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Cosplay is so often about being your own superhero, and nowhere is that more true than in the workroom, right now! Yvette tells the four contestants that in Phase One, they’ll have to create a chest piece with their very own iconic emblem. Of course the backstory will be key in this, and their superheroes have to be more Iron Man than Superman – i.e., they’re just folks with a hunger for justice, sans superpowers. And don’t forget, they have to be ready to go in eight hours!
James uses his own personal history of a rough childhood and time in prison to create The Guardian, a man who saw the power of crime in the city and emerged from prison determined to change the path of the youth to a nobler way. Tuwanda, who has 20 years of seamstress experience, decides to make her piece out of spandex – a notoriously fussy fabric – for Harmony, bringer of peace and love. Dhare, a creative director, creates a foam piece with a cat emblem for his hero, Wyldcat, while Aaron, a cosplay newbie, struggles to finish the details for Xero, defender of humanity in the face of an alien invasion.
It’s a tough call for the judges, but the backstory and execution of James’s piece stand out as the richest tapestry. Tuwanda’s efforts, though impressive with a glowing, lucite emblem, were not enough to bring her to Phase Two. We bid her adieu, as we know we’ll see her at the next convention!
James’ advantage going into the next phase is a choice in his hero’s preferred accessory. At random he chooses “Cape”, but has the option to trade with Dhare’s “Mask” or Aaron’s “Utility Belt”. Although he really wants the mask, he’s here not just to win, but also to challenge himself. He sticks with Cape – he’s never made one before!
When LeeAnna and Christian visit the boys in the workroom, they’re a little nervous for Aaron – he’s been at this cosplay game for just under two years, so he naturally works a little slower than the vets – but LV and Christian wonder if he’ll actually finish in time. Aaron is a little worried about that, himself, but with some guidance and tips from the seasoned guys in the room, he pulls through and creates a head-to-toe character in red and silver with a massive shoulder spike as its centerpiece.
The judges also caution James about getting his cape sorted out, since he’s never made one and the clock is ticking down, but once again they’re delightfully surprised to find he discovered the perfect material for a simple but powerful drape across his armored shoulders. The effect is impressive and inspiring.
But the winner this week is Dhare, whose toe claws and white mane took him from vigilante to icon. His experience in the time-crunched world of advertising served him well as he freaked out about each decision, but used the anxiety to fuel him from moment to moment. Though James’ backstory came close to bringing him the win, the details of Dhare’s character pulled him forward in the last moments. Congrats to all our finalists. What a journey!