2024 WONDERCON CALLS FOR COSTUME ENTRIES!

Costuming plays a vital role in all the popular arts, with a long history in cultures around the world, and yet there are always new concepts, new designs, and new materials and technology that we discover. It’s an especially fun and creative ingredient of WonderCon that many attendees bring along costumes they have crafted, and we are pleased to, once again, celebrate the art of costuming by giving our attendees a grand showcase for their creations, on a large stage before an audience that numbered 2,000 in 2023. With large projection screens, multiple cameras, awards for the best entries, and a wide assortment of costumes, it is an event not to be missed.

The 19th annual WonderCon Masquerade on-stage costume competition (or Cosplay Competition for those who favor that term) will be Saturday evening, March 30 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Start time will be 8:30 PM and the costume presentations, followed by judging intermission entertainment, then the awards presentation will run about 2 ½ hours. In addition to the presenting of the costumes, there will be great live entertainment as well!

Not a dance or party as the name may imply, it’s a series of stage presentations of amazing and inventive costumes crafted by our nonprofessional but very creative and talented attendees. Most costumes will be impressive re-creations from movies, television, anime, comic books, fantasy, Broadway shows, video games, and history; others will be completely original designs from the imagination, some never seen before. Some will be solo entries; others will be groups with a shared theme. All genres are welcome, but no purchased costumes are allowed. The event is free to participate in or to have a seat in the audience, for anyone with a convention badge valid for Saturday.

Why do we title this event the Masquerade instead of simply a costume contest? Simply put, “to masquerade” means to portray someone other than yourself, and our contestants often bring to the stage as much performance imagination as they do workmanship by portraying characters and creating presentations with specially selected music, mood, drama, humor, a surprise or two, even a mock battle. Our giant high-definition video screens and multiple cameras display great close-up views of the costumes to everyone. Those in the audience need not come in costume, but feel free to add to the fun and dress in something interesting!

In addition to many amazing contestant costumes in the competition, there will be live entertainment during judging intermission by return performances from members of the Saber Guild, a Lucasfilm-recognized Star Wars costume group that specializes in choreographed lightsaber shows at charity and community events, as well as comic book and sci-fi conventions. Plus, a return performance by The Corps Dance Crew, a highly talented dance team that performs at many pop culture conventions and other events, bringing anime, comics, and other pop culture to life through amazing group choreographed dances that always thrill our audiences.

How to Enter: To request a contestant spot in the show, download the Masquerade Information & Rules pamphlet and entry form here, fill in your information, and email it soon to masq@comic-con.org. A photo of your crafted costume is eventually required for review before you can be fully accepted. There is a limit on the number of contestants accepted, so submitting an entry form early is strongly recommended. Contestants must be at least age 12 to participate.

No flash photography is allowed of the stage event, although non-flash photography and video recording are welcome. There will be a flash-allowed posing area with a backdrop in a nearby room where contestants will go after their stage presentations, and photographers and press wishing a Photo Area pass should reserve a spot in advance by writing to the above mail.

WonderCon trophies will be awarded for the most outstanding costumes, as selected by our guest judges panel, in categories of Best in Show, Judges’ Choice, Best Re-Creation, Best Original Design, Best Workmanship, Most Humorous, Most Beautiful, and Best Young Fan, and those trophy winners will also receive free attendee badges to WonderCon 2025. Plus, there will be generous cash and other prizes provided by companies and organizations.

–  Frank & Son Collectible Show of the City of Industry, California, “the first and last stop for all your collectible needs” will take a break from their large bi-weekly mini-cons to, once again, present a generous $500 cash prize to the entry their representative deems to be the audience favorite. So be sure to generously applaud your favorites!

–  Costumer’s Guild West (CGW), southern California’s non-profit costuming fandom group, will present a one-year membership to CGW, as well as a full scholarship and a complimentary one-night hotel stay to their weekend costuming arts conference, Costume College®, held each year in July. (2024 dates are July 18–22, and the winner may choose 2025 or 2026) at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, awarded to the entry they select as showing the most promise. Costume College promotes the art of costuming by providing educational lectures and workshops in every aspect of costuming.

–  The San Diego Comic-Con Alan Campbell Award: The San Diego Comic Convention Board of Directors is donating a $500 cash award, given in memory of long-time Committee and Board member Alan Campbell, who passed away and is sorely missed. Alan was a great fan of the Masquerade, at times generously donating his own prize. This award is for the entry deemed the best re-creation from comics or related popular arts, as selected by one of the guest judges.

