A good many years ago, a friend of my husband’s introduced us to the world of conventions. We live in Pittsburgh, and while I knew what conventions were and consisted of, I had never been to one and was always the uncool kid because I wanted to go and nobody else shared this idea as something that would be totally rad.
My first convention was Steel City Con, a local comic and toy convention which has grown exponentially through the years. There weren’t as many people dressed up as I had wished to see, but it was loads of fun wandering through the vendor tables and seeing all the cool nostalgic toys of my yesteryear, which brought back many memories. There were a few celebrities, nothing more than D or C list, since we are in Pittsburgh after all. Still, even on a small scale, I loved it. It was something I’d always wanted to do, and was thrilled to be going.
For the longest time, Steel City Con and TekkoshoCon were the only conventions around my area, and Steel City Con was our regular con. When my husband discovered the Brony Fandom, and introduced me and my friends to the new generation on My Little Pony; the one that stemmed the fandom we know as Bronies- it would be the beginning of a convention and cosplay journey for me. I just didn’t know it yet.
My husband Jeff battled with being a Brony for some time, as lots of bronies do I guess. He was fearful others would find this wrong, or look down on him; for just liking a show because it’s target audience was little girls. I’m a big supporter of breaking gender roles and love and kindness, and MLP preaches these things in a way everyone can relate and understand. I could write an article alone on why MLP is great for adults as well as its intended audiences, but that’s another day.
Since becoming a fan of MLP, we discovered there was a massive convention dedicated to the Brony community, called what else- BronyCon. Jeff danced around with the idea, as he was still somewhat uneasy about other’s feelings about his fandom. I encouraged him, we should go, and ask our friends if they’d want to go to. It would be fun, we could cosplay, and enjoy a weekend of nothing but love and tolerance, and fun. It was in Baltimore, Maryland which is nothing but a 3.5-4 hour drive. Our friends loved the idea of going to a convention solely based around one fandom, as we had been to “general” convention Steel City Con, and nothing else.
Jeff and I had been to TekkoshoCon once, an Anime and Gaming convention, which was still on a small scale, but more similar to the style of BronyCon. When Jeff and I attended Tekko, we wore our Brony shirts and jeans, and were the outcasts. Everyone at Tekko was in cosplay, and every vendor table was stocked with cool kawaii (cute for all you non otaku’s out there) stuffed animals, waifu pillows (pillows with images of anime babes on them) JPOP (Japanese Pop Music), and loads of anime and video games merch. There were panels, rooms that were playing anime feature films all day, gaming tables where you could play your DND, Yugi-Oh and Pokémon battles. I was like a kid who had died and gone to geek nerd heaven. There was even an arcade room, which Jeff made full use of. They had arcade versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Pac Man, and practically all the major consoles, and even a DDR station which Jeff went toe to toe with a girl in a Pikachu suit.
While we had no idea what to expect with BronyCon, we knew we wanted to cosplay as our favorite ponies. Jeff’s favorite pony is DJ Pon-3 aka Vinyl Scratch, the pony who is very loved in the fandom, and much fan content has been produced. The fandom in a way helped give DJ her identity, as Hasbro has taken some of the fandom’s speculations and made it cannon.
My favorite pony is Pinkie Pie, who the more I watch on the show am convinced is written and modeled after myself. Pinkie Pie is the pony of smiles and happiness, she throws awesome parties and is typically known as the party pony, and would do anything to see her friends smile. She’s also a little bit crazy, and as fun as she can be, she can get seriously depressed or even a bit psycho. She is a big 4th wall breaker, and lots of fun to laugh with and she is a little eccentric.
Our friends went as FlutterBat (Fluttershy from the episode Bats, where she turns into a vampire pony essentially) and Rarity.
We had all watched Heroes of Cosplay when it was o SyFy, so we were not new to the notion that cosplay was expensive, nor did we know how to sew or make costumes, so we bought all our pieces. We learned our cosplay was called “closet cosplay” because it involved things you might find in your closet. My costume probably cost the most, around $150. I bought the tutu skirt, ears and hat on Etsy, the underskirt at Hot Topic, the wig at Epic Cosplay, and I got my pink converses from Journeys. Jeff bought his hoodie and headphones from Hot Topic as well and got his converses as part of his wedding attire for our friend’s wedding, and got his wig and ears on Etsy as well.
