By now the news has likely hit the cosplay community at large, and the implications are sweeping: Phoenix Comicon banned prop weapons for the first time this year (following a harrowing attempt on celebrity Jason David Frank’s life, thankfully halted by Phoenix police before anyone was harmed), and the cosplayers were hit hard.
The first day of Phoenix Comicon I saw lots of enthusiastic cosplayers, just like any year prior. Every size, shape, color, and fandom was represented.
I went as Temari from Naruto, with my giant 4′ fighting fan prop in tow. I searched out the peace bonding station and offered to let them zip tie part of the fan to prove it had been checked, but they simply looked at the tie from the last con I went to and said that since the color of the zip tie was the same they didn’t need to check it. Granted, it’s not the most dangerous of props, but still it had the potential to do some damage had I the urge to whack someone over the head with it. (Not that peace bonding would have prevented that, but still, it’s the principle that the prop wasn’t even checked.)
Once the gunman was apprehended, however, the con sent out a mass email banning all props, a ban which was partially eased to allow non-weapon props entry to the con.
The second day, immediately after the ban was put in place, there were still cosplayers aplenty, but some costumes were missing iconic props while other attendees were absent altogether. I went as Magik from the X-Men…not the most well-known character from the comics, but popular in her own right. However, her four-foot-long soulsword had to be left in the motel room, and as such I went largely unrecognized.
Sure, a few people knew who I was supposed to be despite my alteration of her costume (I prefer to be a little less scantily clothed, so I omitted the shorty-shorts and crop top in favor of a more modest corset-and-leggings combination), but from my experience as Magik-with-soulsword at Dragon Con last year it was clear that without the identifying prop I was merely an obscure, random character to most congoers. For all they knew, I could have been cosplaying an original character (OC) that had no relation to any fandom in particular. I was more than a little disappointed at having to leave my sword behind and almost didn’t even cosplay that day, but my husband convinced me not to let the ban get me down and still wear the rest of my costume.
Saturday was just as bad, with fewer prop-dependent cosplays. Luckily my costume that day didn’t include a “weapon” prop (I had a folding fan, but it was much smaller than my Temari fan and not likely to do much, if any, damage to another person) so I wasn’t really affected by the ban. Still, it was sad to see Attack on Titan cosplayers without their giant foam guns, Stormtroopers without their blasters, and what’s Jayne without his guns and knives?
Still, many cosplayers soldiered on, either wearing their cosplays sans props or altering their cosplay “lineup” in favor of weaponless cosplays.
Though arguably one of the most dangerous weapons of all time and space made it past security that day 😉
All joking aside, weapons were pretty much exterminated this year. Cosplay was still abundant, but I missed the lightsabers and blasters and phasers and elaborate guns, staves, bows, etc.
One thing that remained intact was the Cosplay Lounge and Repair Station, where a variety of materials were available to cosplayers with, er, wardrobe malfunctions. (Hey, what can I say? Seams rip, things come apart, and you suddenly find yourself in desperate need of needle and thread or hot glue.) This room has been available for several years running, and it’s a wonderful idea. The range of supplies is wide, and they were all laid out neatly on a row of tables in the back of the room, which also had tables set up for exhausted cosplayers to rest their weary feet before venturing back out into the con.
No doubt cosplay will live on, but many cosplayers are worried Phoenix Comicon will extend the ban to future years, putting a damper on some cosplayers’ spirits. I know I skipped cosplaying one day because of the ban; without my lightsaber, my Jedi TARDIS is just a weird hooded outfit with some cool exploding TARDIS fabric on it.
We’ll see how the next con turns out. Maybe the ban will be lifted completely, or maybe it will remain in place; regardless, cosplayers will still brighten the hallways with their elaborate costumes and enthusiasm for their fandoms.