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Meet Say No To Scrunchies, NYCC's Cosplay Central Crown Championships' third-place winner

Find out more about what the judges saw behind the scenes to pick the winners in this incredible competition!

Cosplay competitions are always one of the highlights of any convention. If you’ve ever been sat in the audience, or watching a stream at home, and have been confused by the winners that are announced, there’s a good chance you’ve been watching a craftsmanship competition!

Craftsmanship competitions, like ReedPop’s Cosplay Central Crown Championships, don’t focus on the biggest, flashiest and most popular costumes, but instead focus on the fine skills, quality of finish, variety of techniques and ingenuity of the costume maker. The judges have always inspected these costumes closely before the cosplayers walk the stage in pre-judging interviews where they get to question the cosplayer and learn all their secret techniques, flip seams and inspect the inside of those outwardly impressive foam builds and glorious ballgowns. They get to see all those details it’s impossible to see from way back in the audience! Everyone always has their personal favourite, but it’s important to understand the kind of competition you are watching, especially to appreciate why a more outwardly ‘simple’ costume beat something with a bigger wow factor on stage.

In the USA regional rounds, the Crown Championships selects a winner specialised in each major costume category - Needlework, Armor and FX - and an overall top 3. The top 3 costumes in master level competitions like this will regularly cross over the categories, having a combination of several sewing, armor and FX techniques and all done to an exceptionally high standard. To give more insight into the details that the judges get to see we’re sharing a series of interviews with the six winners from New York Comic Con’s Crown Championships Qualifier.

Third Place Winner: Say No To Scrunchies

Say No to Scrunchies blew the judges away with their clever transformation of material in their stunning creation inspired by The Creature from the Black Lagoon from the 1954 movie

Popverse: Congratulations on your win! What inspires you as a cosplayer?
Say No to Scrunchies: My cosplay style is best described as decayed decadence, even my dragons sparkle. My passion has always been creating beautiful monsters but I only started cosplaying 4 years ago. Like most people it was out of love for a character, for me it was Viserion from Game of Thrones. When that blue eye opened at the end of Season 7, I thought to myself “I’m going to make that” So I did and entered it into ECCC Western Championships of Cosplay in 2019 and took home 2nd place best in show. The best part of competing was the friends I made backstage. Everyone was so friendly and open. They continue to be incredibly supportive and have opened a lot of opportunities for me over the past 4 years.

Photography by Cody Jabroni

Where did you find inspiration for this original design?
The Creature from the Black Lagoon has always seemed so elegant to me, and when I saw the Thierry Mugler Chimera gown at last year’s exhibit it seemed perfect for a mashup.

How did you create your costume?
I was able to keep this build under $100 by using closeout fabrics and sequins, stash EVA foam and worbla. I also made my own sequins. The largest sequins were made by cutting up diet soda bottles and adhering iridescent cellophane to the back, then painting them. The medium sized scale sequins are hand cut organza fabric laminated with iridescent cellophane. For the base gown I modified a free pattern from Mood by adding a detachable collar, trumpet skirt, back panel to hide the zipper, flared sleeves and molded cups. The detachable collar base is organza and lace. Its embellished with a mix of handsewn brass sequins, acrylic sequins, fabric sequins, soda bottle sequins and flex bond soaked lace. The bottom part of the closure has magnets so I can get it on by myself. The gown is also completely hand sewn with thousands of premade sequins in addition to the soda bottle sequins and hand made fabric sequins. The front stomach and back panels are fabric laminated with iridescent cellophane with an organza overlay.

The helmet is self-patterned with an EVA foam base and fins. I used a thin layer of worbla around my face so it would fit tightly. The EVA fins were scored and overheated so they would split and curl up on themselves. The sculpted details are EVA foam clay. It’s sealed with flexbond and painted with acrylics. The gloves are self-patterned, and hand sewn, with EVA foam clay details and press-on nails for talons. The feet are boot covers with EVA foam and foam clay on a felt base. I spent over 350 hours on this, the majority spent attaching the sequins.

Did you learn anything while making this costume?
Sewing is not my strong suit, so I had to research how to sew stretch lace. It’s not like sewing woven fabric so you really need to be careful not to pull on it while running it through the machine. Stretch lace is also very delicate so I was glad I cut my pattern a little large so I had more wiggle room for mistakes.

What is your favorite part of the costume? And Why?
I’m most proud of the fit. It took me a month to get it to fit perfectly, I purposely chose stretch lace so it could accommodate a 10lb weight fluctuation.

Are there any other details or features you would like to highlight?
The plastic soda bottle scale technique.
Luckily, I had the idea to use the plastic tops as scales a year before I started the Creature because it took almost two years of diet soda consumption to have enough to finish this gown. The technique can be used with any molded clear plastic container. You just need to spray adhesive on the back and apply iridescent cellophane. It looks pearlized on its own or you can paint the back of the cellophane for color. I love giving salvaged materials a new life. I once used plastic chandelier crystals for scales on chest armor.

Any advice for anyone thinking about entering a competition like this?
Choose a character you are passionate about, because a competition piece will take months to build, and you need that passion to carry you through all your trials and errors. Also remember it’s a huge deal just to be accepted. Don’t judge your building skills on whether you win or not, I have been in competitions where everyone could have won best in show.

Missed the competition on stage? You can check out all the entries right here on Popverse in our VOD of the NYCC livestream!