Any pop culture convention you attend will have cosplay, but Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia, has more costumes than any other convention. The four day event happens over Labor Day weekend each year, and it’s sort of a mecca for cosplayers. They start appearing in the lobbies of host hotels two days before the convention officially starts, and you’ll see costumes featuring popular characters – this year there were lots of Elsas from Frozen – to a character who only appeared in a single comic book from decades ago to original designs. As I wandered around, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of electronics incorporated in costumes.
LEDs and lighting of different colors and shapes seemed to be everywhere I looked. This photo is taken from several floors up at the Marriott hotel and you can see some shining lights sprinkled throughout the crowd (and that crowd is light, by the way).
When I arrived Thursday night, the day before the convention started, I spoke with a woman who used blue star-shaped Christmas lights in her dress. They were underneath a layer of tulle, and the effect was perfect.
Another cosplayer took a similar approach with her My Little Pony Luna cosplay:
On Friday, I ran into Nick dressed as Scarecrow from the Arkham Asylum game. He used yellow LEDs that were wired to a power pack built into his arm piece.
I encountered a few people in Welcome to Night Vale costumes, and two of them were dressed as the Glow Cloud. This gentleman incorporated LEDs into the cloud and ran them to a power source that was secured to the umbrella with duct tape and hidden.
Hugo Jackson and Steamstress, Cecil and the Glow Cloud respectively, caught my eye from a distance and I practically ran over to them. Steamstress made the cloud with chicken wire and foam and used purple LEDs to make the cloud glow. The LEDs blinked. For his Cecil Palmer costume, Hugo used an Amazon box to make his mobile broadcast system. He cut it up into the right pattern, layered mesh and wax paper, and put the LEDs behind those layers for a nice, diffused light. It looked awesome.
I met The White Witch from the video game Ni no Kuni inside a panel room and was impressed by the lighting in her hair and cape. She sewed LEDs into the wig tubes, and it made the headpiece look impressive. She stitched LEDs into the cape, which is also where the power pack was tucked away.
Blueknight Cosplay dressed as a character from World of Warcraft (and won best in show in a WoW costume contest) and used EL wire and blue LEDs to make her shield. Plexiglass was put over the LEDs to soften the light, and the effect was incredible. The guy with her also used LEDs throughout his ensemble.
The Mechanical Masquerade took place on Sunday night of the convention, and this was when steampunk cosplayers pulled out all the stops. I encountered a steampunk take on Green Lantern done by Andrew Reseigh before I even walked in and noted his use of green LEDs in both his lantern and costume:
Once I walked into the party, I didn’t know where to look first. There were intricate backpacks with more light up and moving parts than I could count. It seemed like nearly everyone in costume was using electronics, and I even ran into one woman who used an Arduino from Adafruit in her backpack. Mary Frances Striby (on the right in the below photo) spent two months working on her ensemble and incorporated the Arduino, an IKEA led lamp, and a USB lamp into the design. She was with Anne Jones who had a helmet rigged with EL wire and used a motor from a walkman to power moving clock hands. Amazing.
Also at the masquerade, there was a Buddy Christ from Dogma with a moving mechanical heart and so many people using EL wire – here are just a few of the ensembles with electronics I saw at the masquerade:
After attending Dragon Con, I feel inspired to get back to all my projects and make stuff. All the cosplayers I spoke with were excited and proud to tell me how they constructed their outfits and props. If you’re also feeling inspired, check out the cosplay/costuming section of our shop to see what electronics you can incorporate into your next cosplay.
In the DragonCon costuming track, there was the “Electronics in Costuming” panel with one session on Saturday and one on Sunday. I showed off a bunch of NeoPixel projects in the “lights and sound” section of the panel.