Sometimes all it takes to save a costume or spark a cosplay idea is a trip to your local dollar store. Whether you go extreme and participate in a five dollar cosplay challenge or casually browse the aisles, you’d be surprised at what items you can use in costumes. Many things you find will probably need to be painted, taken apart, or otherwise modified, but having a base can be helpful and ripping something apart is easier to swallow if you only spent a few bucks on it. Here are some things you may find at the dollar store to use in cosplay:
Cheap toy swords – When I go to the dollar store, my first stop is the toy section. You can find a variety of simple games and plastic accessories like shields, masks, and swords. The swords typically aren’t much to look at, but they often have light up elements. If they do light up, you can buy the sword and strip it for the electronics. They’ll do in a pinch. If they don’t light up, the plastic sword can be a base for another weapon. You can cover it with expanding foam and modify to your heart’s content.
Foam – Some dollar stores have a craft or floral arrangement section. This is a fine place to grab any foam you need; the foam discs and wreaths used in floral presentations can make great additions to armor or be turned into collars. If they only have the blocks of foam made for sticking flowers into, those could be helpful too since they can be sliced and carved.
Jars – If you need any kind of mason jar, vial, or glass tubes, go to the kitchenware section of the dollar store. I’ve seen glass containers in different sizes from mini salt and pepper shakers (usually with a few sets in a pack) to pint jars to gallon-sized containers to bottles. You can use these for potion bottles, to hold decapitated heads (fake ones obviously) or other body parts, or more. They can be aged and weathered with paint.
Glass frames – Have a cosplay coming up that you need sunglasses or reading glasses for? Head to the dollar store. They won’t have a ton of frame options, but if you’re only paying $1 – $2 for each of them… If you only want the look of reading glasses without the actual magnification, you can pop the lenses out. Peter used dollar store sunglasses for a fantastic Muppets costume.
Christmas ornaments – When you’re looking for everyday objects to use, you have to look past what the item is and look at shapes. So, for Christmas ornaments, think about what you could use spheres for in costumes. The dollar store often has plastic ones, and you could paint them and use them as eyeballs (like the Animal muppet above), cut them in half and put them on armor, use them on a Doctor Who Dalek costume, and more.
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