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Meet Matthew, one of the 2024 Cosplay Central Crown Championships finalists

After triumphing at MCM Birmingham Comic Con, the winner of the UK qualifier is heading to Chicago to take on the world in the Cosplay Central Crown Championships

Image credit: ChloeCat.Cosplay

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Every year, cosplayers from around the world show off their creations at conventions - and the best of the best chase glory at the Cosplay Central Crown Championships. From Australia to South Africa, and across Europe, master-level cosplayers head to their local conventions to compete for the chance to represent their regions and a round-trip ticket to the yearly finals - which take place at Chicago's C2E2 in an show packed with so much incredible cosplay across the last USA Semi-Final and National Final before the global competitors battle it out on stage for the title of Crown Champion and bespoke awards, crafted by Hoku Props for ReedPop.

As excitement builds for the 2024 Cosplay Central Crown Championships finals (which you can watch here for free!), we're talking to the amazing finalists who are getting ready to board a plane and meet their competitors for one last, epic competition.

Today, we're talking to returning finalist Matthew from the UK, who triumphed again at MCM Birmingham Comic Con in December 2023 with a cosplay of Leather Armor Hunter from Monster Hunter: World for a second attempt to take the Crown.

Image credit: ChloeCat.Cosplay

Popverse: Welcome back to the competition! Please tell us a little about yourself as a cosplayer?
Matthew: Hey, I’m Matthew and I’m just a guy who cosplays for fun!If anyone remembers me it is likely because I was the UK Crown champion for 2023! I absolutely love cosplay, because it is an amazing way to meet passionate people who care about the same things as you. When it comes to competitive costumes, I like video game outfits as they tend to have a variety of techniques that challenge my skills. I’m particularly drawn to monster hunter cosplays for that reason.

Tell us about your competition experience this time out.
The pressure was high for my qualifier this time, and its hard to describe just how overwhelmed I was when my name was called. Nobody in the UK has consecutively won the crown qualifier before, and I couldn’t believe it! Truth be told, a big part of the reason I wanted to win the UK qualifier this time was so I could return and see my friends in Chicago, and show them how far my skills have developed since the finals.

I absolutely love meeting people in the competitive circuit, and there are so many exceptionally creative people across the world who pour their hearts into their work. At both my UK Qualifiers, and at Chicago, I made some wonderful friends for life, and I can’t wait to meet the competitors this year!

What inspired you to make your costume for Crown?
My skill set and ability has expanded so much since the last time I was at Chicago, I was keen to put all that knowledge into action and I wasted no time doing so. I realized where some of my core strengths lie and doubled down on them. I wanted to make an outfit that I’m passionate about, but so strongly focuses on authentic materials. I wanted to make an outfit that was grounded in reality, felt visceral and genuine to the source material. I also wanted to make a costume that was comfortable, easily to sit down in as needed, and had pockets. As a person with a chronic illness too, being able to use a bathroom comfortably was a priority!

Image credit: ChloeCat.Cosplay

How did you create your costume?
After I got back from Chicago, having not placed before, it’s hard to deny that I was somewhat disheartened within myself. I had pushed myself as hard as I could and fell short at the end. It wasn’t until a cosplayer (Katielavabug) reached out to me and wanted to learn my electroplating technique. I happily taught her everything I knew but watching her give everything of herself for her friends and for her competition that a fire was lit inside of me.

I got as much feedback from finals as I could from the judges and my fellow competitors, and knew if I gave everything of myself once before, then took one more step, I could do it again. I created this costume because I refused to give up.

The costume itself is constructed from a variety of leather types and tanning methods. Theres a variety of metals used to build it ranging from tin, 24ct gold, silver, nickel, pewter, and many more. Foam and worbla were implemented selectively, but are covered with authentic materials and used more as a bulking agent to keep props safe for conventions and international transportation.

Did you learn anything while making this costume?
One of the most important skills I learned for this costume was digital self-patterning – working off duct tape patterns, digitising them, and then being able to alter them was exceptionally helpful for getting the correct fit. If there is one skill I recommend learning, its patterning – it compliments every technique and skill. I also learned coding for ardunio, it’s like talking another language. It was very hard to unravel my brain like that. It took a lot of trial and error!

Most notably I learned how to electroplate thermoplastics. It was exceptionally challenging to make it work, the temperature requirements to get a good electrochemical reaction without softening worbla was like threading the needle. I formulated a specific curing process and an intermittent heating method that allowed the bonding of metal onto plastic through conductive-ink!

What is your favorite part of the costume? And why?
Without a doubt, it’s the carving knife on the back of the costume. My Crown competition armor last year started with the carving knife and this time it was the last thing I made. It really shows how far I have come from there. It combines the bone texture I enjoyed sculpting and the painting method from before, along with the electroplating on the blade. The leather sheath is lined with suede, the buttons are engraved with the game logos, and there’s even dried blood in hard to reach places. It feels like the accumulation of my skills in one place.

Are there any other details or features you would like to highlight?
There are a lot of hidden details across the costume that you won’t see unless you’re looking at it in person. All the leather is fully lined, something that a lot of people don’t do due to the difficulty and time requirements (The inside of the harness pouches are lined with sheep’s wool, they’re exceptionally soft!). The game logo is branded onto the back of harness and on the back of the gloves as an extra detail. There’s even a bug in the goggle lens! I really fleshed out the costume as much as I could.

What are you most looking forward to about the final in Chicago?
The pizza! Aside from that, seeing the friends I made there before again. I really cannot wait to spend more time with them. I’m sad the international competitors I met last year won’t be there, but I know I’m going to see some of them or visit them sometime in the future.

I really can’t wait to meet the other competitors too!

Any advice for anyone thinking about entering a competition like this?
Realistically, you should focus on making a costume that you are proud of and passionate about. When you’re spending anything from months to years at a time working on one costume it will test your love for it. Your love of the work will show through what you make, whereas if you’re only making it because you feel obligated; that will also show.Also, if you do not win the contest: first of all, respect the decision. Secondly, take stock of what you have gained from the experience; knowledge, friendships, happy memories, and opportunities. For me I think the friends you make may be with you forever; a title you win will come and go.

Finally, if you are feeling disheartened, if you somehow feel that you are not enough, set your heart ablaze.

You can follow Matthew on Instagram

The Cosplay Central Crown Championship finals will be one of many C2E2 2024 panels Popverse will be livestreaming this year.

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