BronyCon was massive. Cosplay everywhere, vendors, so many panels. Since my husband keeps up with the community, I do as well and we saw many popular bronies who produce lots of content for the fandom, and we sat in many panels from sing alongs to cosplay 101, to Simon Says with Sunset Shimmer ( character from the Equestria Girls movie spinoffs).
We attended BronyPalooza, a concert put on that included the biggest brony musicians (yes that is a thing, look up Black Gryph0n and Mic the Micrphone, Mando Pony, Prince Whateverer, The Living Tombstone if you don’t believe me), and dined at a 4 star steakhouse in full cosplay.
I’d never been somewhere where I felt so unabashedly like myself. I was free, more than I had ever been to be myself, wearing a pink tutu and singing along to songs from a cartoon, taking pictures with many fans, and enjoying being with those who were just as geeky and fun as myself. When it was over, it was official: I had been bitten by the cosplay bug; I wanted more.
When we were at BronyCon, we didn’t expect to get stopped as much as we did. When you get stopped for pictures, you know it’s because people appreciate your character, and think your cosplay is good. Because Pinkie Pie is a favorite among the little ones, I got stopped by lots of young kids, who were shy to ask, so their parents did. Our group got stopped quite a bit, and this made me feel like a Disney Princess. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the little girls, and older fans made me feel special in a way I had not felt before. I felt like my character Pinkie Pie would have felt, happiness because she made someone smile.
Because our cosplays were expensive, we wanted to get use out of them, so we attended a few local Steel City Con’s in our gear. Steel City Con has changed ALOT since the early days, cosplaying kept getting bigger and bigger here, and the convention itself started to get bigger. Bigger guests, more rooms, a cosplay contest. Walking around SCC, we couldn’t get 5 feet without being stopped for photographs. The feeling that people liked our cosplays that much, fueled our cosplay drive. Then Wizard World announced they were coming to Pittsburgh.
For those of you unaware, or who have never seen Heroes of Cosplay, Wizard World is one of the biggest comic/pop culture conventions there is. Here’s a breakdown, real quick of the top ranked conventions:
1. San Diego Comic Com aka SDCC- The biggest convention universally. We’re talking everyone and everything. Big name celebs go there to promote their new movie, companies go to promote their new movies, games, etc.LOTS of cosplay, cosplay stars, and contests. Thousands upon thousands of things to do and see. The Mega Mecha of conventions.
2. Dragon Con- held in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the biggest if not the biggest Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Pop Culture/Comic convention. Big name celebs, LOTS of cosplay and themed events, lots to see and do.
3.Wizard World- these guys have cons in almost every state now. Last year was the first appearance in Pittsburgh, but they are all over. Celebs vary per location, some like Philadelphia or New York get really big stars, while others get the ones that travel with the convention all the time. Lots of panels, lots of things to see and do, and lots of cosplay.
There are other conventions that are equally as big, such as New York Comic Con, MomoCon, and even E3, a convention solely for gamers and the newest gaming development. They are starting to pop up literally everywhere.
Naturally, my friends and I wanted to go to Wizard World, and shelled out the $75 admission to get in. That was the most in admission we’d spent to date; with BronyCon being $70 per person, and SCC ranging from $12-$20.
Still it was worth it. The celebs that joined Pittsburgh’s Wizard World Debut, were David Duchovny from the X Files, Adam Baldwin and Jewel Staite from Firefly, Eddie McClintock, and even Jason David Frank, the original Green Ranger from the Power Rangers. I got a photo with Jason David Frank, both 8×11 and a selfie, as well as his autograph for our Power Ranger cast photo.
This time around, as you can clearly see, I cosplayed as Ariel, a life long dream of mine. Growing up I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid and even as an adult I am still obsessed. Wizard World at this point in my journey was the biggest pop culture/comic con I had been too. My friends Nicki and Dani (who cosplayed with us at BronyCon) dressed as a walker zombie and Chorus Girl #3 from Captain America. We hadn’t even been in the building for more than 5 minutes when we were approached by a writer for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. We even made a paragraph in the article.
