Sunday, August 5, 2012

Otakon 2012: Lessons Learned

This will be the last post about Otakon 2012, and it won't really have much to do with costumes. Feel free to breeze past it, but I feel compelled to write it anyway.

This is the fourth Otakon my daughter attended, and my second. In the past years, Diana's real wish was to have a costume that was so amazing that everyone would want to take her picture. Well, for the first year she only got a handful of picture requests. So the next year she asked me to make her a better one, and ended up with the Mother Nature costume. She got quite a few picture requests, which she loved. Last year she wanted to be Mother Ocean, and I decided to go along dressed up as a black-and-white 50s era mom, like the movie Pleasantville. We both had fun, but didn't really get a lot of picture requests. And I got a lot of "Who are you cosplaying?"

So this year she said we needed to do something awesome, and convinced my son Ian to join in the fun. It was her idea to do the Disney villains, and I had a lot of fun with the costume process. But I did learn quite a few things along the way.

Lesson One: Plan, plan, plan.

I had so many ideas rattling around in my brain, each relating to a different costume. I kept notes on my computer to help me keep track of what needed to be done for each costume. When the crunch time came, about a week before the event, having these notes really helped me keep the process on track and make sure I wasn't forgetting some detail.

Lesson Two: Think Outside the Box

There aren't any commercial patterns for the costume stuff I do. Keeping my mind open to possibilities is what allowed me to look at a robotic dog and see a purse, and figure out how to make a huge red gem out of a soap mold.

Lesson Three: Be Careful What You Wish For

We really wanted costumes that got noticed, and boy, did we get them. Being stopped every few steps for picture requests meant that it was very difficult for us to get pictures of our own. Whenever one person stopped to take a picture of us, a small group of cameras would appear and we'd spend a minute or two posing. Yes, it was immensely flattering... and it also meant that we simply couldn't get to any of the events we wanted to. So for the following day, Diana and I elected to go without costumes, while Ian was still having a blast being Jafar. She and I got to take more pictures and wander in the two vendor halls. And we agreed that for next year, the costumes shouldn't be quite so awesome. Maybe. Or we'll just accept that for one day, we're not going to be able to do anything but pose for pictures.

Lesson Four: Accept Help

This was the hardest lesson for me. We were planning on going to Baltimore on Thursday evening to pick up our registration badges, rather than wait in the long lines on Friday morning. But on Wednesday afternoon, I found myself in the emergency room with chest pains. Can you believe that while I was hooked up to the heart monitor, all I could think about was that I hadn't finished Maleficent's staff yet, and still had some final touches to do on my cape? Yeah, my priorities were a little skewed at that moment. And when the doctor told me I would be admitted to the hospital overnight, I was distraught: how would I finish everything in time?
My wonderful daughter and her best friend Alyxz jumped in and finished everything for me. They spent the evening in my sewing room, doing all the little last-minute costume work, so that I could concentrate on getting better. And when I was released on Thursday afternoon (and it wasn't my heart after all, luckily!! Just a small issue with my gall bladder), the costumes were done and we were back on track to head to Baltimore as planned.

So that's it for this year's Otakon adventure! We're already thinking about next year's costumes. What do you think? Have an idea for a theme we could follow? We're totally open to suggestions. Except there's no way I'm going as a Disney princess.


  1. I am so glad your heart is okay, and I really enjoyed reading about this convention. Next year maybe you could pick characters from a Pixar movie like Brave - awesome hair and a bow and arrow for you or your daughter to carry. Or The Avengers?

    1. The only problem with both those suggestions is that they are already so overdone... There were half a dozen Meridas at least, and soooo many Avengers! But thank you for the ideas.

  2. Is that what you call being TOO successful? LOL. But at least you aren't burned out on making costumes, since you are thinking about next year already!

    Glad it was "only" your gall bladder. Upper abdominal pain is hard to tell from cardiac pain. Might be time to get rid of that troublesome gallbladder!

    Sue Campbell (Registered Nurse, Recovery room)

  3. Love your costumes! And it was an excellent idea to write down what you learned and what you want to do differently next time.

  4. Oh my, what an adventure! I'm glad your hospital stay was short. Last year at Disney teh Husband and I dressed as Dug and Russell from UP and were amazed at how many people (even castmembers) wanted to stop us for pictures- it really does get crazy!


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