Australia's First National Cosplay Champion Has Been Crowned

Oz Comic Con's national cosplay competition has been some time in the making. It started in April in Perth, travelled to Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane, finally landing in Sydney this past weekend. Along the way they gathered the best talent to be found in each city, bringing them all to Sydney for the final. It all culminated this past Sunday when a winner -- the best of the best of the best -- was finally crowned.

That winner was none other than Brisbane's Major Sam Cosplay, who put together a stunning cosplay of La Carlotta from Phantom of the Opera -- it was so impressive that it was even noticed by the actress who is currently playing the character in theatres worldwide. In a fitting coincidence, her costume also perfectly matched the shiny, shiny trophy. The winning costume was a labour of love, with more than 350 hours of work being put into it over the course of two months. If you're interested in seeing how a championship costume comes together, Major Sam has intricately recorded the process in a series of posts on her Facebook page. Her costume won out over a group that consisted of a master airbender, a Diablo barbarian, a blood-elf death-knight and even the Space Pope himself, each a representative of a different state. Next April, Major Sam will take on the role of ambassador for all of Australia, flying to Chicago to compete in C2E2's Crown Championships of Cosplay (for a prize that includes an actual crown).

So why is this a big deal? Australia sees plenty of cosplay competitions in any given year, but this is the first of its kind. We've seen national and even international cosplay competitions before with Madman Nationals and the World Cosplay Summit, but there are a few major differences to this one. Firstly, this is the first major competition where any costume from any media is accepted -- which is how we ended up with film costumes, video game costumes and even Futurama in the finals. Secondly, Oz Comic Con's competition doesn't require a skit -- making the competition much more concise to watch, and the judging more focussed on the actual craftsmanship that went into these cosplays. With nine out of every ten cosplay skits being downright painful to watch, this is good news for cosplayers and community alike.

Oz Comic Con is also one of the first Aussie conventions to source judges from outside the cosplay sphere, taking its lead from the C2E2 event in Chicago which this year hosted Face Off judge Neville Page and Ann Foley, the costume designer from Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Australian guest judges were no less talented, with NIDA's Head of Costume, Fiona Reilly, and makeup artist Colin Wilson joining cosplay royalty Yaya Han on the judging panel. Given that these people do costume for a living, it says something that they were so impressed by the cosplays that people have cobbled together in their spare time with little to no formal training.

"The talent is raw from a lot of these people, it is amazing," says Wilson, taking a moment to commend all the entrants before they announce the winner. "As a body painter and a makeup artist I've seen a lot working in film. This is raw. They're not actors, it's not created for them: it deserves a lot of respect." Fiona Reilly was no less impressed, adding: "I've been trying to lure some of them into the profession. I think some of them should be making a living out of it."

Hanging around the stage after the competition had concluded, I could hear plans for next year already forming. The contestants from this year who didn't quite make it were rearing for another go, and many from the audience had been inspired to give it a go themselves. Even Sunday Cosplay -- the designer and creator of this year's sexy gold dragon trophy -- was deep in thought, planning how he could possibly outdo himself on next year's trophy. I'm expecting something bigger and even shinier, if that's at all possible.

Our winner Major Sam has some helpful advice for anyone who wants to take home next year's shiny mythical beast trophy. "Choose a costume that shows off a lot of different skills," she stresses, as you want your costume to impress all the judges. "Do fabric, do hard parts, style a wig, interesting make up. Also, aim for perfection rather than size. Quality over quantity." She'll be busy making her own costume in the upcoming months, with the intention to premiere a brand new -- and no doubt even more impressive -- costume in Chicago next year.


Comments

    meh the deathknight, barbarian and space pope have way better costumes

      Cosplay is more than just wearing costumes - a lot of work needs to be done to be in character which is probably a big factor separating the complex gaming costumes from La Carlotta. As a part of her demonstration I would assume that she sung La Carlotta's soprano from Phantom of the Opera & that would've been what won the judges over.

    I dont understand how she won with those other great costumes up there

      That's why you're not a judge, you just don't understand. You probably don't know how magnets work either.

      Dare I be controversial and say it's because hers wasn't based on a game, rather a book/theatre production/movie and so would be more accepted by the judges who might not know video games?

      It's still a pretty damned fine costume though

      Last edited 28/09/15 3:37 pm

        and yet the space pope is from futurama which is a tv show and looks as close to the original as one can get. I just feel that this costume won just to promote a pretty crappy opera, to quote one Homer Jay Simpson on the main character- "I am the gayest supervillian of all time! Beware my scented candles!"

          It's not a crappy opera, it's a fantastic musical.

          But otherwise, yes. This.

      Keep in mind that the judges get really up close and personal with the costumes. They look at the tiniest details, the quality of the construction - like the custom screenprinting that Major Sam did on her fabric. They're all incredible of course, and I hear it was pretty difficult for the judges to decide at all.

    That's pretty spot on. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/37/90/33/37903365dcbbe1b7094dd1543ec139a8.jpg

    I'd fully expect her to hate that hat though.

    Dressed like that she looks like a Prima Donna

    And honestly, I would have rathered it was my precious little Ingenue. Ah well, nobody ever really thinks of me.

    Not to gatekeep, but I'm really not feeling the winner. I love me some Phantom, but...really? It's not exactly a geek property. Have to wonder if it would be the same result with traditional cosplay-involved judges.

      So what is a "geek" property?
      Surely if someone is really passionate about something in particular, doesn't that make them a geek?
      Or does it have to be comics and video games to be part of your exclusive club?

      As per Simon Pegg,
      “Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”

      I'm not sure how you can even get a judge that's more "traditional cosplay-involved" than Yaya Han... I'd also argue that there are no geek properties, only properties that people geek out over. Regardless, the costume and Major Sam's craftsmanship is top-notch and she's a well-deserved winner.

    I think the main problem here is that the photos in the article don't do a good job of representing how impressive the costume actually is. It's definitely worth having a look at her Facebook page to see just why she picked up the prize.
    https://scontent.fmel1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xlp1/v/t1.0-9/11960077_950920701635269_4504543195197191636_n.jpg?oh=1bb770c912e1c64394902018f79ed322&oe=5660CD91

    Last edited 28/09/15 9:05 pm

    I'm sorry, FIRST national cosplay champion? I'm pretty sure it's not the first. I remember a few years back when Madman held their national cosplay finals at Supanova Brisbane.

      My thoughts exactly. They've been doing that for a few years now, haven't they? This is definitely not the first national cosplay championship in Australia.

    Hey! Space Pope here! I just wanted to pipe up and say that the competition was judged primarily on construction (or at least that's what I was told as a competitor). That dress is so incredibly intricate and has so much handwork with so many different techniques and materials used it's mindblowing. Even the wig styling was as perfect as I've ever seen, the whole thing looked like one of those movie costume displays you see. She deserved that win, hands down.

    That said, it was a really great competition to be a part of and I had a great time acting like a doofus on stage. Twice! :D

      Thanks for your input! Every single person on that stage was incredible, I've no doubt it ended up incredibly close in the end. Space Pope is always amazing, of course.

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