Nearly 200 cosplayers paraded their craftsmanship and passion at the 2016 Baltimore Comic-Con costume contest.
Amateurs and professionals alike competed as their favorite characters wearing intricate, handcrafted costumes in front of a jam-packed ballroom of onlookers at the Baltimore Convention Center.
“It was completely a labor of love,” said this year’s $1,000 Best in Show prizewinner who goes by Labinnak and Mangoloo Cosplays. The 23-year-old Vienna, Va. native traveled to Baltimore for the first time draped in a detailed costume depicting Tiny Tina, one she said required three months of full-time sewing and character study to create.
“I would spend all day painting, sewing and learning my costume,” she said. “I even managed to light it on fire once. I’ve done ridiculous things with this costume.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Baltimore Comic-Con 2016 Costume Contest
It’s that kind of drive and attention to detail that the judges like to see.
Husband and wife duo Gina and Harry Crosland traveled to Baltimore from the Washington D.C. area to judge their second Comic-Con costume contest. The pair came dressed as characters from the videogame Assassin's Creed, and said they were amazed by the creativity on display at this year’s show.
“We’re really looking at the work,” Harry Crosland said. “The details put into it, and how much work and effort. A lot of these people did excellent work, so it was really hard to pick a winner.”
This year’s contest was divided into three categories: amateur, craftsman and professional. Each category offered varying prizes and gave cosplayers of all experience levels a chance to compete—a shift toward inclusion that the Crosland’s said has been well-received.
“Because there are different categories, it creates more opportunities for people to win, and it makes it fair,” Harry said. “With different categories, we can recognize more people for their work.”
People like Lauren Singleton, a 21-year-old Fredericksburg, Va. native who won in this year’s amateur contest. Singleton spent four months tailoring a Squirrel Girl costume—a character she feels especially connected to in the cosplay community.
“Being able to show off my character, who is basically my spirit animal is great because you get to be the best personification of yourself,” she said. “Cosplay shows the different variants of your personality through different characters that are out there in the world.”