Ah, Syfy. You and cosplay have such a poor history. But here you are with a new show. So in this article I’m going to go over the contestants, the judges, and my personal opinions of the first episode of the new SyFy (I pronounce it SiFi) show Cosplay Melee.
Lets start with the contestants.
Starting from right to left we have Alicia, AKA VertVixen, then Fred from Fred and Ellie Designs, Grace also known as Zonbi, and Xavier from Ebony Warrior Studios. Right away I want to give props to the crew, as they did not try to portray any of them in a poor light or as back stabbing individuals. They were shown as driven individuals who at time even gave each other a hand or some constructive, keyword CONSTRUCTIVE, advise. No name calling, no unnecessary drama other then what was caused by the time crunch leading to mistakes. Actual friendly competition in a reality show. Who da thunk it?
Next we have the judges.
Let’s go from left to right this time. First up we have Leeanna Vamp, A professional cosplay model, actress, and the daughter of Elvira. Then we have Yvette Nicole Brown, known for her role Shirley Bennett on Community and as Helen on Drake and Josh. Maybe that last one is just me. Finally we have Christian Beckman, who has done special effects work on A.I. and the Village. The judges all seem to have some experience with costuming or special effects, except for Yvette who is just a fan.
So here is where I start going over the individual projects of each contestant. The theme of this weeks episode was Space Opera. Each contestant was tasked with making custom characters from a space franchise of their choosing. After each one I will give my opinions on their project. The first one I am going to go over is Fred, after all age before beauty.
Fred decided to go with a Star Trek themed character named Martin Cromwell, a character who was an ally of Khan (sorry, couldn’t help myself) that survived an assassination attempt. As we were presented with the concept of his mask, it reminded me more of the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica then some thing from Star Trek.
Using a combination of EVA foam, LEDs, and a flash light Fred tried to pull his concept together. However he hit a snack when it came to the skull cap of of his helmet as he tried to mold it from Worbla (thermoplastic) around a foam head, something the judges pointed out. However even with that he was able to pull at least the majority of the helmet together.
After the judges critiqued the helm, he was given car mufflers to use to make a jump pack, and we got to see his full concept come to fruition.
I want to say this now, I feel we did not get to see the initial concept art of each person’s design. As you will see as we go, it looks like the concept art was all drawn by the same person, even though the contestants designed the projects. Anyway this was the final result of his work.
To get around his issue with a skull cap, he removed it from the helmet. He replaced it hie a facial prosthetic that unfortunately made the mask unwearable. Also he covered up his jump pack, a necessary part, with a large fur cape. In the end this cost him.
So my personal opinion with Fred’s design. It doesn’t scream Star Trek. In fact, it screams more Warhammer 40k to me. This is after his helmet/ mask looked more like a Cylon. However, all that said, This is a kick ass costume, its just unfortunate that he hurt himself with the cape and mask.
Next we will take a look at Grace. Grace went with a Guardians of the Galaxy themed bounty hunter named Polaris (not to be confused with the mutant with the same name) Her helmet was a star emblazoned concept that makes me think of Starlord’s old head gear in a way.
Using almost all craft foam, she made this helmet work… except for one small detail. She couldn’t see out of it. Although watching her process, I noticed she was using something that looked like rubber cement to adhere the pieces. I ask this because I am dumb and don’t know, but isn’t that stuff bad to get by your face? Anyway this was the helmet’s finished product.
Some parts are a wee bit rough, but that can be chalked up to having to change her style to suite the situation. From this we got the concept for her full suit, and she was given vent ducting to use as to make her jet pack.
The final result to all her hard work was this
She had some troubles getting to that point of course. The rail gun she made broke at one point and she had to change the eyes out of her helmet, but in the end she did a really good job. Side note, now we know who Rocket stole his giant guns from.
Third up we have Xavier. Xavier went with a Star Wars themed crime lord named Syresh Voos. The helmet was designed to be a mix between a tie fighter pilot’s helm, and an imperial helm.
He made the entire thing out of EVA foam, yet it looks like it was cast in metal. Christian Beckman even saying that the damage he did to it for detail pops more because of the symmetry he obtained.
