and it’s very clever and fun.

Supergirl and the 3-D ground drawing!  (Picture Courtesy of Amy Brown)
After wandering around, I rested once more in the South Hall
before shopping for a bit (I kept coming back to check out the Kamen Rider 000s
Drivers).  It was fun, but I was
thinking, it was mostly because of the people I’ve been seeing. Just a few
moments after that, I met couple of
cosplayers who were just nice and pleasant a I saw next to them of the benches
at the side of the South Hall.
Met new Cosplayer friends like NeinXTails. As you can see, she is showing amazing dexterity, using those cat claws to attach Dhalsim’s contacts :-p
I went home around midnight after hanging out with some
friends at their hotel.  It was interesting
to see fireworks being set off by people in the Hooter’s parking lot, and when
the fireworks went off at a lower-than-expected altitude, all the car alarms
just went off simultaneously.
July 5, Saturday:  Day 3 of Anime Expo 2014
I was planning on getting to the convention a bit early, but
there was nothing that was compelling me to do so, since the friends I was
going to meet were going to meet me midday anyway.  I washed and threw in the dryer my Russell
Costume, to wear it again for today.
I had friends who were not going to come until 4 pm, since
that’s when AX opens the exhibit hall to the general public for free.  Coming to the convention at around noon, I
had missed the showing of Sailor Moon Crystal, which I heard was pretty
awesome.  The theme of the day (and maybe
the convention) was also the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon.
I was very happy to see o many creative iterations of the
Sailor Senshi, and both men and women were participating in this celebration of
creativity.  On the men’s side, I saw a
set of Superhero (spandex) version of “Sailormen,” and these guys are not being
ironic or anything, like what others have done in the past.  There was another group of Pirate/Sailor Sailormen.  As for the girls, of course, there were some
regular costumes, but the creativity just exploded.  There were steampunk Sailor Senshi, knightly
Saior Senshi, Faerie, Disco Bunnies, an American-Flag themed Tuxedo Mask and Sailor
Moon pair as well.

Sailor Sailors and Sailor Disco Bunnies! (Picture Courtesy of Adam Fisher)

 

The Sailor Men… Superhero Style!
Knightly Sailor Moon
Faerie Sailor Mercury.
Sailor Scout Regiment!

 

Punk Rock Sailor Jupiter
I only stayed for a couple of hours on Sunday, as nothing
else was catching my attention.  The Masquerade
was ticketed, and I’ve learned in the past that Youtube provides much better
seats anyway.  In the past years, there
were some events that were happening at Nokia Live, like a live mini concerts.  I’m not sure if there as anything like that
this year.
I still enjoyed AX on Saturday though.  I saw and hung out with a couple of old
friends, and met some new ones, which seemed to be what I’ve been wanting to do
at AX the most, see friends, and hang out with people much more than the
convention’s own activities.

 

What have I started?!  Count the Medals… 1…2..and 3

 

I also finally bought that slightly used (but excellent
working condition) Kamen Rider 000s driver I’ve been eying the whole weekend,
and a couple of loose core medals, thinking, “Oh, no, what have I started?!”
John Garcia is an English Professor in the Los Angeles area, and an avid con-goer. Did you enjoy this article? Follow us on Facebook to get more great content! We have a weekly podcast you can find on our main site. Also follow us on Twitter and Tumblr!