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

After triumphing at Magnificon, the winner of the Polish qualifier is heading to Chicago to take on the world in the Cosplay Central Crown Championships

Image credit: ino.graphy

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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 Rav, who claimed his place in the Crown Championships to represent Poland at Magnificon Winter Expo in December 2023 with an impressive cosplay of Soldier Boy from Amazon’s The Boys TV series

POPVERSE: Welcome to the Competition! Please tell us a little about yourself!
RAV: Hi! My name is Bartek, but in our cosplay community I’m known as Rav. I’ve been cosplaying since 2008, starting with a costume of Tusken Raider from Star Wars. Most of my costumes are somewhere around superhero stuff, but I’m doing other things from time to time as well.

Image credit: ino.graphy

Have you competed a lot?
I don’t do a lot of competitions. It’s mostly about being a perfectionist with my cosplay - I don’t want to put myself out there unless I’m really happy with the results of my work ahead of it. Only then can I get something I’m genuinely proud of in front of a jury. I’m extremely happy that I managed to win the Polish qualifier and that my work was appreciated.

What inspired you to make your costume for Crown?
I love The Boys. Everything in there is spectacular, and when they announced that Jensen Ackles will show up in season three, I already knew that Soldier Boy was the costume I wanted to make to the best of my abilities!

How did you go about bringing the costume to life?
Extensive research was a must. I spent a lot of time analyzing reference photos and costume details. It was always in the back of my head that the original suit was made by a whole crew of professional artists with a much larger budget than I had, so I needed to figure out how to make the whole thing without breaking the bank.

To that end, I used a wide variety of techniques - the basic suit needed to be sewn together, which I did on my own, but then the tougher parts needed more than just fabric. I designed models for 3D printing and printed them out - this way, I could be sure that my designs are as accurate as possible. I also cast some of the elements out of metal or rubber, and used PVC foam for some of the props. The details also ended up giving me a bit of a headache, but I got the exact results I needed when it comes to the suit’s star-pattern thanks to screen printing.

Did you learn anything while making this costume?
As I mentioned, screen printing was something I did for the costume’s star pattern, and it was my main concern going into working on the suit; I spent a lot of my “R&D” trying to figure it out. I needed to reflect Soldier Boy’s look as accurately as possible, so it took a lot of learning - how screen printing works to begin with, which paint to use in order for it to be properly convex, how to mix the paints to get the right color, etc. Basically the whole costume needed to be printed over, so it was a rather important aspect affecting the whole project. It took a lot of thinking, figuring things out, and learning from my own mistakes, but I got it right in the end.

As for learning about myself? The extent of what needed to be done definitely showed me that work is work. I had to figure out clever ways of going about it, but even with that, the costume needed days on days of actually sitting down and systematically knocking one problem out after another. And, well, I think the results speak for themselves.

What is your favorite part of the costume? And Why?
If I had to choose it would be the armor, because I managed to make it glow through the paint job. It definitely was not easy. I stuffed as many LED lights as I could in there, and it’s all operated by a small Adruino I programmed myself.

Are there any other details or features you would like to highlight?
I fit a lot of small touches in this costume that might be imperceptible from the audience’s point of view - for instance, I cast all the belt slots in metal. There are a few rubber casts across the build too, and the shield is made out of a single piece of PVC.

Additionally, and this is something that most people won’t see, I decided to go an extra mile and model the knife’s blade based on a test shoot of the costume I dug up, since the knife itself never leaves the sheath in the show. As I said, I’m a bit of a perfectionist!

What are you most looking forward to about the final in Chicago?
I can’t wait to experience the con and meet all the other representatives! This will be the first event of this kind I’ll be attending in the US, and I’m very excited to be there myself.

Any advice for anyone thinking about entering a competition like this?
The most important thing is: choose a versatile costume and use all of your knowledge, skills, and as many techniques as you can come up with to execute on your ideas. Don’t rush it - thoroughness takes time.

You can follow Rav on Facebook and 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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