More organizations are expected to join this list of award presenters as the convention approaches—check our website regularly for Masquerade updates—but the real reward is all the smiles and applause you’ll be bringing the audience as together we celebrate the amazing art of costuming, and the creative talents of our attendees!

WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Most Beautiful.
Photo by Jerry Shaw.
WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Best in Show.
Photo by Jerry Shaw
WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Judges Choice.
Photo by Jerry Shaw.

WonderCon 2023 Masquerade

The 2023 WonderCon Masquerade featured 29 entries, some as solo entries, some as groups, making for a total of 40 costumes having their turns on the stage. As usual there was a mix of clever Re-Creations and totally Original Designs, plus a few entries that somewhat fit into both categories since they were original designs for otherwise recognizable characters. In addition to the WonderCon trophies and Honorable Mentions given, there were six organizations and companies that also donated generous cash and other awards of their own.

Our excellent Mistress of Ceremonies was Ashley Eckstein. Ashley has been widely recognized and honored as an actress, entrepreneur, and author. To WonderCon fans she is likely best known as the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, and Star Wars: Forces of Destiny. Ashley is also the founder of Her Universe, a very popular fashion and lifestyle brand for fans. Ashley is also a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and is a champion for the Nationwide Children’s “On Our Sleeves” movement.

For the Judging intermission, the audience was treated to a fun modern dance performance by the highly talented 20-member Corps Dance Crew, followed by a 20-member Star Wars light-saber story-performance by the Lucasfilm-approved Temple Prime Saber Guild group. Both of these groups perform at many conventions, charity events, and other special events throughout southern California, and while non-professional in status, always give terrific, choreographed shows with lots of great costuming.

Our very enthused audience varied in size over the course of the 2 hours and 20-minute event, and at its fullest point numbered nearly 2,000.

WonderCon Trophy Winners and Honorable Mentions:

(Trophy winners also receive complimentary 3-day badges for next year’s WonderCon)

WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Best in Show.
Photo by Jerry Shaw

Best In Show:

“Paint It Empire”, a two-person Original Design, using beautiful Tudor and Elizabethan historically inspired and highly detailed designs to re-imagine the Star Wars scene of Anakin Skywalker being turned into Darth Vader by the evil Emperor. It was crafted and worn by Diana Tolin and Ali Weber.

WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Judges Choice.
Photo by Jerry Shaw.

Judges’ Choice:

“Wonderland at WonderCon”, a 4-person Re-Creation from Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland. To bring animated designs more fully to life, 8 months of time was spent crafting and using specially altered fittings to approximate the body proportions of the animated characters, and with a clever stage presentation! Crafted and worn by Prue Dense, Whitley, Gabrielle, and Ryan.

WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Best Recreation
Photo by Jerry Shaw.

Best Re-Creation:

“Sophie Hatter”, an impressive re-creation of the heroine from the Japanese animated fantasy film Howl’s Moving Castle. Crafted and worn by Becca Gibson. Taking an animated character design and interpreting it into the real world can be challenging, and this design succeeded with style and heart.

WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Best Original Design.
Photo by Jerry Shaw.
Best Original Design:

“Princess Zelda”, an Original Design inspired by the popular Legend of Zelda video game series, another example of bringing animated art to life and far surpassing the original inspiration. It was crafted and worn by Starlit Memory Cosplay.

WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Best Workmanshop.
Photo by Jerry Shaw.
Best Workmanship:

“Art Nouveau Sally”, a re-created character but with a fully Original Design inspired by The Nightmare Before Christmas, featured outstanding hand embroidery and beading, and made entirely from recycled materials. Crafted and worn by Lauren Mathias (who almost wasn’t in the show, but when a drop-out happened two days before the convention, we were able to bring her in from the Waiting List).

WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Most Beautiful.
Photo by Jerry Shaw.
Most Beautiful:

“Belle: A Tale as Old as Time”, a Re-Created character / Original Design inspired by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, with stunning handcrafted beading, embroidery, and more, creating an over 60-pound elegant historical dress taking over 100 hours to complete. Crafted and worn by Katie Strube of Kstroobz Cosplay.

WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Most Humorous.
Photo by Jerry Shaw.
Most Humorous:

“The Chosen One(s)?”, a 2-person Star Wars inspired Original / Re-Creation, with familiar characters portrayed in an original way, crafted and worn by Lisa Truong and Cindy Purchase.

WonderCon 2023 Masquerade Best Young Fan.
Photo by Jerry Shaw.
Best Young Fan:

“Doc Octopus”, a terrific Re-Creation from Spider-Man 2, complete with extended tentacles, working lighting, and an uncanny facial resemblance to the actor in the film.  Crafted by the Pineda Family, worn by Madison Pineda.