His helmet brought him victory in the first round and he got firs pick of the three items to use for a jetpack. He chose a leaf blower. With that we got our final piece of full concept art for the armors.
When it came time to reveal the the full piece Xavier did not disappoint judges for the most part. They did feel like he could have done more with the leaf blower for his jet pack. Despite though, he was able to leave the competition victorious.
I feel out of the options the had, the better costume most definitely won. Xavier went in with a plan, knew what he needed to do for it, and did an AMAZING job at executing it.
So you may have noticed I left Alicia for last. Well, there is a reason for that. See, I am a regular in her stream and a giant uber fan of her armor work. Seriously, look up her Shard from Court of the Dead, or Fem Arthas. So when I was debating on go through this episode I was afraid I would not be able to hold my bias, and with that full disclosure I will give my statement and then I will give my opinion.
So Alicia went with character from the Chronicles of Riddick, a survivor of the Necromongers attacks named Ana. Unlike the others she did not go with a helmet, instead opting for a headdress.
Using craft foam, worbla, and bondo she went about attempting to create a piece that gave off the look of metal. A fact that the judges stated she accomplished. Leeanna Vamp even stating that it looked heavy, and that it looked to have substantial weight to it.
However upon seeing that the piece had no back, and was secured with cord rather then something with more detail, it cost her. She was eliminated the first round.
So now my opinion on Alicia’s design and her judgement. As Leeanna and Christian stated the execution made it look like it was brushed steel, not bondo and plastic. She was shown nothing but praise for the piece, except for the back. And that lies with my issue. The piece was not SUPPOSED to have a back. I say that in my honest opinion, Alicia was robbed. On the stream after the episode we were shown her concept are for the finished piece. A back would have been pointless as it would have been covered with hair. I do not take away from any of the other contestants, but in the judges place I would have removed someone else. As I stated above out of the three remaining options, they chose the best one. But to eliminate someone for such an idiotic reason as their piece does not have a back when you have not even seen the concept that they were going for is foolish. A better idea would have been to handicap the contestant that they saw as “last place” do not let them choose what they must use in the final round. This was an idea that was brought up on the stream afterwords.
I will not take anything away from ANY of the contestants. They all did amazing work and should be incredibly proud. I am not a cosplayer. I am a fan. I am someone who can sit back and appreciate the art for what it is. So I have decided that at the end of the reviews for Cosplay Melee I am going to suggest five cosplayers for people to look up because of their talent. So here are this article’s 5.
- VertVixen Yes, she was a competitor in this episode, but if your not looking at her work, you are insane. She has done some great work with gender bent versions of The Lich King from World of Warcraft, Garrison form Battle Chasers, and will soon be doing War from Darksiders
- Artcore Cosplay: One of the sweetest people out there, and she busts her ass for what she loves… Literally. If you want to know what that means then stop by her stream to see an amazing German cosplayer make her entire costumes… BY HAND!!!
- Miss Pirate Savvy: Another amazing kind soul, Pirate Savvy has done some awesome work as Thor, and is known for her Lady Death
- Princess Nightmare: Yes, I talked about her before here, and even interviewed her here, but my stance remains the same. While she may not make her own cosplays, she makes sure to have a hand in their design, and their construction. From what fabrics are used to how it all fits together.
- Elizabeth Rage: One of the more popular ones I’m plugging thanks to her work on DIY Cosplay Shop on the Awe Me youtube channel, her work is still great.
That’s all for this entry into Let’s Take a Look At.
Addendum: I feel that while I tried to be unbiased as possible, I still need some work in that department. At this time I would like to apologize if it seemed like I was trying to take away from anyone’s work. I was not. Everyone did an absolutely amazing job. Also I would like at this time to apologize to Grace/ Zonbi. At the time of writing this article I had not researched as thoroughly as I should have, and as such made errors in her representation in the article. These errors have been corrected. Special thank you to Artcore Cosplay for pointing out my error. I am slowly getting more used to a written format and of these kinds of pieces. Please bare with me in this learning process.