We were stopped continuously for pictures by fans and official photographers, and saw lots of cool cosplays, panels and merchandise. As stated in the article, we got some costume parts off Etsy again, which might I add is seriously one of the best places to get cosplay costumes and accessories. My “tail” costs me a whopping $120 including shipping, and was a handmade commission for me by a designer on Etsy. Seriously, the quality of the tail alone was worth every penny. I also got my Ariel wig on Etsy. Most character wigs, especially styled ones can be quite expensive; we are talking hundreds of dollars. In a sea of $125-$200 wigs I managed to score my wig from a seller on Etsy for $40. The bikini top is actually a bikini top to a mermaid swimsuit by Disney, which I got at Hot Topic.com for $18.00 The flesh colored panel is a strapless Spanx body shaper, which I added to the suit because I was nervous about having my torso exposed, and a bikini on. I had visions of wardrobe malfunctions, so I thought it best to put a panel on so the top would have something to adhere to, and in case of emergency I wouldn’t end up flashing everyone. Dani also got her chorus girl dress on Etsy.
After Wizard World was over, all was quiet on the cosplay front for a good while, until about November or so. Nicki (aka Flutterbat and Zombie) and I were discussing wanting to venture to bigger cons, and the topic of Dragon Con came up. With a limited scope of tickets being on sale, we decided to purchase tickets. That was it, we were going to Atlanta, Georgia to one of the biggest conventions. As if planning for a massive convention to another state wasn’t enough, for the very first time Creation Entertainment announced that Supernatural Convention would be coming to Pittsbutrgh. My friends and I had always dreamed of going to Supernatural Convention since we’d heard it existed, but the closest one was always in Chicago. They were coming HERE. We had to go, no two ways about it, only one problem: Supernatural and Brony Con are the same weekend. My husband wanted to go to Brony Con again, and as much as I wanted to go back, I opted for the possible one time only appearance of Supernatural. Jeff relented, and decided if we couldn’t go to Brony Con, we’d attend a different MLP convention, Trot Con, located in Columbus Ohio. 3 Conventions. Trot Con and Supernatural both in July, In addition to Dragon Con in September. Then Wizard World announced their return to Pittsburgh, and it was decided that we would go to Wizard World and display our new cosplays. 4 Conventions. Then Replay FX announced their return to the ‘burgh. Since Jeff and I weren’t able to attend the massive gaming convention last year this year was a must. 5 conventions.
I have 5 conventions to attend this year. I just paid off Supernatural, which might I add was WAY more expensive than any of us could have guessed, but will be completely worth it. Our admission has been purchased, our photo packages already bought, and my cosplay is only missing it’s shoes and accessories. I will be cosplaying as “Samantha” Winchester (the female version of Sam), Nicki will be cosplaying as Dean, and Dani will be channeling Baby, The Impala. For Dragon Con I will be cosplaying as Ariel again, but this time human Ariel, in her iconic blue dress she wears on her date with Prince Eric, as well as Poison Ivy from Batman. Poison Ivy is the first costume I will be making myself from ready made materials, and last but not least Jeff and I will be cosplaying together as Princess Cadence and Shining Armor, the royal couple from MLP.
I can’t believe I committed myself to this many conventions or cosplays, and as broke as it will take me I know it will be completely worth it. I don’t have children yet, so I can afford to spend the money on costumes and conventions, and that’s ok. I’ve been waiting my whole life for everyone to jump on board with me with these things, and finally I am able to share these things with those who are closest to me. In high school, in my anime days, I longed and dreamed of the day conventions would be in my hometown, and I could dress as a Sailor Scout, but I knew nothing like that existed here, and my friends questioned my sanity at the mention of “cosplay”. Before the availability of social media and the expanse of what the internet had to offer, fandoms were small tight knit groups, and you were lucky to find someone who was interested in your “fandom” as well, especially if you lived in Pittsburgh. The memories I have made while cosplaying and convention going, will be with me forever, and make me smile when I am older and possibly have children of my own. My costumes will hang in my closet as a reminder that I can be whoever I want, and that my age does not define who I am inside. So many people loose touch with their inner child the older they get, but I refuse to shove her aside.
I’ll keep touch and update on the next part of my cosplay journey; taking you through the cons I attend this summer, and you can read and experience this newfound passion of mine through my eyes. I hope you enjoyed reading how I came into all this, and that you continue to read my little musings here on Plastic Stars & Pixel Hearts. Thanks again, and